Chad Norman took a trip to celebrate Canadian poetry. He came home inspired by the people he met and the places he saw.
Norman left in mid-September and made 15 stops to read poetry in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“I read poems by Canadian poets I like, plus my own tributes and writing, and I realized I was reading in lands that adore poetry,” he said. “I had a good response while I was there, and met other poets. I really was in the land of appreciation, where the poetry as performance is valued.”
Norman decided to organize a tour after talking to people with the Centre of Canadian Studies, at the University of Edinburgh.
He had no trouble finding places to read and speak, but was frustrated and disheartened by his attempts to access funding. He applied for federal money, through the Canada Council for the Arts, and provincial funds, through Arts Nova Scotia.
“Funding was denied,” he said. “I want the public to know there’s no funding for poets, or if there is I don’t know how to get it. I was going to promote Canadian poetry, but I couldn’t get any support.”
He covered the cost of the trip himself, and doesn’t regret it. His wife took time off and went along for a holiday.
“A highlight for me was staying at Dylan Thomas’ birthplace, in Wales,” he said. “We spent three nights in the room where he was born. It felt like sleeping in a museum.
“At one time, it was in a state of disrepair, but now it’s set up as close as possible to the way it was when the family lived there.”
Although he didn’t do any readings in England, Norman did see the English countryside when he took the bus from Cardiff to Glasgow.
“I saw a lot of statues during the trip, including some of literary figures,” he said. “History is valued, and I think it’s important to have things that tell history.
“I came back with a different sense of being Canadian; of being part of such a young country.”