Monday, September 22, 2014

Heather Babcock: Ode to Summer

It's been an unusually chilly summer. Seems like everyone has been previewing their Fall fashions in the past few weeks. But alas, today is officially the last day of summer and to commemorate it Heather Babcock shares some of her enchanting poetry.

"I started writing poetry when I was in my late teens and it was just horrible," she recalls. "It was all just melancholic navel-gazing. I eventually realized that if I really wanted to become a better writer, I needed simply to become a better reader. So I read books by Toni Morrison and Hubert Selby Jr., Helen Potrebenko, Charles Bukowski and George Orwell. Toni Morrison taught me empathy and Hubert Selby Jr. taught me compassion. Empathy and compassion are what makes a writer. I’ve been told that my prose reads like poetry and that my poetry reads like prose. I take that as a compliment."


The laughter between the old friends is slow and easy.
Their hands
-brittle from years of labor-
Swat at greedy wasps hovering
In ecstasy
Over beer bottles
Sweaty under the mid-September sun.
Hot winds carry the summer’s #1 hit song from the bar’s speakers to the pretty girls
In juicy pinks and splashy blues
Strutting past the clothing shop windows
Shaking their hips and rolling their eyes at the mannequins
Dressed in grey tweeds and heavy wool coats
The omen of these elegant soothsayers purposely lost on the old friends and the pretty girls
Who know better than to distinguish between fantasy and

Heather describes her inspiration for her Summer poem: "I took a long walk along Royal York and Bloor early in the summer. There were these two lovely older men sharing a drink and a laugh outside of a pizza parlor and that is what inspired the opening line of my poem. On a gorgeous summer day, I can’t even remember what being cold feels like – there’s the memory of snow and ice but they are so removed from the present that they are really closer to fantasy than memory. Speaking of memory, I have a lot of wonderful memories of this summer, but probably my favorite is of releasing butterflies in the park with my nephew and my mother."

Requiem for Honest Ed's 

Fifteen years from today

A young man stands at the window of his condo unit 

On Bloor and Markham Streets

Sipping his twelve dollar latte,

He looks out at the Stepford skyscrapers

Stretching above him

And he doesn’t know what

We know

He’s lost.

"Honest Ed’s is one of the most inclusive places in the city." Heather shares. "It’s not just a bargain basement – it’s also a free museum of Toronto’s theatrical history. I think that Toronto tends to take itself a little too seriously sometimes and Honest Ed’s is a reminder that it’s okay to be a little silly and to have some fun. I will miss it."

Where Did My Face Go?

Where did my face go?
It was just here two days ago
In the looking glass over my sink
An artificial pink landscape
Populated with a pair of eyes, one nose and one mouth
All arranged in precise order and easily accessible.
But today everything is astray:
Cracks and holes,
Nothing left but two grey half moons
Circling a starless sky.
Where did my face go?
Perhaps I’ll find bits and pieces of it around my house:
My nose in the clothes dryer, rolled up in a forgotten sock;
Eyelashes hidden between my sofa cushions;
A mouth under my bed, stuffed with dust bunnies.
The face itself is gone,
Skipped town,
It was too big to lose.
So where did my face go?
And why didn’t I notice it leaving?

"Where Did My Face Go? is about the danger of not loving yourself," Heather explains. "When you deny your own true beauty, when you try to change yourself to suit someone else’s ideal, you risk losing what makes you unique and special."

Check out Heather's website, Writing to Exhale, for more poetry and photos.

Heather will be reading her poetry at The Central on Wednesday, September 24th and The Urban Gallery on Saturday, September 27th.

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