MADAWASKA, Maine — A Madawaska native and Channel X radio host has been putting his poetry out into the world — in 16 countries to be exact.
Canadian-American poet David Leo Sirois, 50, has been published 119 times in 16 different countries. His work has been translated into 12 languages, including French, Greek, German and Hindi. Sirois became an active member of SpokenWord Paris after publishing his first collection of poems in France, and now hosts the Zoom continuation of the event called Spoken World Online. But his love of poetry began in Madawaska.
Sirois said his fifth-grade teacher in Madawaska introduced him to Edgar Allan Poe when he was 10 years old.
“She would say ‘write a poem,’ and I would write eight,” Sirois said. “I guess I got enthused.”
Sirois was 16 when the school newspaper Focus published his first poem. He then became involved in Madawaska’s theater program, cultivating his affinity for the performing arts, which Sirois said still aids him.
“At SpokenWord Paris, I’d be nervous all the way up to my performance but then on stage, I felt fearless,” Sirois said. “It feels really natural for me to act and sing and entertain people, so I get onto stage and blossom. I make them laugh, make them think.”
His first collection, “Humbledoves,” was inspired by the unique variety of pigeons he saw on the streets of Paris. Sirois said their interactions with each other and “fashion consciousness” drew him to the idea of addressing their human-like traits.
“It was just interesting to put my thoughts about society or what-have-you into an image,” Sirois said. “And pigeons, most people don’t think in a friendly way about pigeons so that was fun to turn that upside down.”
Sirois said he returned to the St. John Valley when his father became ill, and now lives in Edmunston, New Brunswick.
A performing artist at heart, Sirois began his career as a radio host with Channel X out of Caribou.
Though Sirois is on the radio from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., he dedicates himself to his poetry and has five finished manuscripts waiting to be published.
“Instead of sending stuff out blind to a magazine that I respect and waiting forever to hear a rejection, now more and more magazines are writing to me, even from other countries,” Sirois said. “Yesterday, I even received a request from a newspaper in India saying essentially ‘please send something.’”
Sirois will host an upcoming reading online called POE-TRY at noon Sunday. Sirois said all are welcome to the event.
“Hopefully, they leave inspired or with a greater sense of beauty or a deeper meaning in life — or at least a smile, because I write some silly stuff,” Sirois said.