Poets Among Us
April is National Poetry Month not only in Canada but around the world; thirty days dedicated to celebrating the wonder and beauty of poetic verse. Despite the waning government support for the literary arts (one of Canada’s most respected literary maga-
zines, Descant, had its federal grants cut for several years, forcing it to fold last December after forty-four years), the art of poetry seems alive and well in the Eastern Townships.
In both large and small villages in our region there are several writing workshop groups, led by dedicated and talented writers themselves, who meet regularly to inspire and learn from each other. Professional and amateur poets alike are also encouraged to submit their work, every couple of years, for editions of Townshippers’ Association’s Taproot series, now a total of five collections of poetry, prose and images.
In an interview with the Stanstead Journal, two of the writers who had some of their poems published in the latest edition of Taproot, Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt and Marjorie Bruhmuller, spoke about their work and their life as poets.
“It really hit me that I wanted to focus on writing once my youngest child was in kindergarten and I had the house to myself. I had always wanted to be a writer but I just got caught up with my career and my family,” explained Ms. Bellehumeur-Allatt, a mother of four who also taught English at Champlain College for many years.
Also a writer of stories, Tanya has just received a prestigious Canada Council Grant for the Arts to complete a collection of short stories based on her experiences living in the Middle East when she was a girl of twelve, and she has had her poems published in several literary journals. She got her poetry writing off to a good start by taking a poetry course at Bishop’s University. “My professor, Robert Allen, really encouraged me to try and get published, so I submitted my work to Taproot II and got accepted,” said Tanya, continuing: “Taproot was really special for me. First, writers need readers, and, because it was read by local people, I’d get a lot of good feedback in person.”
Now a prolific poet who has also been nominated for a few literary awards, Tanya spoke about what inspires her to write poetry. “Poetry is like a postcard, capturing a moment in time, celebrating the simple things in life,” she said. Her poem Breakfast at Jay’s, which appears in Taproot V, is a good example of that and a wonderful poem to read. “I
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