War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

winnipeg CBC interview

here’s the Nov. 11th CBC Winnipeg interview… maybe a few new thoughts, but one could just skip through the interview to hear me read my sonnet, To Young Infantrymen Training for Afghanistan (on lines by Gerard Manley Hopkins)

I’ve never written a sonnet before and so this was an interesting challenge set to me by the Scottish poet, Tom Bryan. Tom is the Hugh MacDiarmid writer-in-residence at Brownsbank Cottage in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. born in Canada, Tom is one of those interesting reverse-immigrants that one meets in Scotland from time-to-time… a brilliant poet, Tom is one of those masters whose generosity with time, advice, and spirit, makes him a national treasure in Scotland… who knows, maybe one day Canada will claim him as one of our national treasures as well… we’d be lucky and wise to do so.

Nov. 11 CBC interview

a few comments… the final three words, Your awesome thirst. I struggled with the word awesome because of overuse, yet when I sitting in the LAV for hours on end with the young soldiers, I can honestly say that I was awed by their physical thirst as well as their mental/intellectual/emotional thirst for what they were doing… there were no half-measures in what they did and how they did it… still, that line will probably change because it feels tossed out…

a second comment… in the interview I am asked about the physicality of what I am doing, and make a remark about how wearing 40 lbs. of frag vest (with ceramic inserts) and helmet for days gave me a sore back… I’m not exactly sure how much they weigh, but I’m certain that with layers of clothing, boots etc… that it must come close… any corrections are gratefully received… also, I began developing muscles in the back of my neck from the weight of the helmet, and helmet strap chin (not attractive)

a comment on style… someone wrote that my lack of CAPS and erratic punctuation was irritating… am I some e.e. cummings wannabe? … no, I think what I am saying with this haphazard punct. is that the entire site, all of the words I “publish”, are in absolute BETA, that is, raw, unworked, unfinished… and that by posting online, I am letting you into my notebook, my sketch pad, my tiny, messy office… and that my work may possibly look totally different at publication (paper)…

finally, a request… I wrote “To Young Infantrymen…” in part for the Royal 22e Régiment, as well as for 1PPCLI… s’il y a quel qu’un qui pourrait le traduire en français, je serai heureuse, parce ce que je voudrais l’envoyer au Régiment

2 Comments (Closed)

Douglas Hill

I am really glad that you are posting your beta work, as you call it, because it is usually only posthumously that we get to see a writer’s scratchpad—and how else would you have time to post anything if your didn’t post beta? (I like your use of “beta”, by the way.) Most artists lack the confidence to allow the public to peer into the process; they will allow the work to emerge from chrysalis only full-fledged and perfect, as if it sprang spontaneously from their brows (The art is to conceal the art, and all that.) Good for you! I am intrigued by this whole thing you are doing, and the beta posts are flecks of gold for this prospector.

Nov 30 2008 · 11:28


Bravo ma cherie! It sounds so much more immediate and personal when spoken. The ‘awesome thirst’ conundrum is just that, but it, too, sounds more authentic than it reads. I think GM Hopkins would have approved!

Nov 30 2008 · 14:37

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