Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Contemporary Studies and Philosophy, 1996; MFA, 2016
Talking about bathrooms is talking about the human condition—who has access and who doesn’t.
Life has been a series of epiphanies for Lezlie Lowe.
There was the one she had while studying in the Contemporary Studies Program (CSP).
“I found that I could study philosophy, but I didn’t have to think about or write about old stuff by white guys with white beards,” Lezlie says. “I could write about things like the show I saw at the Beaux Arts in Montreal or the dichotomy of the virgin slut. I could take things from the present day that I was interested in and apply philosophical concepts to them and write about them in a really engaging, conversational way.”
Lezlie didn’t realize it at the time but that would be a cornerstone of the career that lay ahead.
After graduating from King’s Lezlie fancied getting a Master’s degree in urban and rural planning. But the timing just wasn’t right, and she took a year off, working as a fitness instructor. Then she took a second year. During that time, she happened to be travelling through upstate New York when she pulled into a restaurant.
“I was at an International House of Pancakes and I had an epiphany. It had nothing to do with pancakes. And I don’t think I believe it now, but the epiphany was––nobody listens. I don’t want to be a rural or urban planner.”
So that was that. Lezlie continued working as a fitness instructor and started writing record reviews for The Coast, “to keep in the habit of writing. That snowballed and I realized I liked journalism.”
The snowball grew and rolled and Lezlie found herself freelancing for CBC Radio, continuing to write for The Coast, she began teaching at King’s School of Journalism and she started writing an opinion column in The Chronicle Herald. Along the way she also started a family. One winter day she found herself on the Halifax Commons with a baby and a toddler who just really had to pee. Epiphany number three: public bathrooms are often inaccessible to many groups including the homeless, trans people, older people, women with babies…
“I thought this is ridiculous. Not only is it ridiculous but nobody thinks about it and very few people talk about it. I love doing that in journalism—looking at things that we look at but don’t actually see.”
Lezlie wrote a feature piece on public toilets for The Coast. There was more to come.
“It became the itch I had to keep scratching. I kept coming back to it. Talking about bathrooms is talking about the human condition—who has access and who doesn’t. At the most basic level it’s the questions of how do we include everyone in a well-functioning society?”
Lezlie kept researching and writing about bathrooms and took the idea for a book into King’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction program. In 2018 she published No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail Our Private Needs.
Lezlie is working on another book these days—this one is about women volunteers during WWII. It’s due out in the fall of 2020.
“That’s what I do,” Lezlie says. “I write about things I want to write about when I want to write about them.”