An open letter to rob mclennan written in reply to an email aside from him wondering about possible reaction to his blog posting The League of Canadian Poets: Ottawa agm.
If you're lucky, you'll get some real response to what I'd call your healthy wondering and criticism of changes in the League membership experience and activities.
The monster members' book launch was created by the League's council as a cash grab to augment the orgs.'s cash flow. It does indeed do some limited promotion of the books placed in the event but the League continues to operate these events as something closer to an in-house activity than as a truly for the general public and lovers of poetry celebratory event in whichever city they've schedulled the AGM. The League actively collected book launch fees from publishers to launch books by members whether or not the member poet would be there (would have additionally paid registration fees) to attend the particular annual general meeting and its book launch event, and they've even accepted fees for poetry books by non-members (though, hopefully, that was an accident and a practice that has stopped).
I was surprised but not disappointed to see your inclusion of a link to my blog post "Where am I?" as an "apology". Thank you. I can see that people have been clicking through your robmclennan.blog to mine to see and possibly read some of what I wrote.
I can understand why you named it an "apology". I so often feel like I'm a disappointment artist (especially in my saying NO to so many hundreds-thousands of author queries and/or manuscripts) incapable of doing anything near adequate to the demand or hopeful self-interest expectations of those other writers and authors. I'm not quite the apologist that I consider other not named poets to have become in recent years (at lease around memaybe I'm the problem?) but I'm getting too close to being a constant apologist for comfort. It bothers me. Really bothers me . . .
Especially where my poetry needs more of myself than it getting. You know this. I know this. We've discussed it. My poetry also need more feedback, more critical input from elsewhere, maybe even more publications (in mags, anthologies, books?), but it can't get any of that without me being able to dedicate more of myself to my poetry. How's that going to happen anytime soon?
One of the things that I liked during my term as the elected NB & PEI Regional Rep (19961997) on the League's National Council were on-the-side discussions with Anne Burke (Calgary), Dennis Reid (Victoria), and Brenda Niskala (Regina) [Okay now, I have heard from Mick Burrs, since she recently suffered a brain hemorrhage in England. Out of hospital, Brenda is currently recovering at writer Kim Morrissey's house across the sea.] that led to the development and publication of our Open 24 Hours five-poet anthology: four of us on LCP National Council + you, at the time a non-member, brought in as a doer in your Ottawa poetry scene as well as in the Canadian poetry community.
The spring after the book's publication we had our crazy cross-Canada reading tour by plane, train, bus and car that took us through 11 readings in 14 days from Fredericton to Victoria. We can never forget those three days on the Prairies, hard-driving with Robert (Bert) McTavish, plucky freelance reporter in the car recording everything to make an audio piece "Drives of the Poets" that opened the season for Outfront series within the New Voices program on CBC Radio (and was picked up by Bill Richardson for rebroadcast on his program). Then there's the poetry we wrote while on the road, on that tour, resulting in two more booksyour Manitoba highway map and my Open Road West. So much has happened since then . . .
Now that is what poetry and truly living the life of the poet is all about. Those things happened in no small part because of the League of Canadian Poets and it's then ability to better bring poets together from across the country.
Where do we go from here?
T: Quod nos non necat . . .
temp: 28 C
sound: Kinny Starr, Sun Again