Wendy Morton Poet of the Elements

I made a ’Grow Mercy’ business card using one of those perforated 8 1/2 by 11 business card sheets from Staples. There’s 10 cards to a sheet. I used one sheet.

I was going to a conference on publishing and not having gone to one before thought, well, you never know. A card can be a timely hook, a connection in-waiting. If nothing else, the card attempt would be one more exercise in overcoming a neurotic hesitancy at promoting myself.

Writing is one thing, putting myself out there as someone who has something to say and believing that other people should know what that is–that it would do them good to know–is another.

When I got there I forgot all about the cards. I was among other writers, all expectant and bumping into one another with stories happy and sad and incredible. I met Dianne, a middle-aged woman who on her own had spent three years traveling around the world on a motorcycle. She had a book to pitch.

At the end of the second day, at the "writer’s market place," I did give my card to three people. I gave one to Jannie Edwards, an Associate Dean at Grant MacEwan, and a published poet who later that evening performed one of her poems. Her reading cast a spell. I gave one to Sue Paulson, interested, kind and encouraging, and representing the Canadian Authors Association.

And I gave one to Wendy Morton. She took my card, read the heading, "Words for a non-violent world," and said, beautiful.

Wendy said "beautiful" to everyone. Because for her people are endlessly fascinating. Walking poems, all. And so her ubiquitous ’beautiful’ never rings hollow. Saturated by poetry, there’s heart enough for all.

She’s a pilgrim poet. Enjoyed so much she’s sponsored. (Check her biography) Poet of the sky and of the road. Like those ancient Russian mystics who walked across the country praying out loud, believing that their strange calling somehow shaped the world, but that even if it didn’t, the praying had to be done. For Wendy, the poetry has to be done. And so she travels. Flies, drives, walks. A radiating force for beauty.

Wendy and Me440

I had no idea as I worked the cursor giving lines and colour to my small stamp of identity that I would be "poemed." To me, that’s the wonder.

Later she catches up to me and asks, "Are you Jewish?" I say, unaccountably, "No, just a wanna be." She laughs, "You could be, you look Jewish."

And I remember the quote by Elie Wiesel that I used on my "business" card. (Wiesel writes about Judaism, the Holocaust, and the moral responsibility of all people to fight hatred, racism and genocide.) He said, "Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds."

And this of course is Wendy Morton’s secret magic. In committing random acts of poetry she displaces separation and creates moments of grace. From this ground sprouts a possibility, a deed. She may have no idea how much building she does.

For Wendy:

Her eyes are lit from within,
by an embroidered soul,
that’s been mended two or three times.
Her arms circle hearts,
while words hang from her wrists,
down the backs of walking poems.
A silver-grey garden child.
Her hands in loam feeling for new potatoes,
up to her elbows in earth.
A rooted pilgrim
penned by the Douglas fir and the Otter
and Jaun de Fuca waves.
Wearing a denim smock,
the kind a long-ago girlfriend used to wear
when we lived on a beach on Hornby Island.

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  1. You are so right about Wendy! I, too, found her a radiant beacon of warmth and light. Like a blazing fire on a cold night, you want to wrap yourself in her comforting warmth. And like a magnet, she draws you to her–to want to BE like her.

    We were all blessed at the Get Publishing Conference. By her presence and her message.

    I felt inspired to give her a gift–a copy of Whale Song. And I look forward to contacting her and hearing her reaction once she’s read it.

    Cheryl Kaye Tardif,
    author of Whale Song

  2. Thanks for your comment Cheryl. And thank you as well for sharing your experiences in publishing during your own seminar. Your stories were inspiring and encourageing.

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