View Toronto Through Poetry

The Toronto Public Library, with the help of poet laureate, George Elliott Clarke, has created a new way to explore Toronto: through the use of poetry.

They’ve created a fun, interactive map of Toronto that marks the locations of important spots in poetry about Toronto. At each location on the map, information about the poems is listed, and details as to which branch of the Toronto Public Library has that poetry book available is also given. There are also many Toronto poems that aren’t associated with any specific locations, and you can find out more about those on the Toronto Poetry Map as well.




 On Wednesday, March 20, 2013 we invite you to the library for a poetry reading by Claudia Coutu Radmore, author of

a minute or two/without remembering.’


Join us for an inspiring and evocative evening as Claudia transports us back in time to 1672 when her first French ancestor sailed to New France!

Walk in their shoes, listen to their stories, and experience history!

A minute or two/without remembering takes us from Claudia’s seventh great grandmother, Marguerite de Laplace, one of the ‘daughters’ of the king of France, sent to New France to marry a fur trader; to the Cottu family’s relation to Louis Riel; through the ten year Iroquois threat when the family moved into Montreal for safety; ending with the heartbreaking Seven Years’ War, and its aftermath.

I have come to discover that Claudia is a multi-facetted and multi-talented woman. Born and raised in Montreal, Claudia has spent her life as an educator, an artist, and not least of all, a very accomplished wordsmith.

In 1984 she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Queens University, Kingston.  She has taught elementary school, high school, and adult education in Quebec and Ontario, and trained pre-school teachers as a CUSO volunteer in Vanuatu 1985-1988.

Claudia paints portraits and landscapes in oils, and writes poetry.  She is well known for her Japanese-form poems, as well as for her lyric poetry.  Claudia has edited the Haiku Canada Anthology for several years, is the owner/editor of Bondi Press, and is the president of KaDo, Ottawa’s haiku group.

Author of Your Hands Discover Me (2010), a minute or two/without remembering (2010), and Accidentals (2011), Claudia also edited letters written to her by Leonard Budgell from Labrador, who was a fur trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company, writing the forward to his book “Arctic Twilight” which was published in 2008.  Now retired, Claudia has made Carleton Place her home since 2004. As these are just some of the highlights of Claudia’s career, please visit her website at for more info.

So, please join us Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7-9 p.m. as we listen to the voices of Claudia’s ancestors.   It’s free – just call 613-257-2702 to reserve your spot!


Is there anything more wonderful that this? This little three year old (he’s probably all of four, now), reciting the poem “Litany” by Billy Collins. Did I mention it was completely by heart, and with feeling? According to his mom, he just loves poetry and loves to memorize.

Listen to the entire thing. It will bring your day to a halt, a smile to your face and a light to your heart.

Are you a poet?

Poetry can be difficult enough to write, but how about a little help from a book?  No, not a poetry lesson book, but an actual book cover. It’s called Book Spine Poetry and all it takes is a few books, a little creativity and a camera. Just choose your books, line them up and voila…poetry!

In the US, April is National Poetry Month and the creative actions behind Michigan librarian Travis Jonker has produced tons of great examples and ideas at his blog called 100scopenotes.

It’s a great idea to use with kids on a rainy afternoon or just something fun to try yourself with the books on your own bookshelf. Even if it isn’t National Poetry Month, you can always do with a little creative boost.  And don’t forget, it doesn’t have to rhyme!

The Chaos

We’ve all been there, asked to read something out loud, and stumbled over a word that could be pronounced in more ways than one. The English language is full of words that have more than one pronunciation, and therefore, more than one meaning.  No wonder it is such a difficult language to learn.  Even those of us who have learned English as our first language have problems with words on occasion, but never has it been celebrated more than in the poem called The Chaos.

The Chaos was written by Dr. Gerard Nolst Trenite, who first published it in 1909. Throughout his life, he revised and lengthened it, and since his death in 1946, more lines have been added.  The poem itself doesn’t always make a lot of sense, but it sure is a challenge for readers. If you want to read the entire poem and find out a little more about it, you can visit this link. The challenge is to see just how far you can go, reading this aloud, without making an error.  The first section goes like this:

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,

I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.

I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;

Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

Experiments in storytelling

The web is an interesting place and you’ve probably noticed more interaction between sites in the last few years.  Everyone has a blog, some people have websites and now everyone twitters and uses Facebook.  It’s easy to connect all of these resources so that they appear as one connected whole and anyone who visits your area has access to your life in a number of ways. So, with this in mind, someone has come up with the concept of linking stories with pictures.

FlickrPoet is an interesting idea.  You enter in lines from a poem, or story and it will link pictures with your words, creating a brand new piece of media.  The pictures don’t seem to always represent the word (for example, I tried something with the word “snow” and the picture used for that word was actually a baseball, so I’m not sure of the reasoning behind it), but the overall representation looks quite nice.  Here is an example of the first paragraph of a story I tried.

(From Beverly Cleary’s Henry and Ribsy…….the book that was on my desk at the moment).  The paragraph reads as :  “One warm Saturday in August, Henry Huggins and his mother and father were eating breakfast in their square white house on Klickitat Street.”

The visuals are beautiful, borrowed from the many millions of photos available on Flickr and it certainly lends something to the words themselves.  Try it with a favourite line from a poem or story and see what it brings you.