Writing It Down

I’ve been contemplating writing a memoir and wondering what form to do it in, novel, non-fiction, or poetry. Poetry seems a natural choice, given it’s the language I hear in my head so often. But perhaps I’ll do a combination.

I avoided writing for years because I knew the power words have. But whenever I avoid, I am unhappy.

Here’s a poem I wrote in 2007. It’s the second one I had accepted for publication (in The Antigonish Review). I’ve lost my drafts from that time – I didn’t start being obsessive about filing until I realized I was serious about poetry, that I was going to stay the course. So this is the (current) final version. Its title comes from one of my favourite Stevie Smith poems, Not Waving But Drowning.


I remember falling out of boats twice
when I was little: the rush of dark murky water
brown tangled weeds, panic, no panic
someone, you Dad, jumping in to save me.
You’d think I’d be afraid after, but I wasn’t.
My excuse the second time?
Fascination. The fronds calling me.
Even then I knew it was deliberate:
the water was friendly, kind, closing
over my head. You weren’t.



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