• Georgian Bay,  Poetry

    Granite Expires in Parry Sound 33 Fire

    Still
        moss clings to my
        spaces toured by ants and even
        spiders.

    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
        but rain
        soaked dreams drank my lineage
        hardening the horizon–

    Even until smouldering spells
       struck nine and I waited to exhale.


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  • Creative Writing,  Creativity,  School Leadership

    Open the Jar: When Creativity Takes You Somewhere Unexpected

    There is freedom in a metaphor. I love its openness to possibility.

    When creativity flows well writing is as easy as taking the lid off the jar, grasping streams of inspiration as they swirl above, and then sprinkling words onto the page. Sometimes it can feel like confidently singing a song you’ve known for a long time. Often when I write poetry the story appears all at once and catches me by surprise.

    Over the years I’ve noticed that I like to write about what I’ve learned. Through the act of writing my learning deepens, my understanding shifts, and my wishes clarify. We can learn from every experience. When we look at things in different ways, we can see differently. When we allow our intuition to guide us and we give permission for the voice deep inside to rise and fill the page, we find our story. We find ourselves. As much as creative expression can offer us soaring freedom it can also offer us deep-rooted connection to our values.

    Writing the poem “Open the Jar” transformed my understanding of sunshine in a jar to include gratitude and generosity. I learned that this light isn’t a beacon of happiness but a symbol of hope.

     

    I remember the day I wrote this poem.

    When the idea to write the poem appeared I leapt out of my chair, wanting to avoid it. But the idea followed me down the hall. I took a deep breath, returned to the chair, picked up my pen, and wrote a poem about some of my most difficult moments as a young teacher.

    There is so much we are not prepared for when we begin our teaching careers. Sometimes we are growing up alongside the students we are teaching. I was in my mid-twenties. My students faced challenges I couldn’t imagine. The students taught me about resiliency, grit, and perseverance through challenge.

    I learned the importance of community and building a school culture where all students feel safe.

    I learned about the strength of my colleagues and the value of having a mentor.

    I learned that by listening to the students we could better identify the issues and work toward change.

    I learned how even in the face of challenge and tragedy schools can be models of courage, truth, love, and wisdom.


    Open the Jar

     

    Last night I opened the jar and it whispered to me,

    “a piece of the story is missing.”

    Silence.

    Breath.

    I wished the thought had stayed in the jar,

    wished to rewind,

    go back to the moment before

    I released the latch and

    eased the lid.

     

    Open the jar.

    Blue dot days glued to glass,

    days of Sylvia’s bell jar and

    cobwebs and fatigue and

    frustration and sleep and

    tears and

    darkness.

    Blue dots

    drowning my calendar,

    blue dots

    covering my day book—

    a giant blue bruise.

     

    You should know,

    I teach outside the city

    in a nice suburban

    community.

     

    Open the jar.

    A morning swarming at 7:45

    two hundred teenagers

    chase a grade ten

    girl

    angry faces

    push against glass,

    she calls for help.

     

    Open the jar.

    Pepper chokes

    classrooms,

    chairs, clocks, and computers…

    A toxic shot

    in the head.

    Later, a fifteen-year-old boy

    wears handcuffs

    and not the kind from his joke store.

     

    Open the jar.

    Racism, bullying, homophobia,

    illiteracy, drugs, eating disorders

    spiralling around bells

    passing days and

    heedless years.

    Take the lid off the subtext.

     

    Open the jar.

    A friend defines “suddenly”

    when our student

    dies…and then another.

    Words evaporate

    hearts frozen in crowded hallways.

     

    Open the jar.

    Julie whispers of last night’s rape

    during attendance

    digital now

    twenty-first century tracking of

    presence.

     

    Open the jar.

    I pass Tina her graded work and

    she asks if she should visit her boyfriend,

    in jail

    even though

    he was charged:

    attempted murder

    she thinks

    only yesterday she smoked pot, drank vodka, slept with

    Tonya, and cut herself on her left arm for the sixth time.

     

    Jars lined up like child soldiers

    down a long corridor of black-hearted

    steel lockers collecting

    souls. We all felt it

    clouds building chains around teen dreams.

    Teacher machines

     

    We forgot the taste

    of sunshine

    jars

    emptied

    closed

    lid twisted tight

    within the glass grooves.

     

    But in time we learned

    to gently turn the lid,

    open the jar

    and sometimes we found something

    for somebody

    and in time we learned to capture sunshine.

     

    Open the jar—

     

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  • Creative Writing,  Events

    Hill Spirits Launches October 11, 2012

    Blue Denim Press presents Hill Spirits.

    “Hill Spirits Anthology introduces a sampling of the diverse range of writers and writing styles found in the Spirit of the Hills Writers Group. In Hill Spirits, you’ll find amusing slice-of-life stories, scary tales to share around the campfire and, in a quiet moment, poems for reflection.”

    I have two poems in this collection. I am scheduled to read at the following launches:

    October 11, 7-10 pm at Meet at 66 King, Cobourg

    October 30, 7-10 pm at Arts Quinte West Gallery, Trenton

    November 4, 2-5 pm at the Rivoli, Toronto

     

    There will be other launches in Port Hope, Norwood, Colborne, and Brighton too.

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