A young poet with presence
Aspiring Spaniard’s Bay author pursues passion
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.
Seventeen-year-old Devin Drover of Spaniard’s Bay is an up-and-coming poet, author, editor and publisher.