Submit Event

The Soul of a Poet
Profile by Jane Ledwell

Tanya Davis (photo: Alanna Jankov)I dove into the ocean today,” says a wide-eyed Tanya Davis on an unseasonal, chilly June Wednesday when the Halifax-based poet and musician is visiting her home province to perform. “It was like washing the winter off, or like summer joined winter on my skin.”

Ask anything of Tanya, and art happens—language with the rhythm of music, personal revelation touched with universal insight. (You already know this if you are responsible for any of the 3.2 million views of the YouTube film “How to Be Alone,” that Tanya made with Andrea Dorfman.)

“It’s a universal subject, loneliness,” says Tanya. “Everyone has felt it—or avoided feeling it. I had to struggle to learn how to be alone; I resisted being alone when I was younger. Then, when I was 20 I moved to my first city alone and got my first apartment. So much happened to me that year… So many great things happened to me because I did things alone… I started dating women in a family where that was unknown. I left my Catholic upbringing, and that was very lonely.

“I’ve made a lot of decisions that were hard for people to understand,” Tanya reflects. “Being alone, being a transitory person, home was transitory for me, fluid… For some reason, I was stirred up inside, and I followed my gut instinct. It was hard and scary—but less scary than not following it.”

For Tanya, solitary does not mean isolated. “I truly believe that connection is one of the reasons we are here,” she says. “To connect, and to love.”

Tanya still leaves solitary life behind for the road when she performs spoken word poetry and introspective songs (her most recent CD is Clocks and Hearts Keep Going) at both music and writing events. “I love performing,” she says. “I love to have eye contact with people, and I find I get something back from them. I like when they find a way to engage.”

Engaging people with poetry will also be a major part of Tanya’s new post, as Poet Laureate for Halifax. “Being the poet laureate makes me want to be a better poet,” says Tanya. “I want to show that poets are valuable members of society… I want to have an “old town crier” mentality—in the days of town criers, people would hire poets to deliver verses for civic events. It was an important role in society.”

Tanya says, “Poetry is a soulful thing, and in our society which is so technology-oriented, some of the soul gets lost. Poets can show people that soul is important. I want to engage people in more poetic and civic engagement, together.”

Another way Tanya will engage people with poetry will be through her newly released first book of poetry, At First, Lonely, published by Acorn Press. “I’m excited and nervous about it,” Tanya says. As a primarily spoken-word artist, she says, “I’ve never had anything published before.”

As she crosses boundaries of genre, Tanya’s days and her artistic interests are, she says, “eclectic.” As an artist, she says, “I never really fit anywhere really well. I can’t be okay stuck in any scenario—I’m open to a lot of things.”

Even “home” is more than one place for Tanya. “I still call both PEI and Halifax home, even when I’m on the road… It’s like having a birth family and a chosen family. I have a chosen home in Halifax, … but PEI gave me the confidence to go there. I have roots under me here.”

Tanya Davis can’t stop diving in, but the ocean isn’t just a metaphor. When you’re in it, it’s also the ocean—real, salty, alive. Lonely, but connected. “It’s jarring cold, good for the mental health,” Tanya says. Of that kind of sensation, she says, “it’s best if I can find it every day… Maybe we can’t all dive into the ocean, but we can go out and take a deep breath before we go to bed.” She smiles at the thought. “Yes, I think I’ll do that.”

Events Calendar

February 2019
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28

Recent News & Articles

Rachel Beck

Talking Bands by Evan James Ceretti Rachel Beck has had an amazing year in music — a cross-count [ ... ]

New location for PEI MFRC

After being closed for most of 2018, the PEI Military Family Resource Centre (PEI MFRC) has re-opene [ ... ]

Music PEI SOCAN Songwriter of the Year A...

Music PEI kicked off the first of the ticketed shows for 2019 Credit Union Music PEI Week on Thursda [ ... ]