Meet Fern G. Z. Carr. Fern is originally from Winnipeg and has been living in Kelowna for 20 years now! She enjoys going for scenic walks in all the beautiful places in town and spending some quality time with her family.
Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
I was born in Winnipeg. This year will be the 20th anniversary of my family's move to Kelowna.
Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
My husband and son are my two favourites. No matter what the activity, we always spend quality time together and enjoy amazing conversations on all sorts of topics.
What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
While this store isn't exclusive to Kelowna, my favourite is Costco. I'm always intrigued by the constantly changing surprises I find there.
Describe yourself in one word.
If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
I'd love to visit Transylvania nestled in the Carpathians of Romania. Bram Stoker's Dracula was one of the most literary and entertaining novels I've ever read. I'd like to have a better appreciation of the geography and customs woven into the story.
What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
I enjoy scenic walks whether on the boardwalk downtown or on the many beautiful nature trails that grace Kelowna.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I attended an opera where a hat was passed around to collect donations. I didn't grab the hat securely enough and money was flung into the air. I was on my hands and knees along with the row of patrons beside me, picking the money up off the floor.
What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
While my poetry has been published approximately 700 times worldwide, I have one publication credit that leaps out. A poem I composed is currently in orbit around the planet Mars on NASA's MAVEN spacecraft. The University of Colorado Boulder Laboratory for Atmosphere and Space Physics held a poetry contest in conjunction with NASA. The object was to send a message to Mars from Earth in the form of a haiku. There were in excess of 12,500 contest participants. Winning poems were burned to a DVD and affixed to the spacecraft. When I now look into the night sky and see the red point of light that is Mars, it is literally awe-inspiring to know that my poem is up there. My son also made the observation that since the spacecraft is in permanent orbit, my poem could theoretically outlast the existence of planet Earth. That was a mind-boggling thought.
Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
I have fond recollections of spending sunny summer afternoons with my dog at Winnipeg's beautiful Assiniboine Park.
Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
I was fortunate to have been the past president and chair of the Kelowna Branch of the BC SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) as well as having briefly served on their provincial board of directors. I was also the former president and chair of Project Literacy Kelowna Society (now called Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society). That said, I believe it is important to give back globally as well. As a professional poet, I am fortunate that I am able to so. I often have contributed my poetry to be published in anthologies, the proceeds of which have been directed to fund: a Canadian university scholarship, The Alzheimer Society of Canada, Doctors without Borders, Operation eBook Drop to provide free books to the military, an animal shelter in Virginia, a family support group in Philippine General Hospital, SOS Children's Villages, The Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Regional Library (after the devastating fire there), AlleyCATS Alliance cat rescue, a downtown women's shelter in Los Angeles, Samaritans 24-hour crisis help line, Charles W. Brown Planetarium in Indiana, plus programs that foster child advocacy in the wake of gun violence in the USA.
If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
My wish would be to have all animals treated with dignity, respect, compassion and love.
Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
I enjoy the tranquillity and history of the Kelowna Memorial Park Cemetery. The Maude-Roxby Bird Sanctuary is another place for reflection.
Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
Like many urban centres, Kelowna's downtown core is experiencing issues with homelessness. I'm pleased that community organizations are banding together to address this problem and hope that the Journey Home Task Force's strategies will have positive consequences. My understanding is that many of these advocacy groups are taking a practical approach. While they ideally would strive to end homelessness, they're attempting to ensure the provision of adequate resources for those in need. There is no "one-size-fits-all" solution but every member of our community should be afforded the chance of leading a life free of worry as to where their next meal will come from and whether or not they will have a safe place to sleep.
What do you think makes Kelowna great?
Kelowna's natural beauty is so stunning, it is as though we were living in a park.
What are 3 things on your bucket list?
This is my poetry bucket list:
1) I compose poetry in six languages and have been published in five of them. I would, therefore, like to get my Mandarin poetry published. (My English poetry has been published in China a few times, but it would be really gratifying to have my Mandarin poetry published there.)
2) My poetry has been published in 39 of the 50 USA states. I'm working on the remaining 11.
3) To date, I've been published multiple times in 34 different countries. I always get a charge out of the more exotic publication credits I've received (ex. Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte Island (in the Mozambique Channel), Nepal, Peru etc.). I would like though to be published in as many different countries as I can. (One of my publication credits is from Antarctica Journal but as exciting as that sounds, it is based in New York.)
Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
Apparently, I've been cited as a contributor to India's Prakalpana Literary Movement. I knew I was a participant but didn't realize to what extent until I happened to find this information online.
How do people connect with you, personally, through social media? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
I can be contacted via my website at www.ferngzcarr.com, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
What is the name of your business/organization?
I am published as Fern G. Z. Carr.
Why did you get into/start this business?
I have always enjoyed writing and poetry. I didn't find poetry, it found me.
What is the goal of your business?
My book, Shards of Crystal, was released by Silver Bow Publishing in Nov. 2018 (available on Amazon). My goal is to share my poetry with readers such that it will resonate with them long after they are finished reading it.
What has been your biggest struggle either at work or in life?
I tend to be a perfectionist. That isn't always ideal since it can be time-consuming and detract from other pursuits. "Excellence, not perfection" would be a good motto to adopt.
If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
I'd always be a poet no matter what. I initially was a lawyer and then an immersion teacher. While I have had many positive experiences, in retrospect, I think I might have enjoyed a career as a linguistics professor.
What do you always find yourself saying?
"That ship has sailed…"
Tell us your best piece of life advice.
I'd refer to a quote attributed to Linda Ellis: "Your life is made of two dates and a dash. Make the most of the dash."
If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
As a pianist and singer, I'd have to choose Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. It would be fascinating to learn more about his career and to have the privilege of observing his process while he composes his incredible musicals.
Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
The three top reasons that come to mind are: 1) It's more environmentally friendly and reduces our carbon footprint 2) We should support the local business owners who work tirelessly to help us and 3) In-person shopping is more of a sensory experience.
What has been your proudest accomplishment?
My poetry is currently in orbit around the planet Mars on NASA's MAVEN spacecraft. I was also honoured to have had one of my poems chosen by the former Parliamentary Poet Laureate as Poem of the Month for Canada.
Give someone you think that deserves it a shout out and explain why!
Veterinarian, Dr. Bruce Baptie, is one of the kindest most caring professionals the City of Kelowna is fortunate to have as a resident.
My choice for the KelownaNow In Focus spotlight is:
Dr. Shirley Hutchinson – a UBCO professor, volunteer extraordinaire and all-around wonderful person.
Some general comments I would like to share are:
To read excerpts from my book, Shards of Crystal, and to learn more about my craft, please feel free to visit my website. I've provided that link and other links for your reference here:
Website - www.ferngzcarr.com
Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fern_G._Z._Carr
Poets & Writers - www.pw.org/content/fern_g_z_carr
League of Canadian Poets - www.poets.ca/directory/
Federation of BC Writers - www.bcwriters.ca/member-directory/
Facebook - www.facebook.com/contact.ferngzcarr
Twitter - www.twitter.com/FernGZCarr
LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/fern-g-z-carr-6b797a75
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43078502-shards-of-crystal?from_search=true
Review of Shards of Crystal - http://poets.ca/2019/01/14/review-shards-of-crystal-by-fern-g-z-carr/