• 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

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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At the end of the longest day, 2014

Sunset: Still waters

reflect the colour spectrum.

Later, fireflies.

 

 

A. Garnett Weiss

 

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A. Garnett Weiss Releases Cento for Bloomsday, June 16, 2014

On parade

When we sallied forth, it was blue o’clock in the morning

after the night before.

 

The Malahide Road was quiet,

immortal wheat standing from everlasting to everlasting.

 

Clatter of horsehoofs sounded from the air

where fallen archangels flung the stars,

 

bronze by gold. Just a flash like that,

a crumpled throwaway, Elijah is coming.

 

With ratsteeth bared, he muttered

“Their last hour came like a thief in the night,

 

worth double the money, the stars and the moon,

and comets with long tails.”

 

 

I tackled him this morning on belief

and the whole jingbang lot.

 

“What’s the best news?

Who could know the truth?”

 

“But wait till I tell you,” he said.
“Wait a while. Hold hard

 

the act of a hero,” he said.

“Who has passed here before me?”

 

His eyes looked quickly, ghost bright.

“All I want is a little time,”

 

smiled with unseen coldness.

“Shatter me you who can!”

 

He walked by the treeshade of sunnywinking trees,

where pigeons roocoocooed,

 

stood still in midstreet and brought his hat low.

The castle car wheeled empty into upper Exchange St.,

 

the most historic spot in all Dublin

swallowed by a closing door.

 

This Cento uses phrases  taken unaltered from Chapter 10 of James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” pages 210-244, 1922 text, Oxford University Press

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June 16: A. Garnett Weiss embraces BLOOMSDAY with a Cento drawn from James Joyce’s “Ulysses”

On parade, Garnett’s new cento draws on phrases taken directly from Chapter 10 of James Joycc’s Ulysses. Why this poem for that day?

“Bloomsday celebrates Thursday 16 June 1904 as that day is depicted in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. The novel follows the life and thoughts of Leopold Bloom and a host of other characters – real and fictional – from 8 AM on 16 June 1904 through to the early hours of the following morning.” Quoted from the site of The James Joyce Centre Dublin @ jamesjoyce.ie/

“I couldn’t resist using phrases without changing a word to create this new work, ” Garnett comments. “What came to me from Joyce’s words was the parading that goes on in Chapter or Episode 10 which I combined with the coming of Elijah. In my case, I took that as the coming of the prophet, where Joyce chose to give a man-made object the name.”

Garnett seeks feedback on this abstract. What do you think?

 

 

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Two rejections in one day; an opportunity not to be missed

It’s not often JC receives two rejection emails in one day. That double whammy coloured sunny Sunday a little bit, JC admits. As she says, if you send your work out, you should be hopeful. But, at the same time, it’s important to remember that what one reader or editor appreciates, another may not.

JC has spent the last couple of months focussing on her collection of centos,  which use lines from other poets’ work and combine them to create a poem that is new in form and meaning.

“This collection reflects my love of the form and the process, ” JC explains.  ”I read books written by individual poets or anthologies which capture the work of many different poets. From such sources, I extract lines that affect me in some fashion. Often I choose words which I wish I had written!

“From there, I live with the lines for a while: a week, a day, a month… And I wait for a sequence, a story, a poem to emerge. Letting other poets’ words guide me to something unexpected feels like an adventure!”

The Found Poetry Review’s “In Bloom” project, in which one poet’s found poem per chapter or episode of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” would be published on June 16 attracted JC’s attention. She wrote a cento which uses key phrases lifted directly from Joyce’s narrative and links them to the coming of the prophet Elijah, also suggested by what is contained in Joyce’s 1922 text.

For June 16, JC will release the new cento, “On Parade,” on this website. Watch for it.

 

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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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Five-Star Review of “What My Grandma Means to Say” on About.Com

JC welcomed a five-star review by Susan Adcox on About.Com.
Here are some excerpts from the review which can be found at http://grandparents.about.com/od/bookswithgrandparents/fr/What-My-Grandma-Means-To-Say.htm:

“Although children can’t have Alzheimer’s, millions of children suffer from it, as they watch beloved grandparents descend into dementia. Other family members may struggle to explain what is happening. Help is at hand with this book, which tells the story of Jake, his mom and his grandmother, who sometimes needs Jake to explain What My Grandma Means to Say.

“Written by Canadian author JC  Sulzenko and published by General Store Publishing House, the book is a high-quality paperback. Not exactly a chapter book, it is divided into readable chunks. A dozen or so illustrations by Gary Frederick add charm.

“It wouldn’t be accurate to say that this is the first book for children with Alzheimer’s in their family… What sets this book apart is the voice of the narrator, a voice which author Sulzenko said pushed her out of the way when she began writing the play. In addition, few books for children have factual material of the breadth of that which Sulzenko includes.

“Just so that you won’t be caught unawares, the informative nature of What My Grandma Means to Say does not negate its emotional wallop. It’s a rare reader who won’t shed a few tears before the final page.”

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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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Verses just published in Florida: JC’s Poem Targets Industrial Wind Farms’ Threat to Species at Risk in Ontario

The May 11 issue of The Island Sun, the weeklypaper on Sanibel Island, Florida, carries verses from JC’s Line-a-Day poem at www.jcsulzenko.com (for mature readers). Using the tanka form, JC’s observations in “Spectacle” begin with watching a fox at the shore. The focus then moves to the destruction of sensitive habitats and species at risk, particularly birds such as the Whip-Poor-Will and Loggerhead Shrike, posed by plans to site almost 40 wind turbines, each up to 400 feet high, in an area which carries the international designation as an Important Birding Area (IBA.) Read these verses in Don Brown’s Poetic Voices column on page 38 at: www.islandsunnews.com/Read_the_Island_Sun.pdf.

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Open Book Ontario Feature Interview with JC Sulzenko

JC’s engaging interview with Open Book Ontario appears at www.openbookontario.com. The interview offers insights  into JC’s writing process, with a focus on her play, “What My Grandma Means to Say” and how the book adaptation evolved from it to create the back story for Jake as Alzheimer’s changes relationships within his family. The interview also reveals some of the writing strategies JC uses in leading workshops for emerging writers of all ages. Thanks to Open Book Ontario for profiling JC and her work this way.

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Capital Parent profiles “What My Grandma Means to Say,” the video

In the March/April issue of Capital Parent Newspaper appears a great feature on the YouTube video of the pilot performance of “What My Grandma Means to Say.” The paper is available free at Ottawa-area newsstands and also can be read on-line at  http://server14a.pressmart.net/capitalparent/index.aspx Go to page 6 to read about the play.

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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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Line-a-day Poetry Project Extended for Another Year

The Line-a-day Poetry Project began in October 2010, on this site under the “for Mature Readers” tab. JC imagined the challenge as an opportunity to distill into one line some element from her daily experience.  It was both surprising and not to her that the project took a different road than she had foreseen. Instead of lines of free verse linked to one another, at least in chronology if in no other way, stanzas emerged. First haiku; then tanka forms dominated. JC often used the repetition of a word or related subject matter from one stanza to another to enable the flow of her ideas.

While, JC admits she  found herself impatient, at times, for this commitment to write for a year to end, the anniversary date passed without her notice. When she realized the year was over, instead of sighing with relief, she felt regret. So she has decided to continue the process for another year without any preconceived notion of whether the lines will follow the pattern set to date or not.

JC welcomes comments on the Line-a-day Project on this site.

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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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