Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

Introducing Kara Ghobhainn Smith and “The Artists of Crow County”

I’m handing in this apron/of silence, so/Tuck your tanks under these skirts/because this is mystory [sic] now. – Kara Ghobhainn Smith*

Poetry like art is open to different interpretations. That’s my viewpoint and I’ve been wrong before.

When I asked Chatham-Kent’s Kara Smith (poet Ghobhainn) about The Artists of Crow County, her first book of Ekphrastic poetry (poems inspired by visual art), she honed in on strong matriarchal images, the woman’s voice, and the elders who paved a path for her.

Kara Ghobhainn Smith, author The Artists of Crow County

Kara Ghobhainn Smith was Chatham-Kent’s 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence.

As an art lover, I was drawn to her “brushstrokes of poetic colour” and how her words were shaped by viewing tangible art work. Is it possible to have two different meanings rising from a single manuscript? Ultimately, this was her book and herstory [sic] so I opted to listen carefully to her literary perspective and then sought out the opinions of others.

Here’s what I’ve discovered** so far:

Similar to the take-charge Nancy in her poem “New Sheriff in Town”, Ghobhainn is that NEW poet confidently storming into Canada’s vast literary frontier. Already she has forged a poetic name with her poem “Splitting Worlds”, shortlisted for the 2016 Walrus Poetry Prize, a prestigious honour for an emerging poet competing against established writers. Both of these poems incorporate strong elements of sound and were inspired by women artists and characters.

Windsor poet/editor Vanessa Shields gives Ghobhainn a ‘thumbs up’. In her endorsement, Shields declares that The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press 2017) is “a murderous convergence of art and poetry masterfully written by poet Kara Smith, Ghobhainn. This collection is a song to mother earth, turtle island, at times pensive and natural and also fluttering a sassy, clever spirit.”

Sharon Berg, founder/publisher/editor of the micro press Big Pond Rumours and a Canadian reviewer states, “Smith is to be admired for what she has done, working in multiple languages, exploring history and culture in North America and Europe. Her work ‘in the real world’ seems to invade her writing appropriately. She appreciates art as a human expression. She writes involved poetry.”  Berg’s full review can be found here.

Kara Smith book

The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press 2017) is Kara Ghobhainn Smith’s first poetry book.

For me, Ghobhainn’s work is indeed a cultural and spirited montage of words and images. Heavily influenced by her role as Chatham-Kent Cultural Centre’s 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence, Ghobhainn immersed herself in the fine arts community and wrote about the art that inspired her.

What I love is that her Ekphrastic poetry collection reminds me of strolling through an art gallery or museum. Each piece is eclectic and unique based on a specific concrete image that the reader can also see. I give Windsor publisher Black Moss Press credit for including 17 full-colour photographs of artwork, something rarely seen in poetry books. However, I will be ‘biting the hand that feeds me’ when I state that the cream textured paper distorts the colour of the images. Reproduction on a glossy white paper would have been more suitable, although it would certainly add a significant production cost to the publication. I must remind myself that this is NOT a gallery catalogue but a poetry collection.

In contrast to the muted photographs inside, the striking minimalist-inspired cover depicts a black silhouette of a crow. The tips of its wings paint vibrant blue, orange, green, yellow, and red strokes on a cloudy-grey canvas: a strong introduction for the book’s content.

This palette emphasizing Ghobhainn’s use of poetic colour, both figuratively and metaphorically, is what I first noticed (and most enjoyed) while reading an advanced copy of her book. Phrases such as “wash the canvas in soapy waves of/white”, “I was born blue”, “a bright, yellow short life/begins”, and “your red, burnt rubber face”.

Like an artist, Ghobhainn brushes lines of light and shadows of dark into her work. For example, in one poem she writes “She grows straight to the sun”; in another “let them sink to/the dark sands of Poseidan’s [sic]

One of my favourite poems is “The Sunflower” where she writes “I knew the moment I saw her:/tall, defiant, green/in a dry/Crack/of hot black asphalt;/that something was different here.”

Ghobhainn is different and her voice has unique qualities. Stretching her creativity, she even experiments with concrete poetry with the poem “Welcome to the University!” At times she uses non-traditional line breaks and I want to take an old-fashioned ‘blue’ editing pencil and make some minor changes. However, this is herstory and her interest in strong matriarchal figures is what she wishes to emphasize. A poet to watch!

Kara Smith reads during the All Four Love event February 11, 2017 at the Thames Art Gallery in Chatham, Ontario

Kara Ghobhainn Smith performs at the All For Love celebration, February 11, 2017 at the Thames Art Gallery in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. Photo provided by Ghobhainn.

A few weeks ago, I asked Kara to share her thoughts about her writing process. Below are her responses:

In 2015-2016, you were the Writer-in-Residence for the Chatham-Kent Cultural Centre. What was your role and what types of projects did you work on during that period?

That year I worked with artists in two centres: the Thames Art Gallery collective in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, and La Roche D’Hys Arts Centre in France. It was fascinating to see how visual artists approach their work. The process is very similar to a poet’s. While the artist is looking to connect the visual threads of colours and lines emerging from the canvas in front of them, poets are often engaged by the musical, or even visual, link words provoke. I tried to capture each artist’s narrative in Ekphrastic verse to open their exhibit during the year.

You’re a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada and have a number of books to your credit. The Artists of Crow County published by Black Moss Press earlier this year is your first trade poetry collection. Describe your new book in a few sentences.

The Artists of Crow County is a truly beautiful book simply because each poem evolved out of the art work of one of Canada’s visual artists, and those national artists each lent images of their paintings to the text. What the reader experiences is a rich meal of words, art, and graphics throughout the pages.

Which of your poems in this book is your most favourite and why is it important to you?

Now you are asking me to choose ‘who is my favourite child’, and that’s impossible! But I have to say that I am always drawn to models of strong women ‘taking on the world’. “New Sheriff in Town” (pp.20-21), and found-object artist Laurie Langford’s work, really evokes that matriarchal strength for me, “Tuck your tanks under these skirts…and crown this Queendom already!” Her exhibit, “Four Housewives of the Apocalypse” will be in Leamington this July.

How does your work differ from others in this poetic genre?  

The voice. The persona in each poem is consistently that of a woman looking back on her lives, her pathways through history as a girl, lover, mother, thinker, and free spirit. It’s a pronoun that’s hard to place at first, but that is the one distinguishing thread.

Your poem “Splitting Words” was short-listed for the prestigious Walrus Poetry Prize! How did it feel to receive this honour? Is it important for writers to enter their work into contests? Why or why not? 

Yes, and again, I often feel that the verse simply shares the story of all women. In this case, renown Anishnaabe artist Darla Fisher-Odjig’s moving Truth & Reconciliation (TRC) exhibit, “Cowboys and Indians” (pp. 34-36). Her [self]portraits are of girls with this strong outline, a solid shell, and an empty centre. It’s very moving. And yes, sharing and honouring our stories as women is the reason to enter contests, “…to reawaken her distinct identity in this world”.

Kara Smith reads during the open mic at Sarnia's 2016 National Poetry Month Celebration April 3, 2016 Photo by Melissa Upfold for Calculated Colour Co.

Last year Kara Ghobhainn Smith was an open mic reader at Sarnia’s 2016 National Poetry Month celebration. This year, she returns as one of two featured readers for the 2017 celebration.  The other featured guest will be Sharon Berg. We acknowledge the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts through The Writers’ Union of Canada. Photo courtesy of Melissa Upfold for the Calculated Colour Co.

What inspires you and who are your mentors?

Waterloo coders; artists persisting with their work despite 21st-century industry struggles; the organic metaphors in our world; and my grandmothers, elders who have paved this path for me: they are the living synapses between the parts we segregate.

Describe your writing process.

I am drawn to poetry and short story because I have a busy family life. The form is manageable, in its whole, during the time of the day I have to myself. After the meals, dishes, cleaning, and children are gone, I usually have an hour or two to sit, have a coffee, and write. Then I go to work, answer on-average 170 emails later in the day, and the domestic work begins again in the evening. I try to keep to this schedule Monday to Friday, like a job, and before bed each evening I read. Reading is critical for language building; I don’t believe one can write without it.

What are you currently working on?

I’m in the middle of a post-apocalyptic short story entitled, ‘The Tryout’, and it has me on the end of my nerves!

What are your future plans?

Write something, just for me, in the quiet of each morning. Laugh, as a child, each afternoon.

Thanks Kara. It’s been fun chatting. I look forward to hearing you read in Sarnia next week.

Ghobhainn will be one of two featured readers at Sarnia-Lambton’s 2017 National Poetry Month Celebration, Tuesday, April 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. at John’s Restaurant’s “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Her reading is made possible with financial assistance from the Canadian Council for the Arts through The Writers’ Union of Canada. More information here.

She will also be reading at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on August 4, 2017.

In addition to her poetry book, Ghobhainn is the co-author of Next to the Ice: Exploring the Culture and Community of Hockey in Canada (Mosaic Press, 2016), Teaching, Learning, Assessing (Mosaic Press, 2007), and the author of the blogspot poetry series, ‘The Travelling Professor’. She is also the Editor of the Journal of Teaching and Learning (JTL), as well as the books’ editor for the Canadian Journal of Education (CTL). Additional bio information is located on The Writers’ Union of Canada website. Additional information about Ghobhainn and The Artists of Crow County is located on the Black Moss Press website.

*from the poem “New Sheriff in Town” published in the book The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press, 2017) page 20. Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright © Kara Smith, 2017.
**Please note: I must disclose that I’ve met and read with Globhainn on several occasions and that my opinions may be perceived as a conflict of interest since we are both published by the same publisher. Therefore, I strongly suggest that readers make their own judgments about her 57-poem, 96-page collection and feel free to add your opinions. Comments that are spam or do not pertain to this topic will be eliminated.

Watch this blog for additional Canadian Author and Poet Profiles.                 

Sarnia-Lambton Poets Prepare For #NPM17 Celebrations

Shift the colours on your page;/and softly coax your reds and purples,/that have concealed themselves/for years…” – Kara Ghobhainn Smith*

Close your eyes for a minute or two. Imagine what it would be like to be a poet. What does today’s poet even look like? Listen to the words melting into a new sound or image. What does a poet write about? Perhaps, you are a closet poet afraid to admit that you are moved by words.

Kara Ghobhainn Smith, author The Artists of Crow County

Kara Ghobhainn will be one of two spotlight readers at Sarnia-Lambton’s 2017 April is Poetry Month Celebration.

Today’s poetry, like colour, shifts on the world stage and April is one of the best times to not only explore this form of writing but to seek answers to your questions. All across Canada and the United States, poets are planning launches and readings for the big #NPM17 celebration.

According to The League of Canadian Poets’ website, this professional organization for established and emerging poets boasts over 700 members. The Ontario Poetry Society, a provincial grassroots not-for-profit organization has over 250 members.

The Sarnia-Lambton area houses poets from both organizations as well as The Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW), and such local groups as AfterHours Poets, Lambton Writers Association, Writers Helping Writers (WHW), and Writers International Through Sarnia (WITS).

Every poet whether published or not, deserves to be applauded for his/her efforts. If you know a poet, take time to get to know him or her. Ask why writing is so important to them.

Below is an event featuring six area writers who wish to show the public what their poetry is all about and why poetry matters. Hope to see a few of you there!

National Poetry Month April 18, 2017 in Sarnia for distribution

Mark your calendars for this FREE public event – Tuesday evening – April 18, 2017

Six former and current members of The Writers’ Union of Canada will showcase their work during Sarnia-Lambton’s 2017 National Poetry Month (#NPM17) celebration, Tuesday, April 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. at John’s Restaurant’s Famous Room, 1643 London Line.

Featured poets Kara Ghobhainn Smith (from Chatham-Kent) and Sharon Berg (who recently moved to Sarnia) will share the spotlight thanks to the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts through The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Ghobhainn was the Chatham-Kent Cultural Centre’s 2015-2016 Writer-In-Residence. She recently launched her book The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press) which includes the poem shortlisted for the 2016 Walrus Poetry Prize. Many of her poems (within this collection) were inspired by artists in the Chatham-Kent area as well as her trip to Mâlain, France.

Author Sharon Berg, founder-publisher-editor Big Pond Rumours E-zine and Micro-Press

Sharon Berg will be one of two spotlight readers at Sarnia-Lambton’s 2017 National Poetry Month Celebration.

Berg is the founder/publisher/editor of Big Pond Rumours (the literary e-zine and micro press) and former host of Sarnia’s Cadence Reading Series. Her third manuscript, The Book of Telling, reveals many secrets that wait on the other side of truth.

Four local poets (James Deahl, Debbie Okun Hill, Norma West Linder, and Carmen Ziolkowski) will also share the stage. Ziolkowski, who is in her nineties, is Sarnia’s oldest living poet. Her granddaughters will assist with her reading. 

“One of the exciting developments in recent years is how Sarnia has emerged as a poetry hot spot”, said James Deahl, one of the organizers and the emcee for the event. “Indeed, it can now be said that Sarnia is an important literary focal point in Ontario. Local poets commonly travel from Nova Scotia to British Columbia to present readings or participate in literary festivals, and several Sarnia poets have contributed to the sesquicentennial anthology celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. This is your chance to hear them.”

Sarnia-Lambton’s April 18th celebration is free and open to the public.

As part of National Poetry Month, several Sarnia-Lambton poets have also been invited to read at out-of-town and local events in April.

Both Okun Hill and Berg will be reading in Toronto at The Art Bar, considered to be “Canada’s longest running poetry-only weekly reading series”. Okun Hill will be the sharing the stage with poets Phlip Arima and Ian Burgham on Tuesday, April 4 while Berg will showcase with John Terpstra and Betsy Struthers on April 11. The Art Bar series is held at the Free Times Café, 320 College Street (College and Spadina). Featured readings begin at 8 p.m. followed by an open mic.

art-bar-reading-april-4-2017

The Art Bar in Toronto is considered to be “Canada’s longest running poetry-only weekly reading series”.

On Wednesday, April 5 in London, Deahl and Linder are the featured guests at the London Open Mic Poetry Night held at Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide Street North. Their readings begin at 7 p.m. followed by an open mic.

James Deahl

James Deahl, the author of 26 literary titles, will emcee the April 18th event as well as read at numerous events.

Deahl and Linder will also read in Hamilton with several other poets including Sarnia’s Lynn Tait, Thursday, April 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Staircase, 27 Dundurn Street North as well as in Toronto on Wednesday, April 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Main Branch of The Toronto Public Library, 137 Main Street.

On Saturday, April 29 in Sarnia, Okun Hill (who has a manuscript of over 60 poems about the ash trees and the emerald ash borer) will share the stage with artist Mary Abma and other performers during the special event Signposts & Traces: Ash Tree Memorial Trail Performance from 10 to 11 a.m. at Canatara Park.

In Chatham-Kent, Ghobhainn will participate in Poetry City, an annual poetry celebration that encourages mayors and city councils in Canada to declare April as National Poetry Month. She will open a council meeting with a poetry reading.

Additional information about these and other upcoming literary events in Ontario can be found here.

Additional information about The Writers’ Union of Canada can be found on the organization’s website .             

OUT-OF-TOWN SPOTLIGHT READER/PERFORMER

KARA GHOBHAINN SMITHis the author of The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press, 2017), co-author of Next to the Ice (Mosaic Press, 2016), Teaching, Learning, Assessing (Mosaic Press, 2007), and the author of the blogspot poetry series, ‘The Travelling Professor’. Ghobhainn is Chatham-Kent’s 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence, and Editor of the Journal of Teaching and Learning (JTL), as well as the books’ editor for the Canadian Journal of Education (CTL). Her poems have been shortlisted for the 2016 Walrus Poetry Prize and the Polar Expressions Prize.

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT READERS/PERFORMERS

SHARON BERGis an author of fiction, poetry and educational history related to First Nations. She is also the founder and editor of Big Pond Rumours E-Zine and Micro Press. She published widely up until the 1980s, with her poetry appearing in periodicals across Canada, the USA, the UK, The Netherlands, and Australia. Then she pursued her teaching career. Since she retired from teaching in April 2016, she has returned to her writing and has new work appearing in several places in 2017. She has produced two full books, three chapbooks, two audio tapes, and a CD of her work. Additional information on her website. Follow her review blog here.

Norma West Linder

Norma West Linder is a prolific Sarnia writer (novelist, poet, and short story writer).

JAMES DEAHL – is the author of twenty-six literary titles, the four most recent being: To Be With A Woman, Landscapes (with Katherine L. Gordon), Unbroken Lines, and Two Paths Through The Seasons (with Norma West Linder). A cycle of his poems is the focus of a one-hour television documentary, Under the Watchful Eye. Currently, Deahl is writing a series of essays on ten Canadian poets of the Confederation Period for Canadian Stories magazine for their sesquicentennial issues.

NORMA WEST LINDERis a member of The Writers Union of Canada, The Ontario Poetry Society, and WITS. A novelist, poet, and short story writer, she spent her formative years on Manitoulin Island and now lives in Sarnia where she taught English at Lambton College for 24 years. Her latest publications are The Pastel Planet (children’s novel), Tall Stuff (adult), and Two Paths Through The Seasons (poetry with James Deahl) published by Swords & Cyclamens, Israel. Her poem Valediction has been performed by choirs in Toronto and Calgary, set to music by Jeffrey Ryan, a West Coast composer.

DEBBIE OKUN HILLis Past President of The Ontario Poetry Society and a current member of The Writers’ Union of Canada and The League of Canadian Poets. She has been writing poetry since 2004 and has over 350 poems published in literary journals across Canada and the United States. Windsor publisher Black Moss Press published her first trade book Tarnished Trophies in 2014. This July, Big Pond Rumours Press will publish her art-themed chapbook manuscript Drawing From Experience. Okun Hill enjoys promoting the work of other writers and blogs about her literary journey on this site: Kites Without Strings.

Carmen Ziolkowski

Carmen Ziolkowski, an amazing woman and poet who is still writing in her nineties.

CARMEN ZIOLKOWSKIwas born in Italy and following WWII, lived in England where she worked as a registered nurse and later a midwife. In 1955, she emigrated to Canada and enrolled in the Port Huron Junior College, where she studied Journalism, finishing the course at Wayne State University. She has won several prizes for her poetry and in 1988, Ziolkowski received a special award for her contribution to Canadian and Italian literature from the Italian Vice Consul to Canada. Her first book of poems, Roses Bloom at Dusk, was translated into Italian and Japanese. Carmen has taught creative writing at Lambton College. She is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, the Association of Italo-Canadian Writers, Pen International, Writers International Through Sarnia, and The Ontario Poetry Society. Ziolkowski’s first novel, House of Four Winds, was published in 1987, her 2nd book of poetry, World of Dreams, was published in 1995, her chapbook, Moments to Treasure, was published in 2008, and her latest work, The Moon Before the Sun, was published in 2009. Ziolkowski is currently working on her diary of life on La Monaca, where she was born, in Italy.

*from the poem “Change” published in The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press, 2017) page 19. Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright © Kara Smith, 2017

 FOLLOW THIS BLOG FOR A FUTURE POET PROFILE ON KARA GHOBHAINN SMITH.

Poet James Deahl was profiled here and Norma West Linder was profiled here. Sharon Berg’s involvement in the Cadence Reading Series was featured here.

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH EVERYONE!!

Celebrating Forests & Poetry -March 21, 2017

The sun rolls out a carpet of light…March 21, 2017 is not only World Poetry Day but it’s also International Day of Forests!

Today reminds us that we should dash outdoors into a forest, recite a poem, hug the oldest tree we can find, do all that we can to protect our environment, and make our world a kinder and better place to live in. Who cares if anyone is watching or not! The fresh air will be intoxicating.

International Day of Forests World Poetry Day March 21, 2017

As a full-time gardener of words, I can’t wait to kick off the winter boots and sink my feet and hands into the earth. After hibernating most of the winter, I hope to start writing some new material again.

Some of my blog followers may have noticed that my masthead has changed from a monarch butterfly to a log featuring the zig-zag trails of the invasive emerald ash borer (EMB). I’m eager to share some new poems on that theme. Artist Mary Abma has been creating artifacts to commemorate some of the trees lost by the EMB.  I look forward to seeing her work. Watch this blog for additional information about Signposts & Traces: Ash Tree Memorial Trail Performance to take place at Canatara Park and the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

In July 2017, Drawing From Experience, my art-themed manuscript will be published by Big Pond Rumours Press. The 17-poem chapbook received Runner-up in the 1st annual Big Pond Rumours Chapbook Competition. I’m excited about this new project. Many of the poems were previously published and will be shared as a collective group for the first time. More details will be available at a later date.

For those who wish to attend a literary function, check my recent updates on the 2017 event section of my blog. The list represents a small sample of provincial offerings. Additional information about Sarnia-Lambton’s National Poetry Month celebration will be provided soon.

In the meantime, may your poetic muse nudge you to listen to the whispering trees….

“They too have stories to share.”

Anthology Editors to Kick-Off Sarnia’s #NPM16 Celebration April 3

Six Ontario anthology editors/contributors including Fran Figge, President of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS) and Keith Inman, an internationally published, award-winning poet will join local writers for “The Pathways of Poetry Gathering”, Sunday, April 3, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

TOPS Sarnia National Poetry Month April 3, 2016 poster for distribution jpg version

Hosted by TOPS, this year’s local National Poetry Month Celebration will include book launches, featured readings by the editors/TOPS anthology contributors and an open mic for all poets. Participants are encouraged to share “road or journey” themed verse in keeping with The League of Canadian Poets’ 2016 poetry month initiatives. Admission is free and is open to the public. Sign-up for open mic readers is at the door.

Travelling to and reading in Sarnia for the first time is Keith Inman (Thorold/St. Catharines), editor of Latchkey Lyricality, a TOPS membership anthology to be released this autumn. He is also the coordinator of this year’s Banister contest anthology to be published by the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association and is author of War Poems: Screaming at Heaven (Black Moss Press, 2014). His spotlight reading is being sponsored by The League of Canadian Poets/Canada Council for the Arts “Canada Poetry Tours” program.

He will be joined by Fran Figge (Stoney Creek) who is also President of Hamilton’s Tower Poetry Society, the oldest poetry workshop group in North America. Figge will launch her new chapbook fall float fly (Beret Days Press, 2016) and will also showcase The PoeTrain Anthology, a selection of Train Poems by Canadian Poets (poetrain projects, 2015).

Local editors/contributors Norma West Linder, Venera Fazio and Rhonda Melanson will launch two books from TOPS EnCompass anthology series. Sarnia editor/poet/photographer Lynn Tait will also be spotlighted. Lambton County poet Debbie Okun Hill will emcee.

“Over the last decade, Sarnia has lost several poetry mentors,” said I. B. Iskov, TOPS founding member. “Great poets including Peggy Fletcher, Hope Morritt, and Adele Kearns Thomas are deeply missed. Their passing has left a deep chasm in the poetry map of Sarnia. However, Sarnia poets continue to play a major role not only in this grassroots organization but also in the national poetry scene.”

The Ontario Poetry Society was founded in 2000 to create a democratic, not-for-profit, poetry-friendly organization for members to unite in camaraderie, friendship, emotional support and encouragement.

Future TOPS events include “The Spring into Poetry Party”, May 15 in Cobourg, Ontario and “The Sultry Summer Poetry Gathering, August 21 in London, Ontario.

Additional information can be found on the TOPS website.

OUT-OF-TOWN SPOTLIGHT READERS/PERFORMERS

TOPS Sarnia National Poetry Month April 3, 2016 Out of Town FEATURED BOOKS poster for distribution

FRAN FIGGE – President of The Ontario Poetry Society, Editor/Compiler of several books: The PoeTrain Anthology, SCARLET THISTLES -TOPS 2014 Membership Anthology, ENCOMPASS III and V; and contributor to ENCOMPASS II. Figge is also the president of Hamilton’s Tower Poetry Society and a member of the Canadian Authors Association. She has read her poetry and won contests across Ontario and west to Vancouver. fall float fly (Beret Days Press, 2016) and hope and despair in the ark (lyricalmyrical, 2013) are her two poetry chapbooks. The escarpment in Stoney Creek Ontario is her calming breath, backyard refuge and inspiration. Additional information about SCARLET THISTLES can be found here.

KEITH INMAN – Editor/Compiler of LATCHKEY LYRICALITY – TOPS 2016 Membership Anthology. Inman is an internationally published, award winning poet. His book, The War Poems: Screaming at Heaven (Black Moss Press 2014), earned strong reviews for poetry about ‘the common experiences of people…touched by war’ (Canlit #223). Keith lives in an old stone home overlooking the Welland Canal in Ontario, Canada. Additional information about Inman can be found here.

FEATURED BOOKS BY OUT-OF-TOWN READERS

fall float fly (Beret Days Press, 2016) by Fran Figge. Figge’s second chapbook is a selection of many of her prize winning poems.

The PoeTrain Anthology: A Selection of Train Poems by Canadian Poets (PoeTrain Projects, 2015) Edited and compiled by Fran Figge This 56-page collection features the work of 23 participants in the 2015 Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour held during last year’s National Poetry Month Celebrations. Additional information about this anthology can be found here.

 The War Poems: Screaming from Heaven (Black Moss Press, 2014) by Keith Inman. In this 67 poem collection, “Inman masterfully uses poetry to weave stories of lost or gained innocence, death, joy, hard work, and humour – and characterizes them to show that they are the traits that built Canada. Inman shows that we did not become a country via some specific battle or war – war being a set of circumstance gone wrong. Canada is much more than that. We are people who continually reason through change.”

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT READERS/PERFORMERS

VENERA FAZIO –Contributor to ENCOMPASS IV. Fazio’s poetry book The Fabric of My Soul was recently published by Longbridge Books, 2015. Born in Italy, she has co-edited six anthologies relating to her culture of origin. Her poetry and prose have been published in literary magazines in Canada and abroad.

NORMA WEST LINDEREditor/Compiler of ENCHANTED CROSSROADS – TOPS 2006 Membership Anthology and contributor to ENCOMPASS V. Linder is a member of The Writers Union of Canada, The Ontario Poetry Society, and Writers International Through Sarnia. She’s a novelist, poet, and short story writer. Her latest poetry collection, Two Paths through the Seasons (with James Deahl) was published in Israel. A children’s book, The Pastel Planet has just been released by Hidden Brook Press.

RHONDA MELANSONContributor to ENCOMPASS IV. Melanson graduated from Queen’s University’s Artist In The Community Education program and is currently a Grade 8 teacher for the Lambton Kent District School Board.  She is the author of a chapbook called Gracenotes, published by Beret Days Press.  She has also been published in many print and online journals, including Boxcar Poetry Review, Quills and the Windsor Review.

LYNN TAIT – Co-Editor/Compiler (with the late Adele Kearns Thomas) for SOUNDING THE SECONDS – TOPS 2008 Membership Anthology, contributor to ENCOMPASS I, and cover art photographer for TOPS SOUNDING THE SECONDS and SCARLET THISTLES anthologies and for the ENCOMPASS series. Tait is an awarding winning poet/photographer who has published in various literary magazines and journals including Freefall, CV2, Vallum, Feathertale Review and in over 70 anthologies. She was shortlisted in Freefall’s 2014 Poetry Contest and Hamilton’s GritLIT’s 2015 Poetry Contest. Her chapbook “Breaking Away” was published by TOPS in 2002.

TOPS Sarnia National Poetry Month April 3, 2016 FEATURED BOOKS

EMCEE

DEBBIE OKUN HILL –Past President of The Ontario Poetry Society, Editor/Compiler of MINDSHADOWS –TOPS 2015 Membership Anthology and contributor to ENCOMPASS I. Okun Hill has been writing poetry full-time since 2004 and has over 325 poems published in literary journals across Canada and the United States. She enjoys promoting the work of other writers and often blogs about her literary journey on this Kites Without Strings website.

Additional “behind the scenes” information about editing/compiling MINDSHADOWS can be found here.

SPONSORS

Special thanks to The League of Canadian Poets/Canada Council for the Arts for their Canada Poetry Tours program. Additional sponsors can be found here.

 

 

 

YAHOO, WE’RE FLYING TO WINNIPEG – A PoeTrainer’s Reflection

The Poet Laureate of the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour (D.C. Reid) sits by himself at the Toronto Pearson International Airport. His carry-on bags surround him as the morning light opens her eyes. Soon, other PoeTrainers join him as they gather for their flight to Winnipeg. I reflect, glance at my watch, and scan the sea of travellers for a poet-friend who hasn’t shown up yet.

At the Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

At the Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

This is where my PoeTrain journey begins: at an airport not a train station.

Version 2

Call it Murphy’s Law. Call it double-sided luck. Sometimes detours happen for a reason!

When VIA Rail officials suspended passenger rail travel from Toronto to Winnipeg due to an earlier derailment in northern Ontario, organizers of the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour were left with a dilemma. We yearned to embrace train travel but would the tracks open up in time for the National Poetry Month tour from Ottawa to Toronto to Edmonton to Vancouver and proceed as planned? And if not, how could onboard events be re-scheduled?

Guest reader Shirley Camia, a Toronto broadcast journalist (born in Winnipeg) shares work from her new collection The Significance of Moths (Turnstone Press, 2015).

Guest reader Shirley Camia, a Toronto broadcast journalist (born in Winnipeg) shares work from her new collection The Significance of Moths (Turnstone Press, 2015).

Within weeks of travelling, PoeTrainers opted to cash in their Toronto-Winnipeg  train tickets to book flights to Winnipeg where train travel could safely resume.

I secretly welcomed this change. Although I had been looking forward to travelling through northern Ontario (which I love), I also have a soft-spot for Manitoba and its inhabitants. Despite the sub-zero weather in the winter and the mosquito-threats in the summer, this Canadian province houses the warmest and friendliest people.  Even their license plates smile with the slogan “Friendly Manitoba”.

The PoeTrainers rejoiced. The folks at the Fort Garry Hotel offered a reasonable room rate for the out-of-town guests and bonus: a glitzy place to celebrate National Poetry Month.  Several Winnipeg poets and musicians shared in the festivities.

Drek Da and the Low Flying Gurus were guest musicians at the Winnipeg event.

Drek Da and the Low Flying Gurus were special guests at the Winnipeg event.

Can you feel it?…Rock roll, rock-rumble…this movement…Rock roll with the flow…

The rest is history! According to organizer David Brydges, “The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour (Ottawa to Vancouver – April 15 to 26, 2015) was a great success.”  See his report here.

League of Canadian Poets Marsha Barber launches her book All The Lovely Broken People (Borealis Press, 2015) thanks to an Canada Reading Tour grant.

League of Canadian Poet Marsha Barber launches her book All The Lovely Broken People (Borealis Press, 2015) thanks to an Canada Reading Tour grant.

Were you there in the crowded room, a poetic voice in Salon A?

Did you learn to roll, catch the flow, when some plans derailed?

Did you bring an extra sweater when snow clung to unopened bags?

Did you linger, wave goodbye as the Monday train departed?

Follow this blog for additional posts and highlights of the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour.

MORE MANITOBA EVENTS FOR MAY/JUNE:

Can’t wait to return to the friendly province! If you’re in Manitoba, check out this writing workshop “Exploring the Five Senses” scheduled for Thursday, May 21 at the Gaynor Regional Public Library. Prior writing experience is not necessary. See details here.

Winnipeg's Bruce Symaka accepts the talking feather gift for Speaking Crow reading series coordinator Chimwemwe Undi.

Winnipeg’s Bruce Symaka accepts the talking feather gift for Speaking Crow reading series coordinator Chimwemwe Undi.

On Sunday, May 24, tune into CKUW for P.I. New Poetry with host Carmelo Militano – 4:30 to 5 p.m. More details here.

Hear the work of Manitoba fiction writer Brenda Hasiuk and poets Carmelo Militano and Brenda Sciberras. I’ll also be launching my book Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) on Monday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers. Hope to see you there. More details here.

Poets will also be attending the joint League of Canadian Poets/Writers’ Union of Canada conference held in Winnipeg May 28 to 31.

Also check out the Envoi Poetry Festival (May 29 to June 5, 2015) for more poetry readings here.

Local independent bookseller McNally Robinson Booksellers, Grant Park, Winnipeg hosts literary events and launches on a regular basis. See its current schedule here.

The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour event in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour event, Sunday, April 19, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

PoeTrainers Head West – Ottawa – Toronto – Winnipeg – Edmonton – Vancouver

The adventure has changed but certainly not the adventure as a group of PoeTrainers travel westward and inward bringing poetry to the public during National Poetry Month. Poets have always been attracted to a journey and this will be a most memorable week of the “best poetry event in 2015”.            –David C. Brydges,  Artistic Director, Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour

All Aboard! Clickity-clack…the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour is about to begin.  What started out as one-poet’s vision will soon turn into reality. Despite some of the glitches of not being able to start the journey on the east coast and the last minute decision to skip the Toronto-Winnipeg leg due to recent derailments in northern Ontario, the adventure moves forward. As the promotional poster states: “26 poets. 5 cities. Epic Journey”

All Aboard! Photo courtesy: The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour website.

All Aboard! Photo courtesy: The Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour website.

Some of the PoeTrainers have already packed their bags and are heading their way to Ottawa for Wednesday April 15’s kick-off celebration. Others will join the festivities along the way with PoeTrain events also planned for Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver. For those on the train, poetry will not only fill the Skyline Dome Car Lounge but will spill with musical notes into the Park Car as well.

Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour Ottawa Event April 15, 2015 poster

One of the special passengers will be my kulturBOT 3.0, a robotic artwork created by Dr. David Harris Smith of McMaster University and Dr. Fauke Zeller of Ryerson University. This usual bard features a roving mobility system, a pasta strainer, a thermal printer, camera, and bicycle flag.

According to a Ryerson University Public Affairs Media Release, “this ‘self-publishing’ robot, will produce ‘found’ poetry derived from the writings of the geographer and fur-trader David Thompson…Images and poems by my kulturBOT 3.0 will be publicized via its twitter and Facebook accounts. See the links here.

Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour  Toronto Event April 17, 2015 poster

An anthology of train-themed poems by PoeTrain participants is also expected to be produced and National Poetry Month will be celebrated with food-themed poems. DC Reid, a former president of The League of Canadian Poets will be the PoeTrain’s first poet laureate. Several other members of the league will be featured thanks to Canada Reading Tour funding via the Canada Council for the Arts. Paul Sanderson and Ian Ferrier will entertain as part of the Artist on Board program. Special thanks to all the sponsors who made this adventure possible. Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour Fundraiser Winnipeg Event poster

Clickity-clack! We’ll be back!

Follow this blog for future updates on the tour.

An earlier blog post on the PoeTrain appears here.

The official Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour website with a list of participants, scheduled events and sponsors appear here.

 

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.