Fundy Bay Writers participate in Sunbury stewardship project

(Robert Fisher photo) Part of the group participating in the ekphrastic poetry writing workshop at Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre.

SAINT ANDREWS – The Fundy Bay Writers group is creating a book of poetry as part of the Art of Stewardship project.

Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre is organizing the intergenerational project, which began to create a collection of short films about climate change and its impacts on the region.

Carole Martignacco, one of the founders of Fundy Bay Writers, said Sunbury approached the group about being part of the project as a written component to the films being produced. Participation was open to anyone, especially youth. They held two workshops on recent Saturdays to take inspiration from Lorna McMaster’s current exhibit. McMaster is a fibre artist who created a series of works with dyed wool.

The writers are creating ekphrastic poems, which are poems works of art have inspired. Ekphrasis has an interesting place in the art world because of its duopoly as both storyteller, of the works used as inspiration, and story in its own right. The group will create a chapbook of poetry, which will be available in September when the films are screened.

Kelly Hickey, who has been writing for more than 30 years, was one of the workshop participants who appreciated having McMaster as part of the group to explain her own inspiration for the fibre works.

“Instead of just the usual, very kind of formulated (writer’s prompts), it was a different kind of language,” said Hickey.

For her, it allowed for a broader, freer kind of writing. Working with others in a group and hearing how the same pieces of art inspired those people differently was interesting for Hickey, as was “seeing art through other people’s eyes and what it means” to them.

“I’m a neophyte when it comes to writing,” admitted participant Teri Kingston, who said she appreciated the way Martignacco and the other participating Fundy Bay Writers founders stewarded the writing process.

“They’re the stewards of our writers’ souls,” said Kingston. “And today, when we saw Lorna’s reaction to hearing some of the works that were written about her artwork, she was in tears.”

The free-growing shape of runner beans in one of McMaster’s pieces particularly inspired Kingston.

“I thought of how often I’ve tried to fly off and be free, but there was always structure, it was black it was rigid. And those little runner beans are just going all over the place, and I’ve never written anything like that before.”

Eco-anxiety and eco-grief are components of Matthew Dickson’s work as a mental health advocate.

“I saw the ad for this group, thought writing for nature, that’s great, that’s right up my alley,” Dickson said.

Dickson hasn’t written much poetry, although he has written casually over the years with narrative and prose. The workshop at Sunbury was Dickson’s first writing workshop.

“I found this very impactful,” he said. “It’s nice to be with other people talking about writing.”

He explained it as different from typical writing in school where you’re given an assignment and told what to write about. The freedom of this experience was different for him.

Hickey said the topic was important for her, too. If she saw just a writers’ workshop ad, she wouldn’t have made an effort to be involved.

“But because it was speaking up for nature and I’m passionate about that,” was her reasoning for participating and by speaking for nature it necessitates a relationship with nature.

The group is accepting submissions of ekphrastic poetry for the chapbook and is especially interested in receiving submissions from young people to fulfill the intergenerational component of the project. Those interested can email or submit a piece of writing (maximum three to five double-spaced pages) to the same address.

Robert Fisher

Fisher is a writer/author, photographer and filmmaker. Itinerant observer of life. His dog, Lincoln, is a travel companion and has been coast-to-coast with him four times.