I love mail. Getting packages. Especially as nowadays, most good news is told in ten-word texts or through posts on Facebook. But I remember the letters, especially as I used to live a continent or two away from my family and friends. In those days, in your letterbox, you got more than just bills and coupons. Back then, you got pages and pages of handwritten stories and as my friend Sarita would tell you, I would make my own envelopes. Getting letters was an EVENT. It was just as fun to receive them.
The guy in the office down the hall always gets packages. Turns out those boxes are mostly greasy, mechanical bits and pieces for engines and things like that. Things for WORK. Not fabrics, and organic wools, or books. Not lovely things that make you smile and become part of the calm of yourself. But the other day, I received a unique little book I’d ordered from my friend, Dawna J. Wightman. Before it came, I KNEW, I knew, I knew it would be more like a letter than a thing, a book. I knew that through this package from Dawna I would think, and smile, and cry, and know and love her even better.
Dawna is one of the most creative people I know — and I spend my working life around creative people! I work in publishing, around writers, and illustrators, and photographers. Not only is Dawna a writer, she both writes plays (and now screenplays) and then she acts in them! She performed the most captivating one-woman piece in a cafe as customers came and went. But mostly, anyone lucky enough to be in that cafe, whether as invited guests or as casual passing-through-coffee drinkers, stayed and listened and became more human as a result of seeing Dawna show us how events in her life affected the characters she flowed through and shared with us.
It is fascinating being lucky enough to be within Dawna’s sphere. The book I received in the mail was part of a larger project. A FILM! Our Dawna is creating a suspense film that takes on lookism and ageism. It’s called KID GLOVES and they are going to start shooting on November 17th. And she’s collected a talented group: PBS director, Theresa Kowall Shipp, and Neil Whitely, who is a regular on SUITS! Yes, the Meghan Markle, Suits! Plus there is the wondrous Catherine de Seve who is fresh off the CBC’s L’Auberge de Chien Noir. Dawna has a crew of SEVENTEEN, all dedicated to making this film fantastic.
Fifty Dollar Muffin Fundraisers
And this book, Honey Be, is to fundraise for that movie. For one thing, Dawna always finds creative methods to solve problems. She is the hardest working, most innovative artist ever — and isn’t innovation a supreme implementation of art? Need money? Why not sell muffins on a busy corner in Toronto — successfully? Who else sells muffins and gets people to give her $50 and say “keep the muffin”? Need police cars to crash, why not handcraft a book and sell it to friends and beyond?
As advised on the wrap around the book, you were to lay the book flat before opening it and then carefully peel back to reveal the adventure within. I wonder if all the books have the same bits and pieces? I got a button and a little flower and other stuff I won’t mention so I don’t ruin your surprise. What did you get?
The cover of the book looked familiar because Dawna is such a proud mother that we know that one of her daughters designs fabrics and clothing. I noticed her in Dawna’s cover and smiled. I started at the beginning but then started to flip through, landing on a story I knew a little about. Here it was sparingly and poetically retold. We don’t need to know all the details, we get how she felt. She talked about how the potential reality of losing her partner was like a heavy cape threatening to smother out all the little things that were memorable. This book of memories takes us from Dawna as a mom of a young boy to the recent loss of Bella, who through Dawna, we loved as our own. But I remember wee Bella. And she made a difference. And we felt it again, and it broke my heart again, because of Dawna’s art.
This mixture of things you can pick up is so cool for stories that bring snippets of love and laughs and connection. Feeling the button and the feathers and the cut out of the lady adds to it. Just like when we come across an old photo, or glimpse a lady wearing a hat and holding her handbag in the crook of her arm “just so” takes us right back to a place and unlocks a memory.
Us who write, who keep adding and deleting words to a masterpiece, we need to learn from Dawna! This little beautiful book, with a cover that blesses her daughter’s talent, and a story of a heart so big but is filled by so many that it cannot be just put back into the cavity of her chest. I love it. Dawna DOES things. She doesn’t just wish, or talk, or dream. She does creative work and creatively thinks of creative projects to bring to her whatever she needs so she can bring her art to us.
Sweet and Sting-ey
Honey Be is as Dawna describes “a collection of sweet words and some that sting” and I enjoyed the experience of it! I love mail — and this intimate, fun, poetic, hand-crafted work, signed especially to me, just feels like a hug! I am sure everyone who received it felt wrapped in Dawna’s deep eyes in the middle of a conversation. She’s the type of friend that actually shows up at your New Year’s Day party. As giving and full of life as they come. I love her. And I love how she gives so much of herself through her art.
Honey Be can be ordered directly through Dawna’s email address: email@example.com