Jonny Bolduc: A Modern Poet

Editors Note: Poetry is about as old as the words themselves and while other art disciplines continue to grow in Atlantic Canada, the same isn’t necessarily true for poetry. With this article and the video and article of Riley Palanca’s ‘Malate’, Secret East is embarking on a mission to bring the poets of Atlantic Canada to you.

When was the last time you met a truly serious poet? In a world of emoji’s, ttyl’s and g2g’s, it seems like the poetry ship sailed years ago. Poetry has become as romanticized and antiquated as those who crafted the art and it seems that fewer and fewer poets whittling their words today. It’s a shame but who’s to blame? In today’s world, the dollar rules everything and, there’s no profit in printing poets.

Based in Halifax, Jonny Bolduc is a poet, an American, a gentleman, a scholar and a dear friend. Unlike a lot of poets I’ve met to date, he actually writes a hell of a lot.

“Poetry is just self-reflection.” says Bolduc. “Everyone has a different way that they look at things so it’s interesting to be able to write. For me writing is reflective of how you think and how you see things. Everyone’s kind of inherently unique and everyone has a different way of doing that.”

Bolduc approaches his work in a unique way, blending classic styles with modern tech.

News agencies caught wind of Bolduc’s “Poem for a Dollar” campaign he worked on back in 2013 and stories about Bolduc found their way into the Canadian media cycle.

“I did that poem for a dollar thing and that was pretty cool,” says Bolduc, “People still ask me about it but at this point it’s just a fifteen-minute-of-fame thing. It got overwhelming because it was a lot of work on top of school. So I just tried to bow out gracefully and just say ‘Sorry I can’t do this anymore’, y’know?”

Admittedly, getting a spot on the news hour was just his fifteen minutes of fame, it’s interesting that it took a campaign like this to catch someone’s eye.

“It was sort of an experiment for me; being like ‘Okay, I love poetry’ but realizing that this classic way of publishing a book isn’t necessarily viable anymore. It’s not gonna happen like that,” says Bolduc “I want to do it as a career option so I was sort of proving to myself that if I combined my creativity with 21st century technology and [an] entrepreneurial idea, I could have a future doing something that I want do.”

It goes to show that creativity has to be adaptive method. As an artist, writer, sculptor, or whatever else you want to be, you have to be creative in how you approach your medium.

“The big thing about anyone who wants to be an artist, or a poet, or a writer is that you can’t just be that one thing,” says Bolduc, “You have to find creative ways to keep doing what you love to do. In the midst of a changing atmosphere within your medium.”

Having just finished his journalism degree at the University of King’s College, Bolduc continues to write poetry while always looking for places willing to publish his work.

Here’s a Bolduc poem, titled Thanksgiving:

Every thanksgiving,
My family gets smaller.
Gone to college. Gone traveling. Gone to Florida.
Gone to see the lord.

Funerals are how
I visit the lord. God is drawn to eulogies.
He’s there, a fixture,
almost a cliche,
like a great aunt in black veil
weeping into a floral

Today, at this funeral,
a thin layer ice
has frozen the ground.
Black dress shoes
crunch ridged footprints into the
top layer of snow.

Every funeral is always cold. I shiver in my dress
shirt and peacoat;
Hands in pockets, I hunch forward,
watching my breath hit the winter wind – an evaporated sadness,
like God.

Thanksgiving. The gravy boat
on the counter
lets off hot, thin steam. While pouring it thick
on my potatoes,
a shadow dances in the dark corner of the dining room.

The days after a funeral are
filled with a confused, hopeful mysticism. Every moving shadow,
every unexplained noise
is a visitation.

I jerk my to head the corner of the room. Nothing.
Glancing back at the table,
I look at his empty seat, reminded

that I shared his name.
I have the same smile; slim, stretching,
no exposed teeth.

I drink like he drank when he was
my age,
days, nights at a time,
stumbling home from dark pubs,
watching, with blurred vision,
whisky breath hit the winter wind,
and evaporate, almost as fast as God.

After the turkey and the pie and the coffee,
I go down to the basement, alone.

A broken ceiling lamp sputters light.
I hear footsteps tapping upstairs.

I pour myself a stiff
rum and coke.

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