Who says paper worlds
Are an escape from what is real?
As though the lives trapped in their binding
Are not ones that make you feel.
For sometimes our greatest lessons
Come from those with ink for skin,
Who reach beyond the page
To take our hand and pull us in.

This is not to take anything away from so-called “escapist” fiction, because it most certainly has its place in the literary world. You could argue that the sci-fi novels of the late Michael Crichton are “escapist,” but the worlds he created within those pages were full of life and philosophy and morality and complexity. And it is through reading those books that I hope to understand experience reality more fully. Maybe that’s what poet Erin Hanson is trying to convey in the poem above.

As you know, I’ve been participating in a reading challenge this year. The goal was to finish one book a month, however I chose to define what a “book” really meant. Even though I’ve already surpassed that goal, I have no plans of slowing down. I feel like reading more has not only helped with my writing, but it has also helped with how I choose to experience the world around me. Reading is not an escape. Books pull you in and open your eyes.

In writing today’s blog post, I tried to look up more about Erin Hanson online. It’s been a bit of a challenge, because I can’t be certain whether the Erin Hanson who penned those words above is the same as the contemporary impressionist oil painter or the researcher at the UBC’s Department of Anthropology. Maybe these are all the same person. Maybe they’re three different people. I’m not sure.

What I can determine is that the untitled poem above is taken from her The Poetic Underground series, consisting of Reverie, Voyage and Dreamscape. Now, I hardly consider myself a poet or even someone who is well-versed in the world of poetry. I do enjoy it, though, having studied such greats as John Keats and Lord Byron back in my university days.

Poetry is all around us, from the insightful lyrics of the late Tupac Shakur to my humble Hump Day Haikus series on Instagram. The relative brevity of conventional poetry means that every line, every word has to count for that much more. You still want to convey the complexity and nuance of “the lives trapped in their binding.”

There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?

Even if you fall, do it gloriously. And build yourself with your own wreckage.