May 8, 2014
In which we eat baby heads
Last night was Hamilton, the night before Winnipeg, tonight is Victoria, and I’ve heard tell that Sunday’s event in Calgary was pretty terrific. I have lots to say and share about all these events, and about our mini-break to Winnipeg en-famille, which was so wonderful, but here is the lowdown on The M Word in Winnipeg and Hamilton to start with. Such as the cookies. The cookies. Don’t they in themselves make the entire project worthwhile?
In Winnipeg, I read with Kerry Ryan and Ariel Gordon, and was pleased that Winnipeg photographer Lindsey Bond also took part in the event. Her portraits of new mothers were projected on a screen behind us as we read, and she talked to us about her fascinating In Conversation With Motherhood project. It was a good night, and I was blown away by the fabulousness of the McNally Robinson bookstore. (I also got to buy a copy of Ariel’s new book!)
In addition to many other excellent Winnipeg things (which I can’t wait to tell you all about), a highlight of our visit was a trip to the CBC studios. Sandra Thacker put together a wonderful feature on The M Word for the CBC Manitoba arts website “The Scene“, with contributions from Kerry and Ariel. And I did an interview on their radio drive-time show, “Up to Speed”, with guest-host Sarah Penton.
You can listen to the interview here:
Kerry Clare on CBC Manitoba’s Up to Speed with host Sarah Penton on Tuesday May 6:
And then yesterday evening, I filled a carload of terrific hilarious women and we all drove to Hamilton to Bryan Prince Booksellers, which is in the part of Hamilton, I realize, that makes people want to move to Hamilton. Though for me that would be just to live in close proximity to Bryan Prince Booksellers, which was a great store, the kind with high shelves and ladders. In the photo at left, you’ll see Julie Booker, me, Diana Fitzgerald Bryden, Maria Meindl and Heidi Reimer. Carrie Snyder arrived not long after, and the really great news is that everyone in attendance was able to find a seat. (!)
It was really great to listen to the readings, especially because this time I wasn’t holed up in a corner trying to breastfeed a recalcitrant Iris whilst wearing a dress completely unsuited to such things, all of which made listening a bit difficult when we launched in Toronto last month. Such a pleasure to hear these stories I know so well, and in the voices of the people they belong to. I was particularly struck by Heidi’s reading, which was extremely emotional and which she pulled off with poise and grace. It was a line from her essay, about a realization after the birth of her second daughter, “This is the most important thing I will ever do.”
In my prologue to The M Word, I write about how these essays don’t always agree with one another, how they can rub up against each other uncomfortably. And Heidi’s line is indicative of that, and what I want these essays to do together. That with this book we are making space for a woman to acknowledge that creating and birthing a child is the most important thing she’ll ever do, and yet for the book as a whole to acknowledge also that this is singular and personal, not a general statement on womanhood. That some women may mourn not having had this, others not at all, or still others having experienced childbirth in a completely different way (and let me tell you, having a child surgically removed from my body did not seem to me like the “most important thing” I’d ever do, lying there passive and immobile as I was.) That there are other most important things, and maybe even to Heidi, there are other most important things that she will do. That what she said is just as true as the line from the poem “Late” by Laisha Rosnau, whose new collection I have been reading this past while: “I loved a canned peach but, good Lord, if anyone mentions/ mine when I am dead, my time was not well spent.” As I write in my own essay from The M Word, “A single thing can have two realities.” Or 25 realities, as the anthology suggests, and so many more, to the point where it’s almost a parlour game, coming up with all the stories that should have been in this book.
Women’s lives are rarely boring, is something that’s become quite clear.