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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).



like a stranger who loved you


a revelation; books

do not burst into being

each one has a keeper

has been birthed into existence


by borrowing worlds imagined

from better wordsmiths before, from

historian of humanity, plugged

plot into a paperback, carved


character across curling page

self-reflection in the sunlight


shines in window watches eyesight

I must wholly believe that the


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


how the rhythms of stanzas

alter heartbeats, how periods


pierce the skin, commas cut deep

imagined landscapes so real you

tell friends you’ve travelled, lands

loom with such clarity even mundane


sidewalks sparkle magic, but be

warned of romanticizing the craft


I give thanks to these writers not

only for their words, but for their


courage to share those words

their legacy and lifestyle revealed


some supersheros juggling three kids

alone between novels


others, drawn to the beauty of

a bottle, abandoned empathy


family forsaken, each page that

turns, each struggle learned


allows me to love you more:

Lau, Morrison, Carver, Clark, Butler


Barry, Spears, Dempster, Roy, Kallough

Walker, McCallum , Jacques, Stoppard


Parks, Trembley, Frost, Funk, Williams

Joyce, Young, Gale, Nerudo, Danicate


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


the book would never end

hoping to be half the writer you are.

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