Reviewed by Gail M. Murray
Although L. Patricia Bayley has been writing poems from an early age; it took two key events in her eighty-fifth year for her to consider publishing. First, senior editor and news anchor Lisa LaFlamme featured her COVID poem, Stay the Course, on the 11 pm CTV News on April 12, 2020. This poem offered support for the medical community and reassurance to the public to “lean on the science.”
LaFlamme sent a message immediately following the broadcast: “I am so moved by Patricia Bayley’s poem. It has everything we are feeling right now, wrapped up in rhyme, and her graceful delivery. She gave me comfort and every Canadian watching.”
Next, author and radio personality, Erin Davis featured two of Patricia’s poems on her podcast interview Elder Wisdom from the Green Bench.
Life’s Journey is an illustrated poetry collection whose themes vary from nature and war to change and aging. Some show great depth, others engage the reader with humour and whimsy, all in fluid rhythm and rhyme. All are inspired by day-to-day reflection during a continuous journey through life.
Her light-hearted I Want Out captures the frustration of lockdown. Letter to Santa is positioned after her COVID themed poems, yet "the difficult year" could be any year in our modern world. What the reader brings to the poem from their experience is part of the equation. She is sharing her thoughts, yet there is a universal quality to them. We can identify. Perhaps the Santa Claus myth in Letter to Santa has lost its mystique with “gifts straight from Amazon, not the North Pole”. On the surface, there is a brightness, but dig a little, to discover the melancholy.
Arthur….. It is a witty look at the habitual pain and annoyance of arthritis as an “aggravating guest”. In the playfulness is a deeper seriousness. Like several of her poems, Bayley employs humour to make her point, then there is acceptance and moving forward, ever the optimist.
Aurora Borealis is a dazzling ballet of colour with "Heavenly music and movement /The angels are holding a party." Her well-chosen words capture the movement and images.
I’d Like to Be beguiles with
I’d like to be an owl one day
and fly with outstretched wings
to soar and glide and swoop and dive
to find the silent things
We sense the freedom, beauty and wisdom. In Camelot, Merlin teaches young Arthur by changing him into an eagle to soar above the wide open world. A world without borders; without ownership, you have no war.
Her series of war or anti-war poems are particularly poignant, touching a chord with this reviewer. Grandpa Joe stands out, written from the perspective of a young child trying to make sense of war. Its simplicity, structure and language capture the futility of war, while paying tribute to the person. Bayley has a haunting repeated chorus of “remember them still” reminiscent of Eric Bogle’s “tired old soldiers from a forgotten war.”
Though words and images spring from the page, it is the lady herself sharing her work, which is a delight. This petite lady with a delicate frame, a gentle grace and a quiet strength captivates her willing audience.
Life’s Journey is independently published.