The Poet Laureate of the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour (D.C. Reid) sits by himself at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. His carry-on bags surround him as the morning light opens her eyes. Soon, other PoeTrainers join him as they gather for their flight to Winnipeg. I reflect, glance at my watch, and scan the sea of travellers for a poet-friend who hasn’t shown up yet.
This is where my PoeTrain journey begins: at an airport not a train station.
Call it Murphy’s Law. Call it double-sided luck. Sometimes detours happen for a reason!
When VIA Rail officials suspended passenger rail travel from Toronto to Winnipeg due to an earlier derailment in northern Ontario, organizers of the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour were left with a dilemma. We yearned to embrace train travel but would the tracks open up in time for the National Poetry Month tour from Ottawa to Toronto to Edmonton to Vancouver and proceed as planned? And if not, how could onboard events be re-scheduled?
Within weeks of travelling, PoeTrainers opted to cash in their Toronto-Winnipeg train tickets to book flights to Winnipeg where train travel could safely resume.
I secretly welcomed this change. Although I had been looking forward to travelling through northern Ontario (which I love), I also have a soft-spot for Manitoba and its inhabitants. Despite the sub-zero weather in the winter and the mosquito-threats in the summer, this Canadian province houses the warmest and friendliest people. Even their license plates smile with the slogan “Friendly Manitoba”.
The PoeTrainers rejoiced. The folks at the Fort Garry Hotel offered a reasonable room rate for the out-of-town guests and bonus: a glitzy place to celebrate National Poetry Month. Several Winnipeg poets and musicians shared in the festivities.
Can you feel it?…Rock roll, rock-rumble…this movement…Rock roll with the flow…
The rest is history! According to organizer David Brydges, “The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour (Ottawa to Vancouver – April 15 to 26, 2015) was a great success.” See his report here.
Were you there in the crowded room, a poetic voice in Salon A?
Did you learn to roll, catch the flow, when some plans derailed?
Did you bring an extra sweater when snow clung to unopened bags?
Did you linger, wave goodbye as the Monday train departed?
Follow this blog for additional posts and highlights of the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour.
MORE MANITOBA EVENTS FOR MAY/JUNE:
Can’t wait to return to the friendly province! If you’re in Manitoba, check out this writing workshop “Exploring the Five Senses” scheduled for Thursday, May 21 at the Gaynor Regional Public Library. Prior writing experience is not necessary. See details here.
On Sunday, May 24, tune into CKUW for P.I. New Poetry with host Carmelo Militano – 4:30 to 5 p.m. More details here.
Hear the work of Manitoba fiction writer Brenda Hasiuk and poets Carmelo Militano and Brenda Sciberras. I’ll also be launching my book Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) on Monday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers. Hope to see you there. More details here.
Poets will also be attending the joint League of Canadian Poets/Writers’ Union of Canada conference held in Winnipeg May 28 to 31.
Also check out the Envoi Poetry Festival (May 29 to June 5, 2015) for more poetry readings here.
Local independent bookseller McNally Robinson Booksellers, Grant Park, Winnipeg hosts literary events and launches on a regular basis. See its current schedule here.