• Poetry for Life

    JC Sulzenko’s Books, Poems, Workshops and Readings

    JC writes in a number of genres and and creates poetry and stories for adult readers and for young readers. With information about JC and her publications, this website invites adult readers to follow her Line-a-day poetry blog and to enjoy a few of JC’s poems in their entirety.

    Kids can have fun at Kid Space, activities designed especially for them.

What's New

New WEBSITE Dedicated to the Work of A. Garnett Weiss Launched

Although information on A. Garnett Weiss is available from www.jcsulzenko.com, an independent Web presence has now been established.

“Since Garnett’s work is receiving attention and being published in literary journals and on-line, it seemed a good moment to create a site dedicated to Weiss’s poetry. ” Go to  http://www.agarnettweiss.com to access the site, which will be updated on a regular basis.

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“Allison’s Brain” by Robert McMechan with Allison Woyiwada — a triumph

I will post my review of the book on Amazon, etc., but offer this teaser here now to encourage people to buy the book by husband and wife team, Bob McMechan and Allson Woyiwada.

“Allison’s Brain,” available through on-line retailers and the publisher, Friesan Press, follows this remarkable couple as they team up with healthcare professionals, family and friends to support music dynamo Allison through very complex, dangerous surgery for a brain aneurysm and the long recovery period after the 12-hour operation.

JC was one of the friends who followed this odyssey closely and helped out whenever she could. “The book represents the triumph of this woman who faced such odds in risking the surgery and in surviving the aftermath setbacks. The narrative is sequential and includes notes from MDs, nurses, and therapists. It reproduces the regular updates which Allison began to send to her friends and family as the operation approached and which Bob continued to provide during all the many months of her recuperation. In annexes, there are ‘essays’ from speech and music therapists which illustrate powerfully how such programs can bring back brain function. There are telling anecdotes from some of the regular visitors to Allison during the stages of her recovery also in that section of the book.

“Most important to read, though, are two contributions: At the end of the book, Allison shares her own feelings and fears about what she has gone through. She is candid about what she remembers and what she cannot. Particularly revealing are her observations on her capacity to say what she meant: she always thought she was communicating clearly what was in her mind when in fact it would take a long period of her time and many therapy sessions for her to regain the ability to find the right words. Then, the last annex gives daughter Marya’s views on surviving the experience as the child who must parent her mother, not knowing whether and how all the efforts she, Bob, friends, and medical experts were making would play out.

“The book represents the best of the human condition: a triumph of science and spirit, of devotion, friendship, and hope. Allison’s perseverance and her family’s unrelenting efforts to bring her back to herself make for compelling reading for everyone, but particularly for anyone who has been exposed to the effects an acquired brain injury can have on an individual and the people who care about him or her.

“You come away from reading “Allison’s Brain” with respect for everyone involved in her story and a sense of awe about how the brain can renew itself,” JC concludes.

Here’s the link to the site where the book can be ordered: http://www.friesenpress.com/bookstore/title/119734000015343007/Robert-McMechan-Allison%27s-Brain

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Something funny happened on the way to today

The film JC saw last night reminded her of the truth in the cliché about laughter being the best medicine.  A comedy in French, “Qu’est-ce qu’on a fait au Bon Dieu” (“Serial Weddings”), is both funny and human and absolutely the best comedy I’ve seen in ages, ” JC claimed.

Why write about the movie on this website? “I rarely write poetry that is humorous, ” JC laments. “I often asks myself why, when laughter brings such pleasure, I don’t celebrate humour in my writing? Because there sure is a need for comedy as an antidote to all the oppressive reality that screams from new headlines.”

JC has given herself a challenge: to find humour in her every day and bring what she discovers  and writes about to this site when she does. Will she succeed? Comments?

 

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“Vallum: Contemporary Poetry” Publishes “Hesitation Marks” by A. Garnett Weiss

“Vallum” devotes its new issue to the theme of speed and travel and features poetry from Gary Barwin, Evelyn Lau, Jacob Scheier, Karen Solie, and Jan Zwicky among others.

“Hesitation marks,” a cento  by A. Garnett Weiss which pays homage to Robin Robinson’s poems, appears in the issue.

“It’s an honour to have Garnett’s work included in this fine magazine,” JC noted after attending the launch at the Supermarket in Toronto’s Kensington Market on September 29, 2014.

Here’s a link to the website where the magazine is available as a digital subscription: http://www.vallummag.com

 

 

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Awesome Authors Anthology: “pot pourri” Launched on October 7

JC attended the launch of the 8th anthology of winning poems and short stories in the Ottawa Public Library’s 19th Awesome Authors Contest.  JC has served as the judge of poetry entries in English for a number of years and in the past has edited the winning poems which appear in the collection. “What a great turnout of young writers, ” JC observed after the event. “In fact, many poets who couldn’t attend the award ceremony in the spring made it to the launch. It was great to see them there.”

“pot pourri,” the 2014 anthology published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library, is available from the OPL at a cost of $12.95. For more information, here’s a link: http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/node/21442

“I consider it a privilege and honour to read the poetry of emerging poets in the 9-11, 12-14 and 14-16 age categories.  Their creativity knows no bounds, so that it’s always a huge challenge to select the winning poems from among such fine entries.”

In January, JC will offer two poetry workshops through the Library in the lead-up to the 2015 Awesome Authors Contest. The dates and times will appear on the OPL events listing and on this website as soon as they are set.

“I encourage all young writers to send in their best poems and short stories. I know that it takes guts to submit work for review by others but that’s the way writers become published authors and poets. What better way to launch a writing career than through the Awesome Authors Contest.”

 

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Cento by A. Garnett Weiss featured by Silver Birch Press

Silver Birch Press has honoured Garnett Weiss by publishing “Had a window” on September 4 in its series of found, free verse poems, based on an interview with a celebrity.

The source from which Weiss extracted words and phrases for the four-stanza piece was Richard Ouzounian’s “The Big Interview: Ryan Reynolds,” which appeared in the Toronto Star on August 23, 2014.

As Weiss explains, “I read the source material, extract phrases or words of interest, then live with them until a sequence emerges and then the poem clicks. I am delighted that “Had a window” has gained a place in the series which this imaginative press is posting through the whole month of September.

Here’s the link to the poem and the series: http://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com

 

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Silver Birch Press Blog features “In the third person”

Silver Birch Press’s focus in August is on self-portrature.  A. Garnett Weiss’s “In the third person” appears on August 9 at: http://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/in-the-third-person-poem-by-a-garnett-weiss-self-portrait-poetry-series/

“It’s grand that Silver Birch Press published this piece, which uses the syllable count and form of the tanka, ” Garnett Weiss notes.  ”The poem examines how the brain is central to our individual human-ness and what vulnerability in the brain brings home to a person.

“The Editor chose an arresting image that complements the poem so well,” Weiss added. Artist Sandra Silberzweig created “The Truth is Reflected.” “Based on this experience, I wish I could involve Silberzweig in creating visuals that would complement my whole poetry collection. ”

The Silver Birch Press series feature two poets/poems per day by contributors from Canada, Australia, Austria, Colombia, India, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

 

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A poem by JC Sulzenko for children accepted by an anthology on food and agriculture

JC is thrilled that her poem, “City Garden, ” will appear in a poetry anthology for children on the theme of food and agriculture.  ”I know the editor has yet to determine the final title for the collection, ” JC notes. “Whatever she chooses, and there have been so many good suggestions, I am confident the anthology will offer children and families something novel.”

The collection will be published in the autumn. Watch this website for information on the book launch and how to order copies.

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Why JC uses a pseudonym

“Why not?” JC suggests. “So many writers have adopted a pseudonym when they explore a different genre from the one by which they are best known. Most recently, J.K. Rowling took on a nom de plume for her first book since the Harry Potter juggernaut. That novel didn’t attract much interest until her lawyer’s firm somehow managed to leak that she had written it. And then… Well, I’m not exactly sure what that shows, since she is the most successful woman writer of our time. However, for the mystery novel which followed that first effort,  she used her own name,  and that book turned out to be a success.

“When I began to write, I was still working  full-time and wanted to differentiate my working life from my writing life. That’s when I began to sign my articles in the media and my poems and books for children as JC Sulzenko.

“What I noticed, though, was that my profile became dominated by the work I do with young, emerging poets and writers. While being typecast as a children’s writer is fine in itself, I wondered if such typecasting might influence how my poems for an adult audience would be received.  It’s at that point I began to use A. Garnett Weiss as my pseudonym for poetry for a general readership.

Poems by Garnett have won a few prizes and appeared in a number of chapbooks and of on-line journals. Recently, one of the poems was shortlisted for Arc’s Poem of the Year 2014.

“I enjoy the double identity,” JC affirms. “Garnett is a daring poet, and I am happy to follow her lead wherever she takes me.”

 

 

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Discussion guide for “What my grandma means to say

Now updated and available FREE

This website now makes available the updated Discussion Guide for teachers, health care professionals and service providers, and volunteers who work with families in which someone is living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. JC offers the Guide free to not-for-profit organizations and individuals to encourage open discussion with children about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Find out more here…

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Open Book Toronto Posts a Fine Review of “What My Grandma Means to Say”

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Here are quotes from another great review of JC’s book for children about Alzheimer’s and the link to the site:
http://www.openbooktoronto.com/news/read_me_what_my_grandma_means_say_jc_sulzenko

“Read To Me, a new series on Open Book, showcases those magical children’s books that kids will ask you to read multiple times, and that you’ll love reading…

THE BOOK: This book, perfect for children in grades 3 and 4, is comprised of characters who share the feelings and questions families face when dealing with the challenges of supporting a loved-one with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

WHY KIDS WILL LOVE IT: The relationship between the boy and his grandma is one many children can relate to. The abundance of anecdotes and descriptive narrative provide ongoing reassurance for young readers. The main character, Jake, uses a conversational tone, creating a connection with the reader and a safe place for information and discussion about a sensitive topic. Children can relate to Jake, which builds trust and the strength to talk about what they’re feeling. The illustrations and the dialogue bring Jake to life, as well as his mother and grandmother, enabling children to reflect on their own experiences and family situations while reading the story.

WHY GROWN UPS WILL LOVE IT: This is an intimate story about what children can experience when their grandparent is living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. What My Grandma Means to Say encourages family discussion about the challenges associated with the care of a loved one. This story takes the reader on a journey with Jake through his experiences with his grandmother. This story concludes with a list of frequently asked questions to provide further information and guidance for readers.

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A Play for children from JC Sulzenko

What my grandma means to say, JC’s one-act play, gives elementary school-aged children and their families the chance to learn in a gentle way about how Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias can affect a person and what they can do to support someone living such a disease.

The setting provided by the play encourages children to ask questions in a safe-feeling environment, removed from the emotion that attaches when such an illness affects someone close to them.

Read More »

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Great Review of “What My Grandma Means to Say” in Fifty-five Plus Magazine

The current issue of Fifty-Five Plus Magazine at newsstands and on-line features a fine and sensitive review of JC Sulzenko’s book for children and families, “What My Grandma Means to Say.” Here is the link to the article:  http://www.fifty-five-plus.com/intentional_grandparenting_-_grandma_and_dementia.

In their column “Intentional Grandparenting, Peggy Edwards and Mary Jane Sterne agree with JC that when a grandparent or relative has dementia, it’s a family affair.

Here are some extracts from the review:

“Since life expectancy is increasing and advanced age is the number one risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, the number of people who have it will grow significantly in the coming years. This means more and more families will face such challenges. Three and sometimes four generations will be involved. Muma’s children who are all in their 60s are struggling with how best to cope, as are her grown-up grandchildren and their children—Muma’s great-grandchildren. Children, parents and grandparents will all benefit from increased understanding and open conversation about what everyone in the family is experiencing when a loved one has dementia.

“The story is in a style that engages children right away. Jake shares his story as he watches his grandma change from awesome traveler, bird watcher, teacher, friend and brownie-baker to someone who can’t cook anymore and does not remember his name or where he lives. He talks about his feelings and frustrations. Jake says:

‘I have a story to tell you. It’s a story with a lot of truth in it. Once you’ve heard it, you can make up your own mind about whether it leaves you a little happy, hopeful or sad—or a mix of all three. That’s up to you.’

“Anyone who has lived with Alzheimer’s disease will relate to all of these feelings. And that is partly why it is so hard to talk about. JC suggests that we use a realistic and inclusive approach when talking with children. ‘Kids are up to it’, she says. ‘They need to know that the disease is not curable and that there are limitations on what they can do. They also need to know that they are welcome to be a part of what happens.’

“JC is encouraging us to open the door and be brave enough to engage in a meaningful way with the children and grandchildren in our lives who are affected by dementia in the family. The book also provides answers to frequently asked questions and a list of sources for further information to assist families and children in learning about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“The book –beautifully illustrated by Ottawa’s Gary Frederick and published by General Store Publishing Houseis available at the public library, local bookstores (I bought five from Mother Tongue Books on Bank Street to give to family members) and online at www.chapters.indigo.ca/ and www.amazon.ca/.”

 

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“What My Grandma Means to Say” plays in Thunder Bay

Professional actors took JC’s play into local elementary schools in March through a project for which the Alzheimer Society of Thunder Bay (ASTB) received an $8000 grant from the Thunder Bay Community Foundation.

JC welcomed the new partnership with ASTB and applauded the Society’s initiative to engage elementary school-aged students in learning together about dementia through “What My Grandma Means to Say.”  ASTB donated a copy of the storybook about Jake and his grandma to each school’s library.

The project includes an art dimension by giving each student the opportunity to contribute a square that will be assembled into a memory quilt, one for each school. Here’s a link to media coverage of the program in Thunder Bay. http://www.tbnewswatch.com/entertainment/196736/Living-with-Alzheimer%27s. Shaw media posted its coverage on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_I-HKvPkuE.

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My Care Journey features “What My Grandma Means to Say”

For family caregivers, there can be no better site than Bart Mindszenthy’s www.mycarejourney.com.
Bart is one of Canada’s leading caregiver advocates and co-author of the best-selling book, “Parenting Your Parents.” The site is very user-friendly and provides family caregivers with a rich source of information and practical strategies to help them manage the challenges they face in caring for someone dear to them.

JC is very pleased that “What My Grandma Means to Say” is now listed among the resource books on this first-class site at http://www.mycarejourney.com/blog/?page_id=1053.

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Talking with Kids about Alzheimer’s: “What My Grandma Means to Say,” a new video.

Here’s a video that shows how to stage “What My Grandma Means to Say” as a play for elementary school-aged students. Performed last October by actors from Prince Edward Collegiate Institute in Picton, Ontario, for 200 students from C.M.L. Snider School in Wellington, Ontario, the play kick-starts discussions to which kids bring their questions, their own perceptions and their experiences about supporting someone who is living with Alzheimer’s. The production was made possible by a community partnership between the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward County, Prince Edward Collegiate Institute and JC Sulzenko and by financial support from The Community Foundation of Ottawa and The Organix Foundation, Montreal. The March issue of Canadian Teacher Magazine profiled the video among news items on page  34. http://www.canadianteachermagazine.com/pdf/CTM-MarApr12.pdf

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“A gem of a story” says City Mom about “What My Grandma means to Say”

Do read City Mom’s review today of JC ‘s storybook. Not only does City Mom call the story “amazing” and “a gem,” she says it spoke to her on “such an intimate level.”

Her own history with grandparents who were living with dementia is “almost identical to Jake’s.” she admits. She wishes that “What My Grandma Means to Say” had been in circulation at that time in her life.

Go to www.citymom.ca/2012/01/grandma-means-helping-kids-understand-alzheimers-disease to read the full review.

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Canadian Dementia Knowledge Translation Network: a featured interview with JC

The Canadian Dementia Knowledge Translation Network (CDKTN) interviewed JC about “What My Grandma Means to Say” and just posted extracts from that discussion on its website (www.LifeandMinds.ca).

JC is delighted that CDKTN recommends “What My Grandma Means to Say.” As LifeandMinds.ca states: “it provides another excellent resource for families.”

JC welcomes that endorsement. “I know that sharing information with researchers, caregivers and policy makers in the Network will bring the focus to children, who are often drawn into the role of caregivers when a family is affected by Alzheimer’s or related dementias.”   That reality is at the heart of  the project which includes a 10-minute play, a discussion guide for teachers, the illustrated storybook about Jake and his grandmother and a video project, for which fundraising is underway.

LifeandMinds.ca is the web publication of the CDKTN.  “Established on March 31, 2008 through a 5-year CIHR grant, the CDKTN is a network for knowledge translation (KT) and exchange (KE) of research in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. In a nutshell, KT is the adaptation of research findings into effective treatments, services, and products. KE is collaborative information sharing and problem solving between researchers, caregivers, and policy makers.” (As described on the Network’s website.)

 

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“What My Grandma Means to Say:”Now Available from General Store Publishing House

JC Sulzenko’s 48-page storybook adaptation of her one-act play about  11 year-old Jake and his grandma, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, is now available from General Store Publishing House (www.gsph.com). You can download an order form and send or fax it to GSPH if you want a copy for you or someone about whom you care.

Illustrated in full colour by Gary Frederick, the book lets young readers, ages 8-12, and their families, share Jake’s experience as he watches his grandma change from world traveller, expert birder and best cookie baker to someone who forgets where she lives and cannot remember his name.  Once Grandma moves to a long-term care residence, Jake becomes her regular Saturday visitor. He develops a routine and knows what to expect when he is with her, until an extraordinary conversation makes him think she is cured. Read More »

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JC’s Op Ed Article on talking with Children about Alzheimer’s disease

Please go to this link at the Hamilton Spectator of January 17, 2011, to read JC’s article, which appeared in papers across Canada, from the Montreal Gazette to the Calgary Herald.
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