Poets @ Artfest IV 2018

Poets @ Artfest IV

Following wonderful events in 2015, 2016, & 2017, the 2018 poetry festival featured 56 poets from Ontario and Quebec in this 3-day event. Included this year: an early morning workshop on Saturday, and an open mic late Sunday afternoon. Readings took place all weekend by these very talented poets.

Collaborative Poem Project

We also tried something new! Visitors to the event were invited to write poetic thoughts about 'What I love about Kingston' and add them to a collaboration poem.
It encouraged anyone to enter a line about what they love about Kingston and at the end of each day, all submissions were compiled into a poem. The complete 3-day poem appears below with credit for pieces given. It was a wonderful experience and very successful. Read below!

Kingston’s calling


In the fourth iteration of an annual 3-day poetry festival held as part of Artfest Kingston/Artfest Ontario’s overall festival in Kingston from June 30 – July 2, 2018, a ‘collaborative poem’ element was added to this year’s ‘Poets @ Artfest IV’ event.

Participation was open to anyone, with simple instructions asking them to write down what they love about Kingston. The instructions also suggested that submissions didn’t have to be poetic, but they as a line or lines in a long open verse poem would become so. It was also explained that credit would be given if their name and city were included, but that anonymous submissions would be included as well.

In all, nearly 70 submissions were received, and just over half of them anonymous. Each ranged from a single line to as many as 5 or 6 - mostly prose, but some were intentionally poetic. Each part, a day, in the following poem represents what was submitted that day.

As the editor of this project, my goal was to keep it as organic as possible – to only use what was given. Some minor bridging was necessary from time to time throughout the three days, but I would estimate that at least 95% of what you see in Parts i-iii are lines exactly as they were received. I did add a 3-stanza Epilogue as both an overview of the full event and to bring the poem full circle.

My thanks to all of those who took part in this wonderful project. Contributing author credits follow the poem. My thanks, as well, to Artfest Kingston for their support, promotion, and the creative license that allowed me to roll out ‘an idea’, and then deliver this poem.

Bruce Kauffman, Editor

Kingston’s calling
    a thematic collaborative poem, ‘What I love about Kingston’

Back to this place
    this soil
this piece of earth

A day as we approached
it riding here on
the 4th planet from the sun    

A short walk into this city
someone behind whispered,
Diamond waters call my name,
beckon me to the island’s edge,
over the swells, over again

This time, this place, within,
another whispered of it all,
you are a
      a sliver in
my subconscious

Kingston, a city both delicate and strong,
resilient and yet yielding –
yielding to the passing stories
and the ones that take root

A city that is
dance music art
love nature
    small quaint

vines like fingers
climbing limestone walls

and tangled roots on
city lights          come
beating           beating

and rattles and kidcalls
skeetos and skids –
and everywhere springing up

All rolling in
the unique rhythm of
young excitement
    in September
and the mature calm
    of June    

What not to love here
in this melange of people
who share smiles like friends
on this meandering well-worn path
    taking me nowhere
    taking me everywhere

to watch the blue lake open
at the end of the street
seeing my love in coffeehouses
    old stone story buildings
in the presence of warm social circles
    and sun set on the pier

here like Cheers, I guess, ‘Where
everybody knows your name’
and here because we’re here
love this city simply because
it’s not
    somewhere else

And here
This easy life
The simple life
The challenged life
The happy life

Three voices behind us –
    ‘Check out Artfest Kingston
    And the poets at Artfest there’
    ‘Kingston is home
    The city is mine
    Make it yours, too’
And the final one, softer,
    ‘Believe in yourself’

And turning down a small path
to find a young woman standing there
her eyes gleaming
    her smile wide
    her face radiant
As she approached and whispered
as if to the past
as if her whisper carried there
back to them,
When I leave here
you won’t recognize me
    My skin fits now


Deep-root, printers ink,
limestone walls,
cool breezes
    my heart is here

Kingston is the beginning
of my brand-new life

by the waters
    reflecting limestone
by the waters
in these journeys then
of the mind
    reflecting the old
    and secured

This historical haven
This historical heaven!

Could there possibly be or    
is there something
not to like about Kingston
when I love it all -
    the water, the wildlife
    and history    

And patios
eccentric artsy characters

underground Kingston
under ground king’s   town
Up or down swings around
Loving sounds enliven now
flippant frown turned upside down

Smiles smiles smiles everywhere
Those big purple flowers
at springtime downtown                        
The fact that I haven’t
kissed everyone here

— the boom boom
of the art drums
and this: her hand on her cheek
how I know her compassion
       the brush sheen sparkle
of this lake
keeping us cool    

Water arcs under concrete
Arcs under birds under
the arc of sky
It’s the water
It’s everywhere
    It soothes my soul    

A park full of people
An artist festival there
Culture and craftmanship
in one beautiful space
filled with nothing but love
And one poet says,
‘Poets @ Artfest is the best!
How glorious to participate
    on a lovely summer day
We always look forward
to traveling here
even from 3 hours away’

And another having arrived
3 hours as well
From another direction says,
‘What I love about Kingston
is I don’t have to think
about speaking English’    

There is always
somebody who knows
somebody who knows
The Kingston sign glows white and red,
blood and bone,
and helps me stand sanguine,
proud and bent

community builds
         itself around
the rich uniqueness
    of this city
you can feel and hear it
in the air

An echoed shout
From a boat on the lake,
‘God bless Kingston
May it always exist’
rolls up to the shore
    rests in the bushes

but here a bit inland
memories swirl,
Domes reaching the heavens
Students crowding the
streets, former home,
    loved place of youth


Last night
a midnight walk in
    Skeleton Park
Hello spirits
    happy to be here
Moon above the trees                        

This city embraced me,
made me feel at home
after 22 years of

This morning
cooler near the lake
acknowledging histories
    and allowing
tolerating outrages,
celebrating here as diversity grows                
We contemplate on water’s edge
Scanning the shimmering water
A last look across
to its blue stretches before us and
beyond in the distance where
    garlanded islands
    clipper ships and
    windmills claim
    equal space    

We walk away from the lake
and into the city

The air is so thick
    we can swim through it
    paddling upward
    toward the surface                    

Yet dogpaddling and
then still swimming through
this hot water air,
the uneasy heaviness
begins to fade and we look up
to see just before us
    a park
A place where we find
soothing breezes temper
shimmering city stones,
festivals and frolic
under verdant ancient

Just inside but still
near this park’s edge
    three massive trees,
    a large tent beneath,
and within
    a small gathering
A group of poets sharing
their own words there

Words melt and meld
in the sweat of the tent

Within and around the tent    
grey tones;
deep transience and
transient identity
The soul crawls here
and needs projects,
so, does projects
finishes them                        

Here in this poets’ tent
here, at the edge
of a massive arts festival
    on a hot long weekend,
In the cool breeze of
words willowing through the tent,
heat and bugs
don’t have a chance

We’re absorbed and lost in it
Then we look through this haven of words
into the full of the huge City Park,
filled with rows of artist after artist
and tent on tent

A vibrant energy fills the air
within this temporal gathering
of artists and food and reverie
It, all woven together
here in this park

Artists live together
    not in silos                        

And we are reminded here again
of how soothing
community is

As we notice the sun now
beginning to lose its place
in the sky, everyone around
begins to sense a nostalgic mist
rising up out of the ground,
then filling the air
in these final hours of
a long weekend
And in it someone suggests,
‘Can you feel it?
Something is coming
to an end’                             

We begin to leave,
but are told that there
is still so much more

A mother said, ‘There are
movies in the square
    In July
where we skated
on January’s ice’                        

‘A bounty of things to do
places to see
food to taste
Just don’t eat
all your chutney in
    one go’                            

When a very young girl
    with her family
was asked what she most
wanted to do in Kingston,
she looked up and said that
she, ‘would love to
go to a cruise’    
And said one of three of a family
    Adele, Donald,
    and William,
‘A summer goal -
packing one greenspace a day
for July
for forest
for lost in Kingston                        
    in its softest parts’


And as we left the park
with evening coming,
we understood
It didn’t matter if we had arrived here
from the 4th planet from the sun,
from another spot on this earth,
or from just across the street

For some of us, we are here
    to stay
For some of us, we are here
    for awhile     
    and then on our way

But in the time
    and times
we stood here
    stand here still
Kingston to any of us
    felt like home,

and to many of us
    felt like home

    and became it.


Credits and Notes: Parts i, ii, and iii

Part i was compiled, comprised of 23 submissions of mostly single or double lines, mostly anonymous, and assembled into this first of three parts, as day 1 of Poets @ Artfest IV, and part of Artfest Kingston, 2018.     
Stanza 2 (first and last line) -- Bob K (city unknown)
Stanza 3 (italics) – Michelle Webb (Kingston)
Stanza 4 (italics) – Kait Allen (Kingston)
Stanza 5 – James Cathcart (Glasgow, Scotland)
Stanza 6 (last 4 lines) – Julian Gregory (Kingston)
Stanza 9 – Susan McMaster (Ottawa)
Stanza 10 (last 5 lines) – Pauline Webb (Huntsville)
Stanza 15 (lines 6-8) – Ian Dennison (Kingston)
Final Stanza (italics) – Anon (Norfolk, VA, USA)
[All other stanzas were composed of anonymous single, double, or sometimes triple lines but without location to credit, and with only occasional minimal language as ‘a bridge’ added as needed by the editor.]

Part ii was compiled, comprised of 22 submissions of mostly single or double lines, mostly anonymous, and assembled into this second of three parts, as day 2 of Poets @ Artfest IV, and part of Artfest Kingston, 2018.     
Stanza 1 -- Ann Lablans (Kingston)
Stanza 4 (second line) – Dallas Bader (Bancroft, ON)
Stanza 9 – Krista Asselstine (Kingston)
Stanza 10 (last 3 lines) – Jean Capshan (City unknown)
Stanza 11 (lines 3-6) – Jess Foster (Kingston)
Stanza 11 (last 6 lines) – Kathy Figueroa, Bancroft, ON)
Stanza 12 (last 3 lines) – Louise Carson (An Anglophone residing in Quebec)
Stanza 13 – Ken Chin (Kingston)
Stanza 14– Tim Murphy (Kingston)
Stanza 16 (lines 3 and 4) – Ian Dennison (Kingston)
Final Stanza (last 4 lines) – Carolyne Van Der Meer (Montreal)
[All other stanzas were composed of anonymous single, double, or sometimes as many as 4 lines but without location to credit, and with only occasional minimal language as ‘a bridge’ added as needed by the editor.]

Part iii was compiled, comprised of 22 submissions of mostly single or double lines, mostly anonymous, and assembled into this third of three parts, as day 3 of Poets @ Artfest IV, and part of Artfest Kingston, 2018.     
Stanza 1 (last 5 lines)—Eric Folsom (Kingston)
Stanza 3 (last 7 lines) – Bethmarie Michalska (Kinston)
Stanza 6 – Michael e Casteels (Kingston)
Stanza 7 (last 5 lines) – Gwen Whitford (Kingston)
Stanza 10 (last 7 lines) – Nadia Pacey (Kingston)
Stanza 14 – Tom (TG) Hamilton (Ontario/BC/Alberta)
Stanza 16 (last 3 lines) – Bob MacKenzie (Kingston)
Stanza 18 (last 4 lines) – Chantel Lavoie (Kingston)
Stanza 19 (last 6 lines) – Meg Freer (Kingston)
Stanza 20 (last 2 lines) – Marielle Y. (Brampton, ON)
[All other stanzas were composed of anonymous single, double, or sometimes upward of 6 lines but without location to credit, and with only occasional minimal language as ‘a bridge’ added as needed by the editor.]


Copies available $10 ea.

We published a collection of 130 pages of original poetry to commemorate Canada's 150th birthday. Bruce Kaufman curated the collection. Poets from Kingston, Ontario and Quebec contributed to this project. The results are interesting, thought provoking and heartfelt. The book is still available to purchase online, at Artfest Kingston, the Kingston Tourism Centre and the Thousand Islands Gift Shop on Ontario Street.