The little cottage restaurant had standing room only, with the tinkling of the chimes, announcing more people arriving at the door. There was a diverse crowd for this occasion. From the “King of Cambridge’s” writing crowd, Mr. Bob Green, to three local high school students, who saw that the Canoe Poets were coming to town and thought this, would be fun way to spend a Tuesday evening. These three teem were Emma Burger, Kailee Van de Vegte and Melissa Tran. They are starting up a youth run social justice group called “The Cambridge Youth Mobilizers.” Kailee and Emma are from GCI and Melissa is from Preston. They want youth who are passionate about local and world issues or youth who want to give to the community and don’t know how, to join The Cambridge Youth Mobilizers. I was shaking with excitement when I took a picture of Bob Green and the girls.
Eight poets have braved the weather, waters and campsites for 8 days, leaving families and the warm comforts of home to reveal their craft to the communities along the Grand River. I was told that when they land the first thing they look for is a way to recharge their communication devices. This is the second year “The Fish Quill Poets have made this.” Leigh, Linda and Dan made the trip last year and are relaying their knowledge to the “newbies” this year. Elora last Thursday and have made their way down the shallow Grand River in 4 canoes stuffed with waterproof bags and barrels full of their possession. They are ending up Saturday just south of Brantford at Chiefswood. Most of these hearty souls, are being published for the first time this year and their excitement is infectious. You could tell that the new book or wrinkled papers in their hands, were words that came straight from the heart and they wanted you the audience to share in their passion. The readings and songs was a little over an hour long with one intermission where everyone enjoyed the ice cream and goodies the Okeefe Cottage had to offer.
Abigail Lapell, Nick Thran, Linda Besner, Leigh Kotsilidis,
Helen Guri, Gabe Foreman, Daniel Kincade Renton, Asa Boxer
During this tour at every stop they invite local poets. We were honoured and thoroughly entertained by Antonio Michael Downing. He read from his latest book “Molassas”. His expression and vocalizing of his work was infectious. So infectious this journalist had to run out and by one of his books. Mr. Downing has worn many hats in his career.Singer, song writer, poet, author…..to name a few. He now resides in Kitchener.
After it was over everyone stood around talking. Pictures were taken, autograph’s were signed in freshly printed books on cd’s, and business cards were exchanged all during conversations on how their craft is revealed and how we can make this a bigger and better event next year. Talks of tents and sound systems were whispered.
The next morning I met the group at ChurchHill Park to watch the launch of these brave souls. When I arrived I was courious to find out how they had made out during the thunderstorms the previous night. They assured me that they had weathered nicely and not one sleeping bag was the tiniest wet. They were packing their belonging in “wet bags” and plastic barrels. When Andy and arrived from “Treks in the Wild” with the canoes everyone grabbed their gear and they all headed across the road to launch. I marveled at all the slugging and caring these artist had to do and I commented as such. One of the men said, yes it is a lot of work and a lot of fun work!” I asked the couple from Treks all about the trip. He told that he had supplied and canoes and some equipment for the trip. Andy also supplied “pointers” for a smooth trip last year that was handed down from the veterans to the newbie this year. They looked excited to take off to the next leg of the trip….through downtown Cambridge past the beautiful stone buildings on to Paris. They believe it would be a 4 hour trip. So we waved goodbye as they floated down the river promising it would be bigger and better next year.Tags: Bob Green