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Sunday, 1 January 2017

ZIGZAG: Stuart Ross's New Year's poem for 2017 and Pearl's of wisdom

Dear friends, colleagues, relatives, mentors & those who fit into none of those categories —

I wish you good health, above all — but also happiness, friendship, comfort, peace, art & all the nifty things you want from 2017.

For the past couple of decades, as many of you know, I've been writing a new poem on New Year's Day and sending it out. Here’s my poem for this year.

If you wish to be taken off this occasional mass-mailing list, just let me know. No hard feelings.

Stuart Ross
Cobourg, Ontario, Canada

Image result for pic meadowlark



Yesterday the newspaper said one thing;

today it says something entirely different.
And all we did to make that happen

was sleep. Today, I looked in the mirror,

and I was unrecognizable! A meadowlark

with a broken wing. The news

is printed on paper while the meadow

is printed on lark, and we focus

our camera (a Filmo Sportster

manufactured 1947 by Bell & Howell)

on it as it zigzags into the air,

carrying just one thing under its bum wing:

a copy of Company, by Samuel Beckett

(published 1979 by John Calder). The pollsters

find that people want to hear seven words

from Company. The meadowlark, although

struggling to remain in flight, complies:

“girdle,” “inkling,” “confusion,” “vertex,”

“mountains,” “hitherto,” and “furthermore.”

Seven words of inspiration! Today

the people are frightened but

tomorrow they will rise up. Imagine

what might be possible! In 1702, when

this poem was written, the author

was put to death: an enemy of the state.

In crafting this translation, I have

striven to maintain the vitality

of the original. In this way, the frightened

people will rise up, probably tomorrow.

Imagine what might be possible!

Stuart Ross
1 January 2017

A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016)
Certain Details: The Poetry of Nelson Ball (editor; WLU Press, forthcoming 2017)
Bad Engine: New & Selected Poems of Michael Dennis (editor, Anvil Press, forthcoming 2017)
Pockets (ECW Press, forthcoming 2017)
Please consider supporting my writing at

                                                            ~   ~   ~   ~  ~

Happy New Year, Chris

Who says things can't be unsaid? Lessons unlearned repeat. Of course one should never edit in an online browser but copy & paste from a file. I wrote 6 paragraphs of optimism of new year = new beginning, then lost it all. Life smirks, so, what's your attitude now?
Defiantly hopeful anyway. Things when starting again, don't take the same shape, they become better. Shane Parrish said "Velocity is a vector dependent concept. Moving in two directions that are not 100% aligned creates drag." In doing schtuff, is the focus the activity, intent, effect, words or people?

I look at Liam Burke as a model of proper direction. As he hosts Sawdust reading series and realize how well he does it. He is present for each open mic reader, each featured reader, introduces with welcome, acknowledges with appreciation, quotation, connection to other people. It's a thing of beauty to witness. There are so many people to learn from. It's the quiet ones sometimes who glow in their corner who show how life's done.

There are so many who inspire. On twitter Sarah Gailey did a run of 106 life-lessons of 2016, like "98: if someone is talking about how they like a thing, don't step in to tell them it's not that great. Dampening enthusiasm is a dick move." Or her 55: "a good way to bust through the blues is to go tell someone else how great they are." Life is continual learning.

I'm grateful for the chance to learn about things that I have no application for because knowledge in itself is interesting. It doesn't matter relevancy or how it connects. To know more about moss is its own reward.

I appreciate people who change things in the moment they occur. Like Charlie Petch who doesn't let b.s. pass, doesn't get ranty but stands ground, putting dignity in the face of undignified harassment. It's more stressful to let things pass than to call out with a simple no.

There are great poets like Sanita Fejzik who launched a chapbook with Natalie Hannah's new press which is like How Do I Love Thee, except not billowy and unresolved. Writers wow me. Their articulacy, clarity, adamancy, nuance and bravery. Natalie also does interviews for the Arc Poetry newsletter and interviewed me a few days ago. Interesting to think philosophy of why.

Life is not all dire. Chris Hadfield on twitter pointed out the advances of the year, a vaccine for Ebola, wiping out malaria from Sri Lanka, the numbers rebounding for tigers, wolves, and the gentle manatee taken off the endangered list.

Richard Van Camp, a generally inspiring person challenged: "I Double Dogrib Dare everyone who reads this to create something new in the world where two enemies make peace at the end. Ready, set, create!"

I am grateful for many people. My mom who insists on forming her own path. After a lifetime in her father's house, then her husband's she comes into her own in her 70s. She's seeking her bliss, not what other people say she should. She takes a good hard look at what she wants and needs. She grabs onto self-reliance, self-definition.

rob mclennan, who beyond his general support for writers and creating constellations of ideas and communities, recently invited people to say what did work in 2016 and derek, Amanda and I responded.

Part of my glad game is helping to organize Tree, to bring writers into the community, have people meet people who may spark and show the next step.

For you, what worked in 2016?

The new season of Tree is back next week at the Black Squirrel bookstore, 1073 Bank St. It's an extended open mic to welcome you all back.

I have a couple manuscripts on the front burners, one a surreal chapbook and one a nature/lyrical book.

My blogs have mostly petered out. My is getting out of date but I'll get that revised sometime soon. The cooking column still runs monthly at the Centretown Buzz, online or at Herb & Spice and area pharmacies, etc.

Studio Nouveau Workshops are resuming in spring (April?) probably centred around 6 weeks of eastern forms of poetry, haiku, tanka. That should be fun to explore. I expect to do an online-only side and possibly an in-person one as well.

Literary Landscape on Jan 10th is with Mirolla of Guernica books. The show continues to roll along. It's a pleasure to work at CKCU and get this excuse to talk with writers of all types.

At the 95 book challenge I crested 170 books and chapbooks, over 23,000 words read. In a shift, my favourites tended to be non-fiction. This year I ranked them and added more columns for demographics. Writing by males I ranked 3.5, by females 3.1, by multiple gender 3 and by non-binary 4 out of 5. I aimed to read more diverse but natives and people of colour comprised only 1/4. GLBTQQ2 was only 13%, disproportionally few to population. I aimed to read more classics but half was published in 2015 or 2016 and only 15% from over a century ago. I like stretch reads where they don't resonate and are hard reads, as well as oh-yes ones.

Until next time, keep reading and keep writing,
Copyright © 2017 Pearl Pirie & phafours press, All rights reserved.

Pearl Pirie & phafours press

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