Another Dream Come True

I imagined reading my own work at this festival…but it was never going to happen. Except it is.

On the banks of the Eramosa River, in the tiny village of Eden Mills, Ontario, the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival is held every year, as it has been for over twenty-five years.  One of Canada’s premier writer’s festivals, it attracts huge crowds and very well known Canadian writers, reading their works in a variety of picturesque outdoor settings (if the weather cooperates, that is; indoors if it doesn’t. Usually it does.).

I’ve gone, on and off, for the last twenty years.  And, of course, I imagined reading my own work at this festival…but it was never going to happen.  Except it is. This year, I entered work in two categories – prose and poetry – in their Fringe contest, open to ‘not-yet-yet-widely-published’ authors.  I really didn’t think I had a chance…but on the weekend, I got the call, telling me I’d been selected in not one but both categories. I was (nearly) speechless. The official invitation – not only to read, but to attend the author’s party the night before, and the Festival dinner after the readings – is hanging on my bulletin board. I’ll probably frame it.

So I’ve got some reading practice to get in over the next month, to get the flow of the poems right, to figure out what part of the short story I can read in ten minutes, the time allowed.  Good problems to have.

Regular readers know I don’t do inspirational pieces, or moralize…but maybe I will just a bit this time.  As I said, I’ve been going to this festival for over twenty years, and wishing I could read there.  In my earlier entry I talked about how seeing my book on the shelves of my local independent book store was a dream come true, a dream held for over thirty-five years.  I’m fifty-eight, readers, and while I postponed my writing dreams for far too long, caught up in life and work and travel, I never forgot them completely.  Two years ago I got a blunt and visceral reminder that life is short…and to stop dreaming and start working, or I was never going to be able to call myself a writer. Now I can. My dreams may seem modest to some of you, but I’ve never been one for the limelight. This is enough for me.

Whatever it is you’re dreaming of, don’t give up, but you’ve got to do more than dream.

 

 

 

Wind and Silence

This verse was my visceral response to being at the site referenced in it.  It’s not my greatest verse, but the image and the impact stay with me.

December 29, 1890 (July 30, 2001)

The wind is the first thing; that,

And the silence. Dry land, brown bent grasses,

Blue sky.

In the valley, where the tents were,

Where the children were,

There are dreamcatchers for sale.

On the hill, against the carven stone,

A buffalo skull and flowers lie

Beside rolled tobacco and a teddy bear.

What dreams are caught at Wounded Knee?

A Verse for All Hallows’ Eve

Angels Unaware

The hollow hills return their travellers

Lost and out of time

On the unsubstantial streets.

The boy panhandling on Yonge

Has no shadow, and will live forever.

Seven crows are silent among the pigeons in the square;

In the haven of the Spit, a white ship, un-noticed,

Waits to sail west.

In the dreamt city the riff-raff are

The guards at the gates of faerie;

Are the rockfall that hides the easter caves,

The glamour that obscures the grail.

Two Sonnets

Nassagaweya Township is where I live. Still mostly rural, it is dominated by rock and swamp and small fields, and was first settled in the early-to-mid 1800s. The lives and labour of those first settlers, who cleared huge tracts of hardwood and white pine, dragged enormous boulders to build boundary walls, and quarried limestone for rock and lime, were in part behind these two sonnets.

Nassagaweya 1: Winter Deer

Dividing wood and tangled swamp the road

Cuts survey-straight, a line drawn cleanly on

The map, unlike the trail that six deer followed

Through brush and cattail, three pairs of doe and fawn.

Their path ran crooked, keeping to high ground

Between the clumps of osier, brilliant red

Against the morning’s snow. A final bound

Brings the first doe to the road: the others, led

By her, follow, and in silent file cross

This barren space, alert, deliberate,

Unhurried; not admitting any loss

Of path or cover, valiance animate.

No survey stake or draftsman’s pen rules here:

Red osier, swamp, and wood belong to deer.

Nassagaweya 2: Rock and Water

Rock and water underlie this township,

But neither deeply; it’s rarely more than

A few feet to the rock, and every dip

Of land’s a swamp. A challenge to a man,

To try to farm this, but his chance to make

A life is here. So fields are cleared and streams

Diverted; roads are built. But rock can break

Both ploughshares and spirit: too many dreams

Of harvest awake to springtime flood

And summer drought; the skin of soil above

The limestone now like rock itself; now mud.

His sons say there’s not enough here, to love

Or prosper on: they answer other calls

As trees surround the crumbling boulder walls.