4 Canadian Poets who have Inspired Me

Part 1: Dr. Lynn Crosbie

Two years ago I graduated from U of T, where I majored in English Literature…I was 38 years old. Even though I had a promising academic future after high school, circumstances beyond my control pushed me into the workforce and away from academia. I was bitter about that for a very long time. Eventually, after years of disillusionment, it became clear to me that the only way to shed that hostility would be to pursue the education I had so badly wanted.

I was introduced to Lynn Crosbie’s work during my first year in  Prof. Nick Mount’s ENG140 class. On the syllabus, Missing Children.

The book is a long narrative poem about a man obsessed with missing children (the red mitten still haunts me to this day!). At first, I was a disturbed by Crosbie’s book, but Professor Mount with his magical lecturer abilities, opened up my eyes to contemporary poetry. My literary mind was limited to my high school education, and I realized that I wasn’t paying attention to what was happening with poetry, especially in Canada.

But, it was during my third year that Lynn Crosbie changed my life. She was my prof for a Canadian poetry class that I needed to take to meet my degree requirements. The workshop component to the class was terrifying. In fact, 20% of the students dropped the class when they realized that creating and reciting our own poetry would be an integral part of the class.

Being the oldest person in that class was not easy, especially when the talent of these young people was unbelievable. They inspired me in ways that I never thought possible. As if it wasn’t awful enough to have insecurities about my work, now I had to add on being old and out-dated.

Professor Crosbie taught me audacity. “Find the stirring place and seize it,” she said to me. I admire her for her courage and tenacity to stay true to her work no matter what the cost.


A pic of the final page of the chapbook that came from that class. The blue sticky note is written by Lynn Crosbie. It says, ” I read this as I would any wonderful book that I own and love. What range, what audacity. [some word I can’t make out] & heavenly. What talent. Keep writing.”

My poem, titled “Room 144” was written for that class. Most of its content is derived from the memorable bits of work from my classmates, so it will seem pretty obscure to everyone but them. The point of the poem, however, is that creativity in all its forms is transformative.

Room 144

Hell sells ice by the truck load

and the devil spoons with yawning sirens.

The claw-foot tub scuttles to and fro

at the sounding bell of the watchtower.

Dragons’ tails wag in the distance

while a dead girl with ugly boots

chases shadows in the dark.

A headless and chastised David

squirms in his decorated throne.


The alchemists work their magic

never knowing how they transform

dark to light        fire to ice             ash to flesh.

Roberta C Natale





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