Micheal Crummey says, "Living away is part of how we know what's worth coming home to."
Photo Credit: CBC

Michael Crummey writing the poetry and stories of Newfoundland


International Poetry Day was Tuesday March 21st. Along with being the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, UNESCO designated it Poetry Day.

“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.” according to the UNESCO web site.

Micheal Crummey, who wrote in secret in his early days as a writer, something it took him a long time to consider himself. © CBC

And while it came and went with not much notice, our colleagues at the CBC Radio program, ‘As It Happens’, did honour the occasion with a re-broadcast of an interview with Michael Crummey.

A poet and writer of great talent, Crummey grew up in mining towns in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Blessed with the self-deprecating wit common to many Newfoundlanders, Crummey says he didn’t really even know what poetry was when he entered a contest in his first year at university at the age of 17.

Published a year ago, his latest collection, ‘Little Dogs: New and Selected” is the subject of the interview with Carol Auff, in which he explains he began writing, as a poet.

He has also written two award-winning novels: ‘Galore’ and ‘Sweetland’.

He said he wrote in secret in his youth. ‘In those days I just could not call myself a writer”.

“I was just a kid from Buchans, who the hell did I think I was, why would I have anything to say? he said.

“I’m still fairly uncomfortable with the notion I have anything to say that anyone else would be interested in paying attention to.” Crummey admits.

“Poetry was always very different from the fiction, because the fiction was about the world out there, and the poetry was always really personal” Crummey explains.

He says he remembers his father once saying to his mother, “You gotta’ watch what you say to him, ’cause you never know where it’s going to end up.”

This is Michael Crummey reading what he wrote of his paternal grandparents’ early days: It’s called ‘Bread’.

He never really knew them, his grandfather having died before he was born, and his grandmother dying before he was five. But he says he knew three things about them: that his grandfather was twenty years older than his grandmother, that his first wife had died, and that their first child, a boy,had died at week old.”


“It you’re trying to write about Newfoundland honestly, there’s got to be humour in it”  Crummey says, something he says it took him time to realize. “Everybody I know, and everybody I knew growing up, humour was the first line of defense.”

There is plenty of humour in the other poems in this collection.

Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.