It’s been a dysrhythmic year; leaving the frozen ponds and black ice of Atlantic Canada to welcome the first sweaty hours of Melbourne’s new year with firework smoke and some unknown concoction drunk from a hollowed-out pineapple. Jackknifing from a late-summer stint in the NSW Riverina to the final snowfall in upstate New York, where the statues in the public gardens were just being released from their winterproof vitrines. Returning to Australia via NYC, through little drifts of cherry blossoms built up in doorways and gutters, scattered over the parked cars and trodden into the sidewalks like wet confetti, contributing to the sense that I was leaving at precisely the wrong time, walking away from the parade — a seasonal wrong-way-roundedness which I experienced again last month, leaving Melbourne in its first sleeveless days for Montréal in the lead-up to its immense, almost mythological winter. The Ash trees in this neighbourhood shook off their leaves in a hurry, and now, from the balcony of our third-floor apartment, you can see straight through the bare branches to the mountain (okay, the hill) for which the city is named, the autumnal riot spreading round it like a rumour.
It’s not always immediately apparent, how these shifting spaces influence the stories I write in them (though sometimes, it really is). I’ve found that geographical distance is as helpful as temporal distance when writing about home — whatever home means, exactly; I’m working on that one — but there’s often a little interval of drift before I can settle into the familiar, if somewhat imperfect patterns of writing, sleep, etc. About a year ago I was given a beautiful old twin lens camera, and alongside literature (which in the case of Montréal means the stories of Mavis Gallant and the poems of Leonard Cohen) it’s become a way of orienting myself in new surrounds. It’s also liberating, to be capturing things differently, through different processes. It feels somehow quieter, less cluttered. To not interpret or analogise, but to simply select, to record wordlessly (or almost), and to develop via a more tangible and reliable chemistry than fiction depends on. Which I suppose is really just a long-winded way of saying: Here is what I do when the words are still lost in transit.
[More to follow, once I acquire a film scanner in this hemisphere]
hello. short notice, I know. But if you happen to be free this Friday (16th) and you happen to be in Abbotsford (or thereabouts) this is happening. Come for the slow, stay for the canoe.