A quiet day spent on the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River inspired Jenna Jarvis to write a piece that would go on to win the 2012 John Newlove Poetry Award.

Jarvis, a master’s student in English literature, wrote River-Canal in the third year of her undergraduate degree at Carleton.  But before she could accept the award, she had to do some waiting, she said.

“I had to keep the win secret for a couple of months until the actual announcement,” she said. “It was a really wonderful way to end my undergraduate career.”

While Jarvis normally writes about Ottawa, River-Canal was a break from her typical themes, she says.

“I usually write about people, buildings, and the more urban city specific experiences. I don’t often write about nature.”

Jarvis will accept the John Newlove Poetry Award this month at the 2013 Ottawa International Writers Festival. An event that she has attended as a guest in the past, this year she’ll be in the spotlight as an award-winning poet.

“I’m so honoured, so delighted,” she said. “Paradoxically, it’s humbling to see my name along Margaret Atwood’s and other writers’.”

At the festival, Jarvis will debut her new chapbook named The Tiger with the Crooked Mouth. The chapbook, which gets its name from being about the same length as a chapter, has 11 new poems.   

Jarvis chose to do both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Carleton University. She said her decision to stay was mainly because of Carleton’s unique culture.

“I think it’s a very friendly, warm, welcoming place,” she said. “That’s important to me because I think a lot of other institutions tend to have much colder institutional cultures.”

Jarvis is also involved in Carleton’s writing scene. She is a past editor of In/Words Magazine, which is published by Carleton University.

“(In/Words) is sort of loosely affiliated with Carleton’s English Department but publishes writings from people all around the world,” she says.

“I never really felt like the Carleton community was insular, but connected to something bigger. I appreciated that.”

Jarvis is currently working on her master’s degree with a focus in Irish, British, and Scottish romantic novels written by working and lower class women writers.

Although Jarvis will label herself as a post-modern poet, she’s hesitant to provide an analysis of her work to readers.

“I’m reticent to describe what my poetry means. I’d like my audience to bring their own imagination.”

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