Tag Archives: Marty Gervais

Sarnia’s #NPM18 Celebration – Captivating and Hilarious

“Crocuses, you’re down there somewhere,/but sorry to say, I forgot you existed.”* – Kateri Lanthier

Laughter rolled onto the floor like a magic wand, like candy eyes, like snowdrops and crocuses sprouting and blooming in fast-forward-motion. What a finale for Sarnia’s National Poetry Month celebration held Saturday, April 28, 2018 at John’s Restaurant on the fringe of the city!

Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018 fb version

Sarnia’s 2018 National Poetry Month celebrations featured great performances by local and out-of-town guests. Back row from left to right: Grace Vermeer, Lois Nantais, Ryan Gibbs, Laurie Smith, and Kateri Lanthier. Front row: Marty Gervais.

Toronto poet Kateri Lanthier, who arrived in London, Ontario by train and then was chauffeured for an hour via car to Sarnia, has been praised for her highly original and witty poems. She was one of three out-of-town readers, joining Black Moss Press publisher Marty Gervais and Cranberry Tree Press co-publisher Laurie Smith, for the event.Guest Reader Kateri Lanthier photo 1 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

To see and hear this award-winning poet recite some of her work was like watching the famous Stratford swans glide across the Avon River. Her interest in Shakespeare rippled like fine wine through her work. Not only was she awarded the prestigious Walrus Poetry Prize in 2013 (the winning poem is included in this collection) but her second book Siren (Véhicule Press, 2017) is currently long-listed for The League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Memorial Award. (The short-list will be announced today on Monday, April 30.)

Her initial decision to establish eye contact with the audience versus reading from a book set the stage for her performance. Her repertoire from Siren included several of her modified ghazals (a historic Persian form) and a long poem “Haiku” which began with the traditional 5-7-5 form: “Plums from the icebox?/Was he kidding? My teeth hurt./Poets are liars.” Lanthier also read from her first book Reporting from Night (Iguana, 2011). Additional information about Siren can be found on the publisher’s website.

Gervais and Smith drove in from Windsor via the Canadian scenic route versus cutting through Detroit and Port Huron on the U.S. side. Gervais, who is no stranger to Sarnia, but hasn’t read in the city for at least a decade, is not only Windsor’s first poet laureate but the person behind the popular “Poet at the Manor” literary event held annually at the Willistead Manor, a former Hiram Walker family residence.

Guest Reader Marty Gervais photo 1 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

“At six, or eight, or nine, the concept of indulgences sounded a lot like the game of Monopoly and being handed a get-of-jail card,” quipped Gervais during his reading of the tale “Sin” from his book Afternoons With the Devil: Growing Up Catholic in a Border Town (Mosaic Press, 2010). “But you didn’t dare mention that to the nuns.”

A storyteller extraordinaire, Gervais has learned what it takes to capture an audience: warm them up with some humour, and continue to inject heart-warming tales as a preamble to his poetry. Yesterday, his off the cuff narratives about his storytelling grandson and his adventures with magic wands left the audience craving more. His poems are down-to-earth-accessible with a step back into history or a reflection of ordinary life during current times. Humour often reinforces his message. His accomplishments are too numerous to list in one article. Check his website here. Watch for his next book Table Manners: Selected and New Poems 2004-2018 to be released by Mosaic Press this fall.

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Smith is a hidden gem in the rough or (if the cliché is removed), she’s the sturdy backbone in a graveyard of osteoporosis. She “likes her steak rare”. Like the other two readers, Smith is also an award-winning poet. She was the first recipient of the Adele Wiseman Poetry Prize and her accomplishments are too numerous to mention here.

Guest Reader Laurie Smith photo 2 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

Her performance on Saturday night (with all her theatrics and voice transformations) was either on the razor cutting-edge of entertainment or leaning close to the macabre. Bring out the celery and ‘Bloody Marys’! What could one expect with a new poetry book called Said the Cannibal (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2017)? Her ‘tongue in cheek’ dark humour left the audience rolling their eyeballs or releasing their inner laugh tracks or both.

For example in her poem “eye candy” she shared, “i used to collect/candy eyes,/the colourful little/embellishments on/easter bunnies./lambs, duckies, chicks….so pretty to look at.” Yuck!! But the audience ‘gobbled’ it up. As for her critics, Smith has her answer all ready and even ends her poetry collection with a simple “fork it”.

For those seeking less queasy poetry, Smith also read from her book The Truth About Roller Skating (Cranberry Tree Press, 2011). From the poem “breasts”, she teased “there were the kleenex years, after all.” Learn more about Cranberry Tree Press here.

Featured books Photo 1 Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018 fb version

Bravo to local organizers James Deahl and Sharon Berg (both established poets and experienced publishers) who invited the right mix of bards to showcase poetry as a form of entertainment.

Guest Reader Lois Nantais photo 1 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

In addition to the out-of-town readers, three local poets from Sarnia’s After Hours Poetry group also showcased their work. All three are serious and passionate about their writing and have had their work published in national publications. They manage to write despite their full-time work and other familial commitments; all three had unique presentation styles that kept the audience attentive.

A professed warrior for justice, Lois Nantais often reaches deep inside her emotions to write about loss, grief, and the healing process for herself and for those around her. Her quest for truth and understanding about complex matters such as religion was evident in her poem about her uncle. She also touched on the impact of the recent college strike. As a Lambton College psychology and philosophy professor, she has a deep concern for students’ needs and has a deep appreciation for the arts as evident by her former roles as a literary board rep for the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts and co-host of Sarnia’s Spoken Word event.  She has two poetry chapbooks published by Willow Path Press: of tender days: Poetic Reflections (2003) and The Heaviness of Rain (2008). Nantais is definitely a poet to watch.

Guest Reader Ryan Gibbs photo 1 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

Ryan Gibbs, another Lambton College professor and another former co-host of Sarnia’s Spoken Word event, is starting to get his name out into the literary community. He often writes about his travels and yesterday’s performance was no exception. For example, “Zealous travelling poets/recount their journey/along a path uprooted,” set the scene for his poem “The Buddha Room” published in the anthology Whisky Sour City (Black Moss Press, 2013). He also read a tribute poem for the late Sarnia writer Peggy Fletcher and another poem about Sarnia poets which was written in response to a comment made by an audience member during a reading in St. Catharines. Gibbs splits his time between Sarnia and London and can often be seen attending literary events in both locations. His poetry continues to grow in strength. Additional information about Gibbs appears here.

Guest Reader Grace Vermeer photo 2 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

Grace Vermeer shared several long and interconnected poems that were influenced by spiritual readings and in particular the Bible’s Book of Genesis. She 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.  In 2014, she was awarded the Monica Ladell Prize as part of the Scarborough Arts Big Art Book 2014. Another poet to watch. Additional information about Vermeer appears here.

Prior to the readings, poets and members of the general public gathered in a private dining area to wine, dine, and chat about literary matters. Special thanks to the League of Canadian Poets for their support of the out-of-town readers.

Co-host Sharon Berg Photo 1 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

Co-host Sharon Berg

As co-host Sharon Berg applauded in Sunday’s Facebook post, “You really missed a good reading if you were not there to join in this event. The evening was filled with deep thoughts provoked by their words and peppered by roaring belly laughs.”

The out of town readers were pleased and responded positively on Facebook.

“Many thanks to Sharon Berg, James Deahl, and Deb Hill for a warm welcome and a wonderful evening,” wrote Lanthier. (Blogger’s note: Thanks Kateri but credit for all the hard work for this event should go to Sharon and James. My task was the unofficial blogger/photographer.)

“It was terrific,” wrote Gervais. “Thanks so much for the warm welcome!”

Co-host James Deahl Photo 1 at Sarnia's 2018 National Poetry Month Celebration April 28, 2018

Co-host James Deahl

“What a wonderful audience last night,” wrote Smith. “Thanks again for inviting me to be part of this.”

As the temperature rises and spring somersaults through the crocuses and daffodils, the 30-day poetic celebration winds down.

On Tuesday, May 1st, National Poetry Month officially ends for another year but hark…is that the sound and scent of new poetry books already lined up for future release? Some folks celebrate poetry all year!

For additional information about upcoming Ontario reading events, check the event section of this blog. Updates are made approximately once a week.

*Quote is from the poem “A Colder Spring” printed in the book Siren (Véhicule Press, 2017). Page 30. Copyright © Kateri Lanthier 2017
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It’s Here! National Poetry Month 2018! Let’s Celebrate!

 

The poet guests have arrived carting their suitcases of books and waving their pocket poems in the air. Expect to see them sprouting like snowdrops and daffodils across the Canadian landscape. April nudges the scribes from their wintry abodes to share their words with the public.

This year, the League of Canadian Poets (LCP) shares the news in a black, white and gold poster trumpeting the words “Celebrating twenty years of National Poetry Month in Canada.” Similar to other years, the 30-day party will prod people to experience the power of poetry: write or read a poem a day or think outside the box and create personal poetic memories. Mayors and municipal politicians can expect visits from poets during their council meetings. Students may find a poet or two in their schools. Libraries may offer special writing workshops.

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National Poetry Month 2018 (#NPM18) officially started on April 1, 2018 and will continue until the end of the month.

Expect Canadian publishers to be launching new books and literary organizations to be spotlighting poetry readings by well-known and lesser-known poets. Check out the League website for a list of events happening in your area plus information about their 700 plus members in Canada.

Our American neighbours will also be celebrating. In fact, they spearheaded the first NPM event and the Canadians followed a couple of years later. According to their United States website, “National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.” Check out their website for additional information and resource material from across the border.

Back in Canada and closer to home, for those in the Sarnia-Lambton area, Canadian poets James Deahl and Sharon Berg have organized a special #NPM18 event for Saturday, April 28 at the Famous Room in John’s Restaurant, 1643 London Line in Sarnia. Spotlight readers include Marty Gervais (Windsor poet laureate and publisher of Black Moss Press), Kateri Lanthier (winner of the 2013 Walrus Poetry Prize and the Toronto author of Siren published by Véhicule Press, 2017) and Stuart Ross (a well-known Toronto poet/editor and most recently the author of A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent published by Wolsak and Wynn, 2016 and Pockets launched by ECW Press, 2017.

REVISED April 18, 2018: PLEASE NOTE THAT STUART ROSS HAS HAD TO CANCEL HIS READING AND THAT LAURIE SMITH (Windsor poet and author of Said The Cannibal published by Urban Farmhouse Press 2017) WILL BE READING INSTEAD.

April 28, 2018 in Sarnia - revised guest

Check out the line-up of featured readers planned for Sarnia’s National Poetry Month event to be held Saturday, April 28, 2018.

Local readers include Lois Nantais, Ryan Gibbs, and Grace Vermeer.  (See circled images on the top of this blog post.) An optional pre-reading dinner that allows audience members to mingle with the guest readers will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the free public reading to start at 6:30 p.m. The event is made possible with support from The League of Canadian Poets.

In other news, Sharon Berg, publisher of the Sarnia micro-press Big Pond Rumours recently announced the winners of her 2018 chapbook contest and this month will be publishing El Marillio, the poems of the first prize winner Tom Gannon Hamilton. Below is the list of winners and the scheduled release dates for their chapbooks.

Big Pond Rumours chapbook winners

Sarnia is also the home to poet/editor James Deahl who recently edited the Canadian anthology Tamaracks to be published and distributed to a U.S. audience by Lummox Press later this autumn.  One hundred and thirteen Canadian poets were selected for the anthology.

According to Deahl in a recent e-mail to contributors, “Over three decades have passed since the most recent major survey of Canuck poetry. At least thirty of our important poets have left planet earth since then, including many of my personal friends like Milton Acorn, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Raymond Souster, Sam Simchovitch, Dorothy Livesay, Gwen Hauser, Marty Singleton, and Al Purdy. To renew our literature at least thirty new poets have emerged. So it was time for a fresh look at the full range of our poetry.”

He also mentioned, “Contributors’ readings will take place in Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge, Hamilton, Ottawa, Sarnia, Toronto, with three in Toronto. Also possible are North Bay and Kingston. (And I would be open to holding other Tamaracks readings where Ontario contributors live such as Oakville, Windsor, Barrie, St. Catharines, Brantford, Brighton, Port Dover, Cobourg, Thorold, etc.)”  Watch the event section of this blog for updates.

For those interested in having some fun with poetry, the Sarnia Library is encouraging people to celebrate National Poetry Month by dropping in to create a Collage Poem on Saturday, April 14 from 2 to 4 p.m. at 124 Christina Street. This event is open to all ages.

In the London area, Poetry London, the London Open Mic Poetry Night Series, and the COUPLETS: a collaborative poetry reading series will also host events during April.

Lummox 5 Sarnia Launch with Denis Robillard Photo 1 November 12, 2016

Poet Denis Robillard will be launching his first trade book on Wednesday, April 4, 2018 in Windsor.

In Windsor, highlights include the launch of the poetry books All the Words Between by Mary Ann Mulhern and Ask the River by Denis Robillard, April 4 from 7 to 10 p.m. at Fogolar Furtan Club of Windsor, 1800 North Service Road. The free event is being organized by The University of Windsor’s Editing and Publishing Practicum.

For additional information about these and other Ontario reading events, check the event section of this blog. If I’ve missed your provincial event, feel free to add a note in the comments section or send me info via the contact form on this blog.

For those who are wondering what my plans are for the month, my goal is to read (and review) as many poetry books as I can before I embark on my next project. Is it possible to read a poetry book a day? My sagging bookshelves are challenging me.

Coming soon on this blog is a profile on London poet Andy Verboom and his vision for COUPLETS, the collaborative poetry reading series he launched in southwestern Ontario a few years ago.

Also, follow this blog for a future insider’s look at the pros and cons of working with an editor.

Happy National Poetry Month Everyone!

Wherever you may be, let the celebrations begin!

 

 

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.