How long have you been a member of NOWW? I’ve been a NOWW member for one year. I’m grateful to have found you.
What do you normally write? My writing is simple: poetry, some songs and journals since I was eleven. In university, the professor sometimes used my pieces as examples of what NOT to do. Yup! That only inspired me to do better.
Do you have a favourite book or favourite author? I have no favourite authors but right now I am inspired by the Sufi poet Rumi and my current favourite book is the Book of Psalms—long story—but maybe someday, it may make an interesting one.
Let’s get to know you a bit better. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to writing: I’m an elementary school teacher of French and English, and my interest in writing started with Mr. Steve Kerekes, my Grade 5 teacher, who encouraged students to write and perform plays. I curiously remember running off handwritten scripts and rewrites on the school’s old Gestetner machine (depending on your age, you might have to Google that!) and regularly sneaking out to rehearse with ‘cast members’ on the gym stage whenever we finished our work. In high school, Raymond Souster’s Roller Skate Man rocked my poetry boat thanks to Mrs. Fawcett who gave impassioned introductions to the likes of Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, P.K. Page and even Allen Ginsberg. In university, I had three poems published in Lakehead University’s first literary magazine The Ventriloquist, taking third place in its inaugural poetry contest. A poem entitled “A Song for Everything”, which I had written to honour the 60th Anniversary of the Lakehead Choral Group, was chosen and published into a song written by Sean Kim.
Tell us a bit about your writing: The joy I find in writing, teaching, and in singing have helped take the sting out of many years of wrestling anxiety and depression. These unlikely ‘teachers’ helped create 30 years worth of poetry, much of which still sits idling between pages of my journals, waiting to grow up. I dream of putting them between covers—and I believe I’m getting closer. However, I need more editing skills before letting them go. Connecting with and learning from other writers are motivations for joining NOWW.
Who has inspired and impacted your writing? Inspirations have come mostly through familiar channels: nature and people, especially my family and students, and of course, music (musical poets Bruce Cockburn and Steve Bell with Malcolm Guite). But my greatest inspirations right now are the people I meet who have overcome adversity. I am encouraged in mid-life to believe that anything is possible. I started tapping into the Daily Poet at the Poetry in Voice website to practice new skills. I highly recommend Poetry In Voice at www.poetryinvoice.com or her francophone sister www.lesvoixdelapoesie.com. These sites, with their well-developed lessons and exercises, help introduce classroom teachers of English and French to modern Canadian poets. Great stuff!
Can we see you at any upcoming NOWW events? I recently attended the NOWW Workshop--Writing Memory Writing Truth with author Denise Chong on May 13 and the Literary Awards Party that night.
Where can we learn more about you and your writing? I do not have a website or any particular place for others to learn about me. However, you’re welcome to meet for tea and we could chat!
And to end things off, tell us something surprising about yourself! Something that may surprise you is that, at age 50, I ran my first 10-mile race. (It surprised me, too!) I also started singing with the Lakehead Choral Group. Pure joy! I’m a late bloomer.