A former Kitimat resident, and graduate of Mount Elizabeth Secondary School, has released her own book which features a selection of Portuguese poets and singers.
Maria Lawrence’s book, A Janela: The Poetic Soul (A Janela meaning “at the window”) was inspired after she was invited by the Azores government to participate in a cultural exchange in 2005.
After meeting with the many artists and writers in the program, she decided she wanted to explore further her Portuguese roots through the arts.
Cut to today and she has self-published an initial 250 run of books, which were produced with the assistance of her husband.
It was the artists in Portugal who helped her come up with the A Janela title.
“After my invitation to Portugal for this program I just became really fascinated with the poetry,” she said.
Within the book is a number of paintings by Lawrence, which coincide with profiles and the works of a number Portuguese writers and singers.
Tying everything together is the theme of windows, where the subjects of Lawrence’s paintings are at or looking through windows.
That theme began when the artwork she brought to that 2005 cultural exchange was of two women looking on. A poet also with the exchange said that she “captured the typical Azorean eyes looking out to sea,” Lawrence wrote in her book.
He also recited a line of his poetry that the painting reminded him of, which she eventually took for the painting’s title: Um barco na linha dos teus olhos. (I see a boat on the horizon of your eyes.)
In fact Lawrence’s fascination with the theme of windows unknowingly went back to her childhood with a story embroidered on a bib she had as a child, called historia da carochinha, a story of a ladybug who goes to a window to pick a husband, and chooses a rat.
Her book project earned her a grant from the cultural department of the Azorean government to complete her book and to travel to Portugual to display her paintings and a mock-up of the book.
Lawrence currently lives in Victoria and is preparing for a launch concert in Victoria next month put on by singer Sara Marreiros, who is incidentally one of the artists featured in the book.
The book is available for sale locally at the Kitimat Museum and Archives.