There are poets who capture the literary spotlight and wider public appreciation with poems that tap into compelling concerns of the day. And there are poets who book after book, with elegant artistry and eloquent sensibilities, steadily earn the admiration of peers and readers. Then there are such poets as Maureen Hynes and Ruth Roach Pierson who have done both. Hynes and Pierson will read from their new work on Monday, September 24, at 7:30 pm in the Faculty Lounge, Main Building at the University of Prince Edward Island.
Ruth Roach Pierson published her first book of poems, Where No Window Was, after retiring from 31 years of teaching as a historian and feminist scholar at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and later at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Her best-known scholarly publication is They’re Still Women After All: The Second World War and Canadian Womanhood.
Pierson’s second poetry book, Aide-Mémoire, a finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Poetry, delves into the dangers and delights of growing older. There is the increasing unreliability of memory, but also the continuing pleasure and surprise to be found in nature and the arts, as well as the people, objects, and events from the past, aides-mémoire, binding us to the experience of “now.”
Her new collection, Contrary, articulates the oppositional emotions connected with the loss of a loved one. While humour and fond remembrance permeate these poems, Contrary is also an unflinching portrayal of the emotional maelstrom that overtook the poet as she faced the dying and death of her only brother.
Maureen Hynes’ new book, Marrow, Willow, is a joyful, personal look at the “human project of mortality.” She tells us how she came into her own as a poet many years after abandoning earlier attempts. In a magazine interview, she speaks of the “amazingly difficult challenge of discovering what you want to say,” and the “equally joyous and felt-in-the-body pleasure of what language can do.”
Hynes’ first book, Rough Skin, won the League of Canadian Poets’ best first book award. Her other books are Letters from China and Harm’s Way. Her work appears in Best Canadian Poetry 2010. She is on the board of MayWorks, Toronto’s annual Festival of Working People and the Arts, and is poetry editor for Our Times magazine.
Their reading is sponsored by the UPEI English Department, with generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts. A reception and book signing will follow. Admission is free and all are welcome.