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From the Noticeboard

Royal Winnipeg Ballet auditions

Until January 25, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) School Professional Division will hold auditions a [ ... ]

Music workshops

Canadian composer Christine Donkin This November, the PEI Registered Music Teachers’ Association  [ ... ]

Act Naturally
Profile by Jane Ledwell

Dianne Hicks Morrow (photo: Buzz)I believe anyone can write a poem,” says PEI’s new poet laureate, Dianne Hicks Morrow, emphatically. “I also believe a poem can be about anything… And that for me is the whole point.” She is getting over the initial shock of her appointment to the laureate’s role and is filled with enthusiastic hopes and plans for her three-year term promoting the literary arts, and poetry in particular, in Island communities.

“PEI is already known as a place rich in poets,” she says. “I want to go further.” For a number of years, she has led classes in “Writing from Life” for the Seniors’ College at UPEI. The response from those groups to poetry has too often been, “Of course, you know, I’m no good at poetry.” Dianne says, “I want to dispel the fear of poetry, the being intimidated by poetry, and have fun.”

After all, she insists. “Poetry is everywhere. It’s in slogans and signs, big-city subways and buses. And songs!” (She adds as an aside, “I’d give anything to be a singer-songwriter, if only I could sing.”) Dianne says, “I want to reach people who never thought they could enjoy poetry. For people who never take a book of poetry out of the library: I want to change that.”

Dianne laughs that “It was a coincidence that when the announcement was made [about the Poet Laureate] I already had a February 2nd Groundhog Day reading planned at the Montague Rotary Library… This is the kind of reading I would like to do in the next three years. I want to partner with the library system across the Island,” she says. “And that ‘across the Island’ is important to me—I want it not to be Charlottetown-centred.”

Dianne’s own poetry has tried to demonstrate there are depths to seeming simplicity and to themes of home and family. “One of my sons said, ‘Mom, your poems are too simple,’” she recalls, “and I replied, ‘Yeah. Good.’” Her first book, Long Reach Home, came out in 2002; her second, What Really Happened Is This: A Poetry Memoir, with its honest look at the “universal theme” of parents aging and dying, was published in 2012 and won the PEI Book Award for poetry.

Ironically, Dianne was in a “prose phase” when offered the Poet Laureateship—working on a collection of stories about home renovations, mining the experience of “37 years in a 140-year-old farmhouse” and an appetite she discovered among audiences for stories of leaky houses, painting fiascos, and wallpapering disasters.

In recent poetry, Dianne has a travel-inspired suite of poems set in Mexico (where she was heading when we met for this interview) and another suite of similar length from Australia, inspired by a writer-in-residence stint in Tasmania. She worries “that won’t do for a poet laureate.” Here on PEI, it’s dramatic monologues that are piquing her poetic curiosity. “My goal is to write dramatic monologues,” she says, “but I’m still hung up on how to do this. I want to create a mythical voice…” The voices in the community that are giving her inspiration include voices of protest and prophecy she hears speaking out about social and environmental issues.

Reflecting on changes in the writing and publishing scene since the advent of The Buzz twenty years ago, she reflects instead on The Buzz, “What I love about The Buzz is that it is so inclusive and makes the arts available and inviting to people,” she says, “which is what I want to accomplish as poet laureate.”

Already, Dianne has established an email address—This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.—to take suggestions about what the Poet Laureate’s role can include. “Of course,” she says, “I want to carry on the great work my predecessors have done.” She has received intriguing ideas already—and unusual requests for readings, including from a Pilates group. This excites Dianne. “The bottom line for me is that I don’t want to talk to the same people all the time.” She reflects, “Each laureate has done what comes naturally. For me, that’s visits to schools, readings, and workshops.” And poetry coming naturally to Islanders is Dianne Hicks Morrow’s theme for the next three years.

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

One-act comedies

Rob MacDonald presents four of his plays in November The Guild Island audiences are familiar with  [ ... ]

What They Had

November 26–December 2
City Cinema PG, coarse language
Dir: Elizabeth Chomko, US, 101 min. Hilary S [ ... ]

PEI Symphony Orchestra with guest David ...

November 25
Confederation Centre of the Arts Following the fiery season opener Exquisite Fires & [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

A gift of Island poetry: Chris Bailey

Curated by Deirdre Kessler Things My Buddy Said Oh, brother, growing up I’d get into trouble
like [ ... ]

A passion for cinema

Laurent Gariépy is screening the classics at City Cinema by Dave Stewart Anyone checking out City [ ... ]

Acadian showman

Profile: Christian Gallant by Jane Ledwell Forty-six musicians and step dancers took the stage at  [ ... ]