PRESS RELEASE: I am Keats as you are by GLENN PEIRSON
Edited and compiled by Mary Peirson and Ellyn Peirson
I am Keats as you are: one man’s journey to final enlightenment.
In his immortal spirit, … as free
As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.
Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait? … [Keats]
Glenn Peirson died too soon, much too soon, stricken by a fast-spreading sinus cancer and leaving our world in November 2009 at 44. He was a husband to Mary and a father to Theodora and Henry. He was a doctor with a thriving practice in Cambridge, Ontario – and he was also a musician and music-lover, an athlete, a writer, a poet and a deeply spiritual man. Glenn Peirson, as a friend described him, was a true Renaissance man, a man of compassion, intellect and deep passion.
His battle with cancer (the “beast,” as he called it) extended for three torturous, draining years. There was surgery, and there was chemotherapy and radiation treatment, but the beast was unrelenting in its attack on his body. It killed Glenn Peirson, but it did not defeat him. As he wrote to his friends and family in the weeks just prior to his death: “We are always open to your questions, concerns, gestures and good-will. We are, as always, allergic to pity and despair . . .”
Peirson’s battle with cancer lies at the heart of a newly released publication entitled I am Keats as you are (a poem title), a mixed reference to the Romantic poet John Keats and the Beatles. The heart of the book, edited and structured by Peirson’s widow Mary and his mother Ellyn, is a compilation of Peirson’s own poetry and the hundreds of letters he sent to family and friends over the course of his struggle with cancer in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Some of the letters and poetry relate to Glenn’s cancer experience. A large number do not. The publication concludes with a chapter of poetry and Peirson’s prose written in the years prior to the diagnosis. This is a powerful, passionate, highly personal book about a view of the world. It invites the reader into an exploration and provides insights garnered along a brief, beautiful, fully-walked path.
To suggest that Glenn Peirson was indefatigable would be an enormous understatement, for he retained his trademark sense of wry humour to the end of his days. “Please understand,” he wrote a few months prior to his death, “the tall, hooded fellow with the black robe and boney fingers and long sickle isn’t hanging around me. He might be in the other room, but I would just as soon find him and throw him out of the house head first . . . ” And again, just nine weeks prior to his death, he ended a note to family and friends with this marvellous perspective on life and living: “Until we next communicate, we wish you the same revelry in life’s many unsplendoured and often-overlooked day-to-day jewels.”
One of Glenn Peirson’s many friends is Howard Dyck, a noted Canadian conductor and former CBC Radio host. He wrote of his accomplished friend: “He was a rare one, was Glenn, a perfect blend of saint, clown, philosopher, pixie, artist, scholar. All of us who were privileged to know him are immeasurably richer for having walked with him.”
I am Keats as you are is Glenn Peirson’s parting gift. It will be especially treasured by those individuals and families who have themselves known the emotional and physical struggles of coming to terms with the essential, unanswerable question: why? There is humour at work here – and there is defiance, too. There are rare moments of despair – but there are also hope and optimism in the author’s expression of his enduring will to live. And there is love – a man’s love for his strong, courageous wife, a father’s love for the two children and the family he will leave behind. And there is love of life itself, a life that was all too short for a man who had so much more to offer.
“The mind contributes independently of the body
and then beyond
it is the soul of very existence
allowing navigation through the bones
and then beyond the bones as they turn to dust.”
From “Bag-of-Bones”, August, 2009.
I am Keats as you are
by Glenn Peirson
Edited and compiled by Ellyn Peirson and Mary Peirson
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