Tag Archives: Under the Mulberry Tree

In Hamilton – A Lummox/Raymond Souster Celebration – April 19

“There has never been a better time to be a writer in Canada.” – Canadian Poet James Deahl*

As the snow thaws outside my patio window, poetry event notices sprout like spring tulips across my desk. What a busy time of the year! National Poetry month begins on April 1 and I can’t wait to pack my bags and travel across Canada.

Lummox-Three-Cover-websharing
For those living in or near Hamilton, expect to see and hear some road kill (seriously) as well as desire themed poetry during the Lummox/Raymond Souster Celebration, Sunday, April 19 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Artword Artbar, 15 Colbourne Street in Hamilton. The celebration features readings by James Deahl, G. W. Down, David Haskins, Laurence Hutchman, John B. Lee, Norma West Linder, Bernadette Rule, Lynn Tait and Anna Yin.

Published by Quattro Books

Published by Quattro Books

Featured books include Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems For and About Raymond Souster (Quattro Press, 2014) and the California-based anthology Lummox Number Three (Lummox Press, 2014).

Additional information about the April 11th Canadian and Sarnia launch of Lummox Number Three can be found here.

Additional information about the 2014 Toronto launch of Under the Mulberry Tree can be found here.

Submissions for Lummox Four are open from April 1 to May 31, 2015. More details here.

Happy National Poetry Month everyone!

*from the essay “A Dozen Canadas: Canadian Poetry in 2014” by James Deahl, Lummox, Number Three (Lummox Press, 2014).

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Why I’ll Never Share a Beer with Canadian Poets Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster

Did you choke over my words, spit out gasps into a brown paper bag? Were you startled or just amused? A headline like a poem title needs to grab the reader by the throat and I hope this one does. Still it’s not intended to be disrespectful of two literary giants.  My rationale easily rolls like water from my tongue: I hate the taste of beer and wouldn’t share a bottle or glass of lager or ale with anyone no matter how famous he/she might be.

Learn more about Canadian poets Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster.

Learn more about Canadian poets Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during this free reading in Sarnia, Ontario.

Also it’s too late to cry over any type of beverage including a tipped over bottle of poetic spirits. Imagine the suds sliding across the wooden table and along the pub floor. Okay, that’s moving away from the topic. Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster are both dearly departed and unless their apparitions appear before us, no one will have the privilege of speaking to them again. Sad news indeed! Acorn passed away in August 1986 due to complications of a heart condition and diabetes. Souster died in October 2012. He was 91 years old.

I wish I had met them or at least heard them read.

Celebrating Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during National Poetry Month

Celebrating Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during National Poetry Month

Both are considered legends in the poetry world. Acorn received a Governor General Award in 1976 for his poetry collection The Island Means Minago. Souster received the same award in 1964 for his work The Colour of the Times. Both would have been great mentors. Unfortunately I was a late poetic bloomer; Acorn and Souster escaped my radar before I knew who they were.

Even today, my knowledge of these two poets is limited, gleamed from second hand sources. My goal is to read all their work cover to cover! I wish I had the luxury of time but this is what I’ve learned so far.

Souster’s legacy reminds me that poetry does not make one famous or financially wealthy. All his life, he was considered shy and despite being prolific and leaving behind more than 50 volumes of his work, he remained a banker to pay his bills. According to Canadian poet James Deahl, Souster wrote about “love, nature, war, social, injustice jazz, religion, and beauty. He was also the first president/chairman of the League of Canadian Poets and was a kind and gentle man. As I wrote in my tribute poem “Won’t see his poetic face/plastered on a Canadian bill.” Societies in general scratch their heads when it comes to respecting and understanding poets.

James Deahl has edited several books to celebrate the legacy of his friends Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster.

James Deahl has edited several books to celebrate the legacy of his friends Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster.

Acorn’s legacy of work taught me that there are different types of poets, just like there are different types of musicians or artists to suit different markets. Acorn was a “people’s poet” who wrote about everyday concerns for the common folks and employed wit, politics and strong emotion in his work. He produced more than 15 books and like Souster, he enjoyed helping younger and more inexperienced writers.

James Deahl is one of those poets who knew and spent time with both Souster and Acorn. He has studied their work and has written extensively about their lives. In 1987, he edited and compiled The Northern Red Oak, a tribute to Milton Acorn published by Unfinished Monument.

More recently he edited In a Springtime Instant: Selected Poems by Milton Acorn published as part of the Mosiac Press Canadian Literature ‘Icon” series.

Reading during the Under the Mulberry Tree (Quattro Books) launch in Toronto, January 15, 2014

David Eso

 

Michael Fraser enjoyed meeting Raymond Souster.

Michael Fraser

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Joe Fiorito

 

Laurence Hutchman

Laurence Hutchman

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Carleton Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Yin

Anna Yin

Earlier this year in Toronto, he edited and launched Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems For & About Raymond Souster. Published by Quattro Books, this anthology features tribute poems by those who knew the poet well and those who are just learning about his work. The contributors include: Steven Michael Berzensky, Kent Bowman, Ronnie R. Brown, Terry Ann Carter, John Robert Columbo, Allan Cooper, Robert Currie, James Deahl, David Donnell, G. W. Down, Margaret Patricia Eaton, David Eso, Chris Faiers, George Fethering, Joe Fiorito, Michael Fraser, Ryan Gibbs, Katherine Gordon, Andreas Gripp, Debbie Okun Hill, Laurence Hutchman, Karl Jirgens, Laurie Kruk, Dennis Lee, Norma West Linder, Bruce Meyer, Brian Purdy, Bernadette Rule, Simcha Simchovitch, Glen Sorestad, Lynn Tait, S. J. White, Carleton Wilson, Michael Wurster, and Anna Yin.

Norma West Linder

Norma West Linder

 On Sunday, April 27 starting at 1 p.m. at The Book Keeper in Sarnia, seven of these contributors: Berzensky, Bowman, Deahl, Gibbs, Okun Hill, West Linder, and Tait will be reading and celebrating the legacy of Acorn and Souster. Additional readings are also planned for Ottawa and North Bay in June.

As Deahl wrote in his introduction to Under the Mulberry Tree: “No poet learns the craft without the help and sage advice from those who have already achieved a higher level of writing.”

Steven Micheal Berzensky

Steven Michael Berzensky

Kent Bowman

Kent Bowman

Three cheers to all the poets including Acorn and Souster who believed in the power of the written word and who will continue to leave their mark on the next generation of writers. As an emerging poet, I still have so much to learn. Maybe one day, I’ll acquire a taste for beer or maybe not.

Ryan Gibbs

Ryan Gibbs

Lynn Tait

Lynn Tait

Debbie Okun Hill

Debbie Okun Hill

 

International Celebrity John Wing Kicks-Off Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebration April 5

Back in his hometown to introduce his new poetry book, Why-Shaped Scars, Los Angeles resident and internationally-known comedian John Wing Jr. will officially kick-start Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebration Saturday, April 5 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line on the outskirts of the city.

From Los Angeles: John Wing

From Los Angeles: John Wing

Spotlight readers also include League of Canadian Poets members Allan Briesmaster (Thornhill, Ontario), Clara Blackwood (Toronto) and Sarnia’s Lynn Tait.

Organized by the Bluewater Reading Series, this free inaugural event aims to introduce professional out-of-town poets and their work to the general public and will reflect the League’s Poetry Month 2014 theme: “Poetry City”. Several poetry books will be highlighted including work produced by three well-known traditional publishers Black Moss Press (Windsor), Guernica Editions (Oakville/Montreal) and Quattro Books (Toronto).

“Poetry has always been a “spoken word” art, not a “book page” art,” said James Deahl, committee spokesperson for the new Series. “It is difficult for poetry to truly live and breathe in a city without a reading series. Fortunately, the Canada Council and the League of Canadian Poets understand the true nature of poetry. Through National Poetry Month, poets are able to travel all over Canada and present live readings. We are extremely pleased to present three important out-of-town poets — two of them reading for their first time in Sarnia — along with Sarnia’s own Lynn Tait for our NPM debut presentation.”

Tait, an award-winning photographer/poet will be reading work from her two manuscripts Chatter Marks and Broken Days. According to Canadian poet George Elliott Clarke “Lynn has a gift for startling and stunning metaphor, for juxtaposition of casual conversational style and sudden, arresting, poetic language and for irony that moves often toward allegory.”

Why-shaped Scars by John Wing Jr. published by Black Moss Press 2014

Why-shaped Scars (Black Moss Press) by John Wing Jr.

Wing who was a semi-finalist on last season’s America’s Got Talent will perform a half-hour reading based on his latest Black Moss Press book which according to poet reviewer Bruce Meyer “captures those moments that leave their enigmatic scars on our souls…he does so with craft, power, and poetic precision.”

Against the Flight of Spring (Quattro Books) by Allan Briesmaster

Against the Flight of Spring (Quattro Books) by Allan Briesmaster

Briesmaster, a freelance editor and one of the Quattro Books’ founding partners, will read from his recent and sixth full-length poetry collection Against the Flight of Spring. The back cover states that the book “explores such themes as identity, personal growth, love and friendship, Canadian landscape, climate change, visual art, and the roots of poetry itself, in moods of anxious questioning, deep affection, dread, awe, and grateful praise.”

Forecast (Guernica Editions) by Clara Blackwood

Forecast (Guernica Editions) by Clara Blackwood

Toronto poet, visual artist and tarot reader Blackwood will read from Forecast, her latest and second book published by Guernica Editions. The publisher’s website states “this collection of sometimes sombre, sometimes whimsical poems takes the reader on an odyssey whereby things bizarre, miraculous and bewildering can and often do happen.”

The Bluewater Reading Series is a new literary offering organized by Sarnia writers : James Deahl, Venero Fazio, Debbie Okun Hill, and Lynn Tait. This inaugural reading is made possible with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets’ National Poetry Month program.

Additional national poetry month readings include: a poetry themed Spoken Word open mic where members of the general public may share their work Friday, April 25 from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, Sarnia and a Raymond Souster Legacy Reading to celebrate the publication of Under the Mulberry Tree (Quattro Books) to be held Sunday, April 27 at the Book Keeper in Sarnia.

SPOTLIGHT READERS/PERFORMERS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

From Toronto: Clara Blackwood

Clara Blackwood is a poet, visual artist and tarot reader. Her first poetry collection, Subway Medusa (2007), was the inaugural book in Guernica Editions’ First Poets Series, which features first books by poets thirty-five and under. Her poetry has appeared in Canadian and International journals. Forecast, her second book of poetry, was published by Guernica Editions in 2014. She lives in Toronto.

Allan Briesmaster from Thornhill

From Thornhill: Allan Briesmaster

Allan Briesmaster is a freelance editor, micro publisher, and one of the founding partners of Quattro Books. He is the author of six full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is Against the Flight of Spring (April, 2013), and seven shorter books, and he has been active on the Toronto poetry scene for many years as a readings organizer, workshop leader, and mentor. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and he has given readings, and talks at venues from Victoria to St. John’s. He lives in Thornhill, just north of Toronto.

From Sarnia: Lynn Tait

From Sarnia: Lynn Tait

Lynn Tait, originally from Toronto, is an awarding winning poet/photographer, who has lived in Sarnia for 40 years. Her photography has graced the covers of poetry books and literary magazines, and been exhibited in Gallery Lambton, Gallery in the Grove, Cheeky Monkey and The Lawrence House. She has been a nominee, in various categories, for the International Black & White Spider Awards for Photography, 4 years in a row. She is a member of the Sarnia Photographic Club, The Ontario Poetry Society and the League of Canadian Poets. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary magazines in Canada and the U.S., including the Windsor Review, Quills, Contemporary Verse 2, and in over 70 anthologies including Under the Mulberry Tree, published by Quattro Books and edited by James Deahl. She published a chapbook “Breaking Away” in 2002, a book: Encompass I in 2013, with four other poets, and has currently completed two full-length poetry manuscripts.

From Los Angeles: John Wing

From Los Angeles: John Wing

John Wing Jr., born in Sarnia, has lived in Los Angeles for the last 25 years, while maintaining his Canadian citizenship. Along with six appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Johnny Carson, ten appearances at The Montreal Comedy Festival Just For Laughs, and a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent last season, John has also published eight books of poetry, A Cup Of Nevermind, …And The Fear Makes Us Special, None Of This is Probably True, Excuses, The Winter Palace, So Recently Ancient, Almost Somewhere Else, and the new book from Black Moss Press, Why-Shaped Scars. His memoir of his early years as a comedian is When You See The Red Light, Get Off, also from Black Moss Press. John is a regular contributor to CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera, and The Debaters.

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