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a Sasquatch tribute to

Julie & Don Loper


Two of the most consistent participants of Sasquatch’s recent past were Julie & Don. Come rain or shine, sleet or snow, Julie with her trusty guitar and duo tang of poems and songs would be there. Don, (although not a poet himself) always happy to play the role of chauffeur, and a keen supporter of Julie’s and the gang’s efforts.    

They’ve since moved to British Columbia, where Julie has transplanted the Sasquatch philosophy of down to Earth openness, and although they are truly missed, we take comfort in knowing their spirit is with us at every reading.  


 

The Poetry of Julie Loper


Bio:

Julie Loper was born
in Ottawa to a French Canadian father, and mother of Italian decent. She spent most of her formative years growing up in Sandy Hill. As synchronicity would have it, she in fact lived in an apartment across the street from the building that would eventually house the Royal Oak pub on Laurier Avenue East, where Sasquatch and the Tree Reading Series regularly meet. 

Julie wrote her first poem in grade two as an assignment, but didn’t start writing seriously until her late forties. Her favorite poem of old is “The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes, though since associating with her contemporary poet friends, she has realized “that you don’t have to go back in time to appreciate good poetry.” Much of this philosophy arose from participating in the writing critique group, Jury Room, which she found to be very helpful with her own writing.

 

As well as poetry, she has also written a few short stories and songs, and likes to sing and play guitar.  Her guitar work is very basic, but she still enjoys hamming it up, something she gets from her parents, who were not shy when it came to entertaining in front of friends and family. 

 

In 1993, Loper (under her previous surname of Szabo) had one chapbook published, “Prelude to “Ballad of a Clown”, as well as a few poems published in various anthologies, in addition to a broadsheet, and poetry recorded on cassette tape. She also won an Editors Choice Award for her poem “The Magnolia” from the National Library of Poetry.  She has had one radio interview in which she read and sung with her guitar. Some songs and poems have more recently been recorded onto CD. 

 

In 2000, Julie and Don migrated to Vancouver Island, making a new home in the town of Comox, where Julie is now a member of the “Mostly Poets”- a group of five women.  Her hope for the future is to continue writing, publishing and associating with her fine contemporaries. 



A Poet’s Prayer           

 

Love never fails

Sometimes though

It becomes dormant for a while

 

But then a seed is planted

A kind word is given

And the seed takes root

Its fibers reach downward into the soil for nutrition

And the elements intermingle

(Like poets who seek encouragement from other poets)

A growth takes place with such a quickening

The pen is moved

And the paper becomes filled

Even the margins

 

Oh exquisite bliss to no end

Keep coming to me, forever more

Amen

 

And as if that night were again before me

That night we crossed over the bridge

And here it is, what I saw

 
Letter of Explanation

 

It was late one Sunday evening in 1998, after “Sasquatch,” a poet’s meeting where we shared our writings with one another.”    As it was a very cold night my husband Don and I were driving a few poet friends home.  As usual we enjoyed the company of Heather Ferguson, Blaise Downey, and Christopher Sorrenti.  Our journey took us through Sandy Hill in Ottawa and over the Cummings Bridge, which spans the Rideau River.  We all had had a wonderful time at Sasquatch that evening and despite the sub zero temperature our spirits were high.  The sky was clear and black with the exception of a few stars.  The moon was full and especially beautiful as we could define very easily the moon’s face.  “It was also the night of the Northern Lights.”  (Moonstruck)  As we approached the bridge we noticed that all the large round globes along the bridges rail were very bright and well lit the way.  But as we drove over the bridge we began to see that after passing each globe the moon was visible, and then as we passed by another lit up globe the moon was not visible, but there was the globe all shone up just like the moon.  So in between each globe the moon was visible.  And so it went. The moon, a globe, the moon, a globe, the moon, a globe (about ten or fifteen) and so on until the bridges end.  That night I promised I would write a poem about it.  (Intermittent Moon)  There has been a lapse of a few years time (Intermittent Poet) since then and a strong yearning to fulfill this desire has held me captive till now. 


Intermittent Poet 

 

That night we drove the poets home          

Enchantment filled the air

And since that night my strange obsession

Has been permanently there

 

Just seconds of that vision seeing

Instilled this joy within me dear

Reveals within my inner being

Subconscious zeal from then to here

 

The muse bestowed to me instruction

Eternal tutor to endure

Ingrains this autocratic writing

Relieves the grief, grants the cure

 

The gift was mine but here I’m still 

Pining in my love to fill

 

There is this joyous agony in writing,

Trials of reaching and a strain

Wracking brains for words connecting

To search and skillfully attain

 

To write the scene, that fleeting moment

Eluded pen, years till I now

Surrender to my writer’s covenant

And render my poetic vow  

 

A destined time of inspiration

That comes but once in a rare while

A pure occasion for expression

Walk the endless writer’s mile

 

 

Years have passed and here I’m still

Pining in this love to fill

 

An older woman am I now

But eager as a mating dove  

A passion has renewed my vow

As with a sweet young girl’s first love

 

Oh joy that moment I relive

Ever imprinted upon my mind

Incites a kind of yearning love

An ache of lasting words to bind

 

And here I lay upon my bed

Gone is the void of poet’s doom

The block has gone, I am not dead

The ceiling is my screening room

 

And once again that night is still

Pining in this heart to fill                               




Intermittent Moon       

 

While journeying home from a poet’s trove

One clear cold winter’s night

A counterfeit account occurred

Which moved the moon to fight

 

Upon a bridge there was a rail

Which held up many posts

And every post held up a light

Within a white glass globe

 

Each globe was lit up very bright

Which mimicked the full moon

And shone its way o’re the bridge

To lead the poets home

 

But up above the moon did see

His rivals standing tall

Then peeked his head between each globe

And far outshone them all

 

Past the bridge the lamps were gone

But constant was the moon

Who followed us all the way

Till we were safely home

 

The rightful moon had stood his ground

Until the journey’s end

Which proved himself victorious

And a poet’s trusted friend

 

I’ll never forget that clear cold night

With the sky so black and bare

When the moon was mocked by lamppost lights

With a bold and blatant dare




Moonstruck

 

Oh moon you light the Sasquatch way

You lead the poet’s course

And even though

Your long awaited Aurora

Is near

You guide the poet home

 

Oh moon

You awaken the Sasquatch hope

You arouse the poets muse

And even though

Your rendezvous

Is due

You spur on the poets dream

 

Oh moon

You incite the Sasquatch gift

You induce the poet’s hand

And even though

Northern lights

Have arrived

You inspire the poet’s pen

 

Oh moon

You expose the Sasquatch emotion

You entice the poet’s senses

And even though

Heaven’s dance

Is now

You reveal the poet’s heart

 

All poems © Julie Loper

 

A special bonus!

If ever there was a testament to the power and influence of poetry, it is when a usually non-poetic type, in this case Don Loper, writes a poem. Not only did he write it, but also gave us the pleasure of reading it aloud at a gathering, not long before he and Julie relocated to Vancouver Island:


Events of a Winter’s Night Delivery

 

A 6 a.m. delivery is a paper carrier’s plight

In the damp dark cold of a long winter’s night

What events will this winter’s night bring

From a broken slumber, at two a.m.

 

Will it be cold and clear by the moon’s bright light

Or a winter’s storm that blinds the sight

Sub zero temperatures that freeze fingers and toes

Or a balmy breeze if the south wind blows

 

Will black ice lay in wait like a hidden mine

To test our balance and our time

Will there be roads of virgin snow ten centimeters high

And snow banks at the end of each driveway to climb

 

Long johns, fleece tops, pants and coat

This gear needed to resist the cold

Perhaps a warm drink to ward off the bite

Of the damp dark cold of a long winter’s night

 

Will the truck come early or a two-hour delay

More time and gas is the price we must pay

Then we load up the car for this delivery guarantee

Three hundred papers for my partner and me

 

We face each faceless home in this arctic of white

As we trudge through the snow in the deep dark night

Throughout the wee hours from the dark to the dawn

We deliver each paper with a sleepy yawn

 

Abreast of the snow is the moon’s bright light

And my partner and me in this arctic of white

A 6 a.m. delivery is a paper carrier’s plight

In the damp dark cold of a long winter’s night       

By Don Loper © 2000  

 

 

 

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