When my son was a toddler, when we would set a plate of food in front of him or hand out treats to a group of playmates, we would often say, “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” It was a way of managing expectations, forestalling meltdowns, and it has been our all-purpose mantra of this year. This has been a year of cancellations and postponements for me, and for most people working in the arts, and for most people. Wherever possible, I have tried to appreciate what I’ve got and not to get too upset about what I didn’t. “This is how it is right now,” has been another useful reminder, borrowed from a friend with a Buddhist bent. The capacity to accept what we’re given is worth cultivating, but oof — I’d understand if your endurance was running low by now.
Among the bigger tests of my magnanimity were kissing good-bye to the planned summer premiere of my solo show, Les filles du QUOI?, at Vermont’s Lost Nation Theater, which was cancelled along with the rest of LNT’s 2020 season, and then giving up the consolation prize of a workshop of the show at Theatre New Brunswick‘s Fall Festival of New Plays, which was postponed when COVID’s second wave began here in the Canadian Maritimes. These were only two of the year’s cancellations, but they reminded me of the whooshing sound that deadlines supposedly make as they go by; I certainly heard a hiss as these anticipated milestones for my show fizzled out of existence.
But! I am grateful to have had the chance to work this year with textile artist Danielle Hogan on set pieces for the show. The spring shutdown made it possible for Danielle to work with ferocity on the pieces we had spent over a year discussing and imagining, and while my fall workshop was postponed, we did have the chance to document Danielle’s work with the help of photographer, Sarah Sarty. Sarah’s photos of Danielle’s extraordinary work are a wonderful hint of what this show will be, when it can be. I’m delighted to be able to share some of them with you here:
My thanks for Danielle, Sarah, Theatre New Brunswick, the Canada Council for the Arts, and artnb for their part in creating this small moment of 2020 redemption. These images make it possible to look forward to what the New Year might bring.
Other moments for which I am grateful:
• The publication of my chapbook, Clean Margins, which won the 2020 Harbor Review Editor’s Prize. You can read it here.
• The inclusion of several of my humble hoems (little tiny poems on domestic themes) in the 2020 Best Canadian Poetry Anthology, edited by Marilyn Dumont. You can purchase it here.
• This lecture series on White Supremacy offered by Loretta Ross. It will be offered again in the New Year, and you should sign up.
• Collaborations and connections made virtually with other artists, writers, and humans that helped to keep my little creative flame alive in the wearying and uncertain weather through which we’ve all been traveling.
Winter is a sacred, storytelling time of year, a time when, for thousands of years, in my part of the world at least, people have gathered around fires to keep each other warm, tell each other stories, and dream of gentler seasons. This year it seems especially so. Since we can’t gather and have been deprived of togetherness for so long, our other rituals seem especially relevant and necessary. I hope whatever rituals you practice in this season bring you comfort and inspiration to carry you through the days ahead, and I hope so much to see you in the New Year.