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. 

Making Way for Winter

November is a sombre and sobering month here in Southern Georgian Bay. Sombre in that the last vestiges of autumn have fallen–literally. The world is all angles of stark grey and brown until the first snowfall swaddles us in the soft white blanket of early winter. Sobering in that November is a month when we look back withlonging or regret–often both.

Gone are the lazy, hazy days of summer that burst onto the scene with such promise as spring crocuses and daffodils made way for roses and peonies, then daisies and hydrangeas and finally road asters and garden mums. Behind us now the fulsome harvest and our songs of Thanksgiving for the rich bounty this land provides us. The “holiday” we celebrate this month is Remembrance Day, a heartrending mix of gratitude and sorrow.

The homily at this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony focused on poetry as one way we try to make sense of war. We honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our land “glorious and free” by reciting “In Flanders Field”* (See links for the poems below). At the same time, we bow our heads in shame that “for every year of peace there have been four hundred years of war,” as Margaret Atwood points out in her poem “The Loneliness of the Military Historian”*.

Given the paradoxical nature of our response to war, poetry sometimes seems the only appropriate genre to address both aspects. Poetry often resides at the edge of experience as a border that is both boundary and meeting place. In “Vergissmeinnicht”* English poet Keith Douglas makes an encounter with “the enemy” very real and personal when he reminds us that in the dead German soldier– a photo of his girlfriend inscribed with “Vergissmeinnicht” (Forget Me Not) in his pocket– “the lover and killer are mingled who had one body and one heart. And death who had the soldier singled has done the lover mortal hurt.”. This liminal nature of poetry is illustrated in this modern interpretation of the poem “But You Didn’t”* by Merrill Glass (no relation that I know of).

Poems like these leave us thinking–and feeling. No wonder the day after the poppies come off we are so eager to “don our gay apparel” and turn our faces toward Christmas, even though it’s over a month away.  Between now and then comes Advent, a time of waitingin the natural world as well as in the Christian year. Just what is it we are waiting for, and clamour to celebrate each December? Beyond any religious impulse, we are carried into and thorough the darkest days by the hope that this old world will keep on turning, and the warmth and light will return in due course.

As we wait, we are well advised to slow down, even stop our frenetic pace so we can take a breath, reflect on the past and begin to imagine a better future. Here’s how the poet Pablo Neruda describes this opportunity.

Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused

with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about
I want no truck with death!
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
death. Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead in winter
and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

- Pablo Neruda

Does this poem speak to you? If so, think about responding with a poem or two of your own that we can share in our Poet’s Corner. This month we feature a beautiful seasonal piece by local writer Susan Wisner, whose poem “Waiting, Late Autumn” has been selected for publication by Your Daily Poem. Look for it on November 29th. Way to go, Susan!

And speaking of November 29th, I’ll be celebrating my birthday that day. If you’re near Collingwood and are so inclined, stop by the Huron Club after 8:00 PM to say hi and enjoy the great music of local band Bored of Education. After all, danceable songs are “poetry in motion!”

Day's past blog entries:

2018-2020 Poet Laureate Terms of Reference.doc125 KB
Day Merrill - Poet Laureate Presentation 04-2018.pdf9.71 MB