Poetry In Union 2021

Poetry in Union – A Poetry Experience for Valentine’s Day

We have all experienced distance and disconnection in the past year. On February 14th, 2021, we invite you to join us for a special Valentine’s Day Poetry Experience, connecting hearts across the distance.

Spontaneous poetry writing can capture the feeling, image or essence of a special moment, event or conversation. We will connect you with a Canadian Poet who, after a brief conversation, will write a unique, personal, and beautiful spontaneous poem just for you. This unique experience is an uplifting way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, connecting us for an intimate moment when many of us are so far apart.

For the past few years, we have offered spontaneous poetry-writing live and in person at Union, station to great success, but this year we have been challenged to be creative and take the event online … and for a good cause …

Every poem will support the League of Canadian Poets in our ever-expanding outreach and support of diverse poetry projects across Canada, regional poet initiatives, readings, and evens, mentorship with emerging poets and support of BIPOC and anti-oppression initiatives.

How it Works:

  • Book your 20-minute slot via our form (click here) or fill in below
  • You’ll receive a confirmation email with your timeslot and connection details after completing your purchase. Please carefully read the instructions in your confirmation email.
  • On the day of, log in!
  • You’ll join us in our poetry waiting room
  • When one of our poets is available, you will be moved to a private meeting room (you may have to wait up to 5 minutes to join)
  • You will meet your poet for a brief interview, in which the poet may ask a few questions
  • When your poet has enough material to produce a poem, they will get to work writing
  • A few moments later, your poet will read the poem to you
  • You’ll receive an image of your hand-written, custom poem via email the same day, signed by a Canadian poet
  • Then, you can print, share, frame, or send your poem as you like!

This event is perfect if:

  • You would like to commemorate a special event, moment, or time in your life
  • You would like to create a unique portrait of your relationship or friendship in the form of a lasting poem
  • You are looking for a unique Valentine’s Day Gift for someone else that is safe to send during the pandemic
  • You are looking to connect with loved ones from afar
  • You would like to have a beautiful personal poem written by a Canadian poet
  • You would like to send the gift of connection and spontaneous poetry to a loved one or thank a front-line worker, neighbour, barista, checkout person or acquaintance for their support

Enjoy an imaginative Valentine’s Day experience that connects you with a poet, your own story and mirrors your words in the form of a meaningful personal poem – all while benefitting the League of Canadian Poets with your generous donation.

Poetry in Union Experience
2022 Dates coming soon!
Cost $20 for a poem
Experience Time: 20 minutes


How long does this experience last?: You will need to dedicate 20 minutes for this event, but will speak privately with your poet for about 10 minutes; the poet will then write a poem for five and read it aloud.

Can more than one person participate in a timeslot?: Our poets can accommodate up to 2 people for the same poetry writing experience, but no more. If you have questions about your spontaneous poetry writing experience, please email [email protected]

Can I book a specific poet?: Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to connect you with the poet of your choice. However, on the day of the event when you enter the Poetry Waiting Room, please send a message to your host if you would like to work with a specific poet. We will do our best to accommodate you.

Do I need to have a topic in mind?: Absolutely not! Our poets will prompt you with conversation, questions and insights to help you to form your thoughts and a poem

Can I work with a poet to create a gift for someone else?: Yes! A personal poem that comes from the heart is an excellent gift for a loved one.

Can I gift someone else a spontaneous poetry writing experience?: Yes! When you click to sign up for the event, you’ll have the option of sending it as a gift. If you have questions about this, please email [email protected]

Meet the poets:

Sue Bracken

Ayesha Chatterjee is the author of two poetry collections, The Clarity of Distance (revised ed., Aeolus House, 2019) and Bottles and Bones (Bayeux Arts, 2017). Her work has appeared in journals across the world, been translated into several languages and recently set to music by Canadian composer David Jaeger. Chatterjee is past president of the League of Canadian Poets and chair of the League’s Feminist Caucus. She lives in Toronto.

Antonia Facciponte is a poet based in Toronto. She is a SSHRC-funded graduate student in the English Department at the University of Toronto. Her first poetry book, To Make a Bridge, is forthcoming in Spring 2021 with Black Moss Press.

Kate Marshall Flaherty was shortlisted for Tifferet’s Poetry Prize 2020, Arc’s Poem of the year 2019, and the Gwendolyn MacEwen poetry price 2018.  She guides StillPoint Writing workshops, and types up spontaneous P.O.E.M.s  (Poem Of the Extraordinary Moments) for people around the world. Her most recent book is “Radiant,” Inanna Press; poetry is her life. She was on the original team for the first poetry in union 2018:)

Suparna Ghosh has published three books of poetry – Sandalwood Thoughts, a collection of poems and drawings; Dots and Crosses, a prose poem, and Occasionally, which features poems in free verse and ghazals in classical Indo-Persian style, one of which has been translated into Urdu and set to music; she presented the video at the Art Bar in 2018. She was one of the founding members of the Art Bar, the longest-running poetry series in Canada. Her poems have been published in local and international literary journals. Suparna was short-listed for the Montreal International Poetry Prize and published in their Global Poetry Anthology. A grand prize winning poem was choreographed and staged in San Francisco. On February 13, 2019, she was one of seven poets to participate in Poetry in Union, a partnership between the League of Canadian Poets and the Union Station, and wrote personal poems for passengers. Her paintings were chosen for the Canadian Art of Imagination show featuring international artists. Her work titled Vigil was one of the finalists in the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto competition, NEXT! 2015, as well as in N3XT! 2020. She has exhibited her paintings in Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Mumbai and New Delhi. Please visit suparnaghosh.com for further information.

Jessica Hiemstra

Recovering  instructor Crystal Hurdle, after teaching English and Creative Writing at Capilano University (North Vancouver) for 35 years, is reinventing herself in retirement by practicing yoga (wimpily), cycling (badly—joggers can pass her), weaving, and quilting.  After decades of attending beginners dance classes, she’d like to move up to intermediate but doubts such will happen in this lifetime.   A self-confessed Plath and Hughes addict, she developed and taught two courses (creative writing and literature) in which their work figured prominently. Sick Witch (2020) and After Ted & Sylvia (2003) were published by Ronsdale Press. Teacher’s Pets, a teen novel in verse, was published by Tightrope Books in 2014, and is part of the 2020 North Shore Authors’ Collection in the public library system.   Her work, poetry and prose, has been published nationally and internationally.

Maureen Hynes’s most recent book of poetry is Sotto Voce (2019), which was a finalist for the League of Canadian Poets’ Pat Lowther Award, and the Golden Crown Literary Award (U.S.). Her first book of poetry won the League’s Gerald Lampert Award, and her fourth, The Poison Colour, was shortlisted for both the Raymond Souster and the Pat Lowther Awards in 2016. Her work has been included in over 25 anthologies, including The Best of the Best Canadian Poems in English. (www.maureenhynes.com).

Paula Kienapple-Summers is a writer from Kitchener, Ontario. Her poems have been published in Existere, The Nashwaak Review, Tower Poetry, and Spadina Literary Review as well as anthologies including Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poetry Anthology (Mansfield Press: 2018) and Voicing Suicide (Ekstasis Editions: 2020)

Chantal Lavoie

Josephine LoRe  has two collections which integrate poetry and photography: Unity and the Calgary Herald Bestseller, The Cowichan Series.  Her work has been read on stage, put to music, danced, integrated into visual art, interpreted through ASL, and globally zoomed.  Her poetry has been published in literary journals and anthologies in 11 countries including Freefall Magazine, YYC Portraits of People, Pendemic Poetry in Ireland, the People’s Poetry Festival, Travelling with Haiga, Japan’s Setouchi-Matsuyama photo-haiku pairings, Il Piccolo Museo della Poesia in Italy and two pandemic anthologies.  Her poem “the tea set” was shortlisted for the 2019 Room Poetry Prize. She was honoured to be a Poet in the Prow for the inauguration of Calgary’s downtown library in 2018 and to celebrate Canada Day in 2019, creating poems for the people. www.josephinelorepoet.com  

Grace Ma is a poet, writer, and student at The University of Toronto. Her poetry delves into the quiet intersections of contemporary identity, nature, and love, and has been featured in Acta Victoriana and UC Review. Grace was Editor-in-Chief of The Trinity Review 132, and currently an Associate Editor with the Hart House Review. She is also involved in environmental and climate action on campus, and a big proponent of biking and bike lanes. She is honoured and excited to be a part of Poetry in Union 2021. You can learn more about Grace’s poetry here.

Laura McRae  is a teacher in Toronto. Her poems have appeared innumerous Canadian and U.S. journals, most recently in Grain MagazineThird Wednesday, and The Fiddlehead. Her first full-length collection, Were There Gazelle, was released by Pedlar Press in February 2020.

Jim Nason is the author of six volumes of poetry, a short story collection, and three novels.  He has been a finalist for the CBC Literary Award in both the fiction and poetry categories.  His poetry book Rooster, Dog, Crow was Shortlisted for the 2019 Raymond Souster Award, and his poems have been included in anthologies across Canada, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008, 2010 and 2014.

L. C. Nakara is an eclectic poet, an empath and a master of science. She is based in Montréal. Her love of word play led her haikus to be featured in several editions of the Locus Literary Magazine. You can follow her poetry strings here: instagram.com/lcnakara

Emily Schimp is a painter and poet. She is an alumni of the OCAD University Drawing and Painting program and graduated with a minor in Creative Writing. She is now pursuing a graduate degree in Arts Administration & Cultural Management with Humber College. Emily lives and works in Toronto, Canada. Her practice is a journey of healing. Dissecting the effects of her own mental health through the written word or on canvas, Emily aims to transform her symptoms into more than a darkness. Emily’s intention is to redefine the stigma of suffering, by evoking scenes that perceive to be comfortable amidst isolation. In her writing, she explores nature and oneness with the self. With knowing who you are, and growing with it even if you don’t always feel like yourself. This paradoxical relationship between comfort and contemplation is captured in the exploration of these manifested places. Often pairing her poems together with a painting, her viewers are transported into a world created out of vulnerability.

Cathy Thorne is a poet, and cartoonist. Her work has been featured in The Toronto Star, The Sunday Telegraph, and Metro Morning on CBC Radio. She is the author of Unlightenment, A Guide to Higher Consciousness for Everyday People published by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her spontaneous poetry project Everyday People Typewriter Poems is a blend of theatrical improvisation and literature, and has been featured at the Graydon Hall Manor, Drake Hotel, and Palais Royale.

Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang is the author of the poetry books Status Update (2013), which was nominated for the Pat Lowther Award and the Gerald Lampert award winning Sweet Devilry (2011). Her new book, Grappling Hook, is forthcoming with Palimpsest Press. She has been widely anthologized in such collections as Best Canadian Poetry 2013, Poet-to-Poet (2013), and the Newborn Anthology (2014). She is the editor of the poetry collection, Desperately Seeking Susans (2013) and the Poetry Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine. Sarah currently works as the Director of English Communications for Poetry In Voice.

Carolyne Van Der Meer is a journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer who has published articles, essays, short stories and poems internationally. Her first book, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience, was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in 2014, and her second book, a collection of poetry entitled Journeywoman, was published in 2017 by Toronto-based Inanna Publications. A third book, for which she translated her own poems into French, Heart of Goodness: The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 Poems | Du coeur à l’âme : La vie de Marguerite Bourgeoys en 30 poèmes, was published by Guernica in 2020. Another collection of poetry, Sensorial, is forthcoming from Inanna this fall. Carolyne lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Susie Whelehan’s poetry and essays have appeared in several Canadian and American journals and anthologies, The Globe & Mail, The Toronto Star, and in her friends’ and family’s birthday cards. Her poetry won first place in The Canadian Church Press Awards and placed her as a Runner-up in a CBC Canada Writes competition. Susie has a collection of poetry out in the world, “The Sky Laughs at Borders”, Piquant Press, 2019. That gives her great joy. She is an AWA (Amherst Writers and Artists) writing workshop facilitator and wrote poems for perfect strangers at the inaugural Poetry in Union event last year. She loved it.

Anna Yin was Mississauga’s Inaugural Poet Laureate (2015-2017) and has authored five collections of poetry. Her six book “Mirrors and Windows” (Guernica Editions) will be out in 2021. Her poems/translations have appeared at ARC Poetry, New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio, World Journal etc.  Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTYs, two scholarships from West Chester University Poetry Conference, three grants from OAC and 2013 Professional Achievement Award from CPAC. She performed on Parliament Hill and at the 2015 Austin International Poetry Festival etc. She teaches Poetry Alive (annapoetry.com)

Proceeds from this Event

All proceeds from this event will be contributed to the League of Canadian Poets. Donations to the League help us grow and sustain our outreach programs (like Poetry Pause), create paid publication opportunities for poets (like the LCP Chapbook Series), support our awards in recognition of the incredible talents in Canadian poetry, and better connect and support our hundreds of poet members across Canada. Your donations to the League go directly towards furthering our goal of nurturing a professional poetic community in Canada.

Learn more about previous years’ Poetry In Union:

What is Poetry in Union?

At this event, a selection of Toronto’s strongest, most diverse and most talented poets will provide personalized poetry on request to reflect participants’ own experiences and stories. This is a unique opportunity to interact directly with an artist to create a romantic valentine’s gift, celebrate a friend, experience, or key moment.

Poetry in Union is the perfect way to add a touch of art, poetry, and romance to the daily lives of commuters and travelers in Toronto. In addition to original poetry, commuters will have access to free treats and hot chocolate, romantic gifts, spoken word poetry performances and live piano.

Check out past Poetry in Union events:

Poetry in Union 2019

Poetry in Union 2020

“You sit with a person in an intimate space, at a desk. Not across the desk, but together. And you just ask them questions. What’s on your mind? What’s on your heart? What do you think of when you think of train travel?” said Kate Marshall Flaherty, organizer of the 2019 event and participating poet.

This event is based on the success of The Poet is In – an annual project that takes place at Grand Central Station in New York. Find out more about The Poet is In.

Share your excitement or follow along with other people’s Poetry in Union experiences by following @torontounion and @canadianpoets on Twitter, and using the hashtag #PoetryInUnion!