Poetry Pause

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“Conversation” (from Treading Fast Rivers), “Migrations” (from Wavelengths of Your Song) and “When I Reach” (from Dust Blown Side of the Journeyhave all been chosen for Poetry Pause by the League of Canadian Poets.

“With Poetry Pause, the League will circulate one poem a day, Monday-Friday, each month, all year – starting late 2018. For your daily dose of poetics, you can subscribe to our Poetry Pause newsletter or find the poems on our website where they will be archived.” If you wish to receive the Poetry Pause poems please sign up here. 

Photo by Eleonore Schönmaier

“Conversation” in three Scotland concerts

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On September 5, 6, & 7 the St Andrews New Music Ensemble  performed three concerts  featuring Emily Doolittle’s  Conversation (based on a poem by Eleonore Schönmaier from Treading Fast Rivers).  

Conversation is a 12-minute work for soprano and chamber ensemble, based on the sounds of grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) in haul-out. Schönmaier’s poem explores what Doolittle describes as a ‘slightly uncanny sympathy between humans and grey seals’.”


Conversation

 

Are my thoughts so noisy they murmur

outside my body?—keening like distant

 

voices, like wind through buoys.

Each moment carries its own frame.

 

On the shoals I count fifty seals,

their grey pod-bodies entwined.

 

Is it their thoughts or mine

that I hear?—a longing

 

so ardent and spacious.  The past

and its regret talks

 

back to me:  panting, insistent, it holds

my hand.  I eavesdrop in the lapse

 

between one wake-up call and the next.

What language emanates from the seals

 

as they pleasure in the sun?  A vibration

shuddered in the air that lures

 

me back to or away from myself,

a conversation fetched home.

 

From Treading Fast Rivers (McGill-Queen’s University Press)


 

 

Twenty years since Swissair Flight 111

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What We Don’t Think of Packing

 

but take along anyway:  the shoes on our feet,

the fifty-four bones in our hands, the memory of

the colour of the sheets on our beds.  We prepare

for flight as if we and the customs officers are the only

 

ones who will ever open our baggage.  Nightshirts close

to the suitcase’s zipper so when we arrive we can quickly

begin to restore what we thought we’d lost.  Certain kinds

of loss we bargain for in transit:  eight hours of sleep,

the memory of where we parked the car—

 

In Canada a man stands at the end

of his driveway talking to a neighbour:  I received

the call—search and rescue.  There was no screaming, no

arms hanging loose.  The helicopter shone light on the water

and we picked up what there was—

 

When I walk the beach with the kids

I know what I’m looking for.

I found a piece of plane and slipped it into my pocket.

Didn’t tell the kids—a scrap

the size of a two dollar coin.

 

Loss jangling, except it’s in a currency

no one else understands even if they were on the boat

when he cupped the child’s sneaker in his palm, insisted

the police promise to return it to the family—We never

 

anticipate losing the memories of what we have already lost—

 

 

From Treading Fast Rivers (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

 

 

Heartwood: poems for the love of trees

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Heartwood  has now been published.  The anthology includes my poem “Knot” and is over 300 pages which includes beautiful original photographs of trees.   You can order your own copy online.

“Heartwood is a Canadian anthology of poems that celebrates trees. Published by the League of Canadian Poets, this anthology features poets from every province and territory celebrating the immeasurable value trees have for the environment and for the soul. Poets wrote about a tree they loved as a child, a park they sat in, or a forest they go to for invigoration and inspiration. The planet needs trees to survive. Poets from across Canada have written poems to ensure that the message is heard. Compiled and edited by Lesley Strutt. Foreword by Diana Beresford-Kroger. Original photographs by Chuck Willemsen.”

Live-Retrieved Memory: the Poetry of Eleonore Schönmaier

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“Time in music is one way to organise chaos, and musical polyphony uses multilayering as a form of time travel.  This is similar to the layering found in life-retrieved memory.  Time for me isn’t linear but the coexistence of multiple layers and I write poetry because I want this polyphony.”  Paul Hamann quotes Eleonore Schönmaier in his feature about her writing in the newly released issue of The New Quarterly .

Editor Pamela Mulloy in her introductory essay for the issue writes: In “Live-Retrieved Memory: The Poetry of Eleonore Schönmaier” Paul Hamann examines his former student’s work and delves into her theory on a “live-retrieved” memory, a conjoining that might be found with merging the past from our letters and journals together with the live memories we carry with us through the years.

Photograph by Eleonore Schönmaier

Pimachiowin Aki

The landscape of my childhood is now a UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Site.  The nearly 30,000 square kilometers in the heart of Canada’s boreal forest is designated as having “outstanding universal value to all of humanity.”

“There are few great forests left in the world. And even fewer where indigenous people have been taking care of the land for thousands of years. But such a rare place exists…In Ojibwe we call it Pimachiowin Aki (Pim–MATCH–cho–win Ahh–KEY) or “the land that gives life.” Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) Elders teach us that the land provides fresh water, healthy food and clean air for many people near and far.”

 

Weightless

 

At the water’s edge

is an empty canoe

open to the pouring

 

in of starlight:

it’s inconceivable to bail

the light out

 

once it has been

(however briefly)

carried—

 

From Wavelengths of Your Song (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

 

 

 

 

To defend poetry

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“To defend poetry means to defend a fundamental gift of human nature, that is, our capacity to experience the world’s wonder, to uncover divinity in the cosmos and in another human being, in a lizard, in chestnut leaves, to experience astonishment and to stop still in that astonishment for an extended moment or two. The human race won’t perish if this capacity withers—but it will be weaker, worse off, different from what it was throughout those millennia when every civilization placed poetry, in whatever form, at the heart of all human endeavor.”

—Adam Zagajewski

 

Photograph by Eleonore Schönmaier

Lost

 

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Lost

 

They ski through the northern boreal

forest, over frozen

 

lake after frozen lake

until finally where the ice cracks

 

like gun shots beneath

their skis, and their eye lashes

 

are thick with white frost, the man

slows and says to his ten

 

year old daughter, “If my heart

stops beating right now

 

what will you do?”

She says, “I’ll continue

 

forward.” “No,” he says, “you’ll

follow our tracks safely

 

back.”  And years later

after his pulse

 

has stilled she again finds

the way

 

to the deep safe cold

of this heart warmed place.

 

from Wavelengths of Your Song (McGill-Queen’s University Press)

 

Photograph by Eleonore Schönmaier

For the love of

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The anthology Heartwood:  for the love of trees is forthcoming from the League of Canadian poets and features poems by Anne Michaels, Alice Major, Eleonore Schönmaier, Sally Ito, George Elliott Clarke, Brian Bartlett, John B. Lee, Mary Dalton, Margo Wheaton, bill bissett, Steven Heighton, rob mclennan, Luciano Iacobelli, George McWhirter, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Elana Wolff and Sue Sinclair among many others.

 

Photo:  by Eleonore Schönmaier

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day

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Postcard Image Designed by Megan Fildes

 

Poem in Your Pocket Day is an annual initiative organized by the Academy of American Poets to celebrate National Poetry Month.  The League of Canadian Poets is very excited to be have joined this initiative…adding some of our favourite Canadian poems and poets to the mix!”

 

Eleonore Schönmaier’s “Migrations” is part of this years Poem in Your Pocket brochure plus the League of Canadian Poets has created a postcard version.

 

Ways to Celebrate

It’s easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own Poem in Your Pocket Day event. Visit the Academy’s website for a full history of the program and other materials. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Start a “poems for pockets” giveaway in your school or workplace
  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Memorize a poem
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite lines of poetry
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post lines from your favorite poem on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr
  • Send a poem to a friend