Tag Archives: John B. Lee

Sarnia-Lambton’s Sesquicentennial Celebration – A Literary Reflection

Some people stuff history into a closet. I can attest to that.

Any time I opened a history book in high school, all those dates/figures/names would cobweb my eyes and lull me to sleep at my desk. I’m surprised I even passed the course.

Sesquicentennial Reading Featured books photo 1 - August 22, 2017

History is all around us: a sample of featured books on display during Sarnia-Lambton’s Sesquicentennial Celebration held August 22, 2017.

When all the neighbors pulled out their Canadian flags and other memorabilia to celebrate the country’s 150th anniversary of its Confederation, I felt the urge to de-clutter my office and clear my mind of all the festive noise and streamers. Seriously, how does one erase the controversial rental cost ($120,000) and image of the world’s largest (six-storey, 30,000-ton) rubber duck that made its official Canadian debut at the Toronto harbour during the Canada Day weekend?

That’s when it hit me, as I tugged on a box of unsorted literary magazines, moved a pile of photo albums onto a shelf, and opened a small blue/white/gold cardboard box labelled “The Spirit of ’70: 1870 Manitoba Centennial 1970” .

Decluttering - 47-year-old box

De-cluttering can unearth some historic or memorable treasures.

 

History is someone’s memories. It doesn’t have to be about politics and war. It can be closer to home, even tucked in a drawer inside your own desk.

Why else was I saving this 47-year-old Souvenir Cake Box? I certainly don’t remember the taste or style of the miniature cake or the Centennial event in which I received it. Yet, for all these years, it housed approximately 30 little pencils from my childhood.

Sesquicentennial Reading - Group Photo - August 22, 2017

Featured readers at Sarnia-Lambton’s Sesquicentennial Celebration: (from left to right): Bob McCarthy, John B. Lee, Lynn Tait, Patrick Connors, Norma West Linder, and James Deahl.

Memories matter!

Last Tuesday, several writers gathered for Sarnia-Lambton’s Sesquicentennial Celebration! The audience appeared smaller than normal but similar to the dwindling attendance at other literary events I’ve attended this summer. The emcee (Sarnia poet James Deahl) wondered whether the event would have attracted more people if it had been advertised as a literary versus an historic event. I wondered if people were just overwhelmed by busy summer schedules and are just taking a much needed break.

For those who missed this local August 22nd celebration below are some snapshots spotlighting the six featured readers!

Each of the presentations was thought-provoking and inspiring.

Historian Bob McCarthy shared a moving (and humourous) story about the time his parents forgot to tell him that his family had moved to a different home. The story is part of his memoir collection The Book of Bob to be released November 2017.

Poet/photographer Lynn Tait read six poems including a new creation titled “The Bird Watcher’s Daughter” with the memorable line my heart flies with the cardinal and the powerful poem “Strip” with its hard-hitting line the punishment never fits the crime.

Out-of-town poet Patrick Connors read 8 poems including the poem “Madness” which won third prize in Big Pond Rumours’s Winter 2015 contest: Einstein defined insanity/as doing the same thing//over and over again, while/expecting different results.

Deahl shared work from his new book Red Haws to Light the Field (Guernica Editions, 2017) including the poem “Adoration & Prayer” with its lines Let my tongue be the stonemason’s hammer/let red haws light the field.

Prolific Sarnia writer Norma West Linder shared five poems from her book Adder’s-tongues (Aeolus House, 2012). In her humourous poem “Chokecherries” she reflected on her memories of Manitoulin Island and how her mother sprayed: crimson juice/across the spotless bosom/of her astonished hostess.

The evening concluded with six poems by the prolific out-of-town poet John B. Lee. From his book In the Muddy Shoes of Morning (Hidden Brook Press, 2010), from the poem “Vantage” he provided more sustenance for future thought: I grip at ghosts/and rise like mist in heat/where memory sets heaven/in a bowl of bone….

Sesquicentennial Reading Featured books photo 2 - August 22, 2017

John B. Lee often writes about the history and memory of farming in his poetry books. Most poets will include some form of history or current events in their work.

 

Thanks for the memories….for sharing what matters to you….for teaching me that history plays a vital role in everyone’s life.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE FEATURED READERS:

Patrick Connors: author of Scarborough Songs and Part-Time Contemplative (See Q & A here.) 

James Deahl: launched his 25th poetry title Red Haws to Light the Field (See Q & A here.)

John B. Lee: author of over 60 books and twice winner of both the Milton Acorn Memorial People’s Poetry Award and the CBC’s Canadian Literary Award 

Norma West Linder: author of 25 literary titles and contributor to From This Day Forward (Sarnia-Lambton’s sesquicentennial anthology) (See more info here and here.)

Bob McCarthy: Lambton historian and author of a Lambton Shield’s series of 150 videos celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday year. (See more info here.)

Lynn Tait: award-winning photographer and author of Breaking Away

Interested in attending a future literary event in the Ontario? Check my partial list of upcoming public events, updated weekly or as time permits.

Follow this blog for future Canadian author profiles.

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It’s Still Snowing Poetry – Windsor, Winnipeg, London, Toronto, Gimli…

“Each safe landing/on snow-dusted stage/whistled, applauded” –Debbie Okun Hill* 

Here on Canada’s southern edge, Ms. Frosty has curled her toes and postponed her arrival. I yearn to be outdoors in this oven-warm weather planting bulbs in my neglected word gardens. Instead, I pace inside my office where I can bear-ly, barely see the bottom of my desk. Event posters, poetic notes accumulate like paper snowflakes! Half-finished manuscripts and projects remain buried beneath more white clutter. I used to be so organized, well, before the birth of my first book, before I started blogging, before social media took over.

Only in Canada! A snowstorm outside Jasper, Alberta during the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour's 2015 April is Poetry Month Celebration!

Only in Canada! A snowstorm outside Jasper, Alberta during the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour’s National Poetry Month Celebration, April 2015!

Today, a snatched photo (an image of a bear) captured during a freak snowstorm last April outside Jasper, Alberta reminds me of the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour and other travel stories that could be told if I wasn’t still travelling, if I wasn’t juggling other writing projects, if I wasn’t eating or sleeping.

 IN WINDSOR:

Thursday, November 12, 2015 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, November 12, 2015 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Often, a writer’s journey takes many detours and like the weather, you can either fight it or have fun and roll like a snowball. Tomorrow I’m off on another adventure. Hope to lasso the sun but will bring an umbrella just in case. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, below are some notices and posters that friends have shared with me. More blogs, more stories, and more poems I’d like to write. Mark your calendars and if you are a poetry fan wandering through Canada, I hope you will support some of these poetic events.

Safe travels everyone!!

IN WINNIPEG, MANITOBA:

The Lake Winnipeg Writers’ Group (LWWG) will launch Voices, Volume 15 Number 2, Sunday, November 15, 2 pm at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Winnipeg. Launch details here and LWWG info here.

IN LONDON, CANADA:

POETRY LONDON presents Victoria’s Karen Enns and Nick Thran from Calgary. Wednesday, November 18, 167 Wortley Rd., London, ON Pre-reading workshop at 6:30pm The reading begins at 7:30pm  Admission is free. Addition info here.

Workshop starts at 6:30 p.m. Reading begins at 7:30 p.m.

Workshop starts at 6:30 p.m. Reading begins at 7:30 p.m.

IN TORONTO:

Sarnia poet James Deahl will be in Toronto Wednesday, November 18, 2015 to launch his latest book

Sarnia poet James Deahl will be in Toronto Wednesday, November 18, 2015 to launch his latest book

IN GIMLI, MANITOBA:

November 18, 2015 in Gimli, Manitoba

November 18, 2015 in Gimli, Manitoba

*Quote from a new manuscript in progress. Used with permission by the author ©Debbie Okun Hill, 2015

NOTE: Poetry London event poster was added on November 13, 2015 after the original posting.

 

 

 

 

In Sarnia – Feast on Two National Poetry Month Events – April 11 and 25

The Bluewater Reading Series presents a National Poetry Month Celebration of Food and Poetry.

The Bluewater Reading Series presents a National Poetry Month Celebration of Food and Poetry.

Poetry fans can feast on an eclectic mix of poetic voices by twelve local and award-winning out-of-town talent as well as the Canadian launch of a California-based anthology during Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebration, Saturday, April 11 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line on the outskirts of the city.

Each Canadian poet will share his/her “desire or road kill” themed work featured in LUMMOX #3, a 215-page international anthology published by LUMMOX Press in San Pedro, California. In addition to launching the book, all poets will share “food-themed” verse in keeping with the League of Canadian Poets’ 2015 poetry month initiatives. Four out-of-town readers will also introduce poems from new books.

CCFA_RGB_colour_eThe League of Canadian Poets new_logo_2

Travelling to and reading in Sarnia for the first times are: Ronnie R. Brown (Ottawa), winner of The Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award (2006) and David Haskins (Grimsby), winner of a CBC literary prize (1977). Returning guests include John B. Lee (Port Dover), two-time recipient of the CBC Literary Award for Poetry (1995 and 1991)  and Michael Mirolla (Toronto), two-time recipient of the Bressani Prize (2010 and 2014). The Bluewater Reading Series Committee acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and The League of Canadian Poets for this event.

Published by Lummox Press, California

Launching in Canada on Saturday, April 11 as part of Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebrations.

                 The eight spotlighted local and regional poets include: James Deahl, Joseph A. Farnia, Debbie Okun Hill, Norma West Linder, Lois Nantais, Denis Robillard, Lynn Tait, and Grace Vermeer.

“It’s not usual to have many Canadian poets showcased in the annual LUMMOX anthology, but this time there are seventeen,”  said James Deahl, committee spokesperson and emcee for the April event.  “The fact that seven of these contributors are from Sarnia’s After Hours Poets illustrates the depth of our local literary talent. And adding in Windsor’s Denis Robillard means that half of the Canadian writers in Lummox are from Southwestern Ontario. Our region has quietly become a hotbed of creativity.”

The Bluewater Reading Series is a free literary event that aims to introduce professional local and out-of-town authors and their work to the general public. Additional events featuring a mixture of prose and poetry have been planned for future Saturday afternoons: May 9, September 12 and October 3.

This year’s organizing committee includes Deahl as well as Lambton County writers Venera Fazio and Lynn Tait.

Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebration – April 11, 2015

OUT-OF-TOWN SPOTLIGHT READERS/PERFORMERS

IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

Ronnie R. Brown - Photo Courtesy: Norma West Linder

Ronnie R. Brown – Photo Courtesy: Norma West Linder

Ottawa author of six books of poetry and one chapbook, RONNIE R. BROWN has been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies in Canada, the U.S. and abroad.  As well, a staged adaptation of her work On Falling Bodies, was presented at the Atelier of Ottawa’s National Arts Center. Short-listed three times for the CBC Literary Awards, Brown’s work has been recognized by numerous literary competitions including:  The Leacock Poetry Competition and The Sandburg-Livesay Anthology (1st place, judge Al Purdy.) Thrice short-listed for The Acorn-Plantos People’s Poetry Award, Brown’s fourth collection, States of Matter, (Black Moss Press) was named the winner in 2006.  In late 2013, Brown’s long narrative poem, UN-Deferred was the winner of The Golden Grassroots Chapbook Contest.

David Haskins - Photo Courtesy: Jason Haskins

David Haskins – Photo Courtesy: Jason Haskins

DAVID HASKINS is published in over thirty literary journals, anthologies, and books, and has collected his earlier poems in the book Reclamation (Borealis Press, 1980).  He has won first prizes from the CBC Literary Competition, the Canadian Authors Association, the Hamilton Literary Arts Council, and The Ontario Poetry Society. His most recent book This House is Condemned (Wolsak and Wynn, 2013) is a narrative collection of essays, stories, poems and anecdotes. He lives in Grimsby, Ontario.

John B. Lee

John B. Lee

JOHN B. LEE, Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County is the author of seventy plus published books.  His work has appeared internationally in over 500 magazines, literary journals and anthologies.  Two time recipient of the CBC Literary Award for poetry, he has won over eighty prestigious literary awards for his work. The most recent of his titles include Burning My Father, (Black Moss Press, 2014); In This We Hear the Light (poems by John B. Lee with photographs of Cuba by Tai Grove) (Hidden Brook Press, 2014); the anthology Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania, (Hidden Brook Press, 2014), and Alice Munro a Souwesto Celebration (a special issue of Windsor Review dedicated to Nobel Laureate Alice Munro co-edited by J.R. (Tim) Struthers and John B. Lee); The Beauty of Being Elsewhere (the travel poems of John B. Lee) (Hidden Brook Press, 2015); and The Full Measure (Black Moss Press, 2016).  He lives in a lake house in Port Dover overlooking Longpoint Bay on the south coast of Lake Erie where he works full time as an author.

Michael Mirolla - Photo Courtesy: Salvatore Mirolla

Michael Mirolla – Photo Courtesy: Salvatore Mirolla

The author of a clutch of novels, and short story and poetry collections, MICHAEL MIROLLA describes his writing as a mix of magic realism, surrealism, speculative fiction and meta-fiction. Publications include a punk-inspired novella, The Ballad of Martin B.; three novels: Berlin (a 2010 Bressani Prize winner); The Facility, which features among other things a string of cloned Mussolinis; and The Giulio Metaphysics III, a novel/linked short story collection wherein a character named “Giulio” battles for freedom from his own creator; two short story collections: The Formal Logic of Emotion and Hothouse Loves & Other Tales; and three collections of poetry: Light and Time, the English-Italian bilingual Interstellar Distances – Distanze Interstellari, and The House on 14th Avenue (2014 Bressani Prize). His short story, “A Theory of Discontinuous Existence,” was selected for The Journey Prize Anthology, featuring the year’s 10 best Canadian short stories, while another short story, “The Sand Flea,” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A new collection of short stories, Lessons in Relationship Dyads, is scheduled for publication this coming Fall from Red Hed Press in the U.S. Born in Italy and raised in Montreal, Michael now makes his home in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Featured books at Sarnia's National Poetry Month event - April 11. 2015

Featured books at Sarnia’s National Poetry Month event – April 11. 2015

ANOTHER National Poetry Month Celebration – April 25, 2015 in Sarnia

                A second national poetry month reading (not affiliated with the Bluewater Reading Series) will be a reunion presentation with James Deahl and four literary colleagues from his days in Toronto, over 35 years ago. Readers include: Deahl (Sarnia), Bruce Meyer (the inaugural Poet Laureate of Barrie), Jeffery Donaldson (Hamilton), and from Toronto: Larry Hopperton and Andrew Brooks. This free public event will be held Saturday, April 25 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at John’s Restaurant’s “Famous Room” in Sarnia.

**NEWS FLASH: (ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ADDED MARCH 26, 2015) To read about the April 19, 2015 Lummox #3 reading in Hamilton and to submit your work to Lummox #4, check this blog post here.

 

Bluewater Reading Series Moves Forward With Events in April and May

Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading Series is gearing up for another great year.  As temperatures dip and nip fingertips, howling winds play havoc on icy and snow covered roads. Venturing outdoors can be a challenge; travelling great distances to participate in an out-of-town reading seems like such a gamble.

Speaking in front of a full audience: emcee Lynn Tait (Sarnia), fiction writer Diana Koch (Sarnia), Poet Laureate of Brantford John B. Lee (Port Dover), author of Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy Vanessa Shields (Windsor) and poet Grace Vermeer (Sarnia

Last November, speaking in front of a full audience: emcee Lynn Tait (Sarnia), fiction writer Diana Koch (Sarnia), Poet Laureate of Brantford John B. Lee (Port Dover), author of Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy Vanessa Shields (Windsor) and poet Grace Vermeer (Sarnia

However, despite the temptation to escape to a warmer climate or to hibernate in a snowbank, plans are indeed moving forward for the committee’s next two offerings: a special April is National Poetry Month event scheduled for Saturday, April 11, 2015 and a fiction/poetry reading set for Saturday, May 9, 2015. Both literary events will be held during the afternoon at John’s Restaurant on the outskirts of Sarnia, Ontario.

According to committee member and prolific Canadian poet James Deahl, “seven out of town guests have already agreed to participate in this spring’s program; five of whom have never visited or read in this area of Ontario before. We are working on posters and media releases. A formal announcement will be made soon.”

To date, the Bluewater Reading Series committee has already organized three successful readings. Previous out-town guest readers (in alphabetical order) included: Allan Briesmaster, Clara Blackwood, Andreas Gripp, John B. Lee, Carol Malyon, Vanessa Shields, and John Wing Jr.

Selected work by Port Dover poet/editor John B. Lee

Selected work by Port Dover poet/editor John B. Lee

If you missed the November 2014 event, below are some of the highlights. Photos courtesy: Lorraine Kraayenbrink Photography. Additional details about the autumn event can be found here.

Prolific award-winning poet John B. Lee reads his poem “Jimi Hendrix in the Company of Cows”.

Prolific award-winning poet John B. Lee reads his poem “Jimi Hendrix in the Company of Cows”.

Award-winning fiction writer Diana Koch reads from her new manuscript

Award-winning fiction writer Diana Koch reads from her new manuscript

Vanessa Shields shares a story from her book Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy (Black Moss Press)

Vanessa Shields shares a story from her book Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy (Black Moss Press)

Sarnia poet Grace Vermeer shares some of her award-winning poems.

Sarnia poet Grace Vermeer shares some of her award-winning poems.

Selected work by Windsor writer/editor Vanessa Shields

Selected work by Windsor writer/editor Vanessa Shields

Follow this blog for future updates on the Bluewater Reading Series and other literary events, reviews and profiles.

For upcoming January, February, and March activities in southwestern Ontario, Canada, check out the events  page on this blog.

 

JOHN B. LEE AND VANESSA SHIELDS! COMING TO SARNIA THIS WEEKEND!

Window Fishing…Burning my Father….Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy…I Am That Woman. The poster says it all…If you’re in the Sarnia area this Saturday, November 8, check out the next offering in the Bluewater Reading Series. Admission is free. Open to the Public! More info here.

Saturday, November 8 in Sarnia

Saturday, November 8 in Sarnia

What Do The Words ‘Beatlemania’ and ‘Second Pregnancy’ Have In Common?

 If you guessed that ‘Beatlemania’ and ‘Second Pregnancy’ will be spotlighted in an upcoming literary event in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, then you are absolutely right!!!  Check out the media release that just crossed  my desk….

AWARD-WINNING POET JOHN B. LEE TO PRESENT NEW BOOK ON BEATLEMANIA

Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press) selected and compiled by John B. Lee.

Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press) selected and edited by John B. Lee.

John B. Lee, the Poet Laureate of Brantford and one of Canada’s most prolific poets will travel to Sarnia to join three other award-winning writers for this fall’s Bluewater Reading Series event Saturday, November 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line. His reading will focus on two new books Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press), a commemorative anthology on this British rock band’s invasion into North America and Burning My Father (Black Moss Press), a poetic reflection on Lee’s life as a farmer’s son.

Burning My Father (Black Moss Press, 2014) by John B. Lee

Burning My Father (Black Moss Press, 2014), a poetic reflection on John B. Lee’s life as a farmer’s son.

Lee will be joined by three other readers: League of Canadian Poets member and former Black Moss Press editor Vanessa Shields (Windsor, Ontario), and local award-winning writers Diana Koch and Grace Vermeer. Shields and Vermeer will be reading in Sarnia for the first time.

“We are excited about the calibre of authors reading for this free public event,” said Venera Fazio, committee spokesperson for the Series. “Not only will we be featuring professional out-of-town writers with emerging local talent but the afternoon will offer a varied program of fiction, poetry, memoir and humour.”

Lee, who is also the Poet Laureate of Norfolk County, is the author of seventy plus published books.  His work has appeared internationally in over 500 magazines, literary journals and anthologies.  A two-time recipient of the CBC Literary Award for poetry, he has won over eighty prestigious literary awards for his work.

Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy: a memoir (Black Moss Press, 2011) by Vanessa Shields

Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy: a memoir (Black Moss Press, 2011) by Vanessa Shields

Shields is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada and will be reading from her humourous memoir Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy as well as her new poetry collection I Am That Woman. Both books were published by Black Moss Press. She is also the anthology editor of Whisky Sour City, a Windsor-themed anthology. She has received two Judge’s Choice Awards for her poetry from The Ontario Poetry Society (of which she is also a member). Her most recent interviews with writer/astronaut Chris Hadfield have her feeling out-of-this-world in her writing life!

“Local writers Koch and Vermeer may be fresh new voices,” said Fazio, “but they are already being recognized by various literary organizations.”

Koch won first place in the Ten Stories High Short Story Contest (Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association). She will be reading from her recently completed manuscript The Button Girl: a historical fiction/coming of age story that is set in World War II, Germany.

I Am That Woman (Black Moss Press, 2013) a collection of poems by Vanessa Shields

I Am That Woman (Black Moss Press, 2013) a collection of poems by Vanessa Shields

Vermeer is the winner of numerous Ontario Poetry Society awards plus the Monica Ladell & Juror’s Choice Awards from the Scarborough Arts Big Art Book 2014. She will read a selection of new and previously published work.

The Bluewater Reading Series is a new literary offering organized by Sarnia writers: James Deahl, Venero Fazio, Debbie Okun Hill, Norma West Linder, and Lynn Tait. The organizers acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and The League of Canadian Poets. The emcee for the November 8 event will be Sarnia’s award-winning poet/photographer Lynn Tait.

CCFA_RGB_colour_fThe League of Canadian Poets new_logo_2

SPOTLIGHT READERS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

Diana Koch

Diana Koch

Diana Koch is a retired educator who lives on the beautiful shore of Lake Huron. She graduated from the University of Western Ontario and also holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Windsor. Since childhood she has dreamed of becoming a writer and now spends many pleasurable hours writing short stories, essays and poetry. Her efforts have been rewarded with the winning of a first prize for one of her stories and by the publication of some of her work. She has recently completed her first novel, a historical fiction/coming of age story set in WWII, Germany.

 

John B. Lee

John B. Lee

John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County is the author of seventy plus published books. His work has appeared internationally in over 500 magazines, literary journals and anthologies.  Two time recipient of the CBC Literary Award for poetry, he has won over eighty prestigious literary awards for his work. The most recent of his titles include Burning My Father, (Black Moss Press, 2014); In This We Hear the Light (poems by John B. Lee with photographs of Cuba by Tai Grove) (Hidden Brook Press, 2014); the anthology Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania, (Hidden Brook Press, 2014), and forthcoming in 2015/2016 Alice Munro a Souwesto Celebration (a special issue of Windsor Review dedicated to Nobel Laureate Alice Munro co-edited by J.R. (Tim) Struthers and John B. Lee); The Beauty of Being Elsewhere (the travel poems of John B. Lee) (Hidden Brook Press, 2015); and The Full Measure (Black Moss Press, 2016).  He lives in a lake house in Port Dover overlooking Longpoint Bay on the south coast of Lake Erie where he works full time as an author.

 

Vanessa Shields (Photo Credit: Katie Hawkins)

Vanessa Shields (Photo Credit: Katie Hawkins)

Vanessa Shields has made her home, her family and her work life flourish in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She discovered her passion for writing at a very young age by keeping a journal. Her first book, Laughing Through A Second Pregnancy – A Memoir, was published by Black Moss Press in 2011 to rave reviews. In April 2013, Shields edited a poetry anthology entitled, Whisky Sour City (Black Moss Press). I Am That Woman, her first book of poetry, was published in January 2014, also by Black Moss Press. Her poetry, short stories and photography have been published in various literary magazines. She mentors other writers, guest speaks and teaches creative writing. She also does Poetry On Demand, on-the-spot poetry that helps make poetry fun and accessible for all.

 

Grace Vermeer

Grace Vermeer

Eleven years ago, Grace Vermeer crossed the Bluewater Bridge to take a Creative Writing class at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron, Michigan.  She hadn’t planned on writing poetry and credits Professor Cliff Johnson for fostering her love of poetry and encouraging her early efforts which won the Eleanor B. Mathews Award.  She attended Western where her poetry won the Lillian Kroll Prize in Creative Writing.  Recently her poems appeared in Scarborough Arts Big Art Book 2014 where she was awarded the Monica Ladell Prize.  She lives in Sarnia with her husband Peter and feels lucky to be part of Sarnia’s After Hours Poets.

 

 

 

 

Every Poet Should Try Reading in Stratford

Imagine travelling to Stratford, Ontario: home of the Stratford Festival, considered to be “North America’s largest classical repertory theatre, presenting the works of William Shakespeare and other great writers”.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date”        William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

To be or not to be…a poet on stage?

John B Lee in Stratford Aug 24, 2014That is a good question. Another thought: must poetry be read or performed in front of an audience to be fully appreciated? Of course! Poetry is more than words on a page. It is rhythm and sound and needs to be heard aloud.

Last Sunday, thanks to a suggestion from Canadian poet John Ambury, The Ontario Poetry Society teamed up with Poetry Stratford to present “BARDIC COLLAGE”, a members’ reading and open mic at Cafe Ten, a local restaurant in the heart of Stratford. Despite the absence of stage and microphone, 24 poets as well as three spotlight readers demonstrated the theatrical power of poetry.

Ellen  S Jaffe in Stratford Aug 24, 2014This is what I learned:

*Every poet should try reading in Stratford. (Trust me: Shakespeare’s poetic muse still lives and breathes on the stage and in the streets. You can feel it.)

*Meeting in a central location encourages more sharing and networking with other poets. (Poets ranged in age from the youngest being in his early 20s to the oldest being an amazing 91 years old. Local poets from Stratford met out-of-town writers from Hamilton, Kitchener, London, Markham, Port Dover, Sarnia, Toronto and more. Emerging poets equally shared the spotlight with experienced award-winning scribes.)

*Memorizing words and verses can enhance the audience’s enjoyment. (Poets who use eye-to-eye contact have a stronger connection with the audience.)

Muhammad Javid Akhtar in Stratford Aug 24, 2014*Dramatic gestures as well as the projection and varying of one’s voice will hold the audience’s attention. (The Stratford poets were clearly influenced by their love of the theatre.)

*Daring performances with sound effects are unforgettable. (No one will forget Poet Laureate John B. Lee’s “moooooooo-ving” performance of his poem “Jimi Hendrix in the Company of Cows”. Now that took courage.)

*The Stratford Reading experience is worth repeating. (Based on participant and audience feedback, The Ontario Poetry Society hopes to organize another Stratford event for next year.)

Enjoy the pictorial highlights of the afternoon.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The next members’ reading and open mic for The Ontario Poetry Society will be held Sunday, October 5 in Ottawa. More details here..

Stratford Readers 1 of 3 August 24, 2014

Stratford Readers 2 of 3 August 24, 2014

Stratford Readers 3 of 3 August 24, 2014