Poetry in the Time of Corona

This month’s blog is by FJ Doucet

The last half-year has seen tremendous change sweep the world, and we at the Brooklin Poetry Society have not been excepted from the upheaval. After the inception of quarantine, it became clear to us that meeting in person would be a health risk to the group and we, like many other organizations, elected to hold our meetings via Zoom. In some ways online sessions proved more efficient, with otherwise busy members able to attend as they might not have in person. Naturally, however, the move was also disheartening. We missed the familiar milieu of our beloved Brooklin teashop, The Goodberry,

its airy lightness and uplifting fragrance, as well as the chance to escape the sometimes too-familiar walls of home. 

Those walls would become even more familiar, at times oppressively so, over the spring and early summer, as we sheltered in place for the public good. It was not until Stage Three of the quarantine was ushered into Durham Region that we were able to make plans for another in-person meeting. This was finally held in early August, and outside in Grass Park, Brooklin, rather than in a restaurant, to mitigate the continued possibility of infection. It was a delightful, open-air exchange of poetry and ideas, perhaps more enjoyable than most given our long anticipation, but not without adjustments, such as a need to sit far apart.  

We also experienced a significant change in the group’s leadership. As she wrote in her last blog post, our hard-working and exceptionally talented society president, Renée M. Sgroi, decided that the time had come for her to move on from the BPS presidency. She enjoined me to assume leadership of the group, and I agreed to do so with her continued guidance. I headed my first meeting on that bright August day, and we planned for a second with optimism. If all goes well, we will meet outside again on the 13th of this September. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the news for outbreaks.  

Some may say that in such dangerous times, poetry is a mere frivolity and not worth the risk, but I would not be one of them.  I am all too aware that we live in a moment of profound uncertainty, of crisis suspended between a comfortable past and a murky future, yet I believe that the beauty and contemplation of verse may provide peace of mind sufficient to carry us through another strange and disquieting day. For this reason, we plan to continue to provide that solace and hold our meetings consistently. Whether amidst the ornamental clink and perfume of the teashop, in the fresh air of the park, or the convenience of the virtual connection, we will be there, and we invite all of you to join us.  

Finally, I also encourage you to visit the website of our esteemed past president, here. Renee’s debut full-length book of poetry, life print, in points, is now available for order through erbacce press out of Liverpool, England, and we are all immensely proud of her.

Creative resolutions

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words” — Mark Twain

Over the holidays I have been thinking about my involvement in the arts over the years. I have been a visual artist and art teacher for many years, and have turned to poetry within the last decade. My experience teaches me that the imagined accolades I have at the beginning of a project do not necessarily materialize at the end of the undertaking. There is a hollow feeling that follows the months or years of daily focus on a creative project that some people have compared to postpartum depression.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

So what is an artist to do? Well, creating art is a part of the life we chose, or, for some of us who have come to art later in life, creating art is something that we are newly in the process of forging. Either way, we should enjoy the journey, enjoy the pleasure and joy of being in the moment, of exploring, of creating something that never existed, something no one else could have brought into the world but ourselves. No amount of monetary reward compares to watching a person react, perhaps a stranger moved to tears, by something you, the artist, have created.

The creative life after all is about discovering the artist within, whether as a painter, a poet, a dancer, or a musician. It is about paying attention to the spiritual experience the inner and outer worlds offer.

I leave you with a quote by M.C. Richards:

Appreciating poetry is probably like appreciating anything else. It means having the generosity to let a thing be what it is, the patience to know it, a sense of the mystery in all living things, and a joy in new experience.

Wishing you all a very creative 2020!

by John Di Leonardo

Contest winners!

We are so pleased to announce the winners of our 2nd annual contest:

1st place winner: Jan Wood, “Annual Contention”

2nd place winner: Wendy Jean MacLean, “Boxes for Bluebirds”

3rd place winner: Jan Wood, “lessons in trilobites”

Honourable Mentions: Meg Freer, “The Significance of Snowdrops” and Ruth E. Walker, “Water Dreams”

Congratulations to all the winners, and a huge thank you to all those poets who submitted their work and shared their amazing poetry with us!

Our contest judge, David Stones, had this to say about the winning poem, “Annual Contention”:

In “Annual Contention” the poet presents a clear and comprehensible premise, buoyed by lively and imaginative depictions that bubble it along like a fine spring stream freed from the icy claws of winter. Prudent word choice and Wordsworthian genre images capture acutely the pulse and rhythm of spring awakening: “swaying willow skirts”; “hillsides in lush lime coats/wear dandelion boutonnières”; “a steam of trapped sap/pulsing in the veins of birch.” The juxtaposition of this natural turning with the “utterly insignificant greens/of carrots and beans” planted “deliberately,” is further reinforced with the use of a clever, subliminal rhyme scheme employing strategically positioned leonine (within the line) rhymes and rhyming couplets that lend a pleasant cadence throughout: “wear dandelion boutonnières/and home-sown greenery appears/in back yard plots/and pots on decks/nothing reflects the difference….” All told, a tight and accomplished piece of poetry: communicates well, entertains, sends a message and burns a few images into the brain. 





Thanks to our judge, David Stones!

Ode to September

“No longer quite summer and not yet the heart of fall, September is both heat and cold, dark and light.”

President’s note: We here at Brooklin Poetry Society are so happy to return to our monthly meetings and blog posts. We start this year’s blog posts off with this beautiful and introspective piece by one of our newest and accomplished members, Fj Doucet. We hope you enjoy this reflection on poetry!

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September! September! How like a poem is September! The first month of autumn, September lives ambivalently, tucked away in the liminal spaces of sense and memory. It is the start of a season as disorienting as a confession. No longer quite summer and not yet the heart of fall, September is both heat and cold, dark and light. The lush greenery of August, set aflame, falls to the ground and becomes a textured blanket. Once settled, those delicate remains of summer emit a rich, inimitable perfume, one capable of summoning memories of the season long after it has surrendered to the blue chill of winter.

Perhaps that duality is why my childhood memories of autumn are so vivid. They exist in an uneasy place where the cooling air shook off the laziness of summer, but the afternoons could still turn oppressively warm. In the short evening hours between returning from school and the disappearance of the sun, I would often run through fields covered with long, dying grasses, straw-like protrusions burned gold and bowed to the hardening ground. Yet here and there my shoes would still trample a lingering flower, and at the end of the jaunt I was just as likely to throw my sweater away as keep it on.

And how musical those tumbles through the evening fields were, how filled with their own rhythm and natural poetry. The leaves rustled and crunched, flights of birds cawed from far overhead, preparing to follow the pull of blood and instinct to far-away places I could only dream of, and the wind susurrated like a chilly whisper in the encroaching dark. And it was often dark, for the autumn sky is more oppressive than a summer sky, even the bluest and most open dome touched by hints of purple and red. The brightest day is tense with the promise of night.

It must be a hunter’s month, September, the sky rich with game in those final moons before the cold, the rifle proffering a dark and heavy shadow to the horizon. And certainly, it is a poet’s season, perhaps more than any other, for meaning in poetry is most effectual when couched between what is said and what is yet to be said, between what has gone, and what is yet to come—between the dead and the living, between what is whispered and what is kept utterly silent, clasped to the breast.

As a child staring up at the sky, I did not yet have the words to express that ambivalence, but I felt it in my blood, even as the birds felt the call to the south. The ambivalent, indeed the unspeakable, appealed greatly to me on those haunted afternoons and stayed close after, to become a part of my nature–or perhaps it is true that a poet is not made, but born, and I have always followed what cannot, must not, be clearly expressed.

So here I am again in September, a poet still, and childhood far behind me. And though there is beauty to be found in every season, when I step outside late of a September afternoon, I am once more confronted by an inimitable, sensual tapestry, no less striking than when I was a girl. It’s time again to breathe in the perfume of dying flowers and chase like a hunter this blazing chromatic riot of beauty that is all the more affecting for its fleeting, dual nature. Here it is, cleaved in two parts, side by side like a mirror–gold in the sky and gold on the ground.

Here now are some poets born in September:

W.S. Merwin 1927

Dame Edith Sitwell, 1887

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle),  1886

Alfred Noyes, 1880

Elinor Wylie, 1885

by Fj Doucet

April’s blog blooms

What is a blog? Why do we do it?

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

No poet coined such a stone of a word, a blotch of ink that we invite others to step in so they can seep the world from our colour. Feet in ink. A bodiless soup and swimming.

What would e.e. cummings do with the word “blog”? Perhaps something like this:

the bodiless blanket lets me sleep, it is my bed, my waking, the warmth that pulls me from the hushed hello of all darkness and creaking forest mystery, to the tinkering tatatata of eyelashes brushing day, of you and wonder and word and yes and word and yes…bodiless blog of thinking, trying to catch the river in its net of words to say:  “here here here…  is beauty, is living, is the never-again-crystalized moment of wonder.” Where we meet has always been sacred space.

The Brooklin Poetry Society …  and all places where poets, writers, artists, lovers meet is sacred space. My hope is that we all venture into such sacred space. It graces us with a kind of divine presence and sharing that together is beautiful.

I joined the BPS I forget when now which is a comforting thought, like so many family visits: you forget who brought the casserole two years ago.

It is my first poetry club and this, my first blog.

And April.

New beginnings, the pushing of new growth through crusty bark, stiff limbs, dormant heavy soil, feeling newness leak in…  a kind of calling that says you can grow, you can be more.   Poetry is like that too.  Poetry is April.

I suppose you could say poetry is the raspberry that sings like opera in your mouth in June…  the room that keeps you warm in winter, the letting-go leaf that shows time has come in Autumn. So alas, poetry is for all seasons, all reasons and why not especially now, in the surge of Spring?

April will ask us to heed new voices, new branches, to let go of what is past, and to flower each and every one of us in whatever colour/shape/size/space we come upon; let us flower.

We always welcome new members to the BPS, perhaps this will be the April of our Club too. And April is #National Poetry Month.

And the first step to celebrate that is with our own feet, our voices, our attention, our own participation.

Check out the League of Canadian Poets for events: 

http://poets.ca/events/list/

Our own BPS poetry workshop on April 9th at the Whitby Public Library (Central branch) On April 9th: https://www.whitbylibrary.ca/ (to register:

The Griffin Prize:

https://www.griffinpoetryprize.com/event/national-poetry-month/

Open Mike Calendar:

https://poetry.openmikes.org/calendar/ON/2019/4

And finally, some Poets Born in April:

George Herbert 1593-1633

Maya Angelou 1928
William Wordsworth 1770

William Shakespeare 1564-1616

Vladimir Nabokov 1899
Walter de la Mare 1873-1956

Seamus Heaney 1939

Annie Dillard 1945

More poetry please!

Jenny Sorensen

Falling into poetry

For this month’s blog, we here at Brooklin Poetry Society took an online look at poems written about the month of February. There were the inevitable poems about Valentine’s Day, and even one about February 29th, that elusive extra day. There were poems written by Boris Pasternak, Anne Bronte, Hilaire Belloc, Denise Levertov, Coleridge, and Margaret Atwood (to name just a few).

Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

For those of us living in Canada, February can be bleak. Snow, cold, sometimes sleet, or an endless number of grey and cloudy days. But there’s always poetry. And there’s always time to fall into poetry in a way that is similar to falling in love.

So while the snow may fall around you, or your thoughts may turn to that special someone, we challenge you to spend some time falling into poetry. What poems will you fall in love with?

PS: here’s a link to that February poem by Margaret Atwood: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47787/february-56d2288025b1e

Welcome to the Brooklin Poetry Society

Welcome!

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. Please feel free to find us on Facebook (@Brooklin Poetry Society), Instagram (@brooklinpoetrysociety) and Twitter (@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.

The Brooklin Poetry Society gratefully acknowledges the generous financial support of the Town of Whitby’s Performing Arts Community Development Fund. https://www.whitby.ca/en/

Thanks for visiting!

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