Skip to content

Written word spoken out at literary coffee house

A lesson from a school teacher and a limerick told to Bill Garvey by his brother sparked a lifelong love of poetry.

By Christine Evanoff for Collingwood Today

A lesson from a school teacher and a limerick told to Bill Garvey by his brother sparked a lifelong love of poetry.

“I learned about poetry in 1939 when I was a small boy in the Ottawa Valley,” said Garvey. “During that time we would go to school and not know who our teacher would be as many of the younger ladies had gone off to work in the munitions factory to make ammunition for the war. We ended up with a teacher who I thought at the time must have been a hundred years old. She began to teach us about poetry, about how it flowed. When I got home that night I told my older brother about what we had learned at school about making poetry flow. He explained to me that that was called a limerick and he taught it to me. I spent the whole night memorizing it and I was so excited the next day I ran to school to share my new poem. Well I still have the scars on my hands from where the leather strapped hit me and my love of poetry began.”

Garvey is a student in the writing workshops at the Collingwood Public Library and he was one of the writers reading his original work at the library’s third-annual Literary Coffee House on Saturday, May 5.

The event brought out many of Collingwood’s authors, from new to experienced, amateur to published.

In his career, Garvey worked throughout Canada and travelled extensively. In the 1970’s he received some photos from a family member in BC of some of the clear cutting that was going on. He penned a poem entitled Trees and Mountains, which he shared at the Literary Coffee House. It reads as follows:

“We did surveys and studies
And talked to the crowds
Knew the truth.
But we kept it hidden
So we live with the knowledge
That we could have done more-
Will we die with the shame
That we didn’t.”

Garvey and his wife Jean moved to Collingwood in the 1990’s and fell in love with the area. Garvey had a small book of poetry published called Pass it On and is now working on a collection of stories that he has accumulated over the years entitled The Stories I Was Told.

“After I left Mayo Township in the Ottawa Valley I moved around a lot. I spent some time in the Arctic and in Quebec, I was on Manitoulin Island and back to Ottawa, so I have met a lot of people and heard a lot of stories over the years. So, I thought it would be good to start to write some of those down.”

The Collingwood Writer’s Collective, started by Collingwood library CEO Ken Haigh, began holding literary workshops in 2013. The workshops run twice a month on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Free Schools Room at the Collingwood library. The group is aimed at serious and dedicated writers who have a desire to improve their craft and receive criticism.

The annual Coffee house offers a way for these writers to showcase some of things that they are shown in the workshops. The readings range from essays to poems and short stories from all genres and are open to everyone to attend and participate.