The Hermit Poet

February 19, 2007

Belated Valentine’s Wishes & Gong Hay Fat Choy

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 10:53 am

Well, despite best intentions, I did not carry out my plan to post on Valentine’s Day. I also failed to post yesterday for Chinese New Year’s. But nevertheless, I am grateful if a bit lonely for these waypoints in the year.

Valentine’s Day
On Valentine’s Day, I headed downtown to a small poetry reading hosted by the Canadian Authors’ Association at the Alliance for the Arts building. Most of the gathered writers and audience were about twice my age or more, but there were a couple younger folks in their midst. The work was varied, some more compelling to me than others. Because the numbers were small, each of us had about 10 minutes of time. I chose to read 5 poems: “burn”, “First Poem”, “After Neruda”, “Letter to the Unknown Wife #10″, and “Letter to the Unknown Wife #11″. After the reading I chatted with the regulars and learned a bit about one writer’s efforts to write and distribute his naval history books, dealing with niche markets, and working with the Canadian publishing industry’s limited interpretations of what constitutes “Canadian” literature. Not exactly how I imagined spending Valentine’s Day, but it was still a worthwhile endeavor. At the very least, I did a little PR work for Boxcar Poetry Review and also handed out business cards to advertise myself as a writer / workshop instructor.

This year, like many years, I spent Valentine’s alone. After the reading, I drove home in the light rain which grew stronger with each mile, till when I turned the last turn of the hill, it was pouring. When I arrived, I hurried in and shed my coat and shoes. I settled down on my chair by the computer to check email. Outside, looking over the nature reserve now buried beneath the darkness of a cool Vancouver night, the lights of homes were shining and the cars moving slick and silent in the distance. People were going home as well. Together or alone. I wanted to write something down. A letter to someone. A poem. Perhaps a note to myself. Something about love and waiting and the night which grows longer with the years. But I didn’t. I should have.

Chinese New Year
Due to a busy weekend of tutoring, I was not able to return home for Chinese New Year’s and spent it by myself. Dinner consisted of left-over curry from the night before. At least at church someone was kind enough to bring Chinese New Year’s treats (mostly sweets). And in keeping with tradition, I’d already received my lucky money a few weeks ago when I last visited my parents. So while rather uneventful, it was still Chinese New Year’s.

At church, I was struck by the number of people who wore red — I’d forgotten about that part of the tradition and was a little ashamed that I hadn’t dug out a red tie or something else. I can’t say why I found it so striking — beautiful actually. Rich red vermillion. Jackets and coats on adults. Silk overcoats on children. Even the red sweaters. How is it that color can make one homesick? In some way it reminds me now of “Hero” and the use of color there. But this is not art, it’s life. And color can be a visceral force. A gate to memory and longing. Red. Even now, I’m thinking of the door posts and gates painted red. The pillars painted red. The carpets. The ink on the seal pressed to the paper. This red.

One Response to “Belated Valentine’s Wishes & Gong Hay Fat Choy”

  1. daniela elza Says:

    Hi Neil,

    i am glad I am catching up on your blog. The valentines and chinese new year meditations on loneliness and red may be the beginning of something you may want to explore. I liked them, those last few lines on each are begging for more attention.:-)

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