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Poet Catherine Graham to read in Parry Sound with The International Festival of Authors on 6 November.


Poet Catherine Graham to read in Parry Sound with The International Festival of Authors on 6 November.


Review by IFOA Parry Sound Committee member Gillian Holden

The International Festival of Authors returns to Parry Sound this fall for the 7th year. In 2008 the touring program of the IFOA was an experiment, it is now an event that readers eagerly look forward to attending each year.

This fall, on Thursday 6 November at 7:30 pm we will present readings by Michael Crummey, Craig Davidson (writing as Nick Cutter), Catherine Graham and Helen Humphreys.

Catherine Graham will read from her fifth poetry collection Her Red Hair Rises With The Wings Of Insects.

Catherine Graham is a Hamilton-born Canadian poet whose work has been strongly influenced by poets P.K. Page (Canada) and Dorothy Molloy (Ireland).  This collection was launched in the fall of 2013, and was a finalist for the League of Canadian Poets’ Raymond Souster Award, as well as the CAA Poetry Award.  Graham’s poems form a permanent exhibit on the Burlington, Ontario waterfront.  She has also served as a founding member of the board of directors of Project Bookmark Canada.

This latest poetry collection is based on the style of writing known as glosa, which was developed in the early part of the Renaissance.  Glosa is a Spanish form of poetry related to the cantiga.  It is a poem that begins with a line or a short verse (cabeza) which states a theme. This first verse is then followed by separate verses for each line of the cabeza which explains (glosses) that line. The line often appears as a refrain in the first or last line, or both.

In this collection, Graham has used the glosa format more loosely, writing poems that expand on poetry written by Dorothy Molloy.   Graham has used italics to indicate the words that come from Molloy, and has not strictly adhered to the original form.  In the words of Michael Dennis, ‘She has the technical mastery to make the glosas disappear . . . and we are left with strong, vibrant poems that aren't bridled by technique. There is humour, wit, sensual experience, fantasy and grace in these poems.’

Catherine Graham currently lives in Toronto, having spent several years living and writing in Northern Ireland.  She commented that ‘Poetry is a big part of people’s lives in Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the UK where my journey as a writer began.  It isn’t confined to the backs of bookshelves or to no shelves at all, it’s at the front of the bookstore, the latest publication. Poetry is reviewed regularly in national newspapers, heard on national radio and contemporary poets are often seen on TV. People from all walks of life attend poetry readings, not just poets and emerging poets. It’s alive and vibrant and embedded in the culture.’

Catherine Graham began writing poetry following the deaths of her parents, which occurred while she was an undergraduate student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. This outlet for her grief became a passion in and of itself, causing her to move to Northern Ireland and study poetry.  She earned an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University while there and also published her first collection.  Graham’s work has been influenced by the strong community of Irish poets.  Her work was broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster and anthologized in The White Page/An Bhileog Bhan: Twentieth Century Irish Women Poets and The Filed Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Vol IV & V.


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