Here we are—finally—my blog/site. She who is so verbal, so communicative, with more than 1000 poems (more than 1300?), now wonders how to start. Should this be auspicious? Well that would be ‘nice’—“conducive to success; favourable”. (I’m glad I checked that meaning.)
Audacious? I’d like that, the first definition Mrs. Google gives now: “showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks”. The second meaning, not so much: “showing an impudent lack of respect”. Should it be awesome? In the first person? The third person? Shall we try both?
Frances Louann Workman became Franci Louann in the late 70s—after her first poems were included in Dorothy Livesay’s last anthology, Woman’s Eye, 12 BC poets (Air 1974 and 1975.) Now that was an auspicious beginning…
Meeting Dorothy Livesay at her reading in Victoria, I introduced myself at the break—“I’m a poet too.” Dorothy said, “Well then, you must come to our coffee party afterwards, at Gary Geddes’ house.” So I did. At the party, Dorothy said that she was putting together a collection by BC women poets—“May I see your work?”
It wasn’t supposed to be that easy, right? There I was, one of twelve, Fran Workman, in alphabetical order at the back of the book—one of the youngest poets included. Then I went off to Europe and learned nothing about book launches. There was a second printing in 1975 before Air ‘disappeared’. The publisher sent us each a hardcover copy of the book. (Now it’s iconic, right?) I could use quotation marks much too often here. (And brackets.) (Disclaimer: I shall use single or double quotations marks, according to my whim. Also italics, but they may not come through.) Dorothy said the she never received her own hardcover copy of Woman’s Eye. At some point, I paid $40 for another softcover copy.
I’ve kept as many poems as possible over the years, even the teen angst pieces. At a small high school reunion party a few years ago, I was surprised when someone read what I’d had published in our yearbook in grade nine. (Not bad, I thought…not remembering the work I’d done.)
Work? Play? Words…they’ve always been important to me. Especially—as few words as possible—poetry. That’s what it has meant to me… Dorothy Livesay said that perhaps my “fleeting but penetrating insights could be strengthened if set to the music of a guitar”. That stopped me for a long while, wishing that I would write longer (and stronger?) poems. But usually I remembered these wise words from our English professor at University of Toronto: Ask every word what it’s doing there; if it doesn’t have a damned good reason, leave it out!
So here we are, away to the races…I’ll share some poems which have already been published…news re readings, the usual…stay tuned.
Oh…and…P.S. There has been a new development. Since 2014, when my first framed piece of art, a blind contour drawing, was accepted for the inaugural show in the community gallery at New Westminster’s Anvil Centre, I guess I’ve been a visual artist too. The theme was the famous 1940 “Wait for Me, Daddy” photo, taken just outside.
Here’s one of my poems from Woman’s Eye.
FACES, for the people of Oliver, BC
by the suns
of their summers
by the winds
of their winters
I see the apple faces
of the orchard people
Franci Louann email@example.com circa 1970
Published in Woman’s Eye 12 BC Poets (Air) 1974 & 1975, edited by Dorothy Livesay.
A hard-cover copy of this book is in the “permanent collection”, at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library. My name was Fran Workman at the time.
Kevin Spenst surprised me by reading this at Poetic Justice in 2013.
He had just found the book in a used bookstore. (XO to Kevin.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyuJHVbFJ0g Kevin Spenst/my poem
When there was a call for art inspired by the photo, “Wait for Me, Daddy”, I remembered how I had felt that the memorial in its honour (to be created here in New Westminster) might be two-dimensional, as the photo itself was. I pictured black lines against a plain white (or beige) wall. There are examples of this portraiture in Plaza de la Revolución, the main square in Havana, Cuba. Here we see an image of Che Quevera. photo by F Louann
Remembering a technique of drawing where one doesn’t look at the paper or pen, I made a sketch of the three main figures in the famous photo—mother, reaching to catch her son; son, chasing after his dad; and father, looking back at his family, but keeping his place in the long line of soldiers coming down the Eighth Street hill. My second attempt I did with black felt pen on cream card stock, scanned it and submitted it for the show. I called my drawing “Two Dimensions”. (If I were to do it again, I might, as one local artist did, leave off the soldier father’s rifle—pacifist that I am.)
The original drawing has sold but I have copies. One will be part of my first (and last?) solo show at the New Westminster Public Library, upstairs gallery, in December, 2016. I was offered that month because the committee likes my ‘Santa Series’—that’s another story. This group has also invited my poetry.
Beyond my many poems and rewriting, I am an occasional artist—responding with drawings on only a few occasions. I haven’t wanted to be surrounded with lots of materials and product. With poetry, the visual has always been important, finding my own forms—each poem hearing its own drummer, having its own shape—‘tidy on the page’—tercets, quatrains, cinquains, etc.—‘ragged’ only when it wants to be that.