Works by Greater Sudbury’s sixth poet laureate, Vera Constantineau, were recently added to a display of poetry at the Greater Sudbury Airport.
One of Constantineau’s predecessors as Greater Sudbury poet laureate, Kim Fahner, started the initiative to display poetry at the local airport.
The airport now features poetry from all of Greater Sudbury’s past poet laureates. Constantineau, who was Greater Sudbury’s poet laureate from 2020-2022, handed over the reins to the current poet laureate, Kyla Heyming, in April.
Constantineau specializes in haikus, a type of short-form poetry. Because her poems are so brief, three of them are featured at the airport.
One of the haikus describes the yearning for a reunion between family members — something that’s surely a common scene in an airport: “Years since we spoke, still — this yearning, lost sisters.” She said this poem actually won the Martin Lukas Haiku Award.
The other two haikus explore the connection between mother and baby. The first one reads “Night flight, babe on a plane, slurps mother’s milk,” and the other “Full moon, under her hand, the baby moves.”
“The babe on the plane, that is a true story,” she said. “I was on a flight from Vancouver to Toronto, and a woman sat next to me, and she had a baby. That was the best baby on the planet. It was just so good, and there were different noises coming from the baby. It brought me back to being a young mother.”
Constantineau said she’s honoured to have her works up at the airport alongside those of Greater Sudbury’s other past poet laureates.
“I don't know when I'll ever have poetry written on a wall again, or a window again,” Constantineau said, adding that it’s a big deal to her because it’s at the airport in her own hometown.
It’s also a physical reminder of her time as poet laureate, which coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic — given this international health emergency, she’s not sure anyone paid attention to what she did as poet laureate.
As a nervous flier herself, Constantineau said she thinks the poetry wall at the Greater Sudbury Airport can act as a positive distraction for people.
“It takes your mind off what's coming and maybe offers you that moment of calm, just reading all the poetry from left to right,” she said.
Heidi Ulrichsen is the associate content editor at Sudbury.com. She also covers education and the arts scene.