Kate Marshall Flaherty joins us for another ALU DiscoverVerse session to discuss her collection
Radiant (Inanna Publications), about finding hope and healing through a journey with cancer. In our interview, Kate shares more about the therapeutic nature of writing, her willingness for adventure and offers up a free association writing prompt that'll have you feeling super energized! Read on for all of this PLUS a poem from the collection.
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Interview with Kate Marshall Flaherty
All Lit Up: What did you learn writing Radiant?
Kate Marshall Flaherty: I learned in a deeper way that writing can be deeply therapeutic. I wrote the poems in Radiant as a way of processing my fears and hopes, my challenges and lessons going through more than a year of breast cancer treatments. I never expected to publish them at the outset. But as I read them aloud in the sacred writing circle that became my sanctuary for sharing them, listeners said they were therapeutic to listen to, which surprised me. And then when I started sharing them at readings, many audience members shocked my by asking for a copy of a particular poem, or crying in my arms saying a poem touched them personally, or telling me these poems “should be in a book for the world.” I was so moved by that. I learned that it was worth pouring all my vulnerabilities and emotions, questions and epiphanies into poetry, as it was healing and energizing…and I guess not just for me. :)
ALU: If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?
KMF: Fun question. I would be a mountain hiking woman, in the Rockies or some other breathtaking family of mountains, on a quest to follow trails and switchbacks, rivers and summits, to see what I could see. I’d have my knapsack full of provisions and water for day-long journeys; I’d keep my notebook and pen in my pocket, to scribble down images and memories that bubbled up as I walked, for poems or letters to loved ones; I’d have a lantern to guide the way at dusk, my favourite time of day, which is lovely and metaphoric, but a cell phone in these times could be useful as a light but also a camera to capture snaps of the tree-line silhouettes, clouds in peaks, animal tracks, flora…whatever I came across…maybe another bear…
ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?
KMF: I find inspiration everywhere really. I love music, travel, being together with friends, family, meals with dear ones, rituals and celebrations, I love any kind of collaborative creative work, exploring other lands, cultures, customs, I love musical theatre and dance when I can afford it, my peaceful place is swimming, and I confess I love to hike for hours alone in nature. I’m pretty well up for any adventure!
ALU: Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?
KMF: I love to make a circle on a page and write a word or concept in the middle, then free associate with word spokes around the circle, and keep ruffing on connections and wordplay and sound ‘til there is some energy for a poem—often with the title of the word in the web centre. For example, if the word “salt” were in the centre circle, the spokes might say “water” or “sea” or “cured” or “and pepper” or “sweat, tears, blood,” or “saline” or “salty cracker,” “salty dog,” “saline … solution” … already I have poem energy. If the word was “crown” I can see words like, crown land, triple crown, corona, queen, head, mountain top, checkers, glory, cresting, the word “own” within crown, the word “crow”…you can see it is free association and anything goes, and soon there will be energy and words to get started with…
Nestled in dense flesh
I, ominous orb
pearled myself larger in soft oyster folds
I stayed silent under the sea
Were you listening to what bubbled up?
I was unknown?
all those seasons of waves,
starting as a grain of sand, no more grit than salt—
Swelling, I had no scent
of green before rain,
no shape or weight, just mass of cells feeding like fish
By the time you saw me—
bright as a silver lure in an ocean mound, I shone out from darkness
I chose to grow
in your bosom, for with it
you nourished children and the world—
* * *
Kate Marshall Flaherty’s sixth book of poetry,
Radiant, launched in 2019 with Inanna Press. She was shortlisted for Arc’s Poem of the Year 2019, and for Exile’s Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Prize 2018, and won the 2018 King Foundation Georgian Bay Project Award for her poetry. She has been published in numerous Canadian and International Journals and Anthologies, such as Vallum, Malahat Review, CV2, Grain, Saranac Review, and was shortlisted for Descant’s Best Canadian Poem, the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Prize, the Robert Frost Poetry Award and others. She was Toronto Rep. for the League of Canadian Poets 2012 -2018, and inaugurated Toronto’s Poetry in Union in 2018, and “Poetry and Healing” for Sick Kids in 2019. She guides StillPoint Writing Workshops in schools, youth shelters, universities and hospitals; poetry is her lifeline.
Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?
Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download.
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