Hi Medicine Hat! My name is Brittany Renaud (pronounced Ren-NO, dang French names amirite?) and I’m from London, ON, but was born and raised in Chatham, ON, a smaller town closer in size to Medicine Hat. I’m here on a co-op while I work on my Master’s Degree in Librarian Sciences, and coming here was the first time I’d ever been on a plane, so it’s been an adventure already! I’m crazy about camping, hiking, and writing. One of my biggest dreams is to walk the entirety of the trans-Canada trail and write about it as I go.
One of my biggest obsessions is poetry and I hope to share that passion with you while I’m here. I’ve (somehow) managed to get a pretentious experimental poetry chapbook published (excerpt here) where I share my family’s experience with camping in Algonquin Park over the years. I also managed to hoodwink my way onto London’s national spoken word team in 2018. If anyone has any questions about putting on their own poetry hat, I also run a blog where I (irregularly) review poetry, talk poetry tips and tricks, or go on general rants and raves that suit my fancy. Or, you’ll likely find me working behind the scenes in the children’s section at the Library.
I’m excited to meet the Medicine Hat community, who’ve been so gracious and accommodating already. While I’m off work, I’ll likely be found hitting up one of your many beautiful cafés to feed my caffeine addiction or walking around trying not to get lost (apparently orienteering in the backcountry is easy, but finding your way in the city, not so much). Since I’m working in the children’s section, I’m particularly interested in getting kids, tweens, and teens interested in poetry, because I truly believe in it being a great avenue for self-expression and self-care. My co-workers say you have a great art scene here, and I hope you won’t mind me sticking my nose in it while I’m here.
My favourite books. Oh dear, where do I start? I’d have to say that three books that had a big impact on me were Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Ester S. Keyser’s Paddling My Own Canoe, and Kenneth Sherman’s Words for Elephant Man. I love Wild and Paddling My Own Canoe because they share stories of real life women overcoming great odds, whether that be physical, societal, or personal in their own ways while they fall in love and find solace in nature. Paddling My Own Canoe I read when I was younger and realized that nonfiction could be as amazing as fiction while Wild (which is available at the library RIGHT NOW by the way) is written in such a intimate way that really brings you into Strayed’s trials and tribulations, so that even if you don’t agree with her actions, you relate and empathize with her. Words for Elephant Man is a little more obscure (yeah, I’m a bit of a hipster), but it is nonetheless special to me because it is the only poetry book to this day that has made me cry. It’s a short read, taking less than an hour, but it packs a wallop as it details the tragedy that was Joseph Merrick’s life and shows how much power poetry holds. As a child, my favourite author was definitely Roald Dahl, but now my favourite author has to be Angela Carter. She’s best known for her short stories, particularly her feminist deconstructions of fairy tales while tackling all sorts of societal taboos, particularly sexual ones. The best way to describe her writing style is utter word porn. Her words string together like a poem, frequently using vocabulary that I have to look up. I like that she challenges me. My favourite poet definitely has to be Adrienne Rich, her poetry collection The Dream of a Common Language if I had to pick one. Sometimes, you just wanna read poems empowering women, loving nature, and the most heartfelt love poems you can find. Currently, I’m reading through Edna Brush Perkins’ The White Heart of the Mojave (available for free in case your interested), which tells the story of two suffragettes on a road trip through the Mojave Desert.
Thanks for having me here. Hope to meet ya'll soon.