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Tanya Davis: Artistic tractor 

On being the Mayor's poet laureate

click to enlarge A day at work for Davis
  • A day at work for Davis
From my kitchen table, windows closed because construction (aka summer) has finally come to my neighborhood, I write these words, my first blog as Mayor's Poet Laureate. I feel much more like Tanya Davis, however, than Mayor's Poet Laureate. Or perhaps Tanya Davis acting as poet laureate, a hat on that could be a beret but is more likely a handmade little number from Nova Scotia's south shore or the farmers' market.

Outside, they are tearing up the street. I'm not sure why but I like that a tractor was parked beside my house all night. Officially, I suppose, it's not a tractor. Its a loader or an excavator or something more focused. It is an urban machine whereas tractors live on dirt roads, in fields, and no one bothers wearing hard hats while operating them. But tractor is just such a good word. Tractor. Aside from that, it's versatile, it can do many things, it is a multi-tasker.

I strive to be an artistic tractor.

I didn't plan on writing today about tractors, artistic or otherwise. I have never, before this morning, contemplated their qualities enough to realize they were admirable and worth emulating. It's a tractor, after all. But, my life and this work I do allows for such contemplation; what I have, as a working poet and musician, is time. Unbridled and self-directed time. And I can spend that time writing poems and songs and emails or I can spend that time measuring my worth against that of a tractor. What I need is all of these options. What I cherish is the luxury to steer my own day, devoting so called precious moments to so called ordinary things. It doesn't always feel like a luxury, however; some days it feels like a burden. And then I feel unworthy of the trade or else heavy with guilt for calling it a burden in the first place. Did I not, just two sentences ago, admit that I spend time considering the merit of heavy machinery and calling that 'a day at work'? Woe is me...

Well, life is lived on the gray scale, at least mine is.

Some days poetry is marvelous and some days it simply isn't.

On most days it's a mix of both and on all days it's different

Beautiful and difficult.

And back to tractors (I'm stuck on them for a reason): if one is to survive - emotionally and financially - in the arts world, it helps to be versatile. Unless, of course, you are a master craftsperson and you do one thing extremely well. I admire that characteristic but I don't have it. I flit around between tasks and genres, poems and songs and vague ideas. And now I am a poet laureate, gracious and wide-eyed. I will step forward, then, out of my office, out of my house and into our city, with this hat on, too. And I will take my varied ideas and make some of them become actions, as I would take any of your poetry-related ideas (and I mean that in the broadest sense, as broad as poetry can be) and help to make some of them become actions. This poet laureateship, as with all of my roles, is just another field to cultivate. And I am just a hopeful tractor.

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