Lakehead Orillia author inspired by life

As published in the Barrie Examiner, January 6, 2016


Life is good.

Jessica Dawson (BASED '17) would likely say that regardless of what happens — good or bad — because she’s a very optimistic person. 

Nevertheless, it has been a good year.

She became engaged to her childhood sweetheart, moved out of the family home for the first time, into a place of her own, wrote and published her first book, a collection of poetry called Little Nothings.

“It all fits into a theme,” said Dawson, who was born and raised in Barrie. “It can be read as one whole poem through the whole book or individual poems. The main message is how it speaks to them (the reader.)”

The book was inspired, in part, by Dawson’s fiance and her parents. She grew up in an arts-oriented family, to musical parents who wrote and performed their own music. Her father became an audio technician and has recorded some of Dawson’s songs, while her mother is a teacher.

She performs, when she has time, with her fiance and has appeared at open-mic night at Casa Cappuccino and a local coffee shop in the Lakeshore Mews. They write all of their own material. They also wrote their own wedding song and have pre-recorded it to play for their first dance.

Dawson wrote her first song at the age of eight. She has had some formal musical training, at the Royal Conservatory of Music, for voice. She also plays guitar, ukulele, flute and piano, but keeps it to the ukulele for practicality.

She played in the band at St. Joseph's Catholic High School and also participated in a 12-hour music marathon. Her older brother was into music and had a band that included her fiance. That is how she met him, although the two didn’t start dating until she was 17 years old.

In addition, she has participated in a variety of dance classes and a local triple-threat program. She did some musical theatre, including a production with the Kempenfelt Community Players.

Dawson hopes to use all of her talents in a teaching career and is working towards it at Lakehead University in Orillia. She chose the school because it is close to home — she was 17-years of age when she graduated high school.

“I couldn’t imagine being that far away from my family,” she said. “I couldn’t image not seeing them for months at a time.”

She decided to do a minor in English literature and a major in interdisciplinary studies and concurrent education, but her speciality is psychology. Now 20 years old, she has one more year to go.

“I hope to be a teacher and incorporate music into the classroom,” said Dawson, who also wants to use her psychology. “I’d like to be a guiding light to children who don’t have that outside of school. That’s kind of what the book is about.”

She has already garnered some experience, assistant teaching for the local school board each summer since she started university. She has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. When she was young she would line up her dolls and pretend she was in classroom.

“My parents would play, too, and my dad would misbehave,” she recalled. “He would always act out and my mom would be on her best behaviour. It was funny.”

Dawson likes quite of few different poets, but her all-time favourite is John Keates. She writes free-form poems, and some are as short as one line and others occupy a whole page. Several are inspired by nature and many touch on the subject of love.

Little Nothings is a chatbook, a short, condensed book of approximately 35 pages, that sells for around $10. It is available through, the Lakehead University bookstore and, in 2016, at Chapters.