Arts & Life
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This article was published 29/3/2019 (495 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Scott Nolan’s first book of poetry mixes autobiography with small, profound moments observed around Winnipeg.
The local singer-songwriter discovered his passion for poetry when he started taking daily walks through his St. James neighbourhood in an effort to quit smoking.
"The very first day a poem came to me while walking, which of course encouraged the walking," Nolan said.
Four years later, he’s about to release a 70-page book of poetry entitled, Moon was a Feather.
The poems in the book are inspired by scenes Nolan, 44, has come across during his walks and include meditations on his personal life — from his childhood growing up in Charleswood to his troubled youth and his music career.
Most of the poems came together while out in the field.
"The bulk, other than very few exceptions, were written very quickly — almost more akin to a photograph. Something would hit me on these walks and I would stop," he said. "The best poems in the book happened just like that."
One example is the story behind his poem Yellow Lights of Moray, which came to be while he was walking over the Moray Street bridge one day and noticed a woman dancing in the wind.
"It looked like some sort of a ballet," he said. "I stopped and leaned against the bridge and was thinking, ‘Wow, they have no idea what this looks like to me.’"
To be able to write in the moment, Nolan transcribes all of his poems into the notes app on his phone. The process makes the poetry more immediate and the ubiquity of smartphones makes the work practically invisible.
"I love that it’s as normal as anything else out there — people probably just think I’m playing Pokémon."
Nolan doesn’t have any formal training in poetry and admits he hasn’t read much by the world’s renowned poets. Instead, his appreciation for the art form comes from an older cousin, who turned to poetry after being sentenced to life in prison and the work and life of his late friend Patrick O’Connell, a celebrated local poet.
"I had these two people in my life who were mentoring, in a way. I learned more about living and trying to be an artist than I did about writing from them," Nolan said. "It was kind of a survival mechanism and more a means of quality of life than a means to an end."
Writing and songwriting has always been a healing force for Nolan, who has released seven albums and toured North America extensively over the last 15 years, but his foray into poetry represents a new chapter in his life — one that includes less touring and more yoga.
"I have to believe it’s connected to slowing down my lifestyle," Nolan said of his poetry. "It’s required a certain kind of maturity and learning to breathe slower."
Moon was a Feather launches at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Ave.) at 7 p.m. on April 5.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.
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