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Tour de blogosphere: Pearl Pirie, Ottawa’s blogger extraordinaire

By Alejandro Bustos on March 23, 2013

Ottawa’s blogging community is full of fascinating and thoughtful people.  One of the most prolific members of this interesting group is Pearl Pirie, who can be found in more than a dozen local online sites.

Curious to know more about this creative blogger, I spoke to Pearl about her diverse projects, which encompass poetry, photography, cooking and, with one particular blog, observations of the world as seen through the eyes of a cat.

“(Blogging is) a way to organise yourself,” she tells me in a phone interview. “I am going to be writing these things anyways, whether I make them public or not.”

Judging from her large body of work, it is no wonder that she is a full-time writer.  For those who are acquainted with her poetry, the blog pesbo is likely a familiar place.  This poetry journal contains, among other things, posts about local poetry readings, literary events, festivals and workshops.

Humanyms is another well-known blog, in which Pirie looks at general life in Ottawa and the bright side of things.  “Humanyms is a portmanteau of homonym (homo = same, nyma = name) and human,” she writes on the blog’s bio. “To be human is to be many things and when we say we are human we mean many things.”

For most people managing two blogs would be enough, but for Pirie this is only the beginning.  Her blog 40-Word Years is an ingenious collection of poem-posts, each 40-words long, that celebrate people who have impacted her life.  They include this poignant memory of a farmer, praise for the writer Betsy Lerner, a funny anecdote about store owners, and thoughts about a waiter.

“40-word years is a project by itself,” Pirie tells me. “Usually the first draft is 1 ½ times longer, 60 words long, and then I have to cut it (down to 40-words).”  Another poetry-influenced blog is echoloquacious, while Oh Heck and Dream-Nation is a collection of dream logs, although the latter site was last updated in November 2012.

Photo by Pearl Pirie (www.pagehalffull.com/eatenup/)

Her blogging skills, however, are not limited to the written word.  Looking on the Bri Side is a photo-blog of pictures of her husband, while Eaten Up is a foodie/photo-blog that specialises in vegetarian and vegan recipes.

For some, Eaten Up offers great suggestions for a non-meat diet.  From a visual perspective, however, the site’s appeal stems from the fact that the recipes rely heavily on photographic images as opposed to text.

Photographing food allows Pirie to practice composition skills with her camera. “People move, people shift, people have facial expressions,” she says. “A sandwich not so much.”

Her passion for photography can also be seen in picture i, a photo-blog project that she did in 2010-11 in which she took a different self-portrait each day for a year.  Monkeying Around, a photo-blog that followed the adventures of a sock monkey, is another of Pirie’s creations, although this site was last updated in June 2012.

In addition to writing, photography and cooking, Pirie has decided to start blogging about music with her new blog earworm curation that she started earlier this month.

Self-portrait photo by Pearl Pirie (http://365-pearl.blogspot.ca/)

“A lot of people put links to these 80’s bands and I have never heard of them,” she notes with a laugh. “I have never been a music person but there is music in my head.”  The posts to date have described different songs that she thinks about.

Finally, there is Catnip and Catnaps, a blog that was written from the perspective of her cat, who has since passed away.  While describing this blog, Pirie recounts a tragicomic anecdote of another cat blogger who wrote about a cat who was thinking about death, only to have shocked readers telling the author that they were going to call the humane society.  In response, the blogger replied that their cat had passed away and the post was not to be taken literally.  “It’s a weird world in the cat blogging world,” says Pirie with a chuckle.

For those who are keeping count, Pirie also posts at the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter, Local Tourist Ottawa, and 4 Seasons Haiku, as well as maintaining her own author site.

If you want to know more about local bloggers, please go to The Ottawa Blogging Library, a blog that I created to accompany the Tour de blogosphere columns.