Wednesday, 20 April 2011
Poetry Month: Kath MacLean - Kat Among the Tigers
Kath MacLean is recognized as one of Edmonton’s most eclectic poet-performers, her unique muse and creative delivery attract attention wherever she reads. Known for rich images, “breath-taking lyricism” and musicality, her award-winning poetry, prose, and non-fiction is generating critical acclaim across Canada.
Praised by the likes of Al Purdy, Judith Fitzgerald, and George Elliot Clarke, MacLean’s first book For a Cappuccino on Bloor (Broken Jaw Press, 1998) was the recipient of the New Muse Award and was short-listed for the Kalamalka Press New Writers Competition.
The winner of many literary competitions, including both the Grain Poetry and Non-Fiction Awards in 2005, MacLean’s imaginative writings have appeared in leading Canadian, American and European journals. Her playwriting credits include circling the moon, a poetic murder-mystery-musical, which was produced and performed at the Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton. Her poetry has been nominated for The Winston Collins Poetry Award (2007), and her nonfiction received 1st honourable mention with Prairie Fire (2007). In 2009 her poetry received both honorable mention from Rubicon Press and was runner –up for Sub-Terrain’s LUSH poetry prize and Malahat Review’s Creative Nonfiction prize. Last year “talking, talking”, a series of ghazals, was listed as one of Canada’s top poems of the year by Lorna Crozier.
MacLean’s poetry has also been broadcast on CBC Radio, and she’s been a popular guest on arts and entertainment radio shows from coast to coast when touring her work. Locally, she has appeared on CJSR-FM and A Channel and performed at the Edmonton Poetry Festival, ROAR, the Edmonton Olive Reading Series, and in the Nonfiction Reading Series at the Carrot Café. In March, MacLean will compete as the only prairie poet at Harbourfront’s Battle of the Bard in Toronto.
A strong voice within Edmonton’s arts community, MacLean was Writer in Residence (2009-2010) for the Canadian Author’s Association (Edmonton Branch). She teaches writing at Grant MacEwan University and given numerous poetry workshops for students of all ages in Edmonton for many years encouraging them to read, to write, and to perform poetry. She has also been a Professor of English Literature at the University of Alberta, and is a certified teacher (4 – 12) in Ontario.
Recently MacLean launched Seed Bone & Hammer, a CD of performance poetry and a videopoem, There Was A Young Man (both in 2009) which has already received rave reviews at it debut film festivals in Edmonton Stony Plain Rd Storefront Cinema and Vancouver’s International Festival, Visble Verse. Her new manuscript of poetry, Kat Among the Tigers has recently been published by U of A Press. Her new video poem, Doo-Da-Doo-Da, a poem from her new book, will also be released this spring.
TTQ - What role do you see poetry playing in an increasingly digital world, and do you feel the e-book will ultimately take the place of the printed page?
Kath MacLean - There is certainly a place for poetry in the digital world & as the powers that are push for more, we need to think about where we stand on this. I love to hold a hard copy in my hand – the tactile experience is so important when I’m reading a book. Making books available digitally certain may improve availability, but I fear copyright and writers not being properly paid for their work. We make so very little money from our art as is – & this unless the laws are firm & more sensitive to our needs and requirements as artists making a living from our work (& so far they aren`t), I fear it. Having said all of this, I`ve been working on a second poetry video which I will have available on my website along side, There Was a Young Man. Having this up on a site has attracted new readers for me – non-traditional poetry readers who like what poetry video does for a poem. So I see this electronic form as something very important to my career just now. I am also, really enjoying this new medium.
I`m going to hope that the traditional form of the book will continue to be around a good while yet, options are fine, but I don`t see the book in its physical form vanishing just like that. It isn`t magic, it`s going to end up being a market decision – but, I will keep hoping our books in their written form will continue to live and that there are enough of us buying them and craving them physically that the printers keep birthing them. I can’t imagine this love affair coming to an end!
Paris, March 1915
The trumpet sounds, the shutters moan
the sky shrinks a hole in the dark.
I’ve never seen stars rush through evening like that –
the Ultimate Fish: its flash of fins dive under the night‘s soft skin.
And the house stretching, rises to its toes, lifts up
its failing arms and scoops life as we’ve known it, always -
People lean into the black and the Milky Way splaying her legs,
her petticoats rising, her feathered hat, her muff and gloves gone --
Who says Romance is dead? When heads rush, bodies turn each to each
steam rises from the cup, the kettle cries –
the sky calls doo-da-doo-da --
In the aftermath, I think of you as a sneak of a pig.
Not writing one ceases to exist among the literati,
their blue swords poke about the fire, picking, flicking,
their lovely tongues full of lovely dreams.
If Romance is dead Jaggle I’m a hatless fool,
muffless, bare- bottomed, fluttering silently across the night’s soft skin;
the trumpet sounding, the shutter’s low moan -
You’re a sneak of a pig.
Ash- mouthed, rushing towards the literati
dreaming the lovely, shivering and shawless,
I scoop stars beneath my petticoat and imagine
a flash of fin diving beneath my soft skin.
The trumpet sounds, the dark moans
a few notes here and here a scarcity of words --
da - doo da...