This week on the X, we have a sequence from an exceptional first book of poetry by Barbara Langhorst, Restless White Fields called Spring Romance, plus the restless rock of Slow Down Molasses' sister band--Jean's Boots.
Small town Saskatchewan doesn't offer much of a window on the music scene. Regardless, there was always a.m. radio, a sky full of bright stars and Neil Young in the tape deck of her dad's pick-up truck.Jeans Boots has toured Canada coast-to-coast and up and down Saskatchewan, and opened for Buffy Sainte-Marie. And Shotgun Jimmie. People say the band sounds like Eric's Trip and Sonic Youth. That's pretty nice.
Jeans Boots is singer/aongwriter/musician Jeanette Stewart with Ryan Drabble on drums, Tyson McShane on bass and Carl Johnson on guitar. Here they are in concert at Gus' Pub in Halifax:
Barbara Langhorst was born and educated in Edmonton, Alberta. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Alberta and teaches at St. Peter's College, SK. She and her husband are empty nesters who share their acreage with several pets and the local wildlife. Restless White Fields is her first book of poetry.
Restless White Fields "moves from the risk-it-all of the personal to a plenitude of wisdom. Barbara Langhorst takes us on a journey, first into darkness and silence, then back to the reassurances of language itself, or love itself. She makes poetry new." (-Robert Kroetsch) Says this reviewer: "
In 1991, Barbara Langhorst's father shot and killed her mother, then committed suicide. Langhorst, who grew up in Edmonton but now teaches at St. Peter's College in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, approached her debut collection, Restless White Fields, as an aesthetic experiment in dealing with a devastating loss. "You need to weave something to contain it, something daring, so then it becomes art and you don't have to think of the pain every moment," she said in a recent interview.
Langhorst conveys the enduring nature of that pain in the poignant image of a spring snowfall (the murder/suicide occurred in May) in which "may or april flakes pause suspended above the black ground/poised for grief to green with entanglements."
For the poet, grief is always being resurrected: by painful memories; by lines from other writers that resonate with some aspect of the tragedy; by other deaths and mishaps. Even signs of spring are haunting reminders that her mother died when the natural world was coming back to life.
It's difficult emotional territory, and the poems themselves, fragmentary and densely allusive, are difficult to follow at times. But threaded throughout Langhorst's reflections are lines that bluntly address the tragedy: "There are no kind words for this:/my father put a bullet in her brain and a shotgun to his chest."
These direct references are both jolting and necessary. But what impresses most about Restless White Fields is Langhorst's intricate skein of grief's "entanglements," and her struggle to make "contemplation a countermeasure to violence." (Barbara Cary, The Star.Com)
Categories: Past Episodes
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