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Brian Brett Talks Dirt on Trauma Farm

Brian Brett gave us a great video interview at his home on Trauma Farm, about his memoir of the same name. The book is a fascinating and unusual walk through rural life on the farm of a brilliant and prolific author. Through many challenges his forbearance, talent, and great sense of humour shine through on every page.

Set over the course of one day, but encompassing an entire life, this beautifully executed book that provides a good example of innovative structure and exquisite story telling.


  • Winner of the 2009 Writers’ Trust of Canada Non-Fiction Prize
  • Long-listed for the BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction
  • Winner of the BC Booksellers’ Choice Award
  • Nominated for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize
  • Nominated for the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Book Prize
  • Winner of a ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award – Nature
  • Nominated for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
  • Winner of the IPPY Awards – Bronze Medal in the Environment category

Excerpt from FOWL PLAY

I pass the koi pond and the back house gate; then the swing-gate of the chicken run which we generally leave open for the dogs to patrol at night, and then I unlatch and drop the ramp to the coop itself. I love the thump of the hinged door, with its little wooden steps, when it hits the ground, and the desperate rush of the chickens into the sun, cackling excitement and joy. Every day the chickens know delight. I wish I were as good as that.

As the birds rush towards the sun a ruthless cock leaps onto the nearest hen, and she crouches dutifully, wings spread and trembling. The hens that escape the sex-mad, morning roosters sometimes won’t stop for a hundred feet. I don’t blame them.

I open the side door, and check the feed, and the water. When I am raising layers I also carry the little woven collecting basket in the crook of my arm, besides balancing my tea mug. Small farming can involve a lot of dexterity. There it lies in a nest of straw. Magic. As fresh as it’s going to get. The egg—despite its current, sorry state in factory farms—is one of history’s great cultural icons. From the cosmic egg to the primordial egg to the golden egg laid by that doomed goose, this marvellous creation has long inspired our imaginations. “Whiter than an egg…” Sappho said some 26 centuries ago. This phrase, quoted from a rare Greek text known as the Dinner of the Learned, is all that remains of a poem written by a long dead woman with a fondness for young girls. It has taken on its own beauty over the years. Kenneth Rexroth called the fragment a supernatural gleam and a delusion. When I first encountered Sappho I was shocked by its evocative simplicity, and the shock has remained with me for forty years. An egg can hardly be called white, but it’s a phrase that means more than it means; it can also describe, a cooked and peeled egg, as firm and white as a young Greek woman’s thigh. It evokes purity, the qualities of whiteness, the mythology of eggs.

How lovely the egg—within it all the miracles of creation. Besides white, you can find brown, blue, speckled, grey, and even the legendary black eggs of a mysterious bird, possibly a honeycreeper, in deepest Central America. Pablo Neruda once talked of encountering eggs in the jungle that shone like a shotgun barrel.

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Posted by Pearl on Aug 27 2010. Filed under Videos. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.
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