Yesterday I went to a writers' meeting in Grand Barachois with Lee Thompson. There I met many people I had met already with the addition of the great Acadian artist and poet Roméo Savoie. We read our own work, etc. I read my poem titled "Ruin Value" which obviously touches on that same concept of architecture.
This was excellent because Roméo was himself an architect before he became a famous Acadian figure. He said that Acadie created a ghetto for itself. That it will be a hundred years or so before the culture can move beyond the issue of the culture. He is the first Acadian to present this mindset to me, that culture is irrelevant, that the only thing that matters is life--not the homeland, not the language, not the cultural artifacts dressed out to confirm any lingering stereotypes from outsiders.
Meeting him and of course Herménégilde has been a breath of fresh air here. Because they understand more acutely the ambition of the artist. In the end, ambition is the real question. The ambition to communicate and reach the Other.
People don't write for themselves, solely. If anyone tells you this and then shows you his manuscript, he is looking for acceptance, one form of communication. He wants to show you this extension of himself, something he came up with. The qualifications of "personal" writing are a facade. Of course. But the point is that artists are trying to say something.
But this something is less important than you think. It is more in the manner, the style, and the technique of the communication. The concept is well less important than the execution. To quote J. Robert Lennon, "You can write anything you want, just don't write it shittily."
There was incidentally a bit of contention this week over a "movement" of new minimalist writers. I don't want to go too far into it, but most of the writing itself is unreadable and laughably self-conscious in an adolescent, look how cool I am kind of way. But the real problem with this writing was not topic (which though banal cannot be bad in and of itself) but with the lame prose and conceited, ironic tone.
In any case, I am 12 days until I leave Canada for good. In the meantime, I have to figure out what I am going to tell high school kids during my school visits for the Northrup Frye festival and pack and see what I want to see before I go. Linda will be here in 10 days for my readings and to help me pack.