Saturday, July 22, 2017

TreeTalk-ing at Tallest Poppy!

Winnipeg’s street trees were recently hosts for three infestations: cankerworm, elm spanworm, and tent caterpillars. Which meant most Winnipeggers ate/wore worms for weeks at a time. The worst-hit trees had their leaves eaten down to the stem, which means they’ve spent July growing a new canopy’s worth of leaves…


The mature elm outside Tallest Poppy is middle-aged, anywhere from 70 to 100 years old. It’s survived round after round of construction, billows of pollution, drought, even gig posters stapled to it.

In TreeTalk, my Tallest Poppy Residency July 29 & 30, I’ll work with/next to the tree to add a new layer of leaves to our ideas on street trees.

Throughout the weekend, I’ll work on the Tallest Poppy patio, composing snippets of poems which I'lll hang from the tree using paper and string. Passersby will be invited to TreeTalk too — their secrets / one-liners / meditations / haiku will also be hung from the tree.

Along the way, I’ll will document the leaves via photography. I’ll ask people in her Winnipeg and Canadian networks to add leaves via comments on social media.

By the end of the weekend, the tree will have a new, temporary coat of leaves, as ephemeral/beautiful as the original. It will be infested with words/ideas. I’ll compile all the texts into a found poetry piece, which will be launched at the First Friday After Party at Tallest Poppy on August 4, 2017.

On Sunday, July 30, I’ll hold a one-hour writing workshop, where people are invited to come and TreeTalk, writing poems and letters to the tree.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I've been Manitoba Cooperator-ed!


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My thanks to Shannon Vanraes for the interview!

I was also on CBC Information Radio very early on Monday morning, talking about the Poetry Barter Project.

Finally, Bob Armstrong included the project in his Paperchase column in last weekend's Winnipeg Free Press.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

CFS: Poetry Barter Project

For the second summer in a row, I am trading poems for food.

Last year, I traded for lilacs, dandelions, rhubarb, nasturtiums, hyssop, deer sausage, grape leaves, zucchini flowers, cherries, apples, and pickerel.

This year, I am interested in fiddleheads, spruce bud tips, nettles, burdock, caragana, chicken-of-the-woods…and anything else edible that can be grown or foraged in the city.

How does it work? Say you’ve got abundant lilac. You email me at poetrybarter@gmail.com to say you’d trade a vaseful for a poem. You provide me with 5 words to use in the poem: dinosaur, birds, love, childless, peace. In a week's time, I visit your house/apartment/garden plot, pick a bouquet of lilac, and hand over a fresh poem.

About me:
Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer. Her first book of poetry, Hump (Palimpsest Press, 2010), won the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry at the Manitoba Book Awards, as did her second collection, Stowaways (2014). She is currently working on creative non-fiction about Winnipeg’s urban forest, slated for publication with Wolsak & Wynn in 2018. 

Deadline: October 31, or when frost kills everything.

So, who has lilac/fiddleheads/nettles/mushrooms/etc and NEEDS a poem written just for them?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Nature writing at Oak Hammock Marsh

So I taught a nature writing workshop today at Oak Hammock Marsh.

I don't always like teaching creative writing. It requires a lot of preparation time that is stolen from my writing time and, of course, the workshops themselves can be stressful.

But today's class was wonderful. The participants were pleased to be there and happy to try anything. They'd all been writing long enough that they weren't shy about sharing their first drafts or commenting on other people's drafts.

It helped, I supposed, that I was teaching a subject that I love. And that we were looking out on the marsh, with all the birds calling, with the wind blowing through last year's cattails. Children tromping on the boardwalk, a red canoe full of people setting off, birders with their big cameras and upscale camo.

We ended the workshop by peering at a large tree on the edge of the parking lot. I mistakenly identified it as a balsam poplar but later learned it was a cottonwood; luckily, the exercize wasn't dependent on a correct ID.

We started near the base of the tree, wrote for a few minutes, then took two steps back, wrote, stepped back, wrote...

It was the simplest of exercizes but it had such a strong effect. At first, all we could see was the gnarled bark and the wire fencing wound around the trunk. As we stepped backwards, we contemplated the tree's waxen leaves, how there was a clump of small black caterpillars on a cluster of leaves. Finally, we noticed the beautiful oval shape of the tree, how it was set between the marsh and the parking lot.

As we walked back towards the interpretive centre, we saw two black Clydesdales with a sleigh behind them. Children were climbing up the ramp into the sleigh, which soon set out, making a loop around the marsh.

Having said my goodbyes, I got on the next sleigh ride, listening to the driver give a history of Oak Hammock and, when that was done, walked a slightly longer loop than the one we'd just ridden along.

It was 4 pm by the time I left, gritty with sun and birdsong, and I had the great good fortune to go straight to a friend's garden, where he traded me lovage and mint for poems, as part of my Poetry Barter Project.

What a day! (I napped for four hours when I got home...)

Friday, April 07, 2017

The Pas in April


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I'll be doing two workshops and two readings as part of the UCN Language Arts Festival.

Once the festival is complete, I'll be doing a reading on April 27 at the Pas Public Library with Lauren and Duncan as part of National Poetry Month.

I'm grateful for organizers Keith Hyde and David Williamson for all their work and the University College of the North and the League of Canadian Poets for their support.

Monday, March 20, 2017

NPM in the WFP 2017

For the second year in a row, The Winnipeg Free Press will be hosting a National Poetry Month project.

Every Saturday in April, poems by Winnipeg writers will appear in the 49.8 section.

Eligible writers: Winnipeg writers. NPM in the WFP is committed to a diversity of voices: emerging, PoC, spoken word, Indigenous, established, LGBTQ+, and page poets. If your work was featured in the 2016 edition of NPM on the WFP, you may still submit, but the priority will be new writers.

Details:
  •        Email previously unpublished poems on the theme of “Time” to poetrymonthwfp@gmail.com
  •        The DEADLINE for submissions is March 25, 2017.
  •        Submit a maximum of 5 poems. Each poem should be no more than 25 lines.
  •         Please submit your poems in one Word document (PDF or RTF also acceptable).
  •        Send a short bio (max 40 words), both in the body of the email AND in your submission.

About the Editor: Ariel Gordon is a Winnipeg writer. Her second collection of poetry, Stowaways (Palimpsest Press, 2014), won the 2015 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. She is currently writing creative non-fiction about Winnipeg’s urban forest, which is slated for publication in 2018 with Wolsak & Wynn.