• Poet Laureate of Cobourg

    Earth Day: Call for Submissions

    To celebrate Earth Day and National Poetry Month in 2020, let’s create an e-Chapbook. This will be a free PDF collection that will be distributed via email, social media, and posted on this blog.

    The focus of the collection is on celebrating Earth. The current working title is “Light in My Eyes: An Earth Day Collection.”

    What if everyone valued our natural landscapes and resources? What if we could reverse climate change? What if we lived sustainably? What if our planet had enough for everyone and we only used what we truly needed?

    What do you love about Earth? When you listen to trees, what do you hear? What is beautiful? How does nature make your life better? What if water was protected? What do we know about clean air? What do we need from Earth to survive? To thrive?

    How do you celebrate Earth?

    Let’s capture what we love about Earth and what our greatest wishes are for its future.

  • Creativity Workshop

    How Do You Write with Honesty and Courage?

    What does it mean to write with honesty and courage? What is the relationship between the writer and her work? Do you sometimes step back and look at what you are writing as an opportunity to gain self-awareness or as a practice of self-development?

    Here are five ways I try to write with honesty and courage:

    1. I practice the art of noticing. Not only seeing, but trying to understand the significance of what I am seeing (or experiencing). Then, I use this information to capture the essence of what I’ve learned on the page.
    2. I let go of control when I am writing and let the words lead me somewhere. I release my expectations and trust that whatever forms on the page was meant to form on the page (for now). I can regain my sense of control during the revision phase of the process.
    3. If I enter into writing something that is difficult, I light a candle. When I’m done writing, I blow out the candle. Using ritual can help to establish boundaries and safety.
    4. If I don’t want to share a piece of writing because it is too personal, then I don’t share it. Writing with honesty and courage is separate from the act of sharing the work with readers.
    5. I often close my eyes when I am writing, pausing only when the inner voice fades. Closing my eyes helps me to listen. I’m doing it now as I write this post. I allow my inner voice to lead me through the piece.

    “The truth about stories is, that’s all we are.”

    Thomas King

    I love this quotation about story. I think about the stories we tell ourselves. The stories other people tell about us. The stories we tell others. The stories we hear from others. Story is a universal human experience. There are elements of story in how we live our lives and in every form of writing.

  • Curiosity & Adventure Spiral

    Do You Sing in the Car?

    It feels so good to sing in the car. On the drive into Toronto yesterday I listened to an audiobook. Then I started to hum Ella Fitzgerald. Soon I drowned out the audiobook. By the time I passed Bowmanville I had given up on the audiobook to blast jazz standards, singing along like when I was 12. I was all in.

    As the city sprouted up around me, Nina Simone and I slid our way through “Feeling Good.”

  • Creativity Workshop

    Write the Truth

    If I had a writing mantra, it would be to write the truth. It’s borrowed from Robert McKee, inspired by an inscription he put in my book years ago when he signed it.

    What does it mean to write the truth?

    I’ve learned that this doesn’t mean I need to write “my” truth or bare my soul, sharing things that leave me feeling too open to the world. Since the summer I’ve been working on a poetry manuscript. Through the speaker of a poem I can explore “a” truth. It may be mine or it may be a truth I’ve observed in someone else.

    Intuition and trust are essential elements of my writing process. I often close my eyes while I’m writing, open to the direction my hands want to take, and let the poem determine its own focus and shape. The same thing happens for me in fiction and playwriting. I close my eyes and listen, allowing my intuition to guide me. It’s about capturing the essence of what is true.

    During the revision process I ask: What is this about? What do I want to say with this piece? And then I work back through it to strengthen the themes, clarify the truths, and sculpt the work into a finished product. Sometimes a poem looks very different when I finish, maybe even unrecognizable from the original notes.

    What is your truth?

    How do you write the truth?

  • Northumberland

    Sunshine on Port Hope Beach in Winter

    What a beautiful Family Day long weekend! A friend and I took advantage of the sunshine and went to Port Hope for a walk along Lake Ontario. Finding a sculpture family and seeing a swan was a wonderful surprise! I haven’t used my camera since the Fall so it was nice to take it out to play.

  • Creativity Workshop

    Where Do You Find Inspiration?

    The process of creating often begins with inspiration. What inspires you?

    What do you create? How do you bring your creation into being? Creativity is all about action. When we create anything we take something from inside us and turn it into something else. What we create and how we create share a close relationship.

    This week I’ve been reading Stephen Nachmanovitch’s new book, The Art of Is: Improvising as a Way of Life. Click here to read a short excerpt from the book. Yesterday I read about notes and tones, my jaw dropping when he highlighted that both words share the same letters. We think music is about notes, but is it more about tones?

    In my voice lessons we have been working on tones, focusing on creating resonance. When I shift from paying attention to the notes to paying attention to the tones, the sound and feeling intensify in their depth. He talks about the importance of listening with the whole body, not just through the ears, listen is touch. Think through the eyes.

    It’s About Noticing

    Finding inspiration is about noticing, being present and paying attention to what is happening now, listening with your whole body. When I can go through a day empty of expectation and open to surprise, the creative energy vibrates at the most exciting levels and ideas pop up everywhere.

  • Paintings

    Intuitive Process and Painting

    My new hobby is intuitive painting. One evening over the Christmas break I cuddled up in my favourite chair with a blanket, colouring on an app on my iPad while Netflix hummed along in the background. I was so happy and relaxed.

    Would I feel even happier and more relaxed if I used real paints and a canvas instead of a screen and stylus? This thinking felt genius level.

    I begin by putting a blank canvas out for a day. “What do you want to become?” I ask. The painting at the top of this post starts as a river and turns into a dragon.