PEI Writers’ Guild Open Mic Series – A tribute to John Smith

The PEI Writers’ Guild Open Mic Series returns after the holidays with its first event Thursday, January 10, 2019 at Receiver Coffee Co., 128 Richmond St. in Charlottetown. The featured reader portion of this open mic is dedicated to When We Rise From the Sea, a tribute to the late John Smith.

The son of working-class immigrant parents from Britain, John Smith earned a B.Sc. in Physics and Math from the University of Toronto and taught high school in Huntsville, Ontario. He returned to the U of T for an M.A. in English, then found his intellectual home at UPEI, personal home on Fitzroy Street in Old Charlottetown, and contemplative home on the trails and beaches of Prince Edward Island. He was UPEI’s first Dean of Arts and a co-founder of the PEI Council of the Arts.

For twenty-five years at UPEI, and after his retirement in the early 1990s, John’s luminous intelligence, elegant wisdom, and glorious voice brought Shakespeare and other realms of poetry to life. With his dazzling mind, graceful spirit, delightful wit, radiant face, and generous heart, he enthralled and inspired students, colleagues, and other Islanders for decades.

John’s conversation, teaching, and poetry drew upon a boundless knowledge and reverential curiosity: weaving “strands the length of the wind” from astronomy, geology, biology, archaeology, history, music, visual arts, philosophy and religion, even from baseball and Sumo wrestling. As he wrote in “The World: Further Hypotheses,” “The world is a hat. You put it on when you rise from the sea.” He was always rising from the sea. His hat was voluminous. He bestowed that hat on the heads of countless students, friends, and fellow authors. When the PEI Legislature established the position of Poet Laureate, John Smith was the inevitable first choice.

“We meet again by the ancient stream,” John wrote, “we too who are so much running water.” On January 10 at Receiver Coffee, come sit together by that ancient stream with the running water of John Smith’s poems.

Readers of John’s work will include:

Laurie Brinklow     Lobie Daughton
Julie Dennison       David Hickey
Deirdre Kessler       Richard Lemm
Brent MacLaine

All are welcome to this free event. The first ten writers to sign up for the open mic portion may read from their work, either poetry or prose—for up to 5 minutes. Following a short break, the When We Rise From the Sea will begin.

The PEI Writers’ Guild – Open Mic Series will continue to run on the second Thursday of each month.

go outside…
go under the trees
feel the wind,
watch the birds…
listen to the songs of the world…
above all things… be kind…

– Penned by Julia, daughter of John Smith