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Randy Drover

Poetic achievement

Randy Johnston

By Janet Harron

As the poet Robert Graves said, “There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money either.” However the example of Randy Drover, who graduated last month with an English degree and diplomas in both professional and creative writing, might be an exception to that rule.

In the past year since taking up the art of poetry, Randy (originally from Upper Island Cove) has won the Jeroboam Prize for Poetry, received second prize in the Gregory J. Power Poetry Competition, placed first in the CBC Provincial Poetry Face-off, and in his largest coup, won the CBC’s National Poetry Face-Off in May 2009.

For the last two accomplishments, he received well over $1,000 in prize money and prevailed over several established poets, including (in the case of the National Poetry Face-Off) Robert Currie, the current poet laureate of Saskatchewan.

“Larry Mathews told me he could squeeze me into the Creative Writing Diploma program but that I would have to take two poetry classes as well (English 3901 and 4911). At that point to me, poetry was ‘old’ poetry but as I eased my way into it I started to like it and then began writing,” said Randy. “Once I realized I could write poetry in my own way, I kind of found my voice.”

Randy is quick to acknowledge the support of poet and professor Mary Dalton. “Mary was just incredibly supportive to everyone. She knew I was interested in writing as a career and took every opportunity to explain what was out there and where I should submit my work and what publications to avoid.”

Currently Randy is working as managing editor for Paragon Press, which was started in 2007 to address the lack of publications for creative writing students. With co-editor Lynette Adams, he holds beginners creative writing workshops. “We find students are more comfortable with peers when starting out – we’ve already had enough interest to fill one night and are prepared to schedule another workshop if the demand is there.”

Randy has also applied to the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council for funding to write a collection of short fiction and poetry and says confidently that for his future, “writing is a plan.”