Poetry appeared late in Liz’s 40s, when she found herself writing in every room of the house. She’s inspired by garlic, rivers, limestone, and apostrophes. Badminton and the backs of squirrels. By language itself, and the people she knows and admires, disagrees with and loves. Her work is inspired by confluences of documentary, autobiography and activism.
Best known as a “nature poet with a twist,” Liz has planted garlic to form words of prayer, inscribed words on ornamental gourds as catalysts for poems and grew punctuation marks in her hay field. Now Liz’s focus is docu-video poems about water and the creatures that depend upon it.
A former waitress, bartender, commodity futures broker, community organizer and arts administrator, Liz now devotes most of her time to poetry, in one form or another. She was Owen Sound’s first poet laureate (2007-08) and in 2013, honoured as Owen Sound’s Outstanding Individual in the Arts.
“Her poetry celebrates the human community, at once passionate and compassionate, a delight for eyes, ears and sensory appetite,” says Olive Senior, winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize.
As part of the National Random Acts of Poetry Week, she’s traveled thousands of kilometers, done hundreds of readings and given away boxes of poetry books to people all over Grey/Bruce counties in Ontario. She’s read her work across Canada, on CBC radio and overseas. Her readings captivate audiences from rural cafes to urban main stages. Liz’s chapbook The Gourd Poems received the Canadian Poetry Association’s Shaunt Basmajian Award. Her poem “Holy Days” received a Stephen Leacock award.
Her publications include The Punctuation Field (Black Moss Press, 2011), Addictions of a Poet Laureate (Always Press, 2008), The Thing With Feathers (BuschekBooks, 2004), Taking Root (Seraphim Editions, 2001), Said the River (Penumbra Press, 1995); Connections (Always Press, 1994), and Ghost of Glenelg (Always Press, 1995).
Her first poetry videos, The Limestone Ghazals, were exhibited in art galleries in Canada and Ireland as part of the international artistic exchange, the Limestone Barrens Project. Her videos have been shown in film festivals, webinars, storefronts and cafes. Her first feature documentary, Words Aloud, has screened and won awards at festivals in Canada and the US.
Liz is also a teacher, workshop leader, editor, and co-founder/artistic director of the Words Aloud Spoken Word & Storytelling Festival, held in Durham, Ontario. Her online free study guide for high school students: Exploring Contemporary Canadian Voices: the spoken word, is used in many classrooms in North America.
Liz is the mother of two sons and grandmother of three. Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, she now lives in Owen Sound, Ontario, along the banks of the Sydenham River, with her husband Don Holman.