Jane's Space

Jane's news and thoughts.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sept 15

Unutterably sad, the Dawson College shooting.

I am right back in the BOFA ‘99 mindset, when we created our Stranger Game, looking at why and how people become alienated, and what the results can be. Tragedy. I’ll never forget everybody's pain as we went through that process, nor the driven, passionate, insightful, bruising performances that people gave in rehearsal.
The silence after the scenes.


So good to see Sheri Segal. I met her by happy accident yesterday at GCTC's ( Greg Nelson's) The Fall, which I was seeing again. Sheri is as beautiful as ever, and still a lawyer, Parliamentary Council in the House of Commons. We sat through World Trade Centre together, and each of us, after the first ten minutes, silently longed for the film to end. I suggest that you only see this film (which is well-done) if you want to feel really bad for a long time.

On the other hand, I think that Little Miss Sunshine is the funniest thing I have seen since I stopped doing BOFA. Smart too, original, I need to see it again! And again!


About gasoline -- 81.4 cents a litre- Omigod, it’s actually true! Right now, on Merivale Road in Ottawa. I haven’t seen a price like that in how many months? Years?
About my Highway 401 tire-bursting adventure - I heard nothing else from the people involved, or from the police, thank goodness.
But I now 'have' a cell phone - courtesy of my loving brother and my concerned and vehement! sister in law, bless them both! I hate what disappears with cell phones - my privacy- and so I will use it only on car trips. But I WILL have it with me then! (if I remember to bring it...)


Last night we went to the National Archives for the launch of Reluctant Genius, a biography of Alexander Graham Bell, written by Charlotte Gray.
It was so good to hear fluent, intelligent speakers, one after the other, lauding one of their own. The book should be fascinating, as “Alec" was such a volatile character. Charlotte Gray said that the book is partly about scientific prowess, partly high romance. Did you know that AGB was a teacher of the deaf?

I like to be asked, “what are you reading now?” That's one of my favourite questions. There is a small group of people who ask me that question, some young, some not... how great to talk about the books I am immersed in. There isn’t much that’s more intimate than reading an engrossing book. After all, don’t they say that the main sex organ is the brain?

Anyway, I have just finished a re-reading of the The Runes of the Earth, the first book in the series The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, by Stephen R Donaldson,( The Passionate.) I re-read the last Harry Potter this summer, was astounded by Longing, the densely-written story of composer Robert Schumann’s life and marriage to Clara Von Wieke, a tough, but compelling book by J.D. Landis; I just finished We'll Meet Again, by Mary Higgins Clark.
I am now reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by the new wunderkind, Jonathan Safran Foer, and have two books, White Teeth ( by Zadie Smith), and Bel Canto, by Anne Patchett, waiting in the wings. And now there is a new Alice Munro, and a new Margaret Atwood in the stores... and of course Charlotte Gray's book.

I have lately re-discovered the public library. Man, it's like walking into a bank and picking up all the riches you want, free! When I was a child and all through high school, I would take out 6 novels a week. (Six was the limit then.) I can do that again!!

Oh yes, I have lately read some very interesting scripts too!

Which brings me to Christie Watson. Christie has a new job. He is working with GCTC and looking for scripts from Ottawa-based writers, to be possibly developed through GCTC. So, if you are based in Ottawa, and if you write scripts, check it out soon, there could be funding involved. www.gctc.ca

Books bring me to all things Lit., for sure. Anna Humphrey had her baby last month! A beautiful girl, over 9 pounds, her name is Grace. Anna is happy and doing well. Jamila stayed to help Anna at first. I can't wait to see them all in October. I am so happy for Anna. Chris Fraser is teaching this year, and giving workshops on voice. Dave Deveau is in BC, starting work on his Master's degree in writing, and has been doing so well with his playwriting, for both screen and stage.
Laura Farina is coming to Ottawa in November to do a reading at The Royal Oak, the Tree series. You remember that she won the Archibald Lampman Award last year for her book of poetry, This Woman Alphabetical. Laura and I plan to visit.


Archibald Lampman is my favourite Confederation poet. My friend, Stuart, and I have had adventures combing the city in the wee morning hours, looking for places Lampman lived. We tried for a long time to find his resting place in Beechwood Cemetery - his poem is at the entrance of that hauntingly beautiful wooded expanse.

One sticky summer night it grew dark as we were dodging mosquitoes, trying to find Lampman's stone, walking over hillocks. We got back in the car and trundled around the islands, using the headlights to see the writing on headstones. We were suddenly discomfited to see headlights in the rear-view mirror - very close. A pick up truck was right behind us. Fearing some sort of murderer, we were confronted by a little old lady who had a shotgun in her truck. Also in the truck was her young grandson. She was following us, as cemetery caretaker, afraid that we were about to engage in intimate night-time frolics! She said that the cemetery was a favourite trysting place for prostitutes. She was eventually reassured, but we left the finding of Lampman's resting place to another day. DAY!

That's one of my Lampman stories. ( I did find it later, BTW, and amazingly it was just marked by a rock. That began our quest - why such poverty, we wondered.)


Here's one of my favourite poems by Archibald Lampman, who died so young. 37. ( He worked at the Post Office, you know.)

I imagine him sitting up in the Gatineau Hills, looking down at early Ottawa, as the first snow began:

The leafless forests slowly yield
To the thick-driving snow. A little while
And night shall darken down. In shouting file
The woodmen's carts go by me homeward-wheeled,
Past the thin fading stubbles, half concealed,
Now golden-gray, sowed softly through with snow,
Where the last ploughman follows still his row,
Turning black furrows through the whitening field.
Far off the village lamps begin to gleam,
Fast drives the snow, and no man comes this way;
The hills grow wintry white, and bleak winds moan
About the naked uplands. I alone
Am neither sad, nor shelterless, nor gray,
Wrapped round with thought, content to watch and dream


I told you all that for a good reason! there's a new worthy cause--a poet's walk in Ottawa! This is so exciting! Janice Kennedy has a two-page article in the Citizen of September 10, on the Poets' Pathway, a projected walk from Britannia to Beechwood Cemetery. Ottawa has been home to many celebrated poets -especially Lampman and fellow Confederation poets, Campbell and Scott. This trail would be 30 kilometres long, and incorporate so many places the poets roamed and wrote about. Wouldn't it be just PERFECT?? I am going to donate, www.canadahelps.org/CharityProfilePage.aspx?CharityID=31222. Maybe even volunteer! Maybe you could, too!

Today, Sept. 19, Poet's Hill was formally opened at Beechwood Cemetery. It has a granite lectern for readings, and beds of flowers. Later there will be plaques of engraved poems, and a national poets' monument, says Kennedy.

Janice Kennedy ends her lovely article this way:

The meandering trail would lead from the shores of the great river that inspired the poets, through the countryside that fed their lyric creativity, to the graveyard that memorializes them.
And those who follow it, when it opens some day in its entirety, will be tracing the footsteps of departed visionaries who helped cut a green swath through the national imagination.

I want to walk that trail.


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