Go to Bookends and read JC Sulzenko’s review of journalist, broadcaster, musician and activist Kinew’s 2015 “The Reason You Walk,” written in part as eulogy, in part as catharsis.
Go to Bookends and read JC Sulzenko’s review of journalist, broadcaster, musician and activist Kinew’s 2015 “The Reason You Walk,” written in part as eulogy, in part as catharsis.
California’s Silver Birch Press (SBP) features Garnett’s recent poem in its new Same Name Series. The poem, based upon Garnett as an undergrad bumping into Leonard Cohen at a university library, goes beyond that moment to capture her evolution into a fan. “I am honoured to be included in this innovative series and thank the editor for choosing this poem,” Garnett states.
The post by SBP includes a photo of Garnett around the time of the incident, plus notes on Garnett’s creative process. Here is the link:
On January 22, JC led a great group of enthusiastic and talented young poets in her one-hour poetry workshop in advance of the Ottawa Public Library’s 2016 Awesome Authors Contest deadline, February 15. The annual contest encourages poets ages 9-17 to submit their original poems and short stories in English or French so that they will have the chance to both win prizes and see winning entries published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library in the annual anthology, Pot Pourri.
“Can you run, steer or stumble into writing poems? What makes a poem great?” JC took a vote and everyone agreed that all three ways of getting into a poem can work. She read aloud selected, winning poems from past Awesome Authors contests, plus used hit song titles from this week’s charts, to tackle these questions and others raised by the group. JC’s call to poets 9-17? “Swamp me with your poems! I can hardly wait to read them!”
For information on the contest, go to the Awesome Authors Contest page on OPL website: https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/about/awesome-authors
When Mike asked JC to write a guest post about poetry for his blog in December, she was delighted.
The piece appeared this week at: https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/blogs/guest-post-jc-sulzenko-hits-hints-post-about-poetry.
What way did she choose to give tips about how poetry works? She used song titles of the top singles from the week of November 27-December 3. What tips about writing poetry can song titles offer? “It always surprises me that poetry isn’t considered ‘mainstream,’ when songs are poems with music,” JC laments. “Just listen to Adele’s “Hello” as an example. There’s a hit song, made memorable not only for its compelling melody, but for its words which remind me of a ballad.”
“It’s great that I had the chance to write a post for teens and ‘tweens’ now, because the Ottawa Public Library’s 21st Awesome Authors Contest just opened on December 1.” The deadline for submitting short stories and poems in English or French for young writers aged 9-17 is February 15, 2016. Winning entries will be announced in the spring and be published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library next fall.
“I sure hope students across our city will swamp the judges with fine poems and stories.” JC returns to judge English poetry entries. Governor General Award winner Caroline Pignat will choose winning stories from 13-17 year-old writers, while Catherine Austen will judge stories by 9-12 year-olds. Sylvie Frigon has poems and stories in French as her focus. Entrants must have a valid OPL card.
The OPL is hosting workshops to give young writers a chance to hear from the judges and ask them questions. JC’s poetry workshop for 9-12 year olds takes place at 10:30 AM on a PD day, January 22, 2016, at Beaverbrook Branch. For information on the other workshops, go to the Awesome Authors Contest page on OPL website: https://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/about/awesome-authors.
The past has a habit of not only of catching up but also of having a future.
A few years ago, JC Sulzenko began interviewing people whose choices about what to do and who to be in life interested her. In many cases, she spoke with friends and acquaintances. She also sought out strangers in lines of work she thought could offer possibilities for reflection and subject matter for her poetry.
Her purpose: To assemble up to forty ‘portraits’ as the basis of a volume of poetry which would capture what she learned and from which she could draw out the essence of her subjects through free verse.
She met with more than two-dozen individuals and wrote poems arising from each of these discussions. Several poems appeared in such publications as Maple Tree Literary Supplement and various volumes of The Saving Bannister.
Then, JC admits she allowed the project to be overtaken by other events, including the production of her play and later her book for families about Alzheimer’s disease, “What My Grandma Means to Say.”
That is until Silver Birch Press offered her the chance to have 15 pages of thematically-linked poetry included in its 2015 chapbook anthology, “Ides,” which was released on October 16, 2015.
Published under her pseudonym, A. Garnett Weiss, “Cameos, appearances” features poems informed by the lives of a doctor, a puppeteer, a passenger train engineer, an adjudicator, a jewelry artist, a librarian, a lyricist, a friend, a teacher, a composer, an innkeeper, a chef, a volunteer and a naturalist.
Here’s the link to the excellent video trailer Silver Birch Press produced for “Ides.”
The collection is available from Amazon.com at a cost of $ 15.
JC appeared with Carol A. Stephen to launch their collaborative chapbook, “Breathing Mutable Air” at the pop-up poetry series, Railroad. http://railroad-ottawa.ca. Award-winning poet John Pass previewed poems his new collection of early poems, “Forecast.”
Carol and JC created 17 poems for this chapbook using a variety of structures, for example: in some poems, alternating lines; in others, alternating stanzas. Each poet contributed two of her own poems to the collection. Carol describes the collection this way: “17 poems, 2 poets, 1 voice.”
JC found the experience of writing with Carol enriching. “I found the process to be surprisingly satisfying, at times frustrating, but never dull. We are working on a new chapbook of ekphrastic poems in which each poem arises from a work of art in the National Gallery of Canada’s holdings. ”
Their next chapbook, “Slant of Light,” from which JC read three teasers, is in the final editing phase and uses ekphrastic poems to explore artwork held by the National Gallery of Canada.
GO to Bookends to read JC’s take on Ottawa poet and writer Mark Frutkin’s collection of essays that came out in 2012, and that has a timeless quality to it.
The Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) website now features JC’s “A voice for the turtle,” her protest poem against the construction of 9 plus 27 industrial wind turbines (each 450 feet high) at the the environmentally fragile south shore of Prince Edward County.
“It’s a travesty: the Government of Ontario willingly supports the construction of these huge wind farms which will destroy species at risk, including the Blandings turtle, and cause irreversible and serious harm to migratory birds and the delicate alvar terrain. All in the name of the toxic Green Energy Act which subsidizes with Ontario taxpayer’s $’s the production of electricity that cannot be stored, that Ontario cannot use and therefore sells at a loss to the US. It’s madness,” JC declares.
The poem is part of JC’s Prince Edward County Suite and first appeared as “Spectacle.” Here’s the link:http://www.saveostranderpoint.org/a-voice-for-the-turtle-a-poets-lament-jc-sulzenko/#sthash.7EBRESkU.dpbs
Summer reading: How to be lost in the shade during long, languid days of heat! Try rereading all of Jane Austen’s novels, even the incomplete ones. Go to Bookends to read JC’s mini-review of Austen’s “Emma.”
Today, Silver Birch Press has featured “What’s in my name” by A. Garnett Weiss in its ALL ABOUT MY NAME poetry series.
Here’s the link to the post:
The poem and additional biographical and explanatory notes reveal choices JC has made to govern how she is called and calls herself.
“Yes,” she admits, “I have multiple identities that serve my purposes well, professionally and personally.” I enjoy being whoever I am at the time!
Ottawa’s Small Press Fair tomorrow saw the launch of the first collaborative chapbook by JC Sulzenko and Carol A. Stephen.
Stephen describes “Breathing Mutable Air “in this way: 17 poems, 2 poets and 1 voice. ”
JC admits it is the first time she has partnered with another poet in writing such poetry together. “This has been a rich experience for me. I believe the poems we wrote together carry a distinct identity, unaffected by what we craft when we write as individuals. I enjoyed the challenge so much. It’s no surprise that I look forward to seeing how the next collaborative work, now underway, will unfold.”
The Chapbook, published by BC’s Nose in Book Publishing, costs $10.
JC’s reviews of books she reads use up to the same number of words as Twitter allows characters. Read JC’s views on the latest: Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. “It’s never too late to come to love Jane Austen’s novels,” JC believes.
Silver Birch Press has been running an amazing series with the theme of “Me as a child.” The quality, depth and variety of poems which have appeared to date bring the series into the realm of ‘spellbinding’ reading.
Among the offerings which appear today is Garnett’s “Solo for a princess.” Garnett is honoured to have this poem published in this series. Here’s the link. https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2015/05/23/solo-for-a-princess-by-a-garnett-weiss-me-as-a-child-poetry-series/
Starting today and from time to time, JC will post her views about some of the books she has been reading. Each post will share her candid assessment of the craft and content of books on her reading list. Reviews will be kept to around the same number of words as the characters Twitter allows per Tweet.
“Rather than simply going on to the next book, it’s important for me as a writer to reflect on how what I read stays with me.
“I admit I generally look at reviews only AFTER I finish a book so as to not have such comments predispose me to think about it in a particular way. So I recognize how my reflections may influence other readers to take up a book. Or to avoid it. It’s for that reason I want my thoughts to strike a good balance between honesty and respect.”
JC emphasizes that the views she expresses will be entirely her own. She’ll rate each book on a scale of 1 to 10. JC welcomes feedback on her comments through this website or on Twitter @jcsulzenko.
When no one was looking
It happens in this or maybe that way:
Inside you opens up, vault after vault endlessly.
I am not empty. I am open
and grow milder and wilder than here.
Time streams down from the sun and the moon
with journeys in its claws.
While the sleepless days relieved one another,
I have paid for what I ought to and have receipts for everything
heavier than life.
I know the deep. Where one is both prisoner and guard,
everything living sings, stoops, waves, creeps.
Cento gloss: When no one was looking
Title: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Epigram”
Line 1: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Indoors is Endless”
Line 2: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Romanesque Arches”
Line 3: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Nightingale in Badeluna”
Line 4: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Six Winters”
Line 5: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Vermeer”
Line 6: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Flyers”
Line 7: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “The Longforgotten Captain”
Line 8: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Streets in Shanghai”
Line 9: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Lullaby”
Line 10: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Yellowjacket”
Line 11: Tomas Transtromer/Don Coles translator, “Madrigal”
JC is delighted that her poem, “City Garden, ” appears in a NEW poetry anthology for children eight to twelve years of age, “Dear Tomato,” which was launched in Montreal on Sunday, March 29. “Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems” can be ordered NOW through Amazon.ca. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.ca/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=%22Dear+Tomato%22
“This collection offers children and families something novel, as its subtitle suggests. I am happy that editor Carol-Ann Hoyte included my poem about a rabbit and a pansy flower in the same back yard. It’s one of my favourites!” JC claims.
Here’s what’s said about the anthology on the book’s back cover: “Featuring a wide assortment of styles, from haiku to acrostics to free verse, these poems touch on topics that range from lighthearted to seriously thought-provoking. Whether the focus of the poem is a child’s battle over eating peas or a celebration of fair trade, this collection introduces kids to a fresh, new view of where their food comes from… Throughout the anthology, each entry’s words and ideas are brought to life by Norie Wasserman’s stunning black-and-white photographs…”
And here’s a fine quote from Kenn Nesbitt, US Children’s Poet laureate (2013-2015): “From farm to market, from garden to table, and from fork to mouth “Dear Tomato” serves up a bumper crop of delicious (and healthful!) poems that are sure to leave you hungry for more.”
Further information about the anthology can be found at https://www.createspace.com/4947475
Here’s the link to Garnett’s “Through My Window,” published on March 10 by Silver Birch Press. http://Silverbirchpress.wordpress.com as part of its series entitled “Where I live.”
Garnett is delighted that the editor chose a photograph of the Rideau Canal in winter to complement the poem occasioned by Ottawa, Canada, having the dubious distinction of being the coldest capital in the world on one frigid day in February.
How does a piece of poetry inspire an artist? What does a poet take from a work of art? That process is what lies at the core of the on-line journal, The Light Ekphrastic. Its February issue features two poems by A. Garnett Weiss, linked to two works of art by Isabelle P. Laureta. http://thelightekphrastic.com
“The selection process is ‘blind'”, says Weiss. “That’s its charm. I submitted a few poems to the Editor and heard that my work had been selected and would be forwarded to the artist with whom the editor linked me. In return, I would receive a number of artworks by that artist.
“It was left to each of us to select to which piece we would respond. Neither Isabelle nor I knew what the response would be until we saw the journal published.”
Garnett’s poem, “Woman of Ice, Woman of Glass” inspired Laureto to create the image of a woman that is striking in its use of lush tropical flowers, water, and crystals. In turn, Garnett’s poem “Antigua” riffs off Isabelle’s portrait of a woman floating among Men-of-War jelly fish to address matters of the heart.
“I have never had the opportunity to work with an artist in this reciprocal way before. I’m hooked and look forward to other such collaborations.”
Garnett thanked the editor of The Light Ekphrastic and Isabelle Laureta for the experience.
Allison Woyiwada and Bob McMcMechan’s amazing book, “Allison’s Brain” continues to attract the attention it so well deserves.
See my review through their recent tweet at http://www.allisonsbrain.com/reviews.html.
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.
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
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?
“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 Robertson’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
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
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.
“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.”
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…
Here are quotes from another great review of JC’s book for children about Alzheimer’s and the link to the site:
“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.
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.
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 House—is 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/.”