Tag Archives: Marianne Jones

In Thunder Bay, Poetic Words on Waterfront Benches

If you stand near the ridge of Hillcrest Park in Thunder Bay, you will see him floating on his back in Lake Superior. Known as the Sleeping Giant, this land formation of mesas and sills has inspired many writers including Governor General Literary Award-winner Jane Urquhart with her fourth novel The Underpainter.

She writes, “Passengers who have travelled on the Trans-Canada train can bring his physique to mind long after mountains and prairies have faded from memory.”

Overlooking the famous Sleeping Giant range from Hillcrest Park. The Sleeping Giant Writers’ Festival is currently on hiatus but was a vital and vibrant literary event in the area. Another popular event is the International Festival of Authors (IFOA Ontario) to be held Thursday, November 6, 2014 starting at 7 p.m. at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Featured readers include Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Alison Pick, and Michael Winter.

From Hillcrest Park: a panoramic view of the famous Sleeping Giant. Although the Sleeping Giant Writers’ Festival is currently on hiatus, Thunder Bay has a vibrant literary community. Check out the International Festival of Authors (IFOA Ontario) to be held Thursday, November 6, 2014 starting at 7 p.m. at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Featured readers include Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Alison Pick, and Michael Winter.

It’s true. There is a haunting magic or spirit in the north and to try to capture that vast landscape through paintings, photographs, poetry or prose is a difficult task. You must stand on the granite, press the pine needle scent onto your skin and drink in the rugged waterfalls and northern skyline. It’s common to see wildlife such as bears, chipmunks, red squirrels, wolves, deer, beavers, otters, and even a lynx in your travels.

The wilderness swallows you and at some point the words flow like sap from the coniferous trees.

Catherine Moodie Vickers (1873) was the daughter of well-known author Susanna Moodie.

Catherine Moodie Vickers (1873) was the daughter of well-known author Susanna Moodie.

It’s been several years since I’ve visited Thunder Bay. At one time, it was my adopted home where I used to wander Lakehead University’s halls in my quest for stories for the AGORA, a monthly employee newspaper I edited in the mid-1980s. So many untold tales still hide beneath the rocks but last month as a poet I was most captivated by the new waterfront development at Prince Arthur’s Landing. Change stirs the emotions and I too had mixed feelings about the urbanization of the natural shoreline as I watched a mechanical crane lift a pallet of bricks to the fourth floor of a new condominium.

Special thanks to Thunder Bay writer Marianna Jones for her guided tour of Prince Arthur’s Landing, the new waterfront development area on Lake Superior. Her poetic lines are sandblasted in four granite benches located in the park.

Special thanks to Thunder Bay writer Marianne Jones for her guided tour of Prince Arthur’s Landing, the new waterfront development area on Lake Superior. Her poetic lines are sandblasted in four granite benches located in the park.

Local writer Marianne Jones, author of The Serenity Stone Murder (Split Tree Publishing) took time from her new book promotions to provide me with a special tour of the area. During lunch at the new Bight Restaurant and Bar, we chatted about Thunder Bay’s literary scene. Marketing one’s work is always a concern but these challenges are compounded in the north where writers can feel isolated from the larger publishing centers.

Jones launched her latest book The Serenity Stone Murder (Split Tree Publishing) last month.

Jones launched her latest book The Serenity Stone Murder (Split Tree Publishing) last month.

The Norwestern Ontario Writers’ Workshop (NOWW) helps by providing inspiration and support for seasoned and emerging writers. Jones also meets and writes with one or two local writers at a local coffee shop. “It motivates us to write,” she said.

Marianne Jones is one of 11 literary guests with work represented on granite benches. Other writers include: Jane Crossman, Marilyn Dumont, Donna Faye, J. F. (Jim) Foulds, Rick Garrick & Bob McKay, Emily Pauline Johnson/Tekahionwake, Jean E. Pendziwol, Sarain Stump, and Catherine Moodie Vickers.

Marianne Jones is one of 11 literary guests with work represented on granite benches. Other writers include: Jane Crossman, Marilyn Dumont, Donna Faye, J. F. (Jim) Foulds, Rick Garrick & Bob McKay, Emily Pauline Johnson/Tekahionwake, Jean E. Pendziwol, Sarain Stump, and Catherine Moodie Vickers.

She is especially proud and excited about Thunder Bay’s award-winning waterfront where during this year’s Cultural Days, local writers would share their work outdoors at the new Spirit Garden. The Baggage Building Arts Centre Gift Shop also displays and sells local and regional books while the park spotlights literary selections sandblasted in granite benches. Jones’ work is displayed on four of those benches and I wondered why more cities didn’t adopt this practice.

An inspirational view near the International Taiji Park at Prince Arthur's Landing.

An inspirational view near the International Taiji Park at Prince Arthur’s Landing.

Before departing, my muse yanked my creative fishing line like a lake trout in deep cold water. In the distance, beyond the Marina Park, the Sleeping Giant appeared to open one eye and wink.  I wish I had more time to explore and write about the area. Perhaps, I would on my next visit.

Additional information* about Thunder Bay’s literary activities can be found below:

*International Festival of Authors  (IOAF) – November 6, 2014 in Thunder Bay

*Literary Thunder Bay

*Northwestern Ontario Writers Workshop (NOWW)

*Sleeping Giant Writers Festival

*Please note that while attempts were made to highlight as many of the literary activities in the area as I could, some may have escaped my radar. My apologies to those groups and individuals. Please send me a note in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

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All Aboard! Hop on the My Writing Process – Blog Tour

 

Writing transports you to places you’ve never seen before. Here’s an inexpensive adventure anyone can take without leaving home.

Cobalt, Ontario, home of the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival.

Cobalt, Ontario, home of the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival. Watch for a future blog on this topic.

This is how it works. You start here, spend some time on my blog and then you may travel backwards to the Monday, June 30 blog of my writing colleague Marianne Jones. She’s invited several writers to chat about their writing processes and has also provided recommended links for additional blog hopping.

Then next Monday, July 14 you can travel forward and visit the blog sites of three more of my writing friends. Scroll down for my recommendations but before you do, below are the four questions that Marianne asked me about my writing process, followed by my answers:

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?

Professionally, I am working on three main projects:

1) The promotion of my first trade book Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014).This is ongoing but the main push will occur in the fall when people are starting to attend readings again.

RIP: Another tree gone.

RIP: Another tree gone.

2) A new collection of poems dedicated to the dying ash trees. More editing and polishing of the work will begin later this summer.

3) A progress report for the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is due in a few weeks. Thanks to an OAC Writer’s Reserve grant, I have almost completed new research and poetry drafts based on my interest in crafts and rural living.

Personally, I am also concentrating on balance. For me, writing is an obsession just like competing in sports is an obsession for some individuals. So I am seeking ways to balance my literary life with my summer love for gardening, being outdoors with nature, and meditating. I love to read and I’ve long abandoned (unfortunately due to time restrictions) my interest in the arts and crafts: painting, sketching, knitting, sewing, etc. There is also a need to find balance between my private spiritual being and the public demands of a published writer. Many writers struggle with that: the need to find time to write when hours are consumed with promotion such as blogging/touring/attending readings/etc. especially when a new book is launched.

HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

For the past 11 years, I’ve been focusing on poetry, a genre which isn’t always understood or appreciated by the general public. I must admit, at one time, I was one of those writers and readers who ignored this genre and so I can appreciate the reservations people have. However, since reading Margaret Atwood’s novels The Edible Woman and Surfacing in high school and university English classes, I’ve always had a fascination for metaphors. It took a local writer’s group to convince me that I should explore poetry. I’m glad I listened.

As for how my work differs, I’ve been told that readers recognize my style and yet, I feel I don’t have a specific style. I do know I love to experiment with words focusing mainly on free verse but I’ve also written more formal poetry such as haiku, sonnets, the glosa and even concrete poetry. I often push myself to think outside the box (which sometimes makes my poems obscure) but I’m also drawn to image and storytelling, resulting in more narrative work.

Published by Black Moss Press

Published by Black Moss Press

In Tarnished Trophies, my recently released book published by Black Moss Press, I wrestle with the athletic soul. Nothing is black and white. There are shades of grey and although it’s a ‘sports themed’ book, my aim was to have readers reflect on their own experiences with competition beyond the athletic world. I draw attention to the ‘non-athlete’ and the “perceived loser”, creating images and stories for those spectators on the fringes of our world.

WHY DO YOU WRITE THE WAY YOU DO?

As a new member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, I continue to examine the work of other professional poets and to imitate and experiment with various styles. I also have a marketing and public relations background, so I naturally mold and shape my work according to the needs of the contest, magazine or anthology I am submitting to. That’s the commercial side of my thinking.

However, due to my interest in art and photography in my early years and as a former public relations specialist with The Winnipeg Art Gallery, I continue to value the need for creative expression which isn’t always popular with the public. As I grow older (and often less wiser), I am learning to trust my inner instincts more and am less concerned about the opinions of others. The words of American author/professor Leo Buscaglia resonates with me: “You are the only you … You are the best you. You will always be the second best anyone else.”

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Owl Sketch courtesy of James C. Hill

Owl Sketch courtesy of James C. Hill

I am a night owl with my best writing completed on my computer at my desk during that twilight zone between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. My writing preference is to freefall which means starting the poem with a title, a line, an image or an idea and then allowing the words to flow without actually thinking about it. This may sound crazy but it is during these quiet moments that the muse or some unknown force takes over. As long as I don’t question or analyze what is happening, then the results can be quite magical. Rewrites and/or editing are more structured and usually takes place that same night or several days or weeks later. Spelling and/or clarity of meaning is only reviewed once a first draft is created. Some poems are also shared with other poets in a workshop setting so that the lines and verses can be further improved.

Although, I do not pre-plan my poems ahead of time, I am driven by deadlines and challenges. Every evening, I will create a list of things to do for the following day. Sometimes I follow it. Sometimes I ignore it but either way it acts as a map for setting priorities.

Because I am not a morning person, I usually answer e-mails and check social networking or promotional work during that time. If I have to, I can write on demand, but the results are never as strong as when I freefall and allow the words to just appear. I almost never write with music in the background nor do I like to write poetry long hand unless I have to.

Next week – Monday, July 14 – stop by and visit the blogs of three more writers. I’m looking forward to hearing their answers too.

Phyllis Humby

Phyllis Humby

Phyllis Humby is an award-winning crime writer and columnist. Although her passion is writing suspense novels, her short stories, often scheming, twisted, or spooky, appear in anthologies and journals in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. Phyllis’s blog: The Write Break phyllishumby.blogspot.com

Penn Kemp Photo Courtesy Gavin Stairs

Penn Kemp Photo by Gavin Stairs

Activist poet/playwright Penn Kemp, London Ontario’s inaugural Poet Laureate, has published 25 books of poetry/drama, ten CDs and videopoetry. She hosts  Gathering Voices on CHRW Radio. Penn’s blog: http://pennkemp.wordpress.com/

Vanessa Shields Photo courtesy Nick Shields

Vanessa Shields Photo courtesy Nick Shields

Vanessa Shields’s first book, Laughing Through A Second Pregnancy – A Memoir, was published in 2011 to rave reviews. In April 2013, Shields edited a poetry anthology entitled, Whisky Sour City and in January 2014, her first book of poetry, I Am That Woman, was launched. All three books were published by Black Moss Press. Her poetry, short stories and photography have also been published in various literary magazines. Vanessa’s blog: http://vanessashields.com/