I guess youre never too old, says 87-year-old poetry contest winner

Monique Chiasson
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TRURO - Bill Roberts didn't realize his poetry would have such an impact on others.
The 87-year-old former CN Rail employee and Second World War veteran recently won fourth place in a national poetry-writing contest.
"It was indeed surprising. It didn't impress me much at first then I thought about it. Now I'm puffed up like a powder pigeon because there were poems from all across Canada. It's quite a thing for an old bum like me ... I guess you're never too old," laughed the Truro resident who has been writing poetry for about 20 years.
"I remember in school I liked poetry ... I just liked the sound of it," he said.
He estimates writing more than 20 poems over the years, many embracing the themes of creation and family.
One of his son's friends read some of Roberts' poems and encouraged him to participate in the British Columbia-based Poetry Institute of Canada competition.
In October three of Roberts's poems were sent to the contest and he learned last week one of them, Silent Memories, claimed fourth place. It chronicles the loss of his mother, who died at the age of 55 from stomach cancer, as well as the sometimes difficult transition when children leave home to begin their adult lives.
"I wrote it about 15 or 20 years ago; I was lonesome when I wrote it. It was when my wife and I were alone after the kids left," said
the Alberta-born Roberts, who moved to Truro in 1941.
"The older you get the faster time goes ... you wake up and suddenly the kids are gone."
The other poems Roberts submitted were Fond Memories and Old Nuttby Home.
Roberts continues to write poetry when the mood hits. It's a way of expressing emotions and remembering loved ones, including his wife Barbara who died from Alzheimers four years ago. They were married 57 years.
"I don't think I'd submit any more" to a contest, Roberts said, "because my old mind is wearing out."
That, however, doesn't necessarily ring true. Ask Roberts to recite any of his poetry and he can.
"I can quote every one to you without looking it up," he said, proving his point by launching into Silent Memories.
Roberts said winning poems will be featured in a book, Whispers on the Wind.
It's estimated hundreds of entries were gathered for the contest.
There were about 35 winners within first to fourth place under different categories, as well as a number of awards of excellence winners. The Poetry Institute has been in existence since 1993.

mchiasson@trurodaily.com


Organizations: CN Rail, Poetry Institute of Canada

Geographic location: TRURO, Canada, Alberta

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    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    Good for you Mr.Roberts,your never too old to let your creative talent show.I look forward to reading that poem.