PENINSULA ZOOMERS: A tale of poetry and poverty

Columnist April Lewis says creativity isn't making her rich, but the joy it brings is priceless.

They say the average Canadian university student will graduate $45,000 in debt.

Wanting to ward off this dubious outcome for my daughters, I try to help them as much as I can. Sometimes, I am able to throw money their way for tuition, and other times, I get more creative.

Getting a scholarship is almost impossible, while procuring a bursary or grant is almost as difficult. It’s like winning the lottery.

“It’s time to get creative,” I suggested to my offspring, “and I would be happy to use my writing talent to help you. I’ll co-author your applications and the money will flow into your empty bank account.”

The first submission was to a bank which advertises You’re Richer Than You Think.

My daughter wrote a very convincing submission, outlining why she is worthy of their generous gift. I just helped a wee bit with her proposal, by adding the bank’s tag line, and a cheque was in the mail before we could say “Student debt, what student debt?”

Our subsequent submissions were unlucky. Desperate, I saw one opportunity with the B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society and thought it was worth a try. Here is a sampling of my ghost-writing application in her name.

Mama, Don’t Let Your ‘Daughters’ Grow Up to Be ‘Cowgirls’…

With apologies to Waylon, I’m not sure Mama’s right

I’ve pondered on my future every day and each night.

Now I know an education is every young girl’s dream

But I wonder if the classroom isn’t just a bit extreme.

My heroes have been cowboys just like Willie said

Should I put down my schoolbooks and learn from them instead?

But before I set off to the Williams Lake Stampede

I must hit the books and do all that I need

To complete my education and get my degree

But I’ll always be a cowgirl…born and raised in B.C.!

She didn’t get a penny and rightly so, as I had written this poem. I believe they call that cheating.

But I can’t help myself, I love writing poetry. Here is a sample of a contest I entered at my friend’s insistence. We were given 10 random words 24 hours before the submission was due, and we had to include them.

I have included five of them here. My inspiration came from standing beside a green garbage bin at a local park.

Here is a snippet:

I never think of green as a product of petroleum

A plastic container for the detritus of so many strangers’ lives

A receptacle for human debris

Probably for that which is no longer needed.

Green is the colour of new as in spring

Green is the colour of old as in discard.

Green is the many colours of my transformation.

It starts with a haiku.

In the forlorn forest

I hear a wolf

A leaf falls.

I am now the wolf with my many iterations and versions of myself.

My putative metamorphosis began after the last menstrual cramp made its final exit.

Needless to say, I didn’t win. Lorna Crozier, I am not. Better stick to my day job… Oh, I don’t have one of those either.

So I’m happy just to write birthday poems for my friends. They won’t make me or my daughters rich, but they fill us all with joy. And that’s priceless.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.


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