Splinters & Fragments

Article by Lisa Browning


once upon a time
a daughter explains
out of the blue to me
u do the things u do
because u cannot
give birth to babies
it’s compensation
she explained
u create places
and things as wombs
for people to live in
while they get fixed
or ready to start over
& when she finished
making her comment
went back to reading
her book of homework
next day she said
it must be frustrating
to be a man like you


This was the poem that really pushed me to approach local activist Edward Pickersgill, well known in Guelph for his work with the homeless and marginalized, to publish his poetry. I had been asking him repeatedly, as had many others … but Ed, preferring to remain behind the scenes as much as possible, always politely declined.

Until the summer of 2020. “Okay,” he said, “let’s do it.”

And so splinters & fragments was born. This anthology contains 85 of Edward’s poems, all very raw and very real, like the one above. One Thousand Trees is all about empowerment, especially through the written word, so this project was a perfect fit! Editing and formatting services for this book were provided free of charge, and a GoFundMe campaign covered all but $200 of the cost of printing 500 copies. One hundred percent of the $20 sale price of each volume sold goes to support Ed’s efforts.

Ed and me
Lisa Browning (left) and Edward Pickersgill (right). Photo credit: Troy Bridgeman, GuelphToday.com

To date, approximately 200 copies have been sold, and very well received.

"splinters & fragments is a well written gem for our community. Its subject matter is raw and authentic, evidence that Ed has had decades of personal experience with a segment of the population that is frequently misunderstood and often shunned. I would seriously recommend this book of poetry to local senior high school students, before they set out to do their 40 hours of volunteer work in Guelph. It should be a must read for all local politicians. I also think it could be used as a textbook in Schools of Social work since it could lead to important discussions on how to respectfully work alongside anyone who is experiencing homeless, addiction and food insecurity."

Sandy P.

"splinters & fragments is not a book you would pick up in order to escape reality...but rather to help put you in touch with what is happening around you, and spark you to help make change. His juxtaposition of words and images will strike a chord within you."

Cynthia S.

Please consider supporting this very worthwhile, very much needed, initiative in our community … by purchasing a book, and/or spreading the word about this project. Copies are available at The Bookshelf, Janus Books, or Smitten Apparel, or can be ordered (to be shipped) at www.ottbookstore.com.

“Some things don’t fit into what some call, pages-of-life poetry. Some feelings, some memories, some tears, some fears, some laughter, some pains, some injuries, some deaths, some splinters, some fragments.”

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