Upon choosing an epigraph from Gwendolyn MacEwen

Upon choosing an epigraph from Gwendolyn MacEwen

Posted on October 17 by Philippa Dowding
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"Something has come to pass, you think, something more important than a mere flight over the ravine." Gwendolyn MacEwen, “Fragments from a Childhood”

This sentiment is the epigraph to my new YA novel, The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden. Many thanks to the author's family for kindly permitting me to use it. 

Gwendolyn MacEwen was an award-winning poet who died much too young at 47. I often walk through her Toronto park on Lowther Street and say hello to her statue. 

I met her a few times, first at The University of Western Ontario in 1985, then in grad school a few years later at The University of Toronto, where she was writer-in-residence. I never missed an opportunity to see her perform and to glimpse those deep green eyes, listen to that lovely voice. At one reading she performed The Compass, which inspired me to volunteer for literacy programs for years. 

In January 2014, I published a book with her name in the title, although it was unintentional. I liked the alliteration of the hard "G," Strange/Gift/Gwendolyn/Golden, but when I realized I had used MacEwen’s name, I revisited her work. How delighted I was to rediscover "Fragments from a Childhood," a magical (and hilarious) poem about a child's gift of imagination, and that moment when new truths about the world and about ourselves are revealed. It perfectly describes my Gwendolyn's dilemma: our gifts set us apart, open our eyes, and change us forever (whether we decide to fly or not).

I may never use an epigraph again but this one was too perfect, too tailor-made to pass up. Thank you, Gwendolyn.

Philippa Dowding

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
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Philippa Dowding

Philippa Dowding is an award-winning children’s author, a poet, and a copywriter. Her many literary nominations include the Silver Birch Express, Red Cedar, Diamond Willow, Red Maple, and Hackmatack awards. In 2013, The Gargoyle at the Gates was named a White Raven Book by the International Youth Library in Munich. Philippa lives in Toronto.