Barrie, Ont.’s newest poet laureate looks to create a platform for local artists

City of Barrie announced Tyneisha Ternent, 30, as Barrie's fourth Poet Laureate. By Noel Photo Video

While she may be new to the role, Barrie’s next poet laureate is no stranger to the community’s art scene.

Even before she was selected, Tyneisha Ternent, 30, was working to bring more poetry to Barrie through a Tourism Innovation Grant to host poetry concerts.

“I just want to really give artists a beautiful platform for the whole city to see them perform on,” Ternent said.

Last week the city announced Ternent will be Barrie’s fourth poet laureate.

In her day job, Ternent works with newborn babies as a perinatal support worker. She is also the author of Bearing Fruit, a poetry collection about her pregnancy, with each chapter focusing on a different trimester.

Looking at what she hopes to bring to the role, Ternent said she wants to show a different perspective.

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“As a young black woman, I definitely have a different outlook that I could shed a bit more light on,” Ternent said.

“I feel like, coming from the Toronto scene, and now I’m in Barrie, I do have a lot of culture that I can bring here, and I definitely feel comfortable now when it comes to performing those spoken words,” she said.

Ternent, who has lived in Barrie for five years, told Global News the community feels like her forever home.

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“It’s just been so welcoming here. Since I’ve been here, this is where I published my book, this is where I have my daughter, and this is where my poetry really began to grow,” she said.

“I definitely want to give poetry a new meaning. A lot of people say poetry is dead or it’s very emotional. No, poetry can be full of healing, growth, and positivity, and I want to shed a more positive light on poetry, maybe one that’s not so sad or emotional.”

During her four-year term, Ternent is looking to bring more poetry concerts and spoken word events, exploring how rap and poetry work hand in hand.

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“I want to bring more awareness to words and their power and how rap and poetry are kind of the same thing. They’re just different art forms. I really want to bring poetry concerts and festivals that tie in all aspects of our community.”

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Ternent said she hopes to give all forms of poetry, like dance, singing, rap, and spoken word, a platform.

To make the events possible, she is looking for sponsorship from business and community members.

Looking at the next four years, Ternent said she feels support from the poet laureates who came before her.

“I love that everybody who held the title before me I still have access to, and they’re still supporting me through my role. So I don’t feel like it’s solely my role; I feel like it’ll be a combination of all of us coming together.”


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