Distant Music was/is a chapbook that resulted from summer workshops I took at University of New Brunswick in the mid 70’s. They were live-in residency, five-day intensives under the careful eyes of Fred Cogswell. Poet-in-residence was Alden Nowlan. M. Travis Lane, John Metcalf & Susan Musgrave were a couple of the workshop leaders I whose names I remember.I was encouraged to go by Malcolm Ross, then head of English Lit department at Dalhousie University.
My memory of the actual classes is gone. As are the names of my fellow writers. I do remember getting drunk on Lonesome Charlie (if there’s a wine named for poets that has to be it). I do remember the Salvador Dali’s Santiago El Grande, at Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
I’m not sure when I was asked to submit a manuscript for possible publication by Fiddlehead Press but I was amazed when it happened. I spent a couple of months selecting possible pieces, putting them in some sort of order. I’m not sure the sequence published was mine or Cogswell’s. I wanted long & short pieces to alternate. I was into long pieces with numbered sections – sometimes those sections also had titles. Titles were as important as the poem itself.
I did a photo shoot with my apartment mate at the time. I still have a raft of the shots from that shoot. I was keen on the one of me up a tree – poet up a tree – but when I saw it print I realized the lighting was not all that good. I designed the cover. Sadly, I no longer have my original drawing.
I rented an electric typewriter to make the final drafts of the pieces & sent them off. Some months later I was given the publication date, a few weeks before that date I got my first copies of the book. I had a big launch set in Sydney, & there was also one in Halifax. I was totally stunned & dismayed to find that the book was littered with typos, starting with the very first piece. I did a by-hand correction of the copies that I had on hand. I sent an angry letter to Fiddlehead & a got a reply shaming me for being so ungrateful. Fiddlehead added an errata sheet to the inside cover of the copies they had. It covered about half the typos.
Hopefully I caught most of them & didn’t add new ones when input the book to take a closer look at it for July & August starting Wednesday.
where is the mountain pass?
I need you
but the mountain
is in my way
if I cross
I can never return
for I am the mountain
while my need for you
is the mountain pass
I do have a limited number of the original Distant Music chapbook for sale for $25.00 each (includes surface mail postage). Send via the paypal above along with where to send it.
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