This week's idea is to write like anyone but you. You might choose to write like your favorite poet, your favorite actor, a relative of yours, or someone you know whose worldview is very different from your own....
I may do this later today, but in the meantime, something better -- a pointer to visit one of my favorite poets -- and favorite people -- Erin Noteboom. THE RECORD just did a piece on Erin and her bright & brilliant family:
WEB EXTRA: Literary excerpts
Family ties are only part of what pulls the Bows together. The writers are also bonded by creative energy and unbridled support for each other's passions.
Click here for samples of writing from Erin Noteboom and Patricia Bow.
(Sep 9, 2006)
They're always percolating, this "screech" of writers.
Fictional characters walk, skip, gallop through their imaginations.
When the baby's napping, when the coffee's cooling, when the full-time jobs are done for the day, poet Erin Noteboom and fantasy fiction writers James Bow and Patricia Bow let loose another part of their brains.
Then, the threads of ideas jotted in notebooks, details tucked away in memory, take shape on the computer screen.
Eventually, they become poems that grip the heart and novels mesmerizing enough to persuade even reluctant young readers to read into the night with a flashlight.
The three Kitchener writers -- this year's judges for the Grand River Life short story contest -- are linked by blood and marriage.
Still more, they're bound by a passion for storytelling, for reading and being read.
"There's a lovely feeling of connectedness," Patricia says.
Noteboom, 34, is an award- winning poet whose haunting poems, startling in their detail, about a Second World War infantryman took the CBC Canadian Literary Award in 2001, among other honours. Carol Shields and Alice Munro have also won the prize.
As Erin Bow, she's a physics graduate and writer at the University of Waterloo, where she translates technical engineering research, reports and other material into something the public can understand.
. . .
While writing is necessary and rewarding, it also costs.
A poem on Erin's website describes the creative life. It's called: "Things I don't say to the woman beside me in the bookstore reading How to be Creative If You Thought You Never Could.''
In part, it says:
"Be careful. A joy but not
a comfort. If you sew
you will wear needles, know
too much of seams . . .
Wait. Once you wake,
you wake to everything.
It is an eye stitched open."
. . .
ERIN NOTEBOOM: DEPTH AND DETAIL
People forget to breathe when they discover Erin Noteboom's poetry.
Her images are so detailed, so vivid, so honest that readers are startled by how much they feel. Having found Erin's works in progress on her website, in Canada's literary journals or her two poetry books, readers return again and again to relish her vision.
They see what they've never seen before -- the image of a woman thrusting white sheets into soldiers' arms to camouflage them in the snow. And they see themselves in everyday life -- celebrating a honeymoon, mourning a beloved sister, making sense of the divine.
"I think what really grabs me is her ability to create a sense of vast sadness and depth -- historical and spiritual depth -- with a very few restrained words," said Patricia Bow, commenting on one of her favourite poems by Erin, Brady's Ghosts, posted on her office wall. "And she has an eye for the one detail that will capture everything . . . ."
At 34, Noteboom's poetry has already won many awards. Her first book, Ghost Maps: Poems for Carl Hruska, is filled with "blood-warm imagery, the taste of a story, and a rare, hard-won wisdom," acclaimed poet Lorna Crozier says on the book jacket.
Noteboom's second book, Seal Up the Thunder, features biblical stories and characters. The poetry is sometimes playful, always respectful. It's "an elemental poetry of bones, salt, water, dust and at the same time a celebration of all things holy," American poet Jane Hirshfield said in a blurb on the book jacket.
The book received other good reviews. But it inspired strong feelings among some readers who objected to Erin's interpretations. They wrote her venomous letters.
But Erin isn't afraid of intense feelings. She doesn't flinch when she writes about war and faith, and she doesn't flinch when she writes about herself: about growing up in Nebraska; surviving a brain tumour; about the drowning death last year of her only sister, Wendy Ewell; about her passion for James and their 10-month-old daughter, Vivian.
She wrote in May:
"for one week, oak leaves
of my daughter's feet"
After the death of Wendy -- a talented artist, "a gardener, a painter of wildflowers" -- Erin wrote powerfully, eloquently. Erin was six months pregnant when her sister died.
"There's a certain act of breaking the silence," Erin said. "People are reluctant to talk about grief almost as if they fear it will be contagious."
She wrote "yellow bird" -- a piece connecting grief and birth -- which she believes could be her longest-lasting work. It's written in haebun sequence, a Japanese form combining prose and haiku.
Recently, Erin has been writing fewer poems and more journal entries. Her editor wants to publish her thoughts over the first year of her baby's life. She's also working on a novel featuring a talking cat. It will be "like a fairy tale, a bit on the dark side," she said.
Besides her family, Erin relies on the wisdom of a group of women authors, The Hopeful Writers. The women are drawn together by shared skills and beliefs. "You can say: 'I wrote a seven-page poem about my sister's death and it's fabulous,'" and they understand, Erin said.
Erin continues to post poems on her website, a practice she admits is unusual for a published poet. But delighted new readers tell her they've found treasure.
"I'm trying to reach people who might not otherwise read poetry."
. . .
This is just a small part of the article; go read the rest -- but most importantly, go read Erin's blog.
The photo is from the article -- that little one? That's Vivian. A child I've never met, but who, through the magic of the internet, brings me giggles and joy on a regular basis.