Sharon Berg lives on the eastern coast of Newfoundland. She writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. She founded Big Pond Rumours International Literary E-Zine and its associated Chapbook Press in January 2006. She closed BPR with the Summer issue in August 2019 so she could focus on her own writing. Sharon taught elementary school for many years, and conducted education seminars at the university level. She can adapt her observations and comments about writing to a variety of grade levels. She connects with students of all abilities and knows students learn best when a) they're having fun, and b) they are using multiple skills. Sharon believes poetry is not a staid old art but a relevant and exciting opportunity for self-expression. She enjoys asking students to create 3D poetry, wherein art, geometry, and poetry are combined on one geometric shape (e.g., an illustrated haiku on a tetrahedron - a triangle-based pyramid). In the past several years she has been a Juror for Saskatchewan book Awards, Hamilton Book Awards, South Simco Arts Council Poetry Contest, and the E.J. Pratt Award for Newfoundland Writes. She has also focused on interviews of poetry authors for Artisanal Writer, Event, Freefall Magazine, The /tEmz/ Review, and The Miramichi Reader.
My half-brother, Brian Purdy, began writing poetry before I did. He was six years older and my first guide in developing my writing skills. Other than attending writing workshops, I am self-taught. I read and write; I edited and consulted with friends; then I often adjust or rewrite several more times. I read a lot of American, British, and Canadian authors. I love Earle Birney, Gwendolyn MacEwen, e.e. cummings, Kenneth Patchen, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Diane Wokoski, Robert Frost, Leonard Cohen, Bronwen Wallace, and James Reaney. I never picked out one favourite poem as I was always falling in love with a new poem as I read more. My perspective on the world, and therefore my favourite insights on the world, have changed as I matured and discovered different authors, but I still draw deeply on my own experiences. I believe the purpose of writing as it connects to communication, is to share insights and emotional responses to our experiences in the world.
I started writing poetry and story at the same time, in about grade 3. By grade 4 I had published a poem in The Telegram (a newspaper popular then, which no longer exists). I also wrote reviews of high school performances to be published in the town newspaper. Later, three friends and I founded a student newspaper at my high school. At the same time, my brother introduced me to oil painting, and the imagery of visual art became entangled with the imagery of word scapes in my mind. It helped me to visualize myself as an “artist,” whatever the genre was.
I did a lot of drawing and watercolours, wrote poetry, stories, and song lyrics in my teens and early 20s. I also sang in a group with my brother during high school because the combination of image and sound seemed vitally important to me. I visualized myself in all of these roles, and my dreams were sparked.
However, when I had my first child I got so busy taking care of her that I could not focus on all of my talents, so I decided I needed to chose one. I chose poetry because my pieces then were fairly short and I figured I could write poems while the baby napped. Of course, I could have chosen any of my other talents, so I decided to set myself a year to get a major publication. It was an impossible task, but I decided if I didn't achieve it I would move on to painting and drawing. As it turned out, I got three poems published in Malahat Review in that first year, which decided my focus for me. But the truth is that I've never stopped writing stories.
Poetry is the sharing and expression of ideas and emotions. It uses various tools that help to leave an imprint on the reader, but its main purpose is to express an idea, feeling or insight. Poetry is like shorthand because it is compact. What it is expressing can be expanded upon with reflection. Good poetry can look simple, but it is very deep and meaningful.