The Year in Poetry

By  | December 16, 2012 | 0 Comments | Filed under: Poetry

Poetry has always been the poorer cousin, it seems, of the literary arts. Okay, maybe not always. I’m sure that back in the day, when the titans of poetry, the Henry Wadsworth Longfellows, the Walt Whitmans, your Ezra Pounds and e. e. cummingses, roamed the earth, poetry received its due. In those days poets were likely lauded and praised, and the written verse was likely heralded as a literary art form of the ages. But nowadays poetry chapbooks, and anthologies don’t fly off the bookshelves. In poetry circles, there are no mega-selling authors like J. K. Rowling, Stephen King or Danielle Steele.

Poetry has built its audience bit by bit, as I have noted in previous columns, through book launches, coffee house reading events, poetry slams, and arts and cultural happenings and groups like Cambridge’s Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts, the Cambridge Arts Festival, Riverfest, and the Cambridge Writers Collective.

This past May, for instance, two local artists, Judee Richardson-Schofield and Brenda Turnour came up with an idea for a collaborative project showcasing the diversity of art interpretation.

They called it “Mixing It Up: Artistic Interpretations”. This event attracted an audience of more than 100 and involved approximately 20 local artistes of all stripes, including yours truly, who were teamed up across the city creating and collaborated in their respective milieux. At a point in my creative life when, through my various artistic networking efforts, I thought that I knew or was at least acquainted with most of the artists in this city (they/we are a rather tight-knit bunch) I found myself teamed with a complete stranger, a wonderful and charming Preston artist by the name of Heidi Hirschmann. Heidi and I were tasked to create work of art combining her talents as an artist and mine as a writer. Heidi and I were given the topic “Babbling Brook”, and then given carte blanche to come up with free associate and develop something unique and original. While Heidi’s beautiful painting, “earthsoul”, is not currently on exhibit, my poem, also entitled “earthsoul” appeared in the June issue of the Citizen.

While I have digressed a bit here, my point is that through the efforts of these artistically-minded folks in this community; the various festival organizers, the micro-publishers, the self-publishers, and most importantly, the writers themselves, the audience for written word/spoken word/performance poetry has grown in the past few years and will, I believe, continue to grow in 2013 and beyond.

This past year has been a wonderful education for me. As a regular contributor and poetry columnist for this newspaper, I have had the great opportunity to write about and explore the varied aspects of poetry. There is still much to learn, more than what could likely be contained in these pages, but as I discover more about the world of poetry, the more I will try to keep everyone informed, entertained and, hopefully, enlightened. Even just a little bit.

So, as this column (and the Citizen itself) marks its first anniversary, I’d like to be the first to offer congratulations [WA1] and thanks to those who have contributed their poetry and prose to these pages.

Thank you for what you have written and for what you have yet to write. “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”



Bill Ashwell has been a member of the Cambridge Writers Collective and a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Group of Waterloo Region since 1995. He was a contributor for FM 98.5 CKWR’s Monday Night with the Arts radio program and has served as Literary Coordinator for the Cambridge Arts Festival. His work has been published in the Writers Undercover Anthologies, The Cambridge Wartime Scrapbook, and in Ascent Aspiration Magazine’s Aguaterra Anthology of poetry and fiction. In 2007 Bill was awarded the City of Cambridge’s Bernice Adams Memorial Award for Literary Arts.

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