Drift is both noun and verb, and the word often suggests the mysterious forces in the world that push people or objects to unexpected places.
Appropriately perhaps, it’s also the name of a new anthology of poetry from writers in the Comox Valley. The book was published this fall by The Poem Factory in Royston and edited by Edwin Varney and Daniel J. Kirk.
It grew out of poetry readings and festivals in the Valley, which led the editors to the conclusion that there were far more accomplished poets in this area than they had anticipated.
“Each time we met a poet or ran into somebody, we asked them to submit some poems,” says Varney. “Some of them I’ve never met.”
The solution was then to capture some of this work on the page. In all, the collection features the writings of 38 poets based in the Comox Valley.
“We probably started talking about it about 2016. It’s been a long process,” says Varney.
Kirk and Varney put out a call for writers and received about 300 submissions from more than 55 people. They tried to take into account different styles, but as both tend to write free verse rather than using traditional rhyme schemes, they leaned more in that direction when it came to choosing work for the collection.
Some writers were born here, some have moved in from afar. They come from a variety of backgrounds and the age range covers writers born in the 1940s to the 1990s. The work is diverse, as Varney says they did not want to approach the book with any set theme in mind.
“The emphasis has been on the poetry itself,” he says. “We wanted the poets to put forth their best work. It just seemed more respectful.”
As pointed out in the afterword, there were some other precedents for the book, specifically a couple of collections published here about a dozen years ago. This edition really grew out of a contest for a local poet laureate by the Comox Valley Arts Council in 2015. A couple of years later, the poetry festival in Cumberland started, which drew people together for readings and workshops.
Around the same time, Kirk began hosting readings at Red Tree’s coffee house, which combined a visiting poet and an open microphone portion. Other locations have since hosted readings or series, and the community has grown from there.
Unfortunately, with COVID-19 restrictions right now, there has been no chance to hold an in-person book launch, but readers can still pick up the collection locally. Drift – Poems and Poets from the Comox Valley is available at bookstores as well as through the mail. For more information or to order copies, call 250-703-0477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.