Profile: Laurie Brinklow
by Jane Ledwell
The best way to organize an interview with Laurie Brinklow is to schedule it to coincide with another of her tasks.
In a busy week, Laurie's schedule includes her job as publishing coordinator at the Institute of Island Studies; free-lance editing projects; swimming; rehearsals for two choirs; meetings with an eating group, a book club, and a folk music group; baking; drinking coffee at the farmer's market; house-training a new puppy; working with the boards of the PEI Literary Awards and the PEI Chamber Choir and Orchestra at Strathgartney; "ferrying children" (her two daughters, Heather and Mikhala, who are getting old enough to be almost as busy as their mother); and-oh yeah-finding time for her own writing and her publishing company.
In a slack week, Laurie combines any ten of her ordinary activities. "Whenever there's an overlap, it's always good," she laughs.
The time Laurie has found for her writing has earned her honours. In the past year, Laurie earned first prize in the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia's Atlantic Poetry Competition and placed her poem "Eleanor's Eyes" in the top fifty poems in the Canadian League of Poets' annual poetry competition.
Recently, she has had poems accepted for publication in Australian literary journals, Island and The Famous Reporter, thanks to the encouragement of a Tasmanian poet who heard a reading she gave last summer.
Laurie was born in Peterborough, Ontario, and grew up mostly in British Columbia and Northern Ontario, with summers on the Prairies with her father, who was building pipelines. "I never dreamed I would end up on PEI," she admits. Growing up, Laurie came across PEI on only three instances.
First, in Grade Six, she had to write a report on Canada's smallest province. Later, another school project saw her costumed as L. M. Montgomery. Later still, after PEI elected Alex Campbell premier, a teacher commented, "Everyone on PEI is named Campbell."
When she first arrived on the Island after travelling East looking for work, she learned the truth: "Everyone on PEI is named MacDonald. Measure the phone book entries."
Since she unpacked her bags on the Island, she has learned more about PEI than prevailing last names. After two months here, her experience in journalism led her into work in publishing. In six-and-a-half years with Ragweed Press and in her years since with the Institute of Island Studies, she has been involved in publishing almost a hundred books.
In the early 1990s, though, she had the idea that there could be room on the Island for another press to publish "books about Prince Edward Island by Prince Edward Islanders." Acorn Press began after receiveing a logo-a stylized acorn by artist John Burden-for the press as a birthday gift.
Acorn Press has published four books so far, and the growth of the press that was inspired by a logo has mirrored the growth of the logo's emblematic acorn: slow but promising. Laurie says she could have "gone the fast track" and borrowed money to start the press on a larger scale, but that she thinks "it's important to learn to grow things."
And growing things-whether daughters or poems or publishing companies-is the one activity that ties all her activities together.