Saskatoon poets bring group reading to Prince Albert

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Poet Leanne Boyce reads from the Obsessor's book Within These Lines at the John M. Culelenaere Public Library on Thursday evening.

A group of poets from Saskatoon, The Obsessors, had a group reading of their book ‘Within These Lines’ at the John M. Culelenaere Public Library on Thursday evening.

Bronwen McRae of the Obsessors said the group got together after meeting at a workshop in 2008, and they’ve been writing together ever since.

“We decided that we wanted to carry on and form a group,” she explained. “We have been meeting since that time—on Zoom during COVID and beforehand at various retreat houses, or in people’s living rooms—to write together, critique work, submit and share our successes and rejections.”

Five members of the group read to those gathered on Thursday. The readers included McRae, Belinda Betker, Leanne Boyce, Holly Keeler and Mic LaFreniere.

“The book that we published there was seven of us, one member has passed away and one member was not able to be here tonight, so five of us are here but we will read from all seven people’s work,” she explained.

Member Cindy Clarke passed away recently and Gary Chappell could not attend.

McRae said that they cover the many styles of poetry.

“This is some literary poetry, there is some prose, there is some visual poetry, so it’s kind of whatever anybody wants to bring to the table,” McRae said.

“A few of us have other books published—just individual books—but this is our first group book together.”

The fact it was a group book was important to McRae.

“It’s been really lovely to do a group one,” she said. “They are very special.”

She added that one person’s success was a part of the group success in poetry.

“(And) to encourage one another along and to be able to, we did a little run through on Zoom on Tuesday and it was just so nice to hear each other’s work again verbally,” she said.

She added that hearing the poetry again it sounds fresh and new each time.

“And to hear Cindy, the gal who passed away, to hear someone reading her work was quite emotional for us,” McRae added.

Betker’s poetry collection, Phases was a 2020 finalist for two Saskatchewan Book Awards. She’s also published in various anthologies and literary journals. Boyce meanwhile is a teacher and poet. Having lived in ten cities, four provinces and two continents, she is happy to have landed in Saskatoon. Chappell is a founding member of The Obsessors, has previously published one book, Full Throttle, and lives in Saskatoon.

Keeler lives in Saskatoon with her husband, Paul and three adult daughters. She has published poems in Spring and The Fieldstone Review

McRae can be found writing poems and children’s stories in coffee shops and parks around Saskatoon.

LaFreniere is a Saskatoon based writer, who is happily retired and writes in the City and at the Lake.

“We are all in Saskatoon, a couple of us are from Prince Albert originally, I am from Moose Jaw but we’re all in Saskatoon,” McRae said.

The book was virtually launched in June 2021, but is now available in print.

“We launched the book on Zoom because it came out last year,” McRae explained. “A few of us have read at other things, but this is sort of the first time reading publicly together.”

The group was pleased to come read in Prince Albert.

“We are happy to be invited here,” McRae said.