2019 Versefest Ottawa Invitational Slam!

2018 was a bit of an off year for me - I didn’t write at all! This year has started slightly differently. I was invited to participate in Versefest’s invitational slam and accepted although I’d never been involved with spoken word or participated in a slam before. Crazy, right? But this is a year for trying new things, experimenting, making the leap even though I’m afraid - not being fearless, but doing it afraid.

And so on Friday night, March 29, 2019, I went in with one prepared poem, with only the goal of trying out this new experience and with no expectations of moving beyond the first round - and I was so wrong! I did move on to the second/final round and was totally unprepared for that - I had no poem! Thank goodness I usually carry around a copy of my poetry collection, Splinter. I read one of the poems from this selection in the final round.

Let’s raise a glass to trying, to taking chances.

Shery - Versefest invitational slam March 29 2019.jpg

I wrote this poem last year, some four years after the death of my father.  It seems strange, but no matter how much I tried, I couldn't write about it earlier.  I just choked, gagged, and neither my brains nor my hands seemed capable of movement, of forming words to describe the experience. I was finally able to assemble a few words, and I know I have so many more walled up inside me. The following words try to describe the very last time I saw him, when I knew he was on his deathbed, and I was never going to see him alive again.

Gone Daddy

 I lie next to him

turn my head to kiss his cheek.

Don't, don't, it hurts

It hurts when you touch me.

 I turn my head, stare

with clouded eyes at the ceiling.

Unspoken words arc the night

return to earth to unknot their syllables.

Daddy, I love you

            I love you too.

Like hibiscus drenched in rain

my heart blooms.

He lies quietly

his breath, fluttering.

©Shery Alexander Heinis

Shery Alexander Heinis

I'm back from beautiful St. Lucia and wanted to share with you some memories from my last poetry event "Poetry in 2 Acts" What a week that was, so I never had the time to sit down and write!

It was a cold night in February, but friends and well-wishers came to share their time and offer support for "Poetry in 2 Acts". My friend Terri-Ann, the lovely mezzo-soprano, set the stage for the evening with her wonderful rendition of the negro spiritual"Nobody Knows". I continued with poems expressing both visible and invisible pain, loss, rejection, identity and love. Alex, my guitarist friend, was there again to accompany me in poetry performance.

And the best surprise of the night was Jada, Alex's daughter,  who I invited to provide us with an impromptu jazz rendition.

Thank you to everyone who came out to support this fundraising event, and to those who, even if they were not able to attend, supported this effort in other ways.  Enjoy some of the photos from that night!

Shery Alexander Heinis