Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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On Halloween, I was summoned to City Hall; and for what? Recognizing the peril of hyperventilating, I put a bag over my face and sat down to think.

I reviewed my returned cheques to make sure the tax payment had gone through. It had, but I remembered with foreboding the parking ticket I'd challenged the night artist Dale Robert's Mailart exhibition opened.

Should I admit I'd left my glasses at home and couldn't read the LOADING ZONE sign?

Should I dress for jail, pack a toothbrush, bring a copy of Crime and Punishment, something to keep me occupied through the long, dark winter when it would be too wet to go to the prisonyard and break rocks. Would I need a candle? I pinned on my poppy for pitypoints. Maybe they'd think I was a veteran.

I went through my closet and chose black because black is slimming and doesn't show the dirt.

At the City Hall Annex, I climbed three flights of stairs, wondering what went on behind the closed doors on every level-rendition from the 'burbs? Did I hear sounds of torture or was it just bureaucrats sending out parking notices?

A librarian who described herself as "Draculette" met me on the third tier led me to a small room with flourescent lights that immediately ignited a joint outbreak of hives and roseola. She was wearing a red cape she described as "Red Riding Hood taking a wrong turn in the forest." I thought that was quite literary and told her so. Perhaps my flattery would favourably influence
my outcome.

"Why would you want the job of Poet Laureate," one of my interrogators asked?

Poet laureate,a chance to change the world. Maybe, but definitely more opportunities to wear my Obama T shirt in public.

The stipend is small but the opportunities are potentially, but not necessarily, great. Some lamentable poetry has been written under pressure.

I had to think for the second time yesterday, not an easy thing to do on Halloween when even the dogs are freaked by fireworks. The Queen had given my friend Ted Hughes a case of port and stag from the royal forest every New Year's. Had the humiliation of writing arguably the worst poem in the English language (when Andrew married Fergie) been assuaged by a few nights of forgetful

I sat in a flourescent stupour for at least three seconds.

The tradition of occasional poetry goes back to the very beginning of civilisation. Before The CBC,BBC and NBC, there were poets running back and forth over ancient sheep trails sharing the news, some of it good. I want to be part of that tradition. I want Kids in kindergarten and old folks in rest homes to reawaken to the healing and sharing potential of spoken and written word. I want to alert musicians dancers and artists to the possibility of including poetry in collaborative performance. I want the citizens of my small city to adopt the ancient tradition of thanking rebuking and reminding one another of their shared responsibility to the community by exchanging poetry.

Sure, I'd like the job. I'll do the tricks. Bring on the treats.

1 comment

Congrats on this big interview! When do they announce the new poet laureate? And hey, did you really know Ted Hughes?

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003) and The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). She has also published several collections of poetry, including Love in the Rainforest (Exile Editions, 1996), Heaven Cake (Sono Nis Press, 1997), The Saning (Sono Nis Press, 1999) and The Bursting Test (Guernica Editions, 2002).

Go to Linda Rogers’s Author Page