Of all kinds of blogs, I started a blog about poetry writing. Why on earth? There are not as many stories to tell about writing each week as I initially believed. Life is rich in many things, but poetry is not always one of them. A weekly account of what or how much I wrote would be dull and repetitive and so would be a never-ending rant about the lack of inspired moments or about the natural tendency to procrastinate of probably every writer on earth. Also, speaking about the quality of what I wrote so far does not sound like an entertaining subject, however necessary this stage is to the writing process. I might dare do that a little later in the process, perhaps after a couple of serious editing sessions. But the way is long to the day I’ll be able to speak about quality and longer yet to the moment I’ll feel any sort of confidence about sharing the poems. So, how about a post about how I trudge on, hour after hour, draft after draft, poem after poem. Am I there yet? No. Am I ever going to get there? I might.
But while trudging on is not the post I would want to write, trudging on is what I do. I have done this ever since putting the first word on paper for anything I have written so far. Is it a joy or a pain? Why do we tend to do things that cause us grief and frustrations?
My friend, Carole Forhan, died a month ago. She loved poetry, music, dance, and everything theatre. The happiest looking lady I have ever known. Yet, I’ve seen her crying, I’ve seen her mad, frustrated, and even desperate over plays, props, costumes, lack of backstage crew, or wrong lines delivered by actors. For such a happy lady, she spent half her life worrying about something that wasn’t essential to her being. Or perhaps it was? I was lucky enough to meet her because of my writing. My first short plays, produced during RDC’s Scripts at Work, have been looked over by her, in some way or another. She was the producer of the CAT’s One Acts Festival, the year my How About Me, Dumpling? directed by Judy Moody was staged. Her trip to England in 2014 prevented her from playing or contributing to the staging of Baba’s Perogies—directed by Jan Underwood—but she visited often during the rehearsals and contributed with her opinions. She encouraged me to play in my first pantomime—Albert Azzarra’s Cinderella Dancing with the Stars—which made me fall in love with the English tradition of Christmas pantomime and therefore it is due to Carole that I have written Aladdin – A Christmas Panto. I found it normal that Carole expressed interest in directing it. We had just started to work on it with the priceless help of Jason Steele who allowed us to try on songs and moments from the pantomime during his Monday’s comedy circle. We also worked together to portray Monybany’s story during Journeys of Hope. One day, after rehearsing the If I were not in a pantomime song, Carole got caught by one of last summer’s pouring rains. Next week she could not come to rehearsal. Joan Truckle, carrying gifts and generous donations for The Loaded Paintbrush, visited during my art circle and told me that Carole’s sick with a cold. But she did get better and visited her mother in England, again, over summer. Upon her return, we started to work on Journeys of Hope under the general direction of Jan Underwood, seconded by Jason Steele. We met, we listened to stories, we laughed, we cried, we envisioned how Monybany’s story should look on the stage, we disagreed, we agreed, we had fun. But Carole was still coughing. Her cough did not go away when her cold did. And one day, Jan let all know that Carole had to quit directing and that she is waiting to find out more about a tumor the doctors discovered. Just like this. The news was overwhelming.
Carole was a wonderful woman. She had touched the lives of so many. Constantly involved in theatre, among actors and playwrights, directors, light and sound tech teams, costumes, makeup artists, stage builders and stage painters, prop people and backstage crews, nobody could tell how many friends she had. Many visited with her in the hospital. I did not visit. I know how excitement can take a lot out of a person and Carole needed her strength just as much as she needed the presence of her friends. Yet, the day when Journeys of Hope was played, I was lucky enough to meet Carole in the audience. We shared nearby seats and spent a few hours together. It almost was like ‘the good old times’ except we both knew that we will not have many more times like that in the future. Still we made some plans. I introduced to her the talented young man who is filming a short documentary about the making of my poetry book. We settled that Carole will be the first person to be interviewed on camera. Carole’s story should have sparked my poem about the Golem. She passed away three weeks after the show; my last email to her in which I was asking her to set a date for the filming never got a response.
I often dream of her. She appears in my mind in places we visited together or in places where we met by chance. She’s laughing in my dreams or making faces in my memories, the way she did when she was with us. Although I only knew her for six years, we did not lose much time getting acquainted; from the first day, we knew we were meant to be good friends. And good friends we were. Not only did the theatre run through Carole’s veins but she paid attention to the forming of new generations of theatre lovers. She coached my first steps in the theatre’s world. She trusted me to fix the panto horse when the time was short and the faulty horse did not let the actor breathe inside its head. She trusted me with the costumes for the first English pantomime she directed. We worked together behind the curtains of many shows… One could have trusted her to always be around the beating heart of a show, even when she did not play a part in it; she cheered and made life easy for the ones who did play a part.
And then, she didn’t do that anymore. She couldn’t. Her time was cut short and there was nothing more to give. If she would have known, would have she done the same? Would she have given her time as freely as that? Time is a priceless treasure; we only have that much of it.
She cannot answer but I think I already know. Theatre was what she loved. The knowledge of her limited time would have had her doing more, no less. Her friends say of her, ‘at least she has done what she loved’. By now, she’s probably directing some play in heaven. But that’s a place where we have no membership yet, so, here on earth, her name will live on, connected to the theatre. Newly created, Carole Forhan Memorial Scholarship for Theatre Studies will be handled by one of Carole’s favorites, Red Deer Players Society.
Born bare into this wide world of ours, time is the only thing we truly have. Too often do we waste it on things we care little about. Time is spent like water running out of an open faucet. Until the whole quantity is exhausted, the limit is reached and the flowing stops; only then will we put a price on our lost time.
Days ago, the world sadly parted with the great poet and musician. Leonard Cohen too, gave his lifetime to music and to poetry. I am sure he was where he wanted to be.
How about me and what I am doing? How important it is that I spend my time doing it? If I would know the limit of my time, would I be doing the same thing?
My blog is about poetry and writing because there is nothing else I love better.
How about you? Are you doing what you love?
Here is a link to Red Deer Express Magazine and Mark Webber’s tribute to Carole’s life and activity.
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