A Nightcap with Irises & Diana Hayes
Saturday, October 26, 2019
|Diana Hayes 1987|
Poetry has been very much like my shadow on a sunny day. I
have never been able to avoid it. In my teenage years I was never able to get extra points in
class by memorizing poems. I could not.
In 1966 when I often went to the Librería Pigmalion on Calle
Corrientes in Buenos Aires to buy books in English I was much too ignorant to
notice the older blind man who was there and bought many books. He was a well known Anglophile who was also the head of the Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno.
It wasn’t until sometime in the late 70s that I was dragged
by a friend to see Allen Ginsberg at the Italian Cultural Centre. I was not
impressed. In fact I was bored. But then that’s when I first heard GerryGilbert
. He introduced me to the idea that poetry could be fun.
Since then I have read the poetry of Gilbert, George
Bowering, George McWhirter, Evelyn Lau, William Carlos Williams, Emily
Dickinson, Brad Cran, Mexican poet Homero Aridjis, Uruguayans Mario Benedetti
and Eduardo Galeano and, yes, that blind Argentine poet.
But besides the fun of poetry I learned that poetry could be
sensual and nothing could be more than my memory of Susan Musgrave
poetry while wearing red pumps and a form fitting skirt.
It was such a poet that I first met sometime around 1984 in
Vancouver. She had that gaze that made you want to look down and her poetry was
full of that Musgravian sensuality.
The poet reading on Thursday with short grey hair, that gaze full on, was not your average BC poet. She had a fondness for expensive
German dressage saddles and owned a horse. Now she likes to swim in the local sea waters all year round.
Her name was and is Diana Hayes.
I went to a reading of hers at HOOD29 on Main Street this
past Thursday. The reading also featured Eufemia Fantetti and George Stanley.
Hayes’s book, a just-published 7th, Labyrinth of Green
(Plumleaf Press – and imprint
of Rubicon Publishing Inc.) is not your usual poetry book. It is unusual in
that it also features the poet’s photographs and every chapter of poetry is
introduced by her luminous prose. As far as I know only one of the few to have done the
latter was Argentine Julio Cortázar who published his poetry with many of his
The erstwhile passion of my favourite Hayes poetry is now
not so evident. Like the forests that she loves and enjoys in her home of
Saltspring Island, the reader (as I found out) has to put on comfortable
walking shoes and explore.
The calmness of a forest is what I saw and recognized in
this poet’s face when she read.
I want to convey here that I too love irises, and particularly those that smell of chocolate.
The maple wears a gayer scarf - Richard Staehling R.I.P.
Friday, October 25, 2019
With fall upon us I keep seeing red maple leaves on the sidewalk
near our Kitsilano home. This particular one was somehow stuck to our male cat
Niño. He was lounging on our living room ottoman when I noticed the tiny leaf.
I felt sad with the idea that summer is gone and that in some way
plants, while not dying, they are getting
ready for their botanical sleep/night.
My sadness increased when I received an email from Rick
Staehling’s wife, Lori informing us of his death today.
I first met American born Rick (as we all called him) in 1977 when I first started doing work for Vancouver Magazine
. He was the art director. From there he went to work for many other magazines and for Douglas & McIntyre
. He then was the well known Man at the Movies for CBC Radio. He was an elegant designer who I believe may have designed what for me is my most memorable Vancouver Magazine cover.
Of the photograph that I took of him, the Michigan-born Staehling told me, "You make me look like a Confederate officer in modern garb."
But I felt a bit of a smile for three reasons. Consider
what was contained in Lori Staehling’s communication:
Dear Family and
I am writing with
the sad news that Rick passed away today at the North Shore Hospice. He was
surrounded by family members, old friends and Fanny. It was very calm and
peaceful. Needless to say, we will all miss him terribly.
Last week he
dictated this to me and asked me to send it out:
Dear Family and
I apologize for not
personally answering so many heartfelt messages and letters. My abilities to
write and articulate seem to be on the wane. So let me thank you now while I’m
still coherent for your support and love.
Anither reason for smiling was looking at that little
fragile maple leaf and remembering a man (who had a great smile) who put some
extra points on our Canadian Maple Leaf when he helped design our Canadian
Flag. I wrote about that here
And then there is this:
The morns are
meeker than they were - (32) Emily Dickinson
The morns are
meeker than they were,
The nuts are
The berry's cheek
The rose is out of
The maple wears a
The field a scarlet
Lest I should be
I'll put a trinket
More Emily Dickinson
La Inquietud del Rosal
Thursday, October 24, 2019
|Rosa 'Ebb Tide' 24 October 2019|
La inquietud del rosal - Alfonsina Storni
El rosal en su inquieto modo de florecer
va quemando la savia que alimenta su ser.
¡Fijaos en las rosas que caen del rosal:
Tantas son que la planta morirá de este mal!
El rosal no es adulto y su vida impaciente
se consume al dar flores precipitadamente.
Bajo la trampa débil de la gasa
La doctora argentina
I am going to sleep
Se me va de los dedos la caricia sin causa
Mar, yo soñaba ser como eres
Tú que quieres blanca