Bit by bit, I’m manufacturing a volume of poems tentatively titled You Catch My Breath. The poems are a series of flashpoints from a rambler’s perspective, out and about, solitary and speculative, witnessing Toronto from a poet’s puzzled, curious, engaged, and entertained sensibilities.
In other words: I look; I pause; I write. There’s always a notebook and pen shoved deep inside my pocket and many bright coffee shops with window-tables for me to settle at and reach for them.
The “You” in the title is multiple and refers to inanimate life as well as other folks strolling past. I am ecstatically involved, at times, with every manifestation of what is alive in this city and in my wandering thoughts.
While some people leap from note to note in music, I am led by the actions and expressions around me; they become more alive when I shape them into words and hurry them home to my keyboard.
During my ramblings, my breath is frequently “caught” like an excited child startled into another discovery of pleasure.
I am a middle-aged lesbian feminist activist, recently finished raising my son (Toto is a freshly cooked adult now.) He is alive in my poetry. So is the experience of having been on the vanguard in raising him, during the early 90s, with two gay men.
I write about walking on Church Street on a blistering June day with babe in arms, dads by my side, and having people step up to us and say “thank you for doing this.” (Historical Note: there were only a few hundred people on that pride march in 1992!)
As an obituary writer I am very much alive in the present but reside, in some sense, as a storyteller among the dead, shaping and sharing their stories with a large audience of interested onlookers.
I record the history of personal achievements of dozens of people and many times this work seeps deep inside my poetry (the poetry also infuses the journalism), adding a rich flavour to my experience of being among the lives I encounter during my foot-travels in Toronto. Again, it has to do with memory and imagination—the pleasure in stories.
Not sure how I’d structure the poems into a manuscript. There are many jangling edges and smatterings of this & that. I’d love to have the steady, persistent, and patient companionship of a mentor to help me through this process.
I’d be thrilled to create a cohesive, enjoyable study of urban life bubbling from inside memory and sometimes from outside time, somehow integrating the treasures of life with the (seemingly contradictory) treasures of death.