Monday, December 9, 2013

Life of a Poet ~ ROBERT BOURNE

This week, my fellow poets, we are visiting Robert Bourne, the Trans Canada Poet, who writes at  Wrapped in Solitude. It is always lovely to interview a fellow Canadian. I am bringing Tim Horton's for all, (coffee and doughnuts, to the uninitiated), so let's settle in. As Canadians love to talk about the weather (with good reason, I might add), that topic will likely come up at least once.

P.U.: Robert, I am so happy to be meeting with you at last! Have a "double-double" on me. I see on your "About" page that you attended the same school I did – the School of Hard Knocks! What did you  do with your degree? (cackle)

Robert: I spent most of my adult life as a long haul truck driver. It is a hard life to live, but it did have rewards. There are not many who can live that lifestyle, you do everything yourself because if you don’t, it doesn’t get done.  You are a businessman, customs broker, mechanic, weatherman, travel agent, accountant and whatever else crops up along the way.

P.U.: There is a certain romance in being a truck driving poet. I can see the Muse visiting you, as those lonely miles unfurled before you. As a fellow Canadian, we are beginning to feel winter’s bite. What part of Canada do you call home?

My home away from home

Robert:  I live in Central Ontario in what was a small town but unfortunately has been swallowed up in the suburban sprawl (time to move). Winter is not my favourite system, I just hunker down into tolerance mode till spring…. :)

 P.U.: Me, too. Like a bear. I have already moved permanently into Fleece layers. Where did you grow up, Robert?

Robert: I grew up basically in the same area I live now. My parents emigrated here in 1956 from England when I was five. I guess this is home, although I have not spent a lot of time here as an adult. Even after a life on the road, the wanderlust is still part of who I am. 

Road near my home-
our first snowfall this winter

My childhood was pretty normal in most respects , although I was usually the oddball in some ways. I have been a writer of sorts since childhood, filling notebooks with poems, short stories etc. My high school English teacher tried pushing me into literature and writing , she lost that battle to my gypsy soul, as I spent more time looking out the school window, wondering what was out there, than applying myself to school work.

 P.U.: I can understand your choice of livelihood! Would you give us a sneak peek into the life of Robert Bourne? 

Robert: The life of Robert has changed over the last few years. I got out of the trucking business when I realised it was wearing me out and all the people I knew in the business were gone. Most have passed away as the hours, stress, and lifestyle leads to the usual medical problems you would expect. I am still reasonably healthy so far, fingers crossed… :)  I now drive a bus for a living, which helps satisfy the road warrior in me to a certain degree, and allows a little more normal way of living.

I was married once, then divorced, one of the consequences of trucking when you are never home. One of my  big regrets is missing the growth of my daughter but we remain close and I get to see my Grandchildren grow, which is a delight that I value.  I now have more time to write, so there is a stack of notebooks, one manuscript finished for a novel, and another bouncing around in my head. I have never published anything. I do it just for the joy of it. For me writing is food for the soul and I never wrote to be published, I write "just because"…..

Me, my grandson and my grandma,
who is 87 and still kicks butt!

P.U.: Me, too, kiddo. I would love to have tea with your grandma - I'll bet she has some stories to tell! When did you first pick up a pen to write  that first poem?

Robert: The first one I think was when I was 9 or 10 years old . I had no idea if it was good,bad or indifferent at the time, but I remember listening to someone read Robert Frost on the radio one night and it sparked something.

P.U.: Which leads us to : what poet first turned you on to the joys of poetry ? Do you have a favourite poem by that writer?

Robert: Robert Frost :  An Old Man’s Christmas Night

P.U.: Is there a poem of your own you are well pleased with, that we might include here?


We watch humanity heading East
While we ride steel horses West
You gather in packs around social circles
Stray dogs run alone
Hold on to what you know
Let Outlaws run the wind
Huddle with eyes that are closed
Outlaws and stray dogs see it all
Pretend their shadows are a trick of light
Banished to the places you never tread
But they ride the night wind
Just beyond your sight

P.U.: I love that poem! "Outlaws and stray dogs see it all."  I am intrigued by your Smugglers Cove series. Will you tell us about it?  Do you have any thoughts of gathering the poems into a book? 

Smugglers Cove
I live on the northern outskirts of Toronto, 
so the more I can get away from the city the better

Robert: I have thought of self publishing a poetry book, it is on the bucket list.
Smugglers Cove  is a series about everything I have experienced and the emotions that it generated. There are mile markers in everyone’s life that shape you or push you in a certain direction, and they affect who you are to some extent. People have a basic personality or soul; life’s moments have a bearing on how that soul grows. I am always fascinated by how people interpret what I write. Sometimes I am on the same wave length, other times they surprise me with something that makes me think, which opens up all kinds interesting places to explore that I might never  have thought of.

P.U.: This is very true. And you must do a book. It is highly satisfying.  I love the look of Smugglers Cove. I'd spend all of my time there, had I a spot like that.

I especially love your poem "Guarded", Robert, and would like to include it here as well.

Robert: Please do.

Guarded.... from the Smugglers Cove

Although I left all I value
In the Caves of Smugglers Cove
It is guarded well
By the Blind
That see though mirrors
By the Mute
Whose words are carved by truth
By the Deaf
Who hear the peaceful Dove
Over the cries of the Carrion Birds

To find the path
You first must pass the gate
Where these sentries stand
Then feel the pain
Of fallen Warriors
Who died in vain

P.U.: Powerful writing, kiddo. Truly. Was there one person in your life who mentored you, supported and encouraged your writing, believed in you?

Robert: My High School English Teacher although to this day I am disappointed that I never took her advice and I hope she forgives me wherever she may be.

P.U.: She would be most pleased to know you are still writing. How did you come to the blogging world? Has it been a good experience? 

lake close to Smugglers Cove

Robert: I came to the blogging world quite by chance, as I am not tech savvy by any stretch of the imagination. I was reading a newspaper article about blogging and it got me curious. I have almost a constant stream of words, poems, stories bouncing around in my head, so having an online blog is great. I can just sit down and let it flow. The computer has been substituted for notebooks and scraps of paper, so my place is tidier… :)

P.U.: Me, too. I think there was a better hand/brain connection when I used a pen, but keyboards are faster, and I'm old, I don't have a lot of time! Your site is called Wrapped in Solitude. I cherish solitude as well. I think most poets need it. Tell us its joys, for you? 

Robert: Solitude is just part of who I am. If you live on the road like I used to, being comfortable on your own is part of it. I can be as social as anybody but I can go to a movie or out to eat etc. by myself and be quite happy.  The hard part is keeping a balance between social interaction and solitude without becoming a hermit.

P.U.: I hear you, fellow-hermit! What are some of your other interests?

Robert: I like tinkering with mechanical stuff , I can potter around with a rebuilding project for hours.

I am something of an enigma in a lot of ways. I can go to a stock car race because I am drawn to the speed, noise and excitement of competition, and be inspired by the people, the sights etc. to write a poem in my head while I watch. I love the grace of someone with skill handling a powerful vehicle.

I am a people watcher. there is so much to see in the character of the human being.

P.U.: I am a people watcher too. Humans fascinate me. What do you most love to do?

Robert: Besides writing, I love to wander. On days off I will just get in the car and go somewhere, sometimes I have no set destination, wherever the whim takes me. Back roads, small communities or just to the middle of nowhere, maybe I have been there before or somewhere new.

P.U.: What is your idea of a perfect day?

Robert: Sitting on a rock watching the Northern Lights… there is something about them that holds me.

P.U.: Oh, good answer! I saw them once, up North. Spectacular. Is there anything else you would like to tell Poets United that I don't know you well enough to ask?

Robert: No, I would just like to thank you all … because everything you write and the comments you leave on my blog open up little doors and let me see things I might not have seen on my own.

P.U.: It is our pleasure, Robert. Thanks for posting and visiting  so faithfully at Poets United. I look forward to your announcement of your Smugglers Cove collection! 

It is such a pleasure, each week, to visit a poet from our community and be given a peek into their lives. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. nice to get to know you a bit more robert....def like the stray dogs poems...and you smugglers cove series has been pretty cool as well...insightful into the human psyche without pushing it...appreciate your words as well robert...all the best...

    and great interview you two....

  2. reading about myself is a new experience... Thank You Sherry

    1. It was my pleasure, my friend. I loved getting a glimpse of Smugglers Cove. I so need a spot like that of my own!!!!

  3. I really enjoyed this interview, Robert and Sherry. I have follows the Smugglers' Cove series of poems for a while now; and it is good to know it is a series about everything you have experienced. I will read it with fresh eyes. I enjoyed your job history. I do think being a truck driver would be a profession that WOULD take its toll after a while. Thanks for being such a responsive participant in Poets United. I always enjoy your work, Robert.

  4. We are also experiencing the cold and bitter wind here ~ You are just up north from where I am :-) e

    Very cool to know more about you Robert ~ Thanks so much for the interview Sherry ~

  5. How exciting to get to know better someone's whose poems I read regularly! Robert, I like that are 'a people watcher'. Thank you also for sharing your photos. Thank you Sherry for yet another great interview.

  6. It's always great to know more about a soul whose words touch us deeply......thank you Sherry and Robert for this wonderful interview.....

  7. A wanderer, of course. That adds up with solitude and people watching and the deep poems you write. I have appreciated your readings of my poems as well, Robert. Fine interview, Sherry.

  8. Robert you have words worth smugglin', keep truckin'.

  9. That was another wonderful interview, Sherry.Thanks for introducing us to yet another fascinating poet-Robert. I confess I’m not familiar with his work but I will read some now, especially after reading the poem that lead off this interview...amazing!

  10. Sherry, Robert, what a wonderful interview. I loved it along with the photos. The two poems here I do not think that I have read (I am old and forgetful) but they were a real pleasure. We have traded a few reads but now it will be even more meaningful to read your work. Thank you both, this was a pleasure!

  11. Thank you all for the kind comments... Unknowngnome to keep truckin is all I know... :)

  12. Hey Robert, Great interview good to get to know you better. I've been puzzled about Smugglers Cove because it is one of my favourite camping areas in BC near Seschelt on the Sunshine Coast directly on the TC Highway. Am I to understand there is another one near TOronto or are you writing of the one out west? My brother in law just got married there in fact. Anyways it been great to follow you around the Garden - here to many more.

  13. Robert thanks for a peak into your life. I love your outlook on writing. For me writing is breathing. I hope you get that book self-published so that you can have a book to pass on to your grandson

  14. So nice so find out a bit more about Robert. I love reading his poems, and I always admire the tough job truckers have, and I envy them the road... always traveling.. but we see it a bit more romantic in our heads.. as for being a watcher of people..that's the best way to learn about them and yourself and life in general.


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