Winter breeds poetic inspiration

Tyler Clarke
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Celebrating winter, a group of local area poets broke out their notebooks for an evening poetry reading at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library on Wednesday.


Finding inspiration in the season, well-known poet Bruce Rice said that most of his writing is done in the winter.

“You can basically shut the doors and you can concentrate,” the Regina-based poet said prior to reading selections of poetry. “Sometimes when you’re hunkered down in your room … it’s kind of refreshing.”

In the area promoting his debut children’s book Dorothy McMoogle With Kumquat and Bugle, Rice, who grew up in Prince Albert, said that in providing time, winter also brings inspiration.

“In some ways, it can be harder, sometimes, to write in the winter, but you have all these severe conditions that give you material,” he said.

At one winter writer’s retreat in Muenster, he remembers a dangerous combination of wolves and deer commiserating around the campus.

“In two weeks we had seven deer killed within 500 metres of the building we were staying in,” he said.

Reading selections of poetry centered on the harshness of Saskatchewan winters, poet Beth Gobeil’s writing included detailed visuals of the season’s landscapes, reading, “Winter lacks pigment, like an early TV show,” and other descriptors.

Prince Albert area rancher Laurie Lynn Muirhead also finds inspiration in winter landscapes and the solitude the season brings.

“It’s a quiet time to write -- it’s not so busy,” she explained.

Midnight cattle checks provide her with plenty of alone time to consider things -- quiet contemplation that provides plenty of poetry fodder -- “Just the quietness of creation,” she explained.

Sometimes when you’re hunkered down in your room … it’s kind of refreshing. Bruce Rice

Allowing ideas to percolate throughout the evening, she puts pen to paper in the mornings. For Tuesday’s event she brought a notebook half-full of new poetry she plans on compiling into an upcoming book.

Poetry comes “when you can get away from everyday life that you get a chance to do some writing -- where you can concentrate on it, and the phone’s not ringing,” poet Lynda Monahan said.

For Monahan, this doesn’t necessarily take place during the winter, but whenever she has a chance to make it out to her cabin where she’s able to be alone.

Monahan is the head of the Prince Albert poetry group Sans Nom Poets, which hosted Tuesday’s reading.

Fittingly titled Warm Poems for a Cold Winter Night, the evening predominantly featured work from the group’s six members -- an intentionally limited membership of writers “who are really serious about writing poetry and looking to improve.”

“Our focus is to become the best poets we can be and to help each other,” she said.

Entering its 21st year as a group, Monahan said that their next poetry reading is likely to take place in February, which is also known as National Poetry Month.

Their next event will be advertised in the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library’s upcoming events listings. 

Organizations: Prince Albert, John M. Cuelenaere Public Library

Geographic location: Muenster, Saskatchewan

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