Mackie Lecture & Reading Series 9
In the tradition of Annie Dilliard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, David Abram’s The Spell Of The Sensuous, Sharon Butala’s The Pefection of Morning and Don McKay’s Vis a Vis, Brenda Schmidt’s Flight Calls is a book of meditations on landscape and the way human consciousness experiences landscape. Sub-titled, An Apprentice On The Art Of Listening, Flight Calls presents a large acoustic that is Saskatchewan, while struggling with the humility required to fully inhabit that acoustic. Though Schmidt tackles these things in a sequence of ten essays, the circuitry of the narrative is caused by prompts from the poet Gerald Hill, and the result is another acoustic, another listening, as the reader has to hold---as in the best jazz suites or classical symphonies---the imagery and processes in the poetry beneath the narrative that make it a whole, that make it one thing rather than ten things.
Flight Calls adds to that rich corner of Canadian Prairie Literature where Wallace Stegner, Sean Virgo, Tim Lilburn, Don Gayton, Sharon Butala, Myrna Kostash, George Melnyck, Dave Carpenter…and so many other essayists have broken ground.
"Brenda Schmidt's observations on her journey into both a writing life and the wilderness around her Saskatchewan home are immediate, personal and rare. Working with her writing mentor, Gerald Hill, who provides epigraphs to guide her, Schmidt reminds herself to "pay attention. As writers like to say, this is material." Her doubts and vulnerabilities are poignant. Reading Flight Calls is like taking a walk with a patient listener who knows when to speak and when to stay silent. I felt privileged to accompany her. — Frances Greenslade, "