Gord Downie – Canada’s Poet for the People

I love him for his brain. And his agitated exuberance on stage. I can’t even bear to think of a world without him. Not just yet. People who make you feel so good and alive and happy and grateful should just get a free ticket to the end of the ride…to old age and dotage and shiny happy moments in the sunset with the approaching midnight sky softly revealing the constellations to them, and only them, one star at a time. It’s not fair.

I heard the news today. Gord Downie. Terminal. Brain Cancer.

I know I don’t know him. I know, more importantly, probably, that he doesn’t know me. I lay no claim to him. But also, he is all mine. I hold him, like a candle, to the Canadian poetic landscape, and I see that he shines. Oh my god, does he shine. I have long considered him among the greatest living Canadian poets. I don’t want to check that box that moves him to another column. I’m not ready. I’m selfish. I want more. His words are wisdom. His words are love. His words are Canada.

Sending him and his family (and his band family) peace and love and light in this time and always.

 

My previously published ode to Gord (Published in Raven Poetry Journal,©2006) :

 

An Open Letter of Adoration to Gordon Downie

Did you ever see a hypothetical sky, Gordo?
The kind that strips the greys away,
swallows clouds and shivers stars to focus?
Did you ever rest supine, dockside midnight hush,
or did you simply like the way
it fell from your iconic tongue,
beautiful, sublime and free,
filled with nostalgia and tears
of Bobcaygeon love?
Did you ever hypothetical, Gordo?
Twist your words to night
and black and white?
Or did you simply like the way
they fell, iconic from your tongue?
You fill your lungs with melancholy, Gordo,
and send it on its way,
bright the night with shivered sound,
delivering one star at a time.

gord.jpg
Gord Downie – Exudes Life on the Stage in his frenetic brilliance. Canada’s Poet.

Canadian Writers’ Summit! Big Issues in YA Writing…

CWS

The Canadian Writers’ Summit is scheduled to take place this coming June at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and it is HUGE! This is being billed as a SUPER-CONFERENCE, as it is hosted by a bevy of Canadian writer organizations. Members of all of the writing organizations hosting the event (and there are many), as well as anyone interested in writing, are encouraged to attend.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been added as a last minute replacement to participate in the BIG ISSUES IN YOUNG ADULT WRITING panel discussion on Friday June 17th. This is especially pleasing to me because I dedicate my novel writing life on tackling young adult issues. It’s what I do. I have no idea whether or not I’m good at it, but I am 100% committed and passionate about doing it. Everything I write for the YA market is issue oriented.

From the CWS website, here’s the write-up for the panel discussion:

Jump into the world of young adult literature. The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experiences of the main character, but YA literature spans the spectrum of literary genres and themes. Hear more about the big issues of today in YA from Canada’s YA literary writers.

ya

I hope to contribute some helpful wisdom to the conversation and look forward to discussing the importance of tackling issues in YA literature. It’s a delicate thing to do in fiction, especially when writing for today’s intelligent teens—injecting issues into story without preaching or talking down…and without making it obvious that the issue is there. One needs a delicate balance to do this—as, in the end, story and entertainment value are paramount. Issues kinda sorta need to be there without being there. So looking forward to this Super-conference…visit the website today. It’s a super packed conference that most definitely has something for everyone!

CWS
CLICK THIS IMAGE TO VISIT THE CWS WEBSITE – Hope to see you there!

To check out my own issue-centric young adult novels, click on the covers to visit their Amazon pages for details and to read the openings through the LOOK INSIDE feature:

Burn Baby Burn 1000    cover2500

summeronfire_200x300

My other titles, Sebastian’s Poet & The Reasons, are definitely ISSUE stories facing children as well…but they have mature themes and are NOT considered Young Adult.

See you at the CANADIAN WRITERS’ SUMMIT at Harbourfront this June!

Keep This Love in a Photograph…

 

Loving can hurt
Loving can hurt sometimes
But it’s the only thing that I know
When it gets hard
You know it can get hard sometimes
It is the only thing that makes us feel alive

~ ED SHEERAN (Photograph)

Love is such a powerful yet fragile thing… a conundrum, really. It’s a bullet with butterfly wings. In Photograph, Ed Sheeran sings about the perfection of the photograph—the happy moments caught forever in a snapshot—and he kind of implies that we never see the other parts of love in that photo, the parts that hurt and scar and tear you to ribbons. The ugly parts.

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
Times forever frozen still

~ ED SHEERAN (Photograph)

Our hearts are never broken in the photographs we take, because photographs are for the happy times… the minutiae moments in between the hard and trying bits. We will never hear someone say, “Hold those tears! This is a Kodak moment.”

The photograph memory is a bit like the Facebook phenomenon wherein you display your happy self to the world and keep the shit to yourself. Everyone then sees one side of you and thinks, ‘Damn…he/she/they is/are so lucky!’ Only they don’t see the fractures that are slowly pulling you apart. Because Facebook = Happy Moments. It creates a vicious cycle of envy, jealousy, and falsehoods. It’s not real life. Real life isn’t only the photographs and it isn’t only the happy Facebook status updates. It’s also comprised of those unsnapped moments, the ones we don’t keep for posterity.

I began writing this blog post some two weeks ago, but I had no idea where I was going with it. So, I kept it in my Draft folder. Now I can use it.

Sometimes–without the photographs to remind us–we only remember the bad parts. We keep this love in a photograph. There’s a reason why the good stages of love can be found in that instantaneous snapshot. It’s there to jar your memory when you’re living in the dark stages of love. If you don’t pull out those photographs to remind you…you may think that all is lost. But sometimes, it isn’t.

I said goodbye to my mother last Tuesday (April 26th, 2016). Before seeing the photographs kept, I believed fully that all was lost. For good.

I sense that Ed Sheeran’s song is about lovers, but I think with just the odd tweak it can definitely apply to anyone. Love is, after all, universal.

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin’ me closer
‘Til our eyes meet
You won’t ever be alone
Wait for me to come home

In the end, my mother did wait for me to come home. She waited for me and my baby brother to come home to her. We made the 14 hour trip in 12 hours. She woke up and had one last lucid period. In it, she said, “I did it” (meaning she made it…she waited for us just as she said she would two days earlier). She had her husband and her four boys at her side…exactly how she would have wanted it. I can’t and won’t sugar-coat things. I didn’t know that was how she would have wanted it until the time had come and I was actually there. I had always imagined that she’d be happier if I wasn’t there…if she had only her three boys and her husband with her.

I had forgotten to look at the photographs. We keep this love in a photographWhere our eyes are never closing, Hearts are never broken—Times forever frozen still. I focused only on the bad parts of love, the ones we don’t photograph. The ones we ALL have. I imagined my wounds to be terminal. And in my imagining, I had lost so much.

But there is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…a time to tear and a time to mend…a time to be silent and a time to speak

Hearts are never broken.

 

12715498_10153197862390670_6016518002666031924_n
My Mom, Manny (1970), Me (1966), David (1965), and my Dad… (This is circa early 1971. My baby brother, George, came along in 1972.) I would give anything for those pants! We keep this love in a photograph…
US
US – At Geordy’s wedding… WAIT FOR ME TO COME HOME…