Category Archives: Poetry Reviews

Introducing Donna Allard – International Beat Poet Laureate – Canada

“my bones pine to follow their naked path, be unknotted, enterprising and unafraid” – Donna Allard, International Beat Poet Laureate Canada (2019-2020)*

With three new books (Ghost in the Window (River Bones Press 2019), Three Times Around The World (River Bones Press 2019), and Cold Fire (SkyWing Press 2019)) added to her resume, New Brunswick based poet Donna Allard continues to not only follow in the footsteps of the original “Beat Generation” but to forge ahead with her own poetic style, interests and ideas.

Donna Allard Photo credit - Debbie Kilday

Canadian Poet Donna Allard – Photo by Debbie Kilday

Call her fearless like a warrior! If you follow her on Facebook, you will be inundated with posts not only about other poets but her interest in nature, social commentary, and other political views. She is not afraid to speak her mind and to reach deep into her psyche and to share her strong emotions with her followers.

Call her determined like an entrepreneur! When I first heard the name Donna Allard, she was the president of the Canadian Poetry Association and was resolute to promote poetry across the country which she has continued to do via her social media accounts.

Call her passionate like the “night’s caressing hand”! She lives, eats, breathes poetry. It is indeed her passion and if you read her poem “Beat Poets” in her book Three Times Around The World, you will discover her desire to be like them.

And now she is part of the new “Beat Generation”. In August 2019 in Connecticut, the National Beat Poetry Foundation, Inc. awarded her with the title International Beat Poet Laureate for the term 2019-2020.

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On and Off the Air with Winnipeg Writer Carmelo Militano

“I wanted your world to unfold/reveal itself its inner workings/as if all that was required was opening/the back of a watch and the whirl and click of you would be visible.” – Carmelo Militano*

He treats his guests like poetic movie stars. Using his deep and throaty radio voice, Carmelo Militano welcomes each writer into the university studio where they will celebrate their literary lives and reveal the inner workings of their writing world.

Since the Fall 2014, this poet, writer, editor, teacher and radio broadcaster hosted and produced a weekly poetry show at CKUW FM 95.9 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Called the P. I. New Poetry Show, the program featured over 120 poets and writers from across the country which meant Militano needed to read some 120 books to prepare for the various interviews.

Carmelo Militano - host of P. I. Poetry

Winnipeg writer Carmelo Militano recently took a hiatus from being the host and producer for the P.I. New Poetry show broadcast from the University of Winnipeg.

In early 2019, he began his hiatus from the radio show to work on a new book about the life of the Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani. Edits for Catching Desire (Ekstasis Editions 2019) were finished this month with a release date expected in the spring 2020 or later this fall 2019.

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‘Travelling The Lost Highway’ with Sarnia Writers Deahl & Linder

We awaken to distant thunder,/the sound of rain in the black walnut – James Deahl*

Three cheers and a thunderous applause for Sarnia’s literary couple James Deahl and Norma West Linder who continue to travel and entertain readers and audiences with their prolific work.

James Deahl and Norma West Linder are prolific award-winning Canadian writers who call Sarnia, Ontario, Canada their home. Both launched new work on September 9, 2019.

Last month, their double book launch officially introduced Travelling The Lost Highway, Deahl’s 164-page poetry collection inspired by some of the secluded Canadian and American roads Deahl and Linder travelled as a couple plus Perk’s First Love– A 1984 Drum Corps Summer, Linder’s fictional novel aimed at the youth or young adult market.

Featured books at Double Launch September 9, 2019 in Sarnia

 The double book launch featured more than just two books.

Both shared their work at the literary celebration which also included readings by four contributors to Tamaracks and Lummox anthologies. Guest readers were Joseph A. Farina, Ryan Gibbs, David Haskins, and Rhonda Melanson.

Featured readers at double launch September 9, 2019 in Sarnia

The launch included readings by Joseph A. Farina, Norma West Linder, David Haskins, James Deahl, Ryan Gibbs, and Rhonda Melanson.

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Booked for the Summer plus Fall 2019 Releases

 

“I will address all seasons in turn/and summer the memories” – Donna Allard, International Beat Poet Laureate*

As a child I welcomed summer, those endless memories reading yet another book in the comforts of my favourite tree. As an adult, I still enjoy being squirreled away to enjoy the summer tranquility that outdoor reading can bring.

However, while vacationing from social media last June, I missed the biggest literary news to hit the area: the great Canadian author Margaret Atwood would be touring with her latest book. One of her readings would be held at a local hotel in late November 2019. By the time I heard about the event, all the tickets were sold out.

November 27, 2019 in Sarnia

Each year Sarnia’s indie bookstore, the Book Keeper, hosts numerous visits by emerging and established authors. Canadian author Margaret Atwood will be in the area in November but event tickets are already sold out. Photo courtesy of The Book Keeper

Although I will miss one of my favourite authors read, bookstores, libraries, and other organizers of literary events are already gearing up for a busy fall season and I’m looking forward to hearing more updates as they become available. Some of those Ontario happenings appear on the event section of my blog.

What are you doing for the rest of the summer to feed your literary mind?

Below is my August/September “hoping to read soon” reading material as well as some of the Fall 2019 book releases and activities that I’ll be following.

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Artist John Di Leonardo Follows His Passion in Debut Poetry Book

Among cold things, I whisper your name/in the sweetness of morning jams, evening fruits/and the Atlantic that draws me towards you. – John Di Leonardo*

February perfumes the air with desire and passion fruit while the cover of John Di Leonardo’s debut poetry collection Conditions of Desire is scarlet like rose petals, like a daring shade of lipstick, like Cupid’s heart.

Launched in late October 2018 by The John B. Lee Signature Series imprint of Hidden Brook Press, this 74-page collection of 54 ekphrastic poems evolved from Di Leonardo’s visual art exhibition “The Contentious Nude in the History of Canadian Art.”

John Di Leonardo at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery Photo courtesy - Druworx Photography - for blog post

Before becoming a published poet, John Di Leonardo taught visual arts for 30 years. His latest exhibition of graphite drawings was at the Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario. Photo courtesy: Druworx Photography

As Lee penned for the back cover, “John Di Leonardo’s masterful ekphrastic project involves the writing of a collection of fine poems each of which is inspired by an original work of art. Although he is working in the poetic tradition of Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts,” Di Leonardo is first and foremost a painter who brings to bear the eye of a man whose primary art is visual.”

His transition–from an established artist and visual arts teacher to a poet who paints with his words–has been fascinating to watch.

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Cleverly-woven –Kelly Shepherd’s Insomnia Bird – Edmonton Poems

“Magpie: twilight bird–…//nest builder and robber of nests –//you hop and clatter on the road like hail.” – Kelly Shepherd*

Kelly Shepherd’s Insomnia Bird: Edmonton Poems (Thistledown Press, 2018)** is not a clichéd-flighty-fly-by-night book about the black-billed magpies set against a northern Albertan cityscape. It’s mind-warping, playful, and clever: an a(musing)-gathering-of-facts-and-twigs-and-words, (by a trickster bird) architecturally structured and constructed and carefully woven into a literary nest inspired by Edmonton’s urban growth.

Insomnia Bird cover

Insomnia Bird: Edmonton Poems (Thistledown Press, 2018) by Kelly Shepherd ISBN 978-1-77187-169-3 (softcover)

CAUTION: Do not attempt to read this well-researched book in one sitting (especially at night). Each poem deserves a slow and careful read to fully appreciate the complexity and depth of the work. Reading the book several times is advised.

Layered with wit and dust and city noise, a cacophony of provocative sounds and images, some illuminated like LED billboards, some more subdued like sandblasted cement, this collection of 53 found and lyrical poems kept this country night owl awake: thinking and staring outside an imaginary bus window and into the hum of the glaring street lights.

Expect some travelling on highways littered with snake-skinned truck tires, and congested roads along homeless shelters, construction zones, city buildings, and trees that breathe with plastic bag lungs (p.97). I especially marveled at how the poems with couplets and tercets rhythmically reminded me of riding an early morning bus (or train), half-asleep like a zombie, void of emotion despite reading the daily paper and ripping out tidbits of information for future consumption.

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‘Tis the Season for Books – A Potpourri of Literary News

“the snow is solitary/but not silent/there is the piercing /of the white-stained green” – David Stones*

Writing and reading may be solitary pursuits but like the snow mentioned in David Stones’ poetic lines above, Canada’s vast literary community is not silent. It is a flurry of words, sometimes a blizzard of voices supported by a potpourri of literary activities and events.

Below is a small scoop of national, regional, or local voices, plus books, projects, and events vying for your attention. May you open your heart this season and welcome the gift of creativity. Several of the local events are free. Many of these books are available for reading from the library.

FOR THE READERS:

NEW ON MY SHELF (in alphabetical order, according to author):

Conditions of Desire (Hidden Brook Press, 2018) by John Di Leonardo. This imprint of the John B. Lee Signature Series is a 74-page debut collection of ekphrastic poems as well as six drawings by Brooklin artist/poet John Di Leonardo. Di Leonardo was recently accepted as a full-member of The League of Canadian Poets and will be the editor/compiler/illustrator for Dancing on Stones, the 2019 membership anthology for The Ontario Poetry Society. More information about this submission call is available here. Watch for a Q and A feature in early 2019.

New Books on my Shelf Autumn 2018

New books on my shelf.

Out of Line: Daring to be an Artist Outside the Big City (Wolsak and Wynn, 2018) by Tanis MacDonald. What can I say? This book of essays collected no dust on my shelf. It spoke to me immediately and I highly recommend it to my rural (and urban) writing friends. As a former Manitoba resident, I recognized some of the issues MacDonald expressed. As a current writer in rural Ontario, I also found her words inspiring. “Remember that creating art is a Long Game; it will take your whole life to grow into the artist that you are.” (p. 61)

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