Shari Cunningham on child sponsorship in Ghana / Mary Ann Mulhern, Poet Laureate on the written word.

President Elect Gerry Pocock ran this meeting, as President Gord was at the District Golf Tournament.

Shari Cunningham thanked everyone who has sponsored a child. She explained that education is a sustainable project, and that “when you invest in the education of your girls, your country does better[...] Educate a woman and she brings everyone up around her”. Godfrey will be going to Ghana this month, and is asking sponsors to write short letters. He’ll distribute them while he’s there. For those who are interested in sponsoring a child in Ghana, current costs are $200/year for primary, $350/year for secondary, $1200/yr for post-secondary and nursing and $600/year to sponsor a teacher. Contact Brenda,, 519-253-6382 to get started.

Peter Hrastovec introduced Poet Laureate Mary Ann Mulhern, who captivated the audience with her words. She spoke of her life, interjecting descriptions and snippets from a variety of her works, including her first book, The Red Dress and its sequel, Brides in Black, which describes her experience living in a convent for 8 years in the sixties. She explained how Marty Gervais urged her to write about her family growing up in a cemetery house, thus resulting in a book entitled Touch the Dead (which was short-listed for the Acorn-Plants Award in 2007). 

Mary Ann spoke about her interest in witch hunts, and in particular in Bridget Bishop, the first victim to be hung during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. In her book, Sleeping with Satan, Salem Witch-hunt 1692, Mulhern writes about Ms. Bishop wearing bright colours, and “recognized that it was her clothing that was condemning her […] her clothes turned her inside-out - a witch in silken seams, sewed by the devil”. She also touched briefly on “the most difficult book” she ever wrote, When Angels Weep which “deals with one of the most damaging and controversial issues facing the Roman Catholic Church and the largest settlement for sexual abuse in Canada's history. The book tells the stories of four victims of the late Father Charles Sylvestre, who was found guilty of 47 counts of sexual abuse over a 40-year period in churches in Chatham, London, Sarnia and Windsor.” (

Mary Ann quoted Stephen King from one of his lectures, when he said “if you pay attention, ideas come to you”. She’s written works based on this idea, and gave examples of a few poems she wrote, “Ashes”, based on a conversation she overhead in the elevator and “Ghost in a coffee shop”, based on a look - and the resulting feeling - a woman gave her while in a cafe. 

Colleen thanked Ms. Mulhern for “weaving a tapestry - story telling at its best”. To see more of Mary Ann Mulhern, be sure to attend an event that she and Marty Gervais are hosting on Tuesday, October 8th from 7-9 at Willistead Manor, "Poetry At the Manor, Vol. 7". 

Click here for more pictures from this meeting (courtesy of Gordon Drake)