Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Water, Window, Mirror -- A Happy Launch Despite a Few Cracked Ribs

A good time was had by all at Gloria Barkley's launch of her new book, Water, Window, Mirroron Saturday at the Arts Council of New Westminster. Gloria herself was a little pained by her tumble down a flight of stairs only a few days before, but as the photos will tell you she was in her element, nevertheless.

Thanks to all who attended, and to everyone who pulled together to bring Gloria's work to fruition. And thank you, Gloria, for Water, Window, Mirror, and for your grace and goodwill!

Local author and longtime supporter of BC writers, Eileen Kernaghan introduced Gloria with the following address:

How does a poet describe a state in which her senses can’t be trusted, when everything she sees and hears may be unreal?”

That was how I started a blurb for the back of Gloria’s book. But the much larger question is:  in that fractured, hallucinatory state, how could anyone carry on a normal life – and do it for twenty years?

I’ve known Gloria for a very long time.  I heard and marvelled at her story when she first came to the Kyle writing group. It was an extraordinary story of survival – there’ve been  many stories of survival shared in our writing group, but Gloria’s had to be the strangest.

For two decades she raised a family, ran a household, gained an art degree, led a richly creative life  – and was never sure if she, her children, or anything in the world around her could be trusted to be real. 

She told us of the hair-raising adventures in altered reality that could come not from a drug trip, but from eating a hot dog. She told us of the mystery that eluded doctors for all those years, and how the mystery was finally solved.

We said, “Gloria, you have to write about this. You need to publish it. People need to know.” And because she is a poet, Gloria decided to tell her story in poetry.  And it’s poetry that faithfully reflects those twenty years of a bizarre, fragmented existence.

If you need further evidence of Gloria’s extraordinary talent for survival, a couple of weeks ago she tumbled down twenty-one steps of a tiled staircase. And here she is today.

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