Poet making dreams come true

Duane Hicks

A lifelong dream has come true for a local poet and writer.
Joelle Barron, who now lives in the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe of Treaty 3 (Kenora), recently had their first collection of poetry, “Ritual Lights,” published by Goose Lane Editions. (Barron prefers the use of the gender-neutral pronoun “they” used hereafter.)
“Publishing a collection of poetry has been a goal and dream of mine since I was 13 years old,” Barron told the Times.
“I’ve worked really hard to improve my skills as a writer, and it’s honestly a dream come true to have published my first collection,” they noted.
“I know how much the work of my peers and mentors has helped and inspired me over the years, and I hope my book can do the same for other aspiring writers,” Barron added.
As alluded to, “Ritual Lights” has been years in the making. Barron started many of the poems in this collection during her time at the University of British Columbia.
“I received my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in creative writing there, and many of the poems began as part of my Master’s thesis,” they explained.
“I graduated in 2014, and spent a lot of time revising and writing new work, which eventually formed this collection.”
A couple of the poems in the 72-page collection first were written nearly 10 years ago, noted Barron.
Most of them are more recent, however, and the first few poems were written specifically for this collection as a way to bring the whole story of it together.
“The collection has a loose narrative that deals with trauma in the aftermath of sexual assault, and finding healing through motherhood and family,” Barron said.
They also gave insight as to the collection’s title: “Ritual Lights.”
“Rituals are important in my life; I like to feel grounded and safe through the familiarity of rituals,” Barron noted.
“The title was inspired by the last poem in the book, which is about the loss of someone close to me, and the one particular ritual [one of many] I’ve kept up for her over the years,” they revealed.
Barron’s poems have appeared in ARC Poetry Magazine, SAD Magazine, the Fiddlehead, the Malahat Review, the New Quarterly, and other journals over the past few years.
They even won The Malahat Review’s Open Season Award in 2014 for “A Girl Like This Might Have Loved Glenn Gould,” which is included in “Ritual Lights.”
Barron also has received acclaim for her short fiction. In 2015, for instance, she was on the long list for the CBC Short Story Prize for “Dawson City, YT.”
Looking ahead, Barron currently is working on a short-story collection.
In addition to writing, Barron works as a co-ordinator for both Kenora Pride and SPACE, an LGBT2S youth group.
They also are a trained doula and provides support services for childbirth.
“Ritual Lights” is available directly from publisher Goose Lane Editions at gooselane.com/products/ritual-lights
It’s also available for sale on Amazon.ca in both paperback and Kindle formats.
For more information on Barron and their projects, visit joellebarron.com