Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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This is the day of days. There is record breaking voter turnout in the USA and, going by the television, it is heavily African-American. My heart is bursting.

Is that partisan? You betcha.

I like to think that poetry seeks the best in human nature, and much of it does. Even poets who reduce themselves to desperate games are capable of assembling beautiful language. Thank God.

Ted Hughes was one of those. I was lifted up by his poetry and sometimes demoralised by his behaviour, but there was never any question that he was an inspired writer.

You asked about the Poet Laureate position. Well, that is a secret for a few weeks.

What I do know about the selection process in Canadian Literature is that it is set up to be fair, but politics do enter into it. I heard of one juror who had allowed herself to be bullied, actually throwing up after casting her instinct and reason aside and voting for the wrong person because there was a stronger character on the jury. I recently heard of telephone threats to a juror. Doesn't this sound like McCain Palin on a molecular level.

Personally, as I wrote earlier, I don't mind being caled a terrorist. If being a terrorist draws attention to children in need, people living on the streets and lying in hospital corridors with supperating wounds. Hey, bring it on. I am teflon woman.

One thing I do abhor is the desecration of poetry by cheaps politics. Poetry is a sacred calling, secular prayer. If you mess with it, you mess with me, and I am a raging granny ( lower case, the real Raging Granny's have a waiting list).

Recently I attended the funeral of a dear friend, a black man from South Carolina who came to Canada and made a great contribution to the community, not just to civil rights (he integrated the Halifax tennis courts in the Seventies), but to the general population. His name was Jesse Dillard. Jesse, a giant of a man both physically and metaphorically, made a difference.

We were asked to speak about what we had learned from Jesse. Wearing my Obama T shirt, I stood up and said that dear Jesse had reinforced what I had learned studying African American Literature. Recalling Ralph Ellison, I said, "Jesse taught me not to be invisible but to be transparent, and to stay cool."

I have watched Obama stay cool and the results are miraculous. I wish Jesse, Larry Hill's father, Dr King, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parkes and all the heroes of the Civil Rights movement could be here today. I celebrate for them.

In the words of a great Jamaican poet, "One love, one heart. Let's get together and be all right."

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003) and The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). She has also published several collections of poetry, including Love in the Rainforest (Exile Editions, 1996), Heaven Cake (Sono Nis Press, 1997), The Saning (Sono Nis Press, 1999) and The Bursting Test (Guernica Editions, 2002).

Go to Linda Rogers’s Author Page