Part II: A poetic look at Prose in the Park

[Ed: read Pearl Pirie’s article about Prose in the Park here. Below is her poetic interpretation of the event.]

Taking a page from Basho who wrote his travelogue haibun, intercutting haiku and notes, a look back at the journey thru the festival. I’ll add some tanka as well as haiku to the recollection.

The familiar grounds had thousands of books in a circus of tents. From the seagull’s view it might have looked like a sort of spikey cartoon of a colouring book sun. It was the kind of weather that we think of as normal summer but only comes so perfectly formed a dozen days or so a year.

false spirea buds
clamped tight, green—
if nature won’t
bloom yet, fine
publishing will

The canopy seats over 50 and is full and still people stand off to the side, sit on the grass or listen in from behind the stage. Would Vincent Lam read from The Headmaster’s Wager “each bowl of noodles was crowned by a rose of raw ?esh, the thin petals of beef pink and ruf?ed” before the wireless mic was passed for audience questions?

ants gather
to appreciate
fallen ice cream.
how wonderful
no death stench

Was it Alex Binkley or Hayden Trenholm? You may not remember who said it when but you remember the laughter in your gut. Maybe they collaborated the answer to point out that “writing the future is writing now. If we could see the real future we wouldn’t be here, we’d be at the stock market.” The quips and play of people in shared love of the craft, how people leaned in, a hand gesturing on a shoulder.

ivy tendril’s fist
reaches for the nearest grip
—another ivy

Trenholm pointed out Asimov used AI machines an allegory for civil rights which I didn’t get at the time in childhood, or got then forgot. As my uncle once said I’ve reached the point in my life where I can never read or remember more again than I already have so have.

drowsy girl
on mom’s shoulders—
gripped berry drops

Each panelist sat, mirroring each other’s posture opening and closing to lean in somehow reminiscent of an accordion. Even book sellers listening in from their tables.

The panel agreed, aliens are a way for us to see the universal through the point of view of another species. It is post-colonial way of looking past surface exteriors. Julie Czerneda added, when it comes down to it we each have alien experiences and what sci-fi novels are good at are finding a path for resolution to conflict. Trenholm added, each thing is a potential solution whereas movies rely for their purposes on creating problems. If something’s not blowing up in movies, it doesn’t need any attention.

The audience asked, are there any books you’d like to go back and rewrite, or wish you’d never written or pull out of circulation? Julie Czerneda explained as you write, you naturally change you style, get better, understand structures differently. Trenholm added, if you do something for 25 years and you’re bot better, maybe it’s time you should do something else.

at a wayfinding sign
he tips his cap brim

Pearl Pirie is the president of KaDo, a group of a few dozen Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec poets who explore the eastern forms and traditions of poetry including haiku, tanka and related forms.

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