Being Offensive

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There are standout moments in my life as a community engaged creative being. Most are good. Some are, well, not.

For example, I try to be like water off a duck’s back when it comes to rejection letters from publishers. I thank some publishers because their rejection letters are kind, and personal. Others I skim read and move on. There are so many flavours in rejection letters that can be condensed down to one word: NO! It’s all part of the game of writing and putting yourself out there. You won’t always land favourably.

Being a poetry busker for a few years, I’ve also experienced being called out, and I don’t mean for a standing ovation! Still the positive far outweighs the nay sayers, and though I don’t busk anymore, it was a formational experience for me and I think of those times fondly.

Since 2012, I’ve played in the communities I live in and visit. I say “play” because Pop-Up Poetry installation is that to me (if playing is being brave.) Sometimes I hear back from folk who’ve found a little poem bit and liked it. You’ll find some comments here on this website that speak to what has resonated, what has touched someone’s heart specifically and meaningfully, what has been a bright spark. I feel lucky when that happens. I feel privileged too.

Mostly I follow my heart, and trust I’m doing something for the common good. PUP isn’t a money maker, an ego builder, an advertisement…it’s a gift. A small gift of words on a tiny slip of paper for taking…if you find one, please keep it!

So this might sound altruistic and wonderful, but it’s also complex. Truth is I don’t know what reception I’ll get if any, or who might be offended:

Kindly remove all the pieces of litter and metal from wherever you placed them in Tofino.
It is totally disrespectful to do such a thing.
If I find any more of them you will be reported to bylaws for littering.
We work so hard to keep this place natural and then you come along and put out garbage.
Clean it up please.

When I received this email last night upon returning home, I was initially hurt. Then I was gobsmacked when I found out the author was a local artist! But I do see their perspective. Who am I to presume my art is appealing, or fitting, or nothing more than trash? One human’s treasure…

Back to the play (bravery) part. And the cost. I will bear the cost of these words because that’s who I am, and I will also continue to play.

I just want to be honest and say Pop-Up Poetry is not all happy shiny creative fun. It can be disheartening, and adds to the angst of being me: an artist/poet who is never entirely sure, never brave enough to put myself out there, is sometimes offensive, and does it anyway.

Cue the bylaw officer. Cue the poem I write in response.

Onward,

Lesley-Anne

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