St. George's poet and artist team up to publish chapbook

Frank Gale
Published on July 19, 2013

Robin Durnford is seen with a copy of “Fog of the Outport,” a collaboration chapbook with Meagan Musseau.

Frank Gale photo

Robin Durnford thinks and hopes that her late dad, Sam Durnford, would be proud of her latest work, "Fog of the Outport," which she and Meagan Musseau of Corner Brook recently released in Francois.

Published by Jackpine Press of Saskatoon, Sask., the chapbook features poems written by Ms. Durnford and watercolour and silkscreen illustrations by Ms. Musseau.

A chapbook is a small collection of poetry that often centres on a specific theme. It's typically saddle-stitched and in a format well-suited to smaller print-runs.

The poems tell a story from her dad's perspective for each month of the year after his father (Sam Durnford Sr.) died when he was just five years old. In the chapbook, each poem, representing those months, is accompanied by an illustration on an opposite page.

The poems come from stories Sam Jr. told his daughter while she was growing up, and reflects some of the hardships that his mom Minnie (nee Young) had to endure while raising nine children on her own.

Ms. Durnford and Ms. Musseau took the four-hour boat run to Francois for the book release at the community centre last week in the outport town. Ms. Durnford said there was some skepticism by local townspeople, but the book launch went well.

She said between her readings and a couple of local musicians performing, it turned out to be as special night, especially since a lot of people there knew her dad.

"As the book started to take shape," Ms. Durnford said, "I knew I wanted to do a reading under those cliffs."

The limited edition will have just 100 copies printed and Ms, Durnford and Ms. Musseau managed to get 10 before they went to Francois, which sold out within five minutes of the release.

This is Ms. Durnford's second book, with her first, "A Lovely Gutting," set on Stephenville Beach and published by McGill Queens University Press.

On the basis of that book, and having her "Fog of the Outport" book published, she received two grants from the Newfoundland Arts Council and another from the Canada Council. She is now working on another book of poetry titled "Cleaved."

She said "A Lovely Gutting" dealt with emotions after her father's sudden death, then "Fog of the Outport" dealt with her father's childhood and "Cleaved" is more about the birth of her son Sam, and her moving back home.

Ms. Durnford said all her works are really nature poetry.

She and husband Nathan Elliott, who is a university professor from the United States, recently purchased a home in St. George's and live there with their son.

Ms. Durnford plans to continue writing poetry and is almost finished her collection for "Cleaved" and said she will go on from there.