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POEM: like a stranger who loved you

November 26, 2013

In Montreal I was reading the work of the incredible Evelyn Lau and her latest collection A Grain of Rice. She has an entire section dedicated to her love for John Updike.  Through her admiration she describes herself as a “creepy stalker” which reminds me that even super accomplished poets have an air of wonder and awe towards their idols.  I was meditating on how I conduct myself as a storyteller and was in a process in learning to recognize and honour writers of the past.  In preparation for my show in Toronto, I found myself writing a tribute to the writers who make me a writer. The title like a stranger who loved you is humbly borrowed from Lau’s poem Thinking of U(pdike).

o

 

o
like a stranger who loved you

 l

a revelation; books

do not burst into being

each one has a keeper

has been birthed into existence

 l

by borrowing worlds imagined

from better wordsmiths before, from

historian of humanity, plugged

plot into a paperback, carved

 l

character across curling page

self-reflection in the sunlight

 l

shines in window watches eyesight

I must wholly believe that the

 l

woman I see is indeed a writer

and all writers she admires

will not accuse her as a pirate but hold

this homage close to heart, hear

 l

how the rhythms of stanzas

alter heartbeats, how periods

 l

pierce the skin, commas cut deep

imagined landscapes so real you

tell friends you’ve travelled, lands

loom with such clarity even mundane

 l

sidewalks sparkle magic, but be

warned of romanticizing the craft

 l

I give thanks to these writers not

only for their words, but for their

 l

courage to share those words

their legacy and lifestyle revealed

 l 

some supersheros juggling three kids

alone between novels

 o

others, drawn to the beauty of

a bottle, abandoned empathy

 l

family forsaken, each page that

turns, each struggle learned

 l

allows me to love you more:

Lau, Morrison, Carver, Clark, Butler

 l

Barry, Spears, Dempster, Roy, Kallough

Walker, McCallum , Jacques, Stoppard

 l

Parks, Trembley, Frost, Funk, Williams

Joyce, Young, Gale, Nerudo, Danicate

 l

Estes, Fannon, hooks, Gogol, Ondaatje

I am like the stranger who loved you

who thumbed through your pages

with pleasure and lust, read you

over and over with a rush

surging through me, begging that

 l

the book would never end

hoping to be half the writer you are.

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