Life Influences Poetry
This month's public poetry reading of the Cobourg Poetry Workshop on February 19, brings together an intriguing and interesting group of poets; one, born in Estonia at the height of World War II, whose parents fled with her across Europe ahead of the advancing Russian army, their travels taking them through Germany to Sweden and, eventually, to Canada. Another, whose budding career as a poet was rudely interrupted by his induction into the army, and a third poet who only started writing poetry 2 years ago and is giving her first public reading.
"Moving around as much as I did in my early life must have been confusing." says Merike Lugus, this month's guest reader from Baltimore. "I always felt rootless. My parents were suffering from post traumatic stress, a condition that didn't have a name then. We grew up without much guidance, learning whatever language was required, from the streets. I wouldn't have known the ways in which life could be lived if it wasn't for literature. I don't think of myself as a poet but, rather, as someone who writes poetry. I'm a story-teller."
At age 29, Wayne Schlepp, had definite ideas of what poetry should be. Now, as one of Cobourg's most highly regarded and respected poets, he looks back to that time. "It suggests I thought I knew more than I did. It referred to the language of poetry which, at the time, I felt should be treated like a bull in a china shop with me as the bull. My present notions of poetry have somewhat expanded to include all manner of style and subject."
The third reader, Cobourg poet Glenda Jackson, drawn to poetry after attending several of the Workshop monthly readings in 2007, was asked if she would like to read some of work to the group. "At that time I'd never written a poem, but felt strongly that poems existed within me. I became a member of the Workshop in order to let them escape."
Much of Mr. Schlepp's work has a Chinese influence, a result of studying Chinese at the Monterey Language School, completing a Ph.D in Chinese literature in 1964. "Working with Chinese poetry was a great experience, first for the ideas, the different notion of styles, and the wealth of allusion available to Chinese writers and this had an influence on my own writing."
Ms. Lugas, also a well-know painter and sculptor, will be reading for the second time at the Workshop. "It's a great opportunity and I feel honoured to be asked back. All the people involved are generous and warm and welcoming." Will she be reading any new work? "Over ten years ago when my mother died, my world became unstable. I went to see a psychiatrist and I kept extensive journals, challenging myself to find poetry in those journals. The result is that I've condensed a year of analysis into five poems. Yes, it's all new work."
Mr. Schlepp, whose book The Darker Edges of the Sky was published last year will be reading some recent work as well as older pieces not read in public before.
Ms. Jackson, who loves being predictably unpredictable, says "All my poems are new, written during the past year and a half." And how does it feel, making her public reading debut? "I've always had a sense the audience is there to listen, to appreciate and honour the work and the courage of the poet who is reading. I predict those present on February 19th will be no different."
The readings are held at Meet At 66 King Street East and start at 7.00pm.
There is no admission charge.