Friday, February 06, 2004

Politics and Poetry

Pretentious title. First, the politics. We don't watch much TV, but we're currently hooked on Rick Mercer's Monday Report. It's not all political humour -- much of it might fall into the category of Canadiana, like the intro last week that had him knocking on the doors of ice-fishing huts on the Red River near Lockport, MB.

CBCradio3 also did a great feature on the same topic in Issue 19. It's quite the prairie subculture, I think. Sort of an attempt to cheat winter, being almost outside but not having to suffer much. It astounds me that any fish actually survive in that river, never mind a population high enough to be caught by these hosers from Selkirk. I just hope nobody eats them -- I've seen too many unsavory things floating in that brown sludge. Unfortunately my inside knowledge comes from years of waterskiing in the same polluted water. But this was supposed to be about politics.

I felt like I was doing some kind of civic duty by watching the Throne Speech, and then enduring one of the National's town hall meetings with the prime minister this week. I'm not apathetic about politics at all -- I've always liked the tagline (actually the whole publication is great) for This Magazine: "Because Everything is Political". But listening and watching those two examples of national political posturing would make anyone feel disconnected. Paul Martin is obviously very slick and smart, but most of his answers didn't seem very believable.

On a happier note, reading with Ivy has helped me appreciate poetry again. I've read all of the poems in Dennis Lee's Alligator Pie over and over and over. On our last roadtrip, we found that we could recite most of them from memory without ever attempting to memorize or even remember the words.

Ivy's also quite fond of A Visit to William Blake's Inn. It's an odd book of poetry modelled after Blake's writing, using some of the same language and imagery. One of my favourite pieces is called "Blake Tells the tiger the Tale of the Tailor":
There was a tailor built a house
of wool of bat and fur of mouse,
of moleskin suede, the better part
of things that glimmer, skim and dart.

Of wood and stone the man professed
his ignorance. He said, "It's best
to work with what I know.
Shears, snip. Thread go.
I'll have a house in the morning."
It's kind of a creepy poem, with the tailor's house ending up haunted by the spirits of all the creatures he used to build it. There's something about good poetry that can capture a concept or feeling without the burden of explanation and wordy backup.

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