Saturday, 2 September 2017

Returning Guest Roger Moore of Island View, NB.



The Scribbler is extremely pleased to have Professor Emeritus Roger Moore  as our guest this week. He is sharing his recent experience from being selected for the first one month KIRA residency as well as some selected poetry.  (Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission)

Roger is an award-winning academic, poet, short story writer, novelist, film maker and visual artist. 
He has been featured on SBS before with a 4Q Interview and a delightful short story. If you missed it, please go here

And you can check out his links below.





2017 has been a busy and creatively productive year for me. On March 2, I was informed that I had been selected to participate in the first one-month KIRA residency that ran from June 1-28 in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Three Kingsbrae International Residencies for Artists were planned for this inaugural year (2017), with five artists invited to each of the three residencies. In total, fifteen artists from various fields of expertise (including poetry, painting, basket-weaving, sculpting, paper-making, singing, rug-hooking and pan-piping) have experienced the Kingsbrae Residencies in June, July, and August of this year.

 

I had originally proposed two projects for my KIRA stay: the completion of Echoes of an Impromptu Metaphysics subtitled A Cancer Chronicle, and, should there be time, the revision of my first novel, Witch Doctor. The creative impetus I received from my acceptance into the KIRA residency allowed me to revise Echoes … and publish it, before I arrived in KIRA. The revision included a new title: A Cancer Chronicle. In addition, still enthused, I was able to complete and publish a third short story collection, after Systematic Deception and Bistro) called Nobody’s Child.
 
 

A Cancer Chronicle opens with the diagnosis of the disease and moves through the various stages that lead through treatment to recovery.  I am fortunate in so many ways. The disease was caught early and was curable with the appropriate treatment. I received tremendous support from everyone concerned during the ordeal. The friends I made at the Auberge / Hospice in Moncton encouraged me to talk about my experiences and shared their own with me. So many people suffer in silence, but the friendship that surrounded me encouraged me not only to talk and to write but also to share my experience in poetical form. Here is a poem from the Diagnosis sequence.




Today

Today,
a lovely lady
read me
my death sentence:
my biopsy results.

She poured me
a poisoned chalice,
my personal
Gethsemane,
a cup from which
I must drink.

I sat there in silence,
sipping it in.

Darkness wrapped
its shawl
around my shoulders.

‘Step by step,’ she said,
‘on stepping stones.’

I opened my eyes,
but
I could no longer see
the far side of the stream.

            Days of extreme and often forced excitement alternated with days of boredom and sometimes very dark depression. Here’s a poem from a dark day.

And the greatest of these …

 

I am a hollow man,

my heart and soul scooped out

by worry, wear, and care.

 

Hope?

I abandoned it long ago.

 

Faith?

In these changing times

it's a series of corks

bobbing their apples

in a party barrel.

 

Charity?

Love grows old and cold

and loses its charms

as we shiver in each other's arms.

 

For now, I'll dodder

my dodo way

towards extinction.

 

As I shuffle

from room to room

I’ll rest for a while

upon this chair.

 

My mother went this way.

My brothers and my father too;

I soon will follow,

just like you.

           

I was allowed home for the weekends and drove back to Island View on Friday nights for the two months that my treatment lasted. Here’s a happier poem, composed in the jacuzzi at home at a time when the medics were winning and the disease was disappearing from my body.

Jacuzzi

Warm and safe,
womb waters whirling,
drifting through time,
eyes closed, and space.

Amniotic, this liquid,
rocking me to the throb
of my mother’s heart.
I close my eyes.

The walls around me
open out to reveal
the sun by day,
the stars by night.

The full moon:
a golden circle
beaming down.

My mother’s face
above me

and me,
re-born.

A different kind of rebirth also occurred at KIRA. I drove to St. Andrews on Friday, June 2, and there I started a new life. My writing schedule at KIRA often ran from 5:30 am, when the sun peeped into the east-facing room where I was staying, until midnight, with breaks for food, excursions, and artistic conversations. These 18 hours a day, writing and thinking, gave me an intense creative experience that it would be difficult to reproduce. My presence in the Red Room, on the Second Floor of KIRA, allowed me the luxury of sitting at my desk, looking out of the window towards Minister’s Island and Passamaquoddy Bay, and writing whenever I wanted to, day or night. Breakfast at 8 am and supper at six pm were provided. We lunched on our own. The freedom of this schedule accounts, in part, for my productivity.
 
 
 

Before coming to KIRA, we were asked how we intended to ‘engage with the community’. My engagement came through my dialog with my time and my place (Bakhtin), and I engaged with several mini-communities throughout my stay. Principal among them were (1) the community of my fellow artists; (2) Kingsbrae Gardens, people, statues, and flowers; (3) the Passamaquoddy region, including Jarea; and (4) the delightful town of St. Andrews-by-the-sea.

At KIRA, the early, light-filled starts to my days, my high work rate plus my new Bakhtinian dialog allowed me to write (June) and publish (17 July 2017) One Small Corner (subtitled A Kingsbrae Chronicle). This book, my third in 2017 (all available online at Amazon), consists of 101 pages and 78 poems, all written and / or revised at KIRA. The two titles, A Cancer Chronicle and A Kingsbrae Chronicle illustrate the yin and the yang, the light side (KIRA) and the dark side (cancer) of my creative life.

One Small Corner is both the title of the book and the title of the opening poem:

One Small Corner

And this is the good thing,
to find your one small corner
and to have your one small candle,
then to light it, and leave it burning
its sharp bright hole in the night.

 Around you, the walls you constructed; inside, the reduced space, the secret garden,
the Holy of Holies where roses grow
and no cold wind disturbs you.

 “Is it over here?” you ask: “Or over here?”

If you do not know, I cannot tell you.

But I will say this: turning a corner one day you will suddenly know
that you have found a perfection
that you will seek again, in vain,
for the rest of your life.

        
    One Small Corner holds multiple meanings for me. New Brunswick is my one small corner within Canada. Within New Brunswick, Fredericton fills the bill, as does my home in Island View. For the month of June, St. Andrews became my small corner, and Kingsbrae Gardens shared the intimacy of that small space. Within Kingsbrae itself, KIRA was a small corner, as was my room and, above all, the little nook in it where my desk nestled against the window and I was able to look out across the lawn and trees to the bay. Each one of us has these ‘small corners’ in our lives. Sometimes, we can take them apart and then put them back together and when we do they nest inside each other like a set of Russian Dolls.

Russian Dolls

“Plant a plant, deep its roots, rooted in fine potting soil in a pot,
firm the hands, the spot well-chosen,
in a flower bed, in a pattern,
in an empty space, in a growing garden
within a larger garden,
in an old estate
in a small town by the sea.”

“Russian doll puzzle: garden after garden,
with gardens within gardens.”

“Planted and replanted, unfolding flowers in a sunshine world,
in a state of grace with hope and craft
hand in hand
with faith and belief,
and everything planned
to take advantage
of this time and this space.”

“So simple those words,
so complex those ideas.”

            One of the key themes of both KIRA and the Kingsbrae Gardens is that of giving back. We receive and accept with open hands. We must also give thanks and give back our joy and happiness to the world around us. Here is my poem on Giving Back.

Giving Back

In the beginning was the wind,
and the wind created waves,
whitecaps on wild waters
with sunlight dancing its tiptoe hornpipe,
heel and toe,
landwards towards the headland
where the lighthouse grows
from rough and ready rock,
its light cast on water and returned
fourfold in the yellow moon path,
step after stepping stone,
golden from sea to gardens
with their marigold path
leading to house and home
and the banquet spread before us,
so solemn the altar,
this day of all days,
when we celebrate
our lost and loved ones
with bread cast, like light,
out upon the waters and tenfold,
always,
our love returned.

The KIRA experience was exceptional and I benefitted greatly from it, both artistically and spiritually. I would encourage any and all New Brunswick artists, in whatever medium, to apply for a place next year. KIRA will allow them to produce, develop, and grow.


 Thank you Roger for this sharing your experience at KIRA and especially for the selection of poetry with the background and inspiration for each.

Roger's links are as follows;




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