Leo Mol's Torso of Balance sculpture (Stan Milosevic)
Something about growth and that surge of possibility just underfoot. The glint of a bronze girl figure through leaves. Her gaze, bare, curious, private. An inwardness that peeks back.
To read my Girlwood poems in the open air of the Leo Mol garden is to be enveloped in the on-the-vergeness of my poetic conceit: girlhood as a perpetual state of becoming.
The Leo Mol garden speaks to the wild foliages of my poems: pine forests, ditch weed, spiderplants suspended in macramé hangers, firework peonies blossoming over the park.
A year ago, last spring, having just finished editing Girlwood, I wandered into the garden looking for comfort in my between-project state. Trying to settle into that most rootless of places, somewhere between the letting go of the old and the making way for the new.
It wasn't long before I found her, tall and askew, both leaning into herself and slightly away, with a tilted hip, a lowered shoulder. Forward in her inquisitive gaze, but also leaning back in resignation, hands tucked behind in folded arms. I was entranced. Whatever it is she faced, she did so open and plain. How comfortable in her form! How balanced unto herself! What semblance of curve and stance!
The "Torso of Balance" and I share the same birth year: 1973. The year my poems speak out from, draw back to--that place of earliest formations.
Now, on the eve of launching Girlwood in this very garden, my poems are bound in their spine, formed in my hands. I will take the stage between "Torso of Balance" and "Hope" to read the poems that have come from my deepest rootings in Winnipeg. Poems that hover somewhere between reality and imagination, formation and transformation, privacy and disclosure. I will send them out into the garden like the finest seeds of new projects and then wait to see what takes.
Jennifer Still (Abby Bernhardt)
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Jennifer Still was born in Winnipeg, where she was raised in a powder-blue townhouse on the wild side of the East Kildonan tracks, otherwise known as Girdwood Crescent.
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