Friday, 8 May 2020

Backroom 54: Alice Major

There is a part of Edmonton, Alberta, that is forever Scotland. When I was across there a few years ago to the Poetry Festival, I found the place enormously fascinating and the people incredibly warm. And the poetry events packed! Alice Major is the founding figure behind the poetry festival and established it in 2006 during her tenure as the first Poet Laureate of Alberta. She has also been President of the League of Canadian poets and of the Writers Guild of Alberta. She was also Scottish till the age of eight, living in Dumbarton till coming to Toronto and then moving west to work as a journalist in British Columbia in a newspaper that sounds straight out of Annie Proux, the Williams Lake Tribune.

Alice has published eleven collections of poetry, two novels for young adults and an award-winning collection of essays about poetry and science. Her latest collection 'Welcome to the Anthropocene' (University of Alberta) has gathered rave reviews, like "This is poetry with a brain as well as a heart – it not only makes us feel but also succeeds in making us think." (Roger Caldwell)

Here Alice reads the mesmeric poem 'In Every Tongue', evoking her childhood.

There are links to her previous books and sales information and a million other pieces of information, poetry and essays on Alice's website which is linked here:

Two further poems here:

Interestingly, in common with the Scottish poet Eveline Pye, who is featuring on Monday, Alice's poetry sometimes deals with, interprets and uses imagery from Science and Mathematics. Like this poem here:

Bird Singularities   (From the site 'Talking Writing'}

Bird mathematicians
struggle to calculate
those invisible walls
where the universe stops.

Space and time do loop-de-loops,
they trill sagaciously.
But there are singularities
where four dimensions of flight
intersect, contract to two,
and our equations are abruptly
banned from passing.

Passerines without classrooms
in which to acquire mathematics
become more practically aware.
These street-smart ones learn to shun
vertical planes that glimmer
with the lure of logic but
are based on false assumptions—
that air continues everywhere.

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