Reading the Migration Library

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.

http://loiszing.blogs.com/files/louann_theunspoken_view.pdf

 

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CELEBRATING POETRY MONTH – PERSONAL POETICS – WHAT ARE YOURS?

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!

thanks

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?

Introduction

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.

 

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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.

 

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Here’s one of my poems from Woman’s Eye.

FACES, for the people of Oliver, BC

 

some rosy

ripened

by the suns

of their summers

 

some weary

withered

by the winds

of their winters

 

I see   the apple faces

of the   orchard people

 

Franci Louann flouann@telus.net 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

 

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queveraWhen 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

2dimensions

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.