Elegant #Metaphors #Harbourfront

Sunday started as an overcast morning after night of rain. By the time the final session of the workshops tarted the sun had come out & most of the writers were eager for more & at the same sadden that this was the last day of the intensively focused opportunity. Ellen Bass asked how many were tired, how many were wired – a lot of hands went up.


The day focused on ‘metaphor.’ Her talk explained how metaphor can jar the reader into empathy, into a sense of understanding even if they don’t agree with the poet. A reader gets it or they don’t but will never get it if it isn’t offered. The use of metaphor shows how the writer’s mind works – the nature of associations & allusions to illuminate without directly saying ‘this is what I mean.’ The best can create a conflict of tactile & emotional response ‘like finding a slime soaked $100 bill on the ground.’

Our lunch homework to write a piece full of metaphor – to not be afraid of going too far-out. I went back to the hotel to finish packing and to write my piece, I’d already started it during her talk so it flowed pretty quickly. She didn’t give us any constrictions, a word list etc but I stuck to the one I impose – one side of one page. I dragged my suitcase, like a reluctant stubborn St. Bernard, over the cobbles stones to the Artport. Then I grabbed a pizza slice & sat in the lakeside sun to eat.


The faclitators switched groups so we had James Dewar & Sue Reynolds for our session. The presented pieces covered some of the same territory as Saturday: aging parents, memory loss, parenting. The writing was looser, a bit more humour surfaced as well. My piece was one of the last so by then people had been pretty much tapped out or perhaps mine was just too distance for them – the ones on parents, children got ten minutes or more in feed back – I got maybe 2. I’m not emotionally complex enough I guess.


A sampling of lines: ‘I imagined darning by firelight would be romantic,’ ‘we are … the sound of television in the next room,’ ‘green green green to the ground,’ ‘an invisible slingshot,’ ‘my mothers ticks died with her,’ ‘we learned how to read the closed door,’ ‘lean in the ‘f’ lie I was about to say fuck,’ ‘do you? do you?’ ‘you lit up like a magnesium flare,’ ‘you knew I wanted to know how many guys you fucked,’ ‘I’ll be your father,’ ‘eyes as big as buoys,’ ‘I can’t put the genii back into the bottle,’ ‘like a child lost is a department store,’ ‘a foot soldier dodging the mines of memory,’ ‘she made a roast beef sandwich for a hobo after the war,’ ‘I always though it was the fear of being heard that stopped me,’ ‘all the judges will burn,’ ‘all torso like her twisted psyche,’ ‘the signs & symptoms of being a bad parent,’ ‘arguments as convincing as the one lone blue tory sign on my block,’ ‘too close to be seen like our faults,’ ‘trying to spell out something I needed to see,’ ‘who lived where she visits,’ ‘my mother turns to her other kingdom,’ ‘it must be her weekend with the kid,’ ‘the boat of fries playing dead.’


There was a final hour q&a with Ellen. People wanting to know the ‘best’ book to read help their writing; wanting to know her writing habits. Some of the information was practical. I did make notes over the two days of some of the writers she mentioned the most frequently. I may look for their books of essays but I know the search for the right book is an avoidance of writing.

Farewells were made, to one another & the organizers. It was rewarding to be working with writers who were actually actively engaged in writing. Plus I was grateful for a lift home by one of my fellow writers.


here’s the 30 minute piece I presented on day two

Bone Hollow

the status update

to bait an opportunity

like those hot jeans

that always got me laid

even when all I wanted was a cup of coffee


the on line dinner’s ready

waiting at the Admiral

ready to be boned

profile poised in the best light

to look interested

not pig sex desperate

the click counter alert

never hitting the expresso lane

of on my way over & out


the status update

changed from the hot pants

to the extra shot jock

the package back lit with potential

it says

I’m not a lurker on the threshold

I’ll take you past that to experience

I last a waiting hour

not being a dedicated palaeontologist

digging for longing-to-be-buried bone

I’m merely exhausted not extinct

no grave dust on this shelf selfie


I am not hollow

just willing to be boned deboned

this hollow man

now a full stop

the status update deleted

departing unboned


satisfied with the opportunity

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



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