Friday, October 21, 2011

How to get there: With Real Toads

Today, Laurie of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads has presented a writing challenge with a difference. She has given us the word "list" as a topic, and has added a request that our poems be lists of how-to directions. Interesting, Laurie, and, as it happens, I have experience with this particular topic.
First, a bit of history on How to Get There, as written by me.
Real Toads member Sherry Blue Sky might remember a contest in The Vancouver Sun when we were going to different schools together. I would guess she might have entered it, too, but I could be wrong.
A columnist with The Sun for many years, and for many days a week, admitted to getting tired of his daily grind. Therefore, with the cooperation of his managing editor, he held a contest for high school students in British Columbia: Columnist for a Day!
Everyone in my family sent me clippings, in case I had missed reading about the contest, and my teachers encouraged me to enter it also.
At that time, I was doing a lot of writing, and usually gave my self-assigned essays to a teacher, to check over and offer his opinion. He would read them, mark them, and soon return them to me with a few words of encouragement or criticism. One day, I asked him about my latest thing, which he hadn't returned with his usual promptitude.
"Oh, yes," he said, "I sent it to the newspaper contest."
"You what?" I was aghast. The essay consisted of directions to our house on the back of the local mountain, and included many real names: "You might see X on a tractor. Wave to him for me, I think he's cute," notwithstanding the fact X was then dating, and later married, a member of my class. (I blushed at every high school reunion.)
O well, I was nonchalant after the first shock. Hadn't I sent in six entries myself? There was no reason to think the teacher's submission on my behalf would ever see the light of day.
Except that it won—of my seven entries, the one full of real names of other girls' boyfriends, etc., won, and was printed, with a head-and-shoulders shot of me, in The Sun. To make matters worse, a compositor made a typo in my title. I called it Hillbilly but someone put in an extra Y and it appeared, excruciatingly embarrassingly, as Hillybilly.
I was sure, in a way only high school girls can be sure, I would die on the spot.
There were three other first-place winners and we are still in touch today. Teenage mortification does have its upside.

(Part II) by Kay Davies, October, 2011 ©

In Alberta it is easy
To get from A to B
Just get yourself on Highway 1,
Head east from Calgary.
There are no mountains in the way
And only a few hills;
There aren't too many twists or turns—
Nothing to cause you chills.

In BC, everything's uphill
With corners hid from sight,
"Slow to 30 here, use caution,
Go left, and then go right."
Tunnels, bridges, canyons, rivers,
Runaway lanes and lakes.
BC roads defy the driver:
You're scared to make mistakes.

But the danger on the prairie
Is subtler by far:
You could fall asleep from boredom
While driving in your car.
Stay awake and stay alive now,
To get from A to B,
For the entire two hundred and eighty boring kilometres
To here from Calgary.


Sherry Blue Sky said...

Kay, that is the coolest story ever. No, I didnt enter that contest but did enter one - or my teacher did for me, same as yours - for a province-wide contest - the topic: an essay on Peace. I placed third, as I recall. Started my peacenik writing young. I so enjoyed this story!!!! Love your poem too!

Laurie Kolp said...

Great poem... I love the rhyming and use of letters. Thanks for participating.

Congratulations on winning back then... I know you must have been so embarrased then, but look at you now!

P.S. When I tried to click on your link from Real Toads, there was a problem... you might want to try again.

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Laurie — Thanks. I didn't test the link. Silly me. I've re-entered it. Appreciate you pointing it out.
— K

Kerry O'Connor said...

Nothing I like better than an open road through a new country. This gave me itchy feet to travel :)

Mary Ann Potter said...

Oh, how nice! Good rhymes and a format that makes travel in your beautiful country look so appealing. Really. I have never seen that part of Canada.

Mara said...

I didn't think the 2 down from Edmonton to Calgary was boring at all, nor any of the other roads I've travelled in Alberta. I actually can't wait to get back to them!!

Mary said...

I enjoyed your list poem. Ah, you described the difference well between driving in BC and Alberta. But, oh, BC is so beautiful! I think Alberta is probably similar to driving through Iowa. Straight flat roads, but, yup, falling asleep is a danger!

cosmos cami said...

Oh, I loved this.
I liked your effortless natural rhyming as well, but my FAVORITE was:
But the danger on the prairie
Is subtler by far:
You could fall asleep from boredom
While driving in your car.