Tag Archives: Ronnie R. Brown

Celebrating Poetry in North York, Cobourg, St. Catharines, and more

If poetry is life, what then is life?/Or is that the abstraction/before the reflected surface. –Keith Inman*

You’ve got mail! Here’s your personal e-invitation! Gather your love poems and release your pink- and red-ribbon word-gifts to your poetic peers. This Sunday, February 11, 2018, The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS) travels to North York to host “The Love Of Poetry Gathering”, an afternoon of spotlight book launches, members’ readings, and an open mic for non-members.

TOPS The Love of Poetry Gathering in North York invite

The Ontario Poetry Society will host “The Love of Poetry Gathering” this Sunday, February 11 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Symposium Café Restaurant Bar & Lounge, 5221 Yonge Street in North York, Ontario. Admission is free.

The event starts at 12 noon and runs until approximately 4 p.m. at the Symposium Café Restaurant Bar & Lounge, 5221 Yonge Street, (2 Blocks north of North York Centre, South of Finch Avenue) in North York, Ontario. Sign-up for book launch spotlights and readings is at the door. Admission is free. Everyone (including first time readers) is welcome. Depending on the number of people signed-up, each person should come prepared to read either two short poems or one longer poem. All styles from rhyming couplets to free verse to experimental to rap and spoken word are accepted. More information here.If you can’t attend the Sunday event, TOPS will be hosting at least three more open mic events in 2018. The next one will be the “Spring into Poetry Party” to be held Saturday, May 5, 2018 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the café: Meet at 66 King East in Cobourg, Ontario. A summer event is tentatively planned for Sunday, August 26 in London and information about an autumn event will be announced at a later date.

On Saturday, March 3, 2018, Roy Adams and the Hamilton branch of The Ontario Poetry Society will team up with Brydge Builder Press for “A Hamilton Poetry Night”, 8 to 10:30 p.m. at The Staircase, 27 Dundurn Street North. Highlights include the launch of Vagabond Post Office: A Poet’s Path Home by David C. Brydges (TOPS Cobalt branch manager), featured readings by Kathy Fisher and Gary Barwin plus music by David McIntosh. TOPS president Fran Figge will emcee the evening. An open mic will follow. Admission is free.

March 3, 2018 in Hamilton, Ontario

TOPS Cobalt branch manager (David C. Brydges) will be launching his new book Vagabond Post Office: A Poet’s Path Home, Saturday, March 3 in Hamilton.


For those who missed it: TOPS travelled to St. Catharines for the first time last November 12, 2017. Six members took to the stage and two new books and two new chapbooks were spotlighted during the “Autumn Harvest Poetry Festival”.

Keith Inman introduced his second trade book SEAsia (Black Moss Press, 2017). Canadian poet John B. Lee stated in his review published in the January 2018 issue of Verse Afire “..in Niagara poet Keith Inman’s book of poetry we take something of a cultural journey in which we accompany the poet on his travels seeing the southeast Asian world through the filter of language as we depart by way of poetry from our common home in Canada travelling east by way of Cambodia and Vietnam and returning to our Native land changed by the experience of having been away. …we are companions on a journey. We are fellow travelers having knowledge of going hence from the familiar and returning from the foreign. And we wonder what it means to belong. How is it for the exile?” Check the Black Moss Press website for the full review plus info about Keith Inman and his books.

Transitory Tango, TOPS 2017 membership anthology edited and compiled by Ottawa poet Ronnie R. Brown was also introduced with readings by several members. Additional information about this anthology and the list of contributors is posted on the TOPS website.

Debbie Okun Hill shared two new chapbooks: Drawing from Experience (a runner-up in the 2017 Big Pond Rumours Chapbook contest) and Chalk Dust Clouds (this year’s winner of TOPS Golden Grassroots Chapbook Award.) Info about the first chapbook appears here. In a recent Verse Fire review of Chalk Dust Clouds, Canadian poet Ronnie R. Brown states “Replete with unique and unexpected images, Okun Hill manages to produce a small collection that stands large in the readers’ minds. From the boy who writes his love’s name on his arm in ball point, to a recycled book of paper dolls, Okun Hill pushes all the buttons, rewinding the reader’s mind back to an earlier and simpler time when erasing the blackboard and slapping the erasers was a reward worth fighting for.” The contest results appear here.

Other spotlight readers (in alphabetical order) were Roy Adams, Fran Figge, I. B. (Bunny) Iskov, and Kamal Parmar. Work by non-members were also shared.

TOPS Members Reading in St Catharines - November 12, 2017 blog version

The Ontario Poetry Society held a members’ reading and open mic on November 12, 2017 at the Mahtay Café & Lounge in St. Catharines. Featured readers included: (back row, left to right) Roy Adams, Keith Inman, Debbie Okun Hill, Fran Figge, and Kamal Parmar. (Front row) I. B. (Bunny) Iskov.

The Ontario Poetry Society is a poetry friendly grassroots organization with over 240 members. It was founded to create a democratic organization for members to unite in camaraderie, friendship, emotional support and encouragement in all aspects of poetry, including writing, performing and publishing. Additional information can be found on its website.

Several other articles about this organization have been posted on this blog over the years.

A partial listing of Ontario literary events for 2018 appears here.

Follow this blog for future news about Canada’s literary community.

*From the poem “What is Poetry?” from the book SEAsia (Black Moss Press, 2017). Used with permission from the author. Copyright © Keith Inman 2017

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



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.


Ottawa: A Poetic Glimpse

“Looking for beavers, moose
and Mounties.”

He laughs. I laugh too, try

to pretend I wasn’t serious.

-Ronnie R. Brown*

Ottawa Sightseeing October 2014 photo 1If you are a travelling poet, a weekend visit to Ottawa isn’t long enough. Yes, in three days you can squeeze in an afternoon poetry reading, visit the National Gallery of Canada and wander across the river to Gatineau, Quebec to marvel at the towering totem poles in the Canadian Museum of History. You might even be fortunate to see wildlife such as beaver or moose venturing across a road or to encounter Mounties also known as members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). However, this glimpse of Canada’s capital city only represents a thin layer of the heightened cultural exchange that permeates the area.

Ottawa Sightseeing October 2014 photo 2

For example, a young poet once told me that after moving from Ottawa, she missed and craved the vibrant, creative literary scene that had become part of her university existence: poetry icons like prolific writer and promoter rob mclennan, bywords  (an on-line and print journal that provides a focal point for Ottawa poetry, literary information, and events) and the vast array of readings like the Tree Reading Series which is considered to be one of Canada’s longest running literary events.

Spotlight Reader Henry Beissel shares work from "Fugitive Horizons" (Guernica Press). The book was a finalist for the 2014 Ottawa Book Award: Fiction awarded for outstanding works of fiction including novels, short stories, children's literature and poetry.

Henry Beissel shared work from “Fugitive Horizons” (Guernica Press). The book was a finalist for the 2014 Ottawa Book Award: Fiction awarded for outstanding works of fiction including novels, short stories, children’s literature and poetry.

Ottawa is also the home of ARC Poetry magazine, a literary magazine that has shared poetry with readers across Canada and beyond for over 30 years. Twice a year, the Ottawa International Writers’ Festival celebrates the diversity of word with presentations by local and international writers. Last week, the Ottawa small press book fair celebrated its twentieth anniversary fall 2014 edition.

There is more: A quick search on the internet reveals a calendar filled with three or four literary events each day. Click here for more information.

Also it’s difficult to think or write about Ottawa now, without reflecting on Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the Canadian soldier who was fatally shot by a gunman at the National War Memorial last month. This horrific news impacted not only Ottawa residents but people across Canada and the world. Perhaps at some point, poetry can heal these emotional wounds but for now the mourning continues and cultural activities can help pull people together.

Spotlight Launch Reader Catina Noble shares work from two new Poetry Friendly Press chapbooks "Pussyfoot" (series #17) and "Clean Up in Aisle 4" (series #20). This year Catina was the 'poetry category' winner of the Canadian Author Association's 2014 National Capital Writing Contest. Congratulations

Catina Noble displays work from two new Poetry Friendly Press chapbooks “Pussyfoot” (series #17) and “Clean Up in Aisle 4” (series #20). This year she was the ‘poetry category’ winner of the Canadian Author Association’s 2014 National Capital Writing Contest.

Earlier in October, The Ontario Poetry Society was in Ottawa for a members’ reading and open mic held at Pressed, a Gladstone Street restaurant.  Three spotlight readers Ronnie R. Brown (Un-Deferred: A Draft Dodger’s Wife Remembers, Beret Days Press), Catina Noble (Poetry Friendly Press chapbooks Pussyfoot (series #17) and Clean Up in Aisle 4 (series #20) and Henry Beissel (Fugitive Horizons, Guernica Press) stepped onto the stage and introduced new work. Additional readers included: Gill Foss, Carol Stephen, Debbie Okun Hill, Fran Figge, I. B. Iskov, Tom McGregor and J. C. Sulzenko. New members were Helen Johansen, Sylvia Adams and Shery Alexander Heinis.

“What a beautiful day to network, meet new writers and celebrate the poetic gifts of others!”

This Sunday, November 16, The Ontario Poetry Society travels to Oakville where they will host The Winter Warm-up Poetry Gathering, their next members’ reading and open mic. Sign up for readers is at the door. More information can be found here. Admission free. Open to the public.

Spotlight Launch Reader Ronnie R. Brown shares work from "Un-Deferred: A Draft Dodger's Wife Remembers" (Beret Days Press) (winner of The Golden Grassroots Chapbook Award, 2013)

Ronnie R. Brown’s “Un-Deferred: A Draft Dodger’s Wife Remembers” (Beret Days Press) won The Golden Grassroots Chapbook Award, 2013.

*from the poem “IX. Another Kind of Road Trip”  Un-Deferred: A Draft Dodger’s Wife Remembers (Beret Days Press, 2013) © Ronnie R. Brown

The Ontario Poetry Society

The Ontario Poetry Society

Several members of The Ontario Poetry Society read during a Sunday, October 25, 2014 reading in Ottawa.

Several members of The Ontario Poetry Society read during a Sunday, October 5, 2014 reading in Ottawa.