Celebrating the outstanding contribution of Flavia Cosma and Cornelia Hoogland have given to poetry in Canada.
The League of Canadian Poets is delighted to celebrate the hard work and dedication that Cornelia Hoogland and Flavia Cosma contribute to poetry. Their gift of time, care, and community has created a lasting impact on poetry in Canada. Volunteers are uniquely important players in the Canadian literary and arts scene– so many of the precious moments we spend enjoying and appreciating poetry are fueled by the efforts of dedicated volunteers. We hope that you will take time to celebrate the special volunteers in your life this National Volunteer Week 2023, and please join us in celebrating the invaluable contribution of Cornelia Hoogland and Flavia Cosma!
Why Volunteer for Poetry?
Cornelia Hoogland, award-winning poet of eight books, is the 2023 winner of the Colleen Thibaudeau Award for Outstanding Contribution by the League of Canadian Poets for thirty years of volunteering in the literary community. She founded and was the first director of both the Antler River Poetry (https://antlerriverpoetry.ca/) in London, Ontario and Poetry Hornby Island on Hornby Island, B.C. (https://www.facebook.com/cornelia.hoogland, which she continues to direct). What set the series apart was Hoogland’s pre-reading poetry workshop that simultaneously built and sustained a dedicated following of life-long learners, both as practitioners and audience. Hoogland’s workshops encouraged a diversity of attendees—kids passing by who came for a signature for their social workers (the one who pulled a crumpled poem from their pocket to share), curious neighbours, queer and other folk who’d always wanted to “write something” (who became board members, or published their own books, or created their own events). Hoogland expanded Poetry Readings to be co-creations that included participants’ voices in deciding what happened and who got to speak.
Poetry Hornby Island celebrates Poetry Month on Thursday, April 20, with a lineup of eight poets. Thanks to the League’s diverse program, the young poets (not necessarily in terms of age) who haven’t yet published and are, therefore, ineligible for conventional funding, will receive League funding. First time reading for some poets such as Elaine Savoie, Metis, from a family of boat builders and mother mysteries, who grew up and farms on Hornby Island. Terrified, she started writing poetry, and still terrified, she is reading her own brilliant poems on Thursday.
Hoogland, whose work attempts to expand what counts as literature and who’s included, couldn’t be happier.
Hoogland thanks artist, poet and librarian Christine Walde for the nomination, and whose project, the Colleen Thibaudeau “Balloon” billboard, was viewed by thousands. Hoogland thanks the many board members and volunteers who enrich communities through their literary activities under the magnificent umbrella of Antler River Poetry. Special thanks to Karen Schindler, co-director with Cornelia for many years, and to Dave Barrick and Kevin Heslop. On Hornby Island Hoogland thanks to New Horizons, Judith Lawrence for Tiamat, our literary hub, Hornby Arts, and the island’s many dedicated poets and writers. And lastly, my thanks to the League of Canadian Poets for this award, and for ongoingly supporting literary efforts across Canada. And to the many volunteers.
Volunteering Gives Hope to the Terrified
Cornelia Hoogland’s strength lies in encouraging participants to co-create inclusive literary communities that speak to their needs and goals. Cultures change and branch off in new directions. This can result in expanding the boundaries of conventional reading series to include immigrants, street-informed youth, as well as people who struggle with instability of any kind. Des attended Hoogland’s classes for a year before she contributed her first few lines of poetry about the mother she never met. Mona, with limited English (“Help! I can’t read what I wrote!”), took up sound poetry mixed with storytelling. Dix pushed a torn paper across the workshop table to Hoogland with the poem they’d written about their friend who, tragically, overdosed. They read it aloud. Hoogland’s goal is to help people find their way to poetry and writing that she believes can enrich and perhaps improve lives.
About Cornelia Hoogland – Bio
Cornelia Hoogland’s Woods Wolf Girl (Wolsak and Wynn, 2011) was a finalist for the ReLit Award for Poetry. Sea Level was a finalist for the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize, and Tourists Stroll a Victoria Waterway was a finalist for the CBC Poetry Prize. Her poetry collection, Trailer Park Elegy, was a finalist for the Raymond Souster award. Cosmic Bowling, A Girl Walks into the Woods, a graphic novel with Londoner Diana Tamblyn, and Dressed in Only a Cardigan She Picks up Her Tracks in the Snow (Baseline), are her latest books. Hoogland was the 2019 writer-in-residence for the Al Purdy A-Frame andthe WhistlerFestival. www.corneliahoogland.com, Twitter @Choogland, Instagram
Reflections on Cornelia’s contribution
The world can change through literary citizenship. The antidote to hopelessness is art. Cornelia Hoogland’s commitment to mentorship of writing and writers continues to create a different world. Suddenly there are poems splashing from the boughs of trees. The benevolence and wit of poems is available in the dim-light and the dusty archives of our cabinet-minds. The current runs beneath our feet, reminding us there’s more to write, to share, to shape. There’s space. Sometimes it takes just one person, creating that space consistently, to generate these worlds; these poems and narratives and tentative words that glow. Cornelia does that, here on Hornby, through organizing readings, creating residencies and teaching writing.
Petra Jane Chambers
I come from a Metis family of boat builders and mother mysteries. Terrified, I started writing memoir under Cornelia’s instruction. One day she asked us to write a poem .That day a new world opened up for me and continued with Cornelia’s support, encouragement and classes. Now poetry and growing things are what excite me most.
Why Volunteer for Poetry?
I consider poetry the ultimate gift bestowed on us by the Divinity. When in the year of 2009 I started the project of an International Poets’ Festival in the heart of the Laurentides Region of Quebec, namely in the tiny village of Val-David, I was animated only by two things: the necessity of meeting and sharing poetry with fellow poets, and my profound conviction that poetry has its metaphysical substance above any language, substance that will allow poets to reunite and understand each other’s creation regardless of any language barrier, communicating in a kind of “universal language”. It was a pure work of love, a bet and a wild hope for a tiny concept. Today, we are at the 27th edition of our Biannual Poets and Writers Festival, a Festival that grew and developed beyond my wildest dreams and which not only survived the terrible pandemic of Covid-19 but managed to expand and incorporate many outstanding contemporary literary creators from Quebec, from Canada and from the whole world.
The Biannual International Writers’ Festival at Val-David, QC is a multicultural, multilingual event that reunites renowned poets from all over the world, from Canada and the province of Quebec. The festival is taking place since 2009 in the village of Val-David, in the heart of the Laurentides region, Quebec, Canada. The festival reaches its 27th edition on June 24th and 25th, 2023. All are invited to attend and the event is free of charge. You can look for details, photos, programs and participants’ comments: https://www.flaviacosma.com/festivals.php?lang=en
About Flavia Cosma – Bio
Flavia Cosma is an award-winning Romanian-born Canadian poet, author and translator. She has a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest. Later she studied Drama at the Community School of Arts—Bucharest, Romania. She is also an award-winning independent television documentary producer, director, and writer, and has published more than 50 books of poetry, novels, memoirs and children literature. Her work has been represented in numerous anthologies in various countries and languages, and her book, 47 Poems, (Texas Tech University Press, 1992) received the ALTA Richard Wilbur Poetry in Translation Prize (USA). Cosma was nominated three times for The Pushcart Prize with poems from Leaves of a Diary (2006), The Season of Love (2008) and Thus Spoke the Sea (2008). Flavia Cosma was awarded the Third Prize in the John Dryden Translation Competition – 2007, for translating In the Arms of The Father, poems by Flavia Cosma, (British Comparative Literature Association & British Literary Translation Centre) Cosma’s Songs at the Aegean Sea made the Short List in the Canadian Aid Literary Awards Contest, Dec. 2007. Cosma’s poetry book Leaves of a Diary was studied at the University of Toronto E. J. Pratt Canadian Literature during the school year 2007-2008 (Professor George Elliott Clarke). Her poetry book, Thus Spoke the Sea, was taught during the Spring 2014 Semester at Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA (Professor Alan Britt). Her poetry book, The Latin Quarter, was studied at Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA during the school year 2016-2017— English 261 (Elements of Poetry) class, Professor Alan Britt). Flavia Cosma has translated into Romanian, English, French and Spanish more than 10 internationally renowned contemporary writers from Europe, Canada, USA and Latin America. Flavia Cosma received the Title of Excellence for her outstanding contribution in the promotion and enrichment of the Romanian culture within the European region and throughout the world, awarded by The International Festival “Lucian Blaga”, XXIX edition, Sebeş-Alba, Romania, 2009; Flavia was decorated with the Golden Medal and was appointed Honorary Member by the Casa del Poeta Peruano, Lima, Peru, 2010, for her poetry and her work as an international cultural promoter. Flavia Cosma was declared HUESPEDE DISTINGUIDO (Distinguished Guest) by the City of Federación, Provincia Entre Rios, Argentina on the occasion of her participation in the Fourth International Encounter “Escritores sin Fronteras” at Casa de la Cultura Municipal, Federación, Entre Rios, – March17 and 18, 2017.Flavia Cosma was a WINNER OF THE POETIC BOND POETS’ CHOICE AWARD 2017 with the poem “I Gathered it All…” (international poetry anthology THE POETIC BOND VII, Nov. 2017.) Flavia Cosma is the Director of the International Writers’ and Artists’ Residence at Val-David, Quebec, Canada www.flaviacosma.com/Val_David.html, and the Director of the Biannual International Writers and Artists Festivals at Val-David, QC. Flavia is the International Editor at Červená Barva Press, Somerville, MA, USA. Flavia Cosma: www.flaviacosma.com