Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tape Recorders (for Robert Kroetsch)

I found out a few hours ago that legendary Alberta writer Robert Kroetsch was killed in a car accident at the age of 83. I have the privilege of interviewing Robert three times, corresponding with him via email, and occasionally seeing him at literary events. His wit, dry sense of humour, and profound way of looking at life are the things about him I will most remember - in addition to his literary works, of course. This poem came to me as I reflected upon our encounters and his life, which, while full, was taken too soon.

Tape Recorders (for Robert Kroetsch)

That day between classes in a café
where iced coffee sat between us as
you discussed poetry and hornbooks
as I transcribed conversation to paper
via a malfunctioning tape recorder only
springing to life through a booming voice
filled with history and humour.

My stories were many, or so you said;
there was a need for a good romance
or tales of the itinerant writer in the big city.
Encouragement for my short verse and to
extend the length of my thoughts were remembered,
but short is my style and long is your wisdom.

You saw the dark corners you said
upon which I shed light, although I
think at times the batteries were weaker than
they should have been, just like in that old tape
recorder that memorialized your stream of
post-modern wit and broke once and for all
a few years later.

The new one works in a similar fashion but
never met you in a coffee shop alongside
your talkative host from whom you feigned sleep
as she ferried you to your next engagement,
a full schedule requiring extra energy.

If those stories come to life which you suggested,
I can only hope they will have meaning,
but forgive the brevity of my verses;
they could never rise to the standards
of my aspirations.

(c) 2011 Paula E. Kirman

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