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Entries in poetry (8)


Poem: Seeking Beauty

The world lost a wonderful woman to a dreadful disease yesterday. When it threatened to overwhelm me I did what helps me the most: went outside seeking beauty. As always, it wasn't hard to find.  


Seeking Beauty


I set out seeking beauty today,

and found it in a splash of warm sunshine on my face,

in the curiosity of a toddler examining a flower,

and in a yellow butterfly who visited right after I received word.


I set out seeking beauty today,

and found it in a couple walking hand-in-hand over an arched footbridge,

in notes from friends and the collective strength of neighbours,

and in a shady graveyard where families are eventually reunited.


I set out seeking beauty today,

and found it back at home,

in the measured chaos of a family dinner,

and in the quiet company of a soft cat.



Erasure poetry: Non-stop Margaux

Erasure is a form of poetry created by erasing words from an existing text in prose or verse to create an entirely new poem. I experimented with the genre for a contest hosted by Geist Magazine. This was my entry, based on text from the prologue to the book How Should a Person Be, by Sheila Heti. It is nothing like the original, but was an interesting exercise on how taking bits away can actually create something altogether fresh and new. I challenge you to grab that erase (or delete key) and have at it!


Non-stop Margaux
by Alison DeLory

Interested in being,
singing over usual conversation,
non-stop Margaux.

Click to read more ...


It's time to Write Now!

Several years ago, a best-selling and multi-published author who I greatly admire kindly read my Lunar Lifter manuscript and gave some indispensible advice. Her suggestions took it from good to sellable, and without her help I'm not sure it would have been published. I was so grateful for her encouragement, I asked how I could repay her generosity. "Pay it forward," she told me. "Mentor a less-experienced writer."

This summer, through the Write Now! program, I found my opportunity to do just that. Kind of, sort of. Let me explain.

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Seeking the enlightened peak

To be struck by a snowflake

She knows how it feels to be struck by a snowflake.
She walks awake,
entering that rare place she inhabits so infrequently,
where synapses are firing and senses are attuned.
Each murmur a lion's roar.
Each breeze a whirling wind.
Each shade of white a kaleidoscope of colour.
And then it passes.
Because it always does.
She is back living among us mortals,
trudging through the snowdrifts,
tired and vaguely numb.

Most of the time I journey through life in a semi-present state. Probably this is necessary so I don't become too overwhelmed by everything that is happening around me. Yet every now and then I receive the gift of hyper-alertness. Rare moments in which I see things so clearly, when ideas and inspiration flood my brain, when even my senses become more acute and I feel more . . . ALIVE.

Do you experience a similar phenomenon? I don't think I'm unique. I was discussing this idea with a professor and he said it reminded him of the Buddhist concept of dwelling at the foot of the mountain. You cannot stay continually at the enlightened peak but you should live a life close enough so that the journey back is not impossibly far.

I know I am in a really great place when I can stay on the top of the mountain a little longer, or get back up there quickly. Such moments often come to me when I catch a glimpse of humanity, or when I'm surrounded by nature, knowledge or art. They often fuel productive surges of writing.

Last night I went to my monthly meeting of the Voices Project, a women's writing collective at Mount Saint Vincent University. We were so fortunate so have E. Alex Pierce with us. Alex has published a book of poetry called Vox Humana with Brick Books and she is another of Nova Scotia's talented and generous poets, who has also worked as an editor, educator and in the performing arts.

She asked us to use the girl in each of us to draft something—anything—poetry or prose. She gave us the invocation from her book and asked us to choose a phrase as a launching pad. I chose "the one we have forgotten" and wrote the anaphora below. It inspired me to think of myself as the girl who is so different than the person I am now.

The one we have forgotten

The girl in me loved to slide down the bannister,
climb trees,
and swim until the skin on her fingertips looked like raisins.

The girl in me had a messy bedroom,
dirt on her face, even coming out of the bath,
and hair that got so tangled her mother cut it off rather than struggle with a comb

The girl in me ate a family-sized bag of salt-and-vinegar chips and drank a bullet of orange pop in one day,
sang in two choirs and played Hockey Night in Canada on her flute,
and doodled in the margins of every scribbler she owned.

The girl in me read every Enid Blyton and Trixie Beldon book,
reaching the end of each series, experiencing that mix of accomplishment and regret,
and quickly moving on to the next literary obsession.

The girl in me misplaced everything she ever owned,
lost wallets, school books, erasers and her Girl Guide hat,
and found them when the need for them had passed

That girl, the girl that was me,
is the one we have forgotten,
though she still lurks my DNA and rears herself on occasion

Next, we had to choose a phrase from another Voices member's poem and write for a few minutes about that. I chose the gorgeous phrase from Voices member Rosemary: "She knows how it feels to be struck by a snowflake" and wrote the piece you saw above. I was so inspired in that moment, so alive, so top-of-the-mountain, that I wrote about those brief moments of enlightenment.

I thanked Alex as I was leaving and she told me I write "like a demon." Perhaps she saw steam coming out of my ears as I was scribbling down that last piece, I'm not sure, but I'm choosing to regard it as a compliment.

I wish I knew where the path up the mountain lay hidden. It's elusive but when you find it, you ought to run, not walk, to the top.


The reluctant poet

I've studied and practiced various genres of writing for many years but I've never considered poetry my thing. It thought it flew in the face of so much I thought I valued in writing: structure, clarity, straightforwardness. I discussed my resistance with a close friend who likened my experience as a (primarily) nonfiction writer studying poetry, to her experience as a (primarily) modern dancer studying ballet. You may not love it, she told me, but it's fundamental to your field. It's your ballet.

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