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The Retro Modernist

Devon Sproule
Photo: Judith Burrows
She smiles yes to more bacon, not pausing in her eagerness to express her love of the place. “There’s no electricity, there’s gas lamps and you have to take a motor boat to get there. It’s just magical. I’ve been there every year since we left and it’s been a big place for playing guitar and writing songs. A lot of the songs are tinged with this feeling, the atmosphere of that place.”:

Stop by anytime/Let the humidity curl your hair/And the mulberries stain your toes/A wasp on the pillow in the hideaway bed/A whippoorwill whistle to a spooked city kid/Dry leaves catching round the camping fire pit/Quicker than a rippling lake (from Stop By Anytime, Devon Sproule, 2007).

The scary imagery, a child frightened by the sound of a bird and the danger of a major conflagration, is wrapped in a song which soothes like a lullaby and moves with ease between childhood scenes and adult promise. It’s writing which as she hopes, “You get more from the more you listen to it,” but which, “you don’t need more than one listen to connect with”.

It’s also writing which Devon does not find easy. “I think that I started two or three years late. Now I teach, I notice that my 12 year olds write about everything; my fifteen year olds come in and they’re young women and they can’t even open their mouths without feeling like what they say is stupid and having this inner critic that’s just yelling at them over their shoulder.”

fRom fRoots 289, July 2007


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