Writing poetry has been a passion of mine since the age of 12. Even in my early efforts, I loved the challenge of creating a rhyming pattern. Perhaps that explains why much of my poetry has a lyrical quality. Some people call it “musical.”

Although I do not have a background in music and can’t sing well at all, I love the rhythm of a well-crafted piece of writing and some of my poems begin as a song somewhere in my imagination. I hear the words as a melody. A psychic medium told me once: “You are very creative, but no one would pay you to sing.” Sadly he was quite insightful in that regard! So with an appreciation for beat and rhythm, I narrate the poetry in a tone of voice that I have been told is very soothing. I’ll let others judge that for themselves!

I remember as a child in Grade 2 or 3, being selected to represent our small rural school at a central music festival. This choice did not reflect any great talent on my part, you can be sure. It was more a question of limited competition at the local level! I can still see myself waiting for my turn, sitting in a pretty pink dress which I’m sure my parents worked hard to afford. My knees were shaking so badly I’m not sure how I managed to get myself to the stage, but I do remember lamely trying to give a rendition of “Grandfather Clock” and then returning to my seat in a state of mortified relief.

Mercifully, that scene was never repeated and thereafter I seemed destined to only create the lyrics for music. In my first year as a teacher at Albion Heights School in Rexdale, my highly-esteemed principal, Hilton Wilson, approached me at the end of June with a little request. He said, “I hear you are good with words.... do you think you could help write a farewell song? It’s a bit of a tradition here when staff leave, but no one seems to be able to get it together this year.”

I happily agreed and for the next 18 years I directed a group of teachers in producing a myriad of year-end performances. These musical tributes are among my fondest memories of my teaching days. I was really moved when a group of my colleagues presented me with my own song at my retirement dinner in 2006. My wonderful team teacher, Leslie Duffy, (with whom I co-wrote many verses over the years in less than optimal creative conditions), had chosen my farewell music. The staff serenaded me with their personalized version of “You wrote the songs.”

Another very dear principal, Dennis Crothall, led our administration for eleven years of pure joy. When he was eventually transferred to another school, to the regret of everyone on our close-knit staff, I wrote him a poem based loosely on the beautiful song, “To Sir, With Love” (written by Don Black and Mark London and initially recorded by Lulu who also acted in the film of the same name).

The following message was my personal goodbye to Dennis, an exemplary principal and dear friend who sadly passed away a few years ago.

How do I thank someone who’s taken me
from brown hair through to grey,
And made me feel attractive
through several sizes on the way?

How do I thank someone who’s held my hand
in that dark valley,
Who stroked my mother’s brow
and prayed for her to rally?

How do I thank someone who’s faced with me
the surgeon’s knife;
And smuggled in pure Haagen-Dazs
to ease the pain and strife?

How do I thank someone who’s stood by me
when Cupid fled the scene,
And helped pick up the pieces
from the fabric of my dream?

How do I thank someone who’s supported me
and let my spirit sing;
Who gave his quick approval
when I wished to try my wings?

How do I thank someone who’s watched me move
through many tenant places,
And shared with me my happiness
in Shalamar’s sweet graces?

It is, perhaps, impossible for mere words to impart
the depth of tender gratitude
I hold within my heart.

So I’ll just say “farewell” for now
May you have blessings from above,
And may good fortune smile upon you,
As I write, “To Sir, with love.”

(dedicated to the memory of Dennis Crothall)

I remember one day in particular during “the Dennis years” at Albion Heights. I was in the photocopy room at lunchtime reproducing some poetry for The Precious Gems Poetry Club I had founded. Dennis came into the room, noticed what I was doing, pointed to the pages and said, “You know, Sharon, you’re very good at this teaching thing, but you’d be great at THAT.” I’ll call on all my guardian angels to help me live up to his expectations.

As an art form, music has tremendous power to comfort, encourage and inspire. Every morning I start my day by listening to songs that “raise me up”. Currently I listen to a medley of youtube performances, including “God’s Gift To You” written by Donna Mann and sung by Michelle Payne, “Known Only To Him” sung by Elvis Presley, “He Looked Beyond My Faults” by Dotty Rambo and sung by David Phelps and “Untitled Prayer” written and sung by Jennifer Potter.  Jennifer is a brilliant musician with whom I have recently become acquainted.  I am excited to direct you to her website:

I have been blessed in my life to be surrounded by beautiful music. Please return to my website often to read profiles about individuals who have enriched my life through their musical gifts. My first profile of a "musical muse" will be posted in the near future and will feature my wonderful friend Laura Walker and her husband, Paul Cleckner.

I’d love to know what songs inspire the visitors to my website. You are invited to send me an email at . I’ll compile a list and maybe others will be inspired by your personal favourites.

Poetry Speaker, Sharon Sinclair

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