Fifth “Labour of love”
Aunique book was launched at Townshippers’ Day on Saturday to help celebrate the Townshippers’ Association’s 35th anniversary: Taproot V. This fifth edition of the popular anthology of short stories, poems, photographs and prints by local
authors and artists is the biggest one to date with the works of twenty-eight Townshippers.
Brenda Hartwell, a long-time member of the Townshippers’ Association, has been a big part of the Taproot project since its beginning fifteen years ago, helping with the editing of each edition. “The first Taproot came out in 1999 to celebrate the Association’s 20th anniversary,” said Ms. Hartwell at her home in Baldwin’s Mills.
The idea to put together a book to showcase, promote and encourage local talent was actually Ms. Hartwell’s idea and one that the Association’s Board quickly approved. “The Association was thinking of publishing an update on our community history for the 20th anniversary, but I was in a writing group at the time and I knew there were a lot of great writers and visual artists in the area so, I thought, why not promote them?” she explained.
As with all the Taproots, the first edition included the works of both published, although mostly unknown, and un-published writers, since anyone at all living in the Eastern Townships was free to submit their work. Taproot I received a great review in a Montreal publication and its five hundred copies sold out.
The recently launched edition features the work of twenty-eight Townshippers, eighteen who have appeared in previous editions and ten first-time contributors. Two writers from Stanstead who made it into the book are wellknown author Ross Murray, with an excerpt from a larger novel that he is working on, and Sarah Elliot, a young writer who had never been published before.
“From the beginning, we’d put out a general call to the public for submissions,” said Brenda who edited Taproot V along with Tanya BellehumeurAllatt and Carolyn Rowell. “We get well over one hundred to two hundred submissions. It takes a couple of months to go through them all and each editor reads each piece. The submissions are only numbered when we get them; we don’t know who the work is submitted by because we live in such a small community. We don’t want to have any prejudice,” Ms. Hartwell explained.
The chosen contributors do not only appear in a prestigious publication, they also receive an honorarium for their work. “We want to encourage them to submit their work in other publications,” said Brenda. “One of our past authors told me she never even cashed her cheque; she saved it because it was the first time she’d been paid for her work!”
“It’s not really a challenge to work on Taproot. It’s actually quite a delight – a labour of love. Carolyn and Tanya are great to work with and there was such a wealth of stories and poems. We skimmed the cream off the top and we were able to put everything in the book that we wanted to,” continued the editor. “What I enjoy most about working on this project is encouraging people with talent to continue. It’s great to have an Association like Townshippers’ that recognizes the importance of culture and art to a community,” Brenda added.
When asked why she joined the Townshippers’ Association almost twenty-five years ago, Ms. Hartwell commented: “I believe I was invited to join…and I believe that English people have a place in the Townships. I also like the mission of Townshippers’ to build bridges between the English and French communities.”
Taproot V can be bought, for only $10, at the Townshippers’ offices in Lennoxville and Knowlton. Funding partners of the publication are Heritage Canada, Townshippers’ Research and Cultural Foundation, the Lennoxville Youth Centre and the Knowlton Literary Association.
The editors of Taproot V are
(l. to r.): Carolyn Rowell, Brenda Hartwell and Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt.
Brenda Hartwell, who has helped edit all five editions of Taproot, is seen here at her home in Baldwin’s Mills.