Essay Non-Fiction posted April 16, 2011

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Contest entry

Poetic Peace

by Spiritual Echo

The Poetry Invasion Contest Winner 
On at least two other occasions in my life, I have been in a situation where opposing and equally passionate participants have shared the same space.

The first time was well over thirty years ago and took place in Muskoka, a tourist destination in Northern Ontario.

I owned a property called Nor' Loch Lodge. During the summer, the resort teemed with families who shared the communal facilities. There were no conflicts, as those who preferred canoeing simply traced the shoreline until they came to the mouth of the Oxtongue River. They'd slip behind the reeds and calmly paddle by the nesting loons to the waterfall, accessible only by small watercraft. They left the lake to tubers, water skiers and the highly outfitted bass boats that circled endlessly in front of the lodge.

Over evening campfires, all the guests would share their daytime adventures, oblivious to their separate definition of fun, until it was time to saunter back to their cottages, blissfully ready to sleep off the unaccustomed fresh air.

But the winter business was entirely different. In my first season up north, I naively booked a group of skiers and snowmobilers on the same weekend. They hated each other on sight and huddled at opposite sides of the lounge, occasionally casting disparaging looks towards the other group. The skiers mumbled about the other's polluting arrogance, while the snowmobilers whispered among themselves about the snobs who had monopolized the seats in front of the fireplace.

Years later, back in Toronto, we were members of the Oakville Yacht club. The sailors smacked of class.. Despite the hundreds of thousands that some of the motorized boats might cost, the sailors walked around in their whites and navy blazers while the gas junkies were usually in their cut-offs and tees, exemplifying their casual approach towards boating.

There is purity about skiers, sailors and most notably, poets. Skiers don't damage the trails. Nor do they burn up copious quantities of fossil fuels. Sailors power their vessels with gentle gusts of wind. The solitude of rushing across the water, sails unfurled, with the wake being the only trace of the passage, is as beautiful as any dream.

As I huddle in front of my keyboard in the predawn hours, still wrapped in an old bathrobe, I can't but reflect how the poets on Fan Story are the true aristocrats on this site.

Imagine this line from one of my favourite poets.

"I eased my soul out through my sleeve, shaking it in the mourning breeze, I hung it out to dry."

Now how does a writer compete with something like that?

My love affair with words includes layers of adjectives. I weave my stories with threads of silver, trying to induce the reader to feel the character's heart beat, pulsating as she gazes at a crimson sky or the pit of her despair. For the next two hundred words I will feel compelled to splatter words on my canvas, hoping that I will strike a chord that will allow the reader to feel the depth of my character's sorrow.

Judian James, the poet, wrapped it up in twenty words!

In fact, poets are so far up the food chain that they don't even need to play by the rules. While I struggle, trying to decide on a coma or semi-colon, poets disregard punctuation altogether.

I'm simply not a poet and I have to question why it is that I will go on these lyrical binges, digesting the pearls of wisdom condensed in a few short lines, like a scavenger, sniffing at the ground where once a meal may have existed.

Even more distressing, is that often the poets on site turn out winning entries in short story contests. They seem to have the ability to volley over the genres and expand a stanza into a thousand word essay. Whereas, Haiku, be damned, I've never successfully reduced a thought to seventeen syllables.

In defence of prose, I have been lured into the unfolding stories of three novelists on Fan Story. As I see the review square sneaking up from the bottom of the screen, warning me that the newest chapter is drawing to a close, I become agitated.

The author has successfully lured me into the story, but sadistically holds the next adventure at bay while he goes about his life, completely disassociated with my need to know, 'what happened next?" I recall telling Mastery that he was a cruel and heartless man when his postings stalled. He thought I was kidding, HAH!

Novels and stories ensnare you in a silent, but seductive mesh. Poetry takes but a minute to read. Good poetry takes somewhat longer to digest, but no one would ever refer to a poem as a 'page turner.'

Even in a book of poetry, notwithstanding my appreciation of talent, having read a single poem, I'm in no hurry to turn the page. If it's bad or worse, mediocre, I can sweep it away in a heartbeat. When it's good, thought provoking, I want to savour the message, let the words stay with me, without superimposing other thoughts on a fragile shadow.

The authors and poets co-exist on this site without seemingly any rancour and usually with the deepest mutual respect. But, there is one burning question that will remain for me unanswered.

How is it that a poem will get two hundred hits, while a short story is lucky to get fifty reads?

Part of me thinks the answer may include the investment of time to read a complete story and part of me, wonders if Fan Story is actually demographically weighted by poets?

And, I suppose part of me doesn't care. I want to read and I want to write.

Writing Prompt
Write a story, or a poem, if you really must, about how poets/poetry has taken over Fan Story, your life or the way you think. Entry can be either pro or con, but should strongly defend your chosen writing genre.

The Poetry Invasion
Contest Winner


Poetic quote used with author's permission. The poem is entitle "I Remember" and can be found in Judian James' book "Forms" located in her portfolio.

Special thanks to all poets who blindly and with trust gave me permission to use their poetry.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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