Jeanette Lynes | Writer in Residence

Jeanette Lynes

Joanne Page, Poet Emeritus of the Author Hospitality Suite at Kingston WritersFest, suggested during a summertime conversation on her front porch that we should have a poet-in-residence at the Festival.

What a good idea! we thought, and instantly thought of Jeanette Lynes, author of six collections of poetry as well as a novel, and a much beloved alumnus of WritersFest who helped launch our first Festival in 2009.

Jeanette was born in southwestern Ontario, in Alice Munro country, where she grew up dreaming that she would one day marry Bobby Orr.

Jeanette Lynes at Kingston WritersFest 2009

She is currently creative writing professor and founding coordinator of the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan, after teaching for many years at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where she was co-editor of The Antigonish Review. She spends extended periods of each summer writing in Kingston, a city she discovered when she served as writer in residence in the Department of Women’s Studies at Queen’s, where she helped organize the Bronwen Wallace Conference.

Factory Voice by Jeanette Lynes

Her poetry, acclaimed for its wry, witty observations, won the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize and the Bliss Carman Poetry Prize, and was nominated for a National Magazine Award and the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Her most recent collection of poems, Archive of the Undressed was shortlisted for two Saskatchewan Book Awards and her first novel, The Factory Voice, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Welcome Jeanette, and thank you for gracing our Festival with your whimsical, wondrous words!


Poems from WritersFest 2013

There Go the Writers!

They’ve held us captive in these rooms –
a dulcet captivity – ambrosial, medicinal –
their ready wit, their flashing eyes –
their stories, poems, & artful lies.

I knew they were trouble when they walked in –
(trouble! trouble!) –
a most dazzling species of trouble.

They’ve driven me to exclamation marks
(which aren’t so bad as writing teachers say!
Why, why must we always keep calm
& carry on? In Writing, calm is overrated.)

But sadly I must carry on, my suitcase
now laden with books (food for winter),
a Taylor Swift tune ramping through my head.
After these lovely, word-drenched days
that sounds about right.

I wanted to write an iconic poem about my country –
lines gnarled with pine, muscled with shield.
This festival is better – our writers – our genus –
Genius – let’s wrap them in one long wool boa!

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

To All the Angels in Orange Scarves: An Ode

“Thou hast thy music too” – Keats, “To Autumn”

To you, Dream Team, for five days
our wranglers & guides, a hundred
miracles plucked from your bowler hats,
who have with good cheer kept the feast
refreshed, water pitchers full, tickets in hands,
& books (wondrous novel idea!)
we scatter a thousand rose petals at your
collective feet. We raise a glass to you
& you, mavens of this word banquet
& our Artistic Director having spun
this beauteous tapestry. & though winter
will soon be wearing walls (all that friesen
is good for music & hockey) no one can take
from us these celestial hours by the lake.

Details, Details

Stolen chocolate creams –

Are you authentic? Are you?

Research butter churns!

What Editors Don’t Want

She gazed out the window. She was an astute gazer.
She smiled with dazzling teeth into the day’s
drizzle which stirred within her a vague
premonition some dire event would soon befall them.
‘Foreshadowing’, she thought, suddenly. She smiled,
pleased with her own window-gazing acuity.
She stared more probingly into the yard
cluttered with rusted racing cars.
Rickenstock had not cut the grass all summer,
obvious from the tall insolence of the weeds.
Metaphor! She laughed. Metaphors made her laugh.
(Tall insolence of the weeds, not bad,
she thought). She was a quirky, intelligent woman
with a enduring reverence for tropes.
The yard was rampant with neglect & falling action.
She raised her arm & flicked her blonde bangs. She smiled.
She lit a slender menthol cigarette. Suddenly she knew –
Rickenstock! Rickenstock was the killer!
‘Climax’, she thought! Denouement. She smiled.

Get Surreal

You’ll know it when you feel it, the chance effect,
random ringing in your shoe (phone, remember
Maxwell Smart?). It’s for you. Embrace
each corset manifesto, every last
uncompromising pitcher,
origami-smoking bulldozer.
Run, blatant teacups – you are number five!
Linger, exquisite corpse. Weird for weird’s sake?
Try harder! (A girl lives in his radiator.)
Ten vegetarians, the propellers of courage,
ate chicken. I like tentacles.
I had an idea. The end.

What Are You Reading?

Oddly not depressing! Boris Karloff read it, too.
What we talk about when we talk about books.

A book club of two, just you and your mom –
what could be better?

We talked about courage, shelf-liner, and faith.
(‘Mom, were you scared?’)

Readers – rebels – you and your mom.
Hope. The human conversation.

A modern type of loneliness, saying goodbye
one book at a time. What are you reading?

(Written in the Book Club Capital of Canada – Kingston, Ontario)

Oh Woe, Woe!

Gore – & not Lesley. The other worlds
were standing-room only & guess what –
it’s your autopsy. Stake through the heart.
Too too solid flesh.

Yes & no.
No & yes.
Pop the lungs.
Good luck!

Bad luck. Decaying pump organs.
Has anyone seen my memory?
I know I left it around here someplace!

Embrace your inner zombie.

Lost robots, girls in dollhouses.
Bears on mountain bikes. Learn
the vowels again. Pixels. Not pretty.
Bear spray – yes. Boss-Lady – yes!

Thursday poem

postcard from the brink

tomorrow & tomorrow & tomorrow –
what if? what if? crust of rust
over the upper case –
a bear in a mood most foul.

wake, prince of panic, diva of doom!
(& grand princess, too) – worst-case
scenarios just got a whole lot worse.
Postcard from the nightmare post:

to swallow is a triumph, dry socks
positively pastoral & the coffee
is lousy. weather royally
jiggered, all quake & flood

& cracked waste. improvisation
with sheets & tarps nailed down
by the ancient grunge adage,
rust never sleeps. sick owls &

who, who among us does not
hide some apocalyptic secret?


They are leaving Howe Island
flocking to the festival by the lake.
Excited, they exit the four-oh-one –
hit town, breeze in, disembark
from near and far –
from this or that random house,
glass castle, cathedral.
Some land with earth and roots
caked on their boots (having been at wood) –
don’t be maddaddam! They alight
with histories un-husked, with ballads,
confessions and songs. Here to speak easy
or hard with and without portfolio.
In mourning, at night. Rich with stories,
redemption. They mean to confab, rap
and read (Reid). Party like it’s 1864.
Write zombies. Argue with the storm.
It’s a field day – a real win-Wynne-Jones.

– Jeanette Lynes

image of books in a circle