Linda was invited to read at the Ulyssean Society
Sunday October 9th, 2011
The afternoon's topic was "Poetry For The Fun of It"
Below is a write up from the Entre Nous newsletter, and videos of the afternoon can be see here
a beautiful creative
partnership in a garden of verse. ..
In live performance, Stitt and Fromstein are the best duo of spoken poetry, lyric and parody department, you're probably going to see and hear on the reading circuit. She's the rhythmically elegant, tenderly insightful, somewhat wistful, properly realistic lyric poet whose verse shows a good measure of craft and melody. Fromstein is the droll one, the cut-up clown, surprisingly debonair at times, quick with witty repartee. More often than not, they have opposite points of view about dating, sex, romance, or relationships. An example of their opposition can be had in this extract: when she writes: "I see flowers underneath my feet,/rainbows arching overtop the street/and haloes crowning everyone I meet" he counters: "When I walk in the country,/I see poison ivy beneath my feet,/black clouds deciding where they'd like to meet,/and puddles on benches where I'd like a seat.' Their contrasting voices engage in an intellectual and passionate foreplay, culminating not so much in orgasmic closure as in laughter or an afterglow of wry wisdom.
Such naughty exuberance. It is light-hearted, playful, populist entertainment that returns you to the oral nature of poetry. It is also in the tradition of Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash, and other satiric wits, and it gains by virtue of the poets' seniority.
MATURE POETS LOOK AT THE ROMANTIC AND SEXUAL ASPECTS OF LATE-LIFE LOVE
AH, the twilight
of life -- a time of wisdom, experience, reflection of romance and sex.
Sex, romance and the elderly? Romance, maybe, but sex? Mention such
a subject and the reply might be, "they don't have sex, do they?"
It's a common
reaction that's both offensive and ill-informed. But perhaps it springs
from those who, as kids, wanted to believe their parents never "did
it" or that sex comes to a sudden halt at the sign of the first
are, of course, wildly inaccurate.
In fact, the
medical profession states there's no physical reason sexual desire should
die throughout a human being's lifetime. It may diminish or change but
it need never go away, physically speaking. The ongoing human need for
loving closeness and intimacy certainly never dies.
But, then, most
older folks already know this.
They may watch
our youth-obsessed world celebrate love, romance and sexuality as only
for the firm of skin and tender of years, but they smile their wise
smiles and keep their delicious secret to themselves.
Not so secretive
are close friends (not partners) and fellow poets, 86-year-old Joe Fromstein
and 72-year-old Linda Stitt. They've put their considerable talents
together to tell the world about the realities of mature love and romance
and the result is an unusual and delightful poetic collaboration.
Conversation in Rhyme (White Knight Publications) is their newly-released
book of poems that will amuse and surprise those who think mid- and
late-life love is a romantic and sexual desert.
simplicity and joi de vivre they explore not only the joy and pleasure
of love, sex and relationships in late life but also its disappointments,
insecurities, trials and tribulations. Even such negatives as impotency
and frigidity are humorously and wryly exposed under their poetic gaze.
But the book's uniquness comes not just from the two poets' creative talents but from the style in which the poems are presented --both give a very different and occasionally opposing personal view of each of the subjects.
It's a fascinating
juxtaposition. There may be a battle of the sexes raging generally but
these veterans of the field show how much better it is as a gentle joust.
They met six years ago when Stitt was giving a public poetry reading. Fromstein cheekily interjected by offering an extra line for her poem he felt was missing. Stitt, far from being offended, graciously accepted the extra line, included it, and a strong friendship grew as a result.
Stitt says she grew up with poetry.
was a way of life with my family. My mother read poetry to me when I
was in her womb!"
She has been
professionally writing poems since 1983. A member of the League of Canadian
Poets and the Canadian Poetry Association, she now has 10 books of poetry
to her credit and is much sought after for her readings.
the passion for poetry came later in life and was a private occupation
he enjoyed after retiring from his own pharmacy. It continued when he
decided to return to the University of Toronto to study for his B.A.
The year he turned 80, he graduated with top marks and in the last six
years has won several speaking competitions via Toastmasters International
and written two poetry manuscripts.
Both are now
single -- Stitt is divorced after a 25-year marriage in which she lived
in Thunder Bay (she is now based in Toronto), and Toronto-born Fromstein
is a widower after a 47-year marriage he says was "perfect."
both say they would never marry again, they agree the desire for romantic
and sexual companionship doesn't diminish with time and add that aging
is no barrier either to the creative process and self-fulfilment.
though," says Fromstein, "to always keep a sense of humour."
Which he has in spades.
the obvious struggles and adjustments people find they have to make
as they age, I ask the still-attractive Stitt what she's found beneficial
about getting older.
freer and able to speak my mind," she promptly replies. "In
fact, I find all aspects of aging interesting, body and mind."
Does she miss
anything though? Her reply takes longer this time.
she laughs finally. "No one flirts with old ladies."
Passionate Intensity strikes a clear note with a
bell's resonant overtones. A cosmos springs to life, with startling
reverberation in our own ear. The murky depths of a life are
clarified as readers are drawn through the artful process of
poem-making. Taut pieces stretch between the oppositional structure
of sprit and matter revealing the dimensions of possible human
experience, where "Poetry is an imperative".
LAST WORD, P. 73