Monday, March 06, 2006

What Grows Up Out of the Grave

Biddy Early was the last woman in Ireland to be tried for witchcraft. She was famous for her long red hair and her beauty, and for her eyes, which were said to be green, and sometimes red, with elliptical pupils like a cat's. She was born in County Clare, in Lower Faha, between Feakle and Gort, in 1798.
That was the year of the Croppies. Seamus Heaney wrote a great poem about it. The peasants filled the pockets of their greatcoats with barley, to feed themselves on the run, and they made their final stand at Vinegar Hill, shaking scythes at cannon. They fell in the thousands, and they buried us without shroud or coffin, and in August the barley grew up out of the grave.
That’s from an essay of mine in this month’s Lost magazine, just out today. There's an excerpt from Mark Abley’s book Spoken Here, fiction from J.D. Jahangir, an essay by Sandy Balfour, author of the book Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose, and more.

Speaking of the lonely life of writing, I see the National Post has just reviewed my new book, Waiting for the Macaws. I don’t have a link to the review so I’ll just say that the reviewer, journalist/novelist John Worsley Simpson, rather likes the book, and finds it “exciting, informative and entertaining.” He’s a bit dismayed with my enthusiastic support for small-scale sustainable whaling, and points out that I attribute much of the blame for the current global extinction spasm to “imperial capitalism, deforestation, rapid human population growth, the rise of crop monoculture, enormous disparities in the distribution of wealth, a blind faith in free trade, and the obliteration of localized culture.” John got it right.

Elsewhere, my old friend Mark Hume also gets it right in an excellent article in today’s Globe and Mail about fellow Vancouver author, journalist and soldier Trevor Greene, who was seriously injured during an ambush in Afghanistan two days ago. The Toronto Star today reports the incident as the first confirmed encounter between Canadian soldiers and the Taliban (you remember them; they’re the kind of fascists that throw acid in the faces of unveiled women). Meanwhile, Master Corporal Timothy Wilson, of Grande Prairie, Alta, has died from injuries he suffered last week in an incident that also claimed the life of Corporal Paul Davis. Our thoughts are with these fine comrades, and their brothers and sisters in arms, and their families.

The British writer and academic Norm Geras, whose web log was voted Britain’s best in 2005, is paying attention. And Novaserve, a friend of Trevor’s, has an affectionate little story about him, in comments, that begins, When Trev was getting set to deploy in August of 2005, we had a chance to spend a few hours together in the company of good friends. Trevor's obvious bravery and fear were apparent to all who encountered him that night. His gusto for the ladies, his comradary, his unwavering determination was a marked event.

Speaking of bloggers I see Eugene Plawiuk is upset with me for having “lost it,” which is to say I've had the impertinence to point out that the people of Afghanistan overwhelmingly and unequivocally support the brave and honourable work Canada’s soldiers are trying to do in Afghanistan. Eugene’s theories are very interesting. He has a fascinating point of view on the subject. For me, though, it’s really not all that complicated.

While Eugene has been busy with the interesting work involved in being a “heresiologist, labour / social / masonic historian, activist, unabashed left-winger” and “libertarian communist” (his words), Canadians like Trevor Greene have been busy in Afghanistan doing what I consider the rather more important and progressive work of refitting hospitals, clearing landmines, helping local journalists set up radio stations, providing armed guards for girls’ schools, building roads and bridges, and, of course, tallying votes and occasionally killing fascists.

For me, it’s simple. I’m not on Eugene’s side, and with respect, this doesn't mean I've “lost it.” It means I found my bearings on this question long ago. There are thousands of brave Canadians putting their lives on the line, discharging the duty of solidarity we all owe to the people of Afghanistan. I’m on their side.

3 Comments:

Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

Terry Afghanistan is NOT the Spanish Civil War, and our Troops are NOT the International Brigades fighting fascism where it began. Nice try though.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Annamarie said...

Terry, I've just read your haunting, lovely essay, "Biddy's Ruin". I liked it so much that I've bookmarked it for constant re-reading. (I've also printed it out.) Thank you for sharing it with us.

You've written it beautifully. Your words touch resonant chords of nostalgia in evoking rustic images of the Irish countryside, folk lore, and for me, a connection to Biddy. The herbalist thing...

best,
Annamarie
verbena-19

5:37 PM  
Blogger Capt. Craig said...

I suggest Eugene get his sorry ass over to Afstan and wander through the countryside for a few months if he doesn't believe the true stories coming out of the region. He believes what he wants to believe because the facts are contradictory to his ingrained leftobia. If he lived in the thirties he would be licking Hitler's boots.

3:49 PM  

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