The first time I saw an art exhibition outdoors was in Stanley Park in Vancouver, summer 2000. Paintings arranged in community circles, framed by open sky, tall trees, and carpets of green grass captured my imagination. I’d much rather meander through rows of art in the garden than walk through a gallery. Maybe it’s the way the sunlight and shadow dances across the canvas. Maybe it’s the way the earth beneath my feet and the breeze through the trees makes me feel more alive. Maybe it’s the quiet conversation the art seems to be having with its surroundings.
Happy Canada Day, Cobourg! It was an honour to share a new poem today at Cobourg’s Canada Day Festivities.
Today I want to celebrate kindness, compassion, and generosity; to celebrate Canadian communities from coast to coast like this one that are filled with inspiring people like you; to celebrate you for coming together today; and, to celebrate the beauty and significance of the stunning natural landscape we all share.
To celebrate the occasion of becoming Cobourg’s 4th Poet Laureate I wrote a new poem on the weekend. For the last few days I kept seeing a vision of a sketch I made over 25 years ago. It was the word ‘Poetica’ in big colourful bubble letters. It had wings, a vision of living a fully creative life, the arts as a way of being in the world and in the self.
A poem inspired by Spring, gardens, and the gift of renewal. I found many of these phrases in my notebook from an old writing exercise and decided to work them into a fairy tale this morning. Creating this garden-world and its characters was fun. I’d love to see this illustrated one day!
Today I dream of summer. The sun on my face. The relaxed rhythm of the day. When I was a young teen I remember drifting on the Magnetewan River in a canoe reading for hours. I wrote this poem (inspired by Wallace Stevens) to capture the carefree feeling and the peaceful knowing of having nowhere to be but in a canoe with a great book on a gorgeous summer’s day.
A Poem Inspired by Learning Together
We tell a story about a mother who is seventy-four
and a daughter who is forty-nine,
adding up time and
along the line between them.
We share an open array of numbers,
imagining parts and wholes,
our strategies exposed by quantities
of numbers decomposing and
constant relationships in our minds
–before even holding a pencil.
Hand over heart we tap
until we see a place
in a string of familiar anchors
and friendly landmarks.
We can count back to see the value, partial
products of flexibility now.
Voices of facts and concepts
and ways to solve
burst with numerate enthusiasm
and joy, seeing how the teacher
draws our thoughts
together on a whiteboard.
We gasp at its simple magnitude.
My parents live close to where the Parry Sound 33 Fire started this summer.
moss clings to my
spaces toured by ants and even
Motionless days pass
solid and sound in all seasons,
even this one, until my senses blistered.
Organized signals for help
unseen as my sedentary
service in subterranean
bass tones even
eluded that fir and birch and spruce and pine
who once stood beside me night and day.
Knowing boots rested on my back, even as I slept
as choked branches lay across my face, as I ate
soaked dreams drank my lineage
hardening the horizon–
Even until smouldering spells
struck nine and I waited to exhale.