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Barrie's Poet Laureate serves up a night of poetry to celebrate her new book

Victoria Butler teamed up with Barrie Historical Archive to write poems based on historical photos; More than 75 people attended event at Bohemia

Poetry was alive and well at Bohemia on Friday night as the city’s Poet Laureate read from her newest piece of work, completed in collaboration with the Barrie Historical Archive.

Old Prayers by Victoria Butler is a collection of nine poems that bring to life historical pictures from the website of the Barrie Historical Archive (BHA).

“The idea was to choose a bunch of photos from the archives and write poems inspired by them or inspired by stories associated with them,” said Butler. “The BHA was really excited by the idea and were happy enough to sponsor it. I approached them in April or May and I’ve been working on it for couple of months now.”

The poems range in topics from the Simcoe Hotel to Barrie councillors and from Terry Fox to the Barrie tornado in 1985.

The book features the picture and the corresponding poem that was inspired by it.

Butler talked about the writing process and joked about the image one usually has of a poet.

“You drink a lot of wine and do a lot of walking by the water stroking your chin,” quipped Butler. “But a lot of them actually just came to me upon seeing the pictures and some I had to write a bunch of different drafts for.”

The books are $20 each and were for sale during the reading at which Butler sat on the stairs at the back of Bohemia on Dunlop Street East and read from the book to close to 75 people in attendance.

The 23-year-old Butler became Barrie’s third Poet Laureate in 2018 and said one of her favourite poems from the book was her work on The Chamber, a piece about the local political leaders and imagining them before their life as a councillor.

“Just wondering what they were like when they were younger and the what if I was grabbing beers with 23-year-old councillors,” said Butler. “What would they be talking about, what happened to their ideals and how did they become this person who is making big decisions.

"It would be interesting to know when their mind formed from a hippy mentality of save the world to being a political leader in the community.”

For a copy of Old Prayer, you can contact the Barrie Historical Archives.