September is for poetry

As the leaves begin to turn yellow orange and red, our thoughts begin to turn to poetry again!

With that in mind, we offer our congratulations to the winners and honourable mentions of the 4th annual Brooklin Poetry Society writing contest.

On the theme of renaissance, interpretations were scintillating and diverse!

The complete text of all the finalists’ works are now available for your reading pleasure:

4th Annual Poetry Contest Shortlist

Just mid-way through the summer and we already have a shortlist for our fourth annual poetry contest, with poets chosen by our very talented judge and previous year’s winner, Anna Yin.

Thank you to everyone who submitted and congratulations to everyone on the list! Winners will be announced at the end of this month.

In alphabetical order, our shortlist:

Moni Brar

Debbie Okun Hill

Sara MacDonald

Nilofar Shidmehr

Pamela Yuen

Tra La It’s May

This month’s blog writer, Gail M. Murray, explores the month of May as it appears in both history and verse.

 May reminds me of Scarborough Music Theatre’s production of Lerner and Lowe’s Camelot. I’m securing silk daisies in my hair before bursting on stage to perform our dazzling production number “The Lusty Month of May”. As members of Lady Guinevere’s court, we frolic among the flowers, as we go a-maying. Guinevere, more sensuous earth goddess than regal queen, meets celibate Lancelot at the end of this romp.

Tra la, it’s May, the lusty month of May                                             

          That darling month when everyone throws self-control away

          It’s May, it’s May that gorgeous holiday

          When all the world is brimming with fun, wholesome or un-

Earliest known May celebrants…

An Acorn in the Desert

Just as we move into another Whitby spring, we get one last gust of winter, with snowfall this April first. Appropriately, Patrick Meade‘s blog for this month is the deceptively simple and wonderfully charming tale of a little Snowflake falling from Earth to sky and living a thousand lives all the way down.

Hey, Little Snowflake, what are you up to?

Hi, Grand Snowflake. Not much. Like you, I’m just falling.

I know you’re falling, but what else are you doing?

Oh, nothing. Just waiting, I guess.

For what?

Until I reach Earth.

Would you like to play a game while we’re falling?

Sure, which one?

How about a game of What If?

Oh, I like that. But do we have time?

Sure, we have plenty of time, Little One, before that happens.

Who goes first?

YOU, LITTLE SNOWFLAKE…

We offer refuge

The blog for March is written by veteran BPS member Jenny Sorensen

I remember some years ago listening to an interview with an acclaimed literary critic on CBC radio and he pointed out something both simple and true:  books – and literature – provide companionship.

The Brooklin Poetry Society, by its very nature, offers companionship.

Through words.

Through ideas.

With the evocation of feeling in poetry, the walls are down.

We can create a tapestry of meaning out of who we are anytime, anywhere.

This has always been the shaman in the human.

This ability to transcend, to reinvent, to overcome and recreate– we are bird, fish. We are river, rock, history and future.

The Buddhists speak of sangha, a community of the devout, where we take refuge. In this sacred place, we take refuge. I like that–this sense of sheltering in something.

Everywhere, life seeks its soil, its air, its water, and we, we lift ourselves, long needles seeking meaning. How we thread it through our lives–the patterns, the threads we choose, the gaps and material we bring together. The cable and satellite we string with face and voice and thought. We weave a blanket with our reaching.  Far and wide. Near and present.

when the moment is quiet and still in the mush of night and the slide of day when you look inside the fabric you have made this is the blanket here is warmth here is sacred here is companionship here is shelter

March is upon us, that time of year when we feel and see that even that which has been closed, that which has been dormant, hidden, has seeds and life and potential, waiting to sing. It surrounds us

each and every single bud on the great tree

the individual in the sacred

woven together with presence and intention

even when we feel alone, birds fly overhead

trees grow in the space between leaf and limb.

There is a lift in in the fabric we are part of, the spaces inside the weave full of hope and faith, intelligence, need and ambition, kindness. We take refuge. We keep each other warm. I am in this. You are in this. We stand not part of it, but within it. All around us, this great, leaping, deeping happening is our refuge.

If we were to take a moment and think about what we value, what’s important, here are some dates to consider for this month:

  • March 3rd – World Wildlife Day
  • March 6th – National Oreo Day
  • March 12th – World Sleep Day – why is that on a Friday??? 
  • March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day
  • March 21st – World Poetry Day
  • March 27th – Passover
  • March 27th – NAACP Awards
  • March 28th – Palm Sunday

Five Minutes a Day

The blog for February, 2021 is written by our own Past President, Renée M. Sgroi.

I was in a Zoom meeting the other day with a group of beginning writers, and was asked about providing some advice for those just setting out on a path towards something that could be called capital W, “Writing”.

I think as writers, everyone comes to “Writing” differently. For some, writing is a hobby, or one they have returned to after an absence of many years.

For others, writing is something they have continually done all their lives, but inconsistently so, sporadically, while for others, writing is a necessity, a passion, the source of all inspiration.

While I make no claims to being an expert on living a “writer’s life” (whatever that may be, in any case), being further along the path than some of the participants in the meeting, I offered the following suggestion.

Especially as poets, perhaps one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to be consistent. That is, to write every day. And yes, right now, that might be an even greater challenge than it was in a pre-pandemic world, for so many reasons.

So what if you only have five minutes to spare? That’s okay! Five minutes a day is five minutes towards a person’s engagement with their own creative practice. The world’s greatest poem may not be written in five minutes, but then, ignoring one’s own creativity won’t produce that poem either.

And that five minutes can be whatever you want it to be. Freewrite, focused writing, journaling, whatever. But the more consistent it is, the easier it will be to write, to flex that part of the brain that loves to write, that can write.

Fortunately, I think poetry lends itself to shorter time frames. Not because poems are shorter than other types of writing, but because the economy of language that a poem relies on, means that those five minutes could be spent on just one line. Think about that for a sec: one day, one line.

So as we head into a February still circumscribed by pandemic restrictions, try it out. Take advantage of a solid five minutes each day. You might be surprised by what you will create!

Photo by Giallo on Pexels.com

When the Creative Spirit Stirs

This month’s blog is written by long-time BPS member John di Leonardo.

January lingers as a proper time to faithfully reflect on the previous year and a unique opportunity to make fresh starts. I personally like making New Year’s resolutions regarding creative projects, specific goals I would like to achieve in the next twelve months. I routine manage this, while sipping my morning espresso, by reading new poets, perusing my art book collection or, later at night, by mining YouTube for influential artists’ programs, exhibitions and interviews.

The other day I was flipping through my many sketchbooks and inevitably began reading notes I had randomly jotted down concerning the creative process. These handwritten notations, quotes and sketches gave me some pause and possible ideas for future paintings and poems. I thought I’d share the notes with you, with the earnest hope to stir the muse or creative juices and to explore novel ways of creating. I am not just interested in technically proficient artwork, but also work that assumes risks, and inevitably leads to that in flow moment where everything feels harmonious, unified, and effortless until you look up six hours later and smile.

Sketchbook Notes: Art/Poetry

  • Let your imagination roam free. Be receptive to all things; embrace risk and failure– this is part of the creative process!
  • Trust your inner voice. Your gut feeling has evolved over millions of years, so dismiss the inner voice that whispers “They will think I’m foolish.”
  • Give risky ideas time for your unconscious mind to mull over a solution. Sleep on it.
  • Recombine ordinary words and images. Be open to new possibilities of ideas, words, images in new and unpredictable associations.
  • Question the rules that govern the art form. Know the rules. Bend them, then break them! Break them! Even if people tell you they like your old work better.
  • Break away from current narrative forms. Experiment with meter & syntax; seek new purity in word & phrase. Lower the tone to a whisper. Slow down the pace. Fill each pause with meaning.
  • Be technically proficient but go well beyond the page or canvas. That is where art resides.
  • Always keep an eye on form & content, the what and the how. What am I saying? And why am I saying it this way? Unity and harmony is a must in any artwork!
  • Be aware of your culture’s needs and wants, the beautiful and the dark. Read ideas; read artists; read philosophy and read things you are not interested in. Have an opinion!
  • Explore new subjects and create new genres in the art form.
  • Imply a visual or word puzzle that makes you ask, “What is going on?”
  • Strive to attain an essential, literal and visual language that is both ephemeral and deep, one that fosters associative feelings and meanings.
  • Strive for layered, ambiguous work. Multiple viewpoints offer fresh meanings with each new reading or viewing.
  • Show what a new art or poetry could be. The process is everything.
  • And finally, have fun!
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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

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