COLUMN: Love of poetry started in elementary school

NANAIMO - April is poetry month and there is an event scheduled for Sunday (April 21) at Maffeo Sutton Park.

I didn’t intend to be a poet when I was little, but there is something that drives me to write poems.

When I look back at my fascination with them, I see that my love of poetry must have started because of my love for nursery rhymes.

I can still picture my favourite book. It had a black and white checkered cover and large, vibrant pictures. It was filled to the brim with short little rhymes that I would read over and over again. Even today it has a special place in my heart.

It was in elementary school – when I found a book by William Blake on the shelf – that my love affair with the greats of the past began.

It was an illustrated version. To me it was a magical book filled with illustrations you could spend hours gazing at and always find something new.  You could read the poems over and over and always find amazement in the lines.

I don’t remember which poem has the picture with fire, but I can still see the see the illustrated flames reaching out from the pages surrounding words that were penned before I took my first breath.

The first poem of Blake’s I fell in love with was The Tyger. Those first lines drew me in.


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?


After discovering Blake, I went on to find other poets that drew me in with their words. My favourites are Byron and Wordsworth, but there are many others who have created works that adorn my bookshelf at home.

I was so inspired by their poems that I decided to write my own. Even if they are never seen, there is something therapeutic about pouring out words from the heart or just commenting on the state of the world in a free-form style.

I am driven to write poetry. The desire isn’t something I can pinpoint. I’m not sure why there is a need in me to write page after page of poems when I come home at night. There are times when I can’t write a thing, and other times when it is nothing but garbage, but I continue to try.

Poets have been an important part of my life. A few years ago I went to England to see the homes of Byron and Wordsworth. It won’t be a trip I’ll ever forget. It was surreal to walk the fields Wordsworth once roamed. And the countryside he strolled along was just as inspirational when I went as I imagine it was in his time.

There were sections of the fields that were such a pure green and others that looked like they were laced with pink because of the flowers. The log fences separated the farms and created a beautiful countryside. Those images will never leave my mind.

April is National Poetry month. It’s a time to read some of the acknowledged greats from the past and to support local poets as well.

Nanaimo’s Harbourfront Library has a display of poems, the Poem Gallery, with a collection of work by 48 local poets. The gallery is on display on one of the large windows facing into Diana Krall Plaza.

The newest works were unveiled earlier this month. These poems will be on display for a year until entries are received and chosen for next year’s gallery.

Four poets are sharing their works by becoming roaming poets in Maffeo Sutton Park Sunday (April 21) 1:30-3:30 p.m. David Fraser, Kim Clark, Pat Smekal and Kim Goldberg are setting up near the Spirit Square and inviting others to come down and share their poetry or listen to the poems being read.

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