Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Giantesses: Gadd, Copithorne, Rodin & Robertson

Some links: Giantesses features the work of Maxine Gadd, Judith Copithorne Renee Rodin, and other women poet/visual artists. I love the line in Lisa Robertson’s intro which describes them or their work as possessed of

“An unembarrassed and clear criticality which never refuses the complexities of daily existence”

Sadly one of the complexities of my daily existence this moment is fever and sciatica, which renders me unable to say much more on this, despite wishing to.  Another time I’ll revisit it.  Mainly want to record the link here for the purpose of a revisit.

Change one word.

Change one move.

Change all the people. At gymnastics my favourite coach has left to China and my other favourite coach has left to coach at a new club and the other gymnast who has helped me learn the rings has gone to medical school overseas. Disaster! My entire team of reliable males each Weds has disappeared to far points of the globe.

A new fella is helping me on the rings and he’s pretty radical. He did something tonight called a dislocation that I do not ever intend to do this side of 100. Plus he showed me some pretty violent swinging that was verging on crucifixion shaped and again I dunno if I’ll be hitting that tube stop anytime soon. I am quite jealous of his chin up move and am certainly going to pursue it. But how? The small matter of Posh Spice sized arms up against gravity and pretty ripped up hands need overthrowing.

Change one move.

Another coach tonight gave me a wonderful tip on my back handspring. I trained sooo long ago as a teenager, in the dinosaur era where they taught a sit and fall technique to the commence the move but that has now gone out with the bats. He said pike the legs and fall or just do it straight legged. Plus he said stick your chest up and back which is pretty easy to remember since it pokes out. What a difference. No more collapses. Well a couple. All my power from my legs was being lost by sitting too low, now instead it sends me back and longer. Yeah!!

All the way home I thought of how these tiny adjustments change so much, just as in prose a word in and out of a sentence can have this effect. I don’t have such a good editor’s eye. (Sound is v important to me though) I tend just to see thorns and blackberry bushes. I continue however to see the physical body and it’s movements as structure or I import from the physical body. Even now I can hear the snap of feet to the floor and thump of the arms and the final thump of the feet in a tumbling sequence. I hear a sentence in it. The last novel that I wrote the shape was formulated watching Judith Copithorne walk about delivering phrases at a poetry reading. She was not reading a poem like all the other poets were, she was offering words. Literally and physically.

Concrete Vancouver

Sunday, I went to a talk about an art exhibit taking place currently at SFU Burnaby. The talk about “expanded literary practices” in Vancouver 1954-1969 was given by Michael Turner, who put the show together and it, to my ears, is the realisation of aspects of a piece he wrote as part of an online exhibit It seems to be a time that has been woefully ignored and yet one of vibrant collaboration.

There are particular crevices of the topic that interest me and I explored a couple of them last summer in conversations with artists Judith Copithorne and visited Judy Williams studio on Cortes where she showed me material related to the time and later. I also asked many artists I bumped into that summer about the time.

After those exchanges and other conversations, the quandary occurred to me around the diminishment of peoples contribution and who decides and collates and appoints the significance of work made and how an important contribution can then be overlooked with reductive tag phrases. (People will be quick to say a particular artist was not a major figure, but will not recall much, if any, of the work that could inform on whether this is actually the case. I find the demarcation of “major figure” suspect. Why should that be a deciding factor in considering an individual’s contribution?)  One artist said to me “There isn’t room for everybody” or something along those lines, which is perfectly true. However it strikes me that room can be made and needs to be made in the area of acknowledgement. Somehow we are all complicit in what is remembered and what is forgot and history can be rewritten/revised/spotlight budged on any average Monday around 2pm, since I find that a good hour, with the right strength of tea, the best time for reconsidering things.

One of the things I took from those discussions and examination of Judith Copithorne’s work was an admiration for the quiet labouring of continuing to make work amid little fanfare. When I began to look closely at some of her publications I noted an uplifting relevance to now (we see the beginnings of web comics, the doodle, fragments, recording, that’s evolved to blogging for starters in it) that more celebrated artists lack and I noted how the limits she faced through poverty, directed and shaped her work in this way. Handwriting, calligraphy over lettraset (sp?).  Also, how her work translates well in an online sphere.

I came across Judith’s work initially at a reading at SFU that related to a UBC poetry conference in the sixties. She read with a number of concrete poets and not so concrete ones and her reading had a shape, inclusiveness, and physicality that nudged me. I was surprised to discover I could find none of her work in print and hence the questions started.

I will look up my notes later and write further on this because I have been wanting to write on it for a while and fermenting away.

(Aha! I have just recalled what took me to that initial reading at SFU it was hearing the audio work of Bob Copping and a desire to learn more about concrete poetry and whether there was any inter-relation between Copping and what took place here in Vancouver. There was I learnt at that reading.)