Kingston's Calling

A collaborative poem created by visitors to Artfest Kingston 2018

 Kingston City Hall and Martello Tower, photo credit: Benson Kua

Kingston City Hall and Martello Tower, photo credit: Benson Kua

 
 

Preface

In the fourth iteration of an annual 3-day poetry festival held as part of Artfest Kingston/Artfest Ontario’s overall festival in Kingston from June 30 – July 2, 2018, a ‘collaborative poem’ element was added to this year’s ‘Poets @ Artfest IV’ event.

Participation was open to anyone, with simple instructions asking them to write down what they love about Kingston. The instructions also suggested that submissions didn’t have to be poetic, but they as a line or lines in a long open verse poem would become so. It was also explained that credit would be given if their name and city were included, but that anonymous submissions would be included as well.

In all, nearly 70 submissions were received, and just over half of them anonymous. Each ranged from a single line to as many as 5 or 6 - mostly prose, but some were intentionally poetic. Each part, a day, in the following poem represents what was submitted that day.

As the editor of this project, my goal was to keep it as organic as possible – to only use what was given. Some minor bridging was necessary from time to time throughout the three days, but I would estimate that at least 95% of what you see in Parts i-iii are lines exactly as they were received. I did add a 3-stanza Epilogue as both an overview of the full event and to bring the poem full circle.

My thanks to all of those who took part in this wonderful project. Contributing author credits follow the poem. My thanks, as well, to Artfest Kingston for their support, promotion, and the creative license that allowed me to roll out ‘an idea’, and then deliver this poem.

Bruce Kauffman, Editor


Kingston’s calling

a thematic collaborative poem, ‘What I love about Kingston’

i.

Back to this place

this soil

this piece of earth

 

A day as we approached

it riding here on

the 4th planet from the sun

 

A short walk into this city

someone behind whispered,

Diamond waters call my name,

beckon me to the island’s edge,

over the swells, over again

 

This time, this place, within,

another whispered of it all,

you are a

a sliver in

my subconscious

 

Kingston, a city both delicate and strong,

resilient and yet yielding –

yielding to the passing stories

and the ones that take root

 

A city that is

dance music art

diversity

love nature

small quaint

 

vines like fingers

climbing limestone walls

 

and tangled roots on

bottomless

skies

city lights come

lake

tides

beating

beating beating

hear

 

and rattles and kidcalls

skeetos and skids –

and everywhere springing up

--poetry

 

All rolling in

the unique rhythm of

young excitement

in September

and the mature calm

of June

 

What not to love here

in this melange of people

who share smiles like friends

on this meandering well-worn path

taking me nowhere

taking me everywhere

 

to watch the blue lake open

at the end of the street

seeing my love in coffeehouses

old stone story buildings

in the presence of warm social circles

and sun set on the pier

 

here like Cheers, I guess, ‘Where

everybody knows your name’

and here because we’re here

love this city simply because

it’s not

somewhere else

 

And here

This easy life

The simple life

The challenged life

The happy life

 

Three voices behind us –

One,

‘Check out Artfest Kingston

And the poets at Artfest there’

Another,

‘Kingston is home

The city is mine

Make it yours, too’

And the final one, softer,

‘Believe in yourself’

 

And turning down a small path

to find a young woman standing there

her eyes gleaming

her smile wide

her face radiant

As she approached and whispered

as if to the past

as if her whisper carried there

back to them,

When I leave here

you won’t recognize me

My skin fits now

 

ii.

Deep-root, printers ink,

limestone walls,

cool breezes

my heart is here

 

Kingston is the beginning

of my brand-new life

 

here

by the waters

reflecting limestone

by the waters

in these journeys then

of the mind

reflecting the old

and secured

 

This historical haven

This historical heaven!

 

Could there possibly be or

is there something

not to like about Kingston

when I love it all -

the water, the wildlife

and history

 

And patios

eccentric artsy characters

 

underground Kingston

under ground king’s town

Up or down swings around

Loving sounds enliven now

flippant frown turned upside down

 

Smiles smiles smiles everywhere

Those big purple flowers

at springtime downtown

AND

The fact that I haven’t

kissed everyone here

(yet)

(yet)

(yet)

 

— the boom boom

of the art drums

and this: her hand on her cheek

how I know her compassion

the brush sheen sparkle

of this lake

keeping us cool

 

Water arcs under concrete

Arcs under birds under

the arc of sky

It’s the water

It’s everywhere

It soothes my soul

 

A park full of people

An artist festival there

Culture and craftmanship

together

in one beautiful space

filled with nothing but love

And one poet says,

‘Poets @ Artfest is the best!

How glorious to participate

on a lovely summer day

We always look forward

to traveling here

even from 3 hours away’

 

And another having arrived

3 hours as well

From another direction says,

‘What I love about Kingston

is I don’t have to think

about speaking English’

 

There is always

somebody who knows

somebody who knows

you

 

The Kingston sign glows white and red,

blood and bone,

and helps me stand sanguine,

proud and bent

 

community builds

itself around

the rich uniqueness

of this city

you can feel and hear it

in the air

 

An echoed shout

From a boat on the lake,

‘God bless Kingston

May it always exist’

rolls up to the shore

rests in the bushes

 

but here a bit inland

memories swirl,

Domes reaching the heavens

Students crowding the

streets, former home,

loved place of youth

 

iii.

Last night

again,

a midnight walk in

Skeleton Park

Hello spirits

happy to be here

Moon above the trees

 

This city embraced me,

made me feel at home

after 22 years of

wandering

 

This morning

cooler near the lake

acknowledging histories

and allowing

revisioning,

grieving,

tolerating outrages,

celebrating here as diversity grows

 

We contemplate on water’s edge

Scanning the shimmering water

A last look across

to its blue stretches before us and

beyond in the distance where

garlanded islands

clipper ships and

windmills claim

equal space

 

We walk away from the lake

and into the city

 

The air is so thick

we can swim through it

paddling upward

toward the surface

 

Yet dogpaddling and

then still swimming through

this hot water air,

the uneasy heaviness

begins to fade and we look up

to see just before us

a park

A place where we find

soothing breezes temper

shimmering city stones,

festivals and frolic

under verdant ancient

trees

 

Just inside but still

near this park’s edge

three massive trees,

a large tent beneath,

and within

a small gathering

A group of poets sharing

their own words there

 

Words melt and meld

in the sweat of the tent

 

Within and around the tent

grey tones;

deep transience and

transient identity

The soul crawls here

and needs projects,

so, does projects

finishes them

 

Here in this poets’ tent

here, at the edge

of a massive arts festival

on a hot long weekend,

In the cool breeze of

words willowing through the tent,

heat and bugs

don’t have a chance

 

We’re absorbed and lost in it

Then we look through this haven of words

into the full of the huge City Park,

filled with rows of artist after artist

and tent on tent

 

A vibrant energy fills the air

within this temporal gathering

of artists and food and reverie

It, all woven together

here in this park

 

Artists live together

not in silos

 

And we are reminded here again

of how soothing

essential

community is

 

As we notice the sun now

beginning to lose its place

in the sky, everyone around

begins to sense a nostalgic mist

rising up out of the ground,

then filling the air

in these final hours of

a long weekend

And in it someone suggests,

‘Can you feel it?

Something is coming

to an end’

 

We begin to leave,

but are told that there

is still so much more

 

A mother said, ‘There are

movies in the square

In July

where we skated

on January’s ice’

 

Another,

‘A bounty of things to do

places to see

food to taste

Just don’t eat

all your chutney in

one go’

 

When a very young girl

with her family

was asked what she most

wanted to do in Kingston,

she looked up and said that

she, ‘would love to

go to a cruise’

 

And said one of three of a family

Adele, Donald,

and William,

‘A summer goal -

packing one greenspace a day

for July

for forest

for lost in Kingston

in its softest parts’

 

Eplilogue

And as we left the park

with evening coming,

we understood

It didn’t matter if we had arrived here

from the 4th planet from the sun,

from another spot on this earth,

or from just across the street

 

For some of us, we are here

to stay

For some of us, we are here

for awhile

and then on our way

 

But in the time

and times

we stood here

stand here still

Kingston to any of us

felt like home,

 

and to many of us

felt like home

 

and became it.


Credits and Notes: Parts i, ii, and iii

 

Part i was compiled, comprised of 23 submissions of mostly single or double lines, mostly anonymous, and assembled into this first of three parts, as day 1 of Poets @ Artfest IV, and part of Artfest Kingston, 2018.

Credits:

Stanza 2 (first and last line) -- Bob K (city unknown)

Stanza 3 (italics) – Michelle Webb (Kingston)

Stanza 4 (italics) – Kait Allen (Kingston)

Stanza 5 – James Cathcart (Glasgow, Scotland)

Stanza 6 (last 4 lines) – Julian Gregory (Kingston)

Stanza 9 – Susan McMaster (Ottawa)

Stanza 10 (last 5 lines) – Pauline Webb (Huntsville)

Stanza 15 (lines 6-8) – Ian Dennison (Kingston)

Final Stanza (italics) – Anon (Norfolk, VA, USA)

[All other stanzas were composed of anonymous single, double, or sometimes triple lines but without location to credit, and with only occasional minimal language as ‘a bridge’ added as needed by the editor.]

 

Part ii was compiled, comprised of 22 submissions of mostly single or double lines, mostly anonymous, and assembled into this second of three parts, as day 2 of Poets @ Artfest IV, and part of Artfest Kingston, 2018.

Credits:

Stanza 1 -- Ann Lablans (Kingston)

Stanza 4 (second line) – Dallas Bader (Bancroft, ON)

Stanza 9 – Krista Asselstine (Kingston)

Stanza 10 (last 3 lines) – Jean Capshan (City unknown)

Stanza 11 (lines 3-6) – Jess Foster (Kingston)

Stanza 11 (last 6 lines) – Kathy Figueroa, Bancroft, ON)

Stanza 12 (last 3 lines) – Louise Carson (An Anglophone residing in Quebec)

Stanza 13 – Ken Chin (Kingston)

Stanza 14– Tim Murphy (Kingston)

Stanza 16 (lines 3 and 4) – Ian Dennison (Kingston)

Final Stanza (last 4 lines) – Carolyne Van Der Meer (Montreal)

[All other stanzas were composed of anonymous single, double, or sometimes as many as 4 lines but without location to credit, and with only occasional minimal language as ‘a bridge’ added as needed by the editor.]

 

Part iii was compiled, comprised of 22 submissions of mostly single or double lines, mostly anonymous, and assembled into this third of three parts, as day 3 of Poets @ Artfest IV, and part of Artfest Kingston, 2018.

Credits:

Stanza 1 (last 5 lines)—Eric Folsom (Kingston)

Stanza 3 (last 7 lines) – Bethmarie Michalska (Kinston)

Stanza 6 – Michael e Casteels (Kingston)

Stanza 7 (last 5 lines) – Gwen Whitford (Kingston)

Stanza 10 (last 7 lines) – Nadia Pacey (Kingston)

Stanza 14 – Tom (TG) Hamilton (Ontario/BC/Alberta)

Stanza 16 (last 3 lines) – Bob MacKenzie (Kingston)

Stanza 18 (last 4 lines) – Chantel Lavoie (Kingston)

Stanza 19 (last 6 lines) – Meg Freer (Kingston)

Stanza 20 (last 2 lines) – Marielle Y. (Brampton, ON)

[All other stanzas were composed of anonymous single, double, or sometimes upward of 6 lines but without location to credit, and with only occasional minimal language as ‘a bridge’ added as needed by the editor.]