My book writing, of recent, is augmented by poetry that keeps pouring out of or through me, inspired by images, sensations, and various approaches to life that I am exploring. I experiment with translations, usually from English to Polish or French, occasionally writing the original poem in Polish or French with subsequent translations into the other languages. I seek assistance from my relatives and friends—benefiting from the social interactions this allows—to make the translations sound more native. I am also inspired by other poetesses and poets, some still living and some long passed, to reply with a poem to theirs. I have, thus far, amassed 50 poems in my collection, half of which I have written this year, while the first one that began my collection dates back to pre-1992 (about 25 years).
In part to test the waters and partly in response to encouragement to honour my gift of writing, I begin sharing some of my work by submitting it to writing competitions. Earlier this year, I submit a creative nonfiction piece to a CBC Canada Writes contest—a story about communicating my approach to my breast cancer recurrence through a poem that was inspired by a Shakespearean soliloquy writing contest from the year before—and subsequently, I submit that poem as part of a 4-poem collection to another CBC Canada Writes contest. While awaiting those results (which can take up to 6 months), I enter 6 more poems to literary magazine writing contest by the Room Magazine and 1 poem to the Walrus Magazine writing contest, where voting for Reader’s Choice Award will begin on September 1 for shortlisted entries (fingers crossed).
While all written works submitted to contests must be original and not previously published anywhere (including on personal blogs), the Writer’s Relief resource advises that sharing one’s work with a few close friends and family members in a password-protected section of one’s website—for the purposes of testing the waters and receiving some feedback prior to wider publication—is permissible as “not previously published”. Hence, I create such password-protected sections on my website—one for a poetry selection and one for a nonfiction selection—to provide a flavour of my work, and I invite those interested in perusing it to share with me how my writing is resonating with them.
To assist me with slowing down and practicing more *being* and less *doing*, I take myself to Bowen Island on a yoga retreat organised by an amazing yoga instructor and founder of Ocean Breath Yoga. Serendipity that brought us back in touch for last year’s yoga retreat connects me this year with another poetess and encourages us to exchange our poetic expressions. She shares with me her freshly printed photo and poetry coffee table book prototype, and I spur her on to enter her poetry in the CBC Canada Writes contest. Various exchanges and self-reflections over the weekend also inspire me to read some of my poetry after dinner to a generously captive audience of fellow yogis. Though appreciation of poetry naturally varies among individuals, my initiative turns into an invitation for others to also share their writing projects, and the entertainment that our collective readings provide is more universally appreciated.
I continue to indoctrinate myself in the world of writers and poets by attending various events frequented by these types, their readers, and their publishers. Together with another writer friend, we encourage each other’s efforts to connect with others of our kind by attending monthly prose and poetry readings offered by Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) The Writing Studio (TWS) program at a local artsy restaurant, the Cottage Bistro. Another new monthly event I try out is the Kitsilano Poetry Group, which is a combination of poetry instruction, readings and critiquing, and I participate by sharing and receiving feedback to my short poem entitled, “Pillow Talk”, that I dedicate to a poetry-connoisseur friend who is barely holding onto life in the hospital when I visit earlier that day.
Earlier in the Spring, I have the pleasure of attending a writer friend’s book launch, where she reads an excerpt from her chapter in an anthology entitled ”This Place A Stranger”—a book about women of all ages travelling the world on their own. This indoctrination introduces me to several resources in the publishing world, including a call for story and poetry submissions for an upcoming anthology entitled “Boobs: Explorations of Women’s Relationships to Their Bodies”, and a connection with a publisher who expresses an interest in possibly assisting me to shape my book’s manuscript—an opportunity which I am following up on with some more of my writing samples.
Taking advantage of some highly unusual warm summer weather in Vancouver, I join some friends for a patio seafood feast at Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island, sharing and receiving feedback to some poetry I am submitting to a writing contest. I connect with another poetess—one who has published her poems in the “Breaking the Surface” anthology—and a couple of other prolific reader friends at the ACME Café in Gastown for a tasty—iron and protein rich—Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich brunch.
My travels thus far this year take me nearer to home to a tranquil sanctuary on Pender Island—thanks to the generous invitations from a good friend—as well as inward, inside myself, to practice more *being* and less *doing*, both paths inspiring several poems out of me in the process.
In March, a lovely lake-side walk through a forest at Roe Lake on Pender Island inspires the poem “Blanketed in Love”.
In April, a series of serene promenades through nature and among human creations—including tranquil a sun-kissed stroll through the Pender Island cemetery, a still chilly walk on a calm rocky beach, and familiar-looking tall, erect, winged statue nearby—evoke the poem “Standing Tall with My Soulmate”.
The month of May brings more sunshine to this part of the world, allowing for deliciously fresh outdoor meals and gorgeous sunsets while travelling to and from Pender Island on the requisite Pacific Gulf cruise, which together with thoughts of good friends and an image from Granville Island’s Dragon Space entreat me to compose the poem “Revived”.
And over the Canada Day (July 1st) long weekend, during another sojourn on Pender Island, relaxing beaches, exotic hors d’oeuvres, romantic moonlit sunsets, and nature abound, give rise to the poem “Entangled”.
These days, I am guided by some pretty simple yet profound approaches to life that keep me feeling content:
I live because I can.
I write because I must.
I share to honour my gift.