The After You series (www.afteryou.ca) is a sort of “pass it forward” exercise started by Daniel Zomparelli and now coordinated by Andrea Bennett. The idea is that one poet recognizes another by picking a living poet they admire and writing a poem after their style or to them, or in some way honouring them. That poet in turn writes to a third, and so on. I chose Leslie Timmins, an emerging poet whose work ethic and commitment have always inspired me.
Poem by Kate Braid
For Leslie Timmins
It’s the tenacity that gets me.
We all know it: the family that would prefer
our perfect silence; those seeming endless letters
from the publishing world saying “thank you but…”;
and there’s not a lot of money in the world for any writer….
Then it’s the tenacity I watch burn
as it carries you through Silence
and Rejections and Maybes and
those occasional lovely publications that say
Yes, it matters—your passion, your work.
Your generous and open heart.
Keen eye, your technical skill.
You found solace in Matisse who abandoned his easel,
turned the canvas away from himself* and even then
didn’t stop. Felt the world’s wide incomprehension
of his daring work yet held on,
caught one small arrow of light
and began to paint windows, openings.
Worked on. Regardless.
It’s fierce flames like yours that keep the rest of us warm
as you work in the morning for clear-eyed justice
and in the afternoon write those precious openings—the poems.
Thank you, Leslie, for your burning colours, for your fire,
for this one window so wide to the outside.**
*“Even If It Isn’t There: Studio Under Eaves, 1903.” Leslie Timmins. The Limits of Windows. Alfred Gustav Press, North Vancouver, BC, 2014.
**“Seated Woman, Back Turned to Open Window, 1922.” Ibid