Stephen Near



Hamilton’s Tower Poetry Society Turns 50 and Shelagh Rogers gets on board.
March 2001


The Tower Poetry Society, the oldest poetry group in Canada, is proud to announce that 2001 marks the society’s 50th year of publishing and promoting poetry.

Such is the exclamation that graces the top of the Tower Poetry media announcements this year - all year. Also new: Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio has agreed to be the honorary patron for the 2001 anniversary. Society president Eleanore Kosydar couldn’t be happier. Kosydar speaks about the group with the excitement of a new employee on the cusp of a career change. Yet Kosydar has spent the last two years as the organization’s most active volunteer and president, promoting the group, attracting new members and participating in the society’s monthly discussion groups and readings. She claims she was hooked on the group after attending only one meeting. According to Kosydar, Tower Poetry Society is a lively group of people from diverse backgrounds. Meetings are stimulating experiences that involve critiquing each other's various styles of poetry.

The Tower Poetry Society currently has a membership of about 300, but all meetings are open to the public. The next two are February 11, 2-4pm and March 11, 2-4 pm, at the Carnegie Gallery in Dundas. These meetings are open to the public, but the society encourages people who participate regularly to become members. “That’s how we keep the society going,” Kosydar states. It’s also one way they keep the Tower Poetry Society’s biannual publication afloat. Sales from the publication basically pays production costs, Kosydar explains. The launch of the next issue on June 14 is an extra special event: it’s the society’s special event - Volume 50, issue 1. The launch is at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, 7-9pm and features a poetry reading beginning at 7:30pm. Admission is free, but they request that everyone reserves a seat.

The Tower Poetry Society had an interesting start 50 years ago and it’s no doubt a story Kosydar will be asked to share more than once this year. In the early 1950s, founder Ida Sutherland Groom, a mino religious poet in England, came to Hamilton with her brother, a McMaster English professor. She came packing the idea and drive to establish a poetry society in the city. After rallying a group of like-minded University types around her the Tower Poetry Society was born. The organization still boasts one founding member: honorary president Jean McCallion.

Telenko, Sherri. “The Internet: New Medium or Shear Madness?” Arts Beat, vol. 13 , no. 5, February - March 2001, p. 4.