• 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

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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JC Sulzenko’s Salute to Winning Poems in the Awesome Authors Contest: A Cento Using Their Lines

JC announced at the Awards Ceremony on March 25 that she created a cento using a line or a part of a line from each of the winning poems in Ottawa Public Library’s annual contest for young writers aged 9-17.

“The fine poetry these emerging writers submitted to the contest inspired me to write a cento in their honour, “JC explained to the overflow audience at Ben Franklin Place. The cento form takes single lines or parts of lines from another poet or poets’ work, and without changing the words, rearranges them into an original poem with an original sense and meaning.

Here is the cento, with a key that attributes each line to the poet who wrote it and with the title of the poem from which the line has been extracted. “My salute to these writers is offered in admiration for their talent and dedication to the craft of writing.”

Underneath my grains of sand

There’s a part of me that loves this world so much:
The tree still bears blossoms,
illuminating the new beginning,
where light exists as beauty,
a beacon of childhood memories.

 

Misunderstanding our ways into each other’s lives,
I want to know how we came to be
hollow eyes and missing heart,
whispered words hidden behind fists.

 

My hands were not made to hold yours,
to go where you want to go.

 

I can reach out,
help you pick up your pieces.
Completely your choice.

 

In a few years, this will all be gone.
Maybe we exist to be an extra in someone else’s life story
just glided through like I was biting into a cloud.

 

JC Sulzenko

            Cento Gloss: Underneath my grains of sand
            Title: Fiona Christine McCallum, “New Brunswick”
            Line 1: Kayla Rain, “Gina thinks we are forever”
            Line 2: Erin Jackson, “After the lightning”
            Line 3:  Lia Codrington, “Starting Fresh”
            Line 4: Kaitlyn Chen, “The Dreams”
            Line 5: Mackenzie Huggins, “ Walk in the Woods”
            Line 6: Kathleen McCulloch-Cop, “After I fell for you”
            Line 7: Bastien MacLean-Valenzuela, “I am”
            Line 8: Isabella Crysler, “The Girl Behind the Sunglasses”
            Line 9: Madeline Cuillerier, “The Girl in the Mirror”
            Line 10: Sarah McNeely, “My body”
            Line 11: Julia Dolansky-Overland, “But-But-But”
            Line 12: Irelynd Tackabury, “I am a thirteen year-old girl”
            Line 13: Wayquay Rombough, “Bigger Person”
            Line 14: Kate Gragg, “The Haiku”
            Line 15: Belinda Xu, “Flames to embers”
            Line 16: Kate Yeadon, “Explanations”
            Line 17: Sasha Hopkins, “The Giant Cookie. To: Lucy”

Lines or parts of lines taken from 18 winning English language poems by poets
9-17 years-old in the Ottawa Public Library’s 2014 Awesome Authors Contest

 

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JC Sulzenko, Writing as A. Garnett Weiss, Receives First Prize in The Saving Bannister Contest

Judge Gregory Betts awarded prizes to three of JC’s poems in this Contest sponsored by the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association. “I am honoured and delighted that my centos enjoy such prominence in The Saving Bannister Anthology which the CAA launched over Thanksgiving weekend,” JC said. “I thank Gregory Betts for giving “Nothing is eternal. Not even the trees” First Prize and Honourable Mentions to “Against a guttering candle, written dreams” and “psyche.”

In his remarks that preface this year’s anthology, here is what Professor Betts said about the prize-winning poem:
“The winner is a cento. Now the cento is an ancient form, most famously used by the early Christians to produce versions of epic Greek poetry that didn’t contradict the tenets of their faith. The cento is a form that allows writers to look back on previous writing they admire and highlight precisely what they liked about their predecessors. “Nothing is eternal. Not even the trees” uses the cento in a remarkable way, turning back to Canadian lyric poetry of old and discovering a unified voice across the work of nine different mid-century Canadian poets. I don’t know if you know about Canadian poets, but they are a famously fractious bunch. They tend to disagree on weather that is good. This poem captures a shared note and tone of yearning for greater unity: form and content married in the uncovering of something new. It would take an essayist half a book to describe what this poem instantly captures in a handful of lines.”

JC approaches centos as though they were jigsaw puzzles. Lines written by poets from the last century and this one which speak to her in some way provide rich material from which JC crafts her own piece. “I am so encouraged by the response to these poems that I am now working toward a full collection of centos.”

JC uses the pseudonym A. Garnett Weiss when she writes poetry for adult readers. “Because so much of my published prose and poetry reach out to young people and families, I took on the pseudonym to distinguish what I write for a more general audience. Weiss already has been published in the Maple Tree Literary Supplement, for example.”

For more information on The Saving Bannister Anthology, please go to:http://canauthorsniagara.org/poetry-contest/. Copies of the anthology are avialable from The Canadian Authors Association Niagara Branch c/o 70 Champlain Avenue, Welland ON L3C 2L7 at $15 per copy, plus $3 for shipping/handling.

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New poetry from JC

JC has decided to post new poems that appeal to her to the line-a-day blog on this website. “I’ve worked on a number of writing projects over the summer months and have decided to share some poetry arising from this period of productivity from time to time.”

Starting today, Septembr 27, have a look at “Flight Immortal” which will be released line-by-line. This activity does not bring back the line-a-day project which JC undertook over more than two years and which came to an end once she felt posting a new line a day had become more of chore than a pleasure.

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JC Supports Efforts to Save the South Shore of Prince Edward County from Industrial Wind Turbine Farms

With her poem, “Spectacle” JC supports the fine work of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (see the poem at http://www.saveostranderpoint.org/spectacle-a-poem-by-jc-sulzenko/) in the organization’s appeal against the Environmental Review Tribunal’s dismissal of arguments concerning the impacts on the delicate alvar environment and on bird populations in the internationally designated Important Bird Area as a result of a project to site industrial wind turbines at Ostrander Point. The ERT did revoke the Government of Ontario’s permission for the 9-turbine project to proceed on the grounds that such a project would cause serious and irreversible harm to the Blandings turtle, already a species at risk.
Each turbine would be 3 times the height of the Peace Tower.
“This project and like projects in South Marysburgh make zero sense.” JC urges Ontarians to check out the PECFN website and the website of the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County to find out the facts and how to support the citizen-based movement to site turbines elsewhere, where they will not harm people, the environment and species at risk.

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Listen Up! Ottawa: A triumph for The Gryphon Trio, Andrew Staniland, Maestro Rob Kapilow, Featherston Drive Public School Students, the Ottawa Children’s Choir at “Featherston Days” Performance on May 29, 2013

Wow!

That’s what JC had to say after the May 29 performance, under the baton of Rob Kapilow, who conducted the Gryphon Trio, students from Featherston Drive Public School and choirs under the direction of Jackie Hawley in the premiere of “Featherston Days,” an original suite arranged and composed by Andrew Staniland, based on music and poetry written by Grade 7 and 8 students at the school. JC was thrilled to have served this Listen Up! Ottawa project as poet-mentor.Go to the Ottawa Chambre Music Society Website for information on Listen Up! Ottawa.

“These young poets and composers show such promise. It has been wonderful to be associated with The Gryphon Trio’s project and with the school. The performance on May 29 provided a unique musical and literary opportunity to Ottawa audiences which revelled in these students’ creativity,” JC declared .

For her part in Listen Up! Ottawa at Featherston Drive Public School, JC spent many hours with participating classes and their teachers. She led a number of interactive workshops with each of the three classes involved, which focussed on building poetry-writing skills. She also offered individual coaching to students who wished to discuss their poems with her directly. Once all the poems were written, JC reviewed them and forwarded the students’ work to composer Andrew Staniland, who selected the poetry that would be incorporated into “Featherston Days.”

“I am hoping that Listen Up! Ottawa will publish a commemorative book on this project at Featherston Drive Public School. I look forward to seeing “Featherston Days” in print and salute The Gryphon Trio for enriching the project by adding this print dimension this year!”

In the autumn of 2012, the media advisory issued by the Chamber Music Society described Listen Up! Ottawa this way

“The initiative features Canadian composer Andrew Staniland and Ottawa poet JC Sulzenko, who will guide Featherston’s Grade 7 and 8 students in an intensive three-day creative writing and composition workshop. The three members of the Gryphon Trio (Roman Borys, cello; Annalee Patipatanakoon, violin; and Jamie Parker, piano) and percussionist David Schotzko will also be on hand to provide direction and inspiration.

“After the workshop is complete, Staniland will use the students’ collected ideas in a new musical arrangement, which the students themselves will perform on May 29, 2013 at Dominion-Chalmers United Church with the Gryphon Trio, the Cantiamo Girls Choir of Ottawa, the Ottawa Children’s Chorus, and members of Ottawa-based Leading Note Foundation’s Orkidstra. American composer and music commentator, Rob Kapilow, conducts.

“Listen Up! involves entire communities in a collaborative arts creation process. It teaches children to actively listen to music by engaging them in learning activities that combine music creation with poetry writing, music improvisation, movement, staging, and video creation. The program also offers parents the opportunity to re-engage with the arts, and it encourages local businesses and associations to support community arts initiatives.

“The Ottawa Chamber Music Society, whose mandate includes community outreach and arts education, is a funding partner and community host presenter of Listen Up! Ottawa. The Society will provide promotional, box office, front-of-house, and production support to the May 29 concert at Dominion-Chalmers.”

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Vaunted by the Past!

It’s not often that a request comes along to share insight into what you did when you began your career. In fact, that era, now surprisingly many years ago, seemed to JC to be part almost of another lifetime.
JC worked for more than thirty years in the Government of Canada. When she retired early, she embraced the writing life 100% and rarely looked back.
An email from Ed Conroy, founder of Retrontario (www.retrontario.com), brought her back to the past and to one truly creative accomplishment from those early days about which she still talks enthusiastically.
Here’s the link to the story which resurrects TV public service announcements in the 1970′s that featured aliens from outer space (puppets Binkley and Doinkel) as part of a program to teach children about hazardous product symbols on labels of household products so that they would not be tempted to play with such materials. Many adults who were children then still remember seeing the ads and the puppet shows in playgrounds and schools and learning of such dangers from them.
http://blog.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/blog/posts/rooks-of-hazard-the-true-adventures-of-binkley-and-doinkel/
JC continues to take delight in knowing that Binkley and Doinkel’s exploits were not in vain!

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JC’s Poetry Blog Evolves

The Line-a-day poem blog began on this site one October as an experiment in disciplining JC to write and post each day. It continued through two Octobers in this mode, until February, 2013. At which point, JC gave herself permission to write and post, not necessarily on a daily basis, but rather when lines come to her. In such a way, she also frees herself to pursue new and enticing directions in her work.

When she does post, JC will only add one line at a time and will retain the tanka form for the posts, as she interprets it. In such a way, the poetry blog project will still carry its given ‘name,’ at least for now.

JC welcomes your feedback on either the process or on the evolution of her writing.

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November 24: “Welcome Winter” Returns to Ottawa for the Fifth and Last Time

The annual reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” written by Dylan Thomas, returns to Glebe-St.James United Church in Ottawa. The hour-long performance features Rob Clipperton as the storyteller, with seasonal music from Robert Palmai,organ, Maria Woyiwada, soprano, Vocum 9Canterbury High School) and the Canterbury Trebles.

“This is the fifth time I have produced the program which heralds the holiday season in the best possible way,” JC explained. “In the first four years, Allison Woyiwada, retired music teacher extraordinaire and former Music Director of the Savoy Society of Ottawa, joined me as co-producer and also directed the show. Since Allison is recovering from brain surgery, she won’t be behind the scenes this year but hopefully will be in the audience. To honour her, the net proceeds from “Welcome Winter” will be donated to the Ottawa Hospital’s Acquired Brain Injury Rehabilitation program.

“We’ve raised thousands of dollars over the years for local not-for-profit organizations including Reach Canada, The Ottawa Food Bank, and dementia programs at The Glebe Centre.

“The program has benefitted year after year from the amazing support of Glebe-St.James United Church and from the talents of Rob Clipperton and the musicians and singers who have graced the stage and volunteered their time. I think, with this performance the cycle of our collective commitment will be complete. Perhaps another local group will decide to present “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and continue to delight Ottawa audiences with its rich language and its magical capture of a boy’s winter holidays in a small town and now long ago.”

The one-hour event takes place at the church at 650 Lyon St. South on Saturday, November 24 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets can be purchased from: Compact Music stores, the church and at the door. $15 for adults; children 10-12 enter free (donations will be appreciated.) The show is best suited to children aged 9 and up. For further information: bluepoodlebooks@hotmail.com

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October 1: the Second Anniversary of JC’s Poetry Blog

What does it take to write a line of poetry a day? Should be an easy task, or so JC thought when she started the line-a-day poetry blog on this website on October 1, 2010.

“I first had intended to write a line each day that would capture the core experience of that particular 24-hour period, much as a diarist would do but in a far more concentrated and focussed fashion. That is not what happened, though. Rather, what suggested itself to me were experiences that could best be captured in the form of Haiku.

“I didn’t resist. As I became more engaged in the process, I realized that the Tanka structure would give me more scope and so continued for most of the two years using the discipline of that verse form.

“What has evolved surprised me. Some stanzas stand alone. Others link to each other by virtue of subject matter or repeated words or phrases.

“What has compelled me to continue for a third year? The discipline of writing such verses so that a line appears each day is the only writing ‘routine’ I have established successfully. I am not ready to give it up. When I read back over the last year’s verses i appreciate how they reflect what influenced my every day. That’s still a novel experience for me.”

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For Alzheimer’s Action Day, Sept. 21, 2012: Launch of E-book of “What My Grandma Means to Say”

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, with September 21 designated as Alzheimer’s Action Day.

To mark the day and the month that increase awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia, General Store Publishing House (www.gsph.com) launched the e-book of “What My Grandma Means to Say,” JC Sulzenko’s storybook for children in grades 3 – 6 and families, in which someone is living with Alzheimer’s.

“The timing is deliberate,”says JC. “By making the storybook available in a form that is accessible across Canada and world-wide, I hope that families affected by Alzheimer’s disease use the story of Jake and his grandma to launch a positive discussion with their children about dementia. Rather than avoiding conversations about challenges such diseases bring to the lives of families and the children in them, I encourage families to take the big step: use “What My Grandma Means to Say” to build understanding and strategies that support the person living with the disease and each other.

“Children often are drawn into the role of caregivers. They need the chance to find their place in the life of their family as relationships change with the progress of the disease.”

The e-book, which can be ordered through Kindle, Kobo, Sony, Barnes and Noble, as well as independent e-book retailers, completes the cycle which began in 2009 with JC’s ten-minute, one act play for children “What my grandma means to say.” The play’s script is contained in the Discussion Guide for teachers, now available in downloadable format FREE from this website, along with FAQS, sources of further information, activities for the classroom and home and a bibliography. A performance of the play by high school students can be screened on this website, as well.

“I still believe the experience of reading “What My Grandma Means to Say” is most effective when family members hold the actual storybook in their hands. Sitting together, feeling the book in their hands, brings them closer as they, through the story, learn about Alzheimer’s and what they can and cannot hope for as they deal with how the disease affects the life of someone about whom they care.

“I’m a realist, though: the e-book has the potential to many more families in such situations than a hard copy of the book. I am thrilled with the way General Store Publishing House adapted the original book for e-readers. I hope families and children benefit from “What My Grandma Means to Say” wherever they are and whenever they find themselves in such a situation.”

The 48-page storybook, first published in 2010 and illustrated by Gary Frederick, is available from General Store Publishing House (1 800-465 6072) www.gsph.com at a retail cost of $12.95. The book includes answers to frequently asked questions and lists sources of further information.

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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”

Home

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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On this Website Soon: the updated Discussion Guide for “What My Grandma Means to Say,” the Play

Within the next weeks, the Discussion Guide for teachers and community leaders, which complements JC’s play for children about Alzheimer’s disease, will be available in downloadable PDF form from this website.

“This updated version will be user-friendly and interactive with direct links to organizations and sources  that can be helpful to families, teachers and healthcare workers,” JC notes.

The Discussion Guide contains the script of the one-act, ten-minute play, along with information on how to stage it and how to lead a discussion based upon “What My Grandma Means to Say.” Answers to FAQs, helpful websites and books, as well as suggested activities for the classroom, at home and during visits with someone who is living with Alzheimer’s disease also can be found in the Guide.

“Once the Guide is available on-line, I hope that more people who are facing the challenges posed by Alzheimer’s in the family will be able to make use of such information, ” JC noted.

The e-book of the storybook published by General Store Publishing House will follow by the autumn. Remaining hard copies of the book are still available from the publisher (www.gsph.com)and from Chapters/Indigo and Amazon Canada.

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An Excellent Review for “What My Grandma Means to Say”

JC’s storybook for children and their families about dementia was just reviewed on-line by Together Magazine at www.togetherfamily.ca/news/what-my-grandma-means-to-say-by-jc-sulzenko/.

The review states that this book for 8-12 year olds and their families provides “the perfect way of exploring this dramatic change to a family as it follows twelve-year-old Jake through the discovery of his grandma’s recent disease….” Here are other quotes from the review.

“JC Sulzenko portrays a brilliant point of view on an issue so common that Sulzenko says that an estimated one in eleven Canadians over sixty-five will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia. This and many other facts are provided in the back pages of her book under a FAQ section about Alzheimer’s.

“The story is comprehensive and a lesson to anyone who may have to deal with any similar situations. What My Grandma Means To Say is good for any parent who isn’t quite sure how to explain the changes that are about to come.”

Copies of the book are still available from General Store Publishing House and on-line through Chapters/Indigo and Amazon.ca. An ebook of “What My Grandma Means to Say” will be published this summer.

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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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