Previous Valentine’s Day Posts
“Think of the long trip home. Should we have stayed home and thought of here? Where should we be today?”
― Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop is one of those poets few people know about, but there’s no particular reason she isn’t a household name. A writer who went on to earn international acclaim, she spent some of her childhood living with her grandparents in Great Village, NS. I’m not entirely sure why every Nova Scotian isn’t yelling her name from the rooftops, but Great Village is one place where Bishop is praised and raised proudly to the lips of many of the people I’ve talked to.
I first became involved with the Elizabeth Bishop Society of Nova Scotia (EBSNS) three years ago when I entered their writing contest for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival, celebrating the poet’s 100th birthday in 2011. The contest revolved around the theme of home, an homage to the fact that Bishop’s own writing often reflected back to her childhood in Great Village.
I was pleased and honoured to find out I was one of the winners of the contest, along with several others in different age categories. As a wee, shy fifteen-year-old, reading my short story at the festival in August 2011 was daunting, but there my love of reading to others took seed and began growing — plus I met Laurie Gunn and Sandra Barry of EBSNS, author Sheree Fitch, and took a poetry workshop with Anne Simpson. This time spent in Great Village among passionate poets and painters, along with other young writers, was the first big push in continuing the idea of turning my writing into a career (still entirely not sure how to do that, but heading that way nonetheless).
In 2013, the EBSNS published Echoes of Elizabeth Bishop, a collection of all the winning entries from the contest. The launch was once again an inspiring experience, and one of the first times I was able to see my work printed in a legitimate printed form you could, like, buy.
When I got an email from the EBSNS inviting me to read at the new cafe, In the Village, of course I jumped at the opportunity. The afternoon featured several young artists (poets, painters, writers, and actresses) with a connection to Bishop: Maria Duynisveld, Laura Sharpe, April Sharpe, Anneke Stroink, and myself found ourselves at the microphone in St. James United Church. The talent I heard and saw today once again reminds me that I am far from alone in the prospering front of young artists.
For Maria and I, this was a flashback to our participation in the Centenary Festival three years ago and a reflection of how we’ve changed since then; Maria shared this reflection in her reading.
What the EBSNS has done for me and other young artists is remarkable. As I’ve written about in the past, I’m a strong advocate of supporting young writers and giving them the opportunity to have their work shared with the public and with other artists of a similar age. It’s hard being taken seriously, and the reward of seeing the genuine emotional impact our work has on others is what young artists need to keep pursing their goals, dreams, and talents.
The importance of receiving such support is paramount to young people. They need to know their work is good, valued, accepted, and cherished, or someday they might stop doing what they love. Many people write or paint or act for themselves, but having the chance to be supported by those working and volunteering in the field, or even just as an enthusiastic patron of the arts, can be the difference between a hobby and a career.
The support from those I’ve met as a result of my interaction with the EBSNS is some of the support that has done the most for me and my pursuance of my writing career. Thanks to the EBSNS, I’ve been published, had the opportunity to share my work multiple times, have met some truly wonderful, kind, supportive people, and have firmly established that I’m headed in the right direction. Merci beaucoup, mes amis!
For more information about the EBSNS, Elizabeth Bishop, and Great Village, please check out these sites!
The day it rained ladybugs
The houseplants quivered
And window sills became the stage
For the ladybugs acting out Shakespeare plays
–Only audience tiny figurines and miniature teapots
–Only applause from the frantic beating of wings on glass
As ladybugs dropped dead on the stage below.
If I’m a writer that means I’m a writer everyday, right? I don’t just don on the writer hat when I’m writing or doing writer things. I always wear that hat, right? Along with my human hat and chocolate addict hat, yes?
Of course, some days I don’t feel like a writer at all, just a stressed, unemployed student with hardly any time to read or write thanks to university preparation, job searching, and upcoming graduation. It’s been awhile since I felt like a “writer.”
Last week I was feeling particularly writerly, however. On June 12 I ventured with Zozie to Calabay Cafe in Truro to participate in a night of music and poetry, organized by local poet Chad Norman. The night featured local musicians Brian Porter, Dave Hayman, and Dale McCabe, and poet Paul Zann along with Chad and myself. Paul Zann is amazing reader. If I can ever read as engagingly as he can, I will be perfectly happy.
It had been awhile since I had done a reading in public, and I forgot how great it is to share poetry (and music) with people who enjoy it as much as I do.
Naturally I’m an introvert, and for the most part pretty quiet, but I love reading to others and hearing others perform. Whatever nerves I have (most of them being stamped out through seven years of 4-H public speaking) vanish when I start with introducing whatever it is I’m reading. Poetry is something I’m happy to share. I enjoy it. And it’s when this happens that I remember that I am a writer, not just an anxious, penny-pinching student.
And, to show you how small Nova Scotia is, two of the audience members were past graduates of my high school (one of who was a lovely gentleman kind enough to buy my book).
Calabay Cafe is beautiful, the staff is wonderful, and the chai lattes ARE TO DIE FOR (THEY ARE GLORIOUS CLOUDS FROM HEAVEN IN A MUG). I highly recommend stopping by — the chai lattes alone are enough to make me go back.
What else have I done to make me reaffirm the ownership of my writer hat?
I did an interview with Colchester Weekly, posted on the Truro Daily website.
I sold the seventieth copy of my book (which is currently out of stock, by the way).
I’m in the process of designing a bookmark.
I’ll be publishing something (it’s a surprise) at some point in the very near future.
And I’ll (hopefully) be able to spend some time this summer working on my YA novel.
Bonne chance, mes amis!
PS: Chad Norman is organizing the third annual RiverWords Poetry and Musical Festival for July 12th in Bible Hill, NS. I participated last year, and this year has a great line up. Spread the word and help support local artists. 🙂
i’m not in love
but i’m not heartbroken
i’m not lost
but i’m not found
i’m not bored
but i’m missing something wondrous
i’m not empty
but i’m not inspired
but i haven’t found it yet
Okay so hey guys. I feel like I haven’t blogged in a while…but I’ll be back with some actual non-poetry things eventually. I’m working on a new small project, and some littler ones. I plan on e-publishing a few of my short stories this summer, so stay tuned! 🙂
i like to end things on a good note
but I don’t want to leave
in the middle of the symphony
and step on everyone’s toes
as I shuffle silently through aisles to indignant whispers
long before the curtain falls
—i don’t want to miss the ending to the show, the finale
but I can’t bear to hear the final note fade
or to see your final bow
One of those days when the rain clouds
Are so low I have to duck to keep my head out of them
And they cover the sun to make morning look like dusk,
Thousands of tiny liquid stars fall to quench the thirst
Of wilting July flowers and lost souls
I go outside, coatless, to be watered
Letting the screen door slam shut behind me
In a shower of mist and creaky hinges.
I follow the river-sidewalk to a bus stop bench
With peeling green paint and take a seat
In my star-soaked jean shorts.
I bury my toes in the five inches of turf
Between the bench and the sidewalk
A world for the surfacing pink worms to cross
Where they will shrivel and die when
The sun brings their hot-concrete Armageddon.
I absorb the tiny stars in my skin
And my arms and legs and hair become slick
With the gathering galactic water.
Before I never understood why florists spray
The flowers completely if the roots are the part that
Drink, but now I know.
The ricochets of rain pelting my face in the energy of
Each ping of every drop
I sit, covered in diaphanous liquid stars
And I imagine I glow in the gloomy darkness of noon
Someone else has joined me at the bus stop bench
To be watered too, I suppose.
He wears a coat with the collar turned up
And a faded Toronto Blue Jays baseball cap
With a frayed brim like laugh lines around a smile
That doesn’t exist anymore
The rain only touches his face and his hands, folded
On his lap over wet denim jeans.
I slide over and take his hat off, because I want him to
Feel the tiny stars like I do
He’s startled like someone should be when a stranger takes
Their hat off, and his glare of surprise is brown
Like a cinnamon stick.
He asks me what I’m doing
—You’ll be watered better if you let the rain touch your skin
But maybe he sees that I’m glowing so he takes his coat off
And a grin slowly spreads across a face with a freckled nose
I know he can feel the energy of the stars in his skin too
We sit at the bus stop bench in front of a sidewalk
That wriggles in happy fat worms dancing in the stars
But that will be shrivelled and dead this time tomorrow
And everyone else has umbrellas and coat collars and hats
And we have nothing between us and the rain
That feeds maps into our lost souls
(Busy busy busy like bees — I have some reviews coming up, and a couple rants to deliver, but for now here’s a poem I wrote in a moment of summer nostalgia. What do you miss most about summer? I’m pining for walks in the rain, can you tell?)
I make an effort to avoid you
Where once I might have sought you out
It doesn’t mean I don’t want to see you
It just means I don’t think it’s a good idea
And that everything will be better if you
Forget that I exist
you just can’t think of anything to say.
Well, my face-to-face advertising skills aren’t the best, but it’s true. I did write a book. And I happen to be of the opinion that is pretty.
It must be working, too, because with the “official” release of The Night is Starry yesterday (though I’ve been selling books to friends and family since last week) I’ve sold 13 copies and have orders for 22 more.
I only had 32 copies printed.
Should I get 30 more printed?
These are the questions that plague me.
But the day is beautiful and fall is coming and it’s an excellent time of day to go lay under a tree and read Emma. Or perhaps write a short story for my next anthology. Or sew a dress. And make some tea.
What are you up to on this fine August day? 🙂
Yesterday I picked up my anthologies from the printer. They are things of beauty. I mean, I did find one typo in them so far, but…the Typo Gods are never totally unforgiving. And I can fix it for the digital edition (which is closer to being published!). Info on where to get a print copy will be posted soon! In the mean time, here’s a sneak peek of what’s inside. This is a poem called BONES.
Tracing over the bones
Holding you together
The knots of hardness in your fingers
That move as if to some beat only
To the snap and rotation of your wrist
And straight, smooth lines of
The arms you open.
In these arms I fit.
The indents of your collarbone
Against my face
The point of your chin
Resting firmly on the top of my hair
You shift, and the hollows of your face
Roll atop my head
The imperfect perfection of your nose
Inhaling my scent
As I inhale your scent through
The plates of your chest, over your heart.
The curve of your ribcage
Meeting the pieces of your spine,
Growing to become smooth
That roll as you adjust the
Grip on my hips.
So many angles you are made of
Long and short
Fierce and gentle
Hollow and grabbing
Radiating warmth and
These are what you are made of
The bones under your skin
The sticks and stones
Making the familiar shape of your
Both comforting and terrifying
Thrilling and calming
These are the shapes I
The ones that tame
Darkness and bring
You were made for me
And perhaps I’ve been lucky enough
To have been made
Covers are done, final edits are completed (I’m praying to the grammar gods that we didn’t miss any blatant errors), documents converted, and the manuscript will be sent off tonight!
It won’t be long now before the coil-bound version of The Night is Starry is available for purchase! A digital version will be made available later in the summer, and I’ll keep you updated on that.
It’s quite exciting, self-publishing for the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last! Already I’m bursting with new ideas and stories to share, and I can’t wait for Night to be published so I can start some other projects for you.
As for blogging, if you follow my other little place on the Internet (Let Them Grumble), then you’ll know that I’m on a blogging hiatus. It was simply taking too much of my time to both maintain a blog and really make progress on writing my novel(s), but with this website I’ll attempt to update you on forthcoming projects and perhaps the occasional personal ramble or two.
Happy reading and writing, and may all your adventures be successful!