Monday, September 24, 2012



Last month I was at a writing retreat in Kaslo, BC. Holley Rubinsky presides over these wonder-weeks which she describes as being "ideal for writers who have material to organize, rewrite or edit who need some getaway time". What writer do you know who can't use something like that?
photo by Holley Rubinsky
Chilling after a hard day in the word mines  L-R Dianne Linden, me, Myrl Coulter 
Myrl Coulter and Dianne Linden were there at the same time. Myrl is working on a novel with an intriguing plot and Dianne is working on a YA novel that is set in a rural place not unlike where we were. To this end, a fact-finding boat trip across the lake to look at the rock bluffs was in order!
Looking north on Kootenay Lake at Kaslo


 Reflections from sunlight hitting the waves danced off the rock face. (aka First Video upload!)

And speaking of rock faces...

Our captain, who has a new book of short stories coming out, by the way.
Holley Rubinsky

I hunkered down with a couple of dozen poems I wanted to revise and by the end of five days about fifteen were approaching acceptable. Of course, I haven't looked at them for over a week now, so who knows if they still are!

photo by Holley Rubinsky

I haven't looked at them because some months ago I signed up for a ten week online course through Coursera and the University of Pennsylvania: Modern and Contemporary American Poetry. We're just going into Week 3 and I'm loving it. It's a lot more work than the 4-8 hours a week they suggest in the course description, even if you only try to stick with the basic requirements. You know how it is on the Internet: one link leads to another. One minute you're reading an assigned Emily Dickinson poem and the next you're pouring over her website. One minute you're listening to a recording of Cid Corman reading a poem about bedwetting and how it relates to war and the next you're marvelling that the very week you were reading about Lorine Niedecker ("i" before "e", and having just had to correct myself, I can see how the gravestone thing happened!) your poet friend, Paul Nelson, blogs about having just visited her home on Black Hawk Island, Wisconsin.

More than 30,000 people all over the world signed up for ModPo, as it is affectionately called. Not everyone is flinging themselves into the forum discussions and likely not everyone will complete the ten weeks, but there is much to be learned, at least for this participant whose working knowledge of poets other than Canadian leaves a lot to be desired (not that my knowledge of Canadian poets is complete, either). There are video discussions by Al Filreis and a group of bright, enthusiastic TA's. Al's head honcho of the course (he's an English prof at the university and Faculty Director of the Kelly Writers House where the discussions happen). Either he's cloned himself or it would appear that Al never sleeps, given the number of times (and times of day/night) he chimes in on the forums.

How much does all this cost, you're wondering? I'm still pinching myself. It's free!


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