For the Record

Embarrassment is the teacher
when his prize student
cannot remember her lines
in front of the visiting poet

There are excuses:
the poem doesn’t rhyme
it’s not a good poem

The kid’s nervous eyes
flickering like electricity
hands twisted wires
word lost in caved mouth

Nobody can explain


signs naming
branches of rivers crossed each morning

things we record when we learn to write
the reason for learning to write.

Questions and Answers

What inspired “For the Record”?

I admit, my greatest inspiration was Margaret Atwood. I thought I was the only one who felt her muse doing its work above and around me. How surprised I was, when I was accepted to the League of Canadian Poets and discovered that almost every woman of my age, at the time, was inspired by her.

What poetic techniques did you use in “For the Record”?

I was reading imagistic and organic poetry by William Carlos Williams at the time, so the techniques were that of imagist poetry: visual, no excess wording, minimalist…

This poem “For the Record” originally appeared in Poets’ Words. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 115 (Winter 1987): 27.

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