I've just now come out of our meeting with London Arts Council (LAC) and I'm sitting in a cafe trying to get myself back together. It was a very weird experience, but a weird I should have expected as I always manage to goof up one way or another.
Here's what happened:
The four of us, Jennifer Ball, Leizel Rafanan, Noelle Schmidt and I, met in a cafe for the hour before the presentation, practising what we were going to say while Jennifer put together the PowerPoint that would go with it. I was surprisingly relaxed, mostly because the ladies would be doing the bulk of the heavy lifting.
A little before we needed to, we walked the block to Innovation Works on King St, where LAC has its offices. While we waited to be called in, I could see that I was probably still the most relaxed, so I said, "Don't worry, you're all going to look very professional after me. I pride myself in being Mr. Amateur. You'll see what I mean."
I gave the opening remarks, a short summary of the whole sidewalk poetry idea, and yes I was pretty rough, to say the least. But I don't mind anymore because I'm getting used to being awkward and stumbling when I talk in public. I just assume others are getting used to seeing me that way too. (Those who know me are, anyway, but in this room Tom Cull, the Poet Laureate, was the only one who had ever heard me try to public-speak. Oh well, so it goes.) As predicted, the other three all looked very professional in comparison. We got through it and out the other side with flying colours.
It was during the back-and-forth afterwards that things went downhill. My ADD really had me by the throat, seriously limiting my ability to focus. I missed words and phrases as if they had never been spoken. Well, at one point Andrea Halwa, LAC Executive Director, was talking about how the jurying of poems in the contest would probably have to work, saying that LAC would have to pay the poets for the poems. Okay, having missed the appropriate words, and putting the wrong ones together with the wrong ones, I was totally convinced she was insisting LAC would have to pay for all submissions. I imagined 2,000 poems (the number received in St. Paul in their first year) @ say $10.00 per poem. That would use up the entire average yearly budget at St. Paul of $20,000, with nothing left over to work the program. Well, of course, I couldn't restrain myself from objecting, then objecting strenuously, and so forth. I finally slumped back in my seat and said, "This is depressing." Well, Tom, who is one of the most empathetic people I've ever met, jumped in and tried to calm me down, saying this isn't the end of it, things could be worked out. And Andrea kept trying to show me why they would have to be paid. But then, in a burst of clarity that only people like Andrea are capable of in situations like that, she suddenly realized what I was thinking and said that only the five poems selected to be stamped would be paid for!! My head spun around on my shoulders! I was so relieved it was incredible.
Well, needless to say, we all walked out of that room feeling very much better than we might have. Let me formulate a bit of wisdom from this experience: A high is never as high as it is right after a good downer.
Anyway, after having given my mental impressions a good twist, I'm convinced LAC is going to go for it. They'll come up with their own ideas as to how to work it, but in the end, we will very likely have poems stamped into our sidewalks. I'm pretty sure. Of course, I could have missed something.
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Frank Beltrano, Bryton Mckinnon and 6 othersComments
Albert Katz Here's hoping.
Like · Reply · 1 December at 15:49
إبراهيم أشعياء عوض I think that you've done something very good for the city and for the state of the art. A pioneer, sort of. Good work! What's the next step?
Unlike · Reply · 1 · 1 December at 22:15 · Edited
Stan Burfield Hi Andrew. What's next is to just wait. See what happens. It's all out of my hands now, thank God.
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 December at 22:38
Stan Burfield Just turning on Amadeus! Catch ya later.
Like · Reply · 1 · 1 December at 22:38
Stan Burfield I came out of that meeting with a huge appreciation for Andrea Halwa, especially her clarity of mind. I admire that tremendously.
Like · Reply · 2 December at 01:20
Rocco Dalessandro Great to know the writing on the proverbial horizontal wall (sidewalk) could have at least (15 years of follows hip) the average life of sidewalks and roads is generally thought to be 15 years.
I look forward to when those 15 years will start. Of course city budgets sometimes don't do remove and replace sidewalks as often as the design endurance requires. Look forward to positive stuff resulting from your endeavour Stan and company. Thank you.
Like · Reply · 2 December at 15:16
Stan Burfield Thanks, Rocco. Of course we don't know if it will be instituted. They have to consider a lot of factors. We did about as good a job as we could in making a presentation in the limited amount of time we had before the students' semester was over. But, as Andrea Halwa explained to us, the reality of the city looking at possibly taking on a project like this is a lot different than it might seem from our limited perspective. We have our fingers crossed though.