Saturday, September 24, 2011

One Brief Shining Moment; Day 1- Minden

It always takes a bit to get into the rhythm of a residency so I shouldn’t be surprised I got my hours a mixed up today( Sept 23- Day 1). The ten-hour days don’t start until Tuesday. In a way I’ve been looking forward to keeping longer hours on-site, as it will force me to finish writing my daily summary earlier.  There is no wireless in the lakeside cabin where I’m staying and no Starbucks nearby for a late night posting. It’s rather refreshing.

Apart from forgetting that the library closes at 5pm instead of 8pm, it was a very productive first day. I got into the spirit of the autumnal equinox and spent most of the day ‘harvesting’ clippings from a backlog of scans from previous residencies.

I promised I’d try to keep those not able to visit on-site more in the loop. Here’s what I mean.  After reading a letter for the first time I scan it so that I can harvest portions of it to fit into different categories. There are nine categories comprised of harvested bits. From the scanned envelopes of letters I snip: stamps to add to the category Bearings; recipient and sender names to go into To and From respectively and addressee and return addresses to add to Home.

From the body of the scanned letters I harvest: the date it was written (and the return address when included alongside) to add to Bearings; the way the letter begins for Salutations and ended for In Closing; as well as postscripts and X’s & O’s to add to categories bearing the same names. I also have a category for “M’s”. Why M’s?  While talking about the project in the planning stages a friend exclaimed she loved the way her grandmother wrote her M’s, which for me was impetus enough to create  the category The Way She Wrote Her M’s.

As I determined in the Picton chapter of the project, slotting the body of a letter into a category isn’t as straight forward. Some letters, such as a submission I opened today, just want to be on their own. 

A handmade cedar box, lined with suede, scented by incense filled with letters—14 of them, each uniquely crafted. Written on various weights of paper, some were tied into scrolls, others contoured to follow the details of a drawing or flow of text. All were hand-tinted either by watercolour paints or pastels and covered with beautifully executed pen and ink drawings.

The woman who gave them to me told me they were from an old boyfriend, an artist. She confided she felt awkward parting with them, but even sillier keeping them and horrified at the thought of throwing them out. We talked about the content, so even before I read them I knew they weren’t like other letters in the category Love or its close cousins Missing You, Travails or Shaky Ground. Of course there are glimpses of all those things, but I decided to title this collection One Brief Shining Moment.
"Uncertain of what has unfolded in the past week, or maybe unravelled...two souls intertwined for what seemed to be an eternity and in a breath frayed."
"A piece of my heart,
At peace with my heart" 

No comments:

Post a Comment