Geomantic riposte: 'Wood Spoken'
Born in Norway and raised in Colorado and Virginia, Erling Friis-Baastad emigrated to Toronto in 1969 and has spent most of his adult life in the Yukon Territory. He is a widely published journalist, essayist, and book reviewer, and works as an editor with the Yukon News in Whitehorse. With Canadian short story maven Patricia Robertson, he has edited (if not pioneered) Writing North, an anthology of Yukon writers from the last decade of the twentieth century. Friis-Baastad’s accomplished collection Wood Spoken: New and Selected Poems showcases the thirty-year career of the poet who is credited with bringing contemporary poetry to the territory, and is considered a landmark event in its literary scene, and is most certainly a warm and generous ‘wayfinder’ for those agile poets snowshoeing after him.
Wood Spoken by Erling Friis-Baastad (Northbound Press, 2004, Page 64)
The Poet Attempts a Novel
My hero always fails me.
In Chapter One I give him everything:
height, youth, train fare,
a healthy moustache.
I encourage him to share
my family, my first wife,
the books I’ve read. All I ask
is that he be a man, push on
and meet his fate. But he
demands a rest at the first bend
we come to and slumps there
as if brooding on the injustice
of it all: the noisy typewriter,
the stubby pencil.
Geomantic Riposte: Néant
Still looking up “hero”, “typewriter”, “pencil”
but autocorrect has other ideas The néant
just around the corner and seventy eight people think
it’s pretty at this time of year You know, it’s so-so
being Meursault or similar 20th century after-
nothing in your pocket
but pleased to see you Hey, a
mysterious representative of your agency
gives you a name and a passport, in case
anyone asks but you don’t remember
that, exactly, or why everything’s in the
pluperfect We were going to have dinner
and the rain had started and everyone left the
Klondike terrace and I was the only one left
undampened and Emily asked how I was
and I tried to remember the name yelled
under the lovely bumbershoot, yelping
splendid things about the arctic char when
the plane engine startled a gopher It
was not raining and did you mean “gyro”
in a local radius of 104 km