I've been busy, for sure.
I recently won funding from ARTS NL to support a poetry project called Moving Home. (I heard about this a few weeks after hearing that I was selected as a winner for the Poetry division of the Arts and Letters Awards.)
This funding is important to me, partly because I am using a portion of the money to pay for formal mentorship programs with two amazing writers: Katherena Vermette and Shannon Webb-Campbell.
I met with each of them for the first time last week. I was more nervous than I expected. I'm very honoured that they are taking time from their work and lives to guide me. Their kindness, their breadth of knowledge and experience, their love of poetry, writing, and the writing life.
We talked about a lot of things, of course. But one piece of advice came from both of my mentors: take time and make room for the emotions you will experience when you write poetry.
I said to Shannon "In two weeks, I'll have five poems for you to edit." Shannon said, "This isn't journalism Michelle. It doesn't work that way." I said: "In the drafts you've read, what have I done wrong, or what should I stay away from?" Shannon said, "Okay, that's the academic speaking. You're looking to be disciplined, now. It doesn't work that way."
So you see we will have a wonderful journey. I'll have to leave my journalist self and my academic self behind and enter the poetic self.
The project I have funding for? Moving Home.
This poetry will explore the complex relationships that create home with a focus on Métis contexts. I would like to use poetry to creatively explore the topics that I investigated in my recently-completed doctoral program and dissertation: narratives of home, place, and land in Newfoundland and Labrador. This new poetic exploration will take my five years of research in a different direction than the dissertation could. First, I’ll be using a non-academic, creative genre that centres image, experience, and storied moments. Second, I’ll be free to explore and write about my own and my Métis family’s personal histories of home in and outside of Newfoundland and Labrador as part of the project. Third, as a Métis woman, I plan to place Métis experiences of home (in and out of NL) at the centre of this project.
More on what I'm reading in the next post.