Understanding, Faith and Courage
The unimaginable horror of five lives lost when something goes horribly wrong in one single mind has haunted many Calgarians over the past few days. The event is painful and baffling. Over the past month or so, even bigger tragedies – the sea of mud that engulfed an entire community in Washington State, the disappearance of the Malaysian Airlines flight, the hundreds of school children lost at sea off South Korea, the sherpas buried by Everest’s wrath – have tormented human understanding, faith, and courage.
We never have, never will, find an answer to the question ‘Why?’ In September 2005, I struggled for a while with a similar question. In the previous month, we had gone through what, in retrospect, seems almost like a joyous pilgrimage. Starting from Nashville with the Grand Ole Opry, to Memphis and the Lorraine Motel and, of course, Graceland, Montgomery and the Rosa Parks Memorial, Birmingham and the King Memorial Baptist Church, and finally to New Orleans. Walking in New Orleans, supposedly a crime-ridden city, we found beauty everywhere – from the vaults in Saint Louis Cemetary, to the outdoor sculptures in NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art), music in Preservation Hall and the French Quarter, to the mysterious world of the bayous.
Then, suddenly, New Orleans fell apart. In early September 2005, it felt like I had awakened from a dream and stepped into a nightmare called Katrina. Over the months that followed, through the untiring efforts of poet Franklin Reeve, and the generosity of other poets, Bayeux was able to publish “For New Orleans” and Other Poems. When the book came out, it occurred to me that, like Blanche DuBois, publishers “… have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
While in New Orleans, we kept looking for a streetcar named “Desire” rattling through the old Quarter. We never found it. I wish you could hear the poets themselves reading from “For New Orleans” and Other Poems. They are all priceless gems, and I will end with lines from one –
What a workable world this could be,
If the laboring creature could be programmed
to slave like a drone
With a head full of circuits and no damned
ideas of his own!
How we’d cherish the dear fellow then! How he’d
capture our hearts!
A standardized laboring man with replaceable parts!
Thank you to the following agencies
Bayeux Poet Derk Wynand’s poem from the volume “Past Imperfect, Present Tense” has been selected by Vancouver’s Poetry in Transit. Congratulations Derk.
Like many of my fellow countrymen and I am sure many thousands around the world, I have elected to give parts of my body, upon my death, for transplants or medical research or any other purpose that these parts may be deemed fit for. It occurred to me to contemplate what value such a wish might have had if I were a passenger on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.
As long as we have stories, songs and paintings, the West will continue to live. Bayeux Arts has been fortunate in having discovered the great Twin Butte, Alberta, storyteller who is a writer, painter, musician, and real-life cowboy all wrapped in one.
The last few days have been terrible. One blow after another to shake our faith in human nature.
First, there was the spoilt and deranged, rich kid in Santa Barbara, California, who gave vent to his sense of rejection by women through the act of killing five students.
What a week it has been for India and Indians all over the world. Joy, elation, anger and frustration are some of the emotions that spilled over in the wake of India’s momentous national elections.
So the people have spoken, so to speak.
The incoming Prime Minister of India and his soon-to-be-formed ministerial cabinet have their work cut out for them, which essentially means cleaning out the filth and garbage of the past.
The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London has announced a gift of £20 million (approximately $32 million) from the Alphawood Foundation in Chicago to advance the study and preservation of Buddhist and Hindu art in Southeast Asia.
The two novels featured above – “Krishna, A Love Story” and “Rahul, A Different Love Story” – both set in the early 1970s, use a cultural backdrop where the last vestiges of the British Raj are slowly being trampled under an emerging identity of ‘Indian-ness’,