He started out writing poems as a way to communicate with his mother, but Ron Conway has since found his own calling as a poet.
The Bridge Lake man, who recently published his first poetry collection Slightly After Dark – began writing poetry after his mother would send him and other family members long newsy poems as a way of communicating. She had been a poet, he said, and in her later years, she had trouble speaking on the phone and would write poetry instead, which he said was “good stuff.”
One day though, his mother announced in a poem that she’d no longer be writing anymore as it had become too hard due to her loss of vision and near deafness. In response, Conway wrote a poem and sent it back, telling her every time she’d write a poem, he’d write one in return. That prompted the two of them to trade a few more poems before she passed away four years ago.
“That was it for me, I was a poet from then on,” Conway, 70, recalled. “I started getting pretty good at it and I was getting a lot of positive feedback. It’s a great way to express yourself – it’s kind of cathartic, in a way.”
Conway particularly enjoys writing form poetry, which includes sonnets, quatrains and other classical forms of western poetry. He also dabbles in free form and experimental poetry, as a way to challenge himself. Drawing on his own experience is his main source of inspiration. Capturing thoughts and the emotion of moments in poetry, rather than letting it fade away into the ether, is something he particularly enjoys doing.
“I work a lot from prompts. I belong to several different poetry groups online and we’ll prompt each other with subjects or form. Sometimes if it’s just a form, to write a sonnet say, I’ll have something in mind I want to write about, something I observed,” Conway said. “On the way in (to the Free Press) driving along Horse Lake Road, I saw hundreds of swans in the water, quite a spectacular sight to see, and then when I got to the bridge over the creek there was a dead swan on the road.
“That’s an emotional thing, I can do something with that, get it onto paper.”
Conway said Slightly After Dark is a collection showcasing the full range of his poetry, including haikus, sonnets and other styles following metered rhyme, though he does have some free form poetry present as well. It took around two years to write the poems that make it up the collection, which he started to pull together at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a lot harder starting than it was actually doing it. The process is easier than you think it’s going to be, the old saying is nothing is ever as hard as it seems, nothing is ever easy as it seems,” Conway said. “Once I had the material collating it, formatting it and curating it, that’s what took the time.”
Conway self-published the book through Amazon.ca’s Kindle store, which he said is the way to go if you’re looking to get your book out there as they coached him all the way through the process at no cost to the author. In addition to Amazon, physical copies of the book are available locally at Nuthatch Books and at Parkside Gallery.
He has already begun work on his next book which will be made up of a more experimental kind of poetry called hidden message poetry. This involves taking a quote from a poet or history and find a way to weave it into your poem. He hopes to have this new book done in time for Christmas.
For those interested in pursuing poetry themselves, Conway said they should consider joining a poetry circle or group as there are many good ones available online. He adds they don’t have to publish an entire book as they can get poetry published in an anthology or magazines as he has in the past.
“There are all kinds of ways to get your work out there, you can grow with your poetry by just approaching other people who do it.”