Stop by and experience a variety of places at the Ralph Pickard Bell Library
Mount Allison’s R.P. Bell Library opened the New Brunswick Book Design Exhibit on Thursday, March 1 with Writing with a Sense of Place, a well attended show consisting of four authors from N.B. Excited chatter filled the room as the ground outside was covered in a fresh dusting of snow.
“Opening [the exhibit] with real New Brunswick authors is a definite high point,” said one of the event organizers. Each author was chosen for their tendency to create a sense of place in their writing. The artists described what place meant to them and how they used it in their writing.
Author Jane Tims was the first to read. The book she wrote, In the Shelter of the Covered Bridge, focuses on one of the integral parts of New Brunswick’s identity: our covered bridges. We have more covered bridges than any other province, as well as the longest covered bridge in the world. Tims uses her poetry to set her readers in an accurate portrayal of New Brunswick.
Peter Clair, an Indigenous novelist from New Brunswick, read a selection from his novel Taapoategl & Pallet: A Mi’kmaq Journey of Loss & Survival. Clair said that place is imperative to his writing habits. “Place is how we think of it, we don’t know how it thinks at all,” said Clair. “We tend to think of the land as belonging to us. I like to think that we belong to the land.” Clair’s writings reflected this, as many traditions are detailed in this story of survival and struggle.
Allan Cooper, a celebrated poet and Mt. A alumnus, stressed the importance family plays in establishing place. Many of his poems were directed at and dedicated to his daughter. His poetry conveyed a very matter-of-fact sense of family being constantly available, and how we tend to take that availability for granted. Many of the students and professors in the crowd appeared to identify with this touching reading. Cooper also spoke of his time spent in the R.P. Bell Library as an undergrad, researching poems and conferring with colleagues.
The final author was Beth Powning. Powning’s works considered place as a reflection of the weather and how that affects those experiencing N.B. life. “When I write, I cannot start until I know what season it is, what [the characters] feel, the weather, what they can smell,” said Powning. “I find it hard to talk about place because it is so much of everything. I love place.” Powning’s readings from her book Home: A North Country Chronicle strongly reflected how accomplished authors blend place and narrative together.
Writing with a Sense of Place was a perfect talk for anyone with any interest in writing in a professional capacity. It was incredibly well put together; the authors who read all had their own take on “place” as a subject, and the life experience to match. The N.B. Book Design exhibit and other talks are scheduled for a few cities around New Brunswick. If you are interested in attending, check out future events at www.wfnb.ca.