Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

February 27, 2018

 

 

ELEGY WRITTIN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD

by Thomas Gray

 

 

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
       The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
         And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimm’ring landscape on the sight,
         And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
         And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
         The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen,
         And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
         The swallow twitt’ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
         No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
Apparently this is the first time the word twitt’ring was ever used in a poem.  Does this surprise you?
The Cock’s shrill clarion, or echoing horn is the most beautiful line in English poetry.
Do you agree?
I certainly do not.  The first two versus are much greater favourites of mine.
Catharine McKenty

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

February 20, 2018

Pit Stop By Neil McKenty

Time is ripe for a new political party in Quebec

Now that hunting season has begun, it behooves most Quebec politicians to head for the hills.

According to all the surveys, the popularity of the province’s politicians is dropping like a wounded duck. And this applies to both Ottawa and Quebec City.

A Léger poll shows the level of satisfaction with the federal Conservatives has dropped a full seven points. Only one in five Quebecers is happy with the political leadership in Ottawa.

The results were similarly dismal for the provincial Liberals. The level of dissatisfaction with Premier Jean Charest’s government is at a record-breaking 77 per cent, with only 28 per cent saying they would vote Liberal in the next provincial election. Support for the Parti Québécois stood at 34 per cent.

These figures must be seen in the context of a provincial scene where most of the news is negative. Whether it is the dirty linen on judge’s appointments being aired at the Bastarache commission, the ever-rising cost of health care, controversial language legislation or the government’s refusal to investigate the construction industry, there is not much for the ordinary voter to be happy about.

All this means that Charest, who must face an election within three years, is in dire straits politically. But the PQ leader, Pauline Marois, is right in there with him.

Let’s face it. Although Marois has been in public life for three decades, she has never really caught on, either with her own party or with the electorate generally. This could become more evident when she faces a leadership review next spring.

Unlike the Liberals who cherish their leaders so long as they are in power, the separatists seem to view their chieftans with considerable suspicion. As Don Macpherson writes in the Gazette: “Liberals are disciplined and remain loyal to a leader, especially when they are in power, until he loses an election. Péquistes, on the other hand, are impatient, nervous and suspicious of any leader not named Jacques Parizeau. Since they last held power in 2003, they’ve already had three leaders.”

What’s more, unlike the Charest Liberals, the PQ has a potential leader prowling around the precincts. That would be Gilles Duceppe, who is getting long in the tooth in federal politics. Duceppe threatened to run against Marois once before. This time, if she really stumbles, he might go through with it.

So what we have now in the province is a Liberal government that is dead in the water and a PQ opposition that is not exactly setting the heather afire. What better time to fly a trial balloon about a new party?

A group of former politicians (Péquistes François Legault and Joseph Facal) and business people think the time is ripe for a new party that would regroup federalists and sovereigntists around a centre-right agenda and leaving the “national question” aside.

A new poll shows that such a new party would win 30 per cent of the votes in a Quebec election, with the PQ at 27 per cent and the Liberals at 25 per cent. If nothing else, these results suggest there is a deep desire in the population to break through the federalist-separatist division to some third force that would concentrate on the economic and social well-being of Quebec.

Such a party would emphasize fiscal restraint and smaller government. But would the Quebec voter buy into such a program? Ironically, this is what Charest wanted to implement when he first took office eight years ago. Charest, a small-c conservative, hoped to cut back on Quebec’s bloated bureaucracy, reduce some services and cut taxes.

But Charest discovered to his chagrin that he could carry neither his cabinet nor his caucus on a program of serious fiscal restraint. The government was even afraid to raise the rates for electricity, something practically all economists urged them to do. Recently all it took was the prospect of a coming by-election for Finance Minister Raymond Bachand to shelve plans to impose user fees for medical visits.

So attractive as a new party might be, especially one that jettisoned the sovereignty question, it is not at all clear that it would be able to sell a policy of fiscal restraint, the very policy that Charest could not sell when he first came into office.

Furthermore, as Lysiane Gagnon has pointed out, the new Legault party looks much like the old Mario Dumont party. The Action démocratique du Quebec was also based on a centre-right agenda and a moderate nationalist approach (for most of its life it did not even take sides in the sovereignty debates). One difference is that Legault’s movement was born in Montreal and might eventually attract more high-profile personalties than the ADQ, whose scope was limited to eastern Quebec.

What this new party does right out of the gate is underline popular dissatisfaction with the two old parties. Another election is not required until 2013. That leaves plenty of time for the Liberals to replace Charest and for the PQ to do a makeover on Marois (or replace her with Duceppe.)

In the meantime, a group that has no leader and no name is more popular than the two other parties who have both. No wonder the politicians are heading for the hills.

Published on Nov.2010

The Senior Times

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

February 13, 2018

 

 

December

by Anonymous.

 

Overnight the frost moves in, spreading silver on the grass and copper in the trees.

You contemplate the world through chilly windowpanes, your breath making clouds upon the glass

You long to stay in all day.

If only you had been born a bear!

You’d sleep from now until the crocuses bloomed and the grass turned soft underfoot again.

But then, you’d miss the season’s riches: it’s warm golden feast and children’s laughter.

So throw back the covers and find your slippers.

Prepare a cup of hot, dark coffee.

Rub the sleep from your eyes, and hello to the new born winter.

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

February 6, 2018

 

Awakening To Snow

by

Anonymous

 

Blades of light slide under my eyelids

and pries them open to discover softness.

This is whisper day, muffled in deep down

of eiderdown snow, day of

those other echoes and shadows on frosted window panes

that pass by furtively, wondering.

Today is a hushed blue day of nothing, of

empty footprints where feet were,

of absence.

Today adrift from all the gongs of time,

suspended on the feather of your

silent white breath

 

 

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

January 30, 2018

 

 

Dark Rosaleen

by

James Clarence Mangan

 

O my dark Rosaleen,
    Do not sigh, do not weep!
The priests are on the ocean green,
    They march along the deep.
There’s wine from the royal Pope,
    Upon the ocean green;
And Spanish ale shall give you hope,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
Shall glad your heart, shall give you hope,
Shall give you health, and help, and hope,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
Over hills, and thro’ dales,
    Have I roam’d for your sake;
All yesterday I sail’d with sails
    On river and on lake.
The Erne, at its highest flood,
    I dash’d across unseen,
For there was lightning in my blood,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
O, there was lightning in my blood,
Red lighten’d thro’ my blood.
    My Dark Rosaleen!
All day long, in unrest,
    To and fro, do I move.
The very soul within my breast
    Is wasted for you, love!
The heart in my bosom faints
    To think of you, my Queen,
My life of life, my saint of saints,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
To hear your sweet and sad complaints,
My life, my love, my saint of saints,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
Woe and pain, pain and woe,
    Are my lot, night and noon,
To see your bright face clouded so,
    Like to the mournful moon.
But yet will I rear your throne
    Again in golden sheen;
‘Tis you shall reign, shall reign alone,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
‘Tis you shall have the golden throne,
‘Tis you shall reign, and reign alone,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
Over dews, over sands,
    Will I fly, for your weal:
Your holy delicate white hands
    Shall girdle me with steel.
At home, in your emerald bowers,
    From morning’s dawn till e’en,
You’ll pray for me, my flower of flowers,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My fond Rosaleen!
You’ll think of me through daylight hours
My virgin flower, my flower of flowers,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
I could scale the blue air,
    I could plough the high hills,
Oh, I could kneel all night in prayer,
    To heal your many ills!
And one beamy smile from you
    Would float like light between
My toils and me, my own, my true,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My fond Rosaleen!
Would give me life and soul anew,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
O, the Erne shall run red,
    With redundance of blood,
The earth shall rock beneath our tread,
    And flames wrap hill and wood,
And gun-peal and slogan-cry
    Wake many a glen serene,
Ere you shall fade, ere you shall die,
    My Dark Rosaleen!
    My own Rosaleen!
The Judgment Hour must first be nigh,
Ere you can fade, ere you can die,
    My Dark Rosaleen!

A winter’s query

January 15, 2018

What is your most memorable experience of winter?

If you live in the eastern part of North America- Canada how do you cope with the severe cold? Were you affected by thawing and freezing as Montreal was?

Are you a skier or snowboarder?

If you are a snowboarder why did you choose that sport?

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 19, 2017

 

 

Pay It Forward

By Jon M. Nelson

 

In the midst of battle
The war rages on.
The bullets were flying
As the peace was withdrawn.

As I dove in the foxhole
To avoid the shells
I thought to myself,
“I’m in the middle of hell”.

As I regained composure
I saw on the ground
An enemy soldier
That was hit by a round.

When I looked at the soldier
I saw in his face,
The fear of a child
That was lost, and out of place.

I reached out my hand
To show I was a friend.
I tried to give him peace
For my enemy was at his end.

The soldier began to speak
I didn’t know what he was saying.
Although I didn’t know his language
I knew that he was praying.

His wound was very fatal
I knew he would not live
Then he reached out to me
As if to say “forgive? ”

Then he went with God
Or Allah if he preferred.
So I let him rest in peace
For that’s what he deserved.

The bombing then receded
And I had to continue on
Moving through the night,
Until the early dawn.

As I tell this story
No one believes it’s true,
But if two enemies can find peace
Maybe we can too.

BLAST FROM THE PAST

December 18, 2017

Here is Neil on the other side of the microphoneisd

interviewed for his biography of John Main.

Two short clips, the first was for the show

 » Take A Brake  » on CFTV aired on January 29th,

1987 and the second one was for  » Midday  »

on CBC aired on April 17th, 1987.

Enjoy!

TUESDAY WRITING CONVERSATION

December 12, 2017

 

 

Hero

by Kevin Higgins

 

The day you fall, bawling into the world
in a village northeast of Salisbury;
in faraway Florida, Sidney Poitier is busy

 

being one day old. In Moscow heavily scarved
women mark the anniversary:
Lenin – One Month Dead Today.

 

Your two older brothers soon join him.
And your father, Gabriel, scarpers.
You are ten years old. It is nineteen thirty four

 

and all down to you. Mission schools,
then university. You are a teacher.
Your only son dies of cerebral malaria.

 

For subversive speech,
you are under arrest. Ten years.
You study law. The Party

 

chooses you. Rocket launchers
and Chairman Mao. You look in the mirror
one morning and see: His Excellency Comrade President.

 

Your name on the lips of a continent.
In the final act you start gifting
farms the white man stole

 

to your friends. One for everyone
in the audience. As the supermarket shelves empty,
your life fills up with dead people.

 

The country may be living on Styrofoam and grass
but will sing your name
one last time. The air fat with laughter

 

as you step into the TV to say
“We don’t cheat; but on the other side…
all sorts of irregularities.”

 

A foreign journalist is arrested
on the tenth floor
of a hotel near the airport.

 

Silence,
but for the sound of an occasional dog barking
on Samora Machel Avenue.

 

Outside your office the sign:
Mugabe is right. It is two thousand and eight
and all down to you.

 

 

from Frightening New Furniture (Salmon Poetry, 2010) 

BLAST FROM THE PAST

December 6, 2017

image012

 

For yet another rare occasion, we see Neil from a different angle, on the other side of the microphone discussing his early life with Dennis Trudeau for the show Sunday Night.

Aired on 13/04/97