The Green Mill & What I’m Working On

 The Green Mill in Chicago is one of the best jazz clubs in North America.  Once owned by Al Capone, it is a jazz lover’s destination.  It was one of the highlights of a road trip Lynn and I  took at the very beginning of our relationship, inspiring several poems, included in the Music for Men Over Fifty work-in progress on this site.

WHAT I’M WORKING ON (written for Jonathan Ball’s Website)

 Feeding takes time, but references my current projects in the reading and writing headings. My current priority is finishing Music for Men Over Fifty  which I described to PBN as poems about “dejection, depression,  drinking and decrepitude leavened with love.”  Taking off where Lucky Man (Hagios 2005) left off, the poems take a hard look at aging and love , especially in the title sequence, which, as you would except, feature many musical references including a visit to The Green Mill Jazz Club in Chicago, for example.

 I am also learning to write fiction, and have sent my first complete short story to Joan Thomas, the Writer-in-Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library.  Often my initial conceits are outrageously ambitious and my current plan is too learn, practice, and become comeptent at the craft of fiction writing by writing 26 stories, one for each letter of the alphabet, most about  men – who are not me. I am finding this quite liberating, but at the moment its all practise, which I plan to complete in the next four years.

 What I am practising for, is the writing of three novels, when I leave government and have more time and a better grasp on what I need to do to  best realize the stories I want to tell.  The novels on the drawing Board are Susann and/or Against the Grain loosely based on my mother’s struggle for freedom and independence in a hostile conservative Mennonite family and southern Manitoba rural society. I took my first crack at this in The Dead Mother which I wrote for the Three-Day Novel contest a couple of years ago, modeled on Barthleme’s The Dead Father. Both my mother and father are dead,  committed to the earth, and to poetry in Lucky Man.

 The second is starting out with the rather flat tilte Mill Road, a riches to rags story based loosely on the family who owned the mill and all the homes on the street next to it in a small southern Manitoba town with some resemblance to the one in which I grew up.  Preacher’s Kids, would be the last, following a coeterie of high school friends from 1969 to 1999.

 Working is the right word, but I also have a full time job, so am trying not to get frustrated with lack of time and presence of pain – all expected to change in the next four years.  I still have two unplaced manuscripts (excerpts on my website) to which I would return should I be fortunate enough to find a publisher.

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