If you poetry lovers are looking for a unique and engaging way to pass this summer in Fredericton, I have great news.
Thanks to the initiative of Dr. Kathy Mac, who was inspired by the original Poetic Places app created by Sarah Cole during her time as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the British Museum, Fredericton's own Poetic Places app is set to be launched this July.
Poetic Places Fredericton (or PPF for short) uses push notifications to let you know when you are walking by an area or building which is related in some way to a poem written by a local poet.
The app is divided into four major sections: Poems, Poets, Places, and Home. Although we encourage you to get out and explore our beautiful city, after downloading the app you will have instant access to all its poems which can be read at your leisure via the Poems section. The Poets section introduces you to the brilliant minds behind these poems, including a photo, short biography, and even a selected bibliography (in case you really become a fan). The Places section provides a brief history of each location and explains their relationship to the poem and poet Kathy and I have placed there. Finally, the Home section acts as a blog through which the editor (that's me) can announce any updates made to the app and other poetry related news.
Poetic Places Fredericton is currently still in development, but will be available through the Google Play Store by the end of July for $1.99 CAN. While these proceeds must first be used to maintain the app itself, we are happy to announce that any money left over will be donated to the Writer's Federation of New Brunswick to support local writers.
So why not support your local literary scene and have fun in the process? Get out there and hunt down some poems!
Thanks for reading!
Poetic Places Fredericton Editor 2017.
Located on the Western edge of O'dell Park, and accessible through its beautiful walking trails, is the city of Fredericton's Botanic Garden. While the year-round free admission and the beauty of the garden is enough to encourage anyone to visit, this summer there is another reason for poetry lovers like you and me to stop by. Headed by Dr. Stephen Heard of the University of New Brunswick Biology Department, this summer the Botanic Garden will be hosting an "Arts and Culture Bed", where plants are paired with music, prose, and poetry created by New Brunswick artists.
The plants to be displayed in the "Arts and Culture Bed" will be decided through the selection of poems in which they appear. For instance, a group of geraniums would be displayed alongside a poem about geraniums, or one which uses geraniums as its main image or metaphor, The literary work, as well as information about the artist and the plant, is to be displayed on panels beside the plantings. This attraction thereby provides a fun and unique opportunity to learn about New Brunswick artists, as well as local plant-life.
This project is very fitting for New Brunswick, as much of our province's artwork gravitates towards the raw, natural beauty which surrounds us. While working on my project Poetic Places Fredericton (which I will introduce in another blog when the time is right), I have had the opportunity to read works written by many New Brunswick poets, and I can almost guarantee that each one of them has written something about New Brunswick's forests, flowers, trees, or even the plants that some would consider weeds. This project is a clever way of bridging the gap between the poet's inspiration, and their expression of that idea.
The main entrance to the Botanic Garden is located at 694 Prospect Street, and the garden is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. Although there has been no date set for the opening of the "Arts and Culture Bed" yet, I will be sure to update this post when there is one.
For more information about the Botanic Garden, and a map of the area which outlines points of interest, please visit http://www.frederictonbotanicgarden.com/the-garden.
Thanks for reading!
- Katlin Copeland.
Summer. The time of tank tops and flip flops, of sunscreen and sunglasses. When the sun beats down, heating the air to a goosebumps-inducing warmth. Ice cream sales go up, parka sales go down (or at least, you’d think they would). Kids are frolicking, mosquitos and blackflies are feasting; everyone’s freezing in the blasted air-conditioning of the movie theatre. And, as always, the season of construction begins (everyone’s favourite part, right?).
Yes, that’s right. Break out the shades, the season of summer is fast approaching. For those post-secondary students who are done with exams, it’s already here – even if we haven’t technically hit the official “first day of summer” on the calendar.
In celebration of the imminent season, I thought I’d share some poems with you. Not all of the poems mention summer, or anything that might indicate that the poem was intended to be about summer. But in reading each one, summer is imprinted into my brain – the bright sunlight glinting off of objects, lush green grass dotted with dandelions, a vibrant blue sky, and fluffy white clouds. Each of these poems feel like summer to me.
Streetlight, Afternoon by Sue Sinclair
Nowhere in this poem does it explicitly say anything about summer. Yet – in my opinion, at least – the entire poem exudes summer. The sun glinting off of the streetlight under a bright blue sky, bicycles and skateboards piloted by energetic children – not to mention that it’s noon, and any other time of the year children are either in school or the weather isn’t bike and skateboard friendly.
Walking Stick by Deirdre Kessler
The only solid indication that this poem takes place in summer is the mention of honeysuckle, mulberries, and blackberries – honeysuckle blooms from spring into early fall, and both mulberries and blackberries ripen in the summer. Yet even if you don’t have the knowledge of the peak season of honeysuckle blooms and ripe berries (trust me, I had to look it up too), this poem still feels like summer. The freedom of the children; the smack of the screen door as children burst outside, barely slowing to open the door.
Horse Girls by Tammy Armstrong
When I read this poem, I see a field of long grass dotted with tiny flowers. The sun beats down in a way that seems to make every colour paler. A girl rides bareback on a chestnut-coloured horse, girl-hair and horse-hair alike fluttering in the breeze as a group of boys watch from behind the wooden rail fence. Clad in jeans and a t-shirt, the girl’s feet are bare (while I realize that the “tanned foot” used to open the gate is probably a tanned-leather boot, I initially read it as a bare foot tanned by the summer sun, and that’s the image that stuck in my mind).
A Summer Day by Lucy Maud Montgomery
This poem hardly needs an explanation for being on this list. It describes an idealistic summer’s day, starting with the dewy hope of dawn, moving to the buzzing heat of mid-day, and ending with the cooling breeze of dusk.
Until next time,
a.k.a. the girl who loves her new knit hat a little too much to not wear it, even though it’s probably too warm out (but can you blame me, it’s reversible!)
Recognizing Objects (and Lives) for What They Are, Not What They Should Be: matt robinson’s Poetic Reality Check
Ever had a moment when you’re looking at an object, something you see everyday and barely notice, and realize that that thing is suddenly really important and has more meaning to you than you would ever admit to anyone else? Sometimes this feeling only lasts a brief moment and is gone, leaving you with a fleeting memory of emotion but no lasting effect. But sometimes, these moments of insight transform the object, retaining the significance of that insight for future interactions. While this strange experience can feel like you’re crossing into an alternate reality, matt robinson’s poetry interprets this phenomenon as a recognition of the true world around us. robinson’s use of seemingly mundane objects to highlight the intrinsic value of everyday living makes his poetry both beautiful and jarring to read.
The poem “Monster & the Big Blue Chair” from his most recent collection Some Nights It’s Entertainment; Some Other Nights Just Work, is a great example of robinson’s method. The main subject, the family chair which is “torn, its shoulders shrugged,” is transformed from an eyesore into a powerful symbol of what it means to truly love something through the poet’s contemplation of its past (robinson 2). robinson argues throughout the poem that objects which we interact with enough to abuse, such as the “eye-toothed heresies / done books” or “martyred action figures,” are better examples of what is important to us than those we try to protect (7, 9). He writes, “is this love as what we’d thought we adored – collected, / sure-shelved, secured – now scattered bereft / …no, this is love as pause” (11-12, 15). By attributing value to each object not by its appearance or condition alone, but by the process through which they became that way, their true worth is revealed. The snapshot of a messy living room which robinson begins the poem lamenting, is now appreciated and embraced as evidence of a happy, loving family.
Although many of us have made excuses for having an untidy home, (as my mother always says when guests show up unannounced, “our house is lived in, you know”), robinson’s poem takes a common experience which can be overwhelming, and uncovers its beauty. Just because your chair is ratty and old, doesn’t mean it is devoid of meaning. In fact, robinson argues that what an object loses in physical or practical worth is equally representative of its personal or emotional value. This is not to suggest that all of robinson’s poetry is optimistic, but simply that he endeavours to reveal the truth.
Thanks for reading! - Katlin Copeland.
robinson is set to release a limited edition chapbook entitled The Telephone Game this fall!
Check out matt robinson’s ACPA page for more info on the poet and his work.
robinson, matt. “Monster & the Big Blue Chair.” In Some Nights It’s Entertainment; Some Other Nights Just Work. Kentville: Gaspereau Press, 2016. 38. Print.
Last night I was introduced to a world where there are two suns and two moons, where water climbs instead of falls, and where a whole host of unfamiliar beings make their home. This is the alien planet Meniscus, where humans are harvested from Earth and sold as slaves to the two dominant humanoid races of the planet – the Dock-winders and the Gel-heads.
Meniscus: Crossing the Churn is a long narrative poem written by Jane Tims, under the pseudonym “Alexandra Tims”. It is the first book in a series that follows a genetically modified human man, known only to us as “the Slain”, and Odymn, a young human woman trying to survive the oppressive conditions she lives in. The two travel together through the Prell’nan District of Meniscus after the Slain saves Odymn from a violent gang of Gel-heads.
Aside from the poetry of Meniscus, interspersed amongst the pages are wonderful drawings done by Tims herself, drawing us further into the fantastic world she has created. Each drawing depicts characters – Odymn, the Slain, a Dock-winder, a Gel-head, even an Argenop named Wen-le-gone – and their interactions with each other and the environment around them. At the front of the book there is a map of the Prell’nan District, and in the back is a glossary of terms and a short guide to Gel-speak, the common language on Meniscus.
Yesterday evening, Jane Tims held a book launch and reading for Meniscus at Westminster Books, which I had the good fortune of being able to attend. Also there, was guest reader Zach Hapeman, a poet who writes for the young at heart. Hapeman’s light, playful choices of poetry to read contrasted nicely with the darker, thrilling excerpts read by Tims. A favourite of mine was a poem read by Hapeman about the hazards of having a supernatural boyfriend. Another highlight of the evening was an excerpt read by Tims where Odymn and the Slain were scaling a waterclimb (think the opposite of a waterfall) to get away from a group of Gel-heads. Where Tims chose to stop had everyone on the edge of their seats!
I encourage you all to check out both of these poets’ wonderful books. Meniscus: Crossing the Churn and A Crack in the Door (Hapeman’s book of poetry and illustrations) are each available on Amazon, as well as, I believe, at Westminster Books.
Until next time,
a.k.a. the girl who stays up way too late to finish a book then regrets it in the morning (even though it’s always completely worth it)
In winter 2015, the four students of Engl. 4426, Contemporary Atlantic Canadian Poets, at STU, had the opportunity to shadow jury the J.M. Abrahams Awards (formerly the Atlantic Canadian Poetry Prize).
Each week, we read one of the 11 poetry books submitted for consideration. Since the books represented a wide variety of topics and poetic approaches - from the traditional lyric, to contemporary sonnets, to scripts - we had our work cut out for us. To structure the discussion, we considered three categories suggested by the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia which administers the award: artistic merit, cultural or social merit, and originality. We felt the winner needed to be a strong contender in each category, while the shortlisted books needed to excel in one or more of them.
As the end of term drew closer, our foursome began dwindling the books for shortlist by presenting at the STU Research and Ideas Fair. We explained to our peers the process of shadow jurying and tried (and maybe failed) to argue out a rough shortlist and possible winner. The following week, we brought our opinions back to the classroom with Dr. McConnell as our moderator. Here are our results:
Winner: Sylvia Hamilton, And I Alone Escaped to Tell You
Shortlist: Shoshanna Wingate, Radio Weather; Susan Paddon, Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths
An honourable mention is deserved for Shalan Joudry (Generations re-merging) whom we all unknowingly and unanimously ranked as 5th.
It is also worth mentioning that the final shortlist spot was hotly debated between Wingate and J.J. Steinfeld's Identity, Dreams, and Memory Sounds. For a better idea of each of the books considered for the award, you can find our class reviews on Wording Around - these will give you a better idea of our struggle and debate over shortlist contenders. Paddon and Hamilton also have ACPA entries.
Now, here are the results of the official jury:
Winner: Susan Paddon, Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths
Shortlist: Sylvia Hamilton, And I Alone Escaped to Tell You; Brian Barlett, Ringing Here & There: A Nature Calendar
The results of the two juries are clearly different. Here are a few of my observations after we compared our class results to the official ones.
Overall, our group felt that Hamilton excelled at all three categories: And I Alone Escaped to Tell You is Hamilton's debut book (originality), it speaks to the atrocities faced by her Black ancestors (cultural/social merit), and it is comprised of poems in the form of letters, prose, sonnets, script, and single stanzas (artistic merit). Of course, each of the other poets on our list accomplished these categories in their own way, however we felt And I Alone Escaped to Tell You truly embodied the definitions of all three.
Susan Paddon was an interesting result. In reference to the picture of the whiteboard below, our initial results are those in black. This reveals that Paddon was in the top four for us all, but the brackets some of us added to our lists indicates that we were undecided where to rank her, and were willing to let her drop if need be. However, we were also okay with allowing Paddon to be talked up; because (a) her work was more sophisticated than that of Joudrey, one of her closest competitors, (b) her project was slightly more creative and unique than Steinfeld, and (c) the overall scope and success of her project astounding, Paddon's book solidified its spot in the top three.
With Hamilton and Paddon decided on, our biggest question was whether to keep Steinfeld or Wingate in the final shortlist spot. These two poets were consistently in our top four, but for different reasons: Wingate's debut book Radio Weather is a collection of poetry of various themes, styles, and use of language, whereas Steinfeld's Identity, Dreams, and Memory Sounds follows the consistent, cultural awareness topic of the Holocaust. Essentially, the drastic difference between the two is what kept the eraser close to the whiteboard. Although we changed our minds, heard each others' opinions, questioned our own, and tried our best to understand the complex nuances of our ranking system, we finally came to decide that Wingate's great awareness of language and poetic devices gave her poetry the edge it needed to make it into the final spot in the blue bubble.
That’s how the members of English 4426 came to consensus on our winner and shortlist, and we stand by it.
When Dr. McConnell revealed the official winner and shortlist, we were surprised to see only two of our choices in the top three (Hamilton and Paddon), and that the two we fought about most weren't even shortlisted (Wingate and Steinfeld). There were no tears shed over the loss of our debate, but the shadow of shadow jurying soon came upon us, and every once in a while during a poetry storm on the east coast, the shadow comes back. What would have happened if one of more of us had been on the official jury? Would our choice have won, or were our finalists just the result of the end of a tired semester? Furthermore, would the poets we chose ever know how much we enjoyed their work, despite not being officially chosen?
We are not discrediting the official judges' choices or the poets' victories; instead, we want to celebrate ours alongside them for giving Atlantic Canadian poetry the recognition it deserves and for making us delve into the work in a way we never would have otherwise.
And here's the shadowiest aspect of shadow jurying: we learned that the winner is not actually inherently the winner; it is the jury's choice. A different jury may well choose a different winner, and depending on how attached you are your choices, the shadow of jurying will always loom over you. There is no escaping it.