Spotlight #12 : Joe Blades

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


My poetry is usually experiential and situational rather than imagined but, for poetry and fiction, I also document dreams in a journal. Many of my recent poetry books and manuscripts have been composed on a manual typewriter — often in a public artist residency performance-style. These performances have proven to be prime motivators as I moved from an arts-based research Master of Education program to a PhD Interdisciplinary Studies program with supervisors who are not supportive of my arts-based education research. While most of my prose is written on a computer, I have a manual typewriter on the window ledge of the Union of Graduate Student Workers office at the University of New Brunswick where I study and work. When I stand at the window to write in that office on the top floor, third floor, of the Education building, I look out over the building’s main entrance and a cluster of tall Great Eastern White Pines that become crow-filled most days. Across Mackay Drive is a large wooded area where four-year-olds from the Early Education Centre in d’Avray Hall go every day to learn and play. The babble of their voices enlivens my academic studies and artistic work.


union office poem 19

eagle or eagles call
from somewhere nearby
on university campus
somewhere in trees — 
hear them through window

wonder if same eagle
sometimes two seen
in fredericton green tree
overlooking river
and on ice at open water
looking into river

unrelated american eagle
deeper discount card
for online purchases found
and left on ground floor
of mostly education building

union office poem 22

sometimes forget
am poet writing poems

sometimes remember
sometimes forget

what am i?

reading week
and uni roads are busy
gotta escape here


trees coated again
in ice and snow

downhill to river

union office poem 30

kitchen party instrument
and union tool

artist foole
graduate student
union activist

to exist
to survive
not enough

going rough
wade through bog
open session

need action
new mandate

not sediment
black hole desk
management style

all this while
students research
study and write

working for right
to living wage
or minimum income

new students welcome
support us and them
and our university

Joe Blades, originally from Nova Scotia, has also lived in Toronto, Montreal, Banff (Alberta), New York, Senta (Serbia) and, since 1990, has been based in Fredericton (New Brunswick). He is author of seven poetry books, with three of them also published in Serbian translation, and over 30 poetry chapbooks. Most recently he had a poem published in The Officers’ Quarters, and poems and short fiction in The Prairie Journal.