Local author part of anthology published by Sarnia-based writer

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A new “invitational anthology” published by a Sarnia author has involved other area authors, including one from Amherstburg.

Margaret Bird – a long-time author, poet, editor, reviewer and publisher – has launched the anthology “From This Day Forward” with 27 authors from across southwestern Ontario. One of those authors is Amherstburg’s John Schlarbaum.

“About a year ago, I was contacted by Margaret Bird, a publisher from Sarnia, about submitting a prose poem for a book to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday,” explained Schlarbaum. “Her idea was to approach 27 writers, authors and poets in southwestern Ontario from specific regions. She first spoke with Christine Reichert at the library, who suggested me to represent Amherstburg.”

The unique aspect of this project is each entry highlights a historical event in Canada and uses a word that is no longer used today

“My entry, titled, ‘A Thirst for Adventure 1917–1921’ covers prohibition in British Columbia,” said Schlarbaum. “My forgotten word was ‘Ecstasiate v 1823-1857’; to go into ecstasy; to cause to become ecstatic.”

Delving into a new style of writing was of interest to Schlarbaum.

“I was very intrigued by the idea of composing a prose poem, as I am known mainly for mystery and thriller novels. This, however, was one of the project’s main objectives – to have creative authors from all backgrounds write something out of their comfort zone. I was also very honoured to have been selected to represent Amherstburg – a community specifically picked by the publisher due to its important role in this country’s 150 year history.”

John Schlarbaum holds a copy of “From This Day Forward,” an anthology put together by Margaret Bird of Sarnia. Schlarbaum is one of 27 authors from southwestern Ontario that contributed to the project and attended the recent book launch. (Submitted photo)

John Schlarbaum holds a copy of “From This Day Forward,” an anthology put together by Margaret Bird of Sarnia. Schlarbaum is one of 27 authors from southwestern Ontario that contributed to the project and attended the recent book launch. (Submitted photo)

Schlarbaum traveled to Sarnia for the launch earlier this month. For his entry, he said he was offered historic events that took place in three different provinces.

“I chose to write about prohibition in British Columbia from 1917-1921, as the themes and actions of rumrunners and entrepreneurs mirror much of Amherstburg’s colourful past,” he said. “After researching the period, learning about the important places and people involved, as well as the political climate at the time, it took about a month to write the poem. Thankfully, I have a very good friend who edits poetry books and she was able to assist me in making the poem look and feel authentic.”

Schlarbaum said he had never worked on a project like that before but “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hope readers are taken back in time with my retelling of an era that is part of Canada’s rich history.”

As it is a milestone year for Canada, Bird said she wanted to be involved.

“I knew that I wanted to publish a very special anthology in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday and, because I am always involved with anything that presents an opportunity of ‘building community bridges’,” she said. “I decided that an invitational anthology would be just what I needed for this special occasion. Also, three of my contributing authors are First Nations authors, so through my ideas and connections, the plan was borne to have my big launch event at the beautiful First Nations Aamjiwnaang Community Centre in Sarnia.”

Bird said all of the contributing authors were just as excited as she was about this publication. She said many of the authors travelled a long distance to be at the launch and some of them stayed overnight.

“I knew many of the authors, already, but also contacted major libraries in Ontario, to enquire about any authors living in their areas. There were a few humourous grumbles in the beginning as I challenged all the authors’ normal writing genres, and gave them their topics and province or territory. However, the results were all amazing and I’m so excited to have made all these new connections in the literary world,” she said. “I researched every place very carefully and decided we needed a poem and a short story about each province and territory. Some of the topics I chose were perhaps lesser known, to bring a curiosity to all the readers, and a whetting of their appetites that will encourage them all to want to know more! “

Bird said she has always been intrigued by old words no longer used and has always wondered, “why did people let them go?” She asked the 27 authors to incorporate some of these words into their poem or short story.

“Three of the main languages of Canada – Ojibwe, French and English – are acknowledged, by the words of the national anthem, on the pages of this anthology,” she added.

When readers arrive at the final page of this anthology, “I hope you are all feeling thoroughly exhausted from all the travelling you have experienced, within these pages, taking you across this great land but, at the same time, feeling full of optimism, motivation and inspiration for a future that will fulfill all our dreams of one nation working together, inclusive of all our cultures and traditions.”

Bird added she is very proud of the anthology and all the authors who so willingly contributed to this challenging publication.

“This celebratory year will be remembered by us all and the legacy of which will be passed on to our future generations,” said Bird. “We cannot change history but all those who are now Canadians, whether born here, or immigrants, can contribute to building ‘community bridges’ to help connect all people, no matter where they live or from whence they came.”

The anthology is $20 and is available through Bird either by e-mailing her at margaret@margaretbird.ca or messaging her on Facebook with the shipping details. Total cost, including packaging and mailing is $26 within Canada and $31 to the United States.

Schlarbaum is continuing to write as well, as his next book is currently in the works. His next novel “Abandoned – A Jennifer Malone Mystery” is scheduled to be released later this year.

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