Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Life of a Poet - Daydreamer Too

Kids, I’ve always said that peoples’ real life stories are more interesting – and often more unbelievable – than anything a writer can create in fiction. And have I ever got a story for you today. We are sitting down this day with Bren, who writes as Daydreamer Too at Soul Speak.  She has a most interesting life story, and a love story besides. I could have written a whole book. I didn’t want it to end.  Pour yourself a cup of tea. (What is that saying? One cup of tea shared is with an acquaintance, two cups of tea, one becomes an honoured guest, and with the third cup, one is family.) Come sit by me, kids. This is a three-cupper.
Poets United: Bren, it is lovely of you to allow us a peek into your life. Shall we start at the beginning? Where were you born and raised?
Brighton-image from google

Bren: I was born in Brighton, which is in Sussex, England, but have seen a lot of England, Scotland and Wales.

Poets United: On your About page, I see you voluntarily enlisted in the Women’s Royal Army Corps, at only 17 – I imagine there is a tale there in itself.  Do you have any favourite stories from that time?
Bren: I had wanted to join when I was 13 and, seeing an advert in the paper, I sent off for their booklet, then, thinking I’d be sent the information, forgot all about doing it. On the way home from school one day, I saw an army jeep leaving our house. My mother was on the doorstep. As I got to the house she asked me: ‘What the heck have you done?’ I gulped and asked why: “Because I just had a sergeant here asking about you wanting to enlist in the army!” I later discovered the day I signed the papers to enlist  on my 17th birthday, that that sergeant’s surname was the same surname as mine and she’d wanted to meet me because of that. 
The Outer Hebrides-image from google
My mother nearly had a fit though. There are countless stories I could tell you about my army days. In many ways they were some of the best years of my life. I was in for four years but left because I reached as high as I could go in radar and was stuck in one of the most remote places in the UK. It’s a small island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  Beautiful, rugged but, nothing there, really. We were a test firing range. The army provided radar and tracking for army and air force units to come. There are practice firing drones, tracking their flight and seeing them land safely.  Test fire new surface to air missiles and such. I was a tracking radar operator. If we were not busy with anything work-wise I would sometimes sit in my radar set, lock onto a seagull or even a cloud and watch it for miles. Loved it. It’s now part of the UK radar early warning system, if the UK comes under attack.

I was 18 or 19 and a corporal (two stripes) in the army when this pic was taken. I loved that radar set. It was in fields away from the main part of the work camp and we were more or less our own bosses. I was in charge of 20 odd girls then.
Poets United: Fantastic! (See what I mean, kids? But wait! There’s More!) I also see that you drove double decker busses (wow!) and worked for the Police Force. Was this in London?  

image from google
Bren: I was 21 and applied for the job as a conductress/taking fares (clippie), but it was under the proviso that I became a driver. I couldn’t even drive a car at that time, let alone a bus and thought they were not serious. After three months the manager had me in his office and told me if I didn’t start driver-training immediately (in my own unpaid free time!) I would find myself out of a job!  So, with no choice but to drive, I was the first woman driver to sit behind the wheel of a double decker bus. Thankfully it wasn’t London! This was in the north east of England. It took a lot of patience, courage and failing the hour long test, twice. Because I wasn’t already a driver I had to have a ministry of transport man come and judge me on the test and not just a training bus inspector who could pass me. So my driving had to be top notch but, three strikes and you’re out. Knowing that I only had one more chance left,  I then took  my 30 min driving test in a car, which I found was a piece of cake to drive after driving a bus. Then on the 3rd bus test still with an MOT inspector, I finally passed.  Having been thrown from the back end of the bus to the front many times by drivers who thoughtlessly slammed on the brakes at each bus stop or traffic lights, I was determined never to do that to anyone once I was a driver. Soon after passing,  I had to do the drivers run. Pick up all the first early morning drivers and take them to the bus depot. I was determined to be so light on the brakes they wouldn’t even know I was using them and, to drive so well that it would impress them all about not wanting women drivers! When we arrived at the depot, they all stood up, cheered and gave me a round of applause. Haha
Poets United: I LOVE this story! You are brave – from non-driver to double decker bus is a Leap, kiddo! And now we are coming to the love story I promised our readers. It is beautiful and sad. I read on your About page that you lost your partner, Cathie, in 2005, and that you are now raising her daughter. I’m so sorry for your loss, and admire you greatly for being there for Chloe. How did you meet? And what brought you from England to the wilds of Canada?
Bren: We met through my words. She found my online diary through a friend of hers when it was open to the www.  She began to read me and then note me, and we soon became friends.  She lived in Canada, I was in England, so we talked through headphones and a webcam on the computer and also on the phone.  I taught her how to write Haiku, to slow her mind down to focus it, and she became really good at writing them.
She was so vibrant, full of a love of life and so spontaneous, whereas I tend to plod along. In some ways her excitement over many things was childlike, even people who didn’t know her would do a ‘double take’ as she bounced on by. She was like a tornado. Unique, and our meeting was destiny. We met in real life after only one month of knowing her. After four one-month-long visits, and a further four-month long visit with her and Chloe, we decided we had to be together. So, as I had no commitments in the UK, I was the one to make the move. It was a huge decision, not easy to give up your family, home, way of life and go off into the unknown, but I loved her more than I had ever loved anyone before.  It was a soul love. She had made me feel alive again. We both didn’t do well apart, and we thrived being together.
Poets United: Such a poignant, beautiful story, Bren. Wow. And now?
Bren: And now I raise a child. It’s a complicated story in itself, and way too involved to go into in a short description. But I became a mother that I never dreamed I would be, and it isn’t easy at all to raise a child as a single parent, but we do cope and we do count our blessings.
Chloe and Timmy at Gurnsey Cove
picking up beach glass

There is so much to our story; it’s long and filled with much joy and much pain and sorrow.  I have written a novel about it, but I get so caught up in the poetry, I am too lazy to do the editing it needs to have before I send it off. I want to write, create. I hate editing.
Poets United: That is one book I’d love to read. Please edit it! What does your life look like today?
Bren: We live in a city on Prince Edward Island. It is a beautiful place, only 139,000 people on the whole island, and it still has an old world charm. People who come here always fall in love with it, because it seems to have a certain magic about it and they can feel it. P.E.I. is famous for the author L. M. Montgomery and her Anne of Green Gables tales. When their Royal Highnesses Prince William and his wife Katherine visited Canada last year, they said the best part of their visit was to P.E.I. and they want to return again, too.  It seems they also felt the magic here.
Poets United: I’ve heard lots about the Maritimes, and the wonderful spirit of the people there. And I devoured Anne of Green Gables when I was a kid.
Bren: P.E.I. is known for its red soil... they call it P.E.I. mud...and it's famous for its P.E.I. potatoes.I once was nearly KILLED by a potato!  Gosh, I have thousands of stories ...
Poets United: We must have the Potato Story!

Bren: I was driving to town from the harbour and a potato truck was really speeding towards me in the opposite direction. It was winter and the roads were icy, messy. Suddenly as he gets closer, I see a potato fall off his truck, and they must have been frozen because it bounced and bounced along and was heading right for my windshield!

I knew if it hit at over 90 kmp and was frozen, my windshield was a gonner .... so... I swerved and it hit, but without as much impact! I could 'see' the headlines in my mind: 'Mad English woman killed by P.E.I. potato.'

Poets United: That's hilarious. The Power of the Lowly Potato. I’m so glad it ended well.

Bren: I knew Chloe as a four year old child, she is now nearly 16. She is full of life, and sometimes she tells me she loves her life. I feel happy, then, that maybe I’ve been getting it right as a parent, because sometimes I’ve felt a bit like a fish out of water over it all. She runs rings around me with her energy at times.

Poets United: A sixteen year old who is happy with her life - you can't get a higher recommendation than that! So wonderful.  And we must hear about the famous Timmy. Look at that little face!

Bren: Timmy came from a reputable Yorkshire terrier breeder in Ontario. My late partner’s brother brought him  with him when he drove all the way here for a visit. We had Tim from being an 8 week old puppy. When we thought of a name for him I said it had to be something to do with Tim Horton’s because that was the first place Cathie drove me to on my first visit to Canada. We went all through the things they sell at Tim Horton’s and my favourite thing, a coffee and a Boston Cream didn’t seem to go at all, so then I came up with Timbit.
These are small pieces of left over dough they roll into balls and sell in boxes of 6/12/24. Anyway, so he was officially named on his Kennel papers as Timbit of ….. but he gets called Tim, or Timmy. He has a bad back due to calcified discs and I have to be very careful to try and stop him from jumping up and down, not easy when he is such a boy and so daring.
Poets United: He is adorable. His name is perfect. So I suppose we should talk about poetry.J How long have you been writing?
Bren: I’ve always been a daydreamer and have been writing ever since I can remember.  I don’t ever remember not writing and always had such a sense of guilt if I didn’t write.   In my mid 30’s I hadn’t written for a few years, and I had such a vivid dream one night, woke up and remembered it so clearly. A man came to me in the dream, introduced himself and was so very angry with me. He said: ‘You have  been given such a talent for words, which is a God-given gift, and you are wasting it by not using it…how dare you! Whatever you do you in this life you must, write, write, write!!’  When I looked up this man’s name, it was the author of Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh.  
Evelyn Waugh - google image

Poets United: Wow. What an amazing story!
Bren: I hadn’t even known this man until that happened. The dream is as vivid today as it was back then in the 70’s and, ever since then, I feel an even more tremendous guilt if I don’t write. Yes, I do feel I was given such a gift with my writing and as such, feel a need to share it with as many people as want to read it. The gift of course, is to share and try to spread the message of love.
spread the message of love
Poets United: I love that! You have a very distinctive and consistent style that is signature Bren. Have you always written this way, or did this style evolve over the years?
Bren: I had read poems by many poets as a teen but, with so many of the old poets, unless it rhymed, I could never understand what they were trying to say. So, I gave up reading them and decided I would simply write my thoughts, my way. No style, no rules. I don’t understand the Aa Bb Cc,  this has to have so many words on one line, this has to have so many words, syllables etc etc. I can’t write like that. It has to be free thought that flows, like music flows, and much of my writing is written with soft music in the background. Not songs, but soft relaxing music.
Music is always in my writing. I also think words should dance, flow across the page smoothly, like water. So, I guess I just do my own thing and don’t follow any rules at all because, apart from enjoying Haiku, following any other rules of writing sonnets and such, I feel would alter my free thinking and therefore, change my writing.  I don’t think of my writing as coming from my head or my heart. I feel that my writing comes from my soul. That’s why I call it my ‘soul speak’.
Poets United: Beautiful, Bren. What is it about poetry that made you choose it as your means of creative expression?
Bren: An artist needs a canvas or a surface to paint. To me, poetry is painting pictures in someone else’s mind without the need of canvas. If I can write something that someone says: I could ‘see’ that, or, I can feel that, then I have succeeded with what I wanted to say.
Poets United: What keeps you writing?
Bren: My love of words and of painting pictures with them. Of life. Love of this planet, its creatures.  Love of space, water, just …love of everything that is, really. Love.
Poets United: Sigh. I am so enjoying this conversation! Have you written a poem you feel best describes you?
Bren: Yes, it’s on my home page. Although I kept it brief there, I’ve always described myself as having two very different spirits in me. One is the phoenix, she is my driving force, she is my energy. She pushes me to go on when I’m too tired to want to, and she is my daring, my courage. The other is the white dove. She is my peace, my calm, she centers me, grounds me and gives me wisdom, clarity I sometimes lack, the inner strength I sometimes don’t think I have. She gives me faith and hope to keep on keeping on.
The phoenix has risen from the ashes!
With the sun on my back
And the wind in my hair
Where no-one can catch me
Except those who’d dare
To come fly with me
Glide along at my side
Flying forever
What a glorious ride!
Poets United: A beautiful poem! You describe yourself as spiritual, but not a follower of any religion.  How would you define your spiritual journey?
Bren: I’ve read the Bible several times but, as a book that wasn’t written until some 300  years after the crucifixion of Jesus,  by men for men, to keep the masses under control through fear of eternal damnation if blah blah…  I don’t believe in it as such. Having read so many books now which question why we are here, how we came to be here, and how religion (as we know it) came into being, I don’t believe in a vengeful God who is jealous, unkind and wishes to smite these people or those people for doing this or that. So, I read anything and everything which can and does, open my eyes and enlighten me.  There are so very many gospels that were written in Jesus’ time that were more accurate accounts of his life and teachings but because it didn’t ‘suit’ the new religion they were forming, they were kept out of the Bible and called heresy by the then powers that be.
Pure energy, light and love
Therefore, I do believe in a Prime Creator, something had to have created all of this reality in the beginning, but I see my God as pure energy. Light, and that purest light is love. It’s pure love that is the strongest force in the universe. It’s what makes us humans have super human strength and be capable of lifting a car off their child who is pinned under it. There is no stronger force known that that of love.
Poets United: I am resonating so much with every word you say. Don’t stop!
Bren: When we lose someone we’ve loved as deeply as a ‘soul’ love - by that I mean, when we have loved someone else more than we have loved ourselves, enough to be willing to die for them if needs be - then, that part of us that we freely give away to them dies with them too. So, we also have to go on a journey of re-birth.  A part of us is dead and we have to do much soul-searching to understand the dreadful pain we are left with, the huge hole in our chest that is left from the broken heart. And, we all want to push the pain away, have it taken away because it’s too much to endure but, if we can go deep enough within, we learn so much about that pain. It is the same as the joy of the love. It is one and the same. We can’t give it away, it is ours and ours alone.  We enjoyed the love, we endure the sorrow of its loss, we have to ‘own’ the pain, pull it into us and embrace it as being the same as the love we were so willing to embrace.

embracing the pain

Once we accept it, then in time, we grow into a much deeper understanding of love, and our place here on this planet and in this universe.  I had many ‘epiphany’ moments of spiritual enlightenment in my journey through grief and, through those, I’ve learned that unconditional Love is the key to everything.
Poets United: So much wisdom. You have journeyed well! What do you strive for, in your poems?
Bren: I want the reader to feel what I feel.  See what I see.
Poets United: What kind of poetry do you respond the most to, and the least?
 Bren: I enjoy writings that speak their truths. I don’t enjoy anything that goes on and on endlessly, sometimes speaking in ways that make no sense to me. I like to, if not understand, at least get a sense of what it is the writer is trying to say.
Poets United: Well said. When you aren’t writing, what other activities do you pursue?
Bren: Everyday things of running a house, raising a busy teen and keeping a busy dog happy. I also repair and programme computers as and when I get any.
Poets United: Where is your favourite place in the world?
Bren: Close to any water, anywhere. I have a need to always be close to water.
Poets United: Me, too. Who would you say has been the strongest influence on your writing?
Bren: I can’t say that anyone has influenced me. The only thing I can say I have been influenced by is…Love.
influenced by Love
Poets United: Sigh. So lovely. Any blogger friends you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Bren: There are so many. Waystationone. Jaerose. LBTL.  In the Corner of My Eye. Laurie Kolp. Zongrik. I could list so many more.
Poets United: What can you say that you know for sure, that you’ve learned this lifetime?
Bren: That we are spiritual beings having an earthly experience, and that we are made of so much more than simply flesh and blood. It’s a known fact that we humans only use not even one 3rd of our brains. Imagine if we could remember how to use it all, just some of the amazing things we could do.....e.g. ESP, Remote viewing, levitation, healing,  etc etc . So much more we can do with our minds, if we knew how to use them properly.  I think this was what Jesus was trying to teach us. Not in the sense of the Biblical ‘do this or else’ but rather, that we should learn the things he was trying to show us, to be able go to where he went.
Although it isn’t widely known, Jesus was said to have travelled and studied with the Buddhists in India before he returned home. When he said the Kingdom of God is within you, He meant for us to go deep within and find our soul/spirituality and hence our God light, and, from that, our place in God’s universe.  I feel we’ve been so highly developed in our ancient past and that all the knowledge of who we were and what we were capable of has been lost or ‘secreted’ away by the powers that be who wanted to keep law and order. And all those secrets died out with the last of the Egyptian dynasties but, one day when we’re ready, maybe some of us will be lucky enough to discover all the knowledge again.  I do feel religion has caused more deaths than anything else in this world and one day we may discover we’ve all got it so wrong.
 If it’s really only, always, ever about Love…if we are unconditionally loved and we love unconditionally.... we have it all.
Poets United: It could not be stated any better. Anything else you’d like to share with Poets United?
Bren: There is so much to my/our story, and this just touches on some parts of it, but I thank you for asking me to do this and I am deeply honoured.
Poets United: The honour is all ours, Bren. Thank you for sharing your amazing life and wisdom so generously.  This has been the most wonderful conversation. I feel like I’ve been to a spiritual retreat!
See, kids? I told you it was going to be special. Thank you for reading. It was impossible to cut a single fascinating word. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Wonderful interview, Sherry! Bren, I so enjoy your poetry, which definitely seems always to come from a deep place. Your story truly IS an amazing journey, and I also hope that you will someday write that book!

  2. I loved reading this, getting deeper insights into a courageous woman. I find Bren's poetry always very musical and with a sort of magical quality, deceptively simple. On the face of it, it's not the kind of poetry I like best, yet it always gets straight to my heart. It must be that quality of Love which infuses it!

    Wonderful story about Evelyn Waugh! Why him, I wonder? Perhaps because he had great problems with the Church, yet was a deeply spiritual man who understood the importance of Love. (Despite being, we are told, curmudgeonly at times in his personal life.)

    Yes, I'd like to read that novel too!

  3. Thank you so much for this Sherry. You really presented it so well, even finding a pic of a Timbits carton
    I am touched and honoured to be asked to participate and also to join the ranks of others fine poets and many others to follow too.

  4. This is a wonderful interview Sherry. Thanks for your time and work in showcasing Bren's life and poem. It was lovely to know more about you Bren...your life is very interesting and colourful, if I may say so. Keep writing and sharing your talents with us ~

  5. Regarding something aside from your poetry....sea glass( a fascination of mine) You are in the best place with all the shipping traffic that has gone on in the Atlantic for centuries...I bet as a PE Islander you have a great collection.

    1. I can't get to your profile from you link name so, hope you read this. We used collect so much beach glass, we have glass jars filled with it, and it looks so beautiful with sunlight glistening onto it. At one time I also bought a drill press and used to make jewelry from it too. Chloe and I used to love finding a piece of blue glass because it was the rarest colour and we'd both shout out "found a bit of blu hoo." LOL It was like treasure to us, and going there every day was, priceless.

  6. You weren't kidding....this is a fascinating interview of one of my favorite blogger friends. Bren, you are a most amazing just pour forth beauty and love...I so admire who you are. And to have your teenager say she is happy...oh, yeah, that's huge! And the "dream" of a well known writer coming to you and demanding that you write...oh, WOW!

  7. Bren, thanks for a look into your life. Sherry, thanks for this interview.


  8. Fascinating interview ... the beacon of light and love shine forth with courage, inspiration and love. Sherry, thank you for showcasing and Bren, for sharing a peek into your life with us! Many blessings to you both!!

  9. Thank you for this insightful interview, Sherry.

    Bren: you may find this chapbook "The Losing Game" by RV Bailey on the loss of her partner UA Fanthorpe - the poetry is a cathartic celebration of her life and is full of love.

  10. Sherry- It's so amazing to read these wonderful interviews about the people behind the blog. Thanks for that!

    I really enjoyed learning more about you, Bren. I find it so inspirational that you were led back to writing through a dream. Thanks, too, for mentioning me... the feeling's mutual.

  11. wow bren...i think i could sit and listen to you tell stories for a long time...some fun ones in was great learning more about you and thank you so much for the mention as well...smiles....

  12. This was so nice to get to learn more about you. There is always a story behind the words and when you can get closer to the writer, it opens it all up allowing the poetry to soar. I am grateful to have had the chance to meet you Bren. xox

  13. Bren,
    I so enjoyed getting to know you better! I share a lot of your views.
    I love that you were the first female Double Decker bus driver, Bravo~
    I so wish you would finish your book, it sounds amazing! You have had quite a journey, so glad you found your soul mate~ I have been to PEI, I loved it! Funny story with potatoes, too...
    I went down to the car to get the potatoes for my Mom to cook. We were on vacation, had a hotel with a kitchenette. Mom wasn't to pleased when I brought her the wrong bag. A bag full of red rocks... I was young, they looked like potatoes ;D
    Bren, how about a poetry book instead?! Nice to know more about you~ Great interview ladies!!!

  14. Oh so many lovely comments. I'm so glad everyone enjoyed Bren's amazing story - we may have to do a sequel, hee hee - am sure there are tons more stories to be enjoyed! Thank you, Bren, for giving us such a generous look In. I LOVE the sound of the sun shining through the jars of colored beach glass. On our beach, there wasnt much glass - but sometimes glass BALLS which were highly coveted. And some shells. The glass would give the effect of stained glass, I that idea!

  15. Wow what an amazing life....Bren has always been one of my favorite poets and her blog has such an amazing welcoming...

  16. I followed a link from your page, Bren, to read this beautifully and faithfully presented interview with Sherry. Wow. I love the adventures that helped to shape you--the remote island duty, the bus driving on the double-decker, the loving move to Canada, the soul mate, the raising of a daughter, the poetry, the personal conclusions re: faith and the bible. No wonder I enjoy the insights of your poems. It is so good to be getting to know you!

  17. Bren your life is colorful and so faithfully genuine with no masks....I loved what you said about poetry. So happy to know you and your life.

  18. What a wonderful interview and story. Bren sent me here as I prepare to do in Interview of her for my poetry blog. I'm not sure what to ask after that. Would you mind if I added a link to your interview to mine? Thanks, Sherry.

  19. Victoria, feel very welcome to add a link to Bren's interview. Have fun with your interview, I look forward to reading it. Would you give me a heads-up when it posts, so I don't miss it? Thanks, kiddo!

  20. Sherry, belatedly, I have found this interview with Bren. So enjoyed it!


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