The Wholeness Meter
by Tricia Dower
An aural art form, poetry is better for readings than prose, I think, especially if the poems are short. No struggle to follow the plot. You can let the rhythm of the words transport you; let their beauty infiltrate your subconscious (and perhaps the grocery list you’re drafting: ‘milk - empty of colour; coffee - dark and flowing.')
Pauline Holdstock, a heavy hitter in the literary world, with numerous books and a Giller prize nomination to her credit, says she tries to “reconcile the beauty and cruelty of the world” in her work. She read from The World of Light Where We Live. It won the 2006 Malahat Novella Prize. At the beginning and at points along the way, she wisely explained what we were hearing: scenes in a story about native people the government moved from long-held hunting lands to the shores of frozen waters where they were expected to survive on fish. I got a little lost trying to keep track of Wife, Husband and Brother, not to mention who had taken the sled where. None of that mattered, however, when she got to the ending — as heartbreaking as one could imagine. I cried.
Cut to a week later,
I got hooked on Bruce years ago when I heard If I Had a Rocket Launcher, the defiant, idealistic song he wrote after a trip to
Carla and Pauline seem to write from clear inner visions, as well; their words belong to them and no one else. It made me wonder how true or counterfeit my own words are. If there were such a thing as a Wholeness Meter, it might be fun to throw my words in and see how I score. Then, again, it might not be.
Photos: Poet Carla Funk; Author Pauline Holdstock; Singer/Songwriter Bruce Cockburn