Category Archives: Archive

Older, time sensitive posts

A. Garnett Weiss cento on display in the online exhibition “The Art of Conversation”

Here’s the link to the art show which launched today on Facebook. Once there, please click ‘discussion’ to access the works of art and commentary.
https://www.facebook.com/events/435477617556915

JC is one of 15 artists and writers contributing to this virtual show. The project, sponsored by the Prince Edward County Arts Council and the Community Care for Seniors Association, paired each participating artist with a local senior and encouraged them to hold up to five conversations. From that shared experience, the artists and writers produced a work drawing on what they learned about and from each other.

“Our telephone conversations took us to Waupoos Island, where my almost 100 year-old partner was born, and around the County as we talked about ancestors and landscape, family and friends, food and history.

“It was a delight to meet Catherine, even if only over the phone, and to find out how we shared a love of poetry and particularly the words of Al Purdy. Together, we read “In search of Owen Roblin” aloud and from that exchange came my cento, in honour of Al and of Catherine.”

Writing as A. Garnett Weiss, the pseudonym JC uses when she writes centos and found poetry, JC chose lines from Purdy’s long poem for her cento, “I am a screen through which the world passes.” JC thanked Martin Soldat for his advice about arraying the poem.

“My part in this innovative program connecting people during the pandemic brought me great joy. I am grateful to the organizers for giving me this unique opportunity.”

The show runs for two weeks. Please offer comments on the FB post about what you read and see.

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Poetry Quarter in the Glebe Report in time for Valentine’s Day

Poetry Quarter (PQ) in the January/February Glebe Report published today features poems by eight local poets on the theme of “It Could Happen to You.”

Here’s the link to the paper
https://www.glebereport.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/GR_Jan_February-12-2021_WEB.pdf

Scroll to page 24 for the poems JC selected for this issue and to see the submission call for the next PQ. The theme for May is tied to the sense of Spring–what it feels like: deliverance, relief, asylum and safety or the opposite. The deadline is April 26.

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HAPPY 2021 to all — Read JC’s “Boxing day colours”

BOXING DAY COLOURS

Three black pigeons found solace

in the too-warm puddles

They alone had not dreamt of a white Christmas

Did not regret the grim, gray slush

that bequeathed lines of salt to new leather boots

still stiff from packages, now crushed and

stuffed along with blue reindeer wrapping

and rivers of silver ribbon

into bulging green garbage bags

at the curb

of a new year

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JC’s poem “Ode to a wine-lover’s friend” featured in Silver Birch Press series PRIME MOVERS

This new, online series from California-based Silver Birch Press gave JC the opportunity to write about someone she met in the context of restrictions imposed by the pandemic who is, in his unique way, a prime mover among ‘front line’ workers. She is grateful to SBP for favouring her work with publication.

Embarrassed about the boxes of wine bottles accumulated while recycling options were unavailable, JC learned about David and his family’s novel approach to raising funds for his favourite charities.They come to the house, take away the bottles, and donate the proceeds from the returns. David’s mother, enthusiastic and warmhearted, shared his story and championed her son’s services, with emphasis on his abilities and commitment.

In “Ode to a wine-lover’s friend” JC captured the moment of their meeting and this young man’s positive disposition. She hopes David and his family will welcome the tribute.

Here is a link to the poem to cut and paste into your browser:
https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2020/09/06/ode-to-a-wine-lovers-friend-by-jc-sulzenko-prime-movers-series/

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Poetry Quarter: November, Besting the Bard and poems for January, 2021

JC curates Poetry Quarter (PQ), a regular feature in the community newspaper, The Glebe Report.

The November issues features work related to the works of William Shakespeare. “We received surprising and worthwhile riffs off Shakespeare bound to offset mid-November doldrums. To read the poems, please put this link into your browser. Go to https://www.glebereport.ca/poetry-quarter-16/

For the next PQ challenge, with a submission deadline of January 15, 2l21, here’s what the The Glebe Report seeks:

Roses are red, violets are blue” –- an over-used line to be sure, but we use it to launch our theme for February’s Poetry Quarter: It could happen to you!

Send us your poems on the theme of love to illuminate the long winter nights around Valentine’s Day.
Bring light, passion and joy – or their opposite forces – to bear on words you choose to share in poetic form about your loves, your hates and your in-betweens.

Local poets: Come one, come all!

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An anthem by JC Celebrates Canada Day, 2020

Anthem

The Mountie sings “O Canada”—
a fine baritone in scarlet.
Odd how his stiff, brown hat stays put.

I strain to hear the others. Their singing jumbles
off high glass planes, transparent walls.
I make out “Des plus brilliants,

God keep,
Glorious and free.”
I hear my voice, small in the great room

“O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.”
I will the words to be true,
fear we are not up to it.

Many don’t vote,
squander their choices, our democracy.
Grumble at leaders in power almost by default.

Our fault, really.
Centred in little lives, blind to our need
to protect our Canada — beautiful, fragile.

We ought to know better, to know
what to do for our country every day
and in times of flood, plague, war and fire.

Could someone tell us how
or should we go out there, start somewhere,
work not only for ourselves

but for our Canada.
A half hour a day spent by
each of the 37+ million of us

(minus the sick, the too-young)
would sure buy a lot
of standing on guard.

JC Sulzenko
(CBC radio broadcast an early version of this poem )

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“The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner — JC’s new Bookends mini review

JC, a Jane Austen devotee, just finished this Oakville author’s 2020 novel. JC gives it an 8.5/10 rating. Go to Bookends to see the review.

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Eva Holland’s “Nerve, A Personal Journey Through the Science of Fear”–JC’s Review

The June 12 Glebe Report carries JC’s review of this memoire by Whitehorse-based author Eva Holland. ALLEN LANE, an imprint of Penguin Canada published “Nerve” in May.

The review admits upfront that JC has known the writer since she was a child and has watched her career with an interest that is both a professional and personal.

If JC had reviewed the book on this site for her “Bookends” feature, what rating would JC have given “Nerve?” 9/10!

Here’s the link to the paper. The article appears on page 22.
https://www.glebereport.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/GR-June-2020_web.pdf

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SILVER BIRCH PRESS FEATURES JC’S POEM, “DEADBOLT” IN THE ‘MY FRONT DOOR’ SERIES

Right after Editor Melanie Villines ended this California press’s hiatus, JC welcomed the opportunity to contribute her poem “Deadbolt” to its new, online series.

“The Editor’s choice of ’my front door’ for the current series’ theme strikes me as inspired and evocative. During the pandemic, what happens inside or outside open or closed doors, whether metaphorical or physical, offers poets such scope to explore experiences real or imagined,” JC commented.

Silver Birch Press has published JC’s poems in a number of its anthologies and in various online series. She is the only Canadian whose work appears in its 2015 chapbook anthology, IDES.

Here is the link to “Deadbolt” to cut and paste into your browser:

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/deadbolt-by-jc-sulzenko-my-front-door-series/

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HAPPY 2020 to all–Boxing day colours republished

BOXING DAY COLOURS

Three black pigeons found solace

in the too-warm puddles

They alone had not dreamt of a white Christmas

Did not regret the grim, gray slush

that bequeathed lines of salt to new leather boots

still stiff from packages, now crushed and

stuffed along with blue reindeer wrapping

and rivers of silver ribbon

into bulging green garbage bags

at the curb

of a new year

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Ottawa’s Sawdust Reading Series launched “Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology” from Mansfield Press Nov. 21

JC’s poem “Right Here” was chosen by editors Meaghan Strimas and the late Priscila Uppal for this anthology, which was launched by Mansfield Press in Toronto on November 8, 2018 and in Ottawa at the Sawdust Reading Series on November 21.

Written to capture the hopefulness of her mother’s friend, this 5-stanza poem exists in a rich collection that takes cancer on with no holds barred. Not for the faint of heart, these offerings have a life and soul-affirming quality that is surprising.

JC is honoured to have her work appear in “Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology,” which features poetry from well-known and emerging poets.

 

 

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Deadline: October 31 for PEPtBO Poetry Contest submissions from adults and students

Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory’s (PEPtBO’s) poetry contest, “For the Birds” closes at on Halloween at midnight.

Prince Edward County poets and visitors are welcome to enter poems in some way related to birds and birdlife on October 31st.

In January, PEPtBO plans to publish a chapbook of winning poems with photographs taken by local enthusiasts on its website and will celebrate the chapbook launch with prizes for the top poem in each age category (9-16) and adult.

As JC Sulzenko, who serves as contest judge and chapbook editor, explains: “It’s a great way to ring in 2019 by focusing on birds and nature with poems rooted in Prince Edward County.” For full contest details, go to http://peptbo.ca/poetry-contest.php

PEPtBO monitors and reports on bird migration along Prince Edward County’s unique South Shore and acts as official caretaker of the internationally-designated IBA (Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.)

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Submission deadline today, Oct. 19, for poems on the theme of a pivotal moment for “Poetry Quarter” in the GLEBE REPORT

What’s the theme for poems for the November “Poetry Quarter” with a deadline of midnight, October 19, 2018?

“The pivotal. The gamechanger.

“To turn on a pivot, to ricochet off in a new direction, to live a pivotal moment that changes everything.”

Or does it?

Open to poets in the NCR who write in English. Go to www.glebe report.ca for submission guidelines.

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JC curates August “Poetry Quarter” in The Glebe Report; next submission call

The August “Poetry Quarter” in The Glebe Report released on August 17 features eight poets with unique ‘takes’ on the theme of water. The submission call referred to water as critical to sustaining life and as one of the ancient Greeks’ four elements that make up the world.Up 60% of the human body consists of water.

“Such a long, hot, humid summer made this theme a fine choice for August,” curator JC Sulzenko explained. “I can’t resist saying we received poems that covered the ‘waterfront!’

“We welcomed submissions from well-known local poets, such as Michelle Desbarats and Carol A. Stephen, from poets new to “Poetry Quarter,” and from contributors whose work we have published on other occasions.”

Print copies of the paper are available throughout the Glebe. Here’s the link to the online page to paste into your browser:    http://www.glebereport.ca/2018/08/poetry-quarter-7/

What’s the theme for poems for the November “Poetry Quarter” with a deadline of midnight, October 19, 2018.

The pivotal. The gamechanger.

“To turn on a pivot, to ricochet off in a new direction, to live a pivotal moment that changes everything.

“There’s no turning back. Or is there?”

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JC to appear on 99.3 County FM, Friday July 13 at 12:30 with Vanessa Pandos

To preview the opening of County CollAboRaTive, arts commentator Vanessa Pandos interviews JC and artist Richard Leach who designed the chapbook that captures this 25th Anniversary ekphrastic project for the Prince Edward County Studio Tour.

On Friday July 13, tune in at 12: 30 PM to 99.3 FM or listen live on the device of your choice.

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Sunday, July 8 interview with JC about “What My Grandma Means to Say” on 99.3 County FM

Lynn Pickering’s Sunday July 8 program, The County Writes/The County Reads, featured a 20-minute interview on how and why JC came to write the play “What My Grandma Means to Say” and then the book for children/families about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The program aired on 99.3 County FM after the noon news.

This website has information on the tools designed to give children the opportunity to learn about Alzheimer’s and what strategies they and their families can develop when dementia affects someone in their circle.

The website also gives free access to a video of the play performed by PECI students for elementary schools in Prince Edward County in 2010 as part of the educational outreach programs of the then Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward County. The Discussion Guide, also available free on this website, contains the play’s script. JC is updating its Q’s and A’s and welcomes the assistance of the Alzheimer Society of Hastings-Prince Edward in this review.

 

 

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JC’s new piece for Mother’s Day, 2018

We lose our mothers

Not on street corners

or in parks or grocery stores

though we may be mislaid

 

Today, I wear a dead-woman’s coat

Not my mother’s

Hers were too large

 

I lost myself in their embrace

as I combed through her clothes

their old-woman scent still strong on

what she wore until she couldn’t stand to dress

 

I pushed deeper into that closet, touched

garments she chose in middle age to flatter

her long legs, to hide her extra layers

Then Channel No. 5™assaulted me

 

I rushed outside

onto the balcony that

overlooks the city

 

breathed in that view

just as she did

until she could not

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Home and homelessness themes in Poetry Quarter in May Glebe Report; new submission call issued for August

Shelter, home, homelessness…

Serious subject matter for Poetry Quarterin the May issue of the Glebe Report.

Cut and paste this link into your browser to access the page published on May 11.  http://www.glebereport.ca/2018/05/poetry-quarter-6/

JC curates the selection from local poets and found this quarter’s offering rich.“We received many, fine poems.  A connection to home came into sharp and soft focus in a number of them. Street people figured in others.

“We were honoured to receive such sensitive and original work from poets whose poems have not appeared in PQ before and from other writers Glebe Report readers will recognize from previous issues.“

A call for submissions for the August Poetry Quarterhas just been announced. It’s all about water—critical to life; one of the Ancient’s four elements that make up the world; around 60% of the human body.

PQ seeks poems that will make readers “sink or swim.”

“Climate change, days or nights by a shore, access to clean drinking water, tears of laughter or sorrow—I cannot wait to learn what local poets will say.”

The deadline for the August issue is midnight, Friday July 27, 2018. Submission guidelines appear at: http://www.glebereport.ca/2018/05/poetry-quarter-6/

 

 

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Ottawa Launch of “South Shore Suite…POEMS” on June 5 — “A fine occasion”

On Tuesday, June 5 at 7:30 PM, JC Sulzenko read selections from her poetry collection, South Shore Suite…POEMS, published by Point Petre Publishing. www.pointpetrepublishing.ca

JC welcomed the SRO audience and thanked publisher Brian Flack for coming to celebrate this first full collection of her narrative and lyrical poems. She also thanked Octopus Books for its gracious hosting of the event.

JC explained how the book contains poems written over the course of her adult life. The collection takes its title from its first section, with poems rooted in the nature and landscape of Prince Edward County, about which she wrote and which she posted a line-a-day for over a year on this website. Its second section brings a wider lens to the natural world, while the third part of the book includes poems on life choices made by people in diverse professions, from carpenter to composer, from lightkeeper to librarian.

“I held interviews in Ottawa and elsewhere with people I knew and sought out others whose line of work interested me. South Shore Suite…POEMS offers samples from both categories. One of the people in these poem portraits was at the Ottawa launch. Recognizable or incognito, do you think?”

The collection concludes with poems that illuminate moments ‘from cradle to grave.’

Why did Point Petre publisher Brian Flack choose this particular book? “To me, many poems in South Shore Suite use language beautifully and capture the universality of experience in an accessible way, which is not often apparent in contemporary poetry.”

This award-winning Glebe poet and writer is well known through her workshops and poetry residencies for emerging, young writers. She has published six books for children.What My Grandma Means to Say takes a child by the hand and explores how to handle dementia in the family. She also writes centos and found poetry for which she uses a pseudonym.

This summer JC’s work will be featured in County CollAboRaTive, the 25thAnniversary celebration of the Prince Edward County Studio Tour, and she takes part as a guest artist in the Redenersville Road Art Tour on Labour Day weekend.

With Carleton Place poet Carol A. Stephen, she has co-authored two chapbooks, Breathing Mutable Air and Slant of Light. Together, they seek a publisher for their new collection of ekphrastic poems inspired by works of art.

Copies of South Shore Suite…POEMS are for sale in Ottawa at Octopus Books, 116 Third Avenue http://octopusbooks.ca, as well as at Perfect Books. Singing Pebble Books and Books on Beechwood. In Prince Edward County, Books and Company, The Local  Store and Half Moon Bay Winery carry the collection.

 

 

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April 20 Deadline: Poems about shelter, home, or homelessness

Glebe Report Editor Liz McKeen asks this question: is shelter a right?

The May Poetry Quarter will feature poems by local poets that touch on themes of home, shelter, or homelessness.

JC  Sulzenko, who curates the quarterly collection, looks forward to what these writers consider in approaching notions of belonging or being outsiders.

Cut and paste the following link to reach the Glebe Report’s home page for details on submissions DUE BY MIDNIGHT, Friday, April 20, 2018.      http://www.glebereport.ca

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JC republishes her “Boxing Day Colours” and sends her wishes for a happy 2018

BOXING DAY COLOURS

Three black pigeons found solace

in the too-warm puddles

They alone had not dreamt of a white Christmas

Did not regret the grim, gray slush

that bequeathed lines of salt to new leather boots

still stiff from packages, now crushed and

stuffed along with blue reindeer wrapping

and rivers of silver ribbon

into bulging green garbage bags

at the curb

of a new year

 

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JC’s interview Sunday, December 10 after the noon news on 99.3 County FM, Picton

Listen to Lynn Pickering’s feature interview with JC about South Shore Suite…Poems on her weekly program “The County Writes…The County Reads” on Sunday, December 10 right after the newscast at noon.

Go to http://993countyfm.ca to live stream the program from the FM station that speaks with the ‘voice’ of Prince Edward County, Ontario.

This first collection of JC’s poetry takes its title from its lead section, “South Shore Suite, ” with poems rooted in her experience at the County’s fragile south shore. “I committed to posting a line-a-day of poetry on my website for over a year, and the poems in “South Shore Suite” are the result of that undertaking,” JC explains.

During the interview, JC has the opportunity to read a few poems from the collection and openly discuss why poetry matters to her.

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“South Shore Suite” with poems honouring Prince Edward County launched on November 18

An enthusiastic crowd attended the November 18 launch of South Shore Suite, JC’s first collection of poetry from Point Petre Publishing. Hosted by Books and Company, 289 Main St. in Picton, the event featured a reading by JC, fine wines generously offered by Half Moon Bay Winery, nibbles, and brisk book sales.

“The launch was exactly as I hoped it would be: the chance for poetry-lovers, friends and neighbours to celebrate the release of this collection and become acquainted with my work. I chose to read five poems from the collection to give a taste of each of the sections of the book, which begins with the “South Shore Suite” that lends the book its title. The “Suite” consists of poems rooted in nature at Prince Edward County’s south shore and influenced by forms of Japanese poetry, such as haiku and tankas.”

The story in November 15th’s The Wellington Times profiled South Shore Suite. Cut and paste this link into your browser to read the article.http://wellingtontimes.ca/the-right-words/

Lynn Pickering’s interview with JC on The County Writes, The County Reads aired on 99.3FM Picton after the noon news on either December 3 or December 10, 2017.

Go to the icon on the right of this website (www.jcsulzenko.com) for information on how to order the book from JC or from the publisher, Point Petre Publishing. Books and Company in Picton also stocks the book. (http://pictonbookstore.com)

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Launch of JC Sulzenko’s SOUTH SHORE SUITE, November 18, 2017 in Picton, Ontario

Point Petre Publishing (PPP) launches JC Sulzenko’s first full collection of poetry in Picton, Ontario, on Saturday afternoon, November 18, 2017.

South Shore Suite cover

South Shore Suite cover

Prince Edward County publisher Brian Flack gives his reasons for electing to publish JC’s lyric and narrative poetry in PPP’s inaugural publishing program. “In our current political climate, the need for ‘something’ that speaks to the unspoiled uniqueness of the southernmost reaches of our County was not just needed, it was demanded!

“Rendered in language that is evocative of place, time, and sensation–yet straightforwardly affecting, many of the poems will transport you body and soul to the South Shore of the County, addressing head-on, as they do, issues both natural and ‘man-made’. These poems will inspire in any reader a wondrous appreciation for the area’s land, its birds, the water …”

JC responds. “I am honoured PPP chose South Shore Suite for this publishing season and gratified that poems in this collection turn the spotlight on Prince Edward County’s fragile South Shore. My work also speaks to the power of life-cycle events, whether mundane or momentous.”

The 100-page book takes its title from the first of its four sections, which contains poems rooted in the landscape of Prince Edward County and posted a line-a-day over the course of more than a year. Its second section brings a wider lens to the natural world. Poetry that reflects on life choices made by people in diverse professions comprises the third part of the book. The collection concludes with poems closest to JC’s personal experience on subjects ‘from cradle to grave.’ County artist Susan Straiton created the arresting cover art.

The launch takes place from 4:00-6:00 PM on Saturday, November 18, 298 Main Street, upstairs in the Lipson Room in Picton. JC will read from the collection at 4:30 PM.

JC serves on the Board of the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (PEPtBO) and will donate a Loonie for every copy of South Shore Suite sold at the launch to PEPtBO.

For further information about the book and the event, email pointpetrepublishing@gmail.com.

`

 

 

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New Bookends Mini-review by JC Sulzenko: “Where’d You Go, Bernadette”

JC reviews Maria Semple’s national bestseller (US), “Where’d You Go, Bernadette.” Go to Bookends at www.jcsulzenko.com to read her low-down on the 2012 novel.

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Nancy Drew met Garnett Weiss on March 11 at The Supermarket Restaurant and Bar in Toronto

From 3:00-5:30 PM, Saturday March 11, Garnett joined Toronto writer and event host Lee Parpart and other contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology, plus special guests emcee Liz Gruening-Hay, Angela Misri and Melanie J. Fishbane to celebrate this new collection of poems, artwork, short stories, and memoirs inspired by the forever-young-woman sleuth.

Geared to adults and to appeal to kids grades four and up, the afternoon entertained the enthusiastic audience with readings from the anthology published by California-based Silver Birch Press (SBP.) Each speaker shared anecdotes about her own connection to and love of all things Nancy Drew, whose mystery series was published over a period of 80+ years and enjoyed by multiple generations.

Garnett first read four poems by international contributors to the anthology and then focused on the work of Canadian poets in the anthology. She explained that SPB published her erasure poem, “With original mystery,” which extracts words in the order in which they appear from the list of Nancy Drew book titles on the inside title page of “The Hidden Staircase”, released in 1939. Instead of reading “With original mystery,” she shared her found poem, “Siren,” now posted her website. “Siren” uses non-contiguous, unaltered phrases from “The Secret of Mirror Bay,” published in 1972.

The afternoon’s festivities included prizes and a book sale. Copies of the anthology are available from Silver Birch Press and Amazon.

 

 

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January 20 Deadline for the February Poetry Quarter Featuring Themes Linked to Canada Sesquicentennial

JC returns for the second year to curate “Poetry Quarter(PQ)” in the Glebe Report. For 2017, rather than collect and bank poems throughout the year, PQ will tailor calls to specified themes for each issue. 

Full details of the call for submissions for the February, 2017, PQ appear on the home page of January’s Glebe Report at www.glebereport.ca.

Open for the first time to any poet writing in English who reads the Glebe Report and lives in the National Capital Region, February will celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial through poems on subjects relevant to the people, history, culture, present and future of the Glebe and its neighbouring communities. Here are the basic guidelines. Poems should be:

  • Original, unpublished in any medium (plus not submitted elsewhere)
  • Up to 30 lines
  • On any aspect of the theme within the bounds of public discourse
  • By poets of all ages (school-age poets, please include your grade level)
  • Submitted by January 20 to: editor@glebereport.ca. (Please include contact info.)

 

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Annual reflection on the holiday season — JC’s poem “Boxing Day Colours”

From time to time, I revisit this poem after the frenzy of activity and gift-giving/receiving because of how it captures for me the inevitable, annual letdown, even as celebrations around the new year add add an upbeat quality to the season. So here again is the piece.

Boxing Day Colours

 

Three black pigeons found solace

in the too-warm puddles

 

They alone had not dreamt of a white Christmas

Did not regret the grim gray slush

that bequeathed lines of salt to new leather boots

still stiff from packages, now crushed, stuffed

along with blue reindeer wrapping

and rivers of silver ribbon

into bulging green garbage bags

 

at the curb

of a new year

 

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A. Garnett Weiss takes 3 of the top prizes in The Bannister 2016 Poetry Contest

Here’s the link to the Niagara CAA’s website which lists the 2016 winners. Three of Garnett’s centos were awarded top prizes. “Never mind the first unicorn” took 2nd Prize and “We lie down in each other, we lie down alone,” and “The only song I know” gained honourable mentions. “This is the second time my centos have been favoured in this contest. I am grateful to Judge Keith Garebian for favouring my work with these awards,” Garnett confirmed.

http://canauthorsniagara.org/poetry-contest/

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Day 30 poem, “Generation, from memory,” the last piece in the month-long poetry challenge

I accepted the day 29 prompt in NaPoWriMo.net because the Day 30 prompts from that site and from Found Poetry Review were not a good fit. I am pleased to have participated in this month-long writing challenge but, at the same time, feel relieved it’s over. And apologetic that I was a day late once in a while.

Here’s the prompt: “write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details… You could start… every line with “I remember,” and then you could either cut out all the instances of “I remember,” or leave them all in, or leave just a few in….”

What has emerged is a more personal poem than my other offerings this month. Perhaps that’s fitting for the last in this series, perhaps not. I’ll let the poem be for a while, then may revisit “Generation, from memory.”

Thanks to Found Poetry Review and NaPoWriMo.net for kick-starting every day in April with great ideas.

Generation, from memory

In May, the jubilant pronouncement: “I’m pregnant!”
Your mother’s words turned an ordinary day into a celebration,
then draped me in a shawl of worry: Would she be alright? Would you?

In June, she popped pills to stem the nausea, then slept day-long.
My gentle words that this would pass so inadequate,
I offered mint-leaf tea, dry toast, warm blankets and hugs.

In July, a visit to the midwife, tattooed and pierced, tightened
the worry around my shoulders. I asked myself could I trust
her judgment, her experience? Could I trust her with my daughter?

The rapid thrum/thrum/thrum/thrum of your heartbeat filled the room
when you were smaller than a lime, still on the tree. At that moment
I understood the passion, the argument about when life begins.

In November, my hand on your mother’s stomach—smooth,
without stretch marks, swollen to watermelon size— I felt
you kick at me as though you were dancing the can-can.

In January, on walking home with your mother from the spa,
sudden cramps stopped us every ten minutes, then every five,
then every fifteen as she breathed through your false start.

I packed that evening, took the long ride home, even though
I wanted so badly to stay, to wait with her it hurt in my gut.
I gathered the shawl to me but felt its cold through the car window.

Then a text message: your mother and father were at the hospital,
your mother resting well with a local anesthetic.
I sat in the living room, sipped wine, held your grandpa’s hand.

Waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying,
waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying, waiting, worrying.
In the silence, the shawl constricted like a straitjacket.

The phone rang, delivering your mother’s voice.
She sounded like a child herself.
“He’s here! It’s a boy. I’m looking at him.”

I tasted tears as I put down the receiver. I cast off the shawl,
left early the next morning to greet you before you were a day old.
Coming into the hospital room alone that first time to hold you,

light as a feather, I studied your eyelashes and tiny fingernails, traced
the line of your soft cheek with my arthritic hand. I both believed
and couldn’t believe the wonder you are, of my flesh, my blood.

I began singing “Hush little baby, don’t say a word…”
for the first time in almost thirty years
and remembered all the words.

 

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