Meredith Kathryn Case (Katie) Hoogendam is a writer, artist, mother, sometime radio host and a member of SOTH.
This winter, Katie turned her hand to play writing with such success that her 10-minute play, Plan X was one of four plays chosen to be produced at SOTH’s Festival of the Arts.
Q: So Katie, you are a poet, painter, performer and now playwright. Tell us a little about your poetry. Is this your primary form of artistic expression?
I’d say my primary form of artistic expression is waking up in the morning and opening the door to the wonder of each new day. But I’ve loved poetry for a long time—probably since reading A Child’s Garden of Verses alone in the attic as a little girl, or maybe writing a report on Emily Dickinson in grade 5 when I was in my third week of the chickenpox, nestled on the couch and drinking sugary black tea. Likely because of these experiences, I connect poetry with peace, solitude, and coziness.
For me, poetry is zazen. I also had a radical poetry teacher, Jack Ridl, in university. And my sister Carol gave me a copy of Pablo Neruda’s “Love Poems” for my seventeenth birthday. Poetry is precise and particular—God or the Devil or both are in those details. That’s why I love it. But I have to work at it.
What comes most easily to me, on the other hand, is creative nonfiction. Essay writing. Blabbing on about ideas that make me angry, confuse me or tap into my sense of wonderment. Writing about others’ writing. I love the potential theoretical engagement of the essay form.
Q: You have used your own paintings as the covers for your chapbooks. How important is your painting to you?
Painting—ART in general—is very important to me. Art is life. When I lose touch with that, I lose touch with myself. There is no “good” and “bad” art in my opinion—just closer and further from true. Art is for everyone.
Q: What inspired you to write a short play for the arts festival this year?
I was inspired by Marie-Lynn Hammond’s “10 Minute Play” workshop at a SOTH meeting. I left the meeting and drove directly to the Black Cat Café in Cobourg where I sat down and let Plan X spill on to the page.
Q: What did you enjoy most in writing it? Is it a comedy, a tragedy, historical or contemporary? How would you describe it?
Plan X is allegorical in nature, and almost soap-opera-esque in form. The play is contemporary and western in setting but universal in theme. It’s the sacred and the profane at once. I hope audience members leave feeling moved to embrace the metaphysical miracle that is each fleshy, sweaty, bloody moment of our lives.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the play without giving away too much?
The play is set around the travails of Mari and Joe, an infertile couple who are trying desperately for a child. The play turns on a letter from Mari’s former lover, Gabrielle, whose words will change the course of their lives forever.
Katie’s chapbook, Mothertongue is a collection of poetry on motherhood, mourning, and identity released last November at a poetry party in Camborne. Though focused at present on parenting and homeschooling, Katie remains professionally and personally concerned with environmental issues and educational theory and practice.
Interview by: Felicity Sidnell Reid, chair of FOTA and author of Alone: A Winter in the Woods.