As my wife noted on her blog earlier this week, I used to maintain that I knew nothing about poetry. Despite what Lizzie might say about my lyrics from years ago, I think that was mostly true. Before I met Lizzie, I hadn’t really opened a book of poetry since university (unless it was specifically handed to me by Joe Gurba). I used to have some ridiculous line about how poetry intentionally obfuscated emotion, that there was therefore something dishonest about it. I can only think that this must have been some kind of defence mechanism against opening myself up to something tender and real. Now, though, I live with a poet, and there are these incredible volumes lying around the apartment. I trip over them and they fall open and draw me in. The opposite of reading the morning news is to read a poem with breakfast. Instead of feeling angry and disappointed with all the potential we are collectively wasting as a species with our petty, materialistic conflicts, you will remember why you woke up in the first place.
In October, 2016, Lizzie and I had just returned from a trip through California. We had driven from Edmonton to Los Angeles, then up the coast all the way to Vancouver and back through the Rocky Mountains. Now back in my hometown, I was wandering the streets, trying to rediscover something, anything, romantic or even interesting about it. It’s common to experience a hatred or boredom with where you live after you get back from weeks away. I was facing the challenge by taking pictures, carrying my camera everywhere like a tourist. I walked to a favourite coffee shop, taking photos the whole way, searching for some undiscovered layer in my city waiting to be exposed, if I could only peel back the outer skin. At the coffee shop, I ran into an old friend who said “everyone should write poems.” I had never even thought about it. Then I wrote two or three that week. It was an unprecedented revelation for me: that it is possible to create without a camera or a crew or even a melody. I would simply scribble away, then later type these sparse phrases out and email them to Lizzie.
Just over a year later, we have a little volume of the poems we’ve emailed back and forth to one another. We called it LETTERS and you can buy it here. Here is one written by me to perhaps pique your interest. The first poem I sent to Lizzie.
your face is all screwed up
I can see you’ve spent the day
chewing your nails and
picking at your face sadistically
not because you’ve forgotten how to sing
but because in spite of profound resonance
and even earthquakes
plate tectonics shift too slightly
to be noticed in your lifetime
Until next time.
Dylan – Edmonton, AB