How (Alfred) Noble is the Nobel Prize?
In a café at the heart of the Latin Quarter in Paris one afternoon in October of 1964, Jean Paul Sartre, that doyen of twentieth century French intellectual life, sat down to his usual aperitif when he saw his own face staring back at him from the pages of Le Figaro. The disappointment was so numbing that the drink slipped from grip halfway to his lips. The shattering of glass on polished wooden floor blended with the clash of the jazz drums that was playing in the background. The baguette-munching, tea-sipping clientele moved as one body with the slightest and the most polite turn in sympathy with the usually serene head now shaking from side to side in mock shock at the newspaper. Such was the weight he felt that the café itself seemed to turn slightly on its waist with the drag of his body as he read the newspaper. Sartre had just won the Nobel Prize for literature.
Derek Walcott: Plain But Not So Simple
When Edmonton poet, Bert Almon, and Victoria Publisher, Richard Olafson, told me that The Honourable Derek Walcott, Nobel Laureate in Literature, would give a reading in Victoria, B.C., in mid-November, and would accept to be interviewed, I didn't hesitate to sacrifice my jealously hoarded Aeroplan points. Walcott is, for me, the Muhammad Ali of poetry, the Malcolm X of song, in short, a hero: the greatest of poets in English.
He is also as true a gentleman as his wife, Sigrid, is gracious. They welcomed me and a Globe and Mail photographer, Deddeda, to their suite at the Inn at Laurel Point at approximately 4 p.m. on a cool, drizzly, grey Saturday, November 13. The dull weather could not dampen my spirits; and the Walcotts later ordered up red wine, which also had a fortifying effect. Dr. Walcott—"Derek," he insisted—and I spoke for a half-hour. My questions were rambling; his answers were both precise and, yes, poetic. The greyness outside did have one unquestionable effect: it deepened the deliberate grey cover of his latest—and great—book of poetry, White Egrets (FSG, $28).
Tom Ue in conversation with novelist and short story writer, Annabel Lyon
Tom Ue: You have written short stories ("Saturday Night Function," published in the Harvard Review, and the stories collected in Oxygen), novellas (collected in The Best Thing For You), and now a novel. How are the experiences of writing in these forms different?
Annabel Lyon: I feel like a natural short fiction writer, in the way in which someone might be a natural 5K runner as opposed to a marathoner, so writing the novel was a big challenge. Short stories, for me, are all about playing with language, whereas novel is necessarily more about plot and character. The challenges of short fiction are those of beauty and intensity, whereas the challenge of the novel form—for me—was simply getting the words down, getting the length, in an interesting way.
Nostalgia is vicious; at least, it’s vice.
Its hours come contaminated with Loss,
And liquor—a killer (like Rilke)—kicks
The mind into coma—perverse preserve.
A Song For Tomorrow
MAY, wife, speaks Cantonese (big city – Sang Wai) and English with a Chinese accent, originally from Hong Kong
I was soon to start work on my thesis. I had a job meanwhile, in a small hotel. It was summer. We had five empty rooms, it was a slow season. I suppose that's why the owner gave her the room for forty euros a night. The German couple was paying sixty, they'd also just walked in off the street.
What is real is not the external form, but the essence of things... it is impossible for anyone to express anything essentially real by imitating its exterior surface.
– Constantin Brancusi
Volunteers for Issue 8
For copy-editing this issue of MTLS thanks:
- Amanda Tripp
- Carmel Purkis
- Rosel Kim
- Julia Cooper
- Lequanne Collins-Bacchus
MTLS is grateful to Jean-Pierre Houde for his hard work on web management.