Sunday, April 15, 2007

Artie Gold Memorial

Went to tonight's memorial reading for Artie Gold at The Word bookstore here in Montreal -- even though, as I've said, I didn't know him. I'm convinced by people's testimonies that he would have been a great guy to know. At least I got to know about the man from those who did. There were at least 50 people crowded into the little shop, many of them standing, including moi; when the entrance way got packed as a rush-hour bus, the owner had to turn people away at the door. A lot of familiar faces from the Montreal Anglo poetry scene: Endre Farkas, Stephen Morrissey, and Carolyn Zonailo, who helped put on the event, along with others from his inner circle; Robyn Sarah, Carolyn Marie Souaid, Elizabeth Robert. George Bowering, a personal friend of Art's, was also there and talked a bit about him. Like another Glenn Gould, Art, it seems, would call friends up in the wee hours and regale them with wildly eclectic monologues -- one said something to the effect that he was the only person he knew who could string together bubblegum wrappers, Picasso's Guernica, Henri Bergson's theory of mind and quasars all in one sentence. His poetry certainly leaps and crackles with that kind of free-ranging oddness. Before the evening was through, there was an open mike and I got to read this poem. (I hadn't expected to read, but I was prepared.) Although the owner, out of decorum, didn't make a big point of it, there were a fair number of Artie Gold books on display; this was a chance to stock up. I picked up before Romantic Words and his selected, The Beautiful Chemical Waltz, reasonably priced at $10 each. Interesting memorabilia on the walls: letters, photos, eviction notices, an elementary school report card saying if he only applied himself, he could do well, and he really should work on his synonyms and homonyms. Here's a link to a memorial piece by Stephen Morrissey with a recent photo. And here's a quote of an AG poem before I'm done. I transcribe for the pure joy of it:

Sun filters through my window
velvet like bat's bellies the shadow it casts
flutter about my room. I share the unrest

the sun is doomed with; the movement
sunup sundown moving around; ground sky ground
its only comfort the habit of its orbit.

We are orbs whatever we do is behaviour
the truth of our moment is too predictable
yet I delight in the sun. it is monumental

in the sky with certainty rising, setting
looking to the greater cycle, there is colour,
a yellow angel pedals about the world.

4 comments:

Pris said...

Thanks for telling me about this post. I enjoyed getting the flavor of him and that quote was sooo good.

R. W. Watkins said...

If I lived in the Montreal area, I would definitely have taken in any Artie Gold Memorial--would have felt rather guilty if I hadn't. As for the open mic aspect, I would definitely had to have read 'private eye' from 'before ROMANTIC WORDS'--like I point out in a recent brief comment at the beat poetry website 'Literary Kicks', it was poems like 'private eye' that gave me my darkly humourous, satirical side....

Speaking of dead icons, here are my thoughts on the recently deceased June Callwood, as I left them in a comments 'box' at the CBC Sunday website:

I must admit to having mixed feelings about the late June Callwood. On one hand, you have the woman herself and her almost impeccable literary and personal responses to the needy and disenfranchised. On the other hand, you have the darker and more easily dismissable side of her legacy--the extreme projections and oversimplifications that have resulted from her influence: extensive and often indecipherable regulation, health and safety awareness bordering on the obsessive-compulsive, societal paranoia, biased 'crybaby' news coverage, prolonged childhood and 'the War on Puberty', the relinquishment of personal responsibility and abdication of Self, failure to accept the aging process and one's ultimate demise, etc., etc. If an old stray tomcat now gets unjustly run over in this post-Callwood society, one can rest assured that 'Fluffy's Law' will be tabled in just a few weeks, if not days. Only the extreme-left and extreme-right have any real say or sway in this 'nanny state' into which we have gradually evolved.

Quite often, one person's epiphany becomes several lesser persons' dogma. In this respect, Ms. Callwood falls into the same category as Tommy Douglas, Dr. David Suzuki, and even Bruce Cockburn. The dogmatic side of Callwood's influence can be seen in everyone from the economically naive Jack Layton to the sexually paranoid Stephen Harper to one's average antitobacco advocate chanting catechismically into a camera.

All this considered, my best advice to everyone would be to remember and respect Ms. Callwood and her considerable achievements, but remain highly skeptical of her (supposed) imitators and their often eccentric and oppressive agendas.

Brian Campbell said...

Thanks, Pris, and r.w. I'll have to look up "private eye." Your views on Callwood are extremely well put. I though beg to differ on the tobacco issue, having seen and experienced some of the worst effects first-hand. Barbara Tarbox was hardly a crybaby.

Brian Campbell said...

"private eye" is a very lively and interesting poem. Thanx for highlighting it.