Fraser Valley Poets Society

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A Magical Night for Three Amigos

Posted by Violet Nesdoly on October 27, 2010

A Magical Evening

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 was a magical evening of poetry, banjo pickin’ and pride for our ‘guys’ as they launched their anthology, A Trail of Light.

Thurlow was thoroughly entertaining and those 97-year-old fingers fairly danced on those banjo strings. Rita even joined him in a spontaneous duet of Spanish and English of one song.

Those 97-year-old fingers fairly danced on banjo strings - Photo © 2010 by Shelley Haggard

Watching the readings by Brayden, Nicholas and Thurlow from their own book was wonderful! What a momentous event; all three printing their first book…together! — Shelley Haggard

The Three Amigos: Thurlow Gowan, Brayden Sawatzky and Nicholas Roberts - Photo © 2010 by Shelley Haggard

The Three Amigos

What do a young UFV student, a middle-aged farm employee and a 97 year-old retired teacher have in common? They each write poetry; they each belong to Matsqui-Sumas- Abbotsford Poets Potpourri Society (PPS) and they have just published a book of poetry together. And on Tuesday, October 26 at 7:00 PM they each read from A Trail of Light at the Clearbrook Library in the year’s final Blue Moon Reading.

In the half hour open mic that preceded the main feature, a variety of members and two new readers ventured to read.

A variety of members ventured to read - Photos © 2010 by Shelley Haggard

Then Thurlow Gowan, one of the three featured readers entertained us by playing his banjo and telling stories of some aspects of the book.

Thurlow Gown entertained us by playing his banjo and telling stories - Photos © 2010 by Shelley Haggard

The main event of the three readers was begun by Brayden Sawatzky reading from his poems in A Trail of Light. Sawatzky, the poet farmer, has become editor of their efforts together in the newly released book.

Like a Robert Burns, that great Scottish plow-boy poet, Sawatzky sees meaning and beauty in the common life, the relational life in a multicultural community and the religious society which he is a part of. A Trail of Light is subtitled “poems for the journey” and Sawatzky may be encapsulated by the last stanza in his poem “Enjoy the Journey”:

Touch me deep inside
where no one else can reach –
the secret universe within
where only you and God have been.
Together we will journey –
touching, dreaming, learning…

Nicholas Roberts, the university student, the thinker, the young man, somewhat like a Romantic John Keats, that critic, social rebel and writer, followed. He finds life too short to say and do all and writes of the world of his imagination and reading, his milieu of seeing the world as Romantic and adventurous. Of his friendship with the other two contributors to the book, particularly Gowan, he writes:

Perhaps I’m getting it wrong,
but I see history and knowledge in his eyes
in an eternal harvest of vintage gold.
What student would not ask to be enlightened?

The elder statesman, mentor, juror of elocution, musician, and poet-rhymster, Thurlow Gowan, the Cascade Poet [he lives on Cascade Street], was the final reader. Gowan, reminiscent of a Robert Service, read poems of wit and wisdom, poems which often strain at social mores or the culture of financial and technological success. Gowan, conscious of environmental concerns long before ecological correctness became popular, often writes of the Fraser Valley:

Beautiful Fraser Valley watched by snow capped kings.
Beautiful Fraser Valley of land and water and wings.
Ribbon of reckless rambling right through the heart of this,
Bridges at Mann and Mission, day of efficiency’s kiss!
Strikes on the lower mainland, death in the valley dew,
Beautiful Fraser Valley, what have we done to you?
Is this your modern living? Is this “the way”? I chide,
“Why even the Sasquatch has left you and gone to the mountains to hide.”

Sawatzky, Roberts and Gowan together featured a wide range of literary and poetic talent from traditional poems that rhyme to modern free verse. It was an evening of free poetic entertainment.
— Alvin Ens

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