Nova Scotia

Cape Bretoner offers on-demand poetry for Valentine's Day

For Valentine's Day, you can offer your sweetheart a poem straight from the heart — or from Breanna MacNeil's mind. The server by day, poet by night, is offering to write poems at an event at a North Sydney, N.S., bar Thursday night.

'Bespoke Poetry' event in North Sydney promises custom poems in 15 minutes

Breanna MacNeil will ask people questions and then compose custom poems for them at an event in North Sydney, N.S., called 'Bespoke Poetry.' (Steve Sutherland/CBC)

For Valentine's Day, you can offer your sweetheart a poem straight from the heart — or from Breanna MacNeil's mind.

A server by day, poet by night, she's offering to write poems at $10 a pop — $15 if you want it framed — Thursday night at an event called "Bespoke Poetry" at the Cellar Bar in North Sydney, N.S.

MacNeil told CBC's Information Morning Cape Breton that she'll ask questions and create a custom poem within 15 minutes.

"I'll ask, 'Who is your poem for? How does this person make you feel?' Or if it's about a place, 'How does this place make you feel? Use your senses to describe it.' And it gives me a foot to stand on," she said.

The event is the brainchild of Cellar Bar owner Sherry Finney.

She came up with the idea after seeing street poets in a couple of large cities, including New Orleans.

MacNeil's poems are typed on this Olivetti typewriter for people to take home. (Submitted by Sherry Finney)

"Somebody would set up in the middle of the street and take orders for custom poetry and I thought it was interesting, unusual and cool that somebody would have the skill to do that," said Finney.

Through a mutual friend, Finney knew that MacNeil wrote poetry and pitched the idea to her.

Finney also purchased an old Olivetti typewriter through a Salvation Army auction that she thought would be ideally suited to the task of setting the poems to paper.

MacNeil said the typewriter dates back to the 1960s and is heavy.

"It's awesome," she said.

Second time for event

At the first event two weeks ago, MacNeil said one poem request came from a bridesmaid who wanted a gift for the bride.

"And I made her cry actually, as she read it, so it was a happy moment," she said.

Another request came from a woman whose husband has been working on the restoration of a 1968 Ford Mustang convertible for eight years, which was the subject of the composition.

"Tahoe turquiose, I remember that!" said MacNeil. "I just thought it was so cool that this is how she was showing her affection. It just touched my heart."

A poem for Information Morning Cape Breton

MacNeil doesn't have copies of the poems from the first event, but she did compose one for Information Morning Cape Breton while she was waiting outside the studio to go on air.

A voice for the minds of Cape Breton
Chirping like an electric bird through the radio
Singing the weather or a tune or the details of an upcoming event
Or the information you need to know
For the sleepy ears of the folks who listen ritually
Over a slice of buttered toast as precious to them as a cup of black coffee
Steaming lazily from their fingers


With files from Cape Breton's Information Morning


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