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Poetry boat sets out on Grand River


A group of artists is setting out on a ten-day poetry and music tour by canoe down the Grand River in southwestern Ontario.

The group, calling itself Fish Quill Poetry Boat, will be paddling from Elora to the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and performing in cafés, arts centres, and heritage sites along the way.

The group is comprised of six poets/performers in three canoes: Moez Surani, Kevin MacPherson Eckhoff, Leigh Kotsilidis, Linda Besner, and Darryl Whetter, with Toronto musician Jack Marks. Local guest poets and/or musicians will also be joining them at each venue along the way.

The tour begins with the Elora Farmer’s Market at noon  on Aug. 11, West Montrose Kissing Bridge on Aug. 12, West Bridgeport’s Gallery on the Grand on Aug. 13, Cambridge’s O’Keefe Cottage Cafe and Ice Cream Parlour on Aug. 15, with more stops on the route to the Aug. 19 show at Six Nation’s Chiefswood National Historic Site.

Performances take place at 7pm and are free of charge.

“Many of these towns and villages are not included on standard Canadian reading tours,” said Leigh Kotsilidis, one of the tour’s organizers.

“But before roads, rivers were the communication systems, and the towns that line Canada’s rivers are rich in history.

“We hope to give riverside residents a greater sense of ownership of and connectedness to contemporary literary culture.”

Chiefswood is the only surviving pre-Confederation Native mansion in Ontario, and is the birthplace and childhood home of celebrated writer and performer Tekahionwake, also known as E. Pauline Johnson, best known for her iconic canoeing poem The Song My Paddle Sings.

2011 marked the 150th anniversary of Pauline Johnson’s birth.

“We believe that the Fish Quill Poetry Tour is a great way to feature contemporary poetry and creativity at a site known historically for fostering literary creative dreams,” said curator Karen Dearlove.

The tour also includes Paddle with the Poets Day, a family activity taking place on Aug. 19.

The public is invited to rent a canoe or bring along their own and join the group  at noon at Newport Bridge in a paddle to Chiefswood, featuring poetry and music en route.

The Grand River Conservation Authority and Charitable Research Reserve are sponsoring the tour and will be giving presentations at select venues.

For more information contact Kotsilidis at 514-884-9283  or at

Vol 45 Issue 31

August 3, 2012



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