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Local poet releases her first collection

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After decades of writing poetry, local retired teacher and school librarian Judith Johanson now is sharing her verses with a wider audience.

She's just released her first collection of poetry, entitled “Intersections,” and will launching it during a reading scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Fort Frances Public Library.

“I have been writing both poetry and prose for over 35 years, since shortly after I moved to Fort Frances,” Johanson told the Times.

"I had the opportunity to take a creative writing course at Rainy River Community College [in International Falls] and that got me started.

“While I like to write both, poetry has claimed more of my writing time since then,” she added.

"I have always enjoyed reading poetry but until I took that course, I had not thought of writing my own.

Johanson said this is her first collection, and that she decided to do it mainly for her children and grandchildren.

“But it became the project that grew as I went along,” she admitted.

The collection is self-published but she used the services of McNally Robinson's self-publishing unit in Winnipeg.

“They were helpful and very professional in their work,” Johanson noted.

The poems included in “Intersections” span the entire time Johanson has been writing.

A number of them have been published in contests, magazines, and other publications, with a few having won a contest or having been included as an editor's choice selection.

“I have divided the book into several sections by topic and have chosen my own favourites, as well as those I felt readers might enjoy,” Johanson explained.

“Also, I have tried to show a variety of types of poetry, all of which have their own unique style,” she added.

“I do not usually write rhyming poetry except sonnets, which require a specific rhyme scheme.”

There is not one unified theme for the collection but the poems touch on themes such as faith, love, and nature.

“I think it might be said that many of the poems have a strong emotional content because poetry provides an opportunity to express emotions so well,” Johanson reasoned.

And while many of the poems are written in Free Verse, Johanson also used Haiku and Shakespearean sonnet styles to lend “unique perspective” to some of the pieces.

“Intersections” also includes a half-dozen poems written both in English and French.

“The poems translated into French were done mainly at Christmas over several years for my five grandchildren, all of whom are in French Immersion and are fluent in the language—much more than I am,” Johanson said.

“I have had these edited more than once but any remaining errors are mine,” she added.

“I find doing the translations a real challenge but fun, as well.”

Johanson said the collection could be enjoyed by any lover of poetry.

“Most of the poems are intended for an adult audience, although there are a number that could be used with children,” she remarked.

“In the 'Nature' section, I think there is a northern flavour which comes from living in the north for many years now and appreciating the land and its beauty,” added Johanson.

“Otherwise, the poems can, I hope, appeal to a fairly wide audience.”

Copies of “Intersections” will be available at the Feb. 12 launch at the library. They cost $20 each.

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