Undergraduate students at St Thomas University are in the process of creating the Atlantic Canadian Poets Archive “to answer a need for academic scholarship on writing of the Atlantic region.” They invite submissions to the archive from undergraduate students.
A Letter from the East
The Atlantic Canadian Poets’ Archive started as an idea among a group of seminar students and their professor. Through the fall of 2010 and the winter of 2011, the students of Dr. Kathleen McConnell’s Contemporary Atlantic Canadian Women Poets’ seminar slogged through databases in search of scholarship. We found physics papers, geological studies, a handful of reviews, but no scholarship.
So we wrote it ourselves.
Though constrained by our undergraduate status (we take our editorial process seriously, but the Archive is not peer-reviewed), the contributions on the ACPA are the first of their kind: succinct critical analyses of poets from the Atlantic region, available to the public with a few keystrokes. Each poet featured on the ACPA has a short critical analysis, a biography, a comprehensive source list, and the text of the poem which is being analyzed.
Among the challenges we faced as editors was obtaining contact information for some of the poets. In some instances, these poets had written the requested poems decades earlier, and then promptly disappeared from the public eye. Poetry from the Atlantic region is obscure already, so finding contact information for even less recognized poets proved challenging.
Fortunately, the tight-knit, supportive atmosphere of Atlantic Canadian poetry has worked in our favour. To illustrate: we had been trying to get ahold of Newfoundland poet Carmelita McGrath. We explored the usual avenues: checked out organizations she had been involved in, scoured university faculty pages, but no one knew where to contact her. We became obsessed. In the middle of our hunt, two of the ACPA editors had gone to Great Village, Nova Scotia for the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary Festival. Among the poets reading at the festival was Michael Crummey, another Newfoundlander. When the editors met him, they described the McGrath Conundrum. After conceding that yes, of course, he’s an Atlantic Canadian poet too and we’d include him as soon as possible, he promised to put us in contact with Carmelita McGrath. The two, it turned out, were old friends.
Because St. Thomas University (the birthplace of the Archive) is an undergraduate institution, the editorial staff for the Archive is impermanent. The founding editor graduates next spring, while our second editor, Allyson Groves, has already graduated. Maintaining the project has become a key concern for us, as we strive to maintain the editorial continuity we have established while also ensuring our own academic growth.
It is this growth that we want to see in the Archive in the following years. It allows students to contextualize their analytic and editorial skills in a real-world situation, while also helping to fill a gap in academia. We welcome submissions from undergraduate students (though exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis). Our complete Submission Guidelines, along with some great analyses, are available at stu.ca/acpa.
Lisa Banks (Managing Editor, Summer 2011, Summer 2012)
Allyson Groves (Managing Editor, Winter 2011-Spring 2012)
Patrick O’Reilly (Managing Editor, Summer 2012)
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