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Shawn

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|| Actor, magician, game designer and writer ||

Shawn

I’m always worried if anything I’m doing matters; If anything I write matters. But there’s a really great poem by W.S Merwin called Berryman, and the last lines of it, and I think I’m paraphrasing here, “I asked how you can be sure if anything you’ve ever written is good, and he said you can’t. You can’t know. You die without knowing. If you have to know, don’t write.” That’s something that scares me. Wondering if it matters. I’m just hoping it does.

— Shawn

Let’s see.

I’m an actor, a magician, a game designer and a writer. Right now I’m working on a compilation of poems. I also do some design work for the Stratford festival and just finished my masters two weeks ago.  My undergrad started off in engineering, but then I switched to theatre because I got bored. I graduated with a theatre degree and my masters is in English.

A defining moment? You’re asking the hard hitting questions here, like 60 minutes. It would have to be when I finished my first book, actually. The second I hit the period on it, I realized I had accomplished something… at least I thought was great. I’m a very legacy driven person. I’m constantly thinking, what am I going to leave the world with? When I finished my first book, that was a life changing moment for me. It was non-fiction, a book on magic — magic theory, no less. It was read by tens of people.

That was a big hurdle I got over, because once you do something once, you know you can do it again. You know it’s in you and so I carry that with me now; that knowledge.

What are you worried about?

I’m always worried if anything I’m doing matters; If anything I write matters. But there’s a really great poem by W.S Merwin called Berryman, and the last lines of it, and I think I’m paraphrasing here, “I asked how you can be sure if anything you’ve ever written is good, and he said you can’t. You can’t know. You die without knowing. If you have to know, don’t write.” That’s something that scares me. Wondering if it matters. I’m just hoping it does.

Is there a place in Toronto that holds some kind of significance to you?

To be honest, they paved over my childhood. I sometimes drive by my old apartment where I grew up. There was this beautiful field that I’d make a beeline to school every morning when I was in elementary. Apartment, school, I’d just walk right through that field. Now there’s another school there; it’s all suburban neighbourhood. They paved over all of it.

There was a cricket pitch in the center of it, where they’d play cricket every Sunday. It was tall grass kinda thing, and there was this weird round box. Every morning there was an old man that would do tai-chi by the row of trees that divided the field. I would always wave hello to him. He’d wave back. I mean, he’s probably dead now. That’s the sad part of the story, but the reality of it is sinking in now.

But I always think back to that field and I remember standing in the middle of it and thinking, “this is fucking huge” and feeling really small and really infinitesimal. But yeah, that’s in Scarborough.

Portrait photos: cracked sidewalk & park grass


Want more? Check out Shawn’s book: Metamagic: An Introduction (A Guide to Using Magic as a Medium For Discourse)