Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Dangerous Woman: The Graphic Biography of Emma Goldman by Sharon Rudahl

The best part of this book is Emma Goldman's life as a radical anarchist. If you don't know much about her, then this book is a fun starting point. Rudahl explores many of the key periods of her life, from her departure from Russia at a young age, to her organizing years in the U.S., to her eventual deportation. The novel spans her entire life, giving readers a concise overview of Goldman's compelling biography.

Unlike other accounts of her life, Rudahl enters into the intricacies of Goldman's everyday, giving us a glimpse into Goldman's many key relationships. We find out that she was as ethical and spirited in her personal relationship as she was in her public persona as one of the leading radicals in early 20th century America.

Despite the exciting narrative, one Rudahl puts together based on Goldman's auto-biography, I struggled through much of the novel. I found Rudahl's drawings almost distracting in their busyness. In addition, the structure of her panels left me regularly confused as to where to skip to next. The story itself remains strong, it'd be pretty difficult to take the life out of Goldman's story, but Rudahl's water-colouresque renderings left me wondering how much i would've enjoyed the story otherwise.

I'd say pick up the graphic novel at the nearest library, read about Emma Goldman's inspiring life, and thank Rudahl for sharing it in this format.

Writing Project

Two weeks ago my friend Denise dropped an idea into my lap that was impossible not to love. She had found two old photos in an antiques store, one of a woman and one of a man, both circa 1920 or so and taken in Québec (Sorel and Sherbrooke). We decided to write each other love letters in character. I was Théophile and she became Marie-Evangéline. We then made a small exhibit with the letters and photos at her 1920's-style speakeasy event. The highlight was when we got to read them aloud. Here's my letter, and the photo.


Ma charmante Marie-Evangéline :

Je dois le dire directement, ma belle, avant de raconter les plaisanteries de ma vie ici à Montréal. Tu me manques. Comme une partie de mon corps a été enlevé, je suis démuni sans le bonheur de ton esprit tout près de moi. Mais l’espoir de vous voir encore bientôt me donne le courage de persévérer avec mes études ici à l’école normale.

Depuis notre dernier séjour ensemble à Sherbrooke, tu reviens dans mes pensées à tout bout de soufle. Je me sens coupable, parti vers un nouveau futur sans toi, ma lumière resplendide. Avez-vous la bonté d’âme de me pardonner? D’ouvrir votre Coeur aux sentiments profonds qui surgissent? J’ôse rêver d’une journée pleine de grâce dont je serai près de vous encore une fois.

La vie ici à Montréal est sans cesse. L’école est située sur la ferme Logan, tout près du plateau principal de la ville. Je me sens chanceux d’être impliqué dans une formation si distinguée, quoique la grande majorité des maîtres de notre pays ont passé par ses portes. En effet, les religieux sont bien préparés pour l’enseignement, et ne perdent aucun moment pour nous avertir des grands dangers séculaires qui nous menacent dans la ville.

La semaine passée nous sommes allés vers le centre-ville, jusqu'à la grande rue St-Laurent. Là, nous avons rencontré des Protestants et même des Juifs. Notre ordre faisait du travail missionaire parmis les non-Catholiques, tandis que nous, les étudiants de l’école normale, visitions la cathédrale principale. Quel bel édifice Evangéline, j’espère le voir un jour avec vous.

Je dois retourner à mes études, nous avons un examen préliminaire demain matin, mais c’est difficile de m’y mettre pleinement avec les mémoires dansantes de votre sourire si près de mon cœur. L’auteur Prévost nous a dit que l'esprit perd sa force en s'assujetissant trop à l'empire des sens, mais c’est justement la perte de force émergeant de mes sentiments qui me rend amoureux de vous, ma jolie Marie-Evangéline.

Avec la foi de mon Coeur, Esprit et Ame

Votre Théophile

Montréal, 20 mai, 1922

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Canoeing in the rain

Yesterday I could think of little else. My beautiful green canoe beckoned all the way from Constance Bay, where it is lovingly stored at Mom & Dad's place. Though it seemed like less-than-ideal paddling conditions from the city, little did I know it would be near hurricane conditions out on the river. Damn, I drove out there only to find that the whitecaps were out full force. I waited an hour and the gales seemed to die down, but then, just as a I strapped my PDF on, they whipped up again. Both M&D insisted I not go out, and though I was close, I decided to continue planting beans, peas, onions and asparagus with my Dad. In the end, this turned out to make for an enjoyable afternoon.

But the water still hollers my name, and my body aches for being on the water. I need a name for my canoe, if you have any ideas, drop them my way.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

In Love with a Boy

You know that warm, fuzzy feeling deep in your gut. The one that carries you away to places you never thought possible. That feeling, the one I haven't felt nearly enough over the recent past, I get it quite often around my main man, Quinlan Morris- pictured above at the Hawksley Workman concert at Bluesfest last year.

This week we wandered around my garden and built a stone castle after we went for our weekly swimming session with his lovely Mom, Christine. I love Quinn, for the way he walks so awkwardly, or how he looks at me with utter puzzlement when I'm making a fool of myself, or the way he grabs for my hand when we're out walking. So touching.

Sometimes I wish I was a kid so I could just hang out. Play in the sand, watch dogs, hold everyone's hands, yeah, especially that, holding people's hands and cuddling with abandonment. I had the incredible good fortune of spending quality time with three kids under 2 years this week- thanks Corina, Kalapi and Christine for trusting me with your babies.

Kaleb loved dogs and smiling, Durga Das just wanted to sleep in my arms, and Quinn, well he wanted to do it all. I want a baby. But, like most things in life, the egg needs to come before the chicken. Is that the way it goes? In the meantime, I'll be more than content with the time I have with Quinn et al.