25th Trillium Award

The Dirty Dozen, with Deborah Lawson

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Deborah Lawson

Award-winning poet Deborah Lawson is a woman of words. Whether she?s teaching communication, trimming texts with her editorial expertise or singing soprano with the Richard Eaton Singers, her days are spent immersed in the exploration of language. And now she has collected her own words into her Frontenac House debut Reckless Toward Blossoming, in which she explores solitude, landscape and awakening.

Today Deborah takes on the Open Book Dirty Dozen, which gives authors the chance to share 12 unexpected facts about themselves. Deborah reveals her Linda Ronstadt moment, her love for the great Canadian boat and an electrifying experience with a hair pin.

Deborah Lawson's Dirty Dozen

1. While I was in Toronto for the launch of Reckless Toward Blossoming, I was in agony from a bad tooth every time I rode the subway system. It turned out that one of my molars had developed a vertical crack in the root, and this crack was opening and closing approximately a thousand times a minute, in keeping with the vibrations of the subway — pinching the nerve with each open-and-close movement. It was the second worst pain I have ever experienced, and I had to cut my Toronto visit short so I could come back home and have the tooth pulled. But oh, relief was never so sweet!

2. I once sang in a New York City jazz club. Linda Ronstadt's performance of the Roy Orbison/Joe Melson classic, Blue Bayou, inspired me to perform my own version at an open mic (not karaoke) at a little club in Chelsea called Helen?s. This was after I'd consumed a rather outlandish number of gin and tonics. And people still clapped. But not to worry, Ronstadt still has the iconic version.

3. When I was eight years old I went ?sugaring off? (collecting maple tree sap that is boiled down into maple syrup), with my relatives in Nova Scotia?s Rawdon Hills. Two memories stand out. First, I lost one of my boots when my foot went through the ice on a not-so-frozen brook and I had to be piggy-backed home. Second, I will never forget the unique perfume of the house where the maple syrup was being made?a combination of the smell of hardwood logs burning in a mammoth cast-iron kitchen stove and the steam from huge vats of maple sap being reduced to syrup.

4. I love to parallel park, and I?m really good at it.

5. The first year I lived away from home, I received over 200 letters. This was back in the day before every home had even a typewriter, let alone a computer, so almost all of them were hand-written. I responded to each of these letters in the same fashion, with hand-written replies averaging six to eight pages each. What on earth did I write about? Well, I did have a very active social life and I was meeting lots of new people. And I had to bring each correspondent up to date individually, because, of course, photocopying was expensive and hard to find and nobody had ever even heard of word processing programs with their cut-and-paste functions. Time consuming, yes — but it did wonders for my writing.

6. I once stuck a bobby pin in an electrical socket. Just the once.

7. I attended 11 schools in 12 years before earning my high school diploma. This included the feat of completing my entire grade 12 year in one semester — with a full load of eight in-class periods each day, plus two correspondence courses outside the classroom.

8. I?m a huge fan of Firefly, the futuristic space western, and its follow-up movie, Serenity. Produced by Joss Whedon, Firefly aired in 2002 and 2003 but was cancelled after just one season. Major sadness.

9. At one time in my life I had two jobs at the same time, one that paid $11.15 an hour and one that paid upwards of $80.00 an hour. Such are the joys of the freelance writer and editor.

10. I love to canoe, and own my own 17-foot boat. My poem ?Four Ways of Telling Time? was inspired by a trip on the Red Deer River. Usually I find canoeing to be both relaxing and exhilarating. However, I have been dumped out of a canoe into the North Saskatchewan River five times — four times during ?canoe training? with my son?s school (always on the May long weekend, when we were often keeping company in the water with chunks of ice as large as a mini-van) and once by accident when the bank shifted under my feet while I was getting out of the boat. It?s a surreal experience to see the floor of the canoe passing over your head, making its arc with that slow motion effect that seems characteristic of such events.

11. I?m very nervous about walking down stairs, although I can go up them with no problem. I?ve often had dreams about falling, or beginning to fall, down stairs.

12. I own a first edition, hard-cover copy of Madeleine L?Engle?s A Wrinkle In Time, which I discovered on a shelf of used books in the general store of a campground. I bought it for fifty cents.

Deborah Lawson is a freelance writer, editor, communication consultant and workshop facilitator. An award-winning poet whose work has appeared in literary magazines and poetry anthologies, she occasionally strays into songwriting. Deborah?s first book of poetry, Reckless Toward Blossoming, is to be one of the volumes in the 2013 Quartet series from Frontenac House.

For more information about Reckless Toward Blossoming please visit the Frontenac House website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore, online from the publisher or at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

1 comment

Wow...better than a dozen eggs, better than a dozen anything I can think of actually...this was wonderful; maybe I'll try to come up with my own interesting 12 things...maybe.

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