Category Archives: Publications

JC’s published works.

Impromptu poetry morphs into BESPOKE POETRY or POETRY To-GO– JC Sulzenko writes poems on commission

“I just can’t resist the challenge: writing to a subject not of my choosing, suggested by someone whom I didn’t know beforehand, for the most part, to mark a birthday, an anniversary, a special event or person, or in memoriam,” JC admits. “I’ve now launched “BESPOKE POETRY” to give me the chance to create new poems this way.”

JC began her love affair with poetry written on demand many summers ago at what was then known as “Art in the park,” a showcase for artists, crafts people and assorted others in her neighbourhood.

Wearing a lot of sunscreen and with paper pad and pen, she set up a table and offered to write poems for visitors at $2.50 each, the proceeds of which went to a charitable organization. She cannot remember to which one the modest take went that first year.

She attached certain caveats to the process: payment upfront; she held the copyright to the poem; no one could dispute what she had written; she reserved the right to refuse to write on a subject with which she was not comfortable.

Those who dared to test her skills were interviewed briefly about the subject they had chosen, then sent away to wander among the artisans. When they returned, they picked up the poem in a neat scroll. More often than not, they unravelled the poem and read it on the spot. And commented. Almost all very pleased with the result.

Though not a big fundraiser, JC found the experience exhilarating. “I used a number of the poems written at that festival in “Fat poems Tall poems Long poems Small,” my ekphrastic book of poems for families and children to which Ottawa artists contributed interpretative illustrations.” Several other poems found their way into chapbooks.

For a couple of years, JC returned to the venue, adding a tent and chairs to facilitate the interviews and for the sake of privacy. Each year, the price tag went up by a bit. The final year of her participation, the funds raised were donated to a local hospital.

Then she stopped, overtaken by other writing projects including “Boot Crazy” and later by “What My Grandma Means to Say,” her book and play about Alzheimer’s disease.

Now she has taken up poetry on commission again with enthusiasm. The process begins with agreement on a base price for the poem, which can take the form of free verse or rhyme. The ‘buyer’ pays JC upfront. Then, there’s an interview which can take as little as 10 minutes over the phone or up to an hour face-to-face, where that’s convenient to the parties.

JC considers carefully what she has learned about the subject and writes the poem within the timeframe agreed to in the discussions. The length of the poem can vary depending the subject matter. Once she’s satisfied, she shares the poem and asks for comments as to accuracy only. If there are any factual inaccuracies, she corrects them and then provides a final text.

She asks that the poem not be published without her prior permission and then only with clear acknowledgment as to her authorship.

“I have written about a granddaughter’s graduation from high school on her birthday, the death of a child, a dog who dreams. It’s such an adventure, never knowing where a new poem will begin or to where it will take me.”

 

 

 

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Discussion guide for “What my grandma means to say

Now updated and available FREE (Download the PDF now…)

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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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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“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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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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“What My Grandma Means to Say:” Get your copy through this website

JC Sulzenko’s 48-page storybook adaptation of her one-act play about  11 year-old Jake and his grandma, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease, is now available from this website.  Just send your request to info@jcsulzenko.com, and you will receive instructions on how and where to place your order. (The book is still available in hard copy and  sells for $12.95 plus shipping and handling. The e-book will be re-listed at major sites soon.)

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

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Boot Crazy

A storybook in delightful rhyme with brilliant, colourful illustrations by Mary Moore. Ideal for 3 to 7 year-olds at home, at school, at the library. Designed and illustrated to encourage children to read.

Twins Janet and Jamie love, love, love their new rubber boots. What happens when their feet grow and grow and grow?

Read More »

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Fat poems Tall poems Long poems Small

Can you tell a book by its cover? Not exactly with this delightful, full-colour poetry book for 4 to 8 year-olds. The cover gives just a taste of the illustrations and whimsical poems for children and their families in this unique collection.

A few poems are in rhyme, others in free verse. Some are serious. A number quite silly. Monsters lurk under beds, dogs dream about not being dogs. There are missing teeth grins, a girl in the window and even good luck fairies between the covers. Read More »

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Annabella and the WereWolves of Whale Cove

Sold Out

Illustrated by Katherine Goldney, published in 2001

Cover of Annabella and the Werewolves of Whale Cove

Seven year-old Annabella goes to Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy for a summer holiday.

Thrilled to be there, she’s heard about the werewolves of Whale Cove and fears them.

Read this story to find out what happens to Annabella during her adventure by the sea.

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Annabella and The TyCoon

Third printing

Illustrated by Katherine Goldney; first published in 1999 and now a brand new reprint.

Cover of Annabella and the Tycoon

Prequel to Annabella and the WereWolves of Whale Cove.

Almost seven year-old Annabella’s school has no money for musical instruments. But Annabella wants to play the euphonium in a school band. Read this story about Annabella’s crusade to save her school bands from disappearing.

A perfect gift for students taking music lessons! Read More »

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Back to Back Stories for Lilli and Zach
 
Out of print

Illustrated by Janice Friis, published in 2000

Cover of Back to Back Stories for Lilli and ZachTwo stories in unique back to back (flip) format for children three and up.

The Dream Mixture shows how four year-old Lilli finds a magical way to fall asleep instead of insisting on yet another bedtime story.

Letters for Lilli turns wintertime ‘cabin fever’ with a toddler into a unique hunt for the letters of the alphabet. Read More »

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