Local poetry anthology takes aim at toxic masculinity while helping raise money for women escaping violence

·3 min read

Cory Gaudette grew up in the small Greater Sudbury community of Chelmsford. When he thinks back on his childhood, he remembers feeling awkward and misunderstood.

Moving through the world, he says, being an openly gay teen presenting strong feminine qualities brought on a host of challenges. So much so, that it often felt like a balancing act, he said, trying to stand upright in a world he felt didn't always accept him.

Grappling with his identity and sexuality was fraught with difficulties which, he said, eventually led him to abusing drugs and even spending about five months at Penetanguishene's Central North Correctional Centre for robbing a store. It was there, that Gaudette says he met rock bottom.

"That got out of hand really quickly. I really lost the person that I was and the person that I wanted to be," he said, "I was really just like a shadow of myself."

But it was also the place he found hope and self-expression in poetry.

Submitted by Crystal Caya
Submitted by Crystal Caya

'I decided I was going to turn my life around'

"This was where I decided I was going to turn my life around," he said, "I wanted to journal, I wanted to write diary entries ... but I couldn't formulate these sentences and describe how I was feeling and then, it all just started coming out as poetry."

Now, Gaudette is aiming to get others excited about poetry with a new self-published poetry anthology called Feminine Grit. The anthology has been published under his drag name, Emma Daniels.

Together with a host of local contributors, the book explores what it means to be femme or display feminine qualities in a world charged with toxic masculinity.

We have all these really strong voices kind of coming out that weren't really heard before who were put on the side burners for a really long time. — Cory Gaudette, editor of Feminine Grit

"It's a very feminine act to write poetry, you're putting all these vulnerabilities onto the page and I find that's why a lot of people don't share their poetry. But that's how I turned to poetry and it was a very big healing process."

The anthology gives voice to 27 local contributors in northern Ontario, who belong to a range of diverse communities including LGBTQ, BIPOC and Indigenous people. The anthology features 62 poems and a mosaic of vibrant art.

So far, Gaudette said, he's managed to sell out of the first 200 copies and is in the process of getting another 200 in the coming days.

"I think with everything going on in the world now, we have all these really strong voices kind of coming out that weren't really heard before who were put on the side burners for a really long time," he said, "And those voices need to be heard."

Submitted by Cory Gaudette
Submitted by Cory Gaudette

Raising money for women escaping violence

What's more is that, $1 from each copy sold goes toward the Genvera House, an emergency shelter for women escaping abuse from their intimate partners (including same sex partners), as well as women 50 years and over who are escaping abuse from their live-in caregiver, in Sudbury.

To print the book Gaudette set up a GoFundMe account, where he raised about $900 to be able to pay contributors and afford printing fees. Bay Used Books in Sudbury ,where the anthology is being sold, matched that amount totalling $1800 to help with the costs of creating the book.

Submitted by Yannick Bouffard
Submitted by Yannick Bouffard

So far, Gaudette has raised about $200 from the book to go toward the Genevera House but his ultimate goal is to raise about $1,800 to go to the shelter. However, if that number should be more, that would an added bonus.

For the next group of copies, he said he's hoping to find more vendors who will sell the book. But for now, people can find it at Bay Used Books.

Have a listen