…hmmmm. Last night I had the pleasure of attending the last Unscripted session, Straight From the (Rural) Hip hosted by the Dunlop Gallery at the Regina Public Library. The conversation included Heather Benning, Heather Cline, Joe Fafard, Angus Ferguson, and Terry O’Flanagan. It was interesting to listen to the experience and role of the artist in the rural setting, and compare this to my rant about the prairie poet.
So, here I sit in the city, with my laptop, headphones on, music blaring (tonight it’s Leela James as I’m pretty much finished with the Damien Rice for now) thinking about how the conversation was structured around the differences in perception of rural and urban artists, and the consequences, problems, benefits, and reasons in their isolation and art. Really, not much different than the prairie poet. The need to create a sense of community about our art is strong, but (and I forget exactly who said this) is there a point where we create a community around us simply to talk about our art, rather than focusing on getting our art out, or even creating more art, for the public? Of course, what this reminds me of is Ezra Pound, and his notion of creating a sense of community, and how this has trickled down (into/throughout) the past hundred years to our own community, and the outcroppings of creative writing programs, and their immediate sense of community. And where am I going with this, you’re asking yourself right now, and I’m not really sure. The word nostalgia came up often in the conversation. Are we nostalgic to want to create our art from a space we know, rather than one we don’t, and what does this say about us as creators? I don’t know that there were any hard answers, but I wanted to know more about what makes the prairie gothic work, what makes it exist, what is it? Why are these definitions so hard to pin down? Much like the term “prairie poet” afflicts us just for being here, does the label “rural artist” hold the same weight in the world? I’m still thinking on these things, with no real answers other than the fact that we are all aware of our roots, where we come from, and some of us like to keep digging at the ground around them, just to make sure the roots are still there.