GANDER, NL – When Pamela Peckford is troubled by something she sees, she puts it into words.
She does this to unclutter her mind.
She remembers writing her first poem, which she exchanged with her cousin when she was eight. She calls those poems “gobbledygook.”
At 18, Peckford accompanied her pregnant friend, who was the same age, to see a doctor. A baby was heard crying from the waiting room.
“I wrote there and then about the baby crying and my girlfriend having to raise this child, and how she has to learn to do all those things.”
It was the first “serious thing” Peckford wrote, she recalled.
Words surrounded Peckford from a young age. Every day after school she frequented the little one-room library at the top of Sullivan Avenue. She had an appetite for reading and would pick any book from the shelves to satisfy her curiosity.
It was natural for Peckford to read. Her parents were prolific readers, and reading was a source of entertainment and an opportunity for bonding.
“When I was younger I would read what Dad read so we could talk about stories,” she said.
That bond was shared to the end.
As Peckford’s father was dying, she would go to the hospital and read a book he wanted to finish. Her mother, Frances Peckford, would ask Pamela to find and print poems for her to read and recite.
“Mum always read poems and she’s been doing it for years.”
Frances, 84 continues this tradition.
Peckford describes herself as an emotive person.
“Everything affects me emotionally,” she said, including things she sees and books she reads.
Once, she had to stop reading a book about Newfoundland and Labrador that described how the province was being raped of its resources and the people belittled. To settle her anger and frustration, she wrote a poem about it.
“I usually write when I get ticked off about or upset about something,” said Peckford.
Aside from reading, she keeps on top of news and current affairs and writes about troubling issues. A common thread of oppression and social justice issues grabs her attention.
She has written about the “Me Too” movement, the Jian Ghomeshi sex scandal, President Donald Trump, suicides, alcoholism, residential schools and various other topics.
“My poems go nowhere. There are some that I print – I’ll look at it and read it,” Peckford said.
Selected ones are shared, but “hundreds and hundreds of poems are just poems. Out of my head, on paper. Done. Gone.”
“My writing is all about me. If you look at those poems, it is all about me. It is how I feel, it is how I react, how I want to get that message out. It is my release of all that, so I can get it out and let it go.
“It is a bit selfish, and I don’t mean that as a rude selfishness because it clears my head.”
Peckford says her writing has taken a new turn in recent years.
“Now I want to write and for someone to take me seriously about my writing. I think to do that I need to find someone who will critique me and let me know if it is of interest to anyone else.
“Writing makes me so happy – it releases pressure from my head that gets piled up.”
See video of the story here: https://youtu.be/HSxxuA7IqS0