Charlie Henry Workman (1897-1976) ~ The Unspoken is a memoir that reports on the circumstances of the Charlie Henry Workman’s immigration to Canada as an orphan in the British “home children” program of the early twentieth century. Not well historicized and for many years “unspoken”, the practice of sending orphans to Canada once served as a source for child labour for settler farmers. Louann combines her accounts with two poems which evocatively honour his story and life.
Argentina poesía by Franci Louann
$24.95: Available from http://www.ekstasiseditions.com.
Franci Louann’s Argentina poesía is a travel diary transformed by kaleidoscopic language. From the very ﬁrst page, Argentina bursts into life in poems dripping with colours, fragrances, sensations. If you have not travelled to this vast country, these poems will take you there. e swirl of words, intense and provocative, is mitigated with peals of laughter, ironic reﬂections, and gentle aﬃrmations. To be sure, Louann’s Argentina, where the and muggings are just around the corner, is not a perfect place. Yet joyous friendship, little kindnesses, good food and conversation, light up each poem. In Louann’s trenchant poetic universe, living is not reasoned into place: it simply is.
—Robert Martens, poet, writer, editor;
little creatures, Hush, city of beasts (Ekstasis)
Franci Louann’s book captures the unique and sensuous qualities of Argentina and its cities. It gives the reader the view of an outsider looking through eyes of love – personal and cultural – but clear-sighted about dark political histories and present complexities, and the diﬃculties gaining knowledge of how to live in a new land. In Louann’s poetry, we hear the music, taste the wine, read the authors, and enjoy the artists and architects of this place, while we take up residence and wander its streets, grand and humble.
—Adrienne Drobnies, Salt and Ashes (Signature Editions) Gwendolyn MacEwen Award
Franci Louann’s love of Spanish and the locales in and around Buenos Aires raises this collection to the status of a “palo borracho, a tree full of giant ﬂowers.” With leitmotifs of wine, street life, and relationships from a song that grows bilingually, Argentina poesía explores what makes up the patterns of our heartbeats. Rarely does a book so perfectly capture and express its author’s growing worldview. By the end of the book, aer we’ve read poems written in both English and Spanish, we see how it is that someone can write the script for their dreams and how “at the orchid store they are ﬁlling a taxi with ﬂowers.”
—Kevin Spenst, author, poet, teacher;
Hearts Amok: a memoir in verse (Anvil Press)
PALERMO, I LOVE THAT NAME, PALERMO
I remember a Sunday
with family, after pizza
Bosques de Palermo
the Palermo Woods
Lagos de Palermo
botanical and Japanese gardens
we have photos
against gnarled and
the lungs of Buenos Aires
—Franci Louann, from Argentina poesía
Ekstasis Editions 2020
Here is my Dad’s story. He was a British Home Child. There are two short poems “wrapped up” within the essay chapbook. (Chapbook essay?) Hope you can make the time (& that this link will work on my blog). Cheers.
First, here are photos of me doing some readings. (Sorry about the layout here. Oh, it’s better at the bottom. I’ll leave those there instead. Duh. )
Honing my craft as a poet was always important, since my English class in first year Dental Hygiene at the University of Toronto. I had submitted a (probably pathetic) ballad-style poem to her (no one seems to remember her name) and she gave me this advice.
POEM FOR MY ENGLISH PROFESSOR WHO SAID, WHEN YOU WRITE POETRY, ASK EVERY WORD WHAT IT’S DOING THERE; IF IT DOESN’T HAVE A DAMNED GOOD REASON, LEAVE IT OUT!
This is one of my shortest poems, and definitely my longest title. With it, I came 4th in the 1st round of a Poetry Slam at Café Deux Soleils on June 7, 2010 (Mom’s birthday). In the 2nd round, I maintained my 4th place with “THE THREE Rs OF POETRY”. Got a prize. There is/was a Poetic Justice/Facebook/YouTube video of me/this poem, also one at LitFest, along with other tiny poems.
There I am, still preferring to “shout” my titles. In full capital letters, bolded even. Almost all of them. Do other poets vary how they create their titles? I know it might depend on the publication’s guidelines. I’d like for my titles to be different from the texts of the poems, in some ways. Maybe my titles have been distracting or annoying for some judges or editors. How best not to distract or annoy? I’ll stop bolding them.
I still like Arial font, for its simplicity. Why use a serif, when a non-serif letter will do? Well, Calvin Wharton told me why, and he was a typesetter. If you type the word “ill”, for example, with a capital “I” – “Ill” is hard to read. (Is that first letter really wider?)
These days, while I’m rewriting, I’m asking lots of punctuation what it’s doing there.
For decades I was not using periods in my poems. Now I’m still embracing a “new kind of narrative”, which I see/hear is popular. Who’d have thought that I might find periods “refreshing”, along with some capital where appropriate?
Incredibly, while at Douglas College studying poetry (Introduction in 2011 with Liz Bachinsky, Advanced in 2015 with Calvin Wharton) I did not question their “GPS” (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling) rule as applied to poetry. Perhaps my sarcasm (or subtle passive-aggressiveness) was not recognized when I produced my Perfectly Punctuated Poetry Portfolio as a chapbook at the end of the first course. Such a publication was not required till the end of the second course. It was halfway through that term that I realized that they meant to have different “rules” for poetry. Perhaps that syllabus has been rewritten.
These days I’m not banning periods. But I am removing many ellipses, some of which have been used improperly, I confess. They are “three periods” each.
I’m also deleting many of my “long, sexy em dashes”, of which I have been quite fond.
After all, I am not Emily Dickinson, though I admire her work greatly. Her very long (hand-written) dashes went sometimes up and other times down. She was light years ahead of her time and maybe even ahead of us now. We still don’t have symbols on our keyboards for her dashes. “Forward slash” and backward slash” just won’t do.
Yes, I’m removing exclamation marks, those “screamers”. Thank you, my friends.
And I’ve been removing lots of white space, where I’ve had three or five spaces. Most times I’m adding a comma instead. Horrors? I do resist having commas dangle on the ends of lines. That use of white space seems to be enough. Commas? (We poets do still need to sweat over those?)
What about self-publications? Our little chapbooks. I’ve made quite a few. I plan to purchase one of those long staplers so I can do more myself. Or maybe I’ll let Bryan at Royal City Mail do more of the work. Or maybe I’ll never ever self-publish again. There were so few copies made, perhaps they shouldn’t count at all. Perhaps I’ll consider those to be early drafts of submissions to publishers, and rethink them a lot.
I give publishing credits on the same pages as my single poems, as a way of tracking. Also, this year, I have started a spreadsheet. (Oh, Franci, Don’t forget that spreadsheet. I need to learn how to add more lines and columns, as insertions.) But, with these little works with manuscripts made and a few given away or sold, how to be honest about whether these have been self-“published”, and where? Should I search for each poem title, before making a submission? Perhaps I should consult with my mentors at Douglas College about that.
What do you think? Have you written about your own style of poetics and how it might be changing? When you make a submission, do you consider the style of the poetry judge, or the editor? It seems that many poems could be adapted to other styles. Would you say something about the style in the keywords?
Do you use keywords? I have always signed my single poem files with my name, my email address, and the date the poem was typed in. One summer I started adding keywords to all my poems. That took months. Another ruse to avoid submissions? I did claim to have submission-phobia. Friends expressed surprise and were supportive. That helped for a while.
Also I’ve claimed to have my-own-blog-phobia. But, here we are again, just not as soon as planned. This post is in aid of, or in homage to, Poetry Month – April. It is likely that I’ve mentioned poetry every day this month on Facebook.
Facebook is my blah, blah, blog? What do you think?
It is as though I have stepped into a magazine article. I ask Susana, in my limited castellano (Argentine Spanish, Castilian), and I learn that none has been written. Immediately I have permission to use my camera. I’ve kept thirty-four photos and could have taken many more. (The blog story will continue below these photos.)
Susana is artistic (an understatement) and the home she has built with Jorge is Rusticana. First they built a quincho, meant to be a small house behind a larger one. Susan’s father had helped to clear the lot, with a big saw which now hangs behind their outdoor “porch” table.
Perhaps it was Susan’s decorating (and building) skills that had her & Jorge fall in love with this one-bedroom house. They decided to stay here.
Reclaimed wood is used for cupboards, doors, counters, kitchen bar, tables and triangular foot stools with stretched (goat?) hides. An old treadle sewing machine has become the base for the bathroom sink. The kitchen has several different ovens and a fireplace. Her pottery and tile work appear here and there. Wooden fruit boxes hold books above and around the computer, while four people could sit on the large dark wooden trunks. Susan did all of this in five years.
In the centre of the living room is a huge square table with two chairs on each side. Twelve people could be seated here.
So many photos and still I don’t have the railway tie used for a doorsill, the clock made from a burl, the indoor glass shower, the outdoor shower (which, yes, also has hot water), and the interior of the tool shed. I got a peek at the latter – it was amazingly well-organized. Susana’s “office”, no doubt.
In front of this adorable cottage (after the outdoor shower and the tool shed) we find an outdoor kitchen on a long porch, complete with a sink with running water, a high bar with stools, two stoves, a stereo and a dining table with chairs. One of the stoves is a small antique functioning wood stove complete with a reservoir for heating water. I expect that this oven had just been used to bake our “black sugar” cookies.
We’ve all heard about Susana’s latest project – el horno, the oven – an outdoor wood-burning oven. A friend built the walls and Susana applied the clay covering. It uses gas as well, when more heat is needed to finish the cooking process. A thermometer gauge is imbedded in the front wall. They got the plan off the internet. (I thought that maybe Jorge had built the walls, but my partner assures me that Jorge “couldn’t hammer a nail”. Jorge is absolutely charming and I was pleased to learn that he watches a movie every day on Netflix. This was his reply, when I said I was going to one movie a week in La Plata.)
So with this fabulous wood-burning oven that had just been built, I expected that the amazing aromas were coming from pizza. We were presented with plates full of roast beef, stuffed with ham and cheese and laiden with herbs fresh from their garden. There were roasted red peppers with regular and sweet potatoes, drizzled with a cheese (and some green veggie) salsa. Rosemary and garlic predominated. When my plate arrived, I exclaimed “Yo estoy muerte y en cielo”, meaning (I hoped) “I have died and am in heaven”. As usual, Susana seemed to understand what I said and was pleased.
We had beer and wine, and more available on the outdoor bar. Also on the table and from their garden were preserved eggplant (which we enjoy as table service at Portofino Restobar, our regular hangout near our apartment in La Plata), and long yellow peppers. (The latter were too hot for me.)
Later, along with the homemade black sugar cookies, we enjoyed masas finas (small sweet pastries) which Natalina had purchased that morning. Susan provided a fine herb tea (again from their plants) in a beautiful glass tea pot with an infuser.
The afternoon was a celebration for another Susana, who was leaving for Australia the next day. There she is spending April with her daughter and family. “The Two Susanas” are a bit famous around Villa Elisa. Susana One, the artist, was Enrique’s first wife. (Their daughter is Natalia.) Susana Two, the traveler, is Enrique’s partner now. With Jorge, they are frequently partying together. We had met them at bar-b-qs at Enrique’s. Just the week before this glorious Saturday afternoon, Susana and Jorge had brought whole wheat miga sandwiches to a pizza dinner at Natalina’s. (Natalina is Enrique’s mother and my partner José’s sister. Natalia is Natalina’s granddaughter.) Sadly, I’ve missed a photo of Ruben, Susana One’s handsome brother, who left early.
If fairies do exist, I’m sure some of them have chosen to live in this enchanted garden near City Bell, in the province of Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Duh, it has been more than 3 months since my last entry. Let’s start easily. Some of you may have read this. (More “news” soon.) WOW & Whew! That worked well. My birthday pictures.
BIRTHDAY REPORT, MARCH 2017 – FIESTA LATINA, ARGENTINA
We took the bus to Villa Elisa – ½ hour, see poem. I’ll delete line breaks to save space.
SCENES FROM VILLA ELISA
those birds sing so earnestly at 4 a.m.
guests for lunch sisters long separate peace lilies in a vase
this long green beak piercing eyes of indigo orange crown flashing
this bird-of-paradise this bloom
against grey sky jacaranda purple more royal than ever
as we say goodnight on the sidewalk two snails kiss
Franci Louann November 2007
Second Prize, Kisses and Popsicles Contest 2009, www.pandorascollective.com
Sent with 2nd set of three poems when deadline was extended.
Published in the Royal City Poets anthology 2012 (Silver Bow Publishing)
Gee, I’d forgotten – I have translated that one into Spanish/castellano.
I felt we could count on Natalina’s family for a good fiesta. I suggested El Boyo restaurant, just across the plaza. Natalia/Naty/Nati? reserved a table for six, for the 8-30 setting. Her dad Enrique and his partner Susana would join us.
Natalina and José prepared lunch for us three. They were cutting a very long piece of beef. Some went to the freezer. Our steaks were grilled on top of the stove. The meat was extraordinarily tender. I asked what cut it was. Lomo, tenderloin, filet mignon! We had enough for seconds. This was served with roasted potatoes and carrots and mixed salad, both with basil, my favourite addition. I felt loved.
By the way, when Natalina or Carmen prepare a meal, I’m usually so overwhelmed, I forget to take a picture. So I have a photo halfway through Natalina’s lunch for me. Yes, of the second serving of lomo.
At El Boyo I ordered pasta – ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach. The sauce was crema with ham and mushrooms. For “appetizers”, someone had ordered deep-fried calamari (there were gorgeous big succulent pieces) and French fries. Stella Artois and Lopez Malbec were our beverages (with water for Natalina).
Susana tipped off the waiter and a tall slice of ice cream cake appeared with a candle for me, when we were done. As people clapped and sang, I got three wishes. (I was thankful that we shared that dessert.)
After dinner, we went back to Natalina’s, where I knew there was a cake in the fridge. It was a huge package that had arrived that afternoon. I was pleased to see that a tall candle was responsible for its height. This was a meringue and raspberry cake with dulce de leche filling, served with cider in tall celebratory glasses. Delicious.
We overnighted with Natalina’s “Sheraton treatment” – she even irons her sheets. For breakfast I enjoyed the rest of my pasta and another piece of birthday cake, before we returned to La Plata.
I LOVE LA PLATA
me gusta La Plata me encanta La Plata I love La Plata
with its plazas its trees, el verde, the green
linden trees tilia la ciudad de los tilos city of linden blossoms
streets are numbered avenidas wider
las diagonales mas misteriosas the diagonals, more mysterious
the locals know walking the diagonals saves time;
we foreigners are cautious
la ciudad de las diagonales city of diagonals
Plaza Moreno is central the largest, longer
with its giant cathedral Italian style built a century before
Museo de La Plata dinosaurs from Patagonia
some of world’s best natural history since 1888
me encanta La Plata
Franci Louann December 22, 2011
Last year my age was evenly divisible by both five and ten. I like to celebrate those days in style, but we just couldn’t do it, as we’d had a death in the family. My sister Mariann’s partner of twenty-five years, Lloyd, had died the year before. Lloyd and I were born in the same year. We had celebrated many birthdays together. He had been generous.
So this year I wanted a “Fiesta Latina” and that’s what we had. Last year was a good year for me. I liked being that age.
Mariann and I are close in age. Next summer, July 16th, she will have that same “evenly divisible by ten” birthday. I hope that we will be able to celebrate in style.
Franci Louann March 10, 2017
THE 50th BIRTHDAY PARTY – remembered, cinquains
at my fiftieth spontaneously I invite everyone born in my year
to join me in an unrehearsed cancan / chorus line dance
one man, one woman and myself;
I forgot they both have “hip issues”— I don’t mean trendy
this is a touch of mortality not to be confused with morbidity
Franci Louann March 29, 2007
Here we are in La Boca, where the tango was born.
SCENES FROM BUENOS AIRES
the airport crowd—familiar faces surprise us;
our driver, eyes blue-green as a rare lake
spring in Buenos Aires, some cherry blossoms, will there be more?
Recoleta, the artists´ market, our first souvenirs
at Florida and Lavalle the music entrances—why your smile across the crowd?
later, my camera gone
at the internet café, a power failure, my dos pesos refused;
confusion at the bank machine—a man asks, are six hundred pesos ours?
a kiss on Córdoba—young lovers, spring afternoon;
rainy day on Córdoba—that red shirt—half-price? no
Mother´s Day a young man sleeps in a doorway
at the orchid store, they are filling a taxi with flowers
Avenida de Nueve de Julio ninth of July, Independence Day;
world’s widest street—strong wind at kiosk—we all pick up post cards
Monument for the Victims of Terrorism by the State
by the wide brown river, where some disappeared
two red umbrellas at Nueve de Julio—we need two green lights to cross;
long hair before us—ebony, brunette and blonde—a ‘shampoo commercial’
jacaranda blossoms—tiny purple trumpets blanket plazas
pigeons hide in dark branches
narrow sidewalks—walking is like the tango
would lessons help?
Franci Louann October 2007 – March 2008
Argentina travel nature trees flowers
Argentina’s independence was won on July 9, 1816.
Honourable Mention Kisses and Popsicles (spring) contest 2009,
Sent with 2nd set of three poems, when deadline was extended.
Mary, in every nativity scene, wears a hijab. Well, maybe it is technically a “veil”. Women have had to wear head-covering in churches until 1981, sometimes just black lace. I remember school day tours of cathedrals, when we were required to put even just a “Kleenex” on our heads to show appropriate respect.
Recently a friend was purchasing Christmas ornaments for a tree for the Domestic Violence Response Team. Different colours were packed together. She decided to get purple and silver, “their colours”. A couple were standing there in front of the tall stack of decorations. The woman, who was wearing a hijab, asked my friend (in perfect English) why she had chosen those colours. That woman went on to explain that this was their first Christmas in Canada. A Christian couple had given them a tree and they wanted to decorate it, without offending those friends. They wondered what colours they should select. My friend said that they should choose the colours they liked best – that this is what Christmas is all about. The woman smiled, reached up and took a package of turquoise and silver balls.
This is a true story. Josie just told it at our Century House Association chairpersons’ meeting. I gave her a standing ovation and a hug afterwards. I think it would be good for our whole country if this story could be shared from coast to coast to coast. (Some new immigrants are going “north”, yes?)
A funny but sort of sad comment to finish is, in my rush to share a moving story, I misspelled “hijab”. This proves that I probably hadn’t even said it aloud. (I often say, about most words – if you can say it, you can spell it.) I need to pay attention and practice Arab words.
December 1st is my day to mount my first solo art show at the New Westminster library, main branch, in the upstairs gallery. 6th Avenue, between 6th & 8th Streets. (Not that I expect that I will ever have another art show…) Hope you can “show up”. They liked my “Santa Series”! The selection committee […]
December 1st is my day to mount my first solo art show at the New Westminster library, main branch, in the upstairs gallery. 6th Avenue, between 6th & 8th Streets. (Not that I expect that I will ever have another art show…) Hope you can “show up”.
They liked my “Santa Series”! The selection committee knew of my poetry and invited that as well. I just happen to have ekphrastic poetry, inspired by my own artwork.
In addition to the Mr & Mrs Santa portraits, I’ll have my “Two Dimensions”, inspired by the “Wait for Me, Daddy” photo. That, my first framed piece, was accepted for the inaugural Community Gallery show at the Anvil Centre opening in 2014. (The original has sold.) I’ll also present some framed originals from my “Mia Series” and some portraits of friends and family.
“Mia” – that may have been the name of our model in my only life drawing experience. I didn’t know that the initial two-minute poses were for “warm-up”, so I was done in two minutes. I am your occasional visual artist, preferring felt pen on cream card stock. On some few occasions, the muse has visited. (I wonder if she will ever visit again.)
My “Blue Santa”, BTW, has astonished me so far. Was informed that our city would like to purchase use of the image for their holiday card for the Parks & Recreation Department. The cheque is in the mail? You may see him & his friends in my gallery here at my blog. Thanks for visiting (& thank you to Mrs Claus who invited me to do their portrait).