Last fall not long after I started my concerted push to have poetry published (check out 13/3/2018 blogpost on the Jo Bell method of tracking submissions), I sent a handful of cancer-related poetry answering a call for cancer poems organized/edited/published by who-knows-who (at the time). Did I have cancer poems! Writing had been part of my healing journey after my mother succumb 7 months earlier. And my brilliant good fortune was to have a poem accepted (yay), but also to hear back from one of the co-editors - the wonderful and insightful Priscila Uppal (who I found out was splitting duties with Meaghan Strimas). The contact with Priscila was (almost) the most exciting part. I'd known her for many years in that loose poetry community in the GTA - first giving her a ride back to the GO train after her WCDR guest-speaker gig on a sunny Saturday morning; then corralling her as lead poet for several Pickering Library Poetry Month readings; lastly, booking her to teach workshops at the Ontario Writers' Conference (over the years), a much-loved annual event for writers of all kinds. I don't (unfortunately) know Meaghan yet, but hope to remedy that fact at the anthology's launch event on November 8th.
As many of you know, the poetry/writing community in Canada lost the amazing powerhouse that was Priscila to cancer in September. Before that time, she, in her generosity not only reached out via email to accept one of the most meaningful poems I wrote about my mother's cancer death, but she also advised that I lose the last two lines! And she was right in her observations. The work was stronger. I was merely telling. To pretty bows are necessary to wrap up a strong cancer poem.
I look forward to attending the launch of the anthology as well as the launch of Priscila's last poetry book, On Second Thought. I will probably cry. But the work of powerful Canadian poets (in this anthology by Mansfield Press) with whom I'm so honoured to be included will stand as a stalwart testament to the voice and courage of Priscila Uppal.
Celebrating the Life and Work of Priscila Uppal
Thursday, November 8th 7-9pm
Center for Social Innovation (Annex), 720 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON
Open to the Public