AX Literary Series: Poetry Night; Kayla Gietzler, Michael Pacey, Keagan Hawthorn


Reading Cost: Free, donations appreciated.

AX is pleased to welcome local poets Michael Pacey, Keagan Hawthorne, and Kayla Geitzler to the AX gallery for a Poetry Night on Friday September 29, 2023 at 7:00 PM. They will each share poetry readings from their recent publishings; Michael Pacey will be reading from his book Wild Apples: A Dialogue with Thoreau, Keagan Hawthorne will be reading from his book After the Harvest, and Kayla Geitzler will be reading from her book That Light Feeling Under Your Feet.

About the Poets

Michael Pacey

Michael Pacey has been a fixture of his hometowns literary scene for more than fifty years, publishing his early poems in the Fiddlehead while still in high school, and his first collection with New Brunswick Chapbooks while a sophomore at UNB. He did his MFA in Creative Writing at UBC where he served as editor-in-chief of Prism International (1984-85). He continued his studies at UBC, earning an M.A. in English and a PhD specializing in Canadian literature; his doctoral thesis was a critical edition of the 727 letters between Desmond Pacey and Irving Layton. In recent years he’s produced two collections: The First Step and Electric Affinities. More than 120 of Michaels poems have appeared in leading Canadian literary magazines, and his poems have twice been recognized in the Best Canadian Poems in English series.

Wild Apples: A Dialogue with Thoreau

The book is in the form of a dialogue between Thoreau and Pacey; each poem begins with an epigraph in the form of a quotation from Thoreau’s Journal – the particular passage (or sometimes passages) which inspired Pacey to write the poem that follows. Some of the pieces are based on his experiences, but re-shaped, expanded and altered; some are wholly imaginary responses to reading the entries in the Journal. There continues to be a great deal of interest in Thoreau these days, and this immersion into his vast diary provides a contemporary poet’s insight into the original work.

The poems use Thoreau’s entries as a springboard to the imagination with titles like “Suit of Invisibility,” “Rough and Smooth,” “Journal,” “Haycock,” “Rivers,” “Walking,” “Night Walks” and “Wild Apples.” Pacey also focuses on Thoreau’s daily activities: walking, harvesting the wild for apples in abandoned apple orchards, studying the creatures he sees in the woods, visiting his neighbours, talking to friends, and putting it all in his journal afterwards. There is also attention paid to the tools he requires as an amateur naturalist and professional writer: pencil and eraser, staff and compass, as well as his suit of invisibility. The poet recreates Thoreau’s encounters on these long hikes: with seeds and burrs and birds, with snakes, turtles and toadstools, with an old man and fellow collector of wild apples, with a corpse washed upon a beach, with a robin in a bar, with haycocks and herb gardens.

The strong connection to Thoreau is the passion for the natural world. Pacey, too, has a cabin in the woods he built for himself on the Nashwaak River, with no neighbours within a mile or two. In these poems, he also shares his own encounters with his wilder neighbours there by Buttermilk Falls.


Kayla Gietzler

Kayla Geitzler is from Moncton, which is within Siknikt of the Mi’kma’ki. Named a Rad Woman of Canadian Poetry, she was Moncton’s inaugural Anglophone Poet Laureate (2019-2022). Organizer of the Attic Owl Reading Series, she is co-editor of the multilingual poetry anthology Cadence: Voix feminines, Female Voices, and co-creator of the Poesie Moncton Poetry website. Her book, That Light Feeling Under Your Feet (NeWest Press 2018), was a finalist for two awards. Kayla works as an editor and writing consultant. In 2021 she received a Top 20 Under 40 award from the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce for her entrepreneurial success and dedication to literature.

That Light Feeling Under Your Feet

That Light Feeling Under Your Feet plunges headfirst into the surreal and slogging world of cruise ship workers. These masterfully crafted poems challenge perpetuating colonial and class relations, as well as the hedonistic lifestyle attributed to the employees of these floating resorts. Kayla Geitzler’s debut collection interprets isolation, alienation, racism, and assimilation into the margins as inevitable consequences for the seafaring workforce of the most profitable sector of the tourism industry.

Exploring the liminal space between labour and leisure, the poems in That Light Feeling Under Your Feet are at once buoyant and weighty, with language that cuts like a keel through the sea.


Keagan Hawthorne

Keagan Hawthorne is a poet and proprietor of The Hardscrabble Press. He lives with his wife and daughter in Mi’kma’ki at Sackville, New Brunswick. His poetry has appeared in journals across Canada as well as in Ireland and England, and was awarded the Alfred G. Bailey Prize and the John Lent Poetry/Prose Award. He works at the Mount Allison University Library.

After the Harvest

After the Harvest re-imagines a clutch of family stories that are the poet’s main connection to a disappeared ancestral farm—a complex bucolic world slipping farther into the realm of myth with every passing season. Soundful, ecclesiastical in cadence, Hawthorne’s poems form an elegy to a lost way of life and work while asserting the power that language holds to recreate.


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Thank you to the New Brunswick Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture for their support of this event.