Welcome to the Brooklin Poetry Society


Welcome to the official website of the Brooklin Poetry Society. We are a small poetry collective located in Brooklin, Ontario, dedicated to furthering the spaces for poets and poetry on the shores of Lake Ontario and surrounding areas. Our site is currently a work in progress, but we hope you’ll enjoy the poetry you find here. In the meantime, please feel free to find us on Facebook and tweet us @BrooklinPoetSoc.

Please be aware that the contents of all web pages on this website are protected by copyright law and may not be used in whole, or in part, without the express consent of the authors.

Thanks for visiting!


How Do You Define Poetry?


If you have been writing for a long time your definition of poetry may have evolved as you have developed your craft. As someone who has been writing poetry for several years, I, too, find that my approach and understanding of poetry has changed. Poetry that presently resonates with me has less to do with story and more to do with feeling, so my current definition of poetry may be “the expression of genuine feeling through creative imagery.”

I feel it is essential for working artists/poets to be clear about what defines their art form for them personally. Clarity may serve well as a focus, strength, and a beacon when working long hours in that ocean of isolation and doubt. Many poets throughout history have defined “poetry” for themselves in order to sustain the dance with what is sometimes a capricious muse.

Here is a list of poetry definitions I’ve compiled. They are in no particular order. Peruse them, see which definition of poetry best resonates with you, make it your lighthouse…and enjoy!

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech” — Simonides (556 – 468 BCE)

“Poetry comes nearer to vital truth than history” — Plato (427  – 347 BCE)

“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words” — Edgar Allan Poe

“Poetry is emotion put into measure” — Thomas Hardy

“Poetry is the spontaneous outflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origins from emotion recollected in tranquility” — William Wordsworth, Lyrical Ballads, 1802

“(Poetry is) a kind of ingenious nonsense” — Isaac Newton

“Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance” — Carl Sandburg

“Poetry is what gets lost in translation” — Robert Frost

“Poetry is a rhythmical form of words which express an imaginative-emotional-intellectual experience of the writer’s…in such a way that it creates a similar experience in the mind of his reader or listener” — Clive Sansom

“Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds” — Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things” — T. S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)

“(Poetry) is the lava of the imagination whose eruption prevents an earthquake” — Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)

“Poetry is the deification of reality. Edith Sitwell” — (1887 – 1964), Life magazine, 01-04-63

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood” — T. S. Eliot (1888 – 1965)

“Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. Percy Shelley” — A Defence of Poetry, 1821

“Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth”. Samuel Johnson

“Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads in them” — Marianne Moore

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful” — Rita Dove

“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world” — Percy Bysshe Shelley

“Poetry: the best words in the best order” —  Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Many of these quotes are from many sources, including Brainy Quote, Quotes about Poetry, Quotations Page, The Quote Garden, etc…

John Di Leonardo

February romance

President’s note: This month’s blog comes to us courtesy of new member, Gail M. Murray, an accomplished writer, and all around romantic.


Romantic Love in Poetry

Love – whether first blush, ardent passion or lost love – is a universal theme in literature. In the 13th century, Persian poet and mystic Rumi wrote “I open and fill with love, what is not love, evaporates/All the learning in books stays put on the shelf/Poetry the dear words and images of song, comes down over me like mountain water.” Portrayed here, love is all encompassing, overpowering. Love inspires him to write. Words flow naturally like a cool stream of water.

In the 16th century, with star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare immortalizes romantic love in iambic pentameter. His simple, memorable oxymoron, “parting is such sweet sorrow”, so often quoted it seems cliché, conveys the longing lovers experience when they say goodbye. The lovers’ intense emotions culminate in tragedy.

In the 19th century, poets reacting to cities and industrialization looked to love and nature for inspiration. Today with technology infiltrating our lives, is not the need for respite even greater?

When someone mentions romance to me, I think of The Romantics – Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Wordsworth. What woman would not be wooed by Byron’s “she walks in beauty like the night”? Not a brief text but something requiring thought, time, and preferably hand written is most likely to elicit the desired response. Who would not be touched by a love letter or poem, created just for them?

Since I first studied John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn“, he has been one of my heroes. His lovers are frozen forever in time. In my own writing, I endeavor to capture the moment.

From the 20th century comes e. e. cummings’ ethereal line “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)”, depicting how the lover’s world revolves around the loved one.

Pablo Neruda, known for his earthy and erotic writing, has my sympathy when he writes of love as a double edged sword. It can bring great joy and great pain as echoed in his “night is shattered and blue stars shiver in the distance…..my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.” This is taken from his poignant “Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines”.

In writing about love, poets pour out feelings in precise language with haunting images that tear at the reader’s heart. Wordsworth has the best definition of poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling …..recollected in tranquility.”  Is this perhaps what we aspire to achieve? My best writing comes from the affective domain. It is not forced. After leaving it a while I must change hats, become the objective editor, and finally ask for my fellow writers’ assistance to critique.

So as florists stock up on roses, let us give a nod to our forebears and a vote of gratitude to our fellow writers.


Looking Back to 2017

What an exciting year 2017 was for the Brooklin Poetry Society! Not only did we launch our new website, Twitter feed, and Facebook page in 2017, we were also awarded arts funding from the Mayor’s Community Development Fund, Town of Whitby, which allows us to support our initiatives for the coming year. In 2017, our members continued to write, support one another, and share our work through competitions such as the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival and The Banister (Canadian Authors’ Association, Niagara Branch), poetry associations such as the League of Canadian Poets, websites such as Buried Horror, and through the publication of our poetry manuscripts. Membership grew in 2017, and we are always happy to accept new members as we continue to increase and expand our presence in Whitby and the broader Durham region.

2018 promises to be an exciting year for BPS as we look forward to the publication of our poetry anthology, Written Tenfold, which will include the work of some of our newest BPS members! In addition, we will be hosting a poetry café with the Whitby Public Library in April, and, as always, we will continue to have our monthly poetry meetings that sustain our writing practice and our community of poets. Keep checking our events page for details about the poetry café and anthology launch!

Finally, as I look back and reflect on 2017, I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from all BPS members in my new role as president. I especially wish to acknowledge once again my debt of gratitude for the continued assistance and guidance of Rod Stone and John Di Leonardo. To all BPS members, and to poets everywhere who have enjoyed reading our blogs and poetry in 2017, I wish you a happy and healthy 2018, and of course, much time for reading and writing poetry!

Happy New Year!

Renée M. Sgroi,


Poetry in December

Our December blog is from Brooklin Poetry Society founding member, Bradley McIlwain.

On one of my recent walks, I found myself in a clearing, fall’s fiery colours swirled around my feet, each leaf a line of verse or memory. I thought about what John Keats wrote, that “if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.”

Then snow fell, creating a blank canvas. Like the seasons, it reminded me that poetry is always cyclical, and reciprocal. We are constantly changing and creating change through our writing. Words can instill magic, a sense of wonder of the mysterious magical language of nature and our place within it.

It is easy to imagine Romantic poets such as Byron or Keats, sitting alone in their study with little more than a candle and a decanter of wine, quill in hand, pouring out their melancholy in verse. But even Byron, mad, bad, and dangerous to know, needed company from time to time.

In 1816, Byron invited Percy Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft to his home in Geneva, Switzerland and on a rainy evening, where Byron encouraged them to tell ghost stories. That evening planted the roots for Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein.

The story always fascinated me, and I realize that on dark, December nights, haunting cafés with my friends in Brooklin, poets gather, ideas are exchanged, stories created, tales told and inspiration is born.

Joining the Brooklin Poetry Society in 2008 has offered me an opportunity to grow the seeds of writing like Jack and his magic Beanstalk, and I have been continually inspired to seek the language of poetry in my daily life.


Poetry in November

President’s note: “This month, founding member Theresa Donnelly reflects on Brooklin Poetry Society’s origins, and on her own journey as a poet.”

In September of 2008, three poetic souls came together at # 6 Campbell Street in Brooklin, Ontario for the first meeting of the Brooklin Poetry Society. It’s hard to believe that here we are so many years later, still as passionate about poetry as ever. We have since grown in numbers and have tirelessly promoted the art of poetry in the region. So it was particularly satisfying to accept the grant from the Mayor’s Community Development Fund last month in recognition of that effort. We continue to move forward and it’s exciting that our second anthology is in the making and will be released for our very special 10th Anniversary in 2018.

When asked recently what does poetry do for me, a quote from  a First Nations’ Elder came to mind. ‘In your society everyone wears watches but no one has time’. Poetry allows me time. In an ever increasingly crazy-busy-world, my channel of creativity demands I offer it some part of my day or my week. Surprisingly enough, I usually find the time even when I think it’s virtually impossible!

My poetic journey probably began in my mother’s womb upon hearing the lyrical loveliness of her voice. When I was 10 years old, I fell in love with W.B. Yeats upon reading ‘The Stolen Child’. I was at the age when one is told to start to fold away childish things. That poem and others like it, gave me permission to hold on to the magic of childhood and honour what might be described as the purest place inside us. So as an adult, I could delve into the realm of imagination fervently.

I believe poetry, like the other arts, connects us to our humanity through beauty and emotional power. Whatever the style, whether it be colloquial, cathartic, evocative, elegiac, fervent, fanciful: poetry can help us deepen the relationship between mind, heart and soul. I believe it allows us to tap into the beautiful truth that lies within each of us.

It’s been said that man’s greatest fear is death, if so, let us be soothed with a quote from another favourite poet, Kahlil Gibran. ‘For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun, and when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance

Theresa Donnelly

Poetry in October

President`s note: This month, new member Ann Peacock blogs about the benefits of joining a poetry circle, and discovering her own love of poetry.

Ann’s October Blog Post for BPS website

“A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” — W. H. Auden

As a new member of the Brooklin Poetry Society, I’ve discovered a friendly, welcoming group of poets. It’s an opportunity to grow as a poet through encouragement and feedback. This group provides opportunities to share my work, and express myself with other members as well as online. I look forward to our anthology to be published in the spring. Belonging to the BPS also allows me to enjoy the poetry of other members.

In school, I disliked poetry because it was dissected to death. As a young adult reading poems on my own, I felt a shift. Suddenly, some poems started appearing to me – MY own poetry. As time passed, I realized that poetry could express my feelings about a variety of things. I could reflect on life in a unique way. An exciting discovery!

For me, poetry is a musical way to communicate. It’s a way for me to move to the heart of ideas and feelings about life. Some poems are hard-hitting, some lighthearted, and some between these extremes. I use poetry to share a variety of feelings and moods as well as comment on important issues.

If you wait until every poem you write is the best it can be, you might never finish one. In fact, you might be too intimidated to even get started. Paul Valéry, a French poet and author said, “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” Time for me to abandon this post and go write another poem!

Ann Peacock

Arts Funding Update

Brooklin Poetry Society is so pleased to announce it has received arts funding from the Mayor’s Community Development Fund, Town of Whitby!

Many thanks to past President John Di Leonardo for his work on initiating the request for funds, and especially to Don Mitchell, Mayor of Whitby and the Community Development Fund for their support of arts in our community!

mayor's community development fund

For information about the Fund, please go to: http://www.whitby.ca/en/townhall/Community-Development-Funds.asp