Part 2: A. F. Moritz
I was in my final year at U of T when I heard that Canadian Poet, A.F. Moritz was putting together a master’s class for poetry. He was only taking 12 students and the selection process for those students included submitting one original unpublished poem, so I went right to work to create my submission piece.
My favourite poem by Professor Moritz is called “The Volcano,” and that’s where I went to draw inspiration.
This was my submission:
On My Birthday
I open The Best Canadian Poetry in English
and I’m at the mouth of the Volcano.
It sucks me in,
into the earth.
I hear Woolf and Lowry whispering
and I remember my grandfather
with his plastic stomach and mashed up food.
His gentle hands protruding from his three piece suit,
one of seven—the nice one for Sunday.
One time, I threw a piece of bread at my sister
and he slapped my face.
It’s a sin.
He loved Canada.
Worked him to the bone—for a better life
for his children—my mother.
I have a need to write,
but this pen isn’t working for me.
The grip slips, my fingers slide down, and the roller tip sticks
scratching sounds as it crosses the page
making my handwriting messy.
I should have brought my laptop to the library
where I’m reading about Canadian poets.
Steven Heighton—the son of my English teacher,
who implored me to share, and
it’s been twenty years.
At least he was able to convince his son.
So much to say, but blunted words
multiply like wet gremlins.
Yesterday, at church, the priest said we are all looking
to create heaven on earth
an impossible task—leaves us unsatisfied.
I am not looking for heaven,
just want to scratch that itch.
This pen must be the reason I am stuck.
Its shell is green, but its ink blue—how deceptive.
It traveled so far.
Oregon has the right to die law, Canada does not.
My husband bought me this notebook
three years ago, and mostly, the pages are blank.
I still write on napkins in cafés,
but I rarely go to cafés anymore—it’s a Starbucks world now.
I envy the pretentious poet wanna-be’s who park there.
They know everything, including how to scratch an itch.
Maybe my grandfather should have been clearer
about what he meant by a better life.
We are looking at GMO’s
instead of guessing mint or basil.
He used to love hearing me play the guitar,
but I don’t play anymore.
Sometimes, when the leaves fall, I smell him,
but autumn turns to winter quicker now
and I fear that soon
I will not smell him anymore.
Roberta C Natale
Professor Moritz accepted me into his class. The work load was gut-wrenching because I was forced out of the closet and right into the spotlight.
One night he invited us to a poetry reading for the launch of his new book Sequence.
I introduced A.F. Moritz to my husband, and I listened to him tell my husband wonderful things about having me in his class. That was a proud moment for me. There’s nothing like that feeling of being accepted and acknowledged by the very people you admire. (I wrote a poem about that night…of course I did!…but I won’t bore you with it this time around!)