Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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If my introduction (following) to the Chapbook by Canadian poets supporting Doctiors Without Borders tweaks your interest, please contact and order a copy or ten at $10 each. I'm giving this book along with charitable donations as gifts this year.


This courageous curiosity
opens the doorway to eternity

writes Holland’s Hans Plomp in “Psychonaut,” his contribution to this chapbook of poetry examining aspects of courage and honouring the work of Doctors Without Borders.

Rev. Anthony Bailey, a member of the United Church task force on poverty, homelessness and racism, recently wrote that this writer exuded “…mannerly impudence regarding things unacceptable,” and “Eureka!” a proper definition of poetry fell into my hand the way a ripe peach releases its grip on a tree.

“Mannerly impudence” is our mandate as the curious seek and discover the meaning of humanity. That is our calling. Poets are door openers. No one dies because a poem fails, but many
are revitalized by the opportunities for grace that are framed by well chosen words.
That opportunity could be

The rarely glimpsed bright face
behind the apparency of things

in P.K. Page’s poem, “The Filled Pen.” We need reasons to go forward. It is the bright faces that call us we know not where, the momentum of courage being a primary requirement of poetry. Poets must say what needs to be said, praise the light, and dig through the rubble of grief and the failure of love to find words to heal the broken spirit.

Doctors require a different kind of courage, and none more than those who are willing to go beyond the frontier of personal safety to heal the victims of famine, pestilence, and war. Like the Canadian doctor Norman Bethune, who risked his life when he went to China and became a martyr, Doctors Without Borders have formed a safely net of compassion and caring that transcends social, economic and cultural boundaries.

A world with insiders and outsiders is not viable. There is no “beyond the pale” when a child is starving, a young man is mutilated by a land mine, or a widow with children suffers from HIV/AIDS. In a perfect world, no one is invisible as the chapbook editor Amy Ainbinder laments in “So Far,”

We see the children now, light years away
visible only when they have passed

We owe so much to the men and women who live the Hippocratic Oath by making the invisible visible, doctors like Victor, the ophthalmologist son of my friend the Cuban poet and educator Manuel Velasquez Leon, who operated to save the eyesight of the elderly former soldier who had shot his hero Che Guevera in the Bolivian jungle.

As Dennis Lee asserts in “The Man Who Made Hope,”

Esperanza in Spanish
the word for hope
gives name to this green gift

This collection is the poets’ acknowledgement that we are all redeemed by doctors like Victor. May our mannerly impudence remind them that we notice and exalt their dedication and sacrifice, leaving those who are affected, like Liz Zetlin’s honeybees in “Daylilies,”

heavy with moment yet
light enough to carry
off the fine powder
of one more day.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Linda Rogers

Linda Rogers is the author of the novels Say My Name (Ekstasis Editions, 2000), Friday Water (Cormorant Books, 2003) and The Empress Letters (Cormorant Books, 2007). She has also published several collections of poetry, including Love in the Rainforest (Exile Editions, 1996), Heaven Cake (Sono Nis Press, 1997), The Saning (Sono Nis Press, 1999) and The Bursting Test (Guernica Editions, 2002).

Go to Linda Rogers’s Author Page