Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Hoarding With Caution

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Hoarding With Caution

Sometimes writers are hoarders.

We hold onto that little red shell we found at some beach somewhere.
We find a purpose for a pencil without lead in it.
We keep the scraps of paper with one or two illegible lines written on them.
We keep an empty coffee tin on our desk in the hopes that we'll fill it one day.

It's important. To keep. Crap.

I started to clean my room the other day (spring cleaning is fashionably late when you're a writer- procrastinating is one of our greatest talents).

I found a crystal paperweight with a bull sculpture suspended in it.
I rediscovered my neatly written notes (and the doodles that accompanied them) from a university lecture on the Canterbury Tales.
I re-read a brilliant attempt at a Spenserian sonnet.
I found a math test I actually passed, with a turtle sticker on top of it. The turtle was holding up a sign that read "Good Job!"
I found a set of metallic pencil crayons I haven't used since high school.

And a tiny drawer full of gems and buttons.

When I was a child, I used to rummage through my mother's jewelry collection, find the brightest and shiniest gems, and then proceed to rip them off her rings, earrings and necklaces. I wanted to capture them & keep them in all their perfect glory. I still have a cookie tin filled with broken necklaces, loose pearls, charms and rhinestones.

I haven't really changed. I still grab at gems, but they're not the kind I can find in my Mom's jewelry drawer.

Attempting to write a poem is an attempt at grabbing something shiny- you see it in front of you and want to bring it into your hands, to hold it and touch it so you can re-create it. But sometimes it's out of your reach. Sometimes the poem becomes the attempt itself.

Hoard with caution. You could end up buried under a pile of stuff with no room to write. But if you keep just the right amount of junk, you might find a gem.

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.

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Sheniz Janmohamed

Sheniz Janmohamed is a spoken word artist, author and graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Guelph. Her first book, Bleeding Light (TSAR) a collection of sufi-inspired English ghazals, was published in 2010.

Go to Sheniz Janmohamed’s Author Page