Local South Okanagan poet speaks to the seasons of change in new book

Book launch for local poet

Everyone navigates the seasons of physical and mental change, but it does not have to be done alone, that is what Chiara Mason expresses through her first published book of poetry: Blooming: Poetry For the Seasons of Change whose launch is set for this weekend.

Mason is from Oliver, in her younger years attending Oliver Elementary School and South Okanagan Secondary School.

She now lives in Toronto working at the University of Toronto in student recruitment, but she wants people to know although she is in Toronto, “I still consider the Okanagan home. All my family is here in the Okanagan so I do come back quite frequently.”

Mason explains that the book is “divided into the four physical seasons: summer, fall, winter, spring. So it’s those literal seasons throughout the year and then kind of those emotional seasons of change as well.”

The book’s form ties itself to this larger metaphor and Mason explains that the book is broken up in that way. She wants readers to progress through the seasons expressed in the book, and hopes that readers will see a correlation with “transitioning through the journey of life.”

A large focus of her book is on the mental health challenges that come with the changing of the mental seasons, and people’s journey “working through those more challenging times, and then getting to the more hopeful seasons of spring.

“I think that one of my biggest hopes for the book is that people won’t feel like they are alone with whatever they might be struggling with or going through.”

This focus on mental health, and how it plays into the narrative of the seasons is close to home for Mason and comes from a deep personal place.

“I have definitely had my own mental health challenges. Part of the reason why I really wanted to lean into the metaphor of the seasons is because they don’t just end when you get to spring, they obviously repeat themselves year after year, so I am hoping that is a larger metaphor that seasons are always going to come our way and we can get through that with the right support.”

Not only the focus on mental health challenges, but also the more general focus on change in itself comes from a personal place as well. Mason explained that, “for me, I have been through a lot of different changes in my life. I have also been the first in my family to do a lot of things. So I was the first person to go to university, the first person to go overseas with my exchange, I was the first person to publish a book, and so it’s been a theme in my own life just lots of things I have faced.”

Mason explained that she does think that there is a timeliness to the book. “I think there is a lot of people that are in, if you want to call it the “post pandemic”, trying to navigate all the changes that has come from that, especially on the emotional side of things, and so I think there are a lot of people that hopefully can relate to it in that sense.”

For Mason poetry and writing is very therapeutic in getting emotions out. She describes her style of poetry as “free form, it’s not like rhyming poetry per say or any typical conventions, it’s more free form, free flowing, it just kind of comes out of me I guess, I am not necessarily following any particular structures or conventions, its however I feel like it needs to come out and be expressed”.

Mason is having a book signing on Friday May 26 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Orchard Park Mall Indigo in Kelowna.

On Saturday May 27 Mason will be having an official book launch at Black Sheep Coffee Bar on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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