Cobourg Poetry Workshop
feature poet

Laurene Winkler


................................
................................First cut

................................the fields now buzz-cut
................................green perfume like no other
................................dotted donuts of next winter's feed
................................wrapped for take-out
................................equipment stowed along fences
................................awaiting the next blessing of ceremony

................................in adjoining pastures,
................................animals, relieved with the promise

................................men with burned faces under ball caps
................................arms scarred black with grease
................................flecks of hay seed on eyelashes, in ears

................................(take off those boots and pants before you come in the house!)

................................sweet sacred time of year
................................like no other
................................green perfume, intoxicating sacristan
................................wagons rolling like old peasant women up the hill
................................at dusk.


ONLINE WITH LAURENE WINKLER

YOU ARE A RECENT, NEW MEMBER OF THE COBOURG POETRY WORKSHOP .... HOW NEW ARE YOU TO WRITING POETRY AND HOW DID IT COME ABOUT?

I have always been enraptured by the sound of language. It has for me a rhythm and a fancy beyond meaning; personally, when writing, it is an inner dialogue- a voice to listen to. There have been requirements throughout my life to express ideas linguistically- most often through a necessity, essays , journalism. It has only been in the past couple of years that I have engaged the interior exploring voice of thought & feeling.

MUCH OF YOUR WORK EXPLORES EMOTIONS, IN A VERY LAYERED WAY, AND THEIR IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS.

Emotion is the alpha and omega of self and other: the 'other' being our relation to individuals, the natural world and the metaphysical. Emotion is our defining self, highly evolved, frustratingly complex.
The universe presents itself to us in layers - to challenge our intuition and understanding. This is the interface - both joyful and despairing. Through this process, we come to know ourselves more fully and hopefully, connect with the world and others more intimately. I believe that intimacy is God's pleasure in us.

MUSIC HAS BEEN A BIG PART OF YOUR LIFE ... HOW DOES THAT INFLUENCE YOUR POETRY?

From an early age, sound was established as the means to life energy. As a little girl, singing simple songs by mostly British composers set out a beacon of pastoral simplicity in my childish mind: fairies come at night, angels watch do keep, woody groves and linden lea: the hidden life there for the taking. The contentment of attainment and the painful yearning for it represents the duality of our western cultural heritage: 'sturm und drang'. These forces are always present in me battling it out between heart and mind.

ANOTHER INFLUENCE THAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR WRITING IS YOUR CONNECTION TO THINGS RURAL AND, ESPECIALLY, ANIMALS.

Well, animals exist within their buddha nature: total acceptance of 'present'- no longing for future, little remembrance of things past. It is their alacrity with this nano second that never ceases to seduce my imagination and offer me both solace and hope.

WHAT PROCESS DO YOU GO THROUGH IN CREATING A POEM ... FROM THE MOMENT AN IDEA STRIKES, TO THE COMPLETED WORK?

The starting point is always a feeling unresolved, often supported by an observation from the natural world. It gushes forth unwieldy and uncompromising. Then my discipline takes hold to wrestle it into some comprehensible rhythm. It is the musicality of sound that determines choice. Of late, I have been playing with more arbitrary forms and , as with writing a sonata or fugue, one must be very careful that the form does not reign absolute and squelch the essence of the language and idea. Essence must shine through the form always, always.

IS REVISION A CONSTANT THING?

Absolutely!

WRITING A POEM IS ONE CHALLENGE ... READING IT TO AN AUDIENCE IS ANOTHER SKILL ALTOGTHER ... HOW DO YOU MEET THAT CHALLENGE?

I have much to learn here. Musicians are so fanatically aware of 'set time' : micro, macro, nano and exponential!

I have discovered that the spoken word operates within an entirely different parameter and I hope to gain more understanding of this. It seems that the poetic language is indeed a very intimate conversation to 'other', whereas musical performance is much more a dialogue between performer and the music itself, with the audience playing the role of observer rather than participant. There is a confidence & certainty in musical performance since the expression is controlled within, or among, the performers. Reading poetry requires the engagement of the listener, making the poet-reader much more vulnerable I think. Rather like a courtship where the outcome is uncertain. And how unnerving is that??!

FOR MANY, POETRY IS WORDSWORTH, KEATS ET AL .... WHAT IS 'POETRY' TO YOU?

As with all art- music, painting, dance - it all stems from an impulse (such as recording one's presence on cave walls, or contemporary graffiti ) - to say " I was here"

It is a metaphysical expression of identity made concrete by means of some creation that becomes the means to connect one either with oneself or with another, whether present or imaginary, even if only for an instant.

IT SEEMS THOUGH, TODAY, POETRY HAS NO BOUNDARIES ... SLAM, PERFORMANCE, PROSE...YOUR THOUGHTS?

Indeed! and 'twas ever thus. Creative artistic impulse either blooms to heights within what has already evolved or, feeling the constraint of the present, bursts forth toward something completely different. Along the way, we have many who are forgotten footnotes; but even a footnote might have at one point caused ignition in someone else who will take that to a new level. Might not Beethoven have experienced a reactive, creative fire from hearing Hummel? Certainly Picasso rebelled against what had gone before. So.. to some extent, all voices are important. It will be the gestation and development of choices in artistic struggle that will form the lasting memorable creations.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE POETS?

so many -- Shakespeare, Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, -- any decent verse set to music...... and ... Margaret Avison, Emily Dickinson, Jane Hirshfield, PK Page, Marina Tsvetaeva, Wallace Stevens,
definitely Hafez and Robert Bly

WHAT ARE YOU READING THESE DAYS?

Truth? not much . 'tis the season to ride my horse and breathe the green, to inhale physical moments and store them away until the hibernating cold descends

AS A FAIRLY RECENT MEMBER OF THE CPW, HOW DO YOU FIND THE EXPERIENCE?

Very engaging. The diversity of indiviuals with a common purpose is both stimulating and comforting.

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