As ACPA Editors, we wish to give you accurate, relevant, and strongly written information on Atlantic Canadian poets and their works. Whether we were poetry enthusiasts or not before working for the ACPA, the archive has stirred a passion in us for the work in our backyard.
Below you will be introduced to the current Managing Editor of the ACPA and learn what they have to offer towards the diversity of the archive. Please take a minute to read their story. We hope you appreciate them as much as we do.
Managing editor Jamie Kitts speaking at Mount Saint Vincent University -- thanks to Sara Nason for capturing this photo.
1. What year were you Managing Editor of the ACPA?
May 2018-August 2020.
2. What did you study (are currently studying) at STU? Where did that take you (will take you)?
When I started working here, I was going into my final year at STU, majoring in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing and minoring in Communications and Public Policy. While I was at STU, I completed a novel draft for National Novel Writing Month 2016, and began work on a separate novel for my Independent Project in Creative Writing -- an excerpt of which won STU's David Adams Richards for Prose in 2018.
I've since graduated, and I've also completed a Certificate of Honours Standing in English. That was supposed to be a pretty low-key, low stress school year but it ended up being one of the hardest things I think I've ever done! I did an independent study on some of the texts which inspired Henry Thoreau based on a research paper I wrote years ago on Walden, a game. I'm taking a gap year, but that research project is going to inform the work I hope to do as a grad student.
Working for the ACPA helped me establish a presence as an occasional freelance writer who specializes in digital media analysis. I've had the great pleasure of meeting student-writers and holding long conversations with them about art and living, some of which you can read in this website's blog, but most of which started during the day and ended the next morning. I've also worked as a teaching assistant, research assistant, and writing tutor.
3. What intrigued you about the ACPA?
My job before this was as a writing tutor at STU's Writing Centre. I found that I really loved reading academic papers, no matter what the subject. That blended really well with my experience workshopping other students' work in Creative Writing classes. But part of the ACPA's allure for me was the mystery: poetry was always inaccessible to me. That's not to say I hadn't read poetry, but academic poetry analysis was almost new territory for me. What this gave me was an opportunity to learn about poetry analysis, and a license to engage with cultural traditions and artistic genius.
4. What did you enjoy most about editing the ACPA?
This is a scenario where I have all the tools I need to survive -- I know how to write, how to critique writing, how to research, etc. It's just me, a stack of papers, my red pen, and an editorial mandate to make these entries look as good as they possibly can. What I got out of tutoring was giving other students the push they needed for stronger writing and thinking, which in a lot of cases was about drawing out what those students were already capable of. But this is a position where I can help those who are already strong writers celebrate their abilities.
The other most enjoyable thing is that I'm pulling from both my major and my minor for relevant skills. While the English field often demands lengthy papers, the entries we receive for the ACPA have a 1000-word maximum. This means that entries need to be in-depth and concise, and concision is what the Communications field is all about. These papers need to be tight, and I love that added layer of difficulty. They've got to be good, and they've got to be short. This is the kind of challenge that I love to overcome.
5. Why should people be interested in what the ACPA has to offer?
Fredericton, New Brunswick is my home, and if I can help it I will never leave this place. A while back I had a talk with someone around my age about differing motivations for leaving Atlantic Canada. This is a bit reductive of the conversation, but basically, this person and their friends all felt like New Brunswick was something to leave, whereas some of my friends and I grew up trying to cling to it as much as possible. At the core of both views there is an agreement that something is lacking, that in our own ways we are unfulfilled here. I think that the ACPA is in a unique position to convey this dichotomy by providing a platform for not only the poems of Atlantic Canada, but the inter-generational conversation between poets of different eras and the students who analyze this poetry.
I think that, like my dad's work with East Coast music, the work done here demonstrates the unique perspectives about art and living in this place. There's not only a difference in scale between Atlantic Canada and other Canadian regions, but a difference in kind: there's a feeling with odd persistence throughout the region, but there are also shifts in tone from town to town and province to province. I think it's fascinating to watch people tackle the same subject from different angles. A lot of content here is trying to reconcile a place in several layers of culture and world.
Jamie Kitts is a writer from Fredericton, New Brunswick. You can find more of their writing under the name Evan Mersereau.
The ACPA wouldn't be what it is today without our past managing editors. Take a minute to appreciate their work by reading their stories here.