A group of writers with the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts in Sarnia are looking to create an uproar – in a good way – in the local literary community.
A four-person literary subcommittee with the city-owned not-for-profit venue for performances, exhibitions, educational programs and special activities has launched Uproar – an online blog for accomplished and budding writers alike to showcase their creative works.
“I tend to believe that writers have a responsibility to speak out, if not for others than for themselves,” said Lois Nantais, a poet who also teaches psychology and ethics at Lambton College.
“Uproar is what we intend to do with our platform.” It doesn’t have to be aggressive in any way, shape or form, but it is to state: ‘This is our voice. This is what we’re experiencing. This is who we are.;”
The literary blog was in the works before COVID-19 mitigation measures started in March and then sidelined amid complications from the pandemic response, Nantais said.
“I was knee-deep in the pivot to remote learning,” she said about her personal experience. “My students and I were definitely on a journey there, so I did press pause on the initiative.”
Writers are called to submit poems and short literary works that tie into monthly themes.
The first, for August, is Openings.
“It’s not only the openings of the blog and the initiative therein, but it’s also about the COVID crisis and reflecting – moving onto Stage 3 and the apprehension that that entails,” Nantais said.
“All of those things combined.”
She and fellow committee members Ann Towell, Rhonda Melanson and Kathy Shailer have already posted some examples.
There’s also a Writer’s Forum space on the site for writers to talk about their craft, their circumstances and how those are affecting their writing, Nantais said.
“Most writers are introverts,” she said. “Most writers in the middle of all of this social change are writing not only as a form of art, but as a form of self-therapy. So it’s a really good time to launch something like this.”
The initiative is about creating an online community for “literary artists” as the Lawrence House does for mostly visual artists, she said.
“It’s definitely a labour of love for us. We want people to feel like it represents the community.”
Details on the project, including how to make submissions, are available at lawrencehouse.ca/uproar.
Nantais encouraged writers who don’t usually put their work out for public eyes to give it a try.
“It’s always a shame to me when people hide their good work because they’re intimidated or they don’t feel like they’re good enough,” she said. “We want to be as accessible as possible and allow both the new voices as well as the seasoned ones to be part of this community.”