Saturday, March 24, 2007

Writer's Diary #21- Twillingate (First Draft)

If this was a Milton Acorn piece, I'd probably declare it too blatant. But I wrote it for cathartic reasons, not to be the world's greatest poem, so it at least served its purpose. Ever write just to get something off your chest? Sometimes it really works. That said, I should add the disclaimer that yes, small towns, including Twillingate, also have their fine points.

Twillingate

The odour
from the fish plant
fogged through the air
and seeped its way into
everywhere:
the church pews,
the hospital waiting room,
the produce aisle at the grocery store,
the desks at the school.
I could never understand
when people called it the
“smell of success”
Did it need to stink?

It’s been 13 years or more
since the plant closed.
Not to worry,
the locals have found new employment
at the rumour mill.
(There is no moratorium on imagination.)
And if stench is any measure,
it’s as successful as it ever was.

7 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I really like this one, actually. It has a very true sense of place.

"the locals have found new eployment at the rumour mill" is my favourite line.

John Mutford said...

Thanks Barbara, maybe I just need to get angry more often! Yes, I guess it does have a sense of place, not a Road to Avonlea sort of place, but a place nonetheless.

Allison said...

No, not a Road to Avonlea sense of place, but one nonetheless. This reminded me of my hometown. And I'll echo Barb, that was my favourite line too.

Sometimes anger and frustration produces some of the greatest art. Nice job!

John Mutford said...

Allison, I'm not sure where you're from but I'm guessing it's a relatively small town as well. While reading Lawson's "Crow Lake" I was taken aback at how similar the small town in Northern Ontario was to the one I grew up in in outport Newfoundland.

I wrestled a bit with the line that you and Barb liked. I wasn't sure if "new" rang true. Gossip is an old as the community itself. I'm pretty sure some sociologists can rationalize how it's even been a good thing. But since the closure of the fishplant, I question if it hasn't gotten a little worse. I think there's an idiom that goes "Idle hands are the devil's tools" or something like that. Not to say people are lazy of course, it's pretty clear I'm making a generalization here and not saying there aren't exceptions. Then again, maybe it's not any worse than it ever was, maybe I'm just more cognizant of it as an adult. And why do rumours and gossip tend to be negative? Why can't anyone ever say, "Did you hear about Allison? I hear she's going to be nominated for an Oscar."

Allison said...

I think 'new' completely works, as you're not negating the fact that it didn't happen in the past, just reinforcing that its more upfront and has been re-appropriated.

As for why do rumours and gossip always lean towards the negative, I think it just makes people feel better when they can say something harsh, its a power thing. We all fall for it sometimes (well, I do at least). Although I've gotten better since I moved away from home ;)

John Mutford said...

Allison, You're probably right about the power thing. You're also right that we're all guilty of it at times. I'm also not naive enough to think that cities are gossip free. Though I do like the amount of anonymity they offer- the very thing that others hate.

John Mutford said...

A few small edits:

The odour
of the fish plant
fogged through the air
and seeped its way into everywhere:
the church pews,
the desks at the school,
the hospital waiting room,
the produce aisle at the grocery store.

I could never understand
when people called it
“the smell of success.”
Did it need to stink?

It’s been 17 years or more
since the plant closed.
Not to worry
the locals have found new employment
at the rumour mill.
(There is no moratorium on imagination.)
And if stench is any measure,
it’s as successful as it ever was.