Margaret Atwood reads from The Circle Game and from The Animals in that Country.

Alden Nowlan reads from Bread Wine and Salt, and some more recent, unpublished poems.

 

Margaret Atwood

00:00:00.00

I should apologize to begin with for my voice.  I don't usually sound quite this much like Tallula Bankhead. I have the Montreal plague.  The first poem is called "This is a Photograph of Me," and it's the first poem in The Circle Game.

 

Annotation

00:00:22.81

Reads "This is a Photograph of Me"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:01:35.38

The next poem is called "Camera," and is dedicated to somebody I knew who liked to take pictures.

 

Annotation

00:01:44.84

Reads "Camera"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:03:24.05

And a small poem called "Carved Animals."

 

Annotation

00:03:28.87

Reads "Carved Animals"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:04:25.72

Now some more recent poems, which I should explain were mostly written in the United States when I was living there recently.  The first one called "At the Tourist Center in Boston."  Now Canada does have a Tourist Center in Boston.

 

Annotation

00:04:50.74

Reads "At the Tourist Center in Boston"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:06:48.55

And a poem called "The Green Man," which is dedicated to the Boston Strangler.

 

Annotation

00:06:56.43

Reads "The Green Man"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:08:03.94

This poem called "A Fortification."

 

Annotation

00:08:08.53

Reads "A Fortification"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:09:17.76

And this is a poem dedicated to my landlady who didn't remain my landlady for very long, called "The Landlady."

 

Annotation

00:09:29.58

Reads "The Landlady"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:10:47.54

And this poem called, "A Foundling."

 

Annotation

00:10:52.49

Reads "A Foundling"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:11:41.71

And this poem, which has no title.

 

Annotation

00:11:49.12

Reads ["Untitled"]

 

Margaret Atwood

00:12:58.50

And a poem called "Chronology," which I wrote in one of my more paranoid states of mind.

 

Annotation

00:13:06.35

Reads "Chronology"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:14:39.45

And here's my love poem to the, our large, friendly neighbour to the south.

 

Annotation

00:14:50.81

Reads "Backdrop addresses cowboy"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:16:28.62

Then a slightly happier poem called "A Voice."

 

Annotation

00:16:36.13

Reads "A Voice"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:17:40.66

And this one called, "An Elegy for the Giant Tortoises," which I wrote when I heard that they were planning to use a certain South Pacific Island for the building of an airstrip.

 

Annotation

00:17:59.75

Reads "An Elegy for the Giant Tortoises"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:19:19.73

And this poem called, "It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers"

 

Annotation

00:19:26.98

Reads "It is Dangerous to Read Newspapers"

 

Annotation

00:20:40.60

Some brief distortion in tape.

 

Annotation

00:20:49.43

Reads "I was reading a scientific article"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:22:20.14

And the last poem.

 

Annotation

00:22:25.72

Reads "The Reincarnation of Captain Cook"

 

Margaret Atwood

00:23:44.25

Thank you.

 

Annotation

00:23:46.60

Applause concludes Atwood's reading.

 

Annotation

00:23:49.97

Cut/Edit made in tape; unknown amount of time elapsed.

 

Annotation

00:23:57.07

Brief distortion in tape; recording recommences.

 

Introducer - Roy Kiyooka

00:23:58.24

...for quite a number of years as a journalist in the Maritimes, and this evening he is here with his wife and son and will be reading to you.  Ladies and gentlemen, Alden Nowlan.

 

Annotation

00:24:17.72

Applause from audience.

 

Alden Nowlan

00:24:26.82

Thank you, Roy. First of all, I want to reassure everyone that I'm not going to read everything that's in this.  I feel that probably there are some who are terrified when they see this, you know.

 

Annotation

00:24:39.80

Some noise around mic; distortion of voice.

 

Alden Nowlan

00:24:45.38

It's really basically laziness that I haven't shortened anything out, I simply have wads of things here.

 

Annotation

00:24:55.98

Laughter.  Distortion on recording.

 

Alden Nowlan

00:24:56.40

No no, not that one, I'm not going to read them all, definitely, definitely not.

 

Annotation

00:25:09.69

Blip in tape; silent for a moment.

 

Alden Nowlan

00:25:19.38

First of all I have a very, very bad poem that I can't resist reading.  I realized that it's sort of a bad beginning to start off with a poem that the poet himself considers a very bad one, but I wrote this when I arrived here this afternoon.  To the natural egotism of a poet, you see, I can't resist offering it to this soft of captive audience here.  "Poem for the Rich Carlton." [Laughter]

 

Annotation

00:26:06.32

Reads "Poem for the Rich Carlton".

 

Alden Nowlan

00:26:30.13

That isn't really as critical of the Rich Carlton as it sounds, because I sort of like the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral, too, you see.

 

Annotation

00:26:39.22

Noise on mic, significant distortion.

 

Alden Nowlan

00:26:43.16

Next, I'd like to read some poems from my new book, Bread Wine and Salt, which is going to be published by Carter when, the first week in November, at three dollars and fifty cents.  [Laughter]  That is the commercial.  "I, Icarus."

 

Annotation

00:27:15.33

Reads "I, Icarus"

 

Annotation

00:28:34.85

Reads "Sailors"

 

Alden Nowlan

00:30:06.79

This poem is entitled "The Cinnamon Bears," which sounds at first as if it were some sort of an animal cooking.  But actually, what these cinnamon bears were, was back around the turn of the century in New Brunswick, as I've been told, there were all sorts of touring side-show type of things, you know, that, fortune tellers, and...people with a monkey, organ grinders with a monkey, and all this type of, sort of strolling pyres or wandering minstrels that existed up until the advent of radio and television.  And it was a terrific thing, of course, in these backwoods communities.  No doubt throughout Canada and the United States, when one of these people arrived.  And among the, among these people were men who had trained bears, who, because of their colouration, were called cinnamon bears.  And this poem actually is sort of a found poem, because it's not so much a creative thing as it is the transcription of a conversation which I happened to overhear between an old couple in northern New Brunswick.  A man and his wife in their seventies, when they, suddenly something brought back these memories of these days of the organ grinders and the cinnamon bears.  And as I say, I sort of made the poem more or less by simply transcribing the things which they said to one another, which it seemed to me was sort of a poetry, a form of poetry itself.

 

Annotation

00:32:20.77

Reads "The Cinnamon Bears"

 

Annotation

00:33:21.02

Reads "Britain Street, St. John, New Brunswick"

 

Alden Nowlan

00:34:22.73

This is another, sort of a found poem, I'm not really terribly convinced that it's a poem at all.  Last year, when I had a quite serious illness, one afternoon I was in the waiting room at the doctor's office, and the only thing that seemed to lay at hand for me to read was a copy of one of these Confessions magazines entitled Sacred Life.  [Laughter]  And as I glanced through it, it seemed to me, all that I actually read of it, you know, were these sort of captions at the top of the articles, and some of the big type in it.  But it seemed to me really, as I glanced through it, that it had, that it contained sort of a crazy poetry of its own.  At least, in the mood that I was in at the time, I sort of responded to it as though it were a crazy sort of poetry.  And so as I sat there I sort of jotted down some of these things from the magazine, and ever since I've been trying to pass it off as a poem.

 

Annotation

00:35:37.79

Reads "Secret Life"

 

Annotation

00:36:39.06

Loud laughter follows the end of this poem.

 

Annotation

00:36:57.91

Reads "In Our Time"

 

Annotation

00:40:51.42

Reads "The Changeling"

 

Annotation

00:41:49.01

Reads "The Hollow Men"

 

Alden Nowlan

00:42:38.17

This poem is entitled "Ancestral Memories Evoked by Attending the Opening of the Playhouse in Fredericton, New Brunswick."  And I'm a little afraid that many of you will feel that it is sort of pointless.  I'm not sure really but what you'd have to be completely immersed in the atmosphere of New Brunswick to get the real point of it, but.  But that said, not implying any superiority on the part of New Brunswickers, unfortunately.  Anyway.

 

Annotation

00:43:26.30

Reads "Ancestral Memories Evoked by Attending the Opening of the Playhouse in Fredericton, New Brunswick"

 

Annotation

00:44:36.95

Reads "Every Man Owes God a Death".

 

Alden Nowlan

00:46:41.60

This poem, for no particular reason, is entitled "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner."

 

Annotation

00:46:48.76

Reads "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner"

 

Alden Nowlan

00:48:23.67

This is a poem that came out of a serious illness that I had last year, and it's entitled "In the Operating Room."

 

Annotation

00:48:38.34

Reads "In the Operating Room"

 

Alden Nowlan

00:50:05.07

I have a few other recent poems I'll dig out of these.

 

Alden Nowlan

00:50:47.62

As I sort through these, I'm silently cursing myself for not having done this before I came here.

 

Alden Nowlan

00:51:20.22

Here's a fairly recent poem which isn't a political poem at all, but a human poem.  And one that I wrote as a result of watching on television the debates in the United Nations on the Middle East crisis.  And one of the horrible things I felt as I watched it was how completely dehumanized it all was, that the real, human issues had been lost sight of, and sort of drowned in an ocean of resolutions and memos from embassies and all this sort of things.  And one night when they televised these sessions through until about four o'clock, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia spoke, and he delivered certainly a very bigoted speech, and one that as a speech I wouldn't have agreed with, but I felt an admiration for him, because it had seemed to me that he was the only really human thing that had happened there all day.  You know, that certainly he was a bigoted old man, full of thousands of years of hatred, but it was a human hatred, expressed in a human manner, something that the rest of them had completely lost sight of.  And as a result of this feeling I wrote this poem, "For Jamol Barudi, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Nations on the Occasion of his Address to the Security Council, June 1967."

 

Annotation

00:53:21.84

Reads "For Jamol Barudi, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Nations on the Occasion of his Address to the Security Council, June 1967".

 

Annotation

00:56:26.53

Reads "Fireworks"

 

Annotation

00:57:34.65

Reads "Two Poems for the Nova Scotia Department of Highways"

 

Alden Nowlan

00:59:31.11

Finally, this is a poem entitled "State Visit," and the motivation of it, like one of the earlier ones I read, was sort of this same feeling of frustration at the complete dehumanization of politics as we feel it today, and particularly, this sort of apotheosis of world leaders into some sort of a symbol, so they even, I think, begin to think of themselves in these sort of abstract terms, rather than as a human being.  And out of--this is sort of, I suppose, perhaps to a degree sort of a bitter little poem, but it stemmed from an emotion which I'm sure many of us feel.

 

Annotation

01:00:27.75

Reads "State Visit"

 

Annotation

01:01:39.26

Recording ends suddenly.

Margaret Atwood and Alden Nowlan at SGWU, 1967

Tape
Catalog numberI006-11-036
Duration01:01:39.26
Sound qualityGood
Reading
SpeakersMargaret Atwood; Alden Nowlan, introduced by Roy Kiyooka
VenueArt Gallery
DateOct. 13, 1967

Supplemental Material

Timestamps

00:00- Atwood introduces “This is a Photograph of Me”.

00:22- Reads “This is a Photograph of Me”.

01:35- Introduces “The Camera”.

01:44- Reads “Camera”.

03:28- Reads “Carved Animals”.

04:25- Introduces “At the tourist center in Boston”.

04:50- Reads “At the tourist center in Boston”.

06:48- Introduces “The Green Man”

06:56- Reads “The Green Man”.

08:03- Reads “A fortification”.

09:17- Introduces “The landlady”.

09:29- Reads “The landlady”.

10:47- Reads “A foundling”.

11:41- Reads “Untitled”.

12:58- Introduces “Chronology”.

13:06- Reads “Chronology”.

14:39- Introduces “Backdrop addresses cowboy”.

14:50- Reads “Backdrop addresses cowboy”.

16:36- Reads “A voice”.

17:40- Introduces “Elegy for giant tortoises”.

17:59- Reads “Elegy for giant tortoises”.

19:19- Reads “It’s dangerous to read newspapers”.

20:49- Reads “I was reading a scientific article”.

22:25- Reads “The reincarnation of Captain Cook”.

23:44- End of Atwood’s Reading.

23:49- CUT in recording.

23:58- Roy Kiyooka introduces Alden Nowlan (recording starts mid-introduction).

24:26- Alden Nowlan introduces the reading.

25:19- Introduces “Poem for the Rich Carlton”.

26:06- Reads “Poem for the Rich Carlton”.

26:30- Explains “Poem for the Rich Carlton”.

26:43- Introduces “I, Icarus”.

27:15- Reads “I, Icarus”.

28:34- Reads “Sailors”

30:06- Introduces “The Cinnamon Bears”.

32:30- Reads “The Cinnamon Bears”.

33:21- Reads “Britain Street, St. John, New Brunswick”.

34:22- Introduces “The Secret Life”.

35:37- Reads “Secret Life”.

36:57- Reads “In Our Time”

40:51- Reads “The Changeling”

41:49- Reads “The Hollow Men”.

42:38- Introduces "Ancestral Memories Evoked by Attending the Opening of the Playhouse in Fredericton, New Brunswick."

43:26- Reads "Ancestral Memories Evoked by Attending the Opening of the Playhouse in Fredericton, New Brunswick."

44:36- Reads “Every Man Owes God a Death”.

46:41- Introduces “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”.

46:48- Reads “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner”.

48:23- Introduces “In the Operating Room”.

48:38- Reads “In the Operating Room”.

51:20- Introduces “For Jamol Barudi, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Nations on the Occasion of his Address to the Security Council, June 1967”.

53:21- Reads “For Jamol Barudi, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United Nations on the Occasion of his Address to the Security Council, June 1967”.

56:26- Reads “Fireworks”.

57:34- Reads “Two Poems for the Nova Scotia Department of Highways”.

59:31- Introduces “State Visit”.

01:00:27- Reads “State Visit”.

01:01:27- END OF RECORDING.

References

Works Cited

(Margaret Atwood)

Atwood, Margaret.  Selected Poems. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977. (see for selection from The Animals in that Country).

---. The Circle Game. Toronto, House of Anansi, 1966.

Bowering, George, ed. The Contemporary Canadian Poem Anthology. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1984.

Findley, Timothy. “Atwood, Margaret (1939-)”. Routledge Encyclopedia of Post-Colonial Literatures in English. Benson, Eugene; L.W. Connolly (eds). London: Routledge, 1994. 2 vols. November 11, 2009.<http://0-gateway.proquest.com.mercury.concordia.ca/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion-us&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:ref:R00790297:0>.

Geddes, Gary (ed). Fifteen Canadian Poets Times Two. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Kibble, Matthew. “Atwood, Margaret Eleanor, 1939-”. Literature Online biography. Proquest Information and Learning Company, H.W. Wilson Company, 2006. November 11, 2009.<http://0-gateway.proquest.com.mercury.concordia.ca/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.82003&xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion-us&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:ref:BIO002561:0>.

Mandel, Eli (ed). Poets of Contemporary Canada 1960-1970. Montreal: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1972.

Rowland, Susan. “Margaret Atwood 1939- (Canadian)”. Encyclopedia of the Novel. Schellinger, Paul (ed.); Christopher Hudson, Marijke Rijsberman (asst. eds.). Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1998. 2 vols.  November 11, 2009. <http://0-gateway.proquest.com.mercury.concordia.ca/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion-us&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:ref:R00791728:0>.

Stephens, Anna. “Poetry-- Anywhere, Anytime”. The Gazette. Friday, October 20, 1967: page 10. <http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=waYtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=

u58FAAAAIBAJ&pg=7250,4345207&dq=sir+george+williams+poetry&hl=en>.

“Poetry Reading”. OP-ED. [Sir George Williams University, Montreal.] October 6, 1967. Page 6.

“Poetry Readings”. Post-Grad. [Sir George Williams University, Montreal.] Spring 1967: page 20.

“SGWU To Have Poetry Series”. The Gazette. September 14, 1967: page 15. <http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=np8tAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PKAFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4195,2837932&dq=sir+george+williams+poetry&hl=en>.

(Alden Nowlan)

Bartlett, Donald R. “Nowlan, Alden”. The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English. Hamiton, Ian (ed). Oxford University Press, 1996. Oxford Reference Online. Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 13, 2009. <http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.mercury.concordia.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t58.e866>.

Davey, Frank. “Nowlan, Alden”. The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Benson, Eugene and William Toye (eds). Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 13, 2009.  <http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.mercury.concordia.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t201.e1112>.

Geddes, Gary. Fifteen Canadian Poets Times Two. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Nowlan, Alden. Bread, Wine and Salt. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1967.

“Alden Nolan (1933-1983)”. One Zero Zero: A Virtual Library of English Canadian Small Presses, 1945-2044. Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art: The Canadian Art Database. York University, Toronto. November 13, 2009. <http://www.ccca.ca/history/ozz/english/authors/nowlan_alden.html>.

“Poetry Readings”. OP-ED. [Sir George Williams University, Montreal.] October 6, 1967. Page 6.

“Poetry Readings”. Post-Grad. [Sir George Williams University, Montreal.] Spring 1967: page 20.

“SGWU To Have Poetry Series”. The Gazette. September 14, 1967: page 15. <http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=np8tAAAAIBAJ&sjid=PKAFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4195,2837932&dq=sir+george+williams+poetry&hl=en>.

 

Transcript, Print Catalogue, Research, Introduction and Edits: Celyn Harding-Jones


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