Yesterday morning, rising at my usual hour, I sat down at the computer to read and write a bit before sunlight showed. I didn’t expect to find out that I won Now Magazine’s Best of Toronto Award for Best Poet, but I guess that is the beauty of irony. Years ago, I would have looked at that list of winners with the wistfulness of a mountain climber, wanting acclaim for the wrong reasons and with no real sense of how to desrve it. I had passion by the bucketload, but little discipline; I overwrote, repeated ideas, and sent my poems to every literary magazine without really understanding what they were looking for; in short, I was a young, unbelievably passionate writer, making all the same mistakes of every other young writer. I felt like I had a fire in my chest, but I didn’t stand out.
Then, in Fall of 2005, I was lucky enough to fall into a community of poetry minded souls and that’s where my adventure really started. I needed them, their laughter, their critiques, their competive edge. I wasn’t sure of my place, but was enlivened by their energy. I got frustrated, having to shape my work to certain formats, but it helped me discover restraint. I needed to discover that life attracts life; my writing came alive when I was working for myself, but alongside others. Light arrives in unexpected moments, in the hours before dawn, during lunch hours, and later at night when sleep escapes. I didn’t know I would stay up until 3am to find a closing sentence for Beethoven Walks. I never imagined travelling to North Carolina or (Singapore!) to meet poets from around the world, throwing their passion into the air like beautiful thunderbolts. Years ago, I never would have imagine that a city would appreciate my poetry, but I hoped for it (full disclosure). Thousands of unglamorous, infinitely satisfying hours brought me here, and I am comforted not by the notion that I stand out, but that I have a community of like minded and equally talened souls that blankets me.
Toronto, every place, is filled with artists. You are likely one, even if you have yet to put pen to page. I teach that in my class every day. I write this for my students, for young writers, for my younger self, as a reminder that the award is a lovely symbol, but only that; hard work shaped me into the person I wanted to become.
Thank you so much for making my passion a shared experience. I am grateful for everything.
- Werner Herzog on Form
- Life 2.0, NOW Magazine 2015, Molly Peacock