In 1992, McLaughlin College decided to hold a Robbie Burns Night on the Scottish poet's birthday (January 25). At the same time, we wanted to stimulate the writing of poetry at York. To this end, we created the McLaughlin Poetry Contest open to everyone at York except faculty. Poems could be in either of Canada's two official languages - English or French.
These two events seemed made for each other. The spirit of Burns inspired us to invite all participating poets to read some of their work on the night itself to give the audience an idea of their quality and the pleasure of seeing the poets live. After the reading, we presented the prizes, with the poets reading (in some cases, again) their prize-winning poems. Following the prize giving, we turned to Burns himself and the traditional celebration: a piper piped in the haggis, which was then addressed with Burns's poem in praise of that delicious winter dish; it was cut open and distributed, after which there was Scottish music and a good time was had by all.
This event was so successful (the Senior Common Room was happily crammed) and the poems so good, that we decided to repeat the experiment. And so it went; we became addicted. The Poetry Contest went on and on.
We are looking forward to holding similar cultural and creative community events in the future.
"Stop Talking About My Hair" (PDF)
by Sion Symonds
"Christmas Letters" (PDF)
by Shanna Markee
"My skin is not a weapon" (PDF)
by Bella Toma
"A Handshake with a Smile" (PDF)
by Shayne Beaucage