A Canadian Poet’s Fascination for Trains

Canadian poet David Brydges was the motivating force behind The Original PoeTrain Express Toronto-Cobalt-Toronto May 2012

Canadian poet David Brydges was the motivating force behind the original PoeTrain Express that transported poets, bloggers, and a film crew from Toronto-Cobalt-Toronto in May 2012

David Brydges likes to talk. Some days, he’s like a runaway train that never stops. Well, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration. Pardon the pun, but he does have a multi-tracked mind when it comes to his love for trains and rail travel.

David Brydges with Cobalt's Poet Laureate Ann Margetson May 11, 2012

David Brydges with Cobalt’s Poet Laureate Ann Margetson May 11, 2012

When I first met Brydges over the phone, he was pitching an idea for what he considered to be a new and exciting poetry event: the 2012 PoeTrain Express.  His vision included a poetry festival on a train where poets, musicians, bloggers, and a film crew would climb aboard a passenger train at Union Station in Toronto and then be transported 8 to 9 hours to Cobalt, a small northern Ontario community. Would I go? His enthusiasm kept me on the phone for close to three hours; a conversation that may have lasted longer if the battery in his cell phone hadn’t died. Yes, he signed me up. Yes, the experience left a deep impression on me and yes, I would highly recommend train travel to others.

Not only is David Brydges a great salesman but he’s also a man of action. Once he gets an idea, he becomes that optimistic and determined train character in the childhood story The Little Engine that Could. However, instead of chanting “I think I can, I think I can”, Brydges has no doubts when stating “I know I can do this.” As the organizer behind seven Spring Pulse Poetry Festivals and the first PoeTrain Express to Cobalt, Ontario, he has already proven that dreams and ideas can become a reality.

The Original PoeTrain Express and 2012 Spring Pulse Poetry Festival participants May 12, 2012

The Original PoeTrain Express and 2012 Spring Pulse Poetry Festival participants May 12, 2012

Kent Bowman at the 2014 Spring Pulse Poetry Festival May 30, 2014

Kent Bowman at the 2014 Spring Pulse Poetry Festival May 30, 2014

This year, his dream turned national. He is the current engine behind the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour a special “Poetry in Motion” event being planned for the 2015 April is National Poetry month celebrations. The tour which will begin Wednesday, April 15 in Ottawa and end 10 days later on April 25 in Vancouver will include a variety of poetry events both on and off the train. Registrations are now being accepted by original PoeTrain participant Kent Bowman. (NOTE: Registration now closed and link was removed March 8, 2017).

Will Brydges and his crew succeed in this project? I know they can and will.

If you wish to be part of this historical event, below is additional information being distributed by the organizing committee!

Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour Banner


On The Great Canadian POETrain Tour

An Historic, Once In A Lifetime

ViaRail Poetry Trip

Across Canada

The Original PoeTrain Express left Toronto May 10, 2012

The Original PoeTrain Express left Toronto May 10, 2012

Because we’re poets, we create. Because we’re poets, we seek out other poets.

Because there’s a POETrain, we can now take our poems, our thoughts, and our passions across Canada, writing, speaking, singing, listening to, and rolling in  – you got it – poetry.

Along the way, the gorgeous scenery and personal interactions matched with our own mighty creativity will help us write the world’s longest train poem.

The POETrain is a once in a lifetime chance to celebrate National Poetry Month 2015, while traveling across Canada with a group of other poets of all ages and backgrounds.

This is an historic venture – a poetic `Last Spike.’

Spaces are limited and discounts are only available up to December 1, 2014.

The original PoeTrain Express left Cobalt on May 13, 2012

The original PoeTrain Express left Cobalt on May 13, 2012



OTTAWA: Opening Ceremony, Wednesday, April 15, 2015

TORONTO:   Poetry Events from Thursday, April 16 through Saturday April 18 (VIA RAIL Canadian leaves for Edmonton on Saturday evening, April 18, arriving on Tuesday, April 21st)

EDMONTON:  From Tuesday, April 21 through Thursday, April 23, we will participate in the fabulous Edmonton Poetry Festival (leaving for Vancouver on April 24).

VANCOUVER:  Arriving early on Friday, April 25, we will be participating in the closing evening ceremony – a fitting end to National Poetry Month and an incredible journey.

On the PoeTrain Express May 10, 2012

On the PoeTrain Express May 10, 2012

Not only will Poetrainers on this journey experience an amazing literary adventure of writing and reading their work, attending poetry workshops to learn about their passion, hearing others read as well as participate in new book launches and in writing the world’s longest train poem as well as attending the famous Edmonton Poetry Festival as invited guests, but you will also be a part of a remarkable voyage through the incredibly beautiful Canadian Rockies as seen through the vista of the Skyline cars; truly one of the miracles of our marvelous country. This historic tour is a unique destination vacation for those who truly love the art of poetry and the beauty of Canada.

Important deadlines:

December 15, 2014: Deadline for submitting your registration form and $50 registration fee. Also the deadline if you wish to take advantage of the one Via Rail on board entertainment poet-musician position, Canada Reading Tour Grants (if you are a full member of The League of Canadian Poets) or the PoeTrain laureate  position. (Ask for details.)

January 31, 2015: Deadline for obtaining discounted train tickets for travel April 11 to 25, 2014.



6 thoughts on “A Canadian Poet’s Fascination for Trains

  1. jonesmarianne2

    Oh how I wish I could go along! I was on the first poetrain, and it was an unforgettable experience. This will be even more exciting. Sadly, I will be out of the country while this is going on. My greetings to the wonderful poets I met on the train to Cobalt.

  2. Pingback: PoeTrainers Head West – Ottawa – Toronto – Winnipeg – Edmonton – Vancouver | Kites Without Strings

  3. Pingback: The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour 2015 – A Retrospective by David Brydges | Kites Without Strings

  4. Pingback: David Brydges – Gathering & Sharing Poetry | Vanessa Shields

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