Following is my poetry selection for the Sept./Oct. issue of UMBRELLA. I heard Virginia read it at ANOTHER DAM POETRY READING during this weekend's PurdyFest, & asked her permission to publish it. It's a great poem, & shows us where a major local visual artist got her youthful inspiration!
"AcornFest" was a super success, despite a slow start. We had a handful of visitors at the potluck supper on Friday, but we got an far better than expected attendance at the Symposium on resurrecting Milton Acorn's legacy on Saturday - we had 20+. Even more people showed up for the dam reading (25 - 30) and then on Sunday we crammed two pavilion tents with double group readings from the Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance and the pre-launch reading from the new Hidden Brook Press anthology THAT NOT FORGOTTEN (hard to estimate, but I'd guess 40 -50).
This afternoon I was able to take co-organizer Terry Barker to visit Ameliasburgh and Purdy's gravesite and A-frame for the first time.
All in all a great weekend for People's Poetry! ... know we did Milt proud : )
peace & poetry power!
Chris ... and Chase ... Wrffffffffffffffffffffff! (who enjoyed all the attention!)
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thanks very much for inviting me to send my poem/ text for publication in Umbrella. This excites me as I was just at the current Picasso exhibition in Toronto and it completes the experience for me.
We took Jean out to Zen River this morning and she was awed by the beauty and Jim's stupa. She has a train to catch in Belleville this afternoon so we didn't stay long. Jim's heading back however so you'll meet up over more poetry.
Hugs for Chase!
PICASSO MEMOIRS Virginia Dixon
I loved pictures before I loved Picasso but at age nine, while visiting the “Picasso and
Man” exhibition at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Montreal I fell in love with desire;
lines on paper by the hand of a man whom I knew to be living, somewhere in France,
older yes, but alive at the same time as me on the same planet. It seemed incredible.
I felt insistently many things. Who were these nude women? Trapped in a child’s
body I was jealous of their breasts, their eyes and hair between their legs, which
seemed to demand Picasso’s blackest hatchings or spills of ink. I could feel their flesh
under the touch of his pen; feel his eyes’ amusement at my curious glances.
Arithmetic calculated that Picasso was now eighty-two. If I left for France
at sixteen that would put him at eighty-nine....then suddenly rage!
I was no model longing for the artist’s gaze! I was the artist, making all of these
feelings now dangerous. Would Picasso ever take my drawing seriously? Could two
great artists share the planet at the same time? Thank God he was old. Thank God I
was safe in my little girl body.
The following day my father read aloud the review in The Gazette over breakfast. The
critic quoted a child’s overheard comment, “I liked the bare ones best!” They’re called
“Nudes” I said to myself, relieved at the distance between Montreal and Paris.
When I was twenty-two I went to France. Picasso had died three years earlier and I
remember leaning on a stone wall overlooking Vauvenargues, his villa, imagining him
as I had seen him in photographs seated in a large room looking at a canvas, smoking,
with sunlight angling through tall windows. A housekeeper was visible in the garden
and I half wondered if she’d let me in if I dared explain the situation. She grew
impatient with my lingering and waved at me to move on. I didn’t know he was
buried near by.
Can you bury Picasso? Lately, when I drink too much red wine, I start crying over the
guy. He’s not faring so well at the close of the century; feminism is rewriting his
history and painting in general is ridiculed. When Francoise Gilot came to
Harbourfront to read from her book Matisse and Picasso I stood in line not for her
signature, although I got that too, but to look into the eyes
that had looked into his as a woman, a lover, a painter. She was seated at a table, I
was standing, which required her to raise her eyelids as she handed me back my copy
of her book. She allowed me a glimpse before lowering them again, putting a closure
on my dreams for Picasso.