This website is about a journey. The journey of an artist: Toronto area musician, poet and writer Dan Hoddinott, who in the 1990s also happened to be one of the very first in Ontario to receive Registered Graphic Designer designation. So it is only fitting that visitors be greeted with an image laden with symbolism that uses as its reference aspects of a worldview borne out in many of the written works found on these pages.
The location is genuine. I really was there, having trekked the miles across a desert plain on an unmarked gravel road that leads to this remarkable destination (or starting point, depending on perspective). The only things "doctored" about the photo, done so to arrest attention, to enhance statement and to add mystery, involve perceived contradictory color space interplay, some photo effects and, on one side, overwhelming shadowing.
Peering more closely into the image's DNA, you might wonder whether a statement about origins is embedded, seeing the image occupies the traditional "Hello World" position on the site. Perhaps you're curious about the transition from black-and-white to true color and to black-and-white again, and whether there is something specific about the true color area that lends itself to being the focal point of the image. Some might find their curiosity piqued by the sense of joy conveyed by a man striding, seemingly with purpose, from light into darkness. (Or does that joy come from just having discovered some obscure knowledge?) While you're at it, you might be puzzling over the billions of stars that appear as a constant behind the veil of the reality depicted. And where, oh where, might the sun be positioned in this scene?
In addition to all the artistic identifiers noted above, I am also a multiple-award-winning but happily retired newsman. "Retired" requires a qualifier: I make myself available as a contracted journalism instructor and newsroom coach, and as a conference speaker. A textbook/workbook I've developed for reporter training, Community Journalism In Changing Times, is due out shortly and is expected to be distributed across Canada through affiliation with national and provincial community newspaper associations. Aside from that, there have been enough selves and enough years spent observing from the edge of everyone else's reality to make me a, albeit oft-untitled, consort of professors and philosophers, clergy and coachmen, and politicians and pied pipers, for whatever length of season serves both sides.
I have been an avid student of music for much of my adult life, and a stage performer for many years in Toronto’s niche arts scene before stepping onto stages as a male-quartet tenor (or, in mixed groups, the baritone counterpoint to soprano) in the U.S. gospel-singing South. I have acted in musical theatre productions, sung barbershop harmony and had roles in classical productions in the Toronto area. Most recently, I sang in the tenor section of Toronto rock ensemble Newchoir, appearing live on national TV, on some of Toronto's biggest stages and at the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York.
I studied vocal pedagogy and singing technique in operatic repertoire at private studios in Toronto, vocal performance and piano at the gospel-based Steve Hurst School of Music in Nashville (Trevecca University) and Cleveland, Tenn. (Lee University), and voice at the Stamps-Baxter School of Music in Nashville.
I was part of several recording projects in the U.S. prior to recording my first solo CD in Toronto a couple of years ago. The well-received Sighs of the Times, a combination of song and poetry recitation, allowed me to showcase my strength as an onstage storyteller, which I consider my true identity as a performer.
My first full-length volume of poetry, No Distance Too Grand, was published in Newfoundland in 1980. It sold more than 1,500 copies in Atlantic Canada. The follow-up, if you can call A Thousand Steps from Home that, has been a long time in making its appearance, due more to my own distraction than the reality of a market in hibernation for several decades. A less-than-enthusiastic appetite for risk by commercial Canadian publishers made the decision to opt for the easier ride in anthologies an easy one to make — to the point of becoming habitual.
Buoyed by the success of the recorded works and, of course, the always-warm audience reception of my recitations, the new collection of poetry was finally suited up and made its entrance in October, 2016. You can order copies here. And while you wait for your copy of the book to arrive in your post box, help yourself to the poetry section on this site. It will give you a pretty fair indication of what can be expected in the book.
I'm trusting you'll find the tales in the stories section interesting. But you really don't want to leave without also checking out my blog. It is there you'll find more up-to-date note taking as the journey continues. It is also where you will likely find answers to complete the puzzle posed by the introductory image — if you didn't pick up enough clues in the content on the main site.
Enjoy your stay.