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Home | Articles | Columnists | Mi to Ro | Pottie, Lee Ellen | Poetry of the Land
May 2001
Poetry of the Land
Hugh MacDonald and Brent MacLaine edit new anthology

by Lee Ellen Pottie

While the year 2000 was a great year for Island poetry with the publication of books by Brent MacLaine, Richard Lemm, John MacKenzie, and Thomas O'Grady, the year 2001 promises to be even more special with the Spring release of the book, Landmarks-An Anthology of New Atlantic Canadian Poetry of the Land.

Landmarks is the inspiration of three Island poets who, while attending a reading by the Prince Edward Island Writers' Guild, noticed the commonality of the "land" motif in the poems being read. As Hugh MacDonald explains, "Brent [MacLaine] and I, together with Laurie Brinklow, publisher of The Acorn Press, decided that this passion for the land, from an Atlantic perspective, would make a good subject for a poetry anthology."

Poetry about the land is not unusual when one considers nineteenth-century poets such as Oliver Goldsmith, Sir Charles G. D. Roberts, and Bliss Carman. As Brent points out in his introduction to the book, "Poems about the land are like landmarks because they organize the wilderness of our lives. They orient us. Amid the chaos, confusion, and uncertainties of daily life, poems can show us where and how to find mind. Historically, without landmarks, sailor, explorer, settler, and wanderer alike risked becoming lost." However, considering the usual image of "Atlantic" conjures up the folklorish ideal of lighthouses and lobster traps, fishing boats and granite or red clay cliffs, the concept of the land-based anthology from Atlantic Canada is original.

Consequently, approximately a year ago, Hugh, Brent, and Laurie issued a request for poetry submissions on all a variety of subjects, all relating to land: discovery and settlement, wilderness, women and men of the land, the family farm, the Acadian, English, Celt, and First Nations people, pollution, urbanization, exile and homecoming (to name just a few). And the responses pored in; hundreds according to Hugh. "I was surprised and pleased that people bothered to take us that seriously."

Landmarks is a serious book of poetry by a spectrum of established and new writers. Brent explained that in deciding to organize the anthology, the editors had to draw certain boundaries about whom and what to include, deciding to forgo an historical approach, and limiting the submissions to new and previously unpublished poems. The writers, Atlantic Canadians by birth or adoption, would then present a balanced representation of content according to the suggested themes and the variations thereof.

While the names of the poets in Landmarks are too numerous for this column, Island poets Shauna McCabe, John Smith, Deirdre Kessler, Jane Ledwell, John MacKenzie, and Catherine Matthews are included. Cover artwork is by Island-based artist Julia Purcell.

The anthology's launch, according to publisher Laurie Brinklow, is scheduled tentatively for Atlantic Book Week, May 23 to 26, in the four Atlantic capital cities.

Some of What's Going On

Making New Memories

Annual dance umbrella showcase May 3
Confederation Centre of the Arts dance umbrella’s annual end ...

The Lunchbox

Apr 23 to 27
City Cinema G
Dir: Ritesh Batra, India, 2013, 105 min. Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazud ...

Marshfield WI Annual Variety Concert

Apr 26
Carrefour de l’Îsle-Saint-Jean Marshfield Women’s Institute Annual Variety Concert will ...

In Transit: Artists on Locations

until May 11
Confed Centre Art Gallery One of the resources at Confederation Centre is the Art Galle ...

Look Who’s Laughing

Apr 30, May 1, 2, 3
Carrefour Theatre The QEH Foundation will present a three-act comedy play by the ...

Some of What's New

Death Valley Driver Music Video

PEI’s Death Valley Driver have released their new music video “Smoke Whip” on Revolver’s web ...

Charlottetown Arts Advisory Board

The City of Charlottetown has announced that the Charlottetown Arts Advisory Board has been establis ...

Premier’s Award

Confederation Centre honoured for its 50 years in tourism On March 5, 2014 the Tourism Industry Ass ...

In the Record Books

Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ is the longest runner The Charlottetown Festival’s producti ...

South America

The Meds Charlottetown band The Meds release their much anticipated recording South America in late ...