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Dec 10th

Interview- Meet Fantastic Poet, Ann Homme

By Meta

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This is Ann. Ann Homme. She is the renowned daughter of Bob Homme, aka The Friendly Giant of Children's television in Canada. She is a strikingly beautiful woman with cascading silver hair and drapey clothing of many textures. She is a fashion and style icon. She has traipsed through many beautiful and tragic events in her life, including being the stylist at Canadian award ceremonies, providing the gorgeous garments for such lovely icons as Jackie Burroughs and Emilie-Claire Barlow. She worked with Marie Ste-Pierre of Montreal in Yorkville, Toronto. She is a flautist and plays Bach on the marimba like a maniac, quotes poetry to anyone from convenience store owners to electric company representatives, rides a lawn mower in tulle, chops wood in Vivienne Westwood and electric red boots, sings like a vixen, writes unpredictable and gauzey, resonatey piano songs, is an experimental and inventive photographer who depicts shapery and essence of individual beauty in all her subjects ranging from people to flowers to trees to lakes to chairs. She is a carrier of tradition and depicts her Norwegian wry sense of humour with the utmost charm and grace. “What can't Ann do.” Is what I always say. I am lucky. Because I am her niece.

I am very excited because Ann is about to release a poetry book.

M- Hi Ann.   So, why don't you tell us a little about the Poet's Society which you have created. What's the story behind it?

A- Well, the Grafton Poet's Society is a small society (note the 's on the word poet). I am the poet and the stated society is, I suppose, the trees and stream and wildlife that surround me. I thought that just because I live an isolated life in a valley in the woods, doesn't mean I can't formalize in some way, my passion for poetry. So I am the poet, the treasurer, the secretary, the vice-president and president. If the Grafton Poet's Society has a reading – it will be me reading. This notion appeals to me for its simplicity and its inherent lack of competition. I could design a reading anyway that I wanted to – sell tickets or give them away – cancel at the last minute – all with no interference. Perhaps I've been living in the woods for too long.

M- So funny, and not atypical of your Norwegian sense of humour.
   You have a book or 400 coming out, but definitely starting with this debut, which I see as a historical event. What is this book all about?


A- I would like to publish a book I wrote more than ten years ago, after an icky (it wasn't my idea) divorce. It's called A Modern Girl's Guide to Absolute Grief. It's a graphic novel (or, as I like to call it – a picture book) about my life with men. The first line “My father was a giant, what chance did I have” drags my wonderful father into my messy story and that has held me back. I'm not sure I'll ever let it out. But recently I found all the poems I've written and organized them into four 'subjects'. Early Poems, Divorce - A Litany of Careful Complaint, Rhyme, and Poems. They're sitting here in manuscript form, awaiting some Bright Idea about how I can afford to have them printed as books to sell. The other 395 books are percolating in my mind.

M- Will you ever release a musical album?

A- I did release a musical album a few years ago. That is to say, I released it to a few trusted friends and family. It's called Songs Played On A Rain-Soaked Piano (With Mistakes And Talking). With my brother's high-end recording device, I just played random things – some made up on the spot, some I've committed to memory over the years. The high-end device was a bit of a waste, as the piano had been leaked upon (roof problem) and had a cracked sound board on top of that and did not produce a high-end sound itself. However, I felt that was part of the charm (one must find charm in such situations) and went on with it. It is definitely not over-produced. It's the kind of thing one could probably get a Canada Council Grant for, if one believed in a government presence in the arts. (And that's my way of saying that it's really not very good).

M- Well, I have heard it and owned a copy, even, until the storage locker people actioned it off.  And I have to say I love it, and it is filled with presence.. I  can hear the room, can sense minute details often left out in high end recordings.. in a very tasteful way.  Circle Song is one of my favourites ever.  

Anyway, who are your favorite poets and why? Name 5. 

A- I love this question. My favorite poets are my favorite things in general. I got through a lot of adolescent angst with T.S. Eliot – just the beauty of his phrases. I was not equipped to thoroughly understand what he was talking about, but it wasn't necessary. You can enjoy his work on more than one level. Next, I would have to say Richard Wilbur. If I could write just one poem that matches in quality all of his, I'd be happy. He just says it beautifully and perfectly. I love May Sarton and think that she was probably underrated. Also Elizabeth Bishop, for a few of her poems – especially her poem For C.W.B. It's a youthful, straight-forward poem with some of the most beautiful imagery I've ever read. And I can't forget an original favorite, Robert Frost. His poetry is so – seriously sensitive – I suppose. I've memorized a few of his – Rose Pegonias is a favorite. Emily Dickinson is a poet to whom I came later. She didn't hold much appeal for me when I was younger. I think she was a bit too angular – whatever that means. I did, however, learn that my mother's family was related to her and that sparked my interest. I wore white clothing for a week. I memorized 'It dropped so low in my regard' – a wonderful poem for a woman who may be feeling unworthy having been abandoned by her husband. I have many more favorite poets (Robert Penn Warren, Dorothy Parker, William Blake, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Butler Yeats, Billy Collins, Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice – I could go on, but you only asked for five).

M- Wonderful.  I will always remember the time I opened my first T. S. Elito book, which was from you for Christmas, when I was in high school.  Changed my life.  Again, it was auctioned off in storage so I should probably by it again.  Amazing, the Four Quartets.  

I love the way you memorize the poems you love, and are able to recite them as songs.   

 So, how is life in your side of Ontario? Describe a typical situation, a day in Cobourg, perhaps, or Grafton.

A-  As I mentioned, earlier, I reside in a valley in the woods and don't think of myself as a 'town' person. I must go to town, however, to procure necessities and, in fact, resent the twenty minute drive for any little thing. I am not organized by nature and often forget things on my trips out. So I would say that my 'side' of Ontario is this rural life, with all of its delights and challenges. The delights are obvious – surrounded by nature, quiet and private. The challenges are numerous – culverts over streams that get washed out, ponds that fill in, dog strangling vine that tries to take over (and does a good job), trees that fall in ice storms and block paths, heavy snow that requires about three hours of my time in the shoveling of it, heating the house with a wood stove. This would all be manageable if not all left to me, alone. I need a man, but not the way I thought I 'needed' one years ago. I wrote a poem about all of this, after I'd injured myself doing something outside that I was not 'built' for. It's quite politically incorrect, probably, but truthful. It's called I'm Kind Of Mad At Germaine Greer and appears in my forthcoming book Rhyme. So funny to talk about myself like this – as a Serious Poet. The only other thing I have to say is that life in the country is an education. I've had to deal with the rural/urban divide – all kinds of rotten energy or industrial projects being plopped in our laps out here. I've fought water bottling plants (didn't win), gravel pits (lost that one), wind farms (way too close to where people try and live their lives), mega-incinerators sold as 'green' but environmentally disastrous (that one's going on as we speak), unlicensed toxic land fills – the list goes on. Friends wonder why I stay. Well, it's beautiful – and worth protecting.

M- Such a Thing.  I think that those factors are among the few only things keeping me away from home.. that I would have to witness its possible destruction.  That land is the most precious of places to me and many others.  Heritage in the Trees and ponds.. now I feel homesick.

Your life sounds filled with rusticity and beauty but also with an undercurrent of heavy meaningfulness.  I love this contrast.  you present it with such dry but friendly wit.

Let's talk about your father, Bob Homme.  How has Friendly influenced your literarily?


A- I would say that I was introduced, as a child, to wonderful stories, poetry, and music. My father, The Friendly Giant, was the same kind, intelligent, man in his role as television character as he was in his role as father. He read to us, introduced us to all kinds of literature and music. I think his musicality was related to his appreciation of poetry and has made me, some people have said, a rather musical poet. He didn't 'teach' us anything with a great, dry, educational intention – just exposed us to lots of good things. He never told me to write a poem, yet I did, when I was about four years old – because I wanted to. Without him, I would probably never have discovered the joys of E.B. White's essays, for example. There was always (until it went downhill in the '80's) a subscription to The New Yorker magazine. I wish I was a better poet, actually, with a genealogy like this.

M- Thank-you so much, Ann Homme, for your lovely talk.  

Stay posted for a couple of poems from Ann's upcoming book!  


 
Dec 5th

Interview with London's Nick Flavell

By Meta
Nick Flavell

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Today I present an interview between myself, Meta, and Nick Flavell of London, a songwriter extraordinaire and recent chart-topper.  

M- "You are a London-based artist and musician. London is such a wonderful city full of surprises and variety, history and age, a grand mixture of present and past, so much culture. So many amazing musicians have originated there. Many of my personal favourites have also been visual artists. What do you make of that? Do you find a correlation between your music and natural artistic abilities? Do they feed one another or seem to stem from one special lush place in you?"

N- "yeah there has always been a strong music culture in London, going back to the swinging 60's I guess and with so many great bands and artists originating from this city.  It does give you a sense of pride and custom, which can only be a good thing. Many of my fave bands and artists have come from London, such as the rolling stones, David Bowie and the Sex Pistols. Sadly many pubs in London have closed down and are continuing to close down at approximately 30 pubs a week and this must impact the struggling artists who want to be seen and heard on the live music circuit. At least 4 pubs I played in years ago are now gone."

M- "Speaking of creative places, you have had a near-death experience, which you said sparked a whole other sense of creativity.. This is a fascinating topic, the promptings of hardship to further dig up the gems of us. Can you elaborate on that?"

N- "I nearly died from a perforated stomach ulcer and when you are faced with death and your own mortality it makes you think of things in a more spiritual way. Is there more to this life than we think? Will we move on to some new dimension or higher realm of existence after this very short life we have is over? I also think I was probably very traumatized by the whole near death experience and writing music was my way of dealing with it and expressing myself and the particular emotions and feelings I was experiencing as a consequence of that time."

M- "Music as a healing method.. not uncommon, is it..  I love how music or the arts can intertwine with healing and soothe the aching soul, bring it back to life.. the way they can work together.  The aching soul or body brings the music to life.

In your bio, you said it “furthered your creative powers”... I like the way you said “powers”. In what sense did you mean?"
N- "I think that my songwriting skills had somehow improved quite dramatically and my general output increased by a huge margin. I think sometimes the worst experiences can bring out the best in a person as that is when you character and human spirit is really put to the test."

M- "Fantastic.  So, are you primarily a solo artist lately?"

N- "I do prefer to work alone these days as, of course there are less arguments and less people you need to rely on. On the flip side you don't have the chemistry that is so special in writing and performing music. I always had a great chemistry with the Tim Bazel, the drummer in my old band and when we played together it was like we were one part of a great machine." 

M- "That definitely can be quite magical, alchemical, when the chemistry is good and people have a silent understanding whilst creating.

You had been in a band called Watercolours.. What was your role in that band?"

N- "In my old band I was lead guitarist and the main songwriter."

M- "Have you found that over time you have found your own personal voice, through experimenting with different sides of yourself?"

N- "Yeah, I think I have developed my own style, though you can hear fairly obvious influences in the mix. When you write and record your own music you also see what people like and latch onto in the music and these nuances can become part of your style."

M- "Definitely.  Fascinating, when you learn more about your own facets, and how they resonate publicly.

Well, it was nice conversing with you, Nick.  Good luck with everything and thanks for that." 

  Nick will be featured in our Number One Nation show, among others.

 

Dec 1st

Expansiveness in Gold - the monthly cosmic assessment of essences at play

By corvus mae
Hi there.  It's time for me to philosophize again.

Blog Two of my astrological, mood, and weather-related situational nutshell writings. 

This month's topic: Expansiveness, learning, and warm inspiration

So we are out of that oceanic volcanic introverted scoping of underworlds and undersides of whales and underground scrutinizings, and have once again resurged unto the surface of the earth in a relieved and joyous fashion.  This is the time of Sagittarius, of Jupiter looking at all the riches he has collected from the caves where the time was spent last month.  We are realizing that we have mounds of gold to play with, gold of thought, of activity, of ideas, of things to talk about, to argue happily and with gusto about with our friends, to play with and spread around to the world.  Time for expanding, for relaxing, for discussing, for pbserving, for taking ideal action.  Our ideals are enhanced and there is this sense of goldenness, shimmering fire in the small crevices of the air, of our homes, of our hearts.

I myself find every year that I am attracted to East Indian art and culture, the fire, the gold, the color, the ideas, the smells of the spicy food, the warming of the belly.  Sagittarius is all about travel, about wonder and exploration, about facing danger with a casual smile.

This is also the time of year where people get together and prepare for whatever holiday they celebrate.  Togetherness, loud talkers, plan-makers, parties.  

This is a good time to relish, to take in, to collect pieces of joy, because next season we put our noses to the ground again, when Saturn, the god of contraction, of restriction, the opposite of Jupiter, takes over to keep us in check and balance.  So have fun everyone and happy holidays! 

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