The Nature of Change

Change is inevitable. It brings about a sense of loss for what is being left behind, but it also forces us to go forward and create new paths, forge new friendships, and generate new ideas

There have been many changes in my life recently, and as I take a pause from blogging for the summer months, I thought it a good moment to reflect upon the nature of change.

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In her book, The Places that Scare You, Pema Chödrön writes about the nature of change. She says that: “Stillness is followed by movement, movement flows back into stillness”. In other words, everything around us, even ourselves, are in motion, and while we think that the world just is, that it’s been a certain way forever, and will remain so, the fact is that nothing is static. Everything changes.

Perhaps this is no more true than for our world right now. As many places around the world begin to slowly re-open and awaken from the lock down caused by the coronavirus, we are hopeful that the world as we knew it will return. And while we will eventually be able to recover some of the activities and practices we once knew, it won’t be the same. Things have changed. Not necessarily in a good or a bad way. It’ll just be different.

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The idea of change is so pertinent to me right now, not just because of all that the world has experienced recently. Right in the midst of mourning the loss of a close family member, I learned that out of more than 9,000 entries, I won the runner-up spot in the erbacce-press poetry prize. I think I experienced the true meaning of the words: roller coaster. Of course, I couldn’t help but think of Chödrön’s statement: stillness and movement, movement and stillness.

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Change is inevitable. It brings about a sense of loss for what is being left behind, but it also forces us to go forward and create new paths, forge new friendships, and generate new ideas. Change is the reason I’m phasing out of my role as president of the Brooklin Poetry Society, which I’ve had the pleasure of leading for the past three years. (You can check out what I had to say about being president on the BPS website.)

Despite all this change, there are some things that remain for us as writers: the need to write. It is perhaps one of the few things that remains constant.

So whatever it is that you write about, and whatever happens in the world over the summer, I’d suggest dealing with change by following the advice of Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones: just write. We can’t prevent change, but we can start writing.

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Loving what’s local

A behind the scenes look at running a poetry collective

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my work running a local poetry group.

It’s not my actual work — my full-time job is elsewhere and requires other skills. No, running a poetry group is volunteer work that I somehow found myself mysteriously stumbling into a few years back. I was hesitant at first, as I’d never done anything like it before, and I wasn’t really sure I wanted to take on more projects. That actual job of mine keeps me quite occupied.

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But I stepped in and filled some empty shoes.

And when I did, some amazing things started to happen. First, I began dreaming. I dreamed of a website, which, with some support from members of the group, I was able to get up and running. Next, we moved on to publishing a poetry anthology.

BPS anthology cover for website

Third, we started running a poetry contest. And lately, we’ve been expanding our online presence through social media

Before I knew it, I was the point person for this little poetry community of ours. I found myself organizing poetry workshops and library bookcase displays, and speaking at other, local events as the rep for our poetry group.

And along the way, I realized:  I love it.

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Running a poetry collective is creative because it brings people together — people who might not otherwise have met. Like a good online dating site, we bring people together to do something they love: in our case, discuss poetry! In an era where we are all hyper-connected to our cellphones and devices, I somehow find myself behind the scenes of this great bunch of folks who willingly come together to sip a coffee or tea, all the while discussing some great poem they’ve read or even better, they’ve written.

And the amazing thing about it? It’s inspiring. Discussing and sharing ideas with like-minded folks can move us to write new pieces or see things in new ways. At least, that’s my experience with the poetry collective I run.

And lately, these folks in our little poetry group have been sharing the love.

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I’ll chalk it up to February, the month for Valentine’s. Because for the past several weeks, these poets from our collective keep thanking me for all the work I do. Sure, I do a few things like send out reminders and ask for monthly blog posts from members for our website. And yes, I ensure that the coffee shop where we meet is ready to receive us, as well as a few other administrative details.

But being the “boss” of the group? Well, it’s a bit of a labour of love.

So, for this month of February, I wanted to share the love by giving this behind-the-scenes look at running a poetry collective. Spread the love by checking out some great poetry from my lovable, local, poetry family at: https://brooklinpoetrysociety.com

Happy February!