An AnthologyBook - 2013
From the critics
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Shy: voices still and struggling; well-meaning teachers hammering at child-shells; high-school hallways cacophonous with extroverted ghouls; stages bright-lit and microphones like guns in our faces; parties buzzing with small talk; workplaces demanding the exposed self nine to five; love shaking the bent cage of the heart; the usually boisterous dumbstruck. [Lewis and Altrows - “Foreword”]
. . . the moment
when you know it’s over and the nothing which you
have to say is falling all around you, lavishly,
pouring its heart out.
[Don McKay – “Sometimes a Voice (2)”]
Many of the advice books cite a study that found shy Chinese children the most popular among their peers, and shy Canadian children the least popular among theirs. In fact, the Chinese word for what we call shyness translates, _has understanding_. The experts usually mention also that Japan boasts the most shy people, per capita, in the world, and Israel the fewest. The advice-givers’ biases colour what they say about all this, either imagining Asia as a haven for the quiet and watchful, or describing emotionally broken Japanese children cowering in shame while the joyous Israelis hold their emotionally healthy heads high. In any case, what the experts agree on is that, when in Israel, or in the US or Canada, you’d better hope you’re not shy, especially if you’re a child. And if you are shy, you need, depending on whom you ask, either a big hug or a swift kick in the pants. [Naomi K. Lewis – “Say Water”]
It came down to the weighing-up of potential mortifications, a calculation at which I excelled. [Sylvia Stopforth – “Creepmouse Manifesto”]
In the confused and shifting confines of my youth, with immigrant parents straddling their own transformation from European to Canadian, their own trade-off of languages and customs, I could not imagine who I was. I had to figure out humans and where I belonged in relation to them by watching carefully, by staring hard. Those early encounters shaped my practice as a writer, that of an observer, vigilant but separate, self-contained. And there resides the kernel of my insistent shyness. I notice, pay attention. But I prefer not to be watched or noticed. I want to be invisible. [Aritha van Herk – “Shades and Shyness”]
if I find myself moving into shy mode at a social event, I may retreat from whatever group I happen to be part of, and instead converse one-to-one with someone I know well. Or I may offer to help the host by setting out food, washing dishes, retrieving a case of beer from the basement fridge. Doing a task helps me stay healthy when I’m shy. I may leave the scene for a few minutes for a walk around the block. I may simply thank my hosts for a lovely time and leave. I have options. [Rona Altrows – “Good for Olivier”]
I’m at the Old Vic on the University of Toronto campus, reading, along with three other poets, to a packed house, people standing up at the back. I’m the third reader. The only thing I remember about the first two – Sonnet L’Abbé and Lorna Goodison – is that they are impossibly good, dramatic, poised and confident. I’m breathing. Raggedly. Consciously ragged. Stunned by fear. My one thought, what a blessed life I’ve led; this is as afraid as I’ve ever been. [Shawna Lemay – “Shybrightly”]
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