Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lesser Slave Lake

I went to Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park last week with my daughter's Environmental Education class. Here are a couple pictures and an attempt at a Sapphic Ode.

Under weighted clouds now the rippling blue lake,
pale as fairy's eyes in the land of songbirds,
calls the shy spring from beneath the bleached blond
grass to arise fresh.

Birches shine white, echoed by juiceless driftwood.
Left behind by winter, a lonesome snow ridge
hides behind sand dunes and the fiery dogwood,
cool in the damp wind.

Saskatoon twigs rise into gleaming gemstone
buds and starkly black, among muted wood tones,
trunks of burnt trees linger erect like charcoal
marks on the landscape.

Further off, bird banders are watching flocks swoop,
knowing all their patterns of flight and shrill calls.
Morning brings them captives in spider web nets,
tangled and wide eyed.

Hands as gently firm as those of midwives
hold the small captives as they stretch and measure.
Softer yet, breath rustles the feathers, flows through,
revealing pink flesh.

Soon the task is done and the bird is set free.
Up it flies now, grazing the top-most tree limbs,
scenting nesting grounds in its waking homeland

north of the pale lake.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Storytelling Conference

The Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada annual conference is coming up in just a couple of weeks, from May 22 through 28. This event rotates through the country, and having it here in Edmonton is a wonderful chance to experience some of the best storytellers from all over Canada. The link above goes to the webpage with all the details, but I would like to highlight a few things:

On Saturday and Sunday afternoon there will be free storytelling sets in Old Strathcona. There are both adult-oriented and child-oriented venues, and a great variety of tellers. There are also story concerts and slams on several evenings (there is a small charge for these, and some are adults only) including a Francophone concert.

There is also a free introductory storytelling workshop during the day on Wednesday, taught by MaryAnn Lippiatt. MaryAnn is a very entertaining teller, who I am sure will put together a fun and memorable session. The workshop is geared toward adults, but motivated teens may also register.

We are still in need of volunteers. Help is particularly needed during the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions. Also, I am running a merchandise table for the conference and am looking for helpers on Thursday morning and Sunday afternoon. If anyone sees this and feels inspired to help, email me at and I can give you more details.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Beast

I have been doing some songwriting lately and there is one song I wrote that I particularly wanted to put out there before the upcoming anniversary of the Fort McMurray fire. It is not very polished but I hope that some will appreciate the sentiment. I am still trying to figure out how to insert the mp3 file into a post, but for now it is on my webpage here:

Romeo and Juliet

I went to a dance show last week (by that was based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, though more in the sense of riffing off the story than telling it. It was done with a wonderful sense of humour that had me laughing out loud many times, and I enjoyed the show thoroughly. A few days down the road, though, I find myself thinking of a particular issue I have with the way many people approach that play.
I feel that the main tragic hero of the show is Juliet's father, Capulet. It is his hubris that drives the plot into tragedy, and he meets with one of the most terrible retributions imaginable for his pride. It seems to me a far easier thing to merely die oneself than to be responsible for the death of one's child, and he fully realizes his responsibility by the end of the play. To some extent hubris is a characteristic of the two clans as a whole, not just Capulet, and they share in the tragedy. But Romeo and Juliet are not really tragic heroes. Their mistakes are innocent ones, and the warning the play seeks to give us is not about the dangers of falling in love.

This was a big part of my issue with the Citadel production of the play a couple years ago. Capulet's part was cut to the point where he came across as a simple two dimensional villain. And to my mind that missed the whole point of the play. Perhaps this is a case where what speaks to me in the story is different from what speaks to others, but I will point out that Shakespeare explores a similar theme in other plays, most notably King Lear.