Paul Mackan reads Elizabeth Barrett Browning at the Tree Reading Series, Dead Poet Reading, 24 Aug 2010. For that he won best performance of the year. Paul was a regular at Tree Seed Workshops and at Tree for years. He read at the open mic a few dozen times. He also did a presentation on W.S. Gilbert. Here’s Mackan’s poem Black-Veined Stone at the Open Mic
He divided his time between theatre and literature. He was well-equipped to present by example and with advice for poets from his grounding in theatre. He won an ACTRA award and won a Senior Filmmaking Award from the OAC for Catherine’s Song.
He had a love of cadence and prosody and for the exact right word in the exact right place. Sometimes that perfect word is a “hard word” so learn it then. He could discuss philosophy as ably as history. Blunt, he did not suffer fools gladly but laughed heartily. To spar, he sparkled. He also delighted in some sublime use of language and was quick to call up into everyday conversation quotes from his educated repertoire of classic literature and history.
He brought for the sales table his poetry books including O My God of Apes and Apples (Publish America, 2011). To lose one’s partner late in life is a particular acute grief. He was in mourning but it did not bind his tongue. In that book he included a powerful poem for his Saralee with whom he shared 47 years,
The Rage of the Bull
cutting, tearing away
life before life—
inconsequential pretence of doings,
No breast excited
until yours opened my lips,
no softness of belly
silk of thigh,
touched the deepest bottom of being
In the fulness of flesh I held you
fulfilling want topping senses,
grace-filled, favouring the crucible
for inpouring weakness.
Impregnating the emptiness between us,
the two-edged sword’s thrust
in the fevered unfair battle,
entered into my invitation only,
Steered to bullship in engagement vesuvian:
O bless’d emptiness between
that merited so sweet a swelling
Still I hold you in the autumn air
in the hillock’s grass
among the colouring leaves
whipped by the wind your dust rests,
awaiting winter and melting spring.
Frost, thunder, damp, dew,
not the rage of heaven
will revoke the perfume of you.
And I will hold you
exulting possessing your fullness
in this fleshpot of earth.
(Sept 2009) [p. 52]
He liked the second take as people saw the back cover and compared his old face to his current. He said, “I used to be a handsome s.o.b. Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare.”
He was pressing hard to get to print again over the last few years. Cancer is no respecter of persons. And mortality, a great motivator. He used to say he read the obituaries each morning to make sure he wasn’t there yet.
He blanched at turnaround times of 2 or 3 years to go with mainstream presses. I haven’t got that long, he declared so he pursued other routes. His novel ConneXions came out with LeBeag recently. He brought out a children’s poetry collection, “Dream Girl, Dream!: A Story for Children to Share with Groan-Ups (eBook)” and The Cockamamy World of A. Yold. Thru Publish America he brought out two short story collections, !Holy Christmas!: Eight Novel Tales for Family Reading around Christmas and Brian-o and, thru Xlibris, her name was Helen, Stories.
He also brought out a chapbook A Breath of Rebirth (Stanza Break Series #50 from the Ontario Poetry Society, 2013). From that collection, p. 10 and 11
“Acquire and beget a temperance”
for after your last bow
you may hope but not presume
your final critic’s pronouncement.
No matter your lessons learned,
“the very age and body”
of your time will be written
by another’s hand.
This Play’s the Thing
“Speak the speech I pray you”
a scene, an act or two
is all that’s allowed
for word pronounced
at conception time,
the last moment of bliss
given before first entrance
and final bow.
He died Dec 2nd. His obituary says his memorial will be Dec 12.
Peacefully in Ottawa on December 2, 2014. Passionate about the arts, Paul used his talents in writing, theatre, sacred music, film and TV. His essays appeared in the Ottawa Citizen and on CBC Radio. Paul and his partner, Sara Lee Stadelman, devoted decades to bringing an appreciation of the arts to Catholic circles, holding workshops, producing pageants and touring their own theatrical productions. Based in Michigan, Palmer’s Rapids, ON, and then Ottawa, their work took them to Mexico, Italy, much of the United States and parts of Canada.
In spite of advancing cancer, Paul continued acting, writing, teaching, and coaching. He published several books and volunteered countless hours at Ottawa’s Third Wall Theatre.
Predeceased by his parents, Donald and Helen (Sheridan) Mackan, and seven siblings, Paul is survived by his sister, Sheila Land, brother Tom, many nieces and nephews, notably Don Mackan, and many, many friends.
Paul received outstanding care from his medical teams including Dr. Donald Guy, and staff at the Regional Cancer Centre, Billingswood Manor, the Ottawa Hospital, and the Elisabeth Bruyere Centre.
Donations may be made to the Paul Mackan Fund for Young Artists c/o Community Foundation of Ottawa, 301 – 75 Albert St., Ottawa, ON, K1P 5E7 or online: www.cfo-fco.ca/. Paul has donated his body to medical education. T
here will be a Memorial Mass at St. George’s Church, 415 Piccadilly Ave on Friday, December 12, 2014 at 3 p.m. followed by coffee. Arrangements entrusted to The Whelan Funeral Home, tel. 613. 233-1488. [Legacy.com]