Discovering the literature and poetry of a country we’re visiting: for me this is one of the greatest pleasures of travel. And what a thrill when it happens in your own country like it did in the Yukon this summer. Read more
Poetry, Theirs and Ours
Poetry that travels like lightning to electrify your very soul
As jubilados (Spanish for retirees) we’re fans of Leonard Cohen who wrote: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”
The last time we visited our mothers was in April. The long, Saskatchewan winter stalled out for the week we were there. Flocks of geese v’d through the clear-blue living skies, clouds as scant as the patches of snow on the prairie fields below. A natural world invisible to my mom, who sadly, last year at the age of ninety, become permanently blind.
More than three decades ago when we lived in Calgary, Magellan and I thought we’d go to Japan in the spring for the sakura (桜), the Japanese word for cherry blossoms derived from saku 咲, which means to bloom. I even studied Japanese in anticipation. For some reason that I don’t recall, we didn’t go. How foolish we were to even think we had to travel that far for hanami—viewing cherry blossoms—you only need to go as far west as Vancouver, which now has its own Sakura Festival every April. Since April is also National Poetry Month, we’ve curated a collection of our favourite sakura haikus, adding Spice’s own attempt as well.
Today, St Patrick’s Day, is our daughter Lynn’s birthday. Not wanting to embarrass her with some sappy tribute, we’re turning the words over to one of my favourite poets, Linda Pastan.
In his book NZ Frenzy, Scott Cook starts off his discussion of Paturau (Pah-too-rau) Beach with these words: “Oh my god, no way, oh wow, I’ll be damned.”
He says it took him seven summers of travelling to New Zealand’s South Island before he made it to Paturau. We’re almost as tardy—it’s taken us four years to showcase this “sweet as” beach, slang in New Zealand for “as good as it gets.”
Across the street from us is the Maritime Museum. Thanks to its harbour master, for the first time in the twenty years we’ve lived here the boats moored at its dock have been lit up for the holidays. Sparkling nightly, these lights and the Christmas trees across English Bay inspired Magellan’s photos and my poem. Read more