As I’m not co-hosting MARM this year, I was determined to at least participate. This, of course, allows for a much more relaxed timeline (I had until the end of November!) and Dearly is all I have to show for it. But I was happy to finally read it – it escaped me last year when it first came out.
I have consistently liked Margaret Atwood’s poetry; it often tells a story–even if it’s just a short one–and it often makes me giggle. In interviews I have read/heard MA talk about how much she enjoys writing, and it always shows.
One of the great and fun things about reading and writing about Margaret Atwood is that she’s been around a long time, so when you go searching for something specific you end up down a deep, deep rabbit hole of videos and articles about her. I found this one from 1967 when reading a review of Dearly in The Star.
The poems in Dearly are broken up into 5 sections and, according to Atwood, who was interviewed by The Star for their review, they are: 1) things fading away, 2) gender issues, 3) supernatural metaphors, 4) nature and climate, and 5) the fading away and death of her partner Graeme.
A little taste from each section…
“Late Poems” from Section 1:
"These are the late poems. Most poems are late of course: too late, like a letter sent by a sailor that arrives after he's drowned." "Cicadas" from Section 2: "Finally after nine years of snouting through darkness he inches up scarred bark and cuts loose the yammer of desire: the piercing one-note of a jackhammer, vibrating like a slow bolt of lightning splitting the air and leaving a smell like burnt tarpaper." "September Mushrooms" from Section 3: "In the tree shade, stealthily, they nosed up through the sandy loam and the damp leaf litter-- a sliver of colour, then another-- bringing their cryptic news of what goes on down there: the slow dissolve of lignum, the filaments, the little nodes like fists, assembling their nets and mists." "Tracking the Rain" from Section 4: "All day it's been pending, the rain. It gathers, it withholds. We thumb our touchscreens, consulting the odds on the radar maps: green puddles flow from west to east, vanishing before they hit the dot that's us. A stretched red dot, like a comic-book voice devoid of words, like an upside-down teardrop. That's where we're living now, inside this dot the colour of a heated toaster; inside this dry red bubble." "Dearly" from Section 5: "It's an old word, fading now. Dearly did I wish. Dearly did I long for. I loved him dearly. I make my way along the sidewalk mindfully, because of my wrecked knees about which I give less of a shit than you may imagine since there are other things, more important-- wait for it, you'll see--"
I had so much fun last year filling out the Bingo grid; my MA-inspired poem, my MA-inspired food art (scroll to the end of the post), and my “Margaret Atwood Fun Fact” List. This year I have some more facts for you – they have been procured from the CBC interview with Tom Power for Margaret’s 80th birthday (2019), which Marcie has included in her Week 3 post. And, just in case you didn’t know, her interviews are always worth listening to–even when you don’t have time–because you never know what you’re going to learn or what she’s going to say. For example, my youngest daughter became an instant fan when she heard Margaret say that “kids did not evolve to sit in desks.”
Margaret Atwood Fun Facts (#2)
1.I already knew that Margaret’s parents were both from Nova Scotia and that her mother was from the Annapolis Valley, but what I didn’t know is that her father was from the South Shore of Nova Scotia, specifically Upper Clyde (born in 1906). I mean, who is from Upper Clyde?! You can’t get much more rural than that. Next time I’m down that way, I just might take a little detour to check it out!
2. Margaret wrote and illustrated her first book at the age of 7 and called it Annie the Ant. Tom Power reads the first line: “It was late in the afternoon and all the ants were busy, some of them were pulling bugs, others crumbs of bread or cookie, all of these to give their larvae.”
3. Margaret Atwood was a Brownie. I wish I could see a picture of her in her little Brownie dress with the orange and white scarf and brown knee socks.
4. At Sunday School, MA won a prize for best bible verse memorizer AND best essay on Temperance. She argued that when you drink alcohol your capillaries expand which will cause you to freeze to death in a snow bank.
5. As if there was needed another reason to love Margaret Atwood, she loves cats! Her first cat’s name was Percolator and routinely brought her “nocturnal presents.” There are other things to learn about MA and cats in this article in the Guardian from October 2021.
Bonus Fact: This just in! Margaret Atwood is to be celebrated on a stamp by Canada Post.
Have you been reading any Margaret Atwood books, or doing/writing any MA-inspired activities?
Don’t forget to pop over to Buried in Print to read more about #MARM!