Welcome to CollingWord, the place to learn about poetry and the spoken word in Collingwood. As a literary form for people of all ages and backgrounds, poetry can be a source of inspiration and help us express what matters most to us as individuals and as a community. We look forward to adding information and creative output to these pages as our community’s connection to the written and spoken word grows here in CollingWord.

Introducing Collingwood's first Poet Laureate, Day Merrill

Day Merrill picture with Tanya Mazza in front of some "Blue Suede Shoes" at Town Hall

Day will serve a two-year term as Poet Laureate from May 2018 to April 2020 during which she will be a champion for poetry and the spoken word in Collingwood. Day studied literature an poetry in university and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Education and a Master of Arts.  “I see my role as 'poetry advocate'," said Day. "I’m looking forward to championing projects that have the potential to help all residents experience the power of poetry as creators, not only consumers.” 

Contact Day:

>Day (on left), with Arts & Culture Coordinator, Tanya Mazza beside a couple of "Blue Suede Shoes" during the recent Collingwood Elvis Festival. Each footstep featured a quote by Elvis.









Recent Pop-up projects

A woman smiles from inside the wooden poetry booth at Sidelaunch Days harbour festival this August

 The Poetry Booth

The Poetry Booth is a poetic exchange that exists in both real time and on-line.The booth is outfitted with a vintage typewriter-style keyboard called a Qwerkywriter connected via Bluetooth to a tablet, enabling every keystroke to be collected, stored and after vetting, posted online.

While each contribution to The Poetry Booth installation can be its own distinct poem, we’re hoping that participants will also be influenced by what was written before. You never know what impressions, thoughts, feelings and inspirations about Collingwood might show up! 
Check out what the first participants in The Poetry Booth at Sidelaunch Days Harbour Festival had to say here >>
Write the Waves 
August 11 & 12, Sidelaunch Days Collingwood Harbour Festival
A community word-art installation at the waterfront promenade invited festival-goers to “Write the waves” with a word, phrase or quote that expressed their view of Collingwood. Thanks to FRAM for use of the wall. Click here to see the results>>
Painted waves on the construction wall at the waterfront  Two participants write in Cambodian on the waves
Writing for the King™
The Songwriters who made Elvis Presley a Legend
During the Collingwood Elvis Festival, July 27-29, Writing for the King™ posters were displayed in the windows and storefronts of downtown businesses. Each one featured a songwriter whose music and lyrics helped make Elvis the King™ of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Blue Mountain Music window with a Writing for the King poster that highlights songwriter Jerry Reid

Poetry & Spoken Word Events 2018

In this section, you’ll find a running list of literary events that may be of intertest. If you are planning such an event and would like it posted here, please let us know. We’re always happy to spread the “word.”

November 2-4: Words Aloud 15
October 27: We Love Words

Poet Laureate News

Check this section to keep up-to-date with what’s happening related to poetry and the spoken word in the news‒local, Canadian and around the world. And if you are aware of any articles that might be of interest, send a note and we’ll post them if possible.

Resources for Readers and Writers

For anyone who would like to read more poetry and maybe even start writing it, the resources in this section can help. Drop us a line if you have any resources that you’d recommend so we can share them on this page. Go to the resources page >>

Symbol & Drum

Welcome to my blog, which I call Symbol & Drum to reflect my dual role as your Poet Laurate. As a poet, I’ll be using symbolism, metaphor and other literary devices to create poems in a wide range of forms on the topic of Collingwood– what it means, both as a place and as a community. In addition, as a poetry advocate, I’ll be “beating the drum” to promote the written and spoken word as an art form that has been underrepresented in our area compared to the visual arts, music, theatre and dance.  
I hope you enjoy reading it, and I look forward to hearing from you what you’d like me to be talking about. 
‘Tis the Season
December is one of the busiest months of the year. Despite heading into deepest, darkest days (and nights) of winter, we come alive at the chance for celebration. And it isn’t just Christmas: did you know that between November 1 and January 15, there are nearly 30 holidays celebrated by 7 of the world’s major religions, the majority in December? Especially in the northern hemisphere, we are eager to find any excuse “in the bleak midwinter” * to gather in the light and warmth to keep the cold and darkness at bay. 
Often our response is to do anything and everything in the service of holiday celebrating, which leads to doing too much, eating and drinking too much and spending too much. I recently read a great Facebook post that reframes our impulses for excess into calmer, more conscious and ultimately more meaningful actions. The Holiday To Do list posted had four great suggestions:
1. The first item on the To Do list suggests a shift from “Buy Presents” to “Be Present.” What a great gift presence is for both the donor and the recipient! When we spend time being present to ourselves and others, time seems to slow down, and we move from the relentless march of time (tick, tick, tick–time’s a-wasting!) to a feeling of spaciousness (I’ve got all the time in the world for you). 
One of the ways I slow down is to read and write poetry. Savouring the words that someone has written allows me to switch off and focus on their sound, their sense, their impact. Writing poetry enables me to dig deep and focus on finding just the right words to convey what I am thinking and feeling. And I choose the word “focus” advisedly; its Latin origin means “hearth.”  When we turn our focus toward a quiet activity, it can be as soothing and warming as sitting by a fire.
2. The second suggestion is to shift from “Wrap Gifts” to “Wrap Someone in a Hug.” Unlike gift wrap, which isn’t recyclable, hugs can be used over and over again. Many people suffer from “touch deprivation” so become a hugger! Ask people if it’s OK to give them a hug; if they say yes, I can guarantee you’ll get one back– a fabulous reciprocal exchange. You can also hug a pet (dogs are more into this than cats, but it’s worth a try), hug a tree (with all that trees provide–flowers, apples and maple syrup, shade, oxygen– they deserve some love). And while you’re at it, give yourself a hug; self-care can be as simple as discovering and acknowledging that which we love about ourselves, despite the flaws we are often quick to enumerate.
3. Here’s a great way to save time and money: instead of “Send Gifts” make a point to “Send Peace.” We live in challenging and contentious times, and it’s easy to get caught up in mutual recrimination with those who hold differing views and opinions–whether they live next door or on the other side the world. It may sound silly that thinking peaceful thoughts can make any sort of difference, but if the only person the action calms and centers is you, that’s a great start! And peace is contagious–one peaceful person can shift the energy in a meeting, a family gathering or a dialog. “Imagine” as John Lennon said, what giving peace a chance can do on a planetary scale. After all, at the end of the day, we’re in this life together. We all inhabit the same little blue-green ball whirling through space so let’s treat it and each other with loving kindness. Our lives may literally depend on it.
4. We can’t do away with “Shop for Food” if we have the money to buy it, but there are more than a few in our midst who have the need without the means. Rather than going overboard on treats your waistline will regret come January, consider allocating some of your food budget to “Donate Food.” All of our grocery stores have food drives, local churches sponsor the numerous Christmas Hamper projects and the Food Bank could really use a donating of food or cash. While Hunger knows no season, lack is felt even more keenly when others are eating, drinking and making merry.
I’d like to add a fifth item to the list: “Celebrate What you Have.” Developing an attitude of gratitude–for blessings large and small–tends to be self-perpetuating. It can be appreciation for something as small as a bright red cardinal against a snowy backdrop or as large as acknowledging the life of abundance we experience living in a free country. So celebrate!
One of the celebrations I had the privilege of participating in earlier this month was the installation of Collingwood’s new Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Council. What a moving display of democracy realized! From the opening Traditional Lands Acknowledgement by First Nations Elder James Carpenter to the opportunity on my part to share poems for the occasion as Collingwood’s first Poet Laureate, the event was rich with ceremony and bright with promise. In addition to the growing diversity of our representation, the power of community was acknowledged as was the idea of public service as a form of stewardship that while relying on the head, also moves “closer to the heart.” 
The month and years ahead will bring us many opportunities to celebrate progress, as well as to dissent and debate–all signs of a heathy community. The two poems I shared at the event are posted on this month’s Poetry Corner; in my conclusion, I shared a message with Council that I’ll also share with you at this busy time of year. In the words of Canada’s treasured poet Leonard Cohen in his song “Anthem,”
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.”
As you ring whatever bells you can in this season of light, I wish you presence, loving-kindness, peace and generosity. Have a perfectly imperfect holiday season and I look forward to reconnecting in the New Year.
Warmest wishes,
* From the first verse of the poem of the same name by Christian Rosetti:
“In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.”
Day's past blog entries:
2018-2020 Poet Laureate Terms of Reference.doc125 KB
Day Merrill - Poet Laureate Presentation 04-2018.pdf9.71 MB