Randy Lundy with two of his four dogs
Randy Lundy’s poem,“An Ecology of Being and Non-Being,” appeared in Issue 30 of The Puritan. Here he speaks with The Town Crier about drawing inspiration from memory, and shares some of his favourite literature and music.
“An Ecology of Being and Non-Being” began as most of my recent writing has: in my backyard or from the desire to be in my backyard, depending on the weather. It sounds trite, but living on the prairie, one can never ignore the weather—it’s too hot, too cold, too windy, there’s too much snow, too much rain, or too little rain.
I am a First Nations man, born in northern Manitoba, transplanted to northern Saskatchewan, and have moved further and further south as an adult. I now live in a small town that until recently was a village, until the population finally climbed above 500. I also have an interest in Buddhism. All of these things come together in the poem: an indigenous attention to the world of other beings, the Buddhist world of ten thousand things, the land in and around Pense, Saskatchewan, and, of course, the seasons. The Okanagan Valley, which I have visited periodically since I was a child and feels like a second home to me, also makes an appearance. A few years ago I spent some time at the George Ryga House near Penticton and watched the meteor shower with a friend and fellow writer, who is absent in the world of the poem.
Everything I write these days seems preoccupied with memory, that shape-shifting trickster in whose company we can never be sure of our footing. It’s like tectonic plates shifting.
Randy Lundy’s Music and Literature Picks
The best book I have read lately is Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape by David Hinton, who is probably the foremost contemporary translator of Chinese poetry and philosophy. I think the phrase “Mind and Landscape” captures most of what my writing attempts to wrestle with. It is a book that explains to me what it is I believe (thanks to the cosmos for such writers!). Also, I have to mention Patrick Lane’s latest book, Washita. I have long been an admirer and student of Lane’s poems. Last, I have to draw your attention to a single poem from Linda Hogan’s collection, Seeing Through the Sun. The poem is “The Other Side” and it is one of those poems I wish I had written and which inspires me to write in the hope that one day I may write something as beautiful and wise.
Randy Lundy teaches at Campion College
As for musical influences, that is an interesting query and it is something I have been thinking about quite a bit lately. Certainly Leonard Cohen—both his writing and his performance—has had an enduring effect on my sensibilities. And, likely because I grew up listening to country music, I would be remiss not to mention Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings. The whole outlaw country movement and the return to the roots in the ’80s by artists such as Randy Travis and Dwight Yoakam have had some influence on my understandings of rhythm (odd, I suppose). Also I am a dedicated fan of country/delta blues: Robert Johnson, Son House, Howlin’ Wolf, et al. As for recent lyricists, I am a fan of a blues fellow named Charlie Parr from Minnesota, and a big fan of Rodney Decroo, currently in Vancouver.
I own a banjo, a Dobro, and an acoustic/electric guitar with a small Fender amp. I cannot play anything recognizable on any of them, but music has long been a great comfort and joy to me. I am excessively serious in my writing (almost to the point of annoying myself) and excessively silly in the rest of my life (to the point of annoying others). I live with four beautiful dogs who help to keep me in the real world—the one outside of my head—and provide an outlet for some of my silliness!
Randy Lundy is a member of the Barren Lands (Cree) First Nation. Born in northern Manitoba, Randy has lived for most of his life in Saskatchewan, first in the bush and now on the prairie. Coteau Books published his first two books of poetry, Under the Night Sun and Gift of the Hawk, and he has a third manuscript of poetry, A Backyarder’s Guide Toward a Vocabulary of Faith, that will appear in 2016 from Hagios Press. His poetry has been widely anthologized. Currently, Randy teaches Indigenous literatures and creative writing in the English Department at Campion College in Regina.