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From the Noticeboard

PEI Artist Grants open September 26

The fall round of PEI Artist Grants opens applications on September 26 at noon and closes October 24 [ ... ]

Stretching the season

The Canadian Safe Boating Council would like boaters to enjoy all that fall boating has to offer but [ ... ]

The Soul of a Poet
Profile by Jane Ledwell

Tanya Davis (photo: Alanna Jankov)I dove into the ocean today,” says a wide-eyed Tanya Davis on an unseasonal, chilly June Wednesday when the Halifax-based poet and musician is visiting her home province to perform. “It was like washing the winter off, or like summer joined winter on my skin.”

Ask anything of Tanya, and art happens—language with the rhythm of music, personal revelation touched with universal insight. (You already know this if you are responsible for any of the 3.2 million views of the YouTube film “How to Be Alone,” that Tanya made with Andrea Dorfman.)

“It’s a universal subject, loneliness,” says Tanya. “Everyone has felt it—or avoided feeling it. I had to struggle to learn how to be alone; I resisted being alone when I was younger. Then, when I was 20 I moved to my first city alone and got my first apartment. So much happened to me that year… So many great things happened to me because I did things alone… I started dating women in a family where that was unknown. I left my Catholic upbringing, and that was very lonely.

“I’ve made a lot of decisions that were hard for people to understand,” Tanya reflects. “Being alone, being a transitory person, home was transitory for me, fluid… For some reason, I was stirred up inside, and I followed my gut instinct. It was hard and scary—but less scary than not following it.”

For Tanya, solitary does not mean isolated. “I truly believe that connection is one of the reasons we are here,” she says. “To connect, and to love.”

Tanya still leaves solitary life behind for the road when she performs spoken word poetry and introspective songs (her most recent CD is Clocks and Hearts Keep Going) at both music and writing events. “I love performing,” she says. “I love to have eye contact with people, and I find I get something back from them. I like when they find a way to engage.”

Engaging people with poetry will also be a major part of Tanya’s new post, as Poet Laureate for Halifax. “Being the poet laureate makes me want to be a better poet,” says Tanya. “I want to show that poets are valuable members of society… I want to have an “old town crier” mentality—in the days of town criers, people would hire poets to deliver verses for civic events. It was an important role in society.”

Tanya says, “Poetry is a soulful thing, and in our society which is so technology-oriented, some of the soul gets lost. Poets can show people that soul is important. I want to engage people in more poetic and civic engagement, together.”

Another way Tanya will engage people with poetry will be through her newly released first book of poetry, At First, Lonely, published by Acorn Press. “I’m excited and nervous about it,” Tanya says. As a primarily spoken-word artist, she says, “I’ve never had anything published before.”

As she crosses boundaries of genre, Tanya’s days and her artistic interests are, she says, “eclectic.” As an artist, she says, “I never really fit anywhere really well. I can’t be okay stuck in any scenario—I’m open to a lot of things.”

Even “home” is more than one place for Tanya. “I still call both PEI and Halifax home, even when I’m on the road… It’s like having a birth family and a chosen family. I have a chosen home in Halifax, … but PEI gave me the confidence to go there. I have roots under me here.”

Tanya Davis can’t stop diving in, but the ocean isn’t just a metaphor. When you’re in it, it’s also the ocean—real, salty, alive. Lonely, but connected. “It’s jarring cold, good for the mental health,” Tanya says. Of that kind of sensation, she says, “it’s best if I can find it every day… Maybe we can’t all dive into the ocean, but we can go out and take a deep breath before we go to bed.” She smiles at the thought. “Yes, I think I’ll do that.”

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Tribute to The Hip

Concert and author reading October 17
Charlottetown Beer Garden The Fabulously Rich formed in 2016  [ ... ]

The Song and the Sorrow

Mille Clarke’s film of Catherine MacLellan and her father Gene at Charlottetown Film Festival Oct [ ... ]

Backstage Pass Series

Intimate music series with Lloyd Spiegal and The Small Glories October 13 & 24
Harbourfront Thea [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

Drawing the line

Profile: Sandy Carruthers by Jane Ledwell Retired for a year now after twenty-five years teaching  [ ... ]

Filmworks Summerside

Film series is back for 7th season Filmworks Summerside opens for their 7th season on September 12  [ ... ]

An Island wish

On August 23, 4 year old Cooper Coughlin will arrive on Prince Edward Island soil for a once in a li [ ... ]