Translator:
Reviewer: Capa Girl [Passion, Purpose and Perspective] [Lara Bozabalian. Writer, Poet, Teacher] Good evening. I can´t say how thrilled and honered I am to be here this evening, and for the afternoon, I was here,
for most of the afternoon listening to the stories shared
by everyone who came up and the many people I spoke to
in the hallways and on the sidelines. It was really important for me before I came up
to speak to you that I had a sense of what was important to you,
and so many of the stories that I’ve heard today were as impressive to me as I hope
my story will be for you. I want to talk to you a little bit
about the last ten years of my life. The years after poetry entered it
and share a couple of my poems with you which are stories on their own.
About ten years ago — just over ten years ago
I was hiking in British Columbia and for no apparent reason
at the time I sat down on a tree stump
and wrote a poem. I’d never done that before,
intentionally and I couldn’t vouch
for the quality of the poem although I still have it
in one of my notebooks, but there was something incredibly magic
about that moment for me and I grew up
as a fairly passionate person. I loved art, I loved a lot of things, but what happened to me in that moment
was that I found my passion, and every day since that day
I have loved poetry with all of my heart. And I wanted to talk to you today
a little bit about the difference beetween being a passionate person,
which certainly is important, and what I’ve learned is
finding your own passion which is something that can leave you
gratefully enchanted. I’m going to star with
a poem called “Music box” and this poem is about
perseverance and momentum and beginings. There is a part
in the “Unbearable Lightness of Being” where Milan Kundera talks about
poetic memory, about how what you love becomes inscribed in you over time, and even though we change and grow
and shed ourselves it remains inside of us, like DNA, like notes in a music box. And when I think about
how time has outlined what my heart has traced
with its fingertips I remember that day when it felt
like the world slowed down and reached out for us, placed us across from each other
like a matching set, like pieces on a chess board. And time is elusive you can not trap it
and mend as we might there is no way to replicate
the discovery of experience. We know each other now,
Kasparov and Karpov sitting in stalemate, neither of us quite willing
to punch the clock. And it makes me think about Beethoven
and les deux notes qui s’aime, the two notes that love each other, and how even when they’re duelling
they wont let the other fall off. There was a time when that constancy was
like oxygen to me, the safest part of the day
and the only hours I wanted to live in. It gave us a pattern to hopscotch,
red, black, red, black. We could move anywhere
and it thrilled me, the endless combinations. But lately I find myself loitering around
the back alley of the chessboard, or peering over the side,
toes curled, tilted towards a next. I can’t quite fathom, or castling myself
into corners in order to contemplate which pieces of myself
I will have to sacrifice in order to start over;
your silhouette from my reflection, my breath from your thought. The cost of check,
the loss of mate. And if we are going to do this,
I want it to be together, like everything else we have done.
And I remember everything: every time you didn´t push,
but leaned, how you taught me
to waltz through parameters; red, black, red, back,
diagonal, forward, black. But we will not move backward,
even to Beethoven, and we cannot move forward
except in waltz. So we find ourselves here,
in the absence of movement, there is nowhere left to turn to
and already I feel the shedding of ourselves; red, black, red, black, pieces are falling
all around us and we are scared, We are already lonely, although we are still here together
on the chessboard arm in arm. But this is not about loss, I see that now as I peer over
the edge of the chessboard, trace the woven articulation
of our time together, a needle and thread-like chiaroscuro
that draws back the curtains of our hearts. And that is the point, isn’t it? To be able to move through the world
even in suffering, to be opened up? So walk. Walk with me to the edge
of the chessboard and peer down, consider everything
that might not happen, and then look up. See me looking back at you with my eyes
and my heart and with everything that remembers and listen to them
say we will not let go, even as I take my hand from your arm. And in that last second before
we leap towards everything that is foreign to the both of us, I want you to listen for
the cadence that surfaces, everytime we shed ourselves, that rises like the notes in a music box. Thank you. (Applause) Thank you. I think it’s important to tell you that when I started performing poetry I was incredible awkward and bad at it. And it took me probably
not untill today to get better, but it did take me
a good couple of years. And luckily my love for poetry
and my need for articulation and release,
made me blind probably to how bad I was
and that was quite a gift and that is part of what I want
to talk to you about in the sense of finding
what your passion is. It’s not that helpful to be passionate about your best friend’s passion,
you can love your best friend, but I think if you are able to find out
what it is that you can not live without that can make you a little bit blind
to rejection or the many moments in which you are
not the best person at the room, because you’re too busy learning
how to be better. That can be one of the most powerful gifts
you can give yourself, and I’m speaking from experience, truly. I’m going to speak one more poem,
before I go, this is called “Alarm Clocks.” And this poem speaks a little bit
about all the different places, and all the different things
that I have travelled to and seen, and people I’ve spoken to,
and how meaningful they have all been to me, and how at the end of the day, happily your passion remains with you, and it’s something you take with you
everywhere you go. It feeds you constantly,
even when you are not paying attention. And this was something —
This is a poem I wrote sort of by accident. It came out, this came out of me
much like that first poem, and I’m gratefully enchanted once again. Different cities are like alarm clocks. They wake me up when I think of them,
over and over, like cold water for my skin. I wanna do something
when I think of Allepo, Nairobi. My arms need movement
when I think of San Paulo every night. At 3 am there is a boqueria
in the Ciutat Vella of Barcelona that makes a small piece
of my shin go astray. I know nobody’s watching. I can’t be bothered to explain
how one of my shoes ended up in the surf at Sitjes.
How my bathing suit, I mean sunglasses,
ended up at the bottom of Maclean Lake. It’s an addiction,
I can show you the markings: long hair, bright eyes,
unshaved legs. I spoke to a doctor about it. She said the only way to outrun a cancer
is to be faster than wind. When my father came home
with a three-month passport, and he came home cured. I know an old man who plays chess
in a hut in Nicaragua. I can take you there.
I can walk you straight to his door. He will play you for a dollar
or a bottle of something. Bring the bottle.
I assure you, he will share. I know a boy who lives in the mountain tops
of British Columbia with a red, beating heart
pinned to his chest. It is mine. I gave it to him, and I hope that
it guards him against the wind. I know a sunrise in Oahu
that burns brighter than liquid, and causes people to rise from their beds
in order to climb up and breathe in. You have to travel upwards to get there. You have to believe in the best
of what is open to you. Like that motel
in the backwood of Wyoming where the cockroaches
are larger that pancakes and the people inside live
like there’s no such thing as sin. I know an old man from Northern Ontario who can sit still for hours, tend gardens; sun, rain, wind, moons,
all defer to him. He holds his hands careful and cupped in case anyone needs to climb in. I have a great aunt
who grew up County Mayo, Ireland in a stone house,
but has never touched a wall in her lifetime. The paper of her heart is printed
with the words “generosity”, “generosity”, “generosity” a newsroom full of love
instead of hungry war. I have an uncle from Old Montreal, who was married to an opera singer. She is gone now,
and he has mourned her for 50 years. But every night
when her record starts to play there is no one and nothing that can convince him
he’s been anywhere else before. I wear these thoughts,
base stories on my skin scratch them until they are
like fireworks going off, until my limbs are a living breathing places of everywhere I’ve gone
and everything I have been, I am full to bursting, believe me. But there is a place
in the back of my heart that has been waiting for you,
that has been reserved. I thank you for coming back to fill it in. Thank you very much. (Applause)