There is a fearlessness I’ve always admired about the work of Ottawa poet, editor and publisher Amanda Earl, unafraid to follow her curiosity into unusual corners, whether exploring the sexuality and textures of 1920’s Montparnasse in her first trade collection, Kiki (Chaudiere Books, 2014), to “Saint Ursula’s Commonplace Book.” As she writes to describe her current work-in-progress:
Ursula lived in the fourth or fifth century. Variations on her story exist. In one version, she is travelling by ship with eleven thousand virgins to meet her groom, a Pagan. The ship is attacked and the women, including Ursula, are beheaded. In another version, an arrow pierces her heart.
A church was built over the tomb where Ursula was buried. The arrow which pierced her is kept there. Young girls pray to Ursula for protection and miracles. She is their patron saint.
What I’ve always found interesting about Ottawa poet Roland Prevost’s poetry is in the lengthy, detailed process that brought him to where he is now. For an hour or three a day, he composes in what he refers to as his “logbook”: composing journal entries, drafts of fiction, poetry and essays, and notes on recent reading. It has only been over the past decade or so, upon emerging to engage with Ottawa’s community of writers, reading series, publishers and performers, that Prevost has begun to shift in his composition, becoming more deliberate about writing poems-as-poems, all of which has culminated in his first book of poetry, Singular Plurals (Chaudiere Books, 2014).