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.









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 

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, 2018: Words Aloud 15
October 27, 2018: We Love Words
May 5, 2018: Literary Coffee House

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. 

Poetry in 2019the Trend Line is Good

Happy New Year! Each January, there are articles everywhere you look about starting the new year off “right.” Whether it’s “5 Easy Resolutions for Your Career” or “131 BEST New Year’s Resolutions” (yikes!), there’s no end to the advice available. Good news: this month’s blog is not one of them! When it comes to poetry, my only “advice” is “try it–you might like it!

That being said, I do have some thoughts to share with you on what’s happening in poetry in 2019. Here are 5 trends related to poetry you might find of interest. Over the next months, we explore each in more detail.

Here’s the big picture:

1. The popularity of poetry continues to rise

28 million people read poetry in 2017 The number of print poetry books sold in Canada in 2016 grew 79% over the previous year–the largest jump of any category–and grew again in 2017. In 2018, two of the Top 10 bestselling Canadian titles of the years were books of poetry: Milk & Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers, both by 20-somethng Indo-Canadian poet Rupi KaurAt the other end of the spectrum, The Flame, the final book of poems assembled by octogenarian Leonard Cohen, was an instant hit when it was published posthumously in October.
This is by no means just a Canadian phenomenon. In the UK, poetry sales went up by 15% in 2017 and in the US, a 21% growth in poetry sales occurred between 2015 and 2017, making poetry one of the fastest growing genres in the publishing industry. And people aren’t just buying poetry, they’re reading it: last year almost 12% of North Americans polled reported reading poetry–pretty amazing when a quarter of of them indicated not having read a whole book in any format in the past 12 months!

2. The audience for poetry is changing

Of those polled who read poetry, almost 30% were between the age of 18-35. Saul Williams, a famous slam poet (more about this later!) noted the cyclical nature of poetry’s popularity, “It’s always engaged a new generation of youth who have brought it back to the forefront of culture and put new terms on it.”

The survey showed steep increases in poetry readership across the board, but especially among women, minorities and adults with only some college education. Poetry has also gotten a major boost among rural audiences: almost twice as many people from non-metro areas read poetry in 2017 than in 2012.

3. The definition of what makes a poem continues to expand

An attendee at a local poetry event last year told me, “When I was in school, the teacher said that all we needed to know about poetry was “Ta-da, ta-da, ta da-da; Ta da, ta da, ta da;  ta da, ta da, ta da-da; ta da, ta da, ta da.” Wow-have things changed in the poetry world! Today, we’re approaching close to 100 recognized genres of poetry. Some of these forms have been “discovered” by Western writers in other cultures, like the Sijo (a Korean verse form related to Haiku but with more syllables) and the Ghazal (an Arabic verse form traditionally focused on love).

Conceptual poetry uses the placement of words and characters on the page so that the poem’s meaning is derived as much from its shape as its content. A genre that ‘s making a comeback is Prose Poetry, a composition often written in a “block” of text v. broken into verse lines (an early example is Hamlet’s soliloquy by Shakespeare). Leaping off the page is the genre of Spoken Word, a broad designation for poetry intended for performance v. reading (see an example at left from local writer Linda Hurley).

A related form is Slam Poetry, a live performance in which the poet expresses personal story/struggle in an intense and emotional style and is judged by a random panel on the performance. Yup, that’s a thing!

4.  The focus of poetry is changing

Not only is the “what” and “how” of poetry changing–increasingly, so is the “why.” Addressing personal, social and political issues has always been a means of “speaking truth to power.” In these fractious times, poetry has stepped out of the libraries and off the pages to march, protest and call out injustice. From the the #metoo movement and the call for justice from indigenous communities to the demand for equality by the transgender people, poetry has emerged as a chosen form to address important issues.

While focused on different themes, many poets are turning their talents to speak to key social issues and empower the disenfranchised. Short verses are being used to further social change by appearing not in books or journals, but on social media to raise awareness, written on banners at protests, even as tattoos to literally “embody” an idea.

5. How we access poetry is changing

We think of poetry as something we seek to read, but increasingly, poems come to us. Poetry in the public eye–usually combined with visual imagery–is a growing phenomenon. From the large-scale “activation” entitled Something to Say currently on display in and around the Brooklyn Museum in New York ( to the interactive Write the Waves installation we created on the hoarding at the end of North Pine Street right here in Collingwood, poetry is getting out and about.

And while sales of poetry books continue to rise, many of us are accessing poetry the same way we get the news, the weather and updates from fronds and family–on our devices. If the medium is truly the message, Instagram has provided another platform where form and content are conjoined. Short enough to take in without scrolling down, these short texts–often laid out on a coloured square pleasing to the eye–mesh well with our 21st-century reading habits.

If approached with an open mind, poetry can be delicious and satisfying. So I’ve got just one New Year’s resolution for you to consider: make a point to add poetry to your reading diet in 2019. If you’re not sure how to begin, here’s what the poet Eve Merriam advises in “How To Eat a Poem”:

Don't be polite.
Bite in.
Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that
        may run down your chin.
        It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.
You do not need a knife or fork or spoon
or plate or napkin or tablecloth.
For there is no core
or stem
or rind
or pit
or seed
or skin
to throw away.

Poetry–good and good for you. Enjoy!

Day's past blog entries:

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