A young poet with pres­ence

As­pir­ing Spa­niard’s Bay au­thor pur­sues pas­sion

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

A young and as­pir­ing poet, au­thor, edi­tor and pub­lisher from Spa­niard’s Bay has lofty am­bi­tions, and he en­ter­tains no thoughts of fail­ure. He wants noth­ing less than to track down and pub­lish some of the great­est po­ems in con­tem­po­rary his­tory.

He is­sues a na­tion­wide call for sub­mis­sions, and is pleas­antly sur­prised by the re­sponse. All he has to do is whit­tle the po­ems down to a mere 50. His work is cut out for him. The fi­nal cut will be show­cased in a brand new jour­nal that will in­clude the work of both es­tab­lished and emerg­ing poets from New­found­land and Labrador to Bri­tish Columbia.

Noth­ing un­usual so far. Lit­er­ary jour­nals are a dime-a-dozen. New ones crop up and dis­ap­pear like win­ter snow.

What is un­usual is that the driv­ing force be­hind this ven­ture is a 17-year-old. Devin Drover suc­ceeds where oth­ers be­fore him have failed.

On Feb. 13, 2010, the de­but edi­tion of Word: A Jour­nal of Cana­dian Po­etry, made its ap­pear­ance and, with it, Drover made his­tory as one of the youngest ed­i­tors ever.

You might say that writ­ing de­fines who he is.

“I guess it’s some­thing I’ve al­ways had a knack for,” he said re­cently. “I’ve been writ­ing for as long as I can re­mem­ber.”

In 2008, Drover and Jen­nifer Graham, a stu­dent at Me­mo­rial Univer­sity in St. John’s, founded and edited a bian­nual spec­u­la­tive fic­tion an­thol­ogy, NewFoundSpecFic. The first is­sue is made up of hor­ror, fan­tasy and science fic­tion, writ­ten by newly dis­cov­ered tal­ent in the prov­ince.

Drover him­self writes po­etry and prose, in­clud­ing science fic­tion and lit­er­ary fic­tion. Most of his pub­lished work to date has ap­peared in small Amer­i­can and Cana­dian pe­ri­od­i­cals. His first sale was a science fic­tion piece, Ev­ery­thing is Bad for You, pub­lished in Ev­ery­day Weird­ness in 2009. He has also been pub­lished in Shoots and Vines, Ruth­less Peo­ples Mag­a­zine, and Six Sen­tences.

“It’s re­ally nice to be able to take things that are im­por­tant to me and show them to other peo­ple,” he said.

To help him do what he does best, he started his own pub­lish­ing com­pany. Un­der­tow Press “goes against the grain of all other presses,” he said. He pub­lishes what­ever he thinks will be suc­cess­ful.

The first re­lease from Un­der­tow Press was his jour­nal of Cana­dian po­etry. The Com­mu­nity Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (CBDC) fi­nanced the pro­ject with a loan through its Youth Ven­tures Pro­gram.

Five hun­dred copies are cur­rently in print. Drover is pleased with the sales.

“For some­one like me, in a small com­mu­nity, it’s great to see my jour­nal sold in Toronto and Aus­tralia, for ex­am­ple,” he said. It’s also avail­able on Ama­zon, the elec­tronic com­merce com­pany.

Choos­ing which po­ems to pub­lish is a la­bo­ri­ous task.

For Drover, po­etry must be “some­thing that flows well; isn’t re­ally cliché; hasn’t been done be­fore, and speaks to the au­di­ence.” It must also have “an emo­tional con­nec­tion with the reader,” he added.

Drover rarely dis­cusses his writ­ing with his friends. “It isn’t some­thing I keep se­cret,” he ex­plained, “ but nor is it some­thing I bring up all the time or talk about di­rectly.”

His prose is in­flu­enced by Ernest Hem­ing­way and Jack Ker­ouac, es­pe­cially his novel, On the Road. His po­etry is in­flu­enced by Charles Bukowski. The work of Nova Sco­tian poet J.J. Ste­in­feld also res­onates with him.

Drover’s prose is ex­pe­ri­ence­based. “Be­ing able to take small, ev­ery­day ex­pe­ri­ences, and write about them in sto­ries is what I like to do,” he said.

He hones his writ­ing skills by tak- ing writ­ing classes and at­tend­ing writ­ing work­shops.

Al­though Drover reg­u­larly re­ceives­man­uscripts­from bud­ding writers in ev­ery genre imag­in­able, he says he has found noth­ing he’s will­ing to de­vote time to. The cur­rent fo­cus of his Un­der­tow Press is chap­books, or pocket-sized book­lets. The first ti­tle, Ants on the Rain­bow: Po­ems To, For and About Chil­dren by Nova Sco­tian poet Chad Nor­man, is sched­uled to be re­leased next fall..

Drover’s fu­ture re­volves around his writ­ing. He’s cur­rently work­ing on two full-length manuscripts. The first is a col­lec­tion of po­etry, Step­ping Back. The sec­ond is a novel deal­ing with grow­ing up in a sub­ur­ban com­mu­nity. “It’s very angst driven,” he said.

When he does re­lease his novel, it won’t be with Un­der­tow Press. “I don’t think it would be fair for me to be both the au­thor and edi­tor,” he said.

He’s hop­ing to study English and his­tory at univer­sity af­ter high school. Be­yond that, writ­ing, en­ter­tain­ment, pub­lish­ing, acting and fash­ion de­sign also hold his in­ter­est.

An­other writer, John Bun­yan, once said, “An idle man’s brain is the devil’s work­shop.”

At the rate he’s go­ing, Drover has noth­ing to worry about.

Photo by Bur­ton K. Janes/The Com­pass

Seven­teen-year-old Devin Drover of Spa­niard’s Bay is an up-and-com­ing poet, au­thor, edi­tor and pub­lisher.

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