Louis Esterhuizen. Kanada kry nuwe poet laureate

As eerste blog in die nuwe jaar fokus ek graag op die nuus dat die Kanadese parlement pas hul vyfde poet laureate aangewys het. Volgens die parlement se amptelike webblad is die 72-jarige Fred Wah in dié pos aangestel. Sy voorganger was Pierre DesRuisseaux.

Volgens ‘n berig op die Poetry Foundation se webblad is dié pos in 2001 deur die Kanadese Parlement geskep, “with a mandate to write poetry, especially for use in Parliament on important occasions, to sponsor poetry readings and advise the parliamentary library.” Hulle haal die Kanadese Senaat se speaker, Noel Kinsella, soos volg aan: “As a distinguished poet, editor, and teacher Fred Wah is known across Canada for his interest in a range of subjects,” het hy glo gesê. “Mr. Wah brings forth a collaborative approach and unique perspective to his work inspiring younger poets, students and others both nationally and internationally with his reflections on Canadian culture.”

Wah, wat in Saskatchewan gebore is, het reeds in die 1960s gedebuteer en sedertdien het daar twaalf bundels uit sy pen verskyn: “His early poetry is improvisational and experimental, based partly on his interest in jazz. Yet it is also deeply rooted in the geography of the Nelson area, as his first seven titles show: Lardeau, Mountain, Among, Tree, Earth, Pictograms from the Interior of B.C., and Loki is Buried at Smoky Creek. In the 1980’s Wah’s focus shifted to his mixed-race history in Breathin’ My Name with a Sigh and Waiting for Saskatchewan. With the publication of Diamond Grill (1996), a biofiction based on his experiences working in his father’s café, Wah emerged as a central figure in race writing in Canada and abroad. His collection of critical essays, Faking it: Poetis and Hybridity further elaborates his long-standing interest in mixed-genre texts and racialized poetics.”

Jou leesplesier vanoggend is egter nie ‘n vers deur die pas aangestelde laureate nie, maar eerder ‘n gedig wat een van Sasketchewan se vorige laureates, Glen Sorestad, kort voor kersfees aan ons gestuur het. Gaan kyk gerus ook na die onderhoud wat Leon Retief verlede jaar met Sorestad gevoer het.



Snowy Owl Snarls Traffic in Saskatoon


Where did you come from, my splendid winged one?

Just passing through enroute to harry fields teeming

with mice and voles, your nocturnal vittles?


What a strange perch you chose, this asphalt patch

of road to alight, the mayhem of motorists, here,

in the driveway entrance to a shopping mall.


Look around, snowy star! You’ve managed to do

what even traffic lights rarely can with certainty —

backed traffic to a standstill with your presence.


Rare sight that you are on any road at any time,

your sudden presence has changed the tenor

of the day, slowed the rush, brought the police


to direct traffic and ensure your safety, summoned

wildlife people to attend to your needs. A tiny moment,

a respite from the usual urban ennui, a news item,


a driver’s anecdote, a curiosity, quickly forgotten.

Still, perhaps there’s a smidgeon of comfort we

can glean from your visit, that despite our failures


and seeming lack of will to do what’s right,

this day suggests that hope manifests itself in

most unexpected places and wondrous ways.



© Glen Sorestad (2011)


Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl




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