Early days in Toronto wishing there was a way to be a performing musician, prior to finding open stages which nurtured all that, I would drool over the places where it seemed to be happening for even low level nobody’s like me. The Groaning Board, The Free Times and a place on the Danforth The Trojan Horse. Reading through all those listings, The Trojan Horse had the most intriguing line-up but I never made it across Broadview.
I learned about Gwendolyn MacEwan probably from Maggie who then wrote for the Varsity and had become a friend of hers. I got the sense from Maggie, who was also a writer, that this was like being friends with Dylan in another universe where nobody is aware anymore of their greatness. She won the Governor General’s award for poetry twice. She lived on Barton or Albany. Someone pointed her out to me on Bloor one time, she had rock star eye liner, dressed in black and moved slow, probably 40 then. I liked what I read of her poetry, added it to my lists of things to try stealing without leaving fingerprints. When she died I found out in the obituaries that The Trojan Horse had been her place, she started it and ran it.
The City of Toronto named a little parkette after her. I went to the ceremony but got there at the end. Just one bench in a small space for such a big poet. Not many people but there’s Margaret Atwood, old friends. I walked through it yesterday, on way to French Theatre camp for my daughter. I told her this place is named after a poet, “this is what she looked like” and pointed at the little statue containing some engraved verse.
But it is never over;
Nothing ends until we want it to.
Look, in shattered midnights,
On black ice under silver trees,
We are still dancing, dancing.
“It doesn’t rhyme” she said suspiciously.