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REF NO.: 68
SUBJECT: Memorial University English professor and poet to commit random acts of poetry on the streets of St. John's
DATE: Oct. 20,2004
Memorial English professor and poet Mary Dalton will be beating the streets of St. John's next week, committing random acts of poetry. The author of three volumes of poetry, including the most recent Merrybegot (Vehicule Press, Montreal) is one of 27 poets across the country taking part in a national initiative aimed at raising awareness about literacy and poetry in this country. Random Acts of Poetry is a celebration that will see Canadian poets reading poems in their own communities to people in public places. The event is sponsored by on-line book dealer Abebooks.com, in association with the Victoria READ Society, a B.C. literacy action group.
Random Acts of Poetry takes place from Oct. 25-31. Poets in 17 different cities from Newfoundland to British Columbia are taking part. Each poet will travel through their city, randomly reading poems to people in parks, bus stops, schools, cafes, shops, libraries, hair salons and other everyday places. For listening in St. John's, the randomly chosen person gets an inscribed copy of Mary Dalton's book of Newfoundland speech poems, Merrybegot, (or a book by Marian Frances White, the other Newfoundland writer invited to take part).
Random Acts of Poetry Week began with B.C. poet Wendy Morton.
"I've had remarkable experiences reading poetry to strangers, seeing how poetry could move them," she explained. "I thought that poets all across Canadacould commit ‘random acts’ to promote poetry in a new way, and that this would also be an opportunity to raise awareness about literacy issues. Both the Victoria Read Society and Abebooks.com have been very enthusiastic supporters, and the poets are delighted to be involved."
"This project puts us again in the position of being wandering minstrels, engaging directly with our listeners/readers," Ms. Dalton said. "I've always conceived of my poems as being read aloud, but this project involves a level of immediacy and intimacy that is a new challenge. I'm looking forward to a few days of being a kind of reverse busker – making a gift of my poems to strangers."
Other well-known poets are Billeh Nickerson (Vancouver), Sheri D. Wilson (Calgary), Glen Sorestad (Saskatoon), and Carolyn Souaid (Montreal). "Poetry is often perceived as a bitter pill," Ms. Souaid explained. "This will be an opportunity to knock poetry out of the ivory tower. An opportunity to hear a real flesh-and-blood poet, an invitation for the everyday person on the street to slow down a little and enjoy a literary burst of energy for what it is -nourishment for the soul."
Lisa Stevens, VP of marketing at Abebooks agrees: "We're pleased to help promote poetry and literacy in Canada, support independent publishers, and to simply remind people of the treasures to be found in books."
As part of the weeklong celebration, Abebooks invites everyone to enter a prize draw for $500 worth of books from Abebooks.com and four gift baskets filled with Prairie Naturals products and two tickets from WestJet Airlines, by filling in the phrase "I love poetry because..." on www.randomactsofpoetry.com.
In addition, funds from Abebooks.com will go towards purchasing 1,500 books of poetry from Canadian publishers, which will be handed out to people who take part: each random act of poetry will conclude with the gift of a book of poetry to the listener from the poet. The Victoria READ Society will provide information about literacy issues in Canadaand suggestions for individuals on how to support literacy in their communities.
Mary Dalton was born in LakeView, Harbour Main in Newfoundland. She now lives in St. John's, where she is professor of English at Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is the author of three books of poetry, The Time of Icicles, Allowing the Light and, most recently, Merrybegot, published by Vehicule Press in the fall of 2003. Her poems, essays, reviews and interviews have been published in journals in Canada, the U.S. and Ireland. She has read her poetry throughout Canada and Ireland. Ms. Dalton has won various awards for her poetry, among them the inaugural TickleAce/Cabot Award. Merrybegot was shortlisted for the all-genre Winterset Award and for the Pat Lowther Award for Poetry. It is being released as a CD by Rattling Books in 2005.
Marian Frances White
Marian Frances White was born into a huge Newfoundland family of 12 siblings in 1954. She was raised by a poetic father and a storytelling mother, both of whom feature large in her published work. After studying journalism at Carleton University, a summer romance took her to Paris, France, where she began writing poetry. She has been writing poetry every since. White published her first book of poetry, Skinny Dipping, in 1996; Mind Your Eyes, her second volume, was released by Killick Press in 2003. She has also published biography, short stories and has two documentaries to her credit. White is currently working on a sensual feast of a novel called Ah Paris!, however, poetry remains her first love. To know more about Marian's work visit her Web site at http://home.thezone.net/~mwhite or call her at 753-6542.
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For further information, please contact Mary Dalton, 726-5569; Marian Frances White, 753-6542; Janice Wormald, abebooks.com, 250-412-3216; Wendy Morton, Random Acts of Poetry, 250-642-3542; Julie Holder, 250-388-7225.