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Words of Resilience: Inspiration Through Adversity

artsPlace's virtual poetry event this Thursday
Britanny Burr

Throughout the pandemic, the world has collectively started to incorporate words like pivot, outbreaks and lockdown into everyday speech.

However, there is one word that holds light at the end of this tunnel: resilience.

artPlace has shown the beauty of resilience during pandemic with their virtual community collected exhibition: Stories of Resilience – Community Creativity in a Time of Crisis. This Thursday, the community will get to hear resilience, in the form of a virtual poetry event, Words of Resilience: Inspiration Through Adversity. 

The free online event will be led by Tim Murphy, Canmore’s Poet Laureate, and Britanny Burr, a Canmore born writer and editor. The evening will feature poems from the two authors that will be read live, along with works from community members who sent in material and read poems.

Screen Shot 2021-06-23 at 11.06.37 AMTim Murphy. By Courtesy of Tim Murphy

“The reason that we wanted to combine words and resilience together was to make a celebration and a reason to give ourselves credit because we have gone through it over the past dozen plus months,” says Burr. “We don't give ourselves enough credit for remaining positive, even in these really difficult times.”

Burr finds community as one of the key factors to this resilience.

“If anything, difficult times in small communities show you that you're in the right place,” says Burr. “This is just a perfect reminder of this beautiful, but awful and difficult, raw, real time that we've all suffered through together. Some in different magnitudes than others, but this is a celebration and a reflection because we are making it through – we've made it through. And we did it as a community, even from behind closed doors.”

Screen Shot 2021-06-23 at 11.13.51 AMRetrospect . By Britanny Burr

Although Murphy’s work during the pandemic has not been filled with rosy sonnets, he has found resilience through the darkness. 

“The isolation, the uncertainty and the stress – all of this stuff. I know for myself that my work has been darker,” says Murphy. “Which is not a bad thing. It's good to write dark work because it kind of gets it out of you.”

Burr and Murphy both have used poetry to help them cope during uncertain times and they both have used poetry to express a myriad of feelings and encourage others to just try. 

“I've done a lot of performances and I try to make it fun. There's this mindset – a myth – that poetry is very cerebral, so very serious and you have to be an intellectual to appreciate poetry. None of that is true,” says Murphy. “You can write poetry about anything. You don't have to be well educated. You don't have to be a PhD. You don't have to be widely read. You just have to be able to put your thoughts down on paper and have the courage to stand up in front of people. That's the hardest thing.”

Screen Shot 2021-06-23 at 11.16.20 AMCover Story . By Tim Murphy

Burr echoes this sentiment.

“To consume poetry, you may feel like I don't understand it or don't get it. That absolutely doesn't matter because there are two creators in the room. The one who wrote it and the one who was hearing it. Whatever you're creating as your experience taking it in, reading it, listening to it – that's valid and it's true and just as powerful as well. It's an endless and often really untapped universe for self-expression and self-understanding. If there's any mirrors we can find in life to reflect on ourselves, we should reach out and grab them.”