New anthology showcases best of Atlantic Canadian children's poems

Well-known children's author Sheree Fitch and retired professor Anne Hunt have teamed up to compile an anthology of children’s poems from around Atlantic Canada.

Collection by author Sheree Fitch and retired professor Anne Hunt took several years to compile

Sheree Fitch is a well-known author of children's books. (CBC)

A new anthology of children's poems is meant to celebrate the region's lyrical legacy and give space to both established and unknown poets, says one of the anthology's authors.

The cover of Whispers of Mermaids and Wonderful Things: Atlantic Canadian Poetry and Verse for Children. (Submitted )

Whispers of Mermaids and Wonderful Things is the result of years of research and gathering by well-known children's author Sheree Fitch and retired professor Anne Hunt. 

Some of the poems are by established poets, while others are from amateurs.

Fitch said she took on the project because she wanted to showcase Atlantic Canada's rich poetic history while creating something specifically for children.

"I picture many parents sitting with a child on their lap and reading these poems," she said.

Fitch said she thought it was also important to carve out space for undiscovered poets who may have never gotten their due.

"I wanted to take some of the ones that were forgotten and bring them to the light, so we don't forget about some of those women or the people who sat at their kitchen table, and maybe never got noticed, but were still poets at heart," she said.

Years of research

Fitch and Hunt found many of the poems after hours of sifting through books in  the Eileen Wallace Children's Literature Collection at UNB. Other works came to them unsolicited.

"One evening at my historical society evening, one of the women came up to me and she said, 'My gram wrote these beautiful poems that we bound and gave out at Christmas,'" Hunt said.

"And oh, it was beautiful. There were so many wonderful poems. So you find them everywhere."

Though they probably found enough material to fill four books, what passed the test for Fitch were poems that sounded good to the ear when read aloud.

"For me, the biggest test is language, the musicality of language," she said.

"It's how the syllables clash and clang together, does it have a good cadence, will it excite you in the hearing and the way your mouth twists around? So that, for me, is what I look for."

The book is being published by Nimbus Publishing. It was officially launched at an event at the Harriet Irving Library at the University of New Brunswick on Thursday evening.