Nanoose Bay author and poet Susan Pederson holds her book, ‘How Many Times Can You Say Goodbye?’, which is encompasses undelivered notes written to her best friend who was dying of cancer at the time. (PQB News file photo)

Nanoose Bay author and poet Susan Pederson holds her book, ‘How Many Times Can You Say Goodbye?’, which is encompasses undelivered notes written to her best friend who was dying of cancer at the time. (PQB News file photo)

Vancouver Island poet discusses hope in latest dance video

Pederson: ‘We all have something that we can do that will keep us going’

For the latest dance collaboration video by Rebecca McLane and Taryn Pickard, Nanoose Bay author and poet Susan Pederson asked herself “what do we all need right now and what are we holding on to?”

Her spoken-word poem For Hope tries to answer her that.

“We don’t have a definite answer and we don’t know when this is going to end. We’re all feeling a little lost and thinking it has to be over by now,” she said.

Pederson found herself completely immersed in the idea of hoping for a better tomorrow, when the world can put the COVID-19 pandemic in the past.

She hopes the message in her poem resonates with anyone struggling right now, but especially with adolescents and young artists. In the dance video, she would like people to experience the impact of her words, and see the young dancers press on and be creative.

“They’re continuing with their art, no matter what. Everybody can do something, whether you sew, or whether you do sketches, or play guitar. We all have something we can do that will keep us going.”

Pederson makes the distinction between written poetry and spoken word poetry, where spoken word takes its quality not as much from visual aesthetics but on phonaesthetics, also known as the aesthetics of sound. Her draw to spoken word poetry stems from her fear of public speaking. The first few times she performed in public, she’d been incredibly nervous, but found that she could “move people with her words.”

She recalls the first time she saw the impact her words had was when her aunt was dying and she wrote a piece for her aunt’s sons. At the funeral one of the sons stood up and read her entire work out loud. Pederson attributes this defining moment as what cemented poetry as her creative outlet.

She said that “no suffering is ever wasted on a writer” and draws inspiration from life as it moves around her.

Another moment of inspiration Pederson speaks of had been at a restaurant when she saw a family leaving, and witnessed the mother move to place her hand on her adolescent daughter’s back as they left.

“And then I could see that she stopped and kind of double thought on that and stopped herself. And I thought, ‘I bet you in that moment she realized ‘oh my little girl’s not so little anymore. And she might be uncomfortable if I did this.’ So inspiration can just be a tiny moment in time when I’ve wondered what somebody was thinking.”

The writing process in For Hope had been unique in that it involved collaboration with the teenage dancers as well.

McLane had asked the young women what brings them hope right now, to which she did not get a lot of responses. But when they were asked, as a means to relate to their own creative outlet, what specific body parts do you associate with hope?

“And then they had all these amazing, insightful answers. I was so impressed,” said Pederson.

From there, Pederson took their words and ‘fit them together,’ letting them naturally fall into place with one another.

She believes with a project like this, it’s important to include the dancers’ voice and perspectives.

“I think the pandemic has been especially tough on adolescents. As adults, we’ve been through some heavy duty stuff and we know we’re going to get through it. We don’t know how, but we’re going to get past this. With adolescents, they’re old enough. So they don’t just believe anything you say. But they’re young enough that they might not know that we are going to get through this. And I think they’re so vulnerable. And you can’t reason them out of it because they’re adolescents,” she said with a chuckle.

If working on a spoken word piece, Pederson will often rehearse the poem out loud many times to find the right emphasis and impact. She views the practice as more of a performance, than simply reciting words.

“I feel like I have a real responsibility to entertain my audience. If they’ve taken the time to listen to my words, that’s an extreme privilege for me. And most people don’t get that opportunity, so I feel like I owe them something. Whether it’s to make them feel an emotion or whether its just to make them laugh.”

She said that audiences should prepare themselves for a raw and emotional experience with her writing.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

RELATED: Slam poetry expert introduced as Victoria’s new youth poet laureate

RELATED: Island poet receives Order of B.C. for Elder Project work

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Parksvillequalicum beach

Just Posted

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Neighbours have reached out to media on several occasions with complaints about the property

Darcy Rhodes (left) says his grandfather’s bonsai trees are his ‘babies.’ (Courtesy of Tamara Bond)
Construction takes place on Bamfield Main in early February 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY CTV NEWS)
Ongoing Bamfield roadwork unrelated to planned $30M fix

Construction by Mosaic unrelated to $30M upgrade ordered in wake of fatal bus crash

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

One person is dead after a camper van caught fire Thursday morning in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
UPDATED: One person dead after vehicle fire in Beacon Hill Park

Investigation into Victoria death in early stages

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Crews disassemble the iconic red and white KFC bucket from a sign on Goldstream Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Mark Schoor)
Iconic KFC bucket removed from Goldstream Avenue

Popular fast-food chain closes Langford location

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read