Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Kim Fahner

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.


Kim Fahner

lives and writes in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. She has published five books of poetry, You Must Imagine The Cold Here (1997), braille on water (2001), The Narcoleptic Madonna (2012), Some Other Sky (2017), & These Wings (2019) .  A member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the League of Canadian Poets, and a supporting member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Kim was Poet Laureate for the City of Greater Sudbury from 2016-18.

She loves trees, backyard swings, Irish music, yoga, lake swimming, ceili dances, walking by water, witty conversation, hiking, canoeing, and silent spaces out in the Northern woods.

In March 2019, Kim’s poem, “They Shall Have Homes, 1928,” was awarded an Honourable Mention in the League of Canadian Poets’ National Broadsheet Competition.

Her blog, which she calls The Republic of Poetry, www.kimfahner.wordpress.com

Her author site is found at www.kimfahner.com

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

I started writing poetry when I was a teenager. It was mostly bad poetry at that point, largely because I hadn’t read enough poetry to know what decent poetry was all about. I began to write poems more seriously when I took an undergraduate degree in English at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. I took a third year Modern Poetry course and the professor was Laurence Steven. He talked about the importance of being a ‘traveller’ and an ‘explorer’ rather than a ‘tourist’ when it came to journeying into the realm of poetry. In that class, I fell in love with the work of W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, and they’re two of my most constant companions and influences. Soon enough, I was writing my own poems and being asked to read at university open mic nights. That was in the early 1990s.

As to why I write poetry, it has always been the way in which I see the world. Images and lines come into my head and then I need to write them down. I am constantly aware of the sensory (and sensual) details of what I experience, and I’ve been combining my poems with photographs I’ve been taking in the last few years, so this just further cements my view that having poetic tendencies is about being mindful and aware of your surroundings, emotions, and experiences. In the last few years, I can see a photo and that can quickly serve as a place to begin writing a poem, so ekphrastic poetry is one of my favourite areas to delve into creatively. All of life is fodder for some kind of poem, at some point in time.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My dad worked in mining when I was very young, but had a deep love of Shakespeare. Some of my earliest memories are of him reciting pieces of dialogue from Macbeth. He loved to recite all of the witches’ voices and act them out for us when my sister and I were younger. The poem he most loved, though, is a Canadian classic that was written by a poet named Robert Service. Even in the weeks leading up to his death, my dad would recite parts of “The Cremation of Sam McGee” with perfect recollection. It’s a very long poem, and it’s known by most Canadians. Service was born in England, but traveled in the Yukon and other parts of northern Canada.

The other two people who really influenced my love of W.B. Yeats’s poetry were my great-aunts, Norah and Maureen Kelly. I still remember Norah reading me “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” when I was young, and telling me stories of Ireland and family history. That led to me doing an undergraduate thesis on Yeats’s work, and a graduate thesis on Seamus Heaney’s bog poems.

My grandmother, Alice Ennis, was the person who first gave me a lined journal to write in when I was just a teenager. She knew, before I even did it seemed, that I was a writer at heart and needed a place to write poems down.

2.1 What is it about Yeats and Heaney that you enjoy and why?

I love Yeats because of how he wove old stories and legends into his work. Some of my favourite pieces are the ones of the faeries. When I did my thesis in my final undergraduate year at Laurentian University in Sudbury, I wrote about Yeats and his various motifs and patterns. His work was so complex and fascinating to me, and it always will be.

The following year, I completed my Master’s degree in English Literature at Carleton University in Ottawa. My graduate thesis work focused on Seamus Heaney’s bog poems, particularly in terms of how they reflected the political tensions that existed between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. I considered them in reference to Ben Shahn’s The Shape of Content, in terms of how artist and poet are so closely woven. This would, before I even knew it, set up my love of ekphrastic poetry years before I even began to write it myself.

Yeats was the gateway to other Irish poets like Patrick Kavanagh, Paul Muldoon, John O’Donohue, Eavan Boland, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, and Seamus Heaney. What I love about Heaney’s work is the way he uses language so precisely. When you read his work out loud, it sings. I also love how he weaves landscape so vividly into his work, so that it comes alive in my mind’s eye.

I met him in a pub in Sligo back in the summer of 2012 while I was there writing, and I was so shocked that I came face-to-face with him that I was gobsmacked. I said hello, and he smiled and said hello back, but I felt my knees wobble and couldn’t really speak when I really ought to have told him how much his work meant to me.  He was, for me, a sort of poetic father. When he died a year later, my heart broke. His work, for me, is a poetic touchstone. I read his poems regularly and always learn how to be a better poet.

3. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t sleep well, so after a night of sporadic fits and spurts of some kind of sleep, I get up fairly early–around 5 and sometimes earlier. I tend to go walking every morning as I live a block or two away from Ramsey Lake, which is the lake that’s in the centre of Sudbury. I spend up to about forty-five minutes walking there with my dog, and then I sit for a while and look at the lake.

I’m drawn to water, and to sky, and to birds and trees, so this is the best way for me to start my day. It washes clean the slate for me, mentally and physically. Then, I come home and begin whatever project I’m working on. Often, I’ll try to read quietly for about an hour in the morning. If I’m working on a play, I tend to just read plays so that I can get a hold of the language, structure, and cadence of how a play moves on stage. I read poetry every day, mostly because it’s how I think about, and see, the world around me.

If I’m working on an editing project for another author, I’ll set aside a morning or afternoon for that. I only work on projects like that for a couple of hours at a time, mostly because I am fastidious in editing people’s writing and want to keep my mind (and eyes!) sharp.

In terms of how my day is structured, I tend to follow my intuition. One day, I may work on poetry book reviews for a couple of literary journals here in Canada. Another day, I may spend three hours on my new novel, creating new scenes, as well as spending some time incorporating research. On other days, I’m working on structuring my next manuscript of poetry, shuffling poems into new sequences and orders, as well as writing new ones.

If I get a bit ‘stuck’ on one writing project, I shift to another. This just allows me to cleanse my writing palate a bit and take a break from being frustrated with working through something in my head. I tend to get ideas for collaborative projects when I’m out walking. I also get ideas when I’m dancing. I dance a lot throughout the year. My favourite thing to do, though, is swim in local lakes during summer. I always feel as if I’m swimming into a painting and the natural landscape plays a key role in my work as a writer. For the most part, though, being out in nature, hiking or walking through the Northern Ontario bush, is usually what gets my mind moving in terms of new writing ideas and projects.

4. What motivates you to write?

I write ekphrastic poetry, so I will often visit art galleries for inspiration. This week, I went to see a Maud Lewis exhibit at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario. She was a folk artist from Nova Scotia who died the year I was born. I’ve loved her work for years. After seeing the exhibit, I wrote a blog reflection, but I know that I now need to write a poetic sequence about her work. I’ve been inspired by the work of artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Mary Pratt, and Alex Colville. I’m curious, in particular, about how women work as visual artists, and also how they managed their lives and relationships, in terms of balancing love with creativity.

I like the word ‘inspire’ more than ‘motivate,’ to be honest. I don’t sit around waiting for an elusive muse to hover down to earth, but I do get a lot of ideas from listening to other people’s stories about their lives. Often, I’ll ‘borrow’ lines from friends. I’m often inspired by photos that friends take, and I’ve found (in the last few years) that images inspire me to write poems. I can’t just write a poem about anything off the cuff. I’ll see something, or a phrase or line will pop into my head, and I’ll sit down to write a poem. People live poetically, but I find they aren’t even really aware of it, so it’s sort of magic when I can see the poem inside a photo they’ve taken.

I don’t do it often, but I’ll sometimes gift my closest friends with poems…and that, to me, is a gift of the purest sort of energy. It can’t be contrived or forecasted. It’s magic. I hope they feel the same way when I give them the gift of a poem, but I never really know…and probably don’t need to know…if the intention behind the creation is clear and pure…and it always is.

In terms of writing blogs, I’m motivated to speak when I feel something is unjust. Something gets inside me, a sort of sparkly energy of an idea that needs to be expressed, and then I write an entry. The same sort of energy happens inside my body when I write plays. For me, plays are constantly dynamic and alive. I love the collaborative aspect of writing a play. You have a dramaturge who makes you think twice about why you are writing what you are writing, and asks you to consider how characters will behave on stage. I’ve learned a great deal about plot and dialogue from having written two plays in the last couple of years. I’m still a novice, but I love that I feel like an explorer in my own head and heart. Then, when actors read the words dramatically for a staged reading or workshop, I often find myself sitting very still and losing track of my hands in my lap because I’m in a bit of shock. To hear your written words come to life, as actors give them a real physicality, is one of the most magical things I’ve ever experienced as a writer. I’m hooked on writing plays now, even though I know I have a lot to learn in writing for this genre.

With writing novels and short stories, I’m motivated by ideas that seem to arrive in strange ways. Right now, I’m working on a novel about the Morrigan legend in Ireland. I have always been drawn to corvids (crows, ravens, and magpies in particular), but to add in the supernatural aspect of the Morrigan story makes me want to write a novel about how a woman evolves in her 40s, which is where I’m at now in my life. I don’t ever doubt my creative impulses, but I’m cautious in my day-to-day life. I’m quite private and shy with people I’m not close to, and I’m guarded, I think, but in my creative work, some wilder part of myself is given permission to emerge, whether in a phrase or line of poetry, or in the guise of a character

5. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I don’t know that they do, specifically. My parents were readers, so I always remember them reading at night. They modelled good reading for me, and when I started writing, they were puzzled, but supportive. They were working middle-class people, so my being a poet was a steep learning curve for them. Never mind trying to raise a child, but try raising an artistic and introverted child.

I read more fiction before I began to read and write poems seriously in my late teens and twenties. My first loves, in terms of fiction, were Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and I read whatever was the school-assigned book list every year with a fierce passion. For a time, in my early teens, I fell in love with dragons and read through all of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. I also loved Tolkien’s The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. Along the same lines, I fell into the C.S. Lewis Narnia books. I read about faeries and Irish legends as I grew up, curious about my family history on my mum’s side. My great-aunts fuelled that interest, and they had a number of great books in their front room bookcase.

I feel that I’ve always read widely, across genres. All of that somehow mixes together to influence my style of writing, which varies according to genre. Funnily enough, though, my plays are full of poetic imagery and motifs, so poetry is always the bedrock upon which I build my stories, regardless of whether they come in stanzas, or scenes, or chapters.

 6. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

Right now, I’m reading David Chariandy’s novel, Brother, and I love how beautifully written it is, and how it’s so evocative of a particular time and place. He writes of how gun violence can change lives and families in an instant. It shatters you when you read it, and it’s an important and powerful read.

I also recently read Newfoundland based writer Joan Clark’s An Audience of Chairs back in June, a novel that is set in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It struck me because I had an episode of major depressive disorder about a decade ago, and I was impressed that Clark deals so realistically and compassionately with a protagonist who struggles with mental health issues.

Beyond that, I read a lot of Indigenous literature, so I love work by First Nations prose writers and poets like Richard Van Camp, Richard Wagamese, Greg Scofield, Liz Howard, Cherie Dimaline, and Robin Wall Kimmerer. Wagamese’s book, Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations is a book I return to every week. It gives me guidance as a writer and person.

When I’m writing plays, I read a lot of plays at the same time, to keep my mind within that particular genre as I write.  My favourite Canadian playwrights are Hannah Moscovitch, Kate Hennig, Hiro Kanagawa and Jordan Tannahill. I’ve learned how to write better dialogue (in stories, novels, and plays) because I read and study their work. I’m still a fledgling playwright, but two of my plays, Sparrows Over Slag and Letters to the Man in the Moon, have had staged readings in a local theatre festival called PlaySmelter over the last two years. I’d like to see one, or both, produced for the stage, but I know that will take time and I’m uncertain of how to move forward in this particular genre.

I read widely, and I like following up on friends’ suggestions of books I might like to read. Recently, I’ve come to Robin Wall Kimmerer, Graham Greene, Joan Didion, and Kathy Page because of people recommending certain books, and I’m grateful for that expansion of my reading life.

Two writers who have been very important mentors to me are Timothy Findley and Lawrence Hill. I love their novels, and that’s why I applied to different literary retreats to work with them as writing mentors. Their books tell vivid and interesting stories, and their characters always feel so real, so human to me. I admire the way neither of them never really seemed to get caught up in the ego game of Canadian Literature. They both have created work that is beautifully crafted, and then let it speak for itself. Both were important teachers for me and helped me to improve as a writer.

In terms of current poets whose work I admire, I had the real pleasure of working with John Glenday and Jen Hadfield as mentors at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, in the summer of 2016. I admire their poems a great deal, and I learned a lot from them in terms of how to make my own poetry much stronger. I also learned a great deal from Seattle-based poet, Susan Rich, at an ekphrastic poetry writing retreat at Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat on the Beara Peninsula, County Cork, Ireland. I also love the work of Edmonton-based poet, Alice Major. She was a great supporter of me when I became Poet Laureate of Greater Sudbury in 2016, encouraging me as someone who had been a laureate in her own city. She offered me sensible advice that helped me make it through my term as laureate relatively unscathed.

7. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I think that, to be a “good writer,” you need to read quite a lot of books. You need to immerse yourself in books you like, as well as ones you might not like, or ones you might not know about. I often have friends (writers and non-writers) suggesting books that I should read, and I’ve come to new authors that way.

I also think that writers need to observe things carefully. Back in my late twenties, I worked with Timothy Findley through the Humber School for Writers on a collection of short stories that I was writing at the time. The best piece of advice that he gave me was that I should be out in public places and that I should take the time to listen carefully. This is, in effect, all about taking the time to eavesdrop. His suggestion was meant to help me improve my dialogue, and it did help. Now, as I write plays, I am listening never  more closely to how people speak to one another, and to the subtext that is heavily hinted at in written communication, or in body language, or even in conversation. The places where the silences live tend to be ripe, full of things to write about.

What I learned from Larry Hill, when I worked with him at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in April 2016, was that I should not be afraid to mine the stories of my own life. I had been worried about that, mostly as my first novel is based on a rumoured family story that stretches back a couple of generations. I took his advice and wrote the novel. I think it’s a good story, but I know I’m biased.  I’ve been blessed to have very good mentors over my time as an emerging and established writer. I love to learn how to be a better writer, in whatever genre I’m working.

The other thing I would say is that you need to develop a writing practice. As you brush and floss each day, I think writers who feel compelled to write know that they must fashion a space within which to write. This doesn’t mean a physical space, per se, as I’ve learned this last year. Instead, it means setting your mind and intention to a task and making progress each day. I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I believe in a daily practice, like yoga or meditation, for example.

I studied literature at university, attaining an undergraduate and a graduate degree in English literature. This allowed me to place myself within a history of writing and reading. That academic training rooted me in how to recognize the various “parts” of a writing practice. I still read as critically now, learning from the authors whose work I read.

I think, too, it helps if you’re an empath. You can imagine how people feel. You can feel how people feel. All of this helps you to write characters who are true to life and believable.

8. Tell me what inspired “These Wings”?

Most of These Wings was written in a tiny town in Southwestern Ontario called Kingsville, which sits in Essex County just outside of Windsor. I fell in love with the landscape—with Lake Erie, the hiking trails and conservation areas, Point Pelee National Park, the gorgeous Carolinian trees, and the birds (especially the barn swallows and red-winged blackbirds)—when I first went to a writing retreat on Pelee Island that featured a workshop with Margaret Atwood back in May 2016. I went back to work on my novel at the Woodbridge Farm in Kingsville in August 2016, and then rented a cottage called the Bird House Cottage on Pelee Island in August 2017. The funds from the rental of that cottage helps to support the work of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory, an organization I love.

I’ve been on leave from teaching high school English, writing my new novel, a play, and more poems. Part of my second novel is set in the Kingsville area, as well as in Creighton Mine, a mining town that once stood outside my hometown of Sudbury. I lived in Kingsville from March until December of 2018, working on my writing.

These Wings speaks to the tangible pull that I feel between two very distinct landscapes—from the raw and rugged beauty of Northeastern Ontario’s pines, lakes, and rocks, to the fertile pastoral farmland of Essex County, with its wide open skies and murmurations of birds. That sense of a sort of elastic tension between two places underpins much of These Wings. I felt, when I was writing those poems, so torn between two places. I was in love with both places at the time.

It’s also a book about what I call “surfaces and underneaths,” a book that reflects the place where I was born. Sudbury, and my family’s history, is all about mining. Its economy has diversified over the years—with an excellent university and two fine colleges, as well as a beautiful art gallery, professional theatre centre, and symphony orchestra—but underneath it all is a labyrinth of mines. Sudbury wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the nickel and copper mines.

As a writer, I am intrigued by what we can see, and even more fascinated by what we cannot see. Sometimes you can sense things without seeing them. In my town, there are “surfaces,” and there are “underneaths,” but what holds it all together for me is the beauty of the lakes and trails. I can swim in lakes every morning in the summer months, and I can be physically active outside throughout the year.

For me, after time spent away writing in a different part of the province, eight hours to the south, These Wings is a book about exploring and journeying, both into landscapes and into self. It’s also very much about being grateful for the beauty of our wild spaces here in Canada. I’m a proponent of conservation of the environment, and I believe that is fairly obvious in the poems I write. We are here on the planet for a very short time. We need to be mindful of how we walk on the earth, and how we need to be guardians of it.

The title, These Wings, is really about how you can feel free to explore, just as a bird flies in the sky above. Metaphorically, it’s about flight and freedom, and also a great deal about the power of hope and love. We live in dark times, and I believe art (visual, literary, theatrical, musical) is what can help us to bring light to the world. Artists do this because we see things in different ways, and because we are mindful of the world around us. This is why I think it’s important to support the arts, and to value the crucial work that all artists do. We are the ripples in the pond…

8.1. The moon is a recurring image in these poems.

I am fascinated by the phases of the moon. Since I was a little girl, I have always been drawn to the sky, in the day and in the night. Still, I have always loved the night sky because of the moon and the stars. I loved astronomy, and still do, even though I never did do very well academically in science classes at high school.

I remember reading about how women used to “call down the moon,” and found that a fascinating image. When I was little, I used to stand on the dock of my family’s camp

on the edge of Lake Nipissing and throw my arms wide open to the moon and the stars, wishing that they would just settle inside my chest and heart. I felt that I could almost harness the moon’s power and beauty, to make myself feel stronger on days when I felt weak, worried, or even just “outside of everything else.”

I am drawn to the moon’s beauty. Its power intrigues me a great deal. It controls the tides; nothing seems as amazing and magical as that one fact. There is an ebb and flow in the ocean that I do so love. You can stand there, on the edge of the Atlantic, and feel the water pushing you back towards land in one moment, and then feel it pulling at your feet as the waves go back to the sea. I love that sense of being drawn in so completely and passionately, as if I am entering into the landscape in a sensual way.

This summer, my dream was to swim under a bright moon late at night in a local lake, and I did. It felt like I gathered the moon into my body and heart as I swam through the water. The moon makes me feel strong and elemental, and it makes me so grateful to be mindful enough to have it play such a role in my creative process and in my writing.

My latest play is called “Letters to the Man in the Moon,” and it’s about a young girl—Lucy—whose father dies in a mining accident. She tries to work through her grief by sending him letters. She thinks that he is perhaps somewhere above her, so she writes letters to him, and then burns them in a backyard fire pit, hoping that the ashes of the words in the letters will rise up so that he will read them. In between each scene in the play, I’ve written in little snippets of moon knowledge.

For me, the moon is a gateway to other places, including sleep and dreaming, when I’m lucky enough to be able to sleep. That the moon changes, has different phases and “faces” throughout a month, is beautiful. We, as humans, are not unlike the moon in the way that we shift and change. We have seasons, too, just as the moon has its phases.

8.2. Noticing another recurring image of “breath”, I wonder how important line endings and the phrasing of sentences are  to your work.

Yes. Breath is everything. I practice yoga regularly, so I’m mindful of how I breathe every day. When I get anxious, I come back to the rhythm of my breath and imagine it as an ocean, with waves coming in and going out. I think, too, of how spaces work within poems. Punctuation is so important. Stanzaic structure is crucial to how a poem works. I often take most of my time, when writing and revising poems, adjusting and readjusting line breaks. I’m much more aware of the meticulous and thoughtful task of crafting a poem now that I’m in my late 40s, after decades of practice. I naively thought I knew a lot about how poetry worked when I was a new, young poet back in the 1990s. Now I know I knew very little. Another twenty years of reading and thinking has helped me to evolve, and I hope strengthen, as a poet.

8.3. In writing plays a writer assumes a character who is unlike themselves, how does this manifest in your poetry?

In writing prose, and in writing dialogue for plays, I’m very much aware of how my sentences work. I read everything out loud after I write it. (My dog thinks I’m a bit off, but he’s used to it now.) I need to hear the rhythm, cadence, and music of my work to be sure it has weight. I want it to have both substance, ballast, and grace, but I also want people who may not normally read poetry to be able to understand it. I want it to move people’s hearts and minds, to show them that there are other ways of living in, and interpreting, the world. I want my words, my work, to convey what I see, think, and feel as clearly and evocatively as possible. I never know if they do, but I hope so…

I can’t stand going to poetry readings where everyone listens and nods as if they understand, when they actually might not. It seems a bit like the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Some types of poetry exclude people who aren’t in academic circles, or who don’t have connections to literary criticism. For me, and this has been true since I began to read and write poetry as a young girl, I believe that poems should invite people in for a cup of tea and a chat. In the Irish tradition, which I inherited from my mother’s side of the family, I grew up with a love of storytelling, and of learning to listen to people’s stories. Poorly told stories never really impressed me. A good storyteller makes you feel adept and certain in your own mind, so that means they won’t try to make you feel daft just to prove that they’re clever.

I often sing at my poetry readings, usually old Irish songs. I love them because they are narrative and poetic, and because they tell stories. So, I suppose, now that I think about your question…my poetry is likely the most auto-biographical in essence of all of my genres of writing. In other genres, like my novels and plays and short stories, I create distinct characters. There is some creation of characters in These Wings, in the sequences like the Frida poems, the WAR Flowers poems, and the Forty-Part Motet poems, because if you take the poems together, as they should be read as parts within a whole, then there is a narrative thread that carries through those suites. There are ‘personas’ in those poems, in many of the poems, I guess, and maybe having a persona allows me to give it some space to just be a poem on its own two feet.

8.4. Interesting that you speak of singing Irish songs in your performances because I notice distinct references to choral music throughout the poetry.

I have always loved to sing, and have sung solo and also in choirs. I sing every day, whether in my car or my house. I love the traditional Irish songs, the ones that tell stories. Some of the ones I most love to sing are “Red is the Rose,” “She Moved Through the Fair,” “The Fields of Athenry,” and “The Parting Glass.”

For me, poetry is music. I am not a fan of rhyming poems, but I love the subtle music of internal rhyme and echoes of phrases or images that just sort of come up over you as if they are waves. Poetry is meant to be read out loud, so how things sound in a poem is important to me. That’s why word choice, punctuation, and line breaks are key.

The Forty-Part Motet poems are based on Janet Cardiff’s sound exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. It’s one of my favourite places in the entire world, and the Rideau Chapel is the most beautiful space in which to hear it. Thomas Tallis’s Spem in Alium is one of my favourite pieces of music, and I often play it when I’m writing. The layering of voices is too gorgeous for words, but still, I somehow managed to try and convey the intense experience of listening to Tallis in that space, and watching people’s reactions to how the music swirls up around you and crashes in a climax. Every time I’ve sat in that chapel space, I’ve sat for long periods of time, and each time I start to weep. It’s that powerful for me. Music—like poetry, or lake swimming, or doing yoga, or even like hiking in the bush—is one of my sacred things. It lets me be rooted in the physical, but it also lifts me up out of my body into more numinous spaces.

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