Berliner Suite…

In 2010 we spent 10 days in Berlin before going on to visit Jose’s family in Portugal. I’d been in Germany in early 1975. We both wanted to see Berlin, which I had missed then.

This poem won an Honourable Mention in the Royal City Literary Arts Society (a mouthful? i.e. RCLAS) contest earlier this year. It has just been published in the October issue of the RCLAS Ezine. So, here you are. I’ve been told that it refers to the Huguenots.

Now I see double-spacing here. Unless that will change back to single, we may miss the impact of the condensed stanzas having the shapes of the many memorial blocks.

I learned many years ago from a German friend, if you can’t type an umlaut, you add an “e” after the vowel. I love to say “Gewuertztraminer”. We have been making a fine one at the Wine Factory on Front St in New Westminster. “Cheeky Monkey” brand had great labels for this product, but they stopped making/providing those.

And now, my most recent recognition-winning poem…not true – most recent “otherwise-published”. My last award BTW was from the Burnaby Writers’ Society – second prize for my poem “The Mortal Coil of Life” – yes, the theme was “Shakespeare” – it’s 400 years, you know.

I’ll be reading that poem at the BWS Awards presentation ceremony at the Deer Lake Gallery, 6584 Deer Lake Ave (to left of Shadbolt Centre) – 7:30-9:30 on Tuesday, October 18. CRISTY WATSON won first prize – she read her poem at Poetic Justice this fall & honoured Shakespeare so well – I “had a feeling” – was not surprised by her win.

 

BERLINER SUITE, A SHAPED POEM

 

the Jewish Memorial is plain, grey, rectangular—

low-lying structures of dull, dark cement (coffin-like)

repeat in different sizes     spread over acres

two thousand, seven hundred, eleven pieces

 

I’ve not come to celebrate     war

won’t go to     concentration camps

never again—I know enough—

I’m a pacifist, on a Berlin bus

 

I remember Martin Niemoeller’s words—when they came for

the communists, socialists, trade unionists, the Jews

he said: I did not speak up, and when they came for me

there was no one left to speak  

 

I’ll look for memorials for the others—

gypsies, Roma people; gays and lesbians

the differently-abled and incurably-ill

Catholics, and Lutherans     like Niemoeller

 

the tour guide reports—at one time

when Protestants were persecuted in France

they were safe in Berlin—

every fifth Berliner was French…

 

the painting in our hotel room shows a ship

carrying the city’s towers—

all the spires, old and new, are included—

it’s a clear day, an even keel, calm water

 

but my early morning stanzas come

as coffins, long dark shapes in the night…

 

Franci Louann   August 5, 2010

Europe   Germany   Berlin   religion   war   memorial

sub’d RCLAS contest 2016; won Honourable Mention

published in the RCLAS Ezine, Wordplay at Work, October 2016

Ginkgo…George Elliott Clarke…golly

This morning I woke up with “North by Northwest”. As I turned on the radio at about 7:30 (?) I heard a fine interview about ginkgo trees…thought I must have that word in a poem… I was thinking of a romantic story about a high school friend, but that one hasn’t appeared in a poem (yet).

After learning the correct spelling of “ginkgo”, I found I have that word in two versions of what I call a “dual list poem” – after a poem by Elee Kraljii Gardiner. (I’ve also confirmed how to spell her name. She with the beautiful new book of poems, “Serpentine Loop” – about skating.)

My poem lists terms from both dental hygiene and poetry…my life’s major works. I’d forgotten the term, “ginkgo walk” – but there it was…

garland of sonnets   gauze

genre, gestures   

ghazal     

gingival, gingivitis   gingko (walk)

glissando, glosa, glossary   glossitis

grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS)   groove

Oh good, the italics (for poetry terms) survive here, and the line breaks… Where I posted it on North by Northwest’s Facebook page, it cam through in just a (funny?) paragraph form.

What about George Elliott Clarke? I’d better get back to my presentation about him, for delivery at the New Westminster main library this Tuesday at 6:30. “In Their Words” is  organized by Alan Girling, and includes four genres. I wrote an essay about him for Introduction to Poetry at Douglas College in 2011. I presented this also at World Poetry at the library in Black History Month (2014?). Since 2011 Mr Clarke has been Poet Laureate of Toronto, and he is now Canada’s seventh Parliamentary Poet Laureate. He has also earned his eighth honourary doctorate. I’m happy to see the smile on his face (in photographs) these days.

BTW (by the way) the last post before this one has my poem which was written on September 17, 2001 – fifteen years ago yesterday – poem three in my “9/11 Trilogy”. “One Week After”. The first poem was written “Ten Years Before” – the title then was “A Valentine for the Western World”. It appears on the previous post, on the same day. It was also the first thing I heard on the radio one morning. My feelings had to be expressed in a poem. For me, it explained 911. Poem Two has not  been published, so I won’t share it here.

G is also for “Good Morning”. Good Morning, Afternoon, or Evening – as the case may be.

9/11 TRILOGY POEM THREE—ONE WEEK AFTER

9/11 TRILOGY

POEM THREE—ONE WEEK AFTER

Broadway and Macdonald, September 17, 2001

 

you note the gold coin at my throat

I finger it and say, the person’s head

is the Statue of Liberty

it must be, it’s American

 

very appropriate for these times

you answer; I continue

the head is the back of the coin, I like it better

the front has eagles on it

 

maybe they represent something evil…

embarrassed for my possible faux pas

I mumble on

how can eagles be evil?

 

(is it politically incorrect to speak of politics

at this time? is that     what I’m learning?)

how are you really? we ask, knowing

the answers would be different otherwise…

 

 

here at the Sunshine Diner, almost one week after—

you’re gone, the rock music goes quiet;

amid images of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Dean

this is the right place for my memorial—

 

the poems that would not come, could not;

my hand over paper

chases mauve and lime-coloured shadows—

the eerie, surreal effects of the diner’s neon lights

 

and the spirits

of Americans

who died

too young…

 

Franci Louann flouann@telus.net September 17, 2001

Peace   war   coping   terrorism

Published on Facebook September 11, 2013 & 2015

9/11 Trilogy

9/11 TRILOGY

POEM ONE—A VALENTINE FOR THE WESTERN WORLD

Amriya Shelter, Baghdad, Iraq

 

I awake to hear the news

of one hundred     blackened bodies     in Baghdad

all the women of a neighbourhood

in a bomb shelter     with their children

attacked     at night

by our allied forces

 

one hundred     blackened bodies

one man has lost     eleven

 

this is February 13th

today is Ash Wednesday

on the Christian calendar

most of our leaders are     Christian?

tomorrow     is Valentine’s Day

most     of our leaders are     lovers?

 

one hundred     blackened bodies

women and children

one man has lost     eleven

 

one man

has lost

eleven…

Post script:

On February 14, 2001 Agence France Presse published Iraq Wants U.S. Tried for War Crimes, stating: a total of 407 people were killed, including 269 women in the Amriya shelter in Baghdad, on February 13, 1991. This shelter, one of thirty-four in Baghdad, has been kept untouched as a memorial.

Franci Louann flouann@telus.net February 13, 1991 after hearing the CBC news

Published at www.poetsagainstthewar.org in early 2003 & on Facebook

Keywords: peace    war   regret   loss   memorial   military

 

 

Wasn’t that a talent launch?

Uptown Unplugged had its largest crowd so far on the Royal City plaza at 6th & 6th, from noon to 2 today. I told ‘some of you’ about Emma Toth…words may fail me here, but stay with me, please..

Five years ago, when Emma was nine, Eileen Kernaghan directed her parents to me as a tutor for writing. Most of our time together, we tried to finish Emma’s short stories. Sometimes we talked about poetry. Emma & her family (all delightful) came to Poetic Justice, where Emma presented her poems on open mic.

Over the years, I saw them now & then at various local open mics. This summer I made it down to the Old Crow on Front St for their very popular open mic, which has been held on third or fourth Thursdays. Fourteen-year-old Emma surprised me as she presented two songs that she had written herself, accompanying herself on guitar!

Her maturity astonished me.

Shortly after that I made sure that they knew about Songwriters Open Mic, first Tuesdays in the Heritage Grill Back Room. I’m not a regular, but knowing they planned to go, I went & got us a corner table. Emma’s name was late on the schedule…usually performers do two songs…Emma was indecisive. “New Rule”- those under fifteen could do three songs if they wanted to. To use a cliche, Emma brought the house down. Mom Jody (Jodie?) introduced me as Emma’s ‘poetry tutor’ (or was it ‘mentor’?). My jaw dropped even further. Emma had written thirty songs already.

I was told of Emma’s two-hour gig at Uptown Unplugged today. Front row seat for me, please… The host & setup man, Randy, said it was the largest crowd. I was pleased that Eileen & Pat Kernaghan could join us. Emma’s dad, Paul, said after that he hoped I’d heard myself in Emma’s work. I said, no. NO. I’m more in awe than anyone and so thrilled that this (adorable) talented family remembers me this way.

Big happy face here.

 

Photo credit…

It should be here somewhere…Juergen Bruhns surprised me with this favourite banner photo, taken the day of the Anvil Centre opening in 2014. (Well, I did ‘pose’ apparently…)

It was a busy afternoon for me. First I was reading poetry in the opening program here, then ‘rushing’ down Columbia St to feature at Poetic Justice, then back to catch more of the activities in the Anvil Centre.

At the same time, my first framed piece of art (in my Introduction below) was part of the show in the Community Gallery on the third floor.

I know, I know…you might want to see more photos in my gallery…more poetry… Patience, please… For a long time I was in the habit of posting published poems in my Facebook Notes section. You might find them there.

Oh here’s one…I just learned today that this poem was published in the spring… First a disclaimer. I don’t mean that we should all be poets. I guess it’s a message to those of us who _are_ poets, to ‘go there’. Hopefully I can avoid those blank lines in future, the double-spacing.

BE THE POET

written in Janet Vickers’ Workshop: Poetry & Prayer—

on developing & discovering our own unique spirituality

be the

delicate vibrations

of the string

 

be the

powerful percussion

of the drum

 

be the

trembling hand

of the poet

 

be the listener

the channel

let the muse visit

 

be the scribe

the messenger

 

be brave

be     the poet!

 Franci Louann flouann@telus.net October 25, 2008

at BC Unitarian Fall Gathering at Simon Fraser University

Published in spring 2016 issue of The Canadian Unitarian, popularly known as “CanU”, the national newsletter of the Canadian Unitarian Council. Issues are published twice a year (spring and fall), and sent (online) to members of CUC member congregations.

It’s been a long day. I went early to the Douglas College bookstore for some favourite file covers with pockets, to help organize my efforts here, re submissions & applications. Tonight we had a longish session for Poetry in the Park, in the gallery. Many open mic poets were brilliant. My poem was well-received – “MY RELATIONSHIP WITH ROBERT LOWELL, or, When I was Asked to Read at Oxford”. Yes, it’s funny.

Features at our last PIP were Renee Saklikar & Wade Compton. Renee was more delicious than ever. Wade I’d been waiting to meet for a long time. They have worked on projects together, so bounced off each other nicely. Wade & Jonina Kirton are writing together a production about James & Amelia Douglas – what a delightful surprise for me! Just yesterday, when too late for the bookstore, I’d visited the Amelia Douglas gallery upstairs at Douglas College & thought about the lives of that couple. Can hardly wait for that work to arrive. No wonder my dear friend Jonina is so busy… She has advised me on a manuscript idea, which sadly went to a back burner. I have a title…

And so, good night, poets & non-poets…

 

Wassup?

SANTA 1 RED SCAN_20141226_220046470

This might be my most popular Christmas card image, as it’s RED. A friend chose it to make laminated posters for me. She was so excited about my show at the library in December. However, my ‘best seller’ has been the multi-colour metallic. It is #6, the final blind contour drawing, and I was much freer by this time, having ‘warmed up’ with the others, all in different colours. Was hoping this (red) image would ‘show up’ on the blog…

You must know, I’m new at blogging. Shall have a tutorial in September. Meanwhile I have imposed upon myself some scary deadlines, related to poetry, which is where my heart is… Yes, I like to leave a little bit of my ‘heart’ on each page…even if it is just an appreciation of my subject matter.

Woke up at 4 a.m. with a title that was escaping me last night. Good morning, afternoon or evening, as the case may be, dear reader.

 

 

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.