War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

In Arms to reappear at the Alberta Legislature this autumn!!

A Legion-style open house celebrates the opening of the Borealis Gallery’s newest exhibit. Drop in for film screenings, poetry readings, and the opportunity to meet members from today’s Royal Canadian Legion.
Royal Canadian Legion: The History of the Canadian Legion
The story and evolution of the Legion, a documentary film by Valour Canada
6:00 pm – 6:30 pm; Pehonan Theatre
In Arms
Notable Edmonton performers and poets read original works written by themselves, members of the armed forces and families
6:30 pm – 7:00 pm; Federal Building lobby
Forgotten Warriors
The experiences of Canada’s Indigenous veterans, an NFB documentary film
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Pehonan Theatre
October 19, 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Free to attend; no reservations required

The Alberta Legislature is mounting an exhibit called “Legion Halls” this autumn and some of the “In Arms” project will see the light of day one again. In the good hands of actor Joel Crichton, there will be a poetry reading from the chapbook we produced back in 2010 as part of the Edmonton Poetry Festival legacy.
The project, led by poet laureate Alice Major was a mentoring project that saw military members and military families matched with a mentor poet (Alice, Michael Gravel, and myself) who helped develop their work. The result was an astonishing collection of poetry that was produced and then fashioned into a dramatic reading (with professional actor Joel Crichton, Michael, and me, a live band, and directed by Kevin Kerr). It was one of the most astonishing audiences ever – half military/half arts community with the Lt. Gov. and other dignitaries in the house.

I remember standing up on stage doing my part and hearing laughter and weeping coming from the darkened audience as we read some truly tough material, punctuated with the gloriously funny and poignant KAF haikus by a young corporal named Graig Gallant. Graig used to send me haikus from KAF during his tour of duty in Afghanistan – often to cheer me up during a really grim time in my life. He always made me laugh as they described the relatively mundane (and I use that qualifier advisedly because there’s nothing mundane about weekly rocket attacks) life of a clerk inside the wire.

We received a standing O and had a chance to meet some of our poets that night (we’d mentored online), as well as next-of-kin, families and girlfriends. One poet, a mil. pers with severe PTSD, had flown all the way from another province far away to attend. He told me that night that partly because of the project and through his writing, he was dreaming in colour again.

So to hear that there will be another reading is spectacular. Part of me wishes I could be there, but most of me knows I better leave a lot of that alone. But in any case I am so proud of our poets and so proud of Alice, Michael, and Joel and our work. This work stands the test of time. Note that the ranks of the mil. pers. listed below are no longer relevant as some have retired or been promoted!

Here is a list of poems and the authors whose work will be performed at the Alberta Legislature, date TBA:

Waiting by the phone – Murray Lewis
Yes, dear! – Warrant Officer Terry Hamel
One soldier, one man, one wife, one woman – Melanie Rustenburg
Meat grinder – Warrant Officer Terry Hamel
Night before the first big op. (Dand District/2009) [Excerpt] – SMSteele
Our Boys – Captain Wayne Brockington
I am the medic – Master Corporal Leah Boyd
The soldier’s photo – Mike Gravel
Father and Son – Murray Lewis
A young soldier’s burdens – Donna Yakibuchuk
Support our troops – Mike Gravel
Galahad soldier – Warrant Officer Terry Hamel
The end approaches – Corporal Graig Gallant
Cottonwoods at Lone Hand Ranch – DBJ Snyder
Elegy for an infantryman – SMSteele
Go and see Vancouver – Warrant Officer Quenten Mullin
The change of command parade – K. Grant
The Things We Share – Major Mark Popov

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled In Arms to reappear at the Alberta Legislature this autumn!!. It was posted here on September 22, 2017.


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