Eccentric life shared through artist's poetry and paintings, By Lorianna De Giorgio, December 21, 2007, My Town Crier, Canada
She’s the poster child for living life to it’s fullest.
Barbara E. Mercer, poet, painter and all round bon vivant has lived each of her 74 years with the same attitude: life is short, make the most of it.
With the release of her newest book of poetry, appropriately titled, <em>Legacy</em>, the Cabbagetown resident is showing no signs of slowing down.
The 124-page tome – her fourth book in three years – is filled with poems about her extraordinary, eccentric life, including remarkable romances, world travels and day-to-day experiences.
It’s her legacy to her son, Andrew Judd, 49, who she reunited with several years ago after giving him up for adoption in 1958.
“I hope to give Andrew an idea of my life, something he doesn’t totally know about … he knows some negative things and some positive things,” Mercer said over red wine and lemon cake at her home last month.
“In some of the poems I’ve tried to explain why I had to have him adopted, and I hope he can to terms with that eventually.”
Although she is recognized for her artwork – her paintings grace walls of private estates to permanent collections at the University of Toronto Art Centre and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, in Oshawa -– Mercer’s interest in poetry has grown wildly over the years.
When her partner died of liver cancer in 1994, Mercer threw herself into her artwork, rarely leaving her house to see friends or even do simple errands, including grocery shopping. It wasn’t until 2002 when she reentered the outside world, participating in art shows and recreating a name for herself.
“I was filled with emotion that it had to come out,” said Mercer, whose career highlight was showing her Canadian Icon series at the Florence Biennale in 2003.
After the Florence show, poetry became the artist’s newest love.
The words flowed from Mercer’s mind onto her notepad, just as her paintings previously did and it wasn’t long before her first book of poetry came out. ..... which was published in India by Cyberwit.net, was officially released at the Arts and Letters Club on Oct. 24.
“I am free and alone,” Mercer writes in the poem. “I adored you – you believed in me as none.
“I blossomed as your cornfield was born,” she writes, adding that the new sense of freedom – to create, to explore and to live her life the way she wants to – is a very big part of what keeps her young.