When Valerie Connor died in 2015, her husband, Harry, wanted to do something special in her memory.
He created the K. Valerie Connor Memorial Poetry Celebration for his late wife, who dabbled in multiple artistic disciplines.
The annual showcase of the poetic talents of people of all ages was an event he treasured.
Harry Connor helped out with the event until his death in December 2017, but the show will go on. Susan Nicholson, the Connors’ daughter, has stepped in to make sure it does.
“Mom was really creative. Dad was a scientist. He was always in awe of her talent for writing,” Nicholson recalled.
Her mother had no problem showing off her visual art, “but she didn’t share her poetry until after she retired,” Nicholson said.
The competition features elementary, secondary and adult categories. The first two age groups were especially meaningful to the Connors. Valerie was a teacher, as well as a volunteer.
“Young people were very important to them,” Nicholson said, adding they enjoyed the opportunity to foster kids’ creativity. “It gives an audience for people who are writing poetry, and it’s nice to have that audience.”
That visibility is positive for those who write poetry, said Alex Andrews, program assistant with the Leacock Museum, where the competition will be held.
“They become part of the community of poets here and get some recognition. It might be their first chance to be showcased,” she said.
It’s not all about the attention, though. Cash prizes are up for grabs.
In the elementary category (grades 4 to 8), first place wins $75, second wins $50 and third receives $25. The prizes in the secondary category (high-school and post-secondary students) are $250, $100 and $50. The top three adult submissions will be worth $750, $250 and $100.
The cost to enter is $5 per poem (up to five poems) for adults. Students can enter for free, but those who are 18 or older can choose to enter the adult category by paying the fee.
The competition will take place July 15, and the winners will be announced at 3 p.m. that day. Brunch will be available for purchase.
Submissions are now open and will be accepted until June 20. Winners will be contacted on or before June 29.
More information is available here or by calling the Leacock Museum at 705-329-1908.