Light a candle; carry a torch to the shortest day

Halifax’s Poet Laureate Sue Goyette sends the city a daily poem until Winter Solstice.

click to enlarge Sue Goyette and The Coast are teaming up to bring Halifax an advent calendar of poetry—something to keep your heart alight as we march towards Winter Solstice.
Sue Goyette and The Coast are teaming up to bring Halifax an advent calendar of poetry—something to keep your heart alight as we march towards Winter Solstice.

It began, as most things do, with a feeling: A feeling of disbelief at the clock. A feeling that a year that’s been a months-drawn-out dusk couldn’t possibly get by with less sunlight. A feeling that there must be others who feel this way, too. “If I need this, I bet other people need this,” says Halifax’s Poet Laureate Sue Goyette, speaking by phone. The “this” in question? A daily microdose of poetry, written each morning by Goyette and given to all of Halifax to mark the calendar’s march towards Winter Solstice (that’s December 21, the shortest day of the year).


“I think advent calendars are important this season because I think a lot of people need a way to count down time,” Goyette adds, envisioning a daily unwrapping of words for us all. “I want this to be pretty fresh and lively, letting it loose in the world around the time the sun is setting, around the time we start turning on our lamps.”


See, these days, “There’s a deadness to the air between us on Zoom,” Goyette says. We’re all missing “the messiness of the space when we don’t have to be wary of the space between us”—what Goyette describes as the “yes, and” improv of physical interaction in the days before social distancing.


“This conversation or this representation or this living archive that we’re all a part of but don’t all get a voice in: I can contribute something being Poet Laureate,” Goyette continues. “And so it’s like, what is my responsibility? Well, if I’m a poet in the community, I can contribute some words.”


Those words, fresh and lively, will be shared in an article updated daily on thecoast.ca—and on our social media feeds—so that we can count down to the end of long nights and early lamp-lighting together. We’ll carry this flame as a city, a reminder that the sun always comes back and that, eventually, this chapter will end.


“I think that anything creative at this point is making legible our feelings and how we’re responding to this situation validates the very real experience that we’re having—in a way that I don’t think mainstream media or even a lot of thinking is doing about the emotionality of this experience,” adds Goyette. “Our body holds and houses our feelings and our feelings are sometimes a drag or operatic or whatever, but they’re valid.”

Click here to read all of Goyette’s December missives. Below is the first of the series. May it keep your heart alight another day.


About The Author

Morgan Mullin

Morgan is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from what to see and do around Halifax to profiles of the city’s creative class to larger cultural pieces. She’s been with The Coast since 2016.

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