Friday, March 26, 2010

P.K. Page

Page came to visit Penn Kemp and family on Ward's Island, Toronto in the fall of 1973 where she would participate in a poetry series. The weather was blustery; the oil stove puffing and popping away in the middle of the living room. At the stove's first growl, Page, dressed to the nines in a glamorous cape and silver jewellery, suddenly leapt up and alighted for the evening on the couch arm closest to the door. It seems she'd had an oil stove explode on her once before and was taking no chances.

“She made that perch hers,” Kemp says, “crossing her legs elegantly and gallantly discussed poetry and poets until the last boat swept her away to the city.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gwendolyn MacEwen.

A year before she died in 1987, MacEwen and Toronto poet Sharon Marcus were standing on Bloor Street discussing the difficulties of publication. Looking magnificent with her darkly penciled eyes, MacEwen confided that despite winning two Governor General's awards for poetry and nine books in print, each one had been a terrible battle to have published. What more is there to say? We persist, as Rilke said, because we must.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Margo Button

Possessed of a love of singing and a wonderful temperament, Button’s earliest ambition was to become an opera singer. And but for her challenges sight reading music she just might be standing on the stage at the Roy Thomson Hall instead of being one of our best loved poets.

(Submitted by Ursula Vaira)

Margo Button’s The Unhinging of Wings (Oolichan, 1996) received the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and has been adapted to the stage. She later published The Shadows Fall Behind (Oolichan, 2000), The Elders' Palace (in English and Inuinnaqtun), Blue Dahlias (Leaf Press, 2006), and Heron Cliff (Signature, 2007).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

James Reaney

Almost fifty years ago on April 5, 1960 Reaney put a child's chair on his knee and talked to it, lolled on a bed reading an Eaton's catalogue, lifted a tray of lit candles onto his head and yelled his poem "Doomsday, or the Red Headed Woodpecker" into a megaphone. Northrop Frye and Margaret Atwood were delighted. The place was Hart House Theatre in Toronto, where the audience enjoyed Reaney’s One-man Masque, a new work which gave a dramatic setting to some of his earlier published poems.

Two great lines come at the very beginning of the play: "Ladies and gentlemen, life is extremely difficult to define. Ladies and gentlemen are extremely difficult to define."

Submitted by Brian Bartlett, poet and editor of The Essential James Reaney (The Porcupine’s Quill 2010).