on editing

I’m going to post properly about my experience with the awards here in Toronto, but I think I’ll wait til’ I get back home, and I can share some of the pictures that Megan took on her camera. Also, I don’t have the clearest mind at this moment, re: long walk in the sun, beer, horses going by the window, etc.

In the meantime here are some questions that I answered. Local Vancouver poet Kevin Spenst put them me, as he has put to other writers, about the editing process. Thanks Kevin, for making me think about what I do (I often don’t.)

The Bronwen Wallace Awards

In a little cafe in Toronto with Megan, a couple hoursaway from the Bronwen Wallace award ceremony drinking some green tea to try and calm my nerves a little. It’s all bright and blustery in the city. I’vewanted to post a bit more often, but I’m not really much of a travel blogger, I think. Meeting the other finalists yesterday evening was totally awesome, they are such genuine and thoughtful people, I’m honoured to be in their company.  Also the Writer’s Trust folks have been wonderfully gracious and supportive. Its still all a little unbelievable. I don’t know. I’m going to look over the poem I have to read now and I’ll try and write again tomorrow in the nextfew days with a clearer mind.

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A brief note on David Foster Wallace

I didn’t read DFW until after after his suicide in 2008. I remember reading the gush of very emotional reactions on the Metafilter post when news got out, and his well circulated Kenyon commencement speech, which I still go back to read now and again. There is a kind of dubiousness with reading an author in the wake of his suicide; I waited a few months anyway, and got a copy of  ‘Oblivion’ out of the library and after I finished that I bought Infinite Jest, a massive bluesky-covered thing.

It was pretty much the only book I read that summer. I consumed a large part of it while in a cabin for a few days on Mayne Island, and another big chunk when I was sick with the flu (part of me didn’t want my fever to end until the book did).  And then scattered through many summer nights.  I think my girlfriend could see its effect on me; I’d be reading it next to her, trying to hold back laughter – half an hour later, I’d have my head in my hands, muttering ‘Oh, Christ.’ Or I’d be staring out into space at work, mid-broomsweep, just thinking about a scene from it. All good books do this to some extent, but Infinite Jest was a huge awakening to the possibilities of  language and meaning, in a way I had not experienced before. I felt beaten up and illuminated. I tried to experiment with using some of Wallace’s “moves” in my own poem-writing and realized how hard it is; they aren’t simply stylistic tricks, the winding sentences are well built machines, designed to get you to the heart of experience.  In any case, he’s made as much an impact on my writing as any of my favorite poets.

People always talk about the footnotes with DFW, and while they are pretty post-modernly exciting/maddening/excessive etc., it reminds me of the way people talk about the hallucinations when on psychedelics; the stuff that’s going on more quietly, and personally, deep under the surface, is just harder to talk about it.  I’m not going to indulge right now, though. I’ll just say that no other writing I’ve read has got so close to what it means to be human in this world, how troubling, how absurd, and how crucial it is to make some kind of sense of it. And how much I’m looking forward to The Pale King, his last unfinished book, that is on the way in the mail. I’m sad that its the last thing we’re going to get from someone that I, and many other readers, already consider a close friend who left way too early.

I might post a review or some kind of reaction to the book after I finish it.  We’ll see.  I haven’t really been very informative in this post, for people new to him, so I’d recommend checking out The Howling Fantods, a good resource for all kinds of DFW-related news and links and whatnot.

a brief note on the title

I was daydreaming about crows that formed a committee to change the name of what they’re called collectively (a murder) and the only name they could settle on was ‘a misunderstanding.’

It’s just a working title; I will probably change it every week or so.

Also, did you know that a group of gnus is called an implausibility? Actually, its not verified; only some of the websites I checked are claiming it. But isn’t it better that way?

Happy springtime, everyone. I’ll have some real content here soon.

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hey guys

All new blogs should start off with an apology for adding to this noisy and relentless din of voices that is the internet.  So, I’m sorry. I hopefully, there will be an equal amount of “quiet,” or persuasion towards it, within what I post here.

I’ll try to keep it “poetry/writing”-focused, but will stray a little I’m sure. I hope to make it useful and informative – less about me, and more about the things I am passionate about. I occasionally write concert reviews that I will link here. I’m also toying with the idea of writing little reviews of books I like. Or at least poems I like. Or sentences.  I probably won’t share much of my own poetry, but if stuff appear online, I will link to it.

I was hesitant about making a dotcom with my own name, but I’m trying to be less shy and cryptic about my online presence. In any case, it’ll be easier for people to find me this way, and I’ll keep this as the ‘roof’ for all my scattered identities.

Hi, my name is Raoul and I live and write in Vancouver B.C.  Thanks for visiting.

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