As part of LitFest New West, an exhibit is up at Anvil Centre that paired writers of short text with artists who were to interpret the short text or poem.
I was paired with Jacky Hosford, a New Westminster resident originally from the U.K. Through layers and frames she painted her interpretation of what I wrote below. I like the way she’s put the frames into the painting to hint at it being a window into the past, and into the future.
I had a really good time at LitFest this year. I was on the planning committee so after all those meetings since September, it was good to see what transpired in real time when the weekend finally arrived.
With the kick off at the library via the PopThis!Podcast paired with J.J. Lee through to the Read Aloud event, I felt perhaps for the first time in the five years since I’ve lived back here, the real strength of community that flourishes in New West and that gets talked about on social media by local residents.
New West residents do a good job of branding themselves, I’ll give them that, thanks to small local businesses with great social media such as Steel and Oak, 100 Braid Street studios, Banana Lab, Tenth to the Fraser and others. And I think City Council and many other residents have a really progressive approach to things.
There is a lot going on here when it comes to words and writing and the people involved. I especially loved the In Your Words event that is put together by Alan Girling and takes place at New Westminster Public Library on a monthly basis.
It’s really great to hear others share their favourite authors and poets, highlighting some of those authors’ books and then giving their perspective by reading the authors’ words and sharing some background about the writers’ lives. The Lit Fest version shared Evelyn Lau, Patrick Lane, Thomas Hardy and a travel writer, Jan Morris. I’d never head of Jan Morris so right after the event was over, I went upstairs and checked out one of her books. It’s called Contact: A Book of Encounters about the people who she’s had the pleasure of connecting with during travels.
And I dropped by the New West Writer’s Group Critique session which was interesting as people shared their feedback on some writing pieces. The Read Aloud Event was great with fantastic readings by Aislinn Hunter, Nasreen Pejvack, Catherine Owen and Carleigh Baker. And it was interesting to hear the winners of the Short Fiction contest that got sponsored by local lawyer Dale Darychuk, Q.C.
Here’s what I wrote:
Walking with Ghosts and Angels
When you return to the small city where you were born, you can’t help but walk with ghosts and angels.
As the radius of your routes expand, you carry in memory everyone who has ever accompanied you.
Landmarked meeting places.
Dad. There. Plaid shirt and black lunch kit full of tuna fish sandwiches made dutifully by mom.
That vacant lot you weren’t supposed to set foot in as a kid and that old woman, Snookie, [was she lonely?] who lived above that garage across the street.
Backyard forts. Baseball diamonds. Lacrosse boxes. Willow trees.
First crush on lifeguard at Kiwanis pool.
Even strangers. Their faces stick.
You carry their hearts on your sleeve as if you’re leading an invisible parade.
Over there. Your grandparents’ backyard and their cement birdbath.
A purple plum tree, its marbled gifts dropped in late summer.
The cobwebbed wooden shed where your Grass is Greener Syndrome first arose as if Grass is Greener might actually be a place that you’d find if only you were better at reading maps.
Now, walking through the cemetery on the hill, you’ve left this era behind, retreated — perhaps to the 1950s — ignoring what the world has become.
Convincing yourself species aren’t disappearing and you’re not afraid of what’s coming down the pipe: oil, the Big One, and even a lack of imagination.
Not the most uplifting ending but written quickly and in line with how I’ve been feeling, about how many people the world over surely have been feeling given the state of international affairs at this point in time.