Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The first time I got paid for my writing

I have submitted my writing for publication in very random flurries of stamps and envelopes since my early 20’s and this is likely the reason I only got published twice in that decade.

As with many creative types I had a complex and convoluted relationship with getting my writing published which involved thinking it was not good enough, being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of writing to select my submissions from, choosing the right handful of publications (sometimes on a whim, sorry publishers) to submit to, and then sleeping in too late to mail anything off today or not having money for stamps. After my daughter, Morgan, was born the convoluted relationship had diapers, nap times and tantrums added to the roadblocks for why I couldn’t submit for publication today.
But one of my fitful flurries involved submitting a poem to the Descant-Winston Collins prize for Canada’s Best Poem in 2007 and hearing back in the frozen, white heart of the following January.

I was 35 years old and Morgan was two. I was doing translation from home for APTN news as a very unpredictably part-time gig. Morgan’s dad was working long hours getting a fledgling woodworking business off the ground. And we were living a relatively decent life in Montreal.

I got giddy pleasure from being told I had been short listed and left it at that. Even though I was invited to Toronto to watch the winners win I graciously declined and went back to cleaning up toys and reading picture books aloud.  

But the email exchange went on for several days;

“Are you sure you can’t come?”

“No. Have you done a six hour drive with a toddler?”

“We would really like it if you came. You’re actually on the short, short list”

“I suppose if I could afford to ride the train, I would go but I can’t afford the train.”

“Please come. We really, really want you to come. We will pay for the train fare.”

“Oh well, in that case…ok.”

By this time I got the hint that I might actually get to be on the podium, one of the lower steps, where the bronze winner stands or something. Or maybe beside the bronze winner, where I could smile graciously and get my picture taken with the winners.

So I took the train, arriving in Toronto with Morgan in tow, making the whole process of getting to the event at all an epic task that involved snowsuits and diaper bags and strollers, the wheels of which love to gather snow and ice, and snacks and mittens and and and. 

The event was quietly posh. Everyone in eveningwear and lightly holding the stems of their wine glasses as they nibbled the cheese on crackers. I tumble in, rosey-cheeked and breathless with a baby on my hip, the lady from Montreal they had to beg (in fact pay) to show up.

I won honourable mention and was asked to read my poem. I was there solo so I plopped Morgan on the floor in front of the little stage with its solitary mic and kept my eye fixed on her as I read, just to be sure she wouldn’t wonder off. In hind sight, if she had wandered or better yet start to cry, what would I have done? Finish the poem in a rush and dive off stage to retrieve her? Let her crawl under the snack table as I gracefully wrap up the poem? Blurt out “sorry” mid word, dive for the baby and then finish the poem with her again on my hip? I’m not sure. Each option seems very me.

They presented me with a cheque for $250, some flowers and a bottle of champagne. There was also a certificate, which I had forgotten about entirely. I forgot because the only part of the prize that mattered to me was the cheque. Not because I was broke (although it did come in handy that month) and not because I’m greedy. It mattered because it was the first time I got paid for my writing. This prize money symbolized to me that, because I had exchanged my writing for money, I could now legitimately call myself a professional writer.

Two other times since were similar milestones; my first paid published article and when I published my book of poetry. But those are stories for another time.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015


In the summer of 1985 I travelled with my father through parts of Ontario with the, then very new, Cirque du Soleil show. As he was a performer, I was mostly left to my own devices during the shows and I would visit the concession stand people, the cantine, the performers between acts and play with the other children of performers.
I had seen the show a hundred times and knew the music backwards and forwards. When the music would cue that my father was about to perform his back flip on three foot stilts I would drop everything and race into the tent. I would watch him perform his flip every single show. Usually he made it on the first try and sometimes he would stumble and attempt it a second time.
My heart was in my throat once a day and twice on weekends that whole summer as I stood in the dark behind the audience willing him not to get hurt. His stilts would hit the stage with a loud thud, he would expand his arms with a rakish grin and the crowd would erupt with applause. Muffled by the clapping I would breath my sigh of relief, duck out through the tent flap door and go back to my playing.
For me, that is cirque and it always will be.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Official book launch - It's away!

Kreddible Trout and Celia Ste Croix are at last ready to officially launch their book! Saudade is an exploration, through poetry and photography, of the layered and nuanced feelings of love and longing.

A collaboration across provinces, time zones and conflicting schedules can be quite a challenge and this launch is happening later than they had wished. Despite the challenges they plugged on, undeterred, as art and creativity have always been more important to these two than calendars and alarm clocks.

It’s not the first time they have worked together, creatively. In the almost 20 years the two have been friends they have collaborated in the sphere of theatre, poetry and even came close to opening an arts centre together. They are some of each other’s biggest fans, although they would probably argue over who was more talented, always deferring to the other as the more skilled artist.

Please join them in celebrating three firsts: Celia’s first book of poetry, KT’s first book of photography and their first printed collaboration.

There are three formats of the book for people to choose from, each with its own unique appeal. Please visit the book’s page http://blur.by/1y1ueqq on Blurb to virtually leaf through a selection of pages and purchase the format that pleases you most.

At this time, Celia has copies available through her blog site here which can be signed by the poet. For now, if you want a signed copy by Kreddible Trout you will have to catch him in person in Toronto, between bike commutes, walking his wee dog and auditions.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saudade: a Portuguese word describing deep longing for a person or thing gone or unattainable

There is a place in me,
a pocket big enough for a mouse,
a soft and safe place
that time and law do not touch.
I will meet you there.
We will have to leave a lot behind
to shrink down enough to fit.
We will leave behind
      everything sharp
      everything broken
      everything stolen
We will only carry with us
      the softness of seed fluff
      the roundness of ripe fruit
      the smoothness of river stones.
And in that pocket we will be so naked
not even our skin will separate us.
We will sleep and dream peacefully
Until the world and we ourselves are calm.

Another excerpt from the book Saudade, by Celia Ste Croix and Kreddible Trout
All rights to the above poem and image reserved.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

A teaser from Saudade

Love is like honey
It is made to nourish
It cannot be owned or bartered
It just is
And it exists to bring fullness to life

It is rich
And thick
And clings to everything it touches

It is meant to stay
It is meant to become part of everything it comes in contact with

Love is the glue
The food
And the decadent treat
That this life offers

If there is a heaven
It smells, tastes, and feels
Like honey

The first poem and image in the book Saudade, a collection of poetry and photos by Celia Ste Croix and Kreddible Trout, available very, very soon.
All rights to the above image and poem reserved.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The book is almost here!

I meant to be keeping regular updates on this project but it just didn't happen. I could go into details but that would just be a bunch of excuses so let's just start here at this exciting juncture.
This is the cover of the upcoming book of poetry and photographs called "Saudade." It is a collaboration between me and my long time friend Kreddible Trout AKA William Foley. He is a very talented photographer, as well as an actor, writer and general artist of heart and soul. KT graciously accepted to come in on this project despite the challenges of living in different cities, having busy lives and my stubborn request that he masterfully match his evocative images to my already written poems.
The title is a Portuguese word which has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep longing for someone or something which is either gone or unattainable. The word fits with the general theme of the book which explores feelings of love and longing.
KT and I are waiting on the proof copy to arrive to ensure we have no glaring edits to revise but once that is approved the book will be available for sale. I will update here as things progress. Barring any major roadblocks, I expect the book to be available for purchase by late March. In a future post I will talk more about the ways it can be acquired as well as note any developments such as a facebook page for the book etc.
When looking through the finished product I find the collection has a kind of dream-like feel to it, like slipping in and out of sleep in the hours before dawn, never sure if the thoughts and images are real or imagined.
It is the first published collection for both KT and me. As with all new adventures, I am both nervous and excited.
To see more of KT's inspiring images, check out his website http://www.kreddibletrout.com/
You can also like him on facebook.