What appreciation I did develop as an adult, I can attribute to my life long friend, who lived and breathed books, especially literature, romantic poetry and prose. While I was out dancing and carrying on as a wild teenager, growing up in Nova Scotia, my friend was busy holed up at home, reading.
My childhood friend somehow managed to turn me on to Keats, Shakespeare, Yeats and Dylan Thomas and the like. I am very grateful for this, because it could have been a very different scenario had I not grown up in a family that loved to learn.
My friend and I had both been students in grade nine together, with an English teacher from Hell, and I use the word teacher, very loosely. She announced to her young charges on the first day of class, that she, was supposed to teach grammar, and with a long pause, English literature. This information was followed up immediately by her statement, "I hate literature!" Nothing more, nothing less, no further explanation or reason. She'd made it very clear and I could hardly believe my ears.
However, in spite of, or perhaps because of, I think this may of instilled in me an unconscious refusal of sorts to not hate literature. She was not going to dictate to me what I was or wasn't going to like! I knew literature was more interesting to me at this point, rather than grammar, which she tried to hammer and punish into our pitiful pubescent heads! At one point half way through the year, she had locked all of our books up in the cupboard at the back of the room, with thick chains hanging from the cupboard door handles, because most of the class had failed our grammar. Oh how inspiring English class was as a teenager!
As a young girl, having the desire to express myself through writing and loving words, which developed into a thirst for knowledge, and a love of learning, certainly all came together for me, and was highlighted in a wonderful English class with Emeritus Professor Michael Thorpe, when I returned to University at Mount Allison in Sackville New Brunswick, to complete my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree at 56 from 2009 - 2012.
I had the privilege to be a student of Professor Thorpe's Romantic Poetry class. Right from England he was, and next thing I knew, I was feet first studying and writing papers about Blake, Wilfred Owen, T.S. Elliot, Keats, and the whole romantic poetry soup! I passed the course, but oh, it was a real struggle, and one of the very best of my life long learning experiences! Professor Thorpe is a magnificent teacher who loves poetry, and English literature, and I am so grateful, and humbled to have been his student.
At an early age I had the desire to express myself through cursive writing and loving words, which continued to grow into a thirst for knowledge, and a love of learning certainly was reinforced by Professor Michael Thorpe's class.
Simultaneously I enrolled in a Linguistics class. To say Linguistics for me was a challenge, would be an understatement.
When I informed Professor Thorpe I was enrolled in a Linguistics class, he rolled his eyes and empathetically, said me when he was teaching abroad, Linguistics was a prerequisite for students obtaining their English degree. When arriving at his English class, after coming from Linguistics class, his students expressed such a frustration, and he said they had become quite jaded.
I told my Linguistics Professor that it took a certain type of brain to study this stuff, and well, I didn't have that brain! Regardless, it was a great thing to learn about Noam Chomsky, and about the many aspects of Linguistics, but to hell with the cursed linguistic alphabet! I know I'm jaded!
My mother loved to read and was always a word smith of sorts, in that she loved words, spending endless hours doing daily crosswords, emphatically correcting my grammar and telling me to," look it up in the dictionary!" She'd often express her frustration with those especially in the media, that she would frequently make a point to mention, when they had from time to time, mispronounced or misused words. This I would say, left an indelible impression on me, as I find I have inherited her similar frustration.
I am grateful she imparted her love of words and language to me, though when I was a teenager I thought it was a curious quirk my mother had, however it gave me a greater appreciation for the English language, enabling me to communicate effectively, and to read and write more critically, discerning truth from fiction. I truly have come to believe language, the written word, is a powerful tool for change.
In my last post, I talked about my late friend Barbara England and how her unpublished paper written back in 1976 was an impetus for political change at NSCAD, during the 70s and 80s. I got thinking about our mutual friend, who was also very instrumental in making change happen at that time at NSCAD, and was involved with of our Woman's Group. I recently reconnected with her through the miracle of the Internet. Her name is Hedwig Gorski. She is a woman I could never forget, as she was a stunning beauty to me, and had an inner strength about her that I never comprehended or knew about until now, having reconnected with her, and finding out just what she has accomplished. Hedwig was older than me by about four years, as was Barbara England. Looking back I was very naive and they both had much to teach me. I have since found out she is wonderful Performance Poet, and I have posted a particular video piece she produced, that I really love and it has particular meaning to me coming to and growing up as a teenager in Nova Scotia.
It's a very gratifying, consoling, and healing thing for me to be able to have found out some information that exists online about our beloved friend Barbara, and I am very happy to have found Hedwig and to know she is very much alive, more amazing, beautiful, and stronger than ever. I hope you enjoy Hedwig Gorski's Performance Poetry, Teenager In Nova Scotia.
"Let me assure you; I am the last one you would expect to be in a position of authority; abused, rejected, poor, a woman, a member of a dozen different minority groups discriminated against in this world, which can be for the corporate greedy and walled bureaucracies a site of stolen might and privilege. I am a minority within a minority within invisible minorities. You would expect me to be an ant. But I am an educated American woman with a voice for the lowly creating an artistic world that floats on top of opposing opinion as well as the status quo cartels that systematically ignore or hate me. No enemies could betray me more than my own embedded insecurities, which are brutal and cruel, an attitude that mirrors an indestructible, aphoristic Slavic heritage. What else is poetry? "