Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year, Hello Again, and what about that gunk in the middle?

The last New Years post was a good bye. This blog remained silent for some months, but photographs began to appear mid-winter, and gradually text. It seemed impossible not to share reading responses and ideas in this manner--like an alchemist turning her back on the most potent ingredient of the day.

Despite the persistence of war, violence, unbridled consumption, and despite major gains in global awareness around climate change, little real change on that score...2007 still managed to be a stellar year. I have many folks and organizations to thank: my Philadelphia friends, CA Conrad, Frank Sherlock, Hassan, and to Haverford and Bryn Mawr for making my time in that city very sweet, to Liz Bachinsky and Michael V. Smith, Rick Simonson and Elliott Bay Books, the folks at Lambda for choosing Lemon Hound for the poetry category, and to the League of Canadian Poets for the Pat Lowther Award. Thanks to Montrealers for welcoming me back into the fold, and to Calgarians for their warmth (ongoing!) during my tenure as Writer-in-Residence, to Pages on Kensington for being the best bookstore in Calgary, to Wordfest, the Banff Centre for the Arts, UBC and Play Chthonics, and all the people who were involved in various readings and events, and publications, and to the readers of this blog and others. The poetry world sometimes appears to exist in a parallel universe, one seen only when the sun hits glass at a certain slant...or perhaps seen only by the handful who seem to create it.

So, while isn't yet another good bye post, it is a restatement and recommitment to putting the work first, and the discussion and promotion of it somewhere down that list because despite moments such as the ones above, it is still the work that makes it all worthwhile.

As for the new year. The Hound will be looking for content. Language is exciting, but it needs to say something to say as well. I have never been a big fan of New Yorker poetry, fiction yes, poetry not so much. But a recent interview with outgoing poetry editor Alice Quinn reaffirmed what I suppose I've always known. Namely that poetry lovers always come back. According to Quinn "New Yorker readers are people who were profoundly connected to poetry in childhood, adolescence, or college, who want to touch base with it and want to feel that they still can read poetry." Not that this fact has anything to do with what is published in the New Yorker--if in high school or college they read more widely, say bp Nichol and Fred Wah alongside PK Page as this reader did, they might have a wider base to touch back into. But I find it interesting that she notes the excitement of a younger generation of poets, while not necessarily seeing a way to translate that excitement to her audience at the New Yorker.

But poetry is a space that once opened up can be easily and pleasurably maintained, and it's time to think about those readers...all of those readers who come willingly to the page. What will they take away from your brief moment together? What will transpire? What energy will be exchanged? It isn't perhaps the point of poetry to work toward that, but it needs to be part of it, no? So here's to 2008, and all of its juicy content.