Congratulations on Black Moss Press 50 years in publishing. Thanks for inviting me to contribute contribute my memories and reflections on your work with Black Moss Press and Marty Gervais. I was very grateful for Black Moss and Marty Gervais publishing two of my poetry collections:
I first knew Marty Gervais from John B. Lee’s poem: “Being Human”. I was doing editing then and decided to translate the poem into Chinese and publish it. In the poem, Marty and John were middle-aged men but longing for the carefreeness and passion of youth while sleeping in a farm house watching the stars. At that time, I didn’t know who Marty was but one day fate would connect us. A few years later I got an invitation for the 2013 Windsor Bookfest from Marty. He said he really liked my poetry and asked me to read there and talk about my books as panelist. Due to Marty’s health, we didn’t meet personally. Later he sent an email to congratulate me on my reading, asking me to submit poems to Black Moss Press. What a joy and surprise!
I felt so lucky and was deeply grateful. However, after I read his book “Lucky Days’, I knew why he liked my poetry and it wasn’t just luck after all. I realized that he understood how hardship shaped both his poetry and mine. I was touched and wrote a poem with the same title acknowledging his inspiration.
We finally met at Black Moss Author Reading event in Toronto in Jan 2014. He was exactly as I had thought he would be a gentle man and a trustworthy publisher. I was not surprised that he was also efficient in other regards such as poet laureate, writer and photographer. The Poet Laureate readings at Willistead Manor in 2015 and 2016 were my highlight moments with Marty. He was a talented event organizer and a great host. I learnt a lot from him and I was able to host Poet Laureate night in Mississauga. Thanks to the great readings from George Elliott Clark, John B. Lee and Marty Gervais there, it became a legacy of our city.
I was lucky to meet Marty and lucky enough to have two of my poetry collections find a home at Black Moss press. I have been always grateful for his sharp intuition and generous help. In my poem that he inspired (Lucky Days), I end with
“with luck, a life I know –
the way of poetry”
2018/10/24 Anna Yin