Fresh Voices: Tending the Fire
poems by associate members of the League of Canadian Poets
Edited by Joan Conway and Blaine Marchand
Susan J. Atkinson, Michelle Poirier Brown, Carol Casey, Ellen Chang-Richardson, Shayne Coffin, Pat Connors, Sarah Hilton, Louisa Howerow, Norma Kerby, Shannon Kernaghan, Chloe Lewis, Kelly B. Madden, Laura McGavin, Natasha Ramoutar, Archana Sridhar and David Yerex Williamson.
About the Editor
Joan Conway lives in NW British Columbia. Her love for the culture and geography of her home strongly influences her work. In 2016 Joan spearheaded the creation of ‘Writers North of 54, a poetry collective whose main objective is to express the unique voice and landscape of this place. Joan sees her poetry as an avenue to create social change, build community, and to celebrate life. Joan’s studio, Green Blossom, is partially used as a venue for bringing poets to the north. Her work appeared in several anthologies and literary magazines. She is currently completing her first book of poetry ‘Singing the Night.’ Joan also has a personal blog that we encourage readers to explore, Green Blossom Studio.
From the introduction:
Fire is intimate. It encourages a sense of community as we curl around it, transfixed by its flames, and soothed by its heat. We can’t help but be drawn in. This is how it feels to enter these pages. When you begin reading the poems, you can imagine a late summer’s night sitting around a campfire where stories are shared, memories are stirred, and passions evoked. Read it like you would a flame, enter the inner poetic world of silence, only to be snapped back by a sharp crack, a flare of sparks leaving you startled. They provide a light to illumine difficult subjects, while at the same time a candle to dream into.
These poems embrace the many regions of our country. They engage with urban centres, ‘Let this fire breathe, there are intersections/ still, where you may move as one’(Hilton) and then shift you to rural landscapes, ‘Fire, a strange beast’s wind bent/ you to submission, depending on its direction’(Kernaghan).
These poems reflect on its’ power, ‘Gnarled branches, the circulatory system sprouting from the buried’(Coffin) while also connecting you to deep sensitivity, ’It feels impossible/sometimes/to be near the source’(Lewis).
These poems invite you to gaze into anger’s heat, ‘You will find a flock of sparrows/chattering in his red-hot mind/ dousing everything’(Atkinson) as well as glow with reverence, ‘Wash, he said, and I bent my face into the smoke’(Brown).
These poems shift you into a visionary world, ‘Then my words would blaze/a trail across the midnight sky/and be a likeness of the light’(Connors) and then singe you with their destructive capacity, ‘wind scatters stench/over sweet burning, charred notes/no longer caged’(Howerow).
These poems lead you forth into grief’s coals, ‘fire’s rank breath/howled so deeply’(Madden) and then glow with ceremony’s strength, ‘I carried your kindled bones to the truck/ wondering if you were still woven/in the grass, the drums(Williamson).
These poems burn with poetic power, ‘let these words turn to smoke/clinging to your hair/ your skin, nestling under your fingernails’(Ramoutar).