DiscoverVerse: Catherine Hunter + St. Boniface Elegies

Today in the ALU DiscoverVerse, we welcome poet Catherine Hunter, author of St. Boniface Elegies (Signature Editions), a collection that traces a poet’s relationships with her family and her community. Below, Catherine shares more about the grip that poetry has had, and continues to have upon her life, and how visual art and theatre energize her thinking. PLUS, read on for a poetry prompt from Catherine that’ll have your pen sailing and your confidence soaring.


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During the month of April, you can buy any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off (+ we’ll send you a set of three poetry bookmarks so you’ll always find your place.)

Interview with Catherine Hunter

All Lit Up: What did you learn writing St. Boniface Elegies?Catherine Hunter: That I’ll probably never be finished with poetry. It’s an impossibly difficult form that can’t be perfected or exhausted. It’s been with me, been part of me, all my life. Watching my life through these poems, as if through a rainstorm, really brought that home to me. ALU: If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?CH: I’d be on my way to tame the dragon. I’d bring a four-leaf clover, a dictionary, and a peanut butter sandwich. ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?CH: Looking at visual art and going to the theatre both inspire me, especially when the artists are courageous and outrageous and full of life. I’m grateful for the way art energizes me. Being outside, away from the city, in a forest or by the seashore, also inspires me, but in a different, more calming way. I’m a slow thinker, and I need solitude and silence to hear my thoughts clearly and untangle them. It’s unfortunately rare that I can get away like that. ALU: Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?CH: Imagine some unimportant aspect of yourself, perhaps a flaw, and exaggerate it greatly. This could be an ability or inability, a habit, a personality trait, a physical feature, or a reputation for something. Write a poem that is a big brag about how powerful it makes you and all the things you can do with it. Then take over the world.

A poem from St. Boniface Elegies

Poetry Wars
Uptown vs downtown. Borrowers vs thieves.
Metaphysical poets vs poets who don’t believe.
20th-century poets vs those from the 21st.
Poets who are drinking, vs those with the terrible thirst
Poets funded by oil vs poets funded by wheat.
Fish vs lumber. Limestone vs peat.
Slam vs dub vs found vs tone.
Bird vs moon. Skin vs bone.
The left-handed poets vs the right.
Day vs day. Night vs night.
Poets who type vs those who erase.
Capitals vs the lower case.
X vs Y. Brain vs heart.
Academia vs art.
Deep as the ocean, old as the stars,
mysterious, furious poetry wars.

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Catherine Hunter’s last poetry collection, Latent Heat, won the McNally Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year Award. St. Boniface Elegies was short listed for the Governor General Literary Award for Poetry and four of the poems, originally published in Contemporary Verse 2, won the Manitoba Magazine Award for Best Poem or Suite of Poems and earned Honorable Mention in the National Magazine Awards. Her most recent novel, After Light (Signature), spans four generations of an Irish-American-Canadian family in a tale of love, war, trauma, and the power of art, and was a finalist for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher, and the High Plains Book Award for Best Woman Writer. She has also published several mysteries with Ravenstone/Turnstone, and recorded a spoken word CD (Rush Hour, from Cyclops Press, with a bonus track by The Weakerthans). Her writing has appeared in the literary journals The Malahat ReviewPrism InternationalEssays on Canadian WritingMatrixWest Coast LinePrairie FireCV2, and Grain, and the anthologies The Echoing Years: Contemporary Poetry from Canada and IrelandPost Prairie: An Anthology of New PoetryBest Canadian Poems 2013Best Canadian Poems 2015; and (forthcoming) Best Canadian Poems 2019. She edited Exposed, an anthology of five new women poets, and Before the First Word: The Poetry of Lorna Crozier, and for ten years she was the editor of The Muses’ Company poetry press. Since 1991, she has enjoyed teaching literature and creative writing at the University of Winnipeg.

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During the month of April, you can buy St. Boniface Elegies and any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off! PLUS: FREE shipping!Keep up with us all month on  TwitterInstagram, and  Facebook with the hashtag #ALUdiscoververse. BONUS:Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download. DiscoverVerse: Choose Your Own Poetry Game