War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

The Calling

I think about the magus, Michael Green (our national treasure), so much since I’ve come home to Canada. He was a life changer for me as he acted as midwife to the war requiem. Our last social time together was spent drinking single malt and scheming future projects. No cigars were involved, thankfully, because rehearsals had just begun and I needed a clear head!

I was away for all of Michael’s memorials and only now have read his obits. Sometimes I am so caught up in the worries and complexities of life-life (relationships, finances, logistics), that I forget my real life, the artist life propelled by the need to create (there is no choice in this, it is spiritual survival). I need to think about Michael at these times, especially as the quote below depicts Michael.

The last time I was with Michael he was SO EXCITED about his Treaty 7 project/work. He said to me that it was his life-changing moment. We were going to talk about how I might be involved at a later date.

It’s so strange when one’s life-changing moment, following one’s true calling, leads, ultimately, to one’s death. I know of young Canadian soldiers who felt called to soldiery, some since infancy practically, and who died in the line of duty. I understand this (tho I recognise that friends from countries with military regimes, or that have been through war or are war-torn or occupied etc., or, conversely live in imperialist nations etc. cannot understand a Canadian military). My work has led me to confront my mortality straight on. In fact, when I felt like backing out on a trip outside the wire in Afghanistan, Barb Tobin-Anderson said to me, “Now you know how THEY feel”.

You know, the artist-life is weirdly perceived as being either elitist or bottom-feeding. Michael Green, like the late flamenco guitarist Harry Owen, another amazing visionary, taught me that every show is the most important. Harry taught me that an audience of one was as important as an audience of 1700 (the size of the requiem’s audience), or 11 million (the size of the BBC World Service audience for whom I have read my work three times). I think what both men shared was the ‘boy inside the man’ who was never ‘buried’. As a mother, a then-wife to someone else’s career and life for many years, somehow the girl gets lost. Yet it is that freshness of spirit that truly elevates our artistic spirit, the artist life, and helps to recreate a vision of the world anew.

Michael, it’s 1 1/2 years since you’ve been gone. I still can’t quite believe it. Thank you for everything.
“Every show they ever did was the most important show they ever did – that’s what I learned from him,” Mr. McCulloch says. “He was a guy who accomplished a lot in this world, but he never kind of buried the boy inside the man. He was always the little boy as well, which I loved about him and I hope to emulate.”

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled The Calling. It was posted here on May 21, 2016.


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