Thursday, September 13, 2007

how poetry is appreciated in the Canadian backwoods

On a recent canoeing and camping trip with nine high school buddies, all of us now in middle-age, I happened to bring a book of poems I'd been reading. Packed it upriver, secure in a ziplock baggie with my radio and playing cards. The most excellent book is Types of Canadian Women, Volume Two, by K. I. Press, a marvelously ironic field guide based on a Volume One the poet happened across while doing photo archiving research.

These short, sometimes terrifying, sometimes racy portraits of 19th century Canadian women are informed by the subtle poetics of a brilliant 21st century woman. How do they translate to a group of ten beer-soaked campers late on a perfectly sunny and warm, lazy Saturday afternoon in September, deep in the wilds of Ontario? Have a listen to the audio file below:

Married the Professor

Yes, there is a lot of kibbitzing and laughing, and the reader, a catholic school history teacher, is self-admittedly a bit baffled by the poem, but if you listen carefully you can hear birds a-chirping and the sound of a soft late-summer breeze in the background -- no better atmosphere for Canadian poetry.

Thanks for writing it, Karen.

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