24 May 2005

Quebec City interview

Just gave another radio interview, this time to CBC in Quebec City. We don't have an audio clip of it, however, as it was live and I only heard I was going to do it a few hours ago. This makes six radio interviews all told! What invaluable people publicists (like Moira Johnson) are -- everyone should have a publicist.

[introducing poem & period before the performance at Bluefield. Note exquisite hand-drawn map]

Today I performed at Bluefield High School in PEI. What an intelligent bunch of students -- a Grade 12 History class no less, so they were very much on the same page as I was. I have to confess it was particularly nice to perform for older students, essentially adults.

[performing at Bluefield]

It had not occured to me, but of course the students, as Grade 12's, were in University-contemplation mode, and I fielded lots of questions about Classics. I could truthfully say that Classics is an excellent field of study in this modern world of ours, because it develops an understanding of language. One needn't have poetical ambitions to benefit from that; in fact, as the general level of literacy declines, there is more and more demand for people who can both write well and read very carefully, which is essentially what the intensive study of classical texts teaches. It's analogous to my own efforts in epic, actually. I recall having dinner with Egbert Bakker and a friend of his one evening, and at one point (it must have been 2am, after much wine) I began remarking that there wasn't much appreciation for performance-based verbal art these days. Bakker, with a sensible Netherlandish eye for the bottom line, commented that neither was there much performance-based verbal art being produced, and I might feel glad at the low supply and consequent high demand. I must admit that he was right!

By popular demand, in fact, I've added a show to the Tour and will do two more performances after St. John's. The first will be on Thursday evening in Cape Breton, at the Bras D'Or Lakes Inn at 7:30pm. It's not a very long drive (max 4.5 hours, including ferry) from Charlottetown to St. Peter's (the town where the Inn stands), so it seems well enough to try performing on a driving day (which I have not done so far).

Of the post-St. John's shows, the first will be in Quebec City (I was in part pitching this on the interview just now), either on 3 June or 4 June (haven't quite figured it out yet). This is great because I had been feeling fairly guilty that the Tour would not include Quebec City; as soon as I know more I will add time&date to the schedule and to the entry at the bottom of the welcome page of the website. The second post-Tour show will likely be in Toronto on 30 June -- details TBA. In the meantime, I will perform at Stanford University on 9 June, in the Terrace room in Margaret Jacks Hall (the English dept. building). I had to turn down a further invite for Quebec City for 2 June -- "I've got 1000 Ontario high school students coming on Thursday," the guy said. Alas, we can't, geographically speaking, make it to Quebec from St. John's in two days. It never rains but it pours, as they say quite often in Vancouver.

[PEI countryside]

I should add a word in praise of PEI; this will be superfluous for anyone who's ever been here. Basically, everything is exactly the right size. There are rolling hills, but they don't roll too much or too far. There are beautiful country houses, but they are neither too elegant nor too utilitarian. The people are friendly, but they don't want to be your best friend before they've learned your name. The sky is blue, but not oppressively so. The only extreme is the colour of the soil, which lends a seriously surreal edge to everything: the rich dark red of it brings all the other hues towards the front of the spectrum.

[the rich red earth of PEI]

Of course, the Island struggles with a sort of curse, which is the Anne of Green Gables legacy. This attacts tourists from every corner of the earth -- most of all from Japan, where the Anne books have a major cult following -- and brings in untold billions every summer. For unquaint economic reasons, therefore, large sectors of the Island economy must embrace quaintness.

[Gable-free house in PEI]

Myself, I have never found the Island quaint. It is not living in the past. You can go for the Gable here, of course, if you feel so inclined; but most of all the natural scenery, and the experience of a society which, though modern, has not been super-sized, is a wonderful balm for the spirit.

[Trees and field]

I don't know if that's much of an encomium; obviously I could deploy adjective after adjective in praise of the vistas, etc., or indulge in cliche/. But Gorgiasm and cliche/ alike are profoundly alien to the Island sensibility, as I've observed it. It will be sad to leave, as on Thursday we must. In the meantime, tonight we're going to grab a lobster roll and see (at last!) the new Star Wars movie. The suspense is intense: will Anakin embrace the Dark Side, or will the Dark Side embrace him? Will Yoda embrace someone? Will all 1,100 unresolved questions about the saga plot be gathered into a single skein? And what exactly does the best lobster taste like?


Anonymous said...

Good blog.

Anonymous said...

these photos are great.