Sarah’s multi-faceted career is that of an actor, voice teacher, communication coach and voiceover talent. Everything having to do with communication and artistic expression fascinates her.
Writing is also an important part of her life. She was delighted to find that when she began working on her speaking voice all those years ago, writing of all types flowed with so much more ease. She has since worked with a few writers on their speaking voices and they have consistently said that doing a voice warm-up before writing really helps.
See below for more about her writing and to read a sample of her ‘Corona Poems.’
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In 2009, Sarah’s short story “CRAVING CLEANLINESS” was one of ten finalist entries out of more than 500 submissions in an international
In the fall of 2020, Sarah published an article about voice in the internationally distributed academic journal Voice & Speech Review
In 2009, Sarah’s short story “CRAVING CLEANLINESS” was one of ten finalist entries out of more than 500 submissions in an international literary competition, The Sheldon Currie Fiction Prize for ‘The Antigonish Review.’ In 2020, her story “FORGETTING” was long-listed in a competition run by ‘The Masters Review.’ Although not yet published, she has written a novel and almost twenty short stories in total. She produced an evening of readings by ‘not-yet published’ novelists at The Free Times Cafe in Toronto in 2009. The MC for the event was actor/playwright/author Diane Flacks, who also contributed with a reading of her own.
In the fall of 2020, Sarah published an article about voice in the internationally distributed academic journal ‘Voice & Speech Review‘ edited by Rockford Sansom, produced by VASTA (Voice & Speech Trainers’ Association, of which she is a member) and published by Taylor & Francis Group. Her article, ‘Reflections on Voice: The Ripple Effects of a Free Voice’ can be viewed by fellow VASTA members at no charge. Interested non-members, feel free to email Sarah at email@example.com to request a link to read the article.
Writing to Survive
Sarah filled dozens and dozens of notebooks with daily impressions of life in New York City when the twin towers came down. She was living in Manhattan at the time, having re-located there to observe Kristin Linklater teach voice to the MFA Acting students at Columbia University. Sarah journaled copiously throughout her five years of voice teacher training, but never more so than in 2001.
Almost every night for three months she fell asleep with her pen and notebook in her lap, as she tried to document in words every single moment of her waking life. She took photos of military personnel, fire fighters and rescue workers – with their permission – when they were leaving Ground Zero for a break from their gruelling, gruesome work. She sat for hours at her local coffee shop, writing about the photos and flowers and candles that festooned fire stations and parks, about conversations overheard at pop-up outdoor jazz concerts, about violent, vengeful graffiti showing up on buildings, about tacky 911 posters, placemats and souvenirs that were being bought and sold within 24 hours of the catastrophe. She wrote about the minutiae of life continuing for Central Park squirrels, about the noticeable lack of ‘cat-calls’ on the NYC streets for almost a week, usually a constant part of the city’s soundscape for young women, brought into relief by its temporary absence. She wrote about her struggle to find work, as all the hospitality ‘day-jobs’ usually staffed by actors had disappeared, and about a surreal job interview for a catering company in the Ground-Zero area, during which one of the young kitchen staff learned that his grandmother’s remains had been found. He interrupted the interview to ask to go home to be with his mom, and of course his employer granted his request, asking only that he ‘punch out’ first. The radio played in the background as he spoke to his boss, as it did almost everywhere in the city in the early days, keeping people informed and connected as it has since its invention whenever crisis hits the world.
She wrote down the words she heard spoken by a young man who barely escaped with his life from the third tower moments before it also crumpled to earth. He ran out of the building after seeing people through his office window jump to their deaths to escape the fire ravaging the top of one of the twin towers.
The taste and smell of metal, glass and people that turned to ash in a heartbeat thickened the air for weeks and no scarves or masks could keep it at bay. She wrote to survive emotionally, to remember the details forever and to honour the pain that was palpable in the air and stuck in the back of her throat.
In 2020, the need to write to survive emotionally again took hold, this time in the form of short poems that occurred so often, and with such force, that if she did not write them down, her head hurt. She could feel the band of pressure around her forehead release as she wrote.
Am I important?
The world is small and too big.
My backyard is all.
My brother said, artists aren’t going anywhere.
We have always been here and we always will be.
19: Compassion In Numbers
My 15 year old hugs li’l bro, gives him the best spot on the couch.
The #s in a column on the government website become 1 tear in my right eye.
A man I’ve never met lends my son 1 kick drum when his breaks.
He climbs 3 steps, leaves it on my front porch. He walks away, texting.
She passes 2 cans of soup to me.
The mortgage payments will be temporarily stopped, but interest will grow.
‘The cost of doing business,’ the lady says.
‘What business,’ I think.
They will grow rich from our lack.
The credit card company keeps me on hold for an hour and a half. I hang up.
Without permission, I won’t pay.
My kids’ music lessons continue with their teachers on FaceTime.
One plays guitar, the other drums
I will pay these artists.
My neighbour’s daughter is Hope.
Hope is four.
She tells me she is learning hockey.
From her Parisian parents who have never skated.
In her muddy backyard.
With ball hockey sticks from behind the shed.
Hope shows me her helmet.
It is hand knit, with monkey ears peeking over the top of the fence.
The playground has yellow caution tape across the entrances.
Wrapped around the swings and play structures.
At one gate, the tape has been ripped in half. It flutters in the wind.
The rusty hinges creak, crooked, not used to being closed.
They blow open at the slightest excuse for a breeze.
I think, Alfred Hitchcock was here.
So much time, so little energy.
Stupid thoughts swirl around alongside the profound.
What does the beer company think of the name?
What will I see?
My head is heavy.
I look down.
Lost in Space
Never before have I spent so much time
Wishing for time to pass.
Big chunks of it, goodbye.
I am lonely, stuck inside the gelatinous mass
Otherwise known as the space-time continuum.
Chips and ice cream
The day my brother moved into an assisted living facility,
I felt sad and angry.
I taught a class that night,
Next to Ed’s Real Scoop.
I went home with 2 pints of Toronto’s best ice cream
In my saddle bags.
Pumpkin and Ginger.
Yesterday, I had potato chips with a sandwich.
Life is short.
I have lost weight.
I am not sleeping much.
It is as if
I have begun to
Words press against the inside of my skull,
With such intense pressure,
As if I always have to cry,
But tears are not enough.
The only way I can think of
Relieving the pressure
Is to write.
Is there any other reason for poetry?
We made a colourful poster.
9:30am wake up. Get dressed.
1:30, study time.
3pm, practice instruments.
3:30, outdoor time.
The kids are craving structure.
They miss learning with people.
They miss going to school.
Tightness wraps around my head every night.
Tears fill my eyes every morning.
I wake before everyone else.
I go outside with my coffee.
For a few minutes, I listen to the birds.
I pretend it is
As it was.
I cry before the children wake up.
Poetry is a need.
I don’t want to,
But I have to.
There is a band of Tension
Wrapped around my forehead.
Poetry feels like an uninvited task.
Another thing I have to do.
Along with shopping, cleaning, taxes.
Just like 911 in Manhattan.
I don’t want to write, but I have to.
She is building a table with her parents
In the backyard.
My body is trying
To lean into Joy.
Amazing how adaptable
The human spirit is.
Followed by wailing
Followed by silence.
This is for no one,
Like screaming into a void,
Does it exist?
Words without end,
Another day of nothing,
Who would want to read this?
I barely want to write it.
I am small
And now I am heavy
With the weight of depression,
The weight of uncertainty.
My feet press into the earth
Down, down, into the ground
I shuffle and drag myself
Forward to the next moment.
True poetry requires an exquisite sensitivity that is so elegantly present to experiencing existence, a sublime, artistically rendered expression of the present.
But as soon as one reaches into the mind’s depths for the perfect gem of a word, the moment that one is trying to express disperses. It becomes pixels and crystals that flutter away, precisely because we have stopped, stepped outside it, tried to look at it. A jumble of inconsequential letters, through loose fingers, falls to the ground.
And the moment of true distillation of experience into word pictures is gone. It is no longer.
Therefore, true poetry does not exist.
Some stuff I have learned during the pandemic
It’s fun to bike with no hands ! Not a good idea over speed bumps.
My oldest son is good at building things. He’s built two planters for veggies.
My youngest is great at picking completely unknown, awesome movies to watch.
My spouse can still throw a baseball really far.
I can grow tomatoes. They are delicious and good for sharing.
I bake really good focaccia bread.
It is important to me to know I can cross the border into the US to see my family any time. The concept of Family does not acknowledge politically drawn boundaries.
I like really, really long, mostly flat bike rides. Rail trails are awesome.
Mountain biking is hard. Too many hills.
I love playing games with my kids. But I already knew that.