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.

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.

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

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.

HAPPY 2021 to all — Read JC’s “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

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:

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

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!

An anthem by JC Celebrates Canada Day, 2020


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 )

“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.

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.


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:

HAPPY 2020 to all–Boxing day colours republished


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

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.



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

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.)

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 for submission guidelines.

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:

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?”

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.

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.



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

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.

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:



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.

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, 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.



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.

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


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


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 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.

“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.

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 ( 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. (

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




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 to read her low-down on the 2012 novel.

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.



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

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: (Please include contact info.)


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


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.

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

I accepted the day 29 prompt in 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 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.


Beth Ayer’s April 29 Impromptu prompt to write a poem from an unintelligible text (in your own language)

Beth Ayer’s challenge through FPR was as follows: “In the spirit of heading into darkness after all things unseeable and obscure, write a poem using a text that is inexplicable to you. Could be quantum physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, aeronautical engineering – or something else altogether that to you speaks in incomprehensible language. Choose a text or texts and begin selecting words and phrases as they spark associations. Write a poem using the collected words and phrases. Let your imagination fire, and don’t worry about what these terms mean in their original context.”

I went online and used phrases and words largely unaltered from an article from European Nuclear Society ( What Is A Nuclear Reactor? to respond to the prompt on this penultimate day of National Poetry Month.  I certainly didn’t understand the technicalities in the article when I composed the poem below. Comments are welcome.

This basic difference

After the separation
converted their bond,
transferred power
for multiple purposes,
fission released them.

Before they escaped
slightly enriched,
they felt intense deceleration,
released from the laws of nature,
the pressure to combine.

Devices designed in a loop
fed into the fuel they use:
The same, reinforced, secondary light.

Award Ceremony on March 29 for OPL’s Awesome Authors Contest Winning Poets and Writers

JC Sulzenko, English poetry judge for the 2016 Awesome Authors contest wants to encourage poetry-lovers of all ages in the region to come out for the awards ceremony honouring the best English and French poems and short stories written by local poets and writers, ages 9-17.

The culminating event of the the 2016 Awesome Authors Contest starts at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, March 29 at Centrepoint Theatre, Ben Franklin Place.

“I really look forward to the ceremony, particularly after having read all the poems submitted in English. What a challenge it was to choose the winning entries!  The quality and impact of the poetry these emerging writers crafted will amaze you, as it did me,” JC guaranteed.

Here’s the link to all the information on the contest. Winning stories and poems will appear in Pot Pourri, the anthology to be published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library in the autumn.

JC’s Awesome Poetry Workshop a hit with 9-12 year-old poets

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:

January 11 deadline for February “Poetry Quarter” in the Glebe Report

Here’s the OPEN CALL FOR POETRY SUBMISSIONS from poets in Ottawa’s Glebe neighbourhood and surrounding areas for the 2nd Poetry Quarter, a compilation of poems curated by JC, which appears four times a year in Ottawa’s Glebe Report. The next Poetry Quarter will be issued in the February 2016 Glebe Report. The deadline to submit is January 11, 2016.

Poems should be:

  • Original and unpublished in any medium
  • No more than 30 lines each, including stanza breaks and title
  • On any subject within the bounds of public discourse

The poem or poet must have a connection to the Glebe or close neighbouring community, i.e., the poem must be about the Glebe or the poet must live, work, study or volunteer in the Glebe (or close neighbouring community.)

Poets of all ages are welcome to submit up to 7 poems at a time in one doc. or docx document attachment. Please include your contact information, your connection to the Glebe and your grade if you are in school in your covering email.

Please email submissions to

October 22 Launch of “Pot Pourri,” winning poems and stories from the 2015 Awesome Authors Contest at the Ottawa Public Library

JC is a huge fan of emerging poets and authors in the region who participate in the Annual Awesome Authors Contest at the Ottawa Public Library (OPL).

“I am pleased return to judge the English poetry submissions to the 2016 contest which closes in February. The quality of what poets aged 9-17 submit always blows me away. These poets are awesome, indeed.”

Each year, the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA) publishes an anthology of winning entries entitled “Pot Pourri.” The OPL and FOPLA join in launching the new collection on Thursday, October 22, at 6:30 PM in the downstairs auditorium of the Main Branch on Metcalfe at Laurier.

“This publication celebrates the creativity and courage of these emerging artists. I encourage all participants in the contest, whether past or prospective, to come out and applaud the release of “Pot Pourri!” Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase at the launch and through FOPLA.



On the Eve of the Canadian Election, here is JC’s plea

This poem first was broadcast on CBC’s program Commentary. JC brings it back to these pages on the eve of Canada’s federal election to BEG voters to turn out and vote.

So much is riding on each riding’s choice. \ JC hopes Canadians know how much each vote counts. Feel free to comment on her poem, “Anthem.”



A Mountie sings Oh 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

Oh 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

They 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 country — beautiful, fragile


We ought to know better, to know

what to do for Canada 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

times the 34 million of us or so

(minus the sick, the too-young)

would sure buy a lot


of standing on guard

Deadline today for the Glebe Report “Poetry Quarter,” curated by JC Sulzenko

The deadline for submitting poems to be featured in the first of The Glebe Report’s new feature, Poetry Quarter, is October 9, 2015. Here’s the link to the website for specifics on how to submit.

JC is delighted that the Editor of this community newspaper has chosen to bring a poetry focus to the community four times a year by publishing poems JC will select as ‘curator.’

“Poetry Quarter” welcomes submissions from poets who work, live, study or volunteer in the Glebe in Ottawa or in its close, neighbouring communities on subjects that reflect the lives and sensibilities of people living in this community and that are appropriate for publication in a paper with an audience of all ages.

Poems can be in any form – rhyme, free verse, sonnets, haiku, found poems, etc., but must not be more than 30 lines in length. The work must be the poet’s own and should not have been published before anywhere, in any form or medium.

“As ‘curator,’ I will recommend a number of poems per quarter to the Editor. Poets will be contacted if their work is slated for publication in “Poetry Quarter.” We have already received many fine submissions and look forward to reading what emerging and established poets contribute to this project.”



February 16 deadline for Awesome Authors and Poets

Just one more day for poets and short story writers to enter the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors Contest.

Don’t miss this chance to have your work read by professional writers and be considered for up to 6 prizes in each age category, 9-11, 12-14, 15 -17. Winning poems and stories will be published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library in the 2015 Pot Pourri anthology.

See the information in the post below for details. I want 500 good poems, please!  And I’m sure my fellow judges Caroline Pignat and Michel Lavoie join me in wishing you each good luck and happy writing!

Awesome Poets at JC’s January Workshops for the Ottawa Public Library’s 2015 Awesome Authors Contest

On January 10 and 16, JC lead workshops for young poets who are thinking about entering the OPL’s 2015 Awesome Authors Contest. The contest, now in its 19th year, closes on February 16 for both online and hard copy submissions.

Open to writers of poetry and short stories in English and/or French in three age categories (9-11, 12-14 and 15-17), the contest gives an opportunity to talented students in this region to submit their work to judges who are professional writers. Winning entries appear in the annual anthology, Pot Pourri, published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library. Winning writers also receive prizes at an awards ceremony held at the end of March.

“This is a great way for talented young people to move forward with their work. Submitting poems and stories takes courage, but it is worth doing. If you are a writer, you want your work to be read or heard. And, if the writing doesn’t leave your head or stays on your own page, then it’s more in the nature of a journal or diary, which is fine, but not the sharing experience, which this contest offers,” JC suggests.

JC invited 15-17 year-olds to enter the amazing space where poetry works at the first workshop, billed as “What’s on your mind? Write? Edit? Post?”By reading together some of the winning poems over the history of the Awesome Authors Contest, JC highlighted features that attracted her and which led to the poem securing a place in the winners’ circle.

Some participants brought poems they had written, which they would not enter into this year’s competition. One past winner looked for insight into why a poem had not placed in the competition in a particular year.

JC reiterated what she explains at each awards ceremony: “Judging poetry is highly subjective. What one judge would choose might not appeal to another. Plus, how a poem ‘rates’ depends somewhat upon the competition, particularly when there’s a rich field of entries.”

JC’s approach with 9-12 year-olds departed from “What cereal boxes Say about Writing Poetry,” and focused on factors that make poems stand out from the pack, or the package! Again, the group looked at winning poems from past contest to show how they succeeded.

“I encourage emerging poets and short story-writers to submit their work in time for the mid-February deadline. I’d like 500 English poetry entries this year. I want to feel swamped and amazed by the creativity and daring of young poets.”

Information on where and how to enter is available from:



Erratum: “Hesitation marks” by A. Garnett Weiss

Garnett Weiss apologized today for the error which occurred in the key for the cento poem “Hesitation marks,” which “Vallum: Contemporary Poetry” published in its last issue.

“I am at a loss to explain my lapse, since I take great care to ensure attribution and acknowledgment of the words of other poets and writers which inform my centos.

I now offer my most sincere apologies to poet Robin Robertson and to “Vallum” for misspelling his name. I am a fan of Mr. Robertson’s writing and cannot imagine what possessed me not to catch this error myself. I assure him and readers that I have corrected the key to this poem in all my files.”

Awesome Authors Anthology: “pot pourri” Launched on October 7

JC attended the launch of the 8th anthology of winning poems and short stories in the Ottawa Public Library’s 19th Awesome Authors Contest.  JC has served as the judge of poetry entries in English for a number of years and in the past has edited the winning poems which appear in the collection. “What a great turnout of young writers, ” JC observed after the event. “In fact, many poets who couldn’t attend the award ceremony in the spring made it to the launch. It was great to see them there.”

“pot pourri,” the 2014 anthology published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library, is available from the OPL at a cost of $12.95. For more information, here’s a link:

“I consider it a privilege and honour to read the poetry of emerging poets in the 9-11, 12-14 and 14-16 age categories.  Their creativity knows no bounds, so that it’s always a huge challenge to select the winning poems from among such fine entries.”

In January, JC will offer two poetry workshops through the Library in the lead-up to the 2015 Awesome Authors Contest. The dates and times will appear on the OPL events listing and on this website as soon as they are set.

“I encourage all young writers to send in their best poems and short stories. I know that it takes guts to submit work for review by others but that’s the way writers become published authors and poets. What better way to launch a writing career than through the Awesome Authors Contest.”


At the end of the longest day, 2014

Sunset: Still waters

reflect the colour spectrum.

Later, fireflies.



A. Garnett Weiss


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

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 @

“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?



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.


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


JC Appears on Shaftesbury’s Murdoch Mysteries, Monday, March 31 on CBC TV

Yes, JC’s appearance  as a ‘church lady’ in a fine maroon velvet cape on the upcoming episode of Murdoch Mystery approaches.

Though JC harbours no illusions about how much exposure she will have in an outdoor scene in which she was one among many in a crowd, she looks forward to finding out what happens in the Episode. “But don’t blink, or you’ll miss seeing me!” she warns.

“I am delighted to learn that Murdoch Mysteries has not been cut by CBC. It’s an intelligent, entertaining show, and most of the time avoids the excess of gore that seems to characterize everything on prime time these days.”

Consult local listings for exact air times.

Awesome Poets Ages 9-17 to be Celebrated March 25 at Ben Franklin Place


TONIGHT’s the night! The Ottawa Public Library hosts the annual awards ceremony for winning poets and writers who entered the 2014 Awesome Authors Contest.

The event at Ben Franklin Place (Centrepoint) welcomes emerging writers from across the community and their friends and family. Be prepared for a large and enthusiastic crowd. Extra seats are being offered this year after there was standing room only in 2014!

JC judged the English poetry entries which were excellent.  She looks forward to the reveal this evening and offers congratulations to everyone who entered the contest.

“It takes guts to send a poem out into the world, to let your words be judged in a contest.  To me, its akin to a parent who leaves her child at school or a summer day camp for the first time. Knots in stomach and all that!

This year’s entries were amazing. It’s always a challenge to chose the top six in each age category.”

The event begins at 7:00 PM.

Awesome Authors Poetry Workshop at the Ottawa Public Library: Saturday, January 17, 2014

JC comes to the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library to give two workshops for young poets in advance of the deadline for submitting poetry and short stories to the Awesome Authors Contest at the OPL. JC is thrilled to judge the English poetry entries in the 2014 competition. Winning poems will be published in the anthology, “Pot Pourri,” sponsored by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library.

From 10:30-11:30 AM, poets ages 13-17 will have the chance to raise questions they have about their writing with JC who promises a chance to try out something punchy-new!

From 2:00-3:00 PM, poets ages 9-12 will play with words and forms they can shape, just like the ice sculptures artists create for Winterlude.

Holiday wishes

Wishing all my readers on this site happy and safe holidays and a wonderful 2014.

JC Sulzenko on the Set of Shaftesbury Film’s Murdoch Mysteries

JC spent November 16 on the set of Murdoch Mysteries, now in its seventh season and on CBC. Having ‘won’ the walk-on role in an auction that raised funds for Reach Canada, JC stayed on the set from 6:45 a.m. to 5:00 the garb of a respectable ‘churchwoman’ circa 1900.

In full make-up, wig and velvet cape, JC stood and interacted with around 50 actors who provided ‘background’ in the one scene that was the subject of that day’s shooting, which took place in a quadrangle on the campus of the University of Toronto.

“It was wonderful, though the too-thin clothing for a November day without much sun made for some shivering, and my hat weighed a ton!” JC observed. “I really am pleased NOT to have been a woman in those times, so physically constrained by fashion. The long skirt made it far too easy for me to trip, which I did, frequently!

What struck JC were the number of actors and crew involved in capturing just one scene for the hour-long program and how there was constant movement that looked chaotic but actually was the result of real choreography on the part of the director and the many assistant directors who were all linked by earphones.

JC had the chance between takes to meet both Yannick Bisson, who plays Detective Murdoch, and Jonny Harris, Constable Crabtree on the show. “Both actors were courteous and welcoming. It was a pleasure to speak with them and made for a memorable experience.”

JC left souvenir bookmarks from Reach Canada with key crew members and actors to express the organization’s gratitude to Shaftesbury Films for donating the walk-on opportunity as a way to support the fine work Reach does in Ottawa in the service of access to justice for persons with disabilities and community education.

Cranberry Tree Press to Publish JC Sulzenko’s ‘Fairy Tales’ in “Happenstance”

Written by JC under the name of A. Garnett Weiss, ‘Fairy Tales’ crawls into a mother’s clothes closet and channels the mystery of evening gowns and silver dancing slippers as perceived as a child but remembered as an adult.

How well this evocative poem aligns with the theme for the new anthology becomes evident to readers in its final, arresting stanza.

Is this piece autobiographical? If JC will never tell, would Garnett?

For copies, contact Cranberry Tree Press (; 5060 Tecumseh Rd.E. Windsor, Ontario N8T 1C1. “Happenstance” will be published at the end of November

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: 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.

Cranberry Tree Press to Publish “Fairy Tales”

Cranberry Tree Press has selected the poem “Fairy Tales” for publication in its new anthology about luck, Happenstance, which will be published this autumn.
Written by JC under the name of A. Garnett Weiss, the poem brings forward moments from childhood to evoke the beauty and elusiveness of a mother figure. “I am delighted that this poem won a place in the collection and thank the judges and editors for including “Fairy Tales” among the works of such a distinguished group of poets. Here is the link to the list of contributing poets:

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.

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 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.

JC Shared Hot Tips on Poem-building at July 31 Workshop in Picton

Local writers reveled in the key tips JC revealed during the workshop she gave at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. With her suggestions to enhance the power of poetry, the group wrote poems on the spot, which the Church has undertaken to post on its website.

This 90+ minute experience with a pro encouraged poets to use words in a disciplined fashion since every word in a poem counts. JC also suggested new ways to pair verbs and nouns to achieve unexpected and original language. Here’s the link to the Church’s site:

Summer is a-comin’ in

As the song has it, summer brings good reasons to sing. Though weather ups and downs often confuse impatient worshippers of lazy, sunny days and meteor shower nights, fireflies, chorus frogs and distant whip-poor-wills create wonder.

Summer projects for JC include:
– editing the winning poetry from the 2013 Awesome Authors contest at the Ottawa Public Library and writing the foreword for Pot Pourri, the anthology of stories and poems to be published this autumn by the Friends of the OPL.
– crafting a commissioned poem on the 40th anniversary of The Glebe Report.
– refining her new play for children and families.
– creating a workshop for reluctant poets in Prince Edward County to free their voices — to be held in the evening of July 31 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church,Picton.
– anticipating the release of the Listen Up Ottawa commemorative book.
– smelling the roses, and getting the mites off them before they devour the leaves.

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


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.”

Awesome Authors Contest Award Ceremony – Standing Room Only on March 26

Awesome Authors 2013

Awesome Authors 2013, photo by Rheal Doucette, Ottawa Public Library

JC awarded prizes to poets writing in English, aged 9-11, 12-14 and 15-17, at last night’s ceremony at Ben Franklin Place in Ottawa. The 18th Awesome Authors Contest which the Ottawa Public Library holds and which the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library (FOPLA) sponsor attracted well over 500 entries in the English poetry. English short story, French poetry and French short story categories.

When JC asked all of the writers and poets who had submitted their creative work to the contest to stand, the crowd applauded widely. She spoke of the W-O-W-S/U factors she considered in selecting the top six poems in English in each age category and of how impressed she was by the originality of the submissions. She even admitted she wished she had written some of the lines.

“It is an honour and a privilege to serve as a judge for this contest. I am so happy to see how ALIVE poetry is for the young writers in our community,” she stated.

The list of winning stories and poems are available from the Ottawa Public Library. These poems and stories will be published by FOPLA in an anthology, “Pot Pourri,” in October. FOPLA is running a contest for a new cover design for the publication and encourages all young artists to come forward with their concepts. Here’s the link to a photo of some of the winning poets:

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 (, 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.
JC continues to take delight in knowing that Binkley and Doinkel’s exploits were not in vain!

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.

The Alzheimer Society of Canada now lists “What My Grandma Means to Say” among resources for children

JC is delighted that the Alzheimer Society of Canada has included “What My Grandma Means to Say” on its list of resources to help children and families talk about dementia. Here’s the link to the Society’s listing: (see page 1 for the Discussion Guide and page 6 for the storybook.)
Recent appearances at local elementary schools on behalf of the Alzheimer Society of Lanark County (ASLC) gave hundreds of students the chance to talk about dementia in the context provided by JC’s reading of the play or the storybook. “These educational tools are effective because they are so child-centred,” JC emphasizes. “Many hands went up from among the 200 students at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Carleton Place when I asked whether anyone knew someone living with Alzheimer’s disease. These students raised excellent questions and greeted ASLC’s invitation to enter a contest to write a poem about dementia with real enthusiasm.”
“What My Grandma Means to Say” is all about bringing children into the dialogue about Alzheimer’s in a way that helps them build their understanding and strategies to handle whatever comes their way. With the Alzheimer Society of Canada’s listing, families, who could find “What My Grandma Means to Say” helpful, will now know how easy it is to access the material.
The Discussion Guide can be downloaded free from this website. The storybook is still available from General Store Publishing House ( or from e-book retailers.

JC’s visited an elementary school in Perth, Ontario, with the Alzheimer Society of Lanark County

“I was thrilled with the number of students who were interested in
touching base with you and doing some follow up. We greatly appreciated
the format of Friday’s visit and have now completed the play and book as
a class read aloud and have begun practising dramatic readings of the
play in partners.It has been very helpful to many students who have had
to deal with Alzheimer’s in their family.” Sean Christy, teacher, Grade
4, Perth, Ontario

JC Welcomes Awesome Poets at January 19 Workshop in Ottawa

At 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 19, JC leads a workshop for young poets at the Ottawa Public Library’s Greenboro Branch, 363 Lorry Greenberg Drive.
“February brings the deadline for the OPL’s 2013 Awesome Authors Contest, which is open to short story and poetry submissions from writers aged 9-11,12-14 and 15-17.
“The workshop for 9-14 year-olds will share my 5-top tips about writing poetry that leaves readers with a WOW! Participating poets will also be able to share a poem they have written for feedback.”
Preregistration at the Branch is required.

JC featured in December “Ottawa Woman” at newstands now

“Ottawa Woman” celebrates the achievements of women in the region. JC is among a wonderful community of “Women on the Move” featured on the page dedicated to mini portraits (page 18,

Along with a photo, the paper highlights JC’s writings, with emphasis on “What My Grandma Means to Say,” the play, the Discussion Guide for teachers, available free from, and the storybook, now also in e-book form.

“I am very pleased that “Ottawa Woman” included me in this month’s roster of women on the move. During the holiday season, the challenges that Alzheimer’s disease brings to the lives of families can be lost in all the celebrations. Yet Alzheimer’s causes changes not only to the person living with it but to the lives of those who care for and about them.

“Giving a gift of “What My Grandma Means to Say” is a good way to help families and the children in them build their understanding of dementia and develop their own strengths and strategies for handling relationships now in the shadow of such diseases.”

The book is available at Kaleidoscope Kids Books on Bank at Lansdowne Park, from the publisher ( and from e-book retailers.

Welcome Winter Reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” a Huge Success

On November 24 at Glebe-St. James United Church in Ottawa, Rob Clipperton read the Dylan Thomas classic, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” to a rapt audience that filled the sanctuary. The event netted $2000 which was donated to the Acquired Brain Injury Program at The Ottawa Hospital’s Rehabilitation Centre in honour of Allison Woyiwada. For the past four years, Allison served as musical director and co-producer of the event. At the 2012 performance, Allison was a member of the audience as she continues her recovery from brain surgery.

This year’s Welcome Winter featured music from Robert Palmai, Marya Woyiwada, Canterbury High School’s Vocum, and the Canterbury Trebles. The one-hour show was greeted with a standing ovation from everyone who chose to herald the holiday season with this program of fine words and music.

“The 2012 presentation completed the cycle of our commitment to bring this wonderful story to Ottawa audiences. Welcome Winter has benefited over the years from the support of many amazing artists, performers and good people at Glebe-St.James United Church to whom I remain most grateful. I hope another community group will take up the delightful challenge of sharing “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” with Ottawa families for many years to come.”

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:

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.”

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 ( 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) at a retail cost of $12.95. The book includes answers to frequently asked questions and lists sources of further information.

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

“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.”

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 ( from Chapters/Indigo and Amazon Canada.

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 (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:

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 Go to page 6 to read about the play.

JC’s interview about the new video on Channel 22, February 6

Daytime, a talk show on Channel 22 in Ottawa featured an interview with JC on Monday February 6. The show aired from 11AM-12 noon, at 5:00 PM and at 11: 00 PM. Here’s the link to the interview: The co-hosts explored with JC how the new video of a performance of the play “What My Grandma Means to Say” by high school students for elementary school-aged children enables both age groups to discuss Alzheimer’s disease. To screen the new video of the play, see below.


One-hour Internet Radio Feature on “What My Grandma Means to Say” January 17, 1:00 p.m (EST)

On Tuesday, January 17, at 1:00 p.m. (EST)  Dr. Gordon Atherley from Toronto interviewed JC  to learn how “What My Grandma Means to Say”, the play and the storybook, can enable family discussions about Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia.   Here is the link to the broadcast on VoiceAmerica:

Dr. Atherley invited JC to come on his program after reading one of her articles in the national media about the importance of including children in family discussions when someone in that family is living with Alzheimer’s disease. So often, families find it very difficult to speak among themselves about what is happening to someone about whom they care.  So often, the need of children to understand their place in such a situation is not given attention by health care providers.

The discussion was far-ranging and included the important perspective offered by Kristen Irvine, a professional personal care worker who is very involved in supporting her own grandmother who is living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Having education programs in schools that focus on Alzheimer’s and the use of “What My Grandma Means to Say” in training health care providers were some of the issues which arose during the discussion.

At the site for the program is an e-mail address for comments on the broadcast which Dr. Atherley welcomes.

Canadian Authors Association Panel, January 10

JC participated in a panel on January 10 that focussed on marketing and promotion but gave her the chance to talk about how she came to write “What My Grandma Means to Say.” Here is the link to executive member Arlene Smith’s blog on what struck her about JC’s comments.

CAA Evening Panel: Tuesday, January 10, 2012

JC joins Sharyn Heagle, President, Ottawa Branch of the Canadian Authors Association,  Emily-Jane Hills Orford and Dave Mullington for a ‘get your hands dirty’  panel: The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing your work.

After brief presentations from each panellist, Sharyn will broker a discussion among them about issues they have addressed —  what works and what doesn’t — in promoting what they have written. A question and answer session with audience participation will follow.

A great way to get and share tips.

In the auditorium, Main Branch, Ottawa Public Library (See the CAA, Ottawa Branch, website for details.)

Season’s Greetings

A time for reflection about 2011 and wishes from JC for a happy New Year, one filled with poetry, creativity, hope and good health.

The Board of The Glebe Centre Welcomed JC’s Reading of “What My Grandma Means to Say”

JC was pleased to accept the invitation Lawrence Grant, Executive Director of The Glebe Centre, extended on behalf of the organization’s Board of Directors, to give a dramatic reading of the play on November 28.

JC confirmed to the Board how the Glebe Centre partnered on “What My Grandma Means to Say” from when it was first being test-read in 2009, through the development of a Discussion Guide for teachers, the premiere of the play at the Ottawa International Writers Festival in 2009 and the publication of the storybook adaptation in the spring of 2011. She expressed her particular gratitude to Jen Dare, Pat Goyeche and Karen Joynt for their support throughout the evolution of the project. Most recently Abbotsford hosted a tea for healthcare professionals and for educators to demonstrate how the book and the play can enable families and children discuss Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia and can help them develop strategies to support someone they know who is living with such diseases.

Members of the Board were touched by the play and posed a number of questions after the presentation. One Board member asked whether JC had thought of writing about what happens as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, with a focus on the end of life.  JC had not considered that but would.

She advised the board that junior students at her recent reading at Hopewell Avenue Public School had encouraged her to write about other diseases. When JC asked which ones they thought she should target, here were some of their suggestions: diabetes, cancer and ALS.  The fact that these children between the ages of 8 and 12 already have such illnesses on their radar screens proved to JC how important it is for families to include children in conversations when such situations affect the life of a family.

Welcome Winter Delights a Sell-out Crowd on November 26

A full house turned out for the fourth annual reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” by Dylan Thomas at  Glebe-St. James United Church on Saturday, November 26! Many members of the audience spoke to JC after the performance with wonderful comments and pleas that the tradition of presenting this unique story to herald the holiday season continue for many years to come.

Rob Clipperton returned as the gifted storyteller. At this performance, Rob was surrounded by student actors and singers of the Hopewell Avenue Public School Junior Choir. Dressed in PJs and slippers, these students from Grades 4,5 and 6 had speaking parts from the story and sang seasonal songs that picked up on the themes of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” The program began with an evocative organ solo by Robert Palmai, Minister of Music at Glebe-St. James  which Marya Woyiwada, Soprano, followed with an aria from Die Fledermaus. Canterbury High School’s Vocum, women in the vocal music program at Arts Canterbury, who were directed by James Caswell, left the audience spellbound with their music.

JC thanked the talented performers and musicians for lending their presence to the show, Glebe-St. James United Church for hosting Welcome Winter, volunteers who assisted at the event and Compact Music for advance ticket sales.

Net proceeds (over $ 2300) from the one-hour of performance, presented by JC and Allison W0yiwada, benefit Reach Canada ( this year.


Capital Parent Newspaper Features JC’s Article in October/November Issue

Just noted:  Please go to to find JC’s article, “Children have a place in the Alzheimer’s picture.”

JC Appeared at Two Schools for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, Fall 2011 Edition

JC presented “What My Grandma Means to Say” over 100 students from grades 3 and 4 at Bayview Public School in Ottawa on November 9,2011. After reading from the book and explaining how she adapted the play into story form, JC welcomed questions that covered aspects of Alzheimer’s disease as well as the process of writing she uses. Student participation was great and the questions very thoughtful. She enjoyed her first visit to the school thoroughly.

On November 10, JC returned to Hopewell Avenue Public School and met 200 students from grades 3-7 who were crammed into the Library. This enthusiastic group was interested in talking about writing. Several students encouraged JC to write  a series which could address other diseases. When she asked which ones, they came up with a strong list: diabetes, cancer, ALS and polio were raised.  JC explained to the students how she had launched her first book for children, “Annabella and The TyCoon” in their library thirteen years ago and that the book raised over $2000 for the music program at the school. She also told them that the poem which she wrote which has gone through the most number of drafts was based on an experience she had leading a workshop for Hopewell students during with she met Alice Erwin, an amazing young woman who touched her deeply. “Beholder” is probably my favourite poem,” JC admitted. When asked which of her six books for children she likes the best, she suggested that the question was rather like asking a mother which of her children she likes best. Impossible to answer.

New Website for Grandparents: a feature on JC’s book and article

Check out this brand-new website for Grandparents that profiles “What My Grandma Means to Say” and reprints JC’s article from City Parent (Toronto).

It’s great that talking with kids about Alzheimer’s is featured there. Hope that families who could use the book  learn about it  this way.

JC’s article as part of Vancouver Province’s coverage of dementia

In a special supplement on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the Vancouver Province gave my article today a place of prominence. Check it out:

Line-a-day Poetry Project Extended for Another Year

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

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

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

“What My Grandma Means to Say” at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, October 20, 2011

Here’s the link to the special ’roundtable’ event  which was presented with Mother Tongue Books as part of this autumn’s edition of the Ottawa International Writers Festival.

The downpour-afternoon did not dampen enthusiasm for this topic. The conversation was wide-ranging. It went beyond a focus on how families develop ways in which to support each other and the person they know who is living with dementia.  The importance of music and visual art for people living with Alzheimer’s, new treatments and research, and personal experiences also were raised.

Thanks to Laura and Evelyn at the bookstore and to Caitlin Brydges from The Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County for their contributions to the event.

The Festival will also sponsor JC’s visits to a number of area schools in early November.

“What My Grandma Means to Say” in performance October 5 and 6 in Prince Edward County Elementary Schools

Here is the link to an excellent article from Prince Edward Collegiate Institute writers about “What My Grandma Means to Say,” the play, which was performed for 8-12 year-olds at three County elementary schools on October 5. The troup travelled to three more schools on October 6.

With the guidance of PECI head of drama and native studies,  Matt Sheahan, students from that high school take on the roles of Jake, Grandma, Jake`s mother and the nurse for the ten-minute play, which kick-starts a discussion about Alzheimer`s disease.

This initiative represents an innovative community partnership between the school and the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward County. It gives effect to JC`s vision to have senior students perform for younger ones so that both groups can grow their understanding about dementia and develop strategies to support someone they know who may be living with it.

For PECI website coverage, go to

Interview on September 18 on CFRA 580 Talk Radio

Rabbi Bulka interviewed JC for an hour-long segment of his Sunday night talk show. Here’s the link to listen in on their conversation about “What My Grandma Means to Say”. On the target page, select the September 18 show.

Rabbi Bulka with JC Sulzenko

JC’s Article in Fall Issue of Healthwise Ottawa in Time for World Alzheimer’s Day, September 21, 2011

A three-page feature on “What My Grandma Means to Say” appears in the fall issue of Healthwise Ottawa, “Your local guide to improved health and well-being.” The story traces how “What My Grandma Means to Say” developed from a play into a storybook for children and families in which someone is living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia and overtook JC’s writing life.

Healthwise is delivered to home subscribers of the Ottawa Citizen in selected areas. 40,000 copies of each issue are published.#Alzheimers…


September 12:High Tea for health care professionals and educators in Ottawa about “What My Grandma Means to Say”

Photo by Lois Siegel

On Monday, September 12 from 4:00-5:30 p.m., the Glebe Centre hosted a sumptuous High Tea to introduce area educators and health care professionals to “What My Grandma Means to Say,” the storybook and the play for children and families about Alzheimer’s disease.  Those attending the event had the opportunity to see first hand how “What My Grandma Means to Say”  (in both drama and storybook forms) enables children and families in which someone is living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia to discuss how to handle the challenges such conditions pose. Over forty professionals attended the tea at which representatives of The Glebe Centre and the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County spoke about the use of the material in their work and at which JC Sulzenko gave a dramatic reading of the play.

What My Grandma Means to Say reviewed in Resource Links

Here are some of what Resource Links writes for schools and libraries about the book in a recent on-line issue : “Through the first person narrative, Sulzenko draws us into Jake’s inner journey. This book would serve as an excellent stepping-off point for discussions about dementia as a health issue that affects families.”

JC performed “What My Grandma Means to Say” at ASORC Volunteer Appreciation Event on June 13

On Monday, June 13, the Alzheimer Society of Ottawa and Renfrew County ( ) held its annual event in appreciation of the efforts of all its volunteers. JC gave a brief introduction to the play and the storybook. She then presented “What My Grandma Means to Say,”  the play, to volunteers, Board members and staff of ASORC. (In the photo, taken by Debbie Seto: left to right – Kelly Lumley-Leger, JC and Caitlin Brydges.) Afterwards, she had an opportunity to chat with many guests and received a very positive response to the reading. Among those honoured that afternoon were people who had volunteered with the organization for over twenty years. JC salutes all the volunteers who assist families and persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

JC at ArtsPark with impromtu poetry

JC wrote poems for a loonie or toonie as part of the ARC Poetry Factory at ArtsPark in Hintonburg on May 29. To read the story in the Ottawa West EMC, go to: And see this about a poem for the foodies twosome: And this link to Pearl’s photos:

JC on Daytime on Rogers Cable 22, Thursday, June 2 11:00 a.m. till noon

JC appeared on Rogers TV for an interview about “What My Grandma Means to Say,” the storybook just launched at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. JC divulged first-hand what drove her to write about Jake and his grandmother, how the story emerged first as a play, and how it evolved  in storybook form.

Poetry Chapbook Launched on Sunday, June 5

JC is a member of the Ottawa CAA poetry circle, Licence to Quill, which launched its first chapbook, Tangled Strands, at Collected Works last Sunday. The subtitle, “Combing the Muse,” says it all: every poem has something to say about hair ! Contributing poets are: Carol A. Stephen, Lesley Strutt, JC Sulzenko, Rona Shaffran, Laura Etherden, Donald Officer, Elise Hynes. JC’s poems,”Joy Waiting” and “En route,” appear in the collection. Copies of Tangled Strands are available at Collected Works, 1242 Wellington at Holland, in Ottawa or from JC.

Book Signing and Reading at Collected Works Bookstore: Sunday, June 5,1242 Wellington at Holland

Here’s another chance to meet JC and buy a signed copy of What My Grandma Means to Say. JC will be at Collected Works Bookstore 1242 Wellington at Holland on Sunday, June 5, from 1:30-2:30 PM to talk about and sign copies of What My Grandma Means to Say. Come by and chat with JC.

JC Addressed Wedgewood Authors Series in Brockville

On May 25, JC drove to beautiful Brockville on the St. Lawrence River and spoke at the Wedgewood Authors Series about her experience with What My Grandma Means to Say. She described how she came to write the one-act, ten-minute play for children and how that experience led her to writing the storybook adaptation of the play. She also explained how the play and book are valuable educational tools for families and children. She gave interviews for local media through Series organizer Doreen Barnes and met representatives from the Alzheimer Society of Leeds-Grenville and from public libraries in the area. The Alzheimer Society has purchased copies of What My Grandma Means to Say for each library in the region. “Making copies available at libraries and in schools is exactly the kind of response I hoped the book would receive, ” JC commented. “I am most grateful for the interest shown by the Alzheimer Society in the book and the play.”

JC’s book launched on May 1 at the Ottawa International Writers Festival

The Ottawa International Writers Festival Spring Edition featured the launch of  “What My Grandma Means to Say”  at Collected Works Bookstore on Sunday, May 1.  JC spoke of how she came first to write the one-act play about eleven year-old Jake and his grandmother who is living with Alzheimer’s disease and then of the journey that led her to  capture Jake’s whole story in the book and to seek funding for a video production of the play for use in schools and by community groups. Check out interviews in The Orleans Star, Metroland’s Ottawa This Week–children-s-book-sheds-light-on-mystery-of-alzheimer-s and on Nightcap on EZ ROCK  (99.7 FM) at

Children Need to Know in the National Post

My article, Children Need to Know, on talking with kids about Alzheimer’s is on page A 19 of the March 28  National Post.

JC and “What My Grandma Means to Say” on YouTube

“What My Grandma Means to Say” explores how relationships change when someone in the family is living with Alzheimer’s disease. Videographer Kate Morgan and sound guru Hollis Morgan of Constant Sound Studio caught JC’s reading at a branch of the Ottawa Public Library on video, which is now posted on YouTube.

Get a taste of how the play led to the storybook and hear how the book captures the story of Jake and his grandma. Listen to JC talk about writing.  She also explains why it’s important that children, who are often are drawn into the role of caregivers, gain the chance to understand what is happening when a health issue affects someone they love, so that they can develop their own strategies for supporting that person and their family.

JC: the sole poet on CD “Dancing Kites,” launched March 20

At the happy launch of the CD on March 20, JC was thrilled to read “Seasoning” and  “Hummingbird Rest”  from Fat poems Tall poems Long poems Small. “Hummingbird Rest,” with original background music by Claude Naubert, is the only poem on  “Dancing Kites,” which features performances by 17 other Canadian artists. The Ottawa group, Grammas for Ambuyas, compiled the CD to raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Copies can be ordered from Artists who donated their work to the project include Charlotte Diamond, Raffi, Valdy and Connie Kalder. Ted Harrison provided artwork for the CD’s cover.

JC was delighted to share the stage with performers Maggie G. and Razzmatazz at the launch. She also performed a new work, “A garden and a tree and a giant and me.”

JC read new poetry for children at the Sunnyside Branch of the Ottawa Public Library

On Friday, February 11, JC  read new and favourite poems for elementary school-aged children. She set the scene with poetry from “Fat poems Tall poems Long poems Small,”  illustrated by thirteen Ottawa artists. Students from two classes at Hopewell Public School had the chance to hear several new works and works in progress and shared their comments with JC in a ‘writers’ circle.’ ” I always enjoy test-reading my work with children and listen carefully to their feedback. Whenever I can, I take into account in my writing what I have learned from these sessions.”

January was Alzheimer’s month

An exciting month for JC. She welcomed the opportunity from the Ottawa Public Library to give a dramatic reading of her play for children about dementia, What my grandma means to say, at two branches. On January 11, she met 75 grades 3,4 and 5 students from Jockvale Public School at the Ruth E. Dickinson Branch, and on January 12 the St. Laurent Branch arranged for her to visit Queen Elizabeth Public School, where all the students from grades 4, 5 and 6 had the chance to hear her perform her play and to ask questions and comment after her presentation. JC also gave both groups of students a ‘sneak’ preview of the prototype of  the book adapted from her play. For children in grades 4-6 and their families, this 46-page, illustrated book  tells the whole story about eleven year-old Jake, his mother and grandma in Jake’s own words. Written to encourage families to discuss the challenges that face them all when someone dear to them is living with Alzheimer’s disease, the book includes frequently asked questions and answers, as well as sources of more information. The storybook will be published by General Store Publishing House ( Download an order form and send or fax it to GSPH if you want a copy for you or someone about whom you care.

Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors

JC was quoted in Ottawa This Week’s coverage of the Ottawa Public Library’s Awesome Authors Contest: see–last-chance-to-become-an-awesome-author

A busy time as winter overtakes us all in Ottawa

  • The storybook adaptation of my play, What my grandma means to say, has been illustrated beautifully by Gary Frederick (, and is now with the publisher’s designer. This book about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is written for children in grades 4-6 and their families. It lets Jake share his own story from the time he first notices how his grandma is changing from awesome traveller, bird watcher, and brownie-baker to someone who doesn’t remember his name or where she lives. After she moves to a long-term care residence, the story follows Jake and his family as they adjust to how different their lives together have become.

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“Welcome Winter” with Dylan Thomas and music on Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Child's Christmas In Wales 2010

A Child's Christmas In Wales 2010

JC, together with Allison Woyiwada, produces the third annual reading of the Dylan Thomas classic, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, featuring Rob Clipperton, with Ciana Van Dusen and Scott Olson.
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An Evening of Mystery

On Saturday, October 23,  at 7:30 p.m. at Glebe-St. James United Church, JC joins a panel of local celebrities in Would I lie to you?  a benefit organized by the “Ladies’ Killing Circle”, during which “audience members test their deductive powers against panelists, who may or may not be lying through their collective teeth. Highlights of the evening include wine and refreshments, readings, discussion and much more whodunit fun. The Ladies’ Killing Circle is a group of Ottawa crime writers whose seven anthologies of short stories include Menopause is Murder, When Boomers go Bad, and Going Out with a Bang.“

Chairing the panel is the indomitable Mary Jane Maffini, who pens three award-winning mystery series. Proceeds from the evening will go to the Doug Davidson Building Fund and People, and Words and Change Literacy Organization. Tickets: $35. per person. Call 613-236-0617 for information.

Awesome Authors Contest 2011 and “pot pourri” 2010

pourri cover 2010JC served as a judge of the English poetry submissions to the 2011 Awesome Authors Contest. The awards ceremony on March 29 was wonderful! JC congratulated all the poets who entred the contest and looks forward to the 2011 pot pourri anthology which will publish the winning poems.

On October 9, the OPL hosted the launch of that year’s pot-pourri 2010, the anthology of winning stories and poems from writers 9-11, 12- 14 and 15-17. JC wrote the foreword to the 178-page book. “You have to read these winning entries for yourself to believe just how talented these young writers are. pot-pourri 2010 is an outstanding collection of stories and poems in English and in French. It makes a fine gift for emerging writers and thoughtful readers of any age,” JC commented on the back jacket. To order copies ($12.95 each), please go to:; or contact the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library at 613 580 2424, extension #14383.

JC Honoured by Ottawa Public Library

JC was thrilled to receive the Order of Friendship Award from the Ottawa Public Library at the June 14, 2010 meeting of its Board. The award recognizes JC’s work as a judge for the OPL’s Awesome Authors Contest for over 6 years. As chair of the Board, Councillor Jan Harder explained in her citation, “The OPL Order of Friendship is awarded to individuals, groups or institutions in recognition of outstanding volunteer contributions to the Ottawa Public Library. The individuals we are honouring this evening certainly have gone above and beyond in their volunteer efforts for the OPL.

“The Awesome Authors’ contest has been a cornerstone of children’s and teens services at the Ottawa Public Library since amalgamation. This bilingual program promotes the importance of writing for young people from ages 9 through 17.

“Each year our judges make their way through hundreds of short stories and poems to weigh their merits and award prizes and honorable mentions. The judges tell us each year that the task is enjoyable, if daunting, and they are continually amazed by the quality of the prize-winning entries. In the past four years these judges have looked at over 1400 entries.

“In addition, the judges take the time to attend our awards ceremony to personally hand out the prizes and give the audience a glimpse into why the winning entries deserved merit — teaching all present what makes a good poem or short story.”

JC has focused in recent years on the English poetry submissions from local, emerging writers and co-edited Pot Pourri, the annual anthology of winning poems and short stories published by the Friends of the Ottawa Public Library (FOPLA.)

In accepting this award, JC expressed thanks for the honour and for having been given the opportunity to be involved in the OPL’s excellent annual contest.”It’s both a challenge and a privilege to read the submissions: a privilege, because of the creativity demonstrated by these young poets; and a challenge to choose the winning entries from among so many original submissions. I look forward every year to the surprises between the lines.!”