the synchronicity effect in poetry


At the used book store where I work, we frequently get boxes of donated books – people are always moving or committing feng shui in their living space and want to thin down their libraries, so they give us a bunch of books. I was going through one of the boxes, (‘dollaring them off’ as we say in the trade) when I came across a water-damaged copy of Sue Goyette’s 2011 poetry collection, Outskirts.

“Oh,” I thought. “I should read this.”

When I was visiting my friend Keith down in Halifax this summer, he’d talked about Sue Goyette, showed me her books and asked if I was going to contribute anything to the Halifax Commons poetry anthology, which she was putting together. I remembered a poem I’d written back in 1988 about the Commons, and on the last night of my visit I put together a letter and the text and put them in an envelope for Keith to drop off before the deadline.

Anyway, I finished my shift at the bookstore and when I got home I found an envelope waiting at my door from Gaspereau Press. My poem, ‘Hieroglyphics of the Moment’, had been accepted!

The following day, I opened the book store for another shift. My first customer was a young woman. She deposited a healthy stack of books on the counter, noticed my copy of Outskirts, pointed at it and said, “Sue Goyette’s my mother!”


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