Thursday, December 01, 2016

We Who Are About To Die : Elaine Woo

The two different questions of what constitutes freedom and does adversity build character intrigued Elaine and are examined in her second manuscript.  How much freedom do we really have when the state monitors our emails and phone calls and builds intricate profiles of us?  How do we find freedom despite all that?

Elaine Woo's second poetry collection continues to look through the framework of mythology, as does her first book, Cycling with the Dragon, Nightwood Editions, 2014.

Where are you now?
Good question.  In the early weeks after the US election, my initial impulse was to curl up in a fetal ball and hide in bed to await the end of days.  But after speaking with Canadian friends and relatives residing in America, I decided, more than ever, now is the time to speak out and resist.  And, I have begun through my writing.

I read Trump is stripping funding for NASA climate research when polar glaciers are melting at a rapid pace and the Global Mean Sea Level has risen 4 to 8 inches in the past century.  Perhaps, if he has any beachside holdings, he might reconsider were it to flood.

The CanLit furor has proved just as divisive.  With so many divergent views, bridging  is ever more desirable.  We need calm discussions and perhaps agree to disagree.

What are you reading?
The Errancy (poems) by Jorie Graham.  I'm not very far into the book but hugely admire her craft and depth.

What have you discovered lately?
Firstly, the joy of less.  Secondly, any time is cause for celebration.

The appreciation that all people are imperfect.

Where do you write?
I've been invited to join writing groups as well as to facilitate writing groups but feel most comfortable at my ancient teacher's desk, surrounded by books by authors I admire, student prints, and photos of loved ones.

What are you working on?
A second manuscript about human foibles.  One day while reading an anthology of classical mythology, it struck me to use the Greek gods and the Monkey King of Chinese mythology to represent humans in fictitious exploits.

Have you anything forthcoming?
I have 3 pieces coming out in CWILA's S/tick.  One is a graphic comic:  a conversation about the very real power struggle in many relationships. The other two are poems inspired by firstly, a female duck chastising 3 mallards at a local bird sanctuary and secondly, a night looking at celebrity stories online.

What would you rather be doing?
Nothing else.  I write for the joy of writing.


                          Blue skies agitate, streak, marble with black and silver

Gaia’s gauze-sheathed breasts fall upon Uranus’, his iron manhood slips in her well.  Geysers erupt, cloud banks curdle.  Hurricane current of DNA, monster strands

unravel, wreaks debris of monolithic creatures, twelve Titans, including Cronus, Rhea, and Iapetos, fifty headed and hundred armed Hecatoncheires and Cyclopes, wailing bricks of pain



                   Pater Familias rams their mutant

                                                       progeny in mother’s yawning

                                a mucosal, veiny pink abyss

                                                                              She, red-raging, turns

    A fiction?  Battered, Titans, Cyclopes, and siblings


                                                            confined, wince, cringe

nails breasts, rousingly roar for “MORE”

It Takes Imagination

Unfurling reel:

                                beasts’   eyelids squintered


                     unfurl a scale obstinate                          another


                                                                                               and another

                                    flame of throat kiln

         firing dialogue between brain and tongue

                                                                     winch hefty boulders

                         ignite language of ochre comfort in toil


 “a challenge to suffer bravely”1       


                                                            shoulder isolation, multi water pots atop head

       labour heroically


                                                         slave against hatred

                                                                                            split anguish gruel


                                                                  faint pink amity horizon perceptible

warms brows earthen

                                       ushers in hushed peace

                     clambering out of captivity, a fantasy still?

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