Writer’s Words: Marge Lam

Marge Lam was a “clue” in the Diaspora Dialogues Literary Scavenger Hunt, a brand new programming venue at the 2010 festival!

She, along with a variety of other writers, participated in Flash Mob readings and activities. Marge conducting mini poetry breaks. Read on and find out what it’s like being a literary clue.


Blue sky this Sunday and the Word is on the Street. In Queen’s Park, lovers of story and language mill between majestic trees and gather under tents for readings. Some scavenge or hunt, depending on your perspective, for literary clues.

I am one of the clues. Stationed at a bright young oak, I am to pass on improvised poetic quotes for those who are on the Diaspora Dialogues Literary Scavenger Hunt. I begin with honouring the oak by wrapping the trunk with metres of fluorescent green ribbon. My intent is to highlight the tree as the poet. In the presence of a tree, all emotion, even the unspeakable, is held. I am present to listen and write. Conveniently, the added colour could only help prevent me from becoming an unfound clue. It would be a sad story to be lost between rows of dayglo orange port-o-potties and the shiny CBC tent. Doesn’t every writer want to be found?

I spread out a soft complimentary red plaid blanket and lean back against the smooth trunk of the tree. It is a quiet moment to ease my aching body in the late afternoon sun. Very soon after people and kids begin to drop by the blanket. I am surprised by how many children sit with me, allowing us the opportunity to talk poetry. In conversation with a 10 year old poet, I asked her what she writes about. “Oh, anything that’s on my mind…love” she said. She also, like stating fact, let me know how serving fruit for lunch at school was unacceptable and it really should be chocolate.

Mostly, I ask the drop-by poets a question. We collaborate on the answer and they write the quote onto white paper strips with a colourful marker of their choice. This way everyone leaves with a customized bookmark and perhaps will remember poetry as an interaction. There is a sweet old fashioned feeling about this Sunday afternoon. Kids and adults scrunched up by a tree on a picnic blanket, with their heads thrown in angles of deep concentration, writing a line of poetry, friends and family dropping by. Love it. Thank you to The Word On The Street, Diaspora Dialogues and to the kind volunteers for an inspiring experience. With deep gratitude and please, continue to let poetry write you.


Marge Lam, born on unceded Coast Salish Territories, Vancouver, is an artist, freelance journalist and community worker.  Her writing has been published in New College’s The Window and The Colouring Book Project. Radio being her first love, she has co-hosted for Stark Raven Radio and freelanced for CKLN and CBC Radio One. Lam is currently making home in Toronto.


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