David Blaikie is a journalist and writer who grew up in Nova Scotia and reported for the Truro Daily News, The Canadian Press, The Toronto Star and Reuters. He spent eighteen years in the Parliamentary Press Gallery and had a second career in labour communications. He has published three volumes of poetry, Her Final Days, the story of his mother who died of AIDS after a blood transfusion in the 1980s; Farewell to Coney Island, winner of the inaugural chapbook award of the Tree Reading Series in Ottawa (2011) and In that Old City by the Sea (2017). He lives in Ottawa.
David Blaikie on Writing
Writing baffles me, though I’ve been at it all my life, and have kept a daily diary for more than forty years. It’s a bit like baking bread. I knead the keys and words rise up, most of them unremarkable – letters, email, journals, decades of newspaper articles, the everyday prose of the communications field. Yet there is a value to all writing, if only a reminder to the fingertips, that anything worth saying is worth saying well. The challenge is ever there.
Poetry is another matter – elusive, mysterious, arriving from who knows where. The older I get the more I’m convinced that poetry is a gift and poets are the channels through which it flows. It cannot be coerced, without diluting it, yet demands all the craft that we can muster to bring it to the page. My influences over the years have been many. A few stand out – Alden Nowlan and Patrick Lane, Jack Kerouac and Henry David Thoreau, plus a host of great musician/writers of my time, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Patti Smith.
All my life I’ve looked for tricks to make it easier – alcohol, music, meditation. Nothing very reliable has emerged, except one thing. Walking seems to help. A powerful link exists between mind and body and walking seems to clarify the path between the two, at least for me. That’s all I know. I was a marathon runner in my younger years. I still try to walk an hour a day.