Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Poetic feet

Iambs? Dactyls? Not that kind of poetic feet. The feet with the beautiful blue toenails belong to poet Sandy Shreve.

She's just released a new book of poems, Waiting for the Albatross. The book, which she calls a collection of found poems, is based on words her father wrote in 1936 when he was 21, working as a deckhand on a freighter.

It becomes clear that 80 years ago, when Jack Shreve kept those journals, there was time to observe life more closely. He notes clouds, sea birds, a shark swimming belly-up. But maybe that was just who he was -- a careful observer. I can't help but wonder whether some of that might be because he didn't have television or all the other screens we devote so much of our attention to -- screens that so often seem to keep us from the real world, from things that matter.

But back to the book. It's enhanced by black-and-white photos. Many of them are of her father and his fellow labourers on the freighter where he worked during those days when he was keeping that diary which Sandy used as source material.

So what have her feet got to do with anything?

While she was sharing some of the poems with a group of us, the day was hot and she'd kicked off her shoes. While she sat straight in her chair, holding the book and reading to us, her feet were gesticulating to the words -- every bit as eloquently as hands might have been.

I suppose it would have been more fun to have a video of those expressive feet in action, but somehow it would have been too intrusive on the gathering. You'll just have to buy the book and imagine those feet in action, swinging to the sounds of Sandy's (and her dad's) poetry.

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