Tag Archives: Anna Yin

Six Canadian Poets Laureate To Gather in Windsor – October 27, 2016

Poet Laureate – one regarded by a country or region as its most eminent or representative poet – Mirriam-Webster On-Line Dictionary

 A newspaper editor once told me, “if this city ever gets a poet laureate, that would be BIG news.” I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not (he’s definitely not a fan of poetry) but if he was poking fun at the concept he should have been more open-minded and checked the facts.

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Black Moss Press publisher Marty Gervais says Poetry at the Manor is “proving to be the most popular and largest gathering of poets across the country”.

First of all, poets are similar to journalists in that they are also wordsmiths recording images of the world around them. True the writing style may differ between the two, but the passion and commitment are still there. Respect your colleagues.

Second, if you don’t like poetry, you haven’t met the right poet or read the right poem yet. Poems are like art or music or dance. There are different poetry styles to attract different people. Keep searching until you find something that you like. You may be surprised.

Third, at one time a poet laureate’s job was to write poems for special occasions as requested by the government or funding organization. Today his/her tasks may include writing for a new poetry collection or project, organizing community events, promoting poetry (and/or other cultural activities) and/or creating greater awareness among members of the general public. A daunting task at times with the job description tailored to each position.

Now, imagine what it would be like to meet not one but six poets laureate in one location. Better yet, see what all the excitement is about during the 4th Annual Poetry At the Manor” event to be held Thursday, October 27, 2016 at the Willistead Manor, Windsor, Ontario. This is no ordinary poetry celebration.

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Mark your calendar for the “4th Annual Poetry at the Manor”: Thursday, October 27, 2016 in Windsor.

Still not convinced? Check out the information and photos from last year.

Marty Gervais, the Poet Laureate of Windsor, also shares a non-exclusive sneak peek at what guests can expect to hear or see at Thursday’s FREE event. Below is an article he sent to me earlier this week. Used with permission from the author.

POETRY AT THE MANOR OCT. 27, 2016

Willistead Manor, Windsor, Ontario 

By Marty Gervais, Windsor’s First Poet Laureate

Nearly five years ago, Windsor set the standard across Canada for bringing together poets laureate from various Canadian cities for a major literary event.

The idea for such a gathering of poets was born here in 2012 when with the collaborating efforts of Cultural Affairs Office of the City of Windsor, I initiated “Poetry at the Manor” as part of my role as Windsor’s first poet laureate.

Since then, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Sudbury, Kingston, Mississauga, and other cities have followed suit with festivals of their own.

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Marty Gervais wears many hats. Not only is he Windsor’s first Poet Laureate but he is an award-winning journalist/poet/photographer/editor. He is the driving force behind Black Moss Press and has written more than a dozen books of poetry, two plays, and a novel. His book My Town: Faces of Windsor (Biblioasis, 2011) is a collection of 70 snapshots of people and places that call Windsor home.

Windsor, however, leads the pack, having brought some 16 writers from across Canada to this city for an intimate autumn evening of poetry and storytelling at Willistead Manor.

And once again, October 27, the city will host the now-popular “Poetry at the Manor” where five writers hailing from as far away as Vancouver, Calgary and Regina and as close as Mississauga and Sudbury, will represent their respective cities at this literary event in the “Great Hall” at Willistead.

This annual event is proving to be the most popular and largest gathering of poets across the country.

This year I have invited five poets laureate from across Canada to travel to Windsor, and read their work to Windsor audiences. These include such award-winning poets as Yvonne Blomer (Victoria, British Columbia), Micheline Maylor (Calgary, Alberta), Anna Yin (Mississauga, Ontario), Kim Fahner (Sudbury, Ontario) and Gerry Hill (Regina, Saskatchewan).

The poets, too, will be going into Windsor high schools to conduct writing workshops and readings.

“Poetry at the Manor, Vol. 4” is free, and there will also be food and song.

This year, the welcome musical guest Crissi Cochrane, a pop-soul singer-songwriter now based in Windsor, will entertain with what critics have described as “the silky vocals reminiscent of Billie Holiday and Norah Jones.”

In addition to public readings and discussion, there will be book signings and sales, literary giveaways, and Poetry-On-Demand with Windsor poet and published author Vanessa Shields.

Background on Invited Writers:

GERRY HILL: Two-time winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Poetry, Gerald Hill published his sixth poetry collection, Hillsdale Book, with NeWest Press, and A Round For Fifty Years: A History of Regina’s Globe Theatre with Coteau Books, both in 2015. In the fall of 2015 he was Doris McCarthy Artist-in-Residence at Fool’s Paradise in Toronto. He lives and writes in Regina. He is Saskatchewan’s 6th Poet Laureate.

ANNA YIN: Anna Yin was born in China and immigrated to Canada in 1999. A finalist for Canada’s Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award in 2011 and in 2012, Anna has authored five poetry books, including Wings Toward Sunlight (2011) and Inhaling the Silence (2013). Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, the 2010/2014 MARTY Literary Arts Awards and the 2013 Professional Achievement Award from CPAC. Her poems and translations have appeared in the New York Times, Arc Poetry, CBC Radio, Rogers TV, China Daily, World Journal, Poetry in Transit, Rice Paper, Room, and more. Anna is Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate.

YVONNE BLOMER: Writer, critic, teacher and poet, Yvonne Blomer was born in Zimbabwe, and came to Canada when she was two. With her husband she has taught in Japan, cycled through Southeast Asia, and lived in the UK, where she completed a Masters in Creative Writing with Distinction at The University of East Anglia. Yvonne is proud to be serving as the Poet Laureate for the City of Victoria, BC, and is the Artistic Director emeritus of the Planet Earth Poetry reading series.

MICHELINE MAYLOR: Micheline Maylor has been short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch award for experimental poetry, and in 2013 was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award.  She teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University where she won the teaching excellence award in 2015. She serves as guest editor at Frontenac Press’ renowned Quartet series for 2013-17. She serves as the Past-president and co-founder of Freefall Literary Society, and is the consulting editor of FreeFall literary magazine. Her latest works can be found in Partisan, The Literary Review of Canada, and Quill and Quire. Micheline is a member of the Alberta Magazine Publisher’s Association. Micheline was appointed Calgary’s Poet Laureate on April 25, 2016.

KIM FAHNER: Kim Fahner lives, writes and teaches English in Sudbury, Ontario.  She has published her work in a number of Canadian poetry journals and anthologies over the last twenty years.  She has published three volumes of poetry, including You Must Imagine The Cold Here (Your Scrivener Press, 1997), braille on water (Penumbra Press, 2001), and The Narcoleptic Madonna (Penumbra Press, 2012). Kim had the honour of studying with Timothy Findley as her mentor at the Humber School for Writers.  In April 2013, Kim took part in The Battle of the Bards at Harbourfront/IFOA. Kim has been named the fourth poet laureate for the City of Greater Sudbury (for the tenure of 2016-18) and she is the first woman to be appointed to this role.

This event is traditionally standing-room-only, so mark your calendars now and plan to attend on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

BIG News Indeed!!!

Click the link for more information on Marty Gervais and the Poet Laureate Program.

 

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Mississauga’s Poet Laureate Anna Yin Brings Eastern and Western Cultures Together

Languages have colours.* – Anna Yin

            “The Year of the Monkey” has officially arrived and Chinese-Canadian poet Anna Yin continues to celebrate with her public readings and writing of poetry. Her work is simple yet complex: colourful like haiku lines extended with silk ribbon metaphors, often lyrical with wind-sock blown, water-painted words flowing from each page. Her writing is exotic like an Asiatic lily but ‘down-to-Earth’ grounded with the strength and vulnerabilities of bamboo. Her mastery of English, her second language, amazes me.

As a writer, she has travelled far.

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Anna Yin, Poet Laureate for the City of Mississauga (2015-2017)

Born in China, she immigrated to Canada in 1999. Since that time, her literary career has soared. Today, she is the inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of Mississauga (2015-2017) and has authored five poetry collections. Yin attributes much of her success to “luck” but many of her admirers feel she’s a natural literary ambassador with a unique poetic voice. In person, she is kind and warm: ambitious with her dreams but keen in helping others excel.

Follow her literary career on social media and you will see her positive and enthusiastic nature captured in promotional and celebratory photographs. Note the huge smile on her face and on the people around her.

Over the years, her poetry and translations have helped to bridge the language barriers between Eastern and Western cultures. She is a strong supporter and promoter of literary events.

On Sunday, February 21, she will participate in the 2016-RBC-Toronto Quinhuai Lantern Festival Lights Up where Chinese and Canadian poets from the League of Canadian Poets and more will read and perform poetry. The event is organized by Ontario-Jiangsu Friendship Association and Jiangsu Overseas Exchanges Association. More information can be found here.

 

LCP Members Anna Yin and Alice Munroe

Anna Yin with Alice Major, the first Poet Laureate for Edmonton. Yin will participate at the 2016 Edmonton Poetry Festival as part of the National Poetry Month Celebrations.

In addition to her functions as poet laureate, she continues to tour with her most current book Seven Nights With the Chinese Zodiac (Black Moss Press, 2015).  According to George Elliott Clarke, the Poet Laureate of Toronto ( 2012-2015) and Canada’s newest Poet Laureate, “Yin’s bravura poems—so exquisite and extraordinary—merit bravo over bravo.”

Below is my book review scheduled to appear in the next issue of Verse Afire, the membership newsletter of The Ontario Poetry Society:

Hypnotic and surreal! Reading Anna Yin’s latest book, Seven Nights With The Chinese Zodiac, is like drifting into a series of dreams and “moon-watered” poems.

A breath-taking collection! Hold onto your night caps! Her culturally-rich imagination surprises the reader with appearances of floating cities, a dragon that “thunders behind hefty clouds”, “winged horses pulling/a chariot”, a snake that “swallows the sky” and so much more.

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Seven Nights With the Chinese Zodiac (Black Moss Press, 2015) is Anna Yin’s 5th poetry book.

In the poem, “Night Waves”, the reader encounters “Wave upon wave…/inhaling”. Sometimes the images depict sadness, like a fish “desperate for air” or adversity when “shivering in storms/our bed is a fragile boat”. Other times, hope prevails when: “light is the anchor”… “You open your eyes/moonlight pours in”. This Asian moon symbol with its cyclical phases, its ebb and flow, its association with Yin’s versus Yang’s attributes is like an astrological thread or tributary that skillfully connects the poems together. 

Her poetic words are often water brushed with rain and snow petals, love lost and faith found, the change in seasons, mirrors and reflections, the scent of dried roses and the inhaling of silence.

In one poem, she pens: “My path is illuminated by the moon–/the same moon walked with Basho”. This reference to the Japanese haiku master as well as prominent Canadian poets Dorothy Livesay, John B. Lee, Margaret Atwood and others shows a deep respect and appreciation for her mentors. By mixing the more traditional haiku with her more layered and longer free verse poems, Yin blurs the lines between Eastern and Western cultures.

 Anna Yin is a writer who works diligently to make poetry more accessible and appreciated at home and abroad. As she states: “I long to tie a golden thread/in this labyrinth of dreams”. Anna Yin’s book awakens the poetic night: splits open the reader’s mind with each gentle or evocative line.

Additional information about Anna Yin and her books can be found on her author website, on the Black Moss Press website and in an on-line interview published by The Medium, The Voice of the University of Toronto Mississauga.

A YouTube video about Yin’s poetic journey leading up to her appointment as the first Poet Laureate of Mississauga can be found here.

*Quote is from the poem “My Accent” Anna Yin, first published in ARC Poetry Magazine and reprinted in Seven Nights With the Chinese Zodiac (Black Moss Press, 2015).

Conference Highlights – The Tough Business of Writing in Canada

“The work of writers fuels an almost 2 billion dollar industry, and yet more than 80% earn an income from their writing that is below the poverty line.” –The Writers’ Union of Canada*

It is late, almost midnight, but I can’t stop thinking about Winnipeg and all the ‘writer-ly’ chats and facts gathered during “Cultivating the Literary Ecosystem”, the League of Canadian Poets (LCP) and The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) 2015 Joint Conference held May 28 to May 31, 2015 at the Radisson Hotel. By now, most of the conference highlights would be considered old news but some messages need to be repeated, personalized by other voices, and shared with new audiences.

All lit up - Winnipeg view from the Radisson Hotel

Winnipeg, all lit up – a view from the Radisson Hotel

Did you hear The Writers’ Union of Canada’s announcement? Let me SHOUT it again from the rooftop: “Today’s writer does more to earn less. Taking inflation into account, writers are making 27% less than they were making in 1998 from their writing, while 45% of writers say they must do more to earn a living now.” 

Some might argue: “So what? These are tough and challenging times for many workers not only CanLit writers.” However, when a writer or any employee is paid less than minimum wage isn’t that against the Employment Standards Act?

One could also argue that the Employment Standards Act does not apply to self-employed writers. Authors/poets are similar to struggling small business owners, working long hours for little pay. It can take years to establish a name. Are writers and publishers pricing their products too low or is the Canadian market saturated with too many writers willing to work for free?

That’s one of the concerns Dorothea Helms, writer/editor/owner of Write Stuff Writing Services expressed in her “The Business of Writing” workshop I attended back in September 2003. She used this analogy: “Would you say to a plumber, gee, I can’t afford to pay you, but you can sign my pipes? Unless it is for a charity or non-profit group you want to help, giving away your writing devalues your work.”

40logobluewithtypeWEB2Here are some additional facts presented in the recent TWUC document Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity. Doing More and Making Less: Writers’ Incomes Today. (A copy of the TWUC media release and the condensed report are available here.) Based on the union’s recent survey, 81 percent of the respondents said their writing income fell below the poverty line, that the median net income from writing was less than $5,000, while the average income from writing was $12,879. The survey also indicated that 88 percent of the respondents had an undergraduate degree and that 50 percent had a master’s or doctorate degree.

Writers are well-educated folk and yet, in order to continue writing, many must juggle their priorities and seek paid work in a different field.

The document also indicated that the main source of writing income (46 percent) came from royalties from traditional publishers. Eight percent (the third largest source of income) was derived from self-published titles.

These statistics can only tell us so much. Is the number of “paying” markets decreasing while the number of writers seeking publication increasing? Has it become a supply and demand issue or has the general public lost interest in the creative arts? Or is a paradigm shift in the markets that writers haven’t adapted to yet?

For example, over a decade ago, my creative writing mentors reminisced about their earlier years when CBC and Chatelaine paid good money for poetry and short stories. Now these and other lucrative literary markets have either dried up or are accepting less work or paying less. Payment sometimes means receiving a free copy of the publication in which the work appears.

Reminiscing with Manitoba writers and TWUC members John Parr and Bob Armstrong.

Reminiscing with Manitoba writers and TWUC members John Parr and Bob Armstrong.

Even newspapers are downsizing their staff. About a year ago, I was shocked to hear that an assignment editor of a daily newspaper was also required to multi-task: answer the public’s webmaster concerns and supervise posts for an on-line event listing.

Authors have become jugglers. For example, blogging and social media networking #twucLCP2015 @twuc  @CanadianPoets have also become one of those necessary evils for professional writers. Unfortunately, author blogs rarely pay the bills and I am still searching for a poet or fiction writer who has been compensated for his or her time spent on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Yet, some publishers are now asking for a record of your social media following and fan base as a criteria for accepting your book for publication. Maybe ten years down the road this extra promotional work will generate more book sales but it’s difficult to measure its immediate value in the short term.

During the Conference Gala, Penn Kemp received the prestigious Sherri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award. Congratulations!

During the Conference Gala, Penn Kemp received the prestigious Sherri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award. Congratulations!

From my perspective, the market is now flooded with writers and on-line publications that are here today, gone tomorrow. The internet is inundated with words, tweets, YouTube videos, blogs. People are chattering but is anyone listening? Will anyone read this blog post?

The general public’s expectation of FREE information is also a concern.

TWUC pointed out that “recent changes to the Copyright Act, broadly misinterpreted as an education exemption, have also had an impact on writers’ incomes.”

As writers, what should we do? Continue to work long hours for little or no pay?  I know several talented writers who just gave up because, frankly, they either ran out of money or just ran out of steam. Others are passionate about working with words, so they cling onto their dream and forge forward but for how long?

 The union indicated they would continue “to work to reverse the distressing trends outlined in these results.”  I suspect this will be a daunting task, one that writers will continue to discuss for a long time. The League of Canadian Poets is also looking for ways to help its members.

Fortunately, for those writers attending the joint conference, not all the presentations were gloomy. Below are some additional memories worth noting:

Conferences are great places to meet up with familiar faces. Several participants and/or organizers of the 2015 Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour gather for chat!

Conferences are great places to meet writer friends from across Canada. Several participants and/or organizers of the 2015 Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour gather for a quick chat! David Brydges shared the success of this project during the May 30, 2015 LCP annual general meeting.

-This year, over 135 professional writers and an additional 15 guests, panelists, non-members, students and staff were listed on the attendee list. Thirty of these attendees held joint memberships. What a great weekend to mingle with not only poets but fiction and non-fiction writers as well!

Author, poet, performer Sapha Burnell was a conference rookie, attending the TWUC AGM for the first time.

Author, poet, performer Sapha Burnell was a conference rookie, attending the TWUC AGM for the first time.

-‘Conference rookies’ attending their first Union Annual General Meeting were encouraged to wear their identifying yellow name tag. This was their ticket to the rookie reception where a room-full of conference newbies gathered to talk about….writing!! TWUC’s out-going chair Harry Thurston and incoming chair Heather Menzies mingled with the guests and made everyone feel welcome.

-Metis poet, playwright, and educator Gregory Scofield presented a powerful Anne Szumigalski Memorial Lecture reinforcing his concerns over the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. His talk will be published in Measures of Astonishment, a collection of Anne Szumigalilski lectures to be launched during National Poetry Month 2016.

-Thanks to the Writers’ Trust of Canada, Toronto speculative fiction writer Guy Gavriel Kay delivered the Margaret Laurence Lecture on the topic “A Writer’s Life”.

-For those interested in learning more about literary trends and the characteristics of an average reader, Noah Genner from BookNet Canada shared some interesting stats. Check the non-profit organization’s website here.

Anna Yin, LCP Ontario rep and the new Poet Laureate for Mississauga and Alice Major, the first Poet Laureate for the City of Edmonton (2005 - 2007) and a Past President of the LCP

Anna Yin, LCP Ontario rep and the new Poet Laureate for Mississauga and Alice Major, the first Poet Laureate for the City of Edmonton (2005 – 2007) and a Past President of the LCP

LCP Toronto rep Kate Marshall Flaherty

LCP Toronto rep Kate Marshall Flaherty

-Such a wide variety of panel discussions, it was impossible to attend them all: Affirming the Artistic Life, Time and Money, Writing and Editing the Long Poem and so many more.

-Former LCP vice-president Ayesha Chatterjee became the new President of the League of Canadian Poets.

-Four prestigious LCP awards were presented at the Gala Awards Ceremony and Dinner. Congratulations Washita (Harnour Publishing) by Patrick Lane, recipient of the 2015 Raymond Souster Award; M X T  (Coach House Books) by Sina Queyras, recipient of the 2015 Pat Lowther Award; For Your Safety Please Hold On (Nightwood Editions) by Kayla Czaga, recipient of the 2015 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award; and Penn Kemp, recipient of the Sherri-D Wilson Golden Beret Award. Additional details here.

Congratulations to Kayla Czaga, recipient of the 2015 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She was also shortlisted for the CAA Emerging Writer Award during the Canadian Authors Association's annual conference in mid-June 2015.

Congratulations to Kayla Czaga, recipient of the 2015 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She was also shortlisted for the CAA Emerging Writer Award during the Canadian Authors Association’s annual conference in mid-June 2015.

-American Innovations (HarperCollin Canada) by Rivka Galchen won the 2014 Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Additional information here.

As a writer or non-writer, what will you do to help improve the living standards of Canadian writers? Purchase a book (or even an e-book), encourage libraries to carry the work of Canadian writers and borrow those novels and books so that they won’t be removed from the shelves, lobby schools (and governments) so Canadian literature won’t be forgotten, invite authors to the schools, attend and support local readings, write a review and post on-line or better yet, treat a local author or poet to lunch and exchange your views on the future of Canadian literature. Keep the dialogue going!

If you missed this year’s joint conference, mark your calendars for next year’s conference “Write – the Canadian Writers Summit” to be held June 16 to 19, 2016 at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. Numerous national and provincial literary organizations will be involved.

*The TWUC quote is from the document Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity: Doing More and Making Less: Writers’ Incomes Today, 2015.