"Hello, I'm a poet."
- NOT a sentence I ever imagined myself uttering. I have a little bit of beef with being called a poet, and I'm not sure it's ever something I'll be totally comfortable saying. For some reason, I visualize poets as these heartbroken men living in tiny candlelit apartments in Paris - and they just happen to have incredible writing skills. They pour their hearts out about their forlorn love life, or penniless worth.
I guess I'm giving you a peek at the kind of poetry I read: words by heartbroken men (or anyone who can celebrate the beauty found in early mornings).
But after some of my poems were inducted into the legislative library as rare heritage items in Canadiana collections, I had to get real with myself. I was now a poet! A POET. I'm a poet. I. Am. A. Poet.
Nah, still doesn't feel right.
And if I'm being honest, writing poems sort of happened to me by accident.
A few years ago, my publisher asked me to create a simple poem that could be used as verbiage in a holiday greeting card that they send out to some of their contacts. I thought I'd give it a go. I was in the middle of moving, and my entire place was packed in boxes. The night was particularly cool for early autumn, and I remember being really cold beneath a pile of soon-to-be-packed blankets. I also had a chilled bottle of pinot grigio in the fridge. So. I was feelin' it.
I struggled for a really long time. I wrote a few little quips, and then wrote "Aurora" as a thoughtless, last ditch effort to get words on the screen. All the other poems I had written that night - I had tried really hard with. Like, really hard. "Aurora" was this effortless prose that just fell out of me when I stopped trying. And that has become my poetry writing process. I try really hard for a couple poems, then I give up and write something that I think is unworthy. My publisher usually really likes that last attempt. Goooo figure.
And in another life, (read: my teenage years) I was actually a recording artist. That sounds even weirder to say than poet, actually. I'd say musician but for this particular project I didn't really play any instruments... Anyway, when I sang for my supper, all I was really doing was adding a melody to my poems and stories, because music is really just glorified poetry, isn't it? If you want proof, here is an unmastered amateur music video of mine from a college project. I wasn't out of the "wizard closet" yet at eighteen-nineteen years old when I filmed this, but the song is about a ghost who lived in my basement. So. There's that.
PS: I have a face piercing, pre-breast reduction boobs, and I'm wearing a partial wig since my hair was still growing in. I also had a slurpee just before filming and every time my mouth is open wide enough, you can see my slurpee-stained tongue. I'm cringing. This is real.
But my poetry writing days actually started when I was 16 - not a fledgling indie musician. I spent a lot of that year living in the hospital on the fifth floor - the Children's Ward - and since I was the oldest "sick child" on the ward, the nurses there basically let me have priority over the laptop. Determined to use it, I typed out 50 or so train-of-thought poems. I was under the ruse of some pretty crazy cancer-eating drugs, and actually, I don't remember a lot of the poems I wrote. But thankfully, I saved them. It's neat to read something I wrote, but have no recollection of.
So maybe poets can also be sick teenagers, looking out at the river from a tiny hospital room window.
Being a writer (or a poet, or a singer, or whatever) has really held me up throughout my twenties, so now that I've got the rights to, I wanted to share more of my work with you.