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Poetry at Large in Oxford this weekend

Eric Mosher of GJDE Enterprises is one of the Downtown Poetry locations on Saturday in Oxford.
Eric Mosher of GJDE Enterprises is one of the Downtown Poetry locations on Saturday in Oxford. - Submitted

OXFORD – Everyone’s invited to the Wild Blueberry Capital of Canada this weekend for three new events, unique to Oxford and area. 

April is National Poetry Month so come and celebrate and hear poetry at breakfast, while shopping or in a relaxing cafe environment. The whole event is called Poetry at Large.

Maybe you don’t know if you enjoy poetry readings. Take a chance on something new. Expand your horizons. Other than the breakfast, it’s free! 

Saturday focuses on supporting Oxford’s business and non-profit sectors.

A Breakfast at Trinity United Church, Main Street, Oxford kicks things off from 9:30 to 11 a.m.  Celebrating poetry created by community ancestors and elders, you’ll hear poems read by Darlene Beatty (reading works by her mother, Margaret Casey, who was a published poet from our area), Guy Duncan, Rouie Rushton and others.  

During a delicious breakfast (pancakes, eggs, sausage, toast, tea, coffee, juice), there’ll be brief poetry readings and all proceeds go to the church.  Breakfast tickets are $8 must be booked in advance by contacting Eleanor at 902-447-3040. Only a limited number are available. 

It’s exciting to know that so many local people are interested in poetry and are willing to share their art with the public. 

Saturday afternoon again features Oxford and area poets. Drop in to their readings and show your support. Downtown Poetry, presented between 12:30 and 3 p.m., features 15 minutes of poetry readings in each of five downtown locations, all within easy walking distance of the other. 

The schedule leaves time to shop between the readings.  

Start on Water Street at the Oxford Library which also serves as the information centre for the Downtown event.  Any changes in scheduling will be posted at the library and bathroom facilities are available for those who are staying in town for all these readings.

Next, between 1 and 1:15, go next door and hear original poetry at GJDE Enterprises Ltd. (The Alphabet Store). 

If you haven’t shopped in Eric’s eclectic store, you don’t know what you’re missing because it’s a treasure trove of unique and collectible merchandise, clothing, cards, treats. People come from far and wide to see his latest offerings.

At 1:30, cross the street to Days Gone By Antiques & Collectibles. 

Located in an old hardware store, the building itself has lots of history. The store will be open throughout this event so if you haven’t been in before, plan to take advantage of this opportunity.  As a rule, the owner, Norman Wade, opens only on request – he lives two minutes from the store and when customers call, he pops over.

Ewe-nique Boutique Fibre Arts Emporium is hosting the 2 p.m. readings. Wool and rug-hooking supplies and workshop offerings are expected when you walk, but the variety of unique hand-made gift items may surprise you. The last time I was in I couldn’t take my eyes off the small felted geodes. Looking at the royal blue ones I imagined cutting a wild blueberry in half and being able to literally see all the amazing nutrients sparkling inside.  I understand that these are available in only one other location and that is in New Brunswick.

At 2:30 p.m., cross Main Street, for the final readings at the Oxford Riverside Gallery where you will also enjoy the photography exhibit, A Sense of Snow. 

Usually only open during town hall hours, the Gallery will be open from 2-3 p.m. on Saturday for the Downtown Poetry Event.

All of the poetry on Saturday will be that of Oxford and area residents, past and present.  Seven of the 13 presenters will be featuring their own poetry, and for some, this will be the first time they have presented these poems in public. 

They include Richard Dittami, Carol Graves, Gloria Norton, Margaret Reid, Rouie Rushton, Theresa Ryan and yours truly.

On Sunday afternoon, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of a Poetry at Large Poetry Cafe at the Oxford Lions Community Centre, Upper Main Street.  This event is from 1:30 to 4 p.m., with doors open at 1 p.m.  

Why call it a cafe? Picture a relaxed environment with round tables, coffee and treats to enjoy and the opportunity to ask questions if you wish, as you listen to established and aspiring poets share their works and perhaps the inspiration that sparked their creativity.

Nova Scotian headliners include Chad Norman and Karin Cope, through sponsorship funding from Canada Council of the Arts and Canadian League of Poets, respectively. 

All other poets are donating their time. Other Poetry Cafe sponsors include Cumberland Public Libraries and the Town of Oxford, the Wild Blueberry Capital of Canada.

Cope is a poet, sailor, photographer, scholar, rural activist, blogger and an associate professor at NSCAD in the Division of Art History and Contemporary Culture.

Her publications include scholarly works, popular histories, short stories, policy papers and poetry; her artworks include photographs, installations, guerrilla theatre and online works.

Norman has 18 books of poetry to his credit and his poems have appeared in magazines around the world. 

He is the recipient of the BC Writers’ Poetry contest and the Gwendolyn MacEwan Memorial Award. He loves to read aloud, getting his poems up off the page, and often visits classrooms. He annually hosts poets and musicians for RiverWords: Poetry & Music Festival.

His latest books are Selected & New Poems, and Waking Up On The Wrong Side Of The Sky (anti-bully theme for ages 4-10).

Also reading at the Cafe are Richard Dittami, Sara Jewell, both from just outside Oxford, Rita Wilson of Caribou River, and Rosaria Campbell of Wallace Station.

Dittami is a life-long writer. His work is an attempt at “blue collar” poetry. He tries to mix sound, rhythm and meaning to create a sonic sculpture. He has been published in several anthologies in Massachusetts as well as in Brick 76 Magazine out of Toronto and recorded a CD of poems, On Montreal.

Jewell is the author of Field Notes: A City Girl's Search for Heart and Home in Rural Nova Scotia. Originally from Ontario, she has lived in Cumberland County for eleven years but her ties to this area go back several decades and inspired many poems over the years.

Wilson lives on the bank of the Caribou River.  She’s a winner of the Atlantic Poetry Prize, and is published in: The Antigonish Review, Fathom, The Cumberland Review, Arc, and Saltscapes.

Campbell is a fiction and essay writer and musician who on occasion tries her hand at poetry. She lives on a small farm and works for the Dalhousie University Faculty of Agriculture. She has written prize-winning prose and is currently working on a series of fiction pieces, essays and poems that mark the passing of the 20th century and the people and events that it shaped.

The Poetry at Large Committee wants to make poetry accessible, introduce more people to the joy of hearing poetry,  provide venues for writers of poetry to share their work and poetry lovers to indulge their passion.  

To find out who is reading at Saturdays events and when they are scheduled, or for any other inquiries about Poetry at Large, go to www.facebook.cim/PoetryAtLargeOxford/, OR pick up information at the Oxford Library or the Oxford Town Hall, OR email me, rpatriquin@town.oxford.ns.ca .

- Submitted by Ruthie Patriquin, Oxford's community economic development officer

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