Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Reading at U of T

I took all my Leonard Cohen CDs out. Listening to them non stop, even at breakfast one day. R came down, and said, Isn't it a bit early to get depressed? Then he made his voice low and deep, imitating dear Leonard singing In My Secret Life, but with his own words. I'm the poet of doom, I'm sooooo sad, he crooned. R is very funny. That's what I like best about him. Okay, I think it's time to move on to something more upbeat ... to Johnny Halliday, a French singer who is just as romantic and sad, but with more abandon, forceful passion, and despair. I'm such a cheerful one!

Looking forward to visiting one of my favourite cities in Canada. I'll be in Montreal in a few days. Meanwhile the weather is getting warm enough to open the windows of my studio, all five of them, so the dyes don't bother me when I go on a silk painting spree.

I'm so thrilled about getting my creative writing certificate from U of T. It's been an amazing journey. Learning the craft from some of the best writers in Toronto was inspiring. For friends who want to come to the graduation ceremony, it's on Friday, June 9th at 7:00 pm at 158 St. George, just south of Bloor. I'll be reading a short story from my final project.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Leonard Cohen, the aging lover

Yesterday, on Bay, south of Bloor, saw Leonard Cohen read poetry and sing. Worth the 45 minutes wait. That deep bass voice. But I have to admit I wouldn't have waited if I didn't have my friends Suzanne, Julia, and Yolande there chatting with me. The crowd thickened around us so tight that a fleeting sense of claustrophobia made me wonder how I would ever elbow and kick my way out of there, engulfed as we were in this sea of people.

When he appeared on stage, the crowd went wild. I love you, Leonard, a louder voice yelled above the roar. He took the microphone, an aged man with a stoop. He went right into a poem as if he was talking to us, his broody face defined by long bracket lines stretching from his nose down to his lips. The crowd couldn't have enough of this poet. And when he sang So Long Marianne with Barenaked Ladies and Anjani Thomas, a smile creeped onto his serious face, then exploded into youthful vigour, buoyed by the crowd's enthusiasm. You held on to me like I was a crucifix, he belted out. A flash of passion, an intensity, an enlightened feeling passed on to his fans. How superficial the physical decay of aging when exposed to such spirit. I love this man.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Creative vibes in Toronto

Today, I soaked in the creative energy of Toronto. Checked Contact, the Toronto Photography Festival. Loved the public exhibits in St Andrew and St. Patrick subways. The photographers made a strong and dramatic statement by doing a series of photos which repeat similar elements. Gu Xiong's series of portraits, I am who I am, show proud Chinese Canadians, their adaptation to the Canadian culture emphasized by comments written at the bottom of the photos in Chinese, French and English. Stephen Waddell did a series of pedestrians going up and down a set of stairs, and it's amazing to see that something so mundane can bring out the personality and beautiful movements of each person. Stephen Gill's Lost series show people asking or looking for directions. It's extremely effective, the way he captures the expressions and body postures which say it all, giving the familiar feeling of yes, we've been there. Ryerson's collection of historical black and white photos at BCE place are priceless. From Jackie Kennedy to the Civil Rights demonstrations, these photos impress more than history in the mind, they bring out the emotional connection to that time.

Tonight, we went to a poetry reading of Frank Giorno, a friend of R. The Gladstone's long room facing Dufferin Street was packed. The Lyricalmyrical press was launching six poetry books. It's inspiring to hear these talented writers and to see their work in handmade books. They're one of a kind, individually bound in different colours. Fifteen dollars for all that work seems like a bargain. Well, they're only about 20 pages but still. I don't know how small presses like these make money but I admire the publisher Luciano Iacobelli, his dedication to writing and writers. I was surprised to see a book by Bruce Meyer, one of my U of T teachers from four years ago. When I talked to him, all I could think of was this erudite man's incredible knowledge of classical literature, the way it spilled in the class with such enthusiasm that one had to be quick to catch them all. He's written twenty-three books and yet he's going with a small publishing company because he loves the handmade book.

I'm excited about the artistic vibes I feel in Toronto these days, as if creative juices are really churning in this city, their driving force beyond the limitations of financial gains.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Maupassant, the romantic

Elle était charmante ainsi, et dans son regard fuyant mille choses m'apparurent, mille choses ignorées jusqu'ici. J'y vis des profondeurs inconnues, tout le charme des tendresses, toute la poésie que nous rêvons, tout le bonheur que nous cherchons sans fin. Et j'avais un désir fou d'ouvrir les bras, de l'emporter quelque part pour lui murmurer à l'oreille la suave musique des paroles d'amour.

Au Printemps - Guy de Maupassant

She was alluring, and in her evasive look, many things appeared, many things ignored before. I saw in it unexplored depths, the appeal of tenderness, all the poetry we ever dream of, all the happiness that we keep searchng for. And I had a mad desire to take her in my arms, take her somewhere so I could whisper in her ear the sweet music of love.