Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lesser Slave Lake

I went to Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park last week with my daughter's Environmental Education class. Here are a couple pictures and an attempt at a Sapphic Ode.

































Under weighted clouds now the rippling blue lake,
pale as fairy's eyes in the land of songbirds,
calls the shy spring from beneath the bleached blond
grass to arise fresh.

Birches shine white, echoed by juiceless driftwood.
Left behind by winter, a lonesome snow ridge
hides behind sand dunes and the fiery dogwood,
cool in the damp wind.

Saskatoon twigs rise into gleaming gemstone
buds and starkly black, among muted wood tones,
trunks of burnt trees linger erect like charcoal
marks on the landscape.

Further off, bird banders are watching flocks swoop,
knowing all their patterns of flight and shrill calls.
Morning brings them captives in spider web nets,
tangled and wide eyed.

Hands as gently firm as those of midwives
hold the small captives as they stretch and measure.
Softer yet, breath rustles the feathers, flows through,
revealing pink flesh.

Soon the task is done and the bird is set free.
Up it flies now, grazing the top-most tree limbs,
scenting nesting grounds in its waking homeland

north of the pale lake.



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Storytelling Conference

http://www.storytellers-conteurs.ca/en/conference/Edmonton-2017-Conference.html

The Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada annual conference is coming up in just a couple of weeks, from May 22 through 28. This event rotates through the country, and having it here in Edmonton is a wonderful chance to experience some of the best storytellers from all over Canada. The link above goes to the webpage with all the details, but I would like to highlight a few things:

On Saturday and Sunday afternoon there will be free storytelling sets in Old Strathcona. There are both adult-oriented and child-oriented venues, and a great variety of tellers. There are also story concerts and slams on several evenings (there is a small charge for these, and some are adults only) including a Francophone concert.

There is also a free introductory storytelling workshop during the day on Wednesday, taught by MaryAnn Lippiatt. MaryAnn is a very entertaining teller, who I am sure will put together a fun and memorable session. The workshop is geared toward adults, but motivated teens may also register.


We are still in need of volunteers. Help is particularly needed during the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sessions. Also, I am running a merchandise table for the conference and am looking for helpers on Thursday morning and Sunday afternoon. If anyone sees this and feels inspired to help, email me at jytkennedy@gmail.com and I can give you more details.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Beast


I have been doing some songwriting lately and there is one song I wrote that I particularly wanted to put out there before the upcoming anniversary of the Fort McMurray fire. It is not very polished but I hope that some will appreciate the sentiment. I am still trying to figure out how to insert the mp3 file into a post, but for now it is on my webpage here:
https://sites.google.com/site/jytkennedy/assorted-things/audio-files

Romeo and Juliet

I went to a dance show last week (by toygunstheatre.com) that was based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, though more in the sense of riffing off the story than telling it. It was done with a wonderful sense of humour that had me laughing out loud many times, and I enjoyed the show thoroughly. A few days down the road, though, I find myself thinking of a particular issue I have with the way many people approach that play.
I feel that the main tragic hero of the show is Juliet's father, Capulet. It is his hubris that drives the plot into tragedy, and he meets with one of the most terrible retributions imaginable for his pride. It seems to me a far easier thing to merely die oneself than to be responsible for the death of one's child, and he fully realizes his responsibility by the end of the play. To some extent hubris is a characteristic of the two clans as a whole, not just Capulet, and they share in the tragedy. But Romeo and Juliet are not really tragic heroes. Their mistakes are innocent ones, and the warning the play seeks to give us is not about the dangers of falling in love.

This was a big part of my issue with the Citadel production of the play a couple years ago. Capulet's part was cut to the point where he came across as a simple two dimensional villain. And to my mind that missed the whole point of the play. Perhaps this is a case where what speaks to me in the story is different from what speaks to others, but I will point out that Shakespeare explores a similar theme in other plays, most notably King Lear.   

Monday, April 3, 2017

Shirley Goes: Anniversary of Vimy Ridge.

I have added an audio file, "Shirley Goes" on my website:

https://sites.google.com/site/jytkennedy/assorted-things/audio-files

It is a recording of me reading a chapter from Lucy Maud Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside, recorded in honour of the upcoming anniversary of Vimy Ridge, which is mentioned in the chapter. This book was the last in the Anne of Green Gables series, and is a truly brilliant book, which I would recommend even if you do not read the other books first.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kids These Days

I really don't get why so people are so critical of today's youth, and particularly of the way they use technology. Part of this is because I happen to know a lot of really great people who are in their teens or twenties: smart, creative, tolerant, just generally all-round awesome people. And yes, some of them post selfies of themselves on the internet now and then and things like that which I guess you could say are a bit superficial.

You know what, though? I don't remember any shortage of superficiality or outright vanity for that matter among the kids I knew as a teen. It was pretty crazy just how much importance some of the kids I knew used to place on where people bought their clothes for one thing. And from what I remember of talking to my Mom, it was not much better in her day, only it was cashmere sweaters that got you into the social elite rather than Esprit jeans.

Not only that, but my Mom went to high school with guys whose idea of a fun time was playing chicken with their cars. For those not familiar with this quaint pass-time of yesteryear, the idea was that you lined up your cars facing each other. At a signal both drivers would speed toward each other, and the first to swerve to avoid a collision was the chicken.

But I guess people will believe social media is causing a total decline of civilization if they really want to.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

My Big White Papery Thing

I decided to try submitting my novel to a publisher who wants to be sent the entire manuscript printed out on paper. This is the first time (and could be the last time) I've actually printed out an entire novel, so I decided to take a picture.