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

Unexpected feedback

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Today it has been dull, it rained, the wind has blown in gusts, and the sun has shone and is shining still. I didn’t really know if the installation was a good idea or not, especially since the papers won’t last if they get wet. But I went out anyway when the rain broke and the sun came out and it was invigorating.

And this moment signifies the turning point, from creative idea to purpose. Because as I continued to walk and hang up little slips of paper with little bits of poetry on them, suddenly these boys rode up to me.

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They seemed friendly enough, so I said;

Hi, I’m just hanging up some poetry.

Oh yes, we know, they said, we’ve found about five of them already.

Oh, I said. I’ve hung about 20 of them around here.

Well then we are going to go find some more, said the older one, no more than 10 or 12.

I was flabbergasted and amazed as I imagined these young boys finding (and reading!!!) poetry at their age! What do I know, but I certainly didn’t think they’d be interested. I was completely enthralled by them, but didn’t want to get all sugary and scare them so I asked if I could take their photo and they agreed.

On I went, heading home, a couple more poems in my hands. By the time I reached the end of the road, suddenly they were beside me again on their bikes. I jumped.

Sorry, he said, I didn’t mean to scare you.

That’s OK, I said.

And then he said;

Thanks for the wonderful adventure!

WOW!!!! And I may have sounded a just a tiny bit gushy when I said (with what I imagine was a huge Cheshire cat smile on my face);

It was really nice to meet you guys today, and you really made my day, and thank you for looking for my poems.

Truth is I felt like crying, like singing, and I think I may have floated back up the road to the house with his words playing over and over again in my mind. Wow, finding my poetry was an adventure.!?! I never would have thought that. Thank you, boys, thank you so so much! What kind of parents raise these kind of boys? What a joy! What a refreshing connection!

Here are some photos of some of the other poems still out there…but you’ll have to hurry if you’d like to have an adventure too, because the wind is picking up again.

This poet’s heart feels particularly fond of boys today.

On purpose,

Lesley-Anne

NaPoMo 2019

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It’s a perfect spring day here in Kelowna, B.C. and it put me in the mood for an installation. I headed out with a giddy feeling in my stomach, and with my supplies…poems, bull clips, a couple of promo postcards, my camera. I chose a S.E. Kelowna location for PUP today, just down the road from where we live now.

As I was walking through the stillness of the forest, I became suddenly aware that I was alone in a somewhat wild place, and I admit I began listening more intently for wild things. I recalled that it was in April 2012 that I began my Pop-Up Poetry initiative which has taken me to scatter poems and bits of poems wherever I travel, and many times at home .  Sometimes I forget about PUP, and then it comes back to mind, or someone will mention it to me, and then I’ll follow the prompt and do it again. It is just one more way for me to share my poetry with the world, and in April that means in celebration of National Poetry Month (NaPoMo).

Hope you find one from today’s install! If you do, feel free to take it home.

Next week PUP will be in Quebec! I’ll share pictures!

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Mod Pop

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Modernism Week in Palm Springs, and I just had to indulge in a little poetry pop-up poolside before we headed home to snow, not spring, and not palm trees. The poems, freed from the confines of my carry on bag, fluttered in the warm desert breeze. I wonder who will find them this time? Maybe the hip chick from LA, one door down. Maybe the guy in the fedora and big sunglasses? Maybe Kathy or Gary as they move seamlessly around their generously restored Mid Century gem making their guests feel at home.

The Monkey Tree Hotel really is the perfect place for a little splash of poetry.

And a chilled beverage by the pool. Martini anyone?

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