Tuesday, June 30, 2009

White Porcupine

You don't come across a white porcupine everyday, so when you see the title of Phil Hall's book of poetry maybe it will make you think twice. Maybe the title will even entice you to pick up the book. And when you do, maybe some odd postcards will come fluttering out of the pages.

Were those postcards in o-so-specific places? I'm not so sure, but I do know that I'm using the quirky cards to nestle between the pages of some of my favourite lines.

One card holds a space for the fun of reading these lines out loud:
After death crops & roars
onto all fours with spiked pores blowing the doors
drizzle gets on with its whispered slant
a white porcupine trundles rain-sticking in
the new tenant is the old tenant
gnawing salt off furniture again.
What a grunting-great poem it is, full of animal sounds. Real and surreal. Elements that seem to happily co-exist.

Between pages 14 and 15 a postcard marks this spot
First - my first language - nonsense - overhugged my second language - sense
later my first language - sense - dampered my second language - nonsense
until an actual poem came brandishing its turret key - but no language
so I had to find one

Also interesting when the work veered into the 'incomprehensible" I sometimes didn't even notice it was lacking literal/linear meaning. It made 'sound-sense', so I forgot to care about what the words were supposed to represent.

I watched as another poet, Sue Sinclair, drew wandering lines and curvy circles down the words on the page to demonstrate the flowing sounds and connections between syllables, bringing yet another dimension. It made me want to get a photocopier and crayons to squiggle the words to life, to bring a real porcupine into the room, quills and all.

Hall playfully called himself a terroir-ist - and talked about the idea of writing a poem that made sense when you read it in the right place.

The idea of terroir-ist poetry is very appealing. It makes me want to laugh. It makes me want to go places. And drink wine and read poetry in those places. So, yeah, somewhere between Bob Cajun and Fenelon Falls there is probably a Red Rock where it all makes sense. I just might try to track it down.

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