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New book of poetry a tribute to historic buildings

Audience watches on at Poetry Tribute

A newly released book of poetry is shining light on the historic buildings of Amherstburg.

“What Time Can’t Touch – A Love Letter for Amherstburg” was launched to a large crowd at the Hole in the Wall venue above the River Bookshop last Saturday afternoon.

Written by well-known local poets, including Barry T. Brodie, Karen Rockwell and Laura Mulrooney, all who attended and read from the book, inspiration came from Meg Reiner’s “Heritage Buildings of Amherstburg.”

Other poets featured in the Amherstburg-themed book are Teajai Travis, Rawand Mustafa, and Dorothy Mahoney.

“Amherstburg hasn’t done what Windsor has done. They haven’t torn down the buildings,” said Marty Gervais of Black Moss Press which published “What Time Can’t Touch.”

Gervais is a retiring professor at the University of Windsor and was instrumental in teaming the poets with his publishing practicum class.

Rockwell penned several poems for the new book inspired by women who lived in Amherstburg. She titled them ‘Letter to Charlotte Brown, Letter to Mary Ann Pollard and Letters from Caroline Park.

“I connected the women in the way I thought they might have been,” said Rockwell.

Letter from Charlotte Brown begins, "Dear Miss Rockwell, I said prayers for your safe travel, and some of thanksgiving for your most welcome visit."

There is a total of 26 poems in the new book and many of them give a glimpse at some historic buildings in town including Lord Amherst, Belle Vue, Lighthouse Church and the Gibson Gallery which was the former train station.

Mulrooney wrote “I still dream of the Millionaires Shortbread Brownie ($6)” is based upon a bakery at 238 Dalhousie and reads in part – “but I’m glad the shop is closed today so no one watches as I fondle the red-orange brick.”

Gervais said that while the poets wrote the words, it was the university class that brought it all together.

“When I gave them the manuscript, I wanted them to shape it. I had an idea for a title,” he said.

And while he foresaw what the book should be called, he was somewhat amazed that the students, some who had never been to Amherstburg, were able to make the words become reality.

“It’s such a great tribute to a small town. I was taken aback when someone said, ‘it’s like a love letter.’

Richard Peddie is the owner of the River Bookshop which is on Richmond and is one of the restored buildings brought back to life and written about in the new book. Fittingly Peddie wrote the introduction and says, “great story telling is magic.”

The launch of the books “What Time Can’t Touch: A Love Letter for Amherstburg” and “Where the Map Begins: Windsor Through Poetry” had its initial launch last Tuesday at Mackenzie Hall in Windsor.

Officials from the University of Windsor, the poets from both books and area dignitaries were on hand for the launch. Mayor Michael Prue pointed out when he and wife Shirley were looking for a new home 14 years ago, they drove across the province and decided to come to Amherstburg.

“It was everything we could possibly dream of,” he said.

Prue said they have admired the history and beauty of the town since they arrived. He touted the importance of protecting heritage buildings and said he appreciated the use of poetry to highlight them.

The 26 poems in “What Time Can’t Touch” are largely based off of Reiner’s book.

“Poetry is a unique artform,” said Prue.

The evening book launch was also a chance to celebrate Marty Gervais, who retired as the head of the editing and publishing practicum at the University of Windsor after an award-winning journalism career. Gervais noted students worked as a team to edit and “shape” the book into print as well as to promote it

“These books will matter in the years to come,” Gervais predicted.

Gervais also encouraged past, future and current students.

“My grandfather always said, take what you know, take what you’ve learned and do something that matters. Make a difference,” he said.

New book of poetry a tribute to historic buildings

By Fred Groves

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