Posted in Diary, Prince Edward Island, The Writing Life

At the Pen & Inkling Festival

The idea comes from Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: a poetry stall where people request a poem, and poets write the poem then give it away. It’s about not letting your writing get too precious and cooped up. During the Pen & Inkling Festival last weekend, we had a “zen writing” table, where poets wrote a poem for a $1 or $2 donation to the PEI Writers’ Guild. During my stint, I engaged a young man in conversation and discovered he worked for the Sierra Club, something to do with October 24th, a day to raise awareness about climate change. When he said something about 350 parts per million, he lost me. “I couldn’t write a poem about that,” I said. But a moment later, I joked, “If you pay the $2, I could.” So he did. The topic: How I Feel About Climate Change. I wrote a poem, not a great one. (I usually do from 3 – 30 drafts on a poem before leaving it to face the world.) When I tried to give it to him later, he looked at me with gentle eyes and asked if I could give the poem to a stranger on the street. And I did. I have no idea what the young woman walking slowly along Victoria Row thought of me as I gave her the poem and explained why I was giving it to her, but may it do some good in the world, of what nature, who can tell?


alchemist, writer, artist, creativity mentor, seeker of beauty and joy

3 thoughts on “At the Pen & Inkling Festival

  1. What a wonderful way of looking at it – that the experience might speak to your creativity. And that’s an uplifting thought for all those disquieting moments when we give something away of ourselves uncertain how it may be received.

  2. I love the fact that you had the courage and creativity to do this. A poem on climate change in a few moments is quite an ask – and somehow the ending to the story seems very fitting. I very much hope the young woman did benefit – it will certainly have given her something to remember and to contemplate.

    1. Thanks, litlove. I have been thinking about the experience of publishing a poem versus the experience of giving a poem away to a stranger. I know that when I had my first poems published in Canadian literary journals, I was excited when the journal arrived, but I had no idea who else was reading my newly published poems or what they thought of them. In a way it was similar–sending something out into the unknown. Getting no response. Trusting the universe somehow. It was interesting walking down the street yesterday trying to decide who to give the poem to! Definitely NOT my usual way of doing things as a poet–so it was a good experience to jar me out of my comfort zone a bit. Who knows what changes it will stimulate in me, as a writer?

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