Category: poetry

Three generations of media, memory and storytelling.


Sleater Kinney

I wish I’d gotten to see them live while they were still together…

Micheal Ondaatje’s memoir could just as easily be called a poem injected with prose narrative. His words are so maticulously selected that it’s hard to remember that you aren’t really there. I am in love with his tone and style.
What is most remarkable to me about Ondaatje’s work is his ability to tell you about a character without ever telling you anything. Instead he tells these tall tales which successfully reveal everything you need to know about them.

” My father who was overseeing the cooling of the champagne was nowhere in sight.”


“Darling I’ve just come from church and I’ve stolen some flowers for you” (his grandmother speaking)

Another observation is that this is considered a memoir or autobiography, but the first half of the book barely makes mention of him at all. In place of writing himself into the story, he tells you about his family, his culture, the dynamic he’s grown up in and with by telling you everything that happened before he ever came into the picture.

Last, I get this feeling that Ondaatje is frustrated with his family in some way. There are several passages where he comments on his inability to get ONE COHESIVE story:

“I want to sit down with someone and talk with utter directness.”

What I can’t decide is whether his frustration is solely connected to storytelling and getting or whether it’s the whole image. Is he frustrated with their wild tales? Or is he frustrated with the drunken stupidity, the reckless disregard for life?
My feeling is that it may be a bit of both as well as a commentary on the difference in cultural attitudes about alcohol, life, death and family.

Dear Michael,
You rock my world.

Broken Guitar

you can strum that melody
all day long
no sound is comin out any more
my strings are all rusty and
my bridge is cracked
my body is hollow but
wont no echo no more

cuz i got left in the rain
for too many days
i got left the ground
with the worms and the dust
dont bother learning
the chords or the rhythms
cuz my necks lost the strength
to hold up my form

i didnt ask for a case
i didnt ask for polish
i just asked for the purity
the depth of trust
i dont want any more
of your lies or excuses
i dont want no more
of your stories of dust

you cant hold me no more
i wont believe you
cuz your arms are the cause
of this broken guitar