Poetry on a Canapé


Kaleidoscopes, those marvelous toys containing mirrors and pieces of coloured glass, amuse us with reflections that change patterns as we move a small tube around and around.  There is a random joy in each transformation that materialises as we gaze with rapt attention through a tiny eyehole. These constantly fluctuating designs are a reminder of the varied and vibrant patterns of our lives.

Today, this word became ever fresh in my mind when the postman delivered a package addressed to me from Quebec, Canada.    Inside, was Kaleidoscope, musings of life chronicles, by a wonderful blogger friend, Jean-Jacques Fournier.   His poetry creates amazing dialogues that explore the spirit of the human experience in a way that builds hope and resilience. The following poem brings out this message.


-worth the keep-

So many memories

Worth the keep,

Tho there be many

Begs a clean sweep,

For those evoked

Leads one to wallow,

In recollects thin

Bordering hollow,

Or colours memory

Of near wilting age,

Yet wants fellow

Bides to engage,

In worthy recalls

Before time shades,

What gave our life a stage!

 Jean-Jacques Fournier is a native of Montreal.  He started writing poetry in earnest while living in California in the early eighties. In the process of reinventing himself numerous time, his penchant for language of poetry seemed best suited to express emotional experiences.  He then spent several years pursuing his writing in the South of France, during which time he published his first three books.  He has since moved back to Canada and is now living in the Eastern Townships of the province of Quebec with his French wife Marianne, and two Maine Coon cats.  (From the back cover of Kaleidoscope)




“So many books, so little time.” 
 Frank Zappa

It is now May 2014 and the OnTheRoad Reading Program 2014 is posted.  I confess that I had an exceptionally robust reading program for 2013.  Of the twenty-one listed books, I completed seven, all of which have left a lasting mark.  I have named 2013, the year of “The Magnificent Seven.”  I started out with great hopes that I would complete my mission, but I knew instinctively that it was a bit of a stretch.  The remarkable thing about books is that they quietly wait for us to read them at the right time.

We want to read; and read well. There are so many great books from which to choose. We consider time the culprit. More likely, the real issue is our use of time. It goes back to the old proverb “quantity versus quality.” You can’t read it all, so you have to choose what is the most important to you. It is, in reality, a culling process. There are some books that you shouldn’t read – not because they are poorly written or inconsequential – but because you have other books that you must read.  Choose with purpose, given your time constraints.   Reading is the catalyst for transformation as well as a conduit for connecting with others.  Several books included in my 2014 Reading Program came as recommendations from my blogging companions.

Thank you for sharing the joy of reading.  I look forward to the ongoing dialogue.

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” 
 Gustave Flaubert

OTR Reading Program 2014

Gertrude Stein – A Bold Experimenter

“Writing and reading is to me synonymous with existing.”

Gertrude Stein


If I was ever asked who I would like to spend an afternoon with, I would choose Gertrude Stein.   After all, she lived in Paris surrounded by all that she loved best – art, music, poetry, food and wine.   Her residence at the salon, 27 rue de Fleurus on the Left Bank, was a gathering place for the “new moderns,” the talented young artists who would help define the idea of modernism in literature and art.  Imagine what it would be like to experience the conversations of Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Claribel & Etta Cone,  James Joyce, Thornton Wilder, in the formative stages of the modernist movement.   Her salon was indeed “A Moveable Feast” just as Ernest Hemingway described.

Gertrude Stein had very little use for the narrative, linear and time-orientated conventions of 19th century literature.   A self-proclaimed genius, she preferred to experiment in her writing.   Her poetry is not easy to read or understand, but there is drama, wit and boldness in her choice of words.  Many believe that she was creating portraits with words, much like Picasso was with paints.

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I chose Christian Bérard which is focused on food and eating.  I confess, it is easy to stumble over the words, but I found the more I read this poem aloud, the more I appreciated the nuances.  Since I have not included the full poem, I would encourage you to explore it at Poetry Foundation, an excellent resource for poetry.

Christian Bérard

By Gertrude Stein

Eating is her subject.

       While eating is her subject.

       Where eating is her subject. Continue reading