By Seth DuChene
with photography by Bernard Clark
Perhaps it’s not at all surprising that Kingston musician and educator Gary Rasberry, the author of four books of poetry over the years, looks to a term coined by Canadian poet Al Purdy to best describe himself: a “designated oddball.”
Purdy’s poem, “The Freezing Music,” tells the story of a man who leaves the warmth of his house in the middle of a cold November night to listen for the moment when water turns to ice. He’s out in his backyard at the edge of the water, peering into the dark water … so he says, “There I am on my hands and knees in the dark, the designated oddball to my neighbours.”
“When I read that line, it was like everything just dropped,” Gary continues. “I never wanted to be an oddball, and I’m not sure anyone would necessarily want to be an oddball, but when I found out that I was a ‘designated oddball,’ that’s what made the difference. Now I’m the designated oddball; I know who I am.”
As jarring as the term might seem, Gary’s life certainly defies pigeonholing. A Juno-nominated children’s singer-songwriter with a Ph.D. in Education, he has taken a decidedly unique path to where he is today. Even the question “Where are you from?” generates a challenging answer. Gary’s journey took him across Canada before settling in the Limestone City. . . .