Poetry allows me to move through these memories, to remember and to let go. It is in the act of creating that we are best able to release. It is this epiphany, this moment, when I have planted the seed, seen it take root that I know something significant has changed for me. I am excited. The language of poetry allows me to believe.
Writing to me is a necessity; there is no getting around it. There have been times when writing has brought tears and other times when I have been stunned into silence by the recognition of something that I had never noticed before.
My words open doors and close distances. Individuals thrive after some of the most devastating events. Earthquakes, wars, genocide. Where is the beauty in any of these things? It is in our ability to survive. It is in our hearts as we open up once again to others and let them find space by which to touch us. It is in our faces as we search the sky for a shooting star in the blackest of nights. It is in the strength of our hands as we grab hold of something as our world rocks underneath us. Finally, it is in our words, as we close the distance between the outside world, and ourselves, giving voice to things which need telling.
It is in the stories we share and the poetry we create. We bring beauty back into a world sometimes without realizing, sometimes with purpose, opening opportunities for love, hope and shifting in a world that often needs to find these hidden gifts once again
I co-founded Pandora’s Collective, a charitable organization in the literary arts. What began, nearly ten years ago, as a small writing group sitting around my kitchen table every week, has evolved into a whole gamut of weekly, monthly and yearly events which reaches many hundreds of people. We feature poetry contests for all ages with entries coming from as far away as Italy and Egypt. We award a scholarship each summer to enable a teen to attend the Vancouver Public Library’s Summer Book Camp. With Pandora’s Collective, I have facilitated workshops in alcohol and drug rehabilitation centers as well as at Covenant House, The Gathering Place, and throughout the Lower Mainland in schools.
Part of Pandora’s mandate, from the beginning, was to provide a safe space for all writers to be heard. This has personal importance to me, as I understand the need to be heard. I will strive as long as we are doing this, to keep Pandora’s an inclusive place for all writers, where they can find community, where their words are taken seriously and they are able to continue to find their voice.
I started The Summer Dreams Literary Arts Festival because I thought it was important to bring the writing community together to showcase what it is we do on an on-going basis to the public. The festival has grown into a multi-day event now in its 10th year. It is comprised of 27 literary groups with over 100 performers.
I’m still doing all of this because it is my passion. Pandora’s for me is community. It is the people who email me to say that they feel connected because of my e-newsletter. It is the girl who stopped me on the street a few Christmas’s ago to tell me that she had done our workshop in a drug rehab centre and was still straight and still writing. It is all the volunteers who come out year after year to keep the festival running. It is the poets; established, emerging and beginners, who grace our stage at Twisted Poets open mic, or who read their poems at the end of Word Whips Writing Series or who give their thoughts at the drop of a hat at Book Talks Book Club. They are what keep this whole thing alive. Some days, when I am tired, I wonder why I continue. The answer when I really take the time to think about it is very clear. It is because of this great community, with all its positives and negatives, of which I have become a part. I am so thankful for this.
It is through my own stories that I remember I am still alive and I do have a voice. Unaware that it was always there, this voice has remained alive in my bones even in the darkest of nights. It is in the transformative power of words, my poetry, where I find solace, hope and some form of truth. For as the images bounce between the spaces of these pages my heart is released.