Fred Wah: A Floating Space

 nv s ble
tr ck
five  6  seven   nine and ten
      its a trap.1

Pictograms from the Interior of B.C.—Fred Wah
(with nods to Creeley’s numbers)

 nv s ble
naught for the eyes
behind any danse’s russe2
a floating space      (no axes

tr ck
trans-ekphrastic,3 no dots
to connect, no juiced up
berries in this vine-line

five  6  seven   nine and ten
by the numbers then       One and
one and one / Make a picture
two things / one and one4
rolls back into itself (. . . but

     its a trap.
Trompe l’oeil frame(d) / two things,
four things / one and three5
this dream pops too, rubble freed

1 “Its” [sic]
2 Once again in these glosas, WCW’s renowned & wonderful poem, as a self-portrait; look at all the i’s
3 Bowering notes Wah’s response to these pre-historic cave drawings is “‘transcreative’—neither translations nor descriptions.” (Intro to Wah’s Selected, p. 15)
4 “One and one . . . a picture” (from Creeley’s “Enough”); “two things one and one” (from Creeley’s “Song (What do you want, love”)
5 “two and two . . . one and three” (from Creeley’s “Numbers”); & more loveliness still: “let / me sing, one to / one to one, and let / me follow” (from Creeley’s “One thing done”)

Questions and Answers

Is there a specific moment that inspired you to pursue poetry?

I began writing poetry at age fifteen, and in that same, long-ago year (1963) my father arranged for me to spend an afternoon at his friend P. K. Page’s house. P. K. was extremely gracious and encouraging to me, a shy young kid, as she spent a good couple of hours telling me about her experiences in poetry and about her life as a poet. Little did I know at the time she would herself soon come to be considered the “doyenne” of Canadian poetry. My current book-in-progress (titled Broken Glosa: an alphabet book of post-avant glosa), from which this present poem of mine is taken, also involves a P. K. influence—fifty-seven years later! P. K. was one of the first poets in the world to revive the “glosa” poem, a Renaissance Spanish Court form. I’m breaking most of the formal rules governing the traditional glosa, but the form, for me, very much remains one of “homage” to the poets who are the subjects of these poems of mine. I hope P. K. would approve.

This poem “Fred Wah: A Floating Space” originally appeared in Sensing Different Worlds Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 244 (2021): 55-56.

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