This past Sunday, I had a rebirth of sorts. Of the poetic kind. My relationship with poetry has always been dismissive, at best. I kind of use poetry, actually. I’ve always seen it as a sort of calisthenic exercise to lube up the writing mind. The result of my poet-ing has never been the driving factor. It was always about the process, just the playing with words to limber up for the real writing. The fiction.

As much as I used poetry, though, I have always had a deep love of it. I see its place and importance in the world. I just never took my own work in the medium very seriously.

Having been away from poetry for so long, however, I began to realize it might have been a bit more important to me than I was letting on. When you feel as though you can’t write poetry, you begin to see a disconnection between yourself and the world around you…the words around you. Poetry is playful. It gives the dabbler a feeling that they are grounded with their surroundings. Well, it made me feel this way, anyway.

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On Sunday I went to POETRY SANCTUARY DAYS at the Uplands Writing Retreat in Goodwood, Ontario. This sanctuary Sunday was hosted by writer, poet, writing instructor James Dewar. James is a friend, a mentor, and a all-round great guy. He was the first to offer me a stage to showcase my poetry. Some years ago now, he gave me a Feature Night at the Renaissance Cafe in Toronto. That was some leap of faith! I’ll be forever grateful for it.

Before I speak of the great and energetic day of creation, I have to say that the location is one of the most beautifully idyllic places I’ve ever come across. The house is all windows, facing a pond, trees, a dock, nature. So beautiful. I stood at the window wondering how anybody could actually live nestled within such amazing beauty. It almost hurt.

James’s lesson on metaphor and simile was one of those defining moments for me. As he spoke, a fissure appeared in my thinking and the light came on. It was so exciting to see poetry in a new light. And we were not only able to take these lessons in and discuss ideas as a group of poets, but we were also given invaluable writing time. The day was structured so that there were hours of quiet time where we all simply lounged around the house writing poetry. The best workshops give writing time to the participants. With the lessons fresh in our heads, we were able to explore what they meant to us as poets. I was able to put what I had just learned into action, thereby solidifying the concepts in my mind.

We also had times when we sat in a circle and shared our raw and vulnerable new pieces of poetry. I heard some extraordinary pieces. Amazing to hear just bled words…so fresh, the ink not yet dry. There was definitely something beautiful and enchanting in each piece I heard. I was honoured to be there, hearing such lovely words.

A delectable lunch was hand-delivered by my favourite foodie, the glorious DEB RANKINE, The Fridge Whisperer…longtime friend and sometime partner in crime. Thanks, Deb…for another fabulous meal!

If you’re in the GTA, you really should check out these poetry sanctuaries. I feel lifted for having gone to one. Thanks to James, for a fantastic day in paradise!

Find out all about the event:

INK SLINGERS – POETRY SANCTUARY DAYS with JAMES DEWAR

While you’re at the site, don’t forget to check out all the other things that INK SLINGERS has to offer!