Poetry Night Turns Into Tribute

by Erin Anderson, editor

Last night, the on-campus café The Daily Grind was packed with poets and poetry fans, as SMUS hosted yet another evening devoted to the written word. Almost 20 Writing 12 students joined special guest Maleea Acker for the reading, organized by Mr. Terence Young and Mrs. Janice McCachen.
In a sad but fitting coincidence, beloved Canadian poet P.K. Page died yesterday, and local poet Patrick Friesen made an appearance to pay tribute, giving a graceful reading of P.K.’s poem “Evening Dance of the Grey Flies.” Guest reader Maleea Acker also spoke highly of the great poet, sharing an anecdote about a brief meeting at a writer’s conference.

Our students were the first to take to the podium to share some of their work and the poems spanned the surreal and highly literal. Subjects included getting turned down for a kiss on a Junior high date, the lives of sailors, and cooking with family members. Many of the poems sprung out of assignments, such as responding to another poet’s work or writing an elegy, and some inspired from other work, such as musings on the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Maleea Acker was a great addition to the evening, and she shared pieces from her book The Reflecting Pool and from an upcoming manuscript. After complimenting the students on the maturity of their work, she read several succinct pieces, largely inspired by nature, from local Galiano Island to the foothills of Spain. Fittingly for a reading with Grade 12 students, Maleea also read a poem about a group of students on graduation day.

Below, the poem that kicked off the fabulous evening, graciously contributed by Grade 12 student Zac B.

The Somnambulist’s Dilemma

I sleepwalk,
often wake from the cold,
shivering on kitchen tiles,
recognize where I am solely from touch,
reach out to stainless steel, marble countertop, mornings too dark to see.

On the way back to bed,
I try to imagine myself navigating the same path asleep, but it is impossible to know how I did it, how I knew exactly where the stairs began, how long I wandered unconscious through the quiet house.

It is a hole in my mind.

Are there nights I sleepwalk unknowingly, nights when I return to bed after a quick tour?
In the day do I drift into an unconscious stupor?

The mind must rely on reflexes, then, controlled by the brain stem, like fight-or-flight, and this on/off switch to my consciousness, a coping mechanism to deal with unbearable boredom.
So when a friend asks me: “How are you?” or “Can I borrow a pen?”
I don’t fall to the ground screaming,
but simply allow the Brainstem to reply: “I am fine. Black or blue?”

Sleep twists and mixes memories into a movie trailer, a teen drama:
the hero is a boy,
the antagonists are the girls.
They say things like:
“I’m sorry, but I’m in love with your best friend”
“Well, I’m sorry, too,” says the Brainstem “Hey, good luck with that other girl,” she says back, all smiles.
“Thanks! Good luck being a hooker!”

Oops! The Brainstem missed one.

People notice dark rings under my eyes
“Trouble sleeping,” I say.
Hard to fall asleep at night when I spend so much of my day dreaming.

The trailer shows the hero running,
exercise, so important when he was trying to impress her.
Now, he’s losing her pound for pound.

A teacher interrupts the dream:
“Where’s the homework?”
No recollection.
Must have been sleepwalking that day.
“It’s not good to live in a fantasy,” the teacher says.
Nicer than French class, I think.
“Sorry,” says the Brainstem.

I wake up to a face offering me advice:
“Girls love an artist.”
“I must be a terrible artist, then.”
Jesus! That one was from my Brainstem!
Whose side is it on?

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