Poetry (Children)

Susan Tooke

Born in the farmlands of New Jersey, Susan was interested in art from an early age. She spent her time drawing the natural world around her, playing in the woods, and helping her mother and grandmother with farm chores, feeding the chickens, milking cows and collecting the eggs. She was fascinated with animals, and had a ring-necked pheasant for a pet.

She knew from about the age of 5 that she wanted to be an artist “when she grew up”, and after high school she studied art at Virginia Commonwealth University. After graduation, she taught art in Newark, New Jersey, while continuing her studies at the New School in New York City, in photography, and animation.

Susan moved to Canada in 1980. Her father’s family is Canadian, so she has dual citizenship, Canadian and American. This means she gets to vote A LOT.

Susan illustrated her first book in 2000. It was A Seaside Alphabet by Donna Grassby, published by Tundra. To create the illustrations, she traveled all over the East Coast, from Boston, Massachusetts to Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, finding the right setting and models for her paintings. Icebergs, puffins, all sorts of whales, bustling cities, quiet villages and dramatic landscapes – she was in heaven.

Her books have taken her to Sable Island through the photographs of Zoe Lucas, where she illustrated Jamie Bastedo’s story Free as the Wind: Saving the Horses of Sable Island. She has also toured the neighbouring province of New Brunswick, where she discovered more wonderful people and places (F is for Fiddlehead: A New Brunswick Alphabet, text by Marilyn Lohness).

Up Home, a poem by Shauntay Grant, was released in May 2008. Through Shauntay’s wonderful poem about growing up in the African-Nova Scotian community of North Preston, Susan got to know a generous people and had a great time painting a portrait of a childhood in a very special place. Up Home won the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Illustration and the Best Published Book Award at the 2009 Atlantic Book Awards.

B is for Bluenose: A Nova Scotia Alphabet, which Susan both wrote and illustrated. B is for Bluenose celebrates Nova Scotia through the alphabet, and takes the reader on a tour of the province including the Carboniferous Period of the Joggins fossils, the coal mines of Cape Breton, Pier 21 and the history of immigration.

At the 2014 Atlantic Book Awards, Susan won the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Awards for Excellence in Illustration for Lasso The Wind, Aurélia’s Verses and Other Poems.  She also won the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Full Moon Rising (2003), Up Home (2009) and The City Speaks in Drums (2011).

Susan lives in Halifax with her husband and fellow artist Richard Rudnicki where she works creating paintings, illustrations and multi-media collaborations.


Norene Smiley

After graduating from NSCAD in the early 70’s, Norene worked in the not-for-profit sector with the elderly and persons with intellectual disabilities, and in the book publishing industry. She has been a bookseller, editor, writer, teacher, book reviewer, book publisher, publicist, event organizer and cultural administrator.

She belonged to a children’s writing group for over twelve years, during which two anthologies of writing for children were published. She has served on the boards of many arts organizations, regionally and nationally, primarily to do with books, writing or fine art. She was a founding member of the Nova Scotia Children’s Literature Award and the Ann Connor Brimer Award for Atlantic Children’s Literature. In 2002, she received the Mayor’s Award for Cultural Achievement in Literature.

After five years of facilitating The Word On The Street Book Festival and coordinating the Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award for another six, she moved to Pugwash NS where she has become involved in community development. She has been an organizer of Writing on Fire Youth Experience on the North Shore of NS and Art Jam! with Rita Wilson and Helen Castonguay since 2013. She received the Governor General’s Sovereign Medal for Volunteerism in 2019.

Besides writing for children, she is a visual artist, scriptwriter and filmmaker. In 2005/2006, she wrote, directed and edited a one-minute film, Saving the Best for Last, through the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative, and created a short digital mock-documentary, Urban Myths, with the help of a Media Arts Scholarship through the Centre for Art Tapes. Between 2017 and 2020, she wrote and co-produced a short film, Maurice, with collaborator Shannon Bell.

Richard Provencher

Richard is from Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec. His enjoyment of the woods combined with contemporary issues form the basis of his writing. Richard is now concentrating on his poetry, which he believes is like a global adventure in a land without borders. His background as a miner, welfare officer, supply teacher, newspaper reporter, and a further 22 years in social services provide him with ample article material.

Richard has work in print and online with literary magazines such as Inscribed, Hudson View, Short Story Library, Ottawa Arts Review, Paragon 111, Tower Poetry, Caduceus, The Danforth Review, Other Voices International, Rubicon Publishing, Writer’s Block, The Foliate Oak, Parenting Express, The Penwood Review, and Blue Skies Poetry.

For informatio on Richard’s book, with Inkspotter Press:

A Boy Named Wish.
Edward is a young lad desperate to be adopted. It’s his wish.

Two more are forthcoming with Inkspotter Press

Lynn Davies

Lynn is the author of three collections of poetry. Her poems have been featured on CBC radio and translated into French and Spanish. Lynn’s poems and stories for children have appeared in anthologies and magazines. Her essays, reviews, and freelance pieces have been published in many magazines and journals.

Lynn was born in Moncton, New Brunswick. She lived in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia for 18 years, and now lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, where she works part time at Westminster Books. She’s taught creative writing through Continuing Education in Halifax and Fredericton, at the Maritime Writers’ Workshop, and at the University of New Brunswick. She has served on the WFNS and WFNB executive boards.

For more information about Lynn, her books, and author visits, please visit www.lynndavies.ca or e-mail Lynn at lynn@lynndavies.ca


Deirdre Dwyer

Deirdre Dwyer has been writing poetry since her teacher taught her about haiku in grade six. In the meantime, she’s worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in Tokyo, a Creative Writing instructor in Halifax, a Sessional Instructor of English in Windsor and a bookseller. Deirdre holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor, and was a founding member of the Bourbon Street Poetry Society. She has worked with the Hope for Wildlife Society, a wildlife rehabilitation facility on the Eastern Shore. Deirdre was also Coordinator of the Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers’ Market. She was chair of the Musquodoboit Harbour and Area Community Association, and has been writing prose about her three years in Japan and her subsequent travels; and a writing workshop in Iceland in 2019.

When she visits schools, she can talk about the differences between Japanese culture, discuss Nova Scotian wildlife, show pictures of some of the wildlife she met at Hope for Wildlife, do writing exercises relating to either prose or poetry connected to these discussions, and read and discuss her own work with the students. She can also discuss life in Iceland, publishing books and in journals.

Tyne Brown

Tyne’s love of children’s literature began as a child when she first heard stories by writers such as A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter and H.C. Andersen. Her work has appeared in publications by the award-winning Cricket Magazine Group and Children’s Better Health Institute including Babybug, Ladybug, Spider, and Turtle as well as Pockets, Fandangle, Wee Ones, Writers’ Journal, and All Writes Reserved.

Tyne is a long time member of the steering committee of the Nova Scotia Children’s Literature Roundtable. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. For several years she co-ordinated events for the Reading Tree at Word on the Street and was an active participant in the Writers in the Schools program. Tyne has lived and worked in the United States, Sweden, England and the Canadian Arctic and holds degrees from Dalhousie, McGill and Tufts universities.

Geoff Butler

Geoff Butler is a painter, writer and book illustrator. He was born on Fogo Island, Nfld., near Brimstone Head which has been designated by the Flat Earth Society as one of the four corners of the earth.

Geoff practices his art daily so as not to fall over the edge. He has self-published five books: Art of War: Painting it out of the Picture (1990); The Look of Angels: Angels in Art (2004), a collection of poems, songs, stories, paintings and drawings; and With Every Breath We Take (2007), a modern fable in which a snowflake helps put an end to war; Our Own Little World: in paintings and verse (2013); and One Swallow Makes a Summer Meal: allegories in paintings and verse (2016). Every now and then, he strolls down Alphabet Soup Road to write and illustrate children’s books.

He is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Syracuse University. He also studied at the Art Students’ League in New York City. His paintings have been exhibited at, and toured by, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. He has been a visual arts recipient of a Nova Scotia Arts Council Creation grant and a Canada Council Established Artist grant. In 2006, he was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. He lives in the small village of Granville Ferry, N.S.

Jane Baskwill

Jane Baskwill was born in Queens, New York, but has lived most of her adult life in rural Nova Scotia. There she has watched foxes steal pears from beneath the trees in her back yard, listened to red-tailed hawks argue over a recently caught meal, smelled the arrival of a family of skunks, and tasted the wild blackberries that grow in the fields and by the roadside.

Jane appreciates and respects the beauty of nature in all its forms and all its moments. She is a strong advocate for equity and social justice and works with schools to promote Peace and Environmental education. She shares this with her husband and three children, and with others through her teaching, writing and poetry.

She has authored many professional books and articles for teachers in addition to an award-winning video series. She has also authored a book of poetry for children and three picture books: Somewhere (1996), Touch the Earth (1999), and If Peace Is… (2003), (Mondo Publishing, New York). Her latest book, Together in Time (2012, InSync Books) a novel for children 8 to 12 years old, is set in the abandoned settlement of Roxbury in the Annapolis Valley.

She is a former teacher and principal and is currently on the Education Faculty at Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax.

Jane is a six-time recipient of the Education Quality Award from the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union and received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association of America for her series of articles in Teaching K-8 Magazine.

During the 2007/08 school year Jane completed a school-wide writing project with Holland Road Elementary School that resulted in the publication of a picture book: A Kid’s Guide to Making and Being A Friend, used as a school fundraiser.

Jane also helps schools and communities start their own Family Literacy publishing house. Publish It! has produced over 500 non-fiction picture books written by children and their parents and illustrated with photos they have taken.

Kenneth Michael Davidson

Kenneth Davidson is a curriculum writer for the Nova Scotia Department of Education, Acadia University, and Nova Scotia Community College. Ken has decades of teaching experience at all grade levels in both Nova Scotia and Manitoba. He has also taught for many years at the university and college level. His pedagogical methods have been widely accepted and refined over the years to culminate, through the writing of The Elf Child, in a desire to appeal to the beautiful minds of young children.

Shauntay Grant

Shauntay Grant is a children’s author, poet, playwright, and multimedia artist. She is the author of Africville (Groundwood Books), shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Awards and winner of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. A multidisciplinary artist with professional degrees in creative writing, music, and journalism, she “creates artworks that are engaging and accessible, but also challenging, rigorous, and informed by deep research” (The Royal Society of Canada). Her honours include a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize in Writing and Publishing (Canada Council for the Arts), an Established Artist Recognition Award (Arts Nova Scotia), a Best Atlantic Published Book Prize for Up Home (Atlantic Book Awards), a Robert Merritt Award for The Bridge (Theatre Nova Scotia), and a Poet of Honour prize from the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word.

She shares her blend of words and music internationally at festivals and events, and collaborates with visual artists and art galleries to create poetry-themed artworks, installations, and exhibitions. A former poet laureate for the City of Halifax, her poetry for children and adults has been published in educational resources, anthologies and literary journals. She lives in Halifax and teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University.

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