Jennifer Yeates Camara is a poet living in Vancouver, Canada. She is the youngest of 13 children, born to an extremely poor family in Southern Ontario, Canada. She grew up in an old house that someone had paid her father to haul away, albeit without plumbing as the water was never hooked up! Jennifer's early life in the 70's included an outhouse, a well, and a wood-burning fireplace. Jennifer's sister Regan, one of several writers in the family, expands on their early life in the essay 'Eau de...See more
Jennifer Yeates Camara is a poet living in Vancouver, Canada. She is the youngest of 13 children, born to an extremely poor family in Southern Ontario, Canada. She grew up in an old house that someone had paid her father to haul away, albeit without plumbing as the water was never hooked up! Jennifer's early life in the 70's included an outhouse, a well, and a wood-burning fireplace. Jennifer's sister Regan, one of several writers in the family, expands on their early life in the essay 'Eau de Toilet: The Fragrance of My Youth' (on regannuqui.com) and in the poignant essay published in Canada's The Globe and Mail in January 2019 entitled 'Elephants in the Classroom, and the Teacher Who Conquered Them.' Despite such an impoverished beginning, the arts featured prominently in their family life and history. Jennifer's maternal grandfather was Owen Peak, a painter and photographer with a particular affinity for Canada's rugged outdoors. His early drawings of life as an Alberta cowboy are still being found today and at least one early magazine cover drawn by O.W. Peak is found in Archives Canada. More than once, the Globe and Mail featured an interview with him as their in-house artist. Remarkably, he even made the occasional painting trip to Temagami with fellow Welshman Frederick Varley of the world-renowned Group of Seven. Jennifer's parents were both avid readers and often recited the poems of Robert Service and others by memory. With crafts soaring in popularity, Jennifer's mother Barbara went through a productive period with poetry, macrame and pottery. She scrounged enough tuition for ceramic courses at the local College, which included faculty such as Robin Hopper, Roman Bartkiw and Ann Mortimer, all celebrated Canadian potters. The glazes especially intrigued her for their complexity and potential. Her passion and talent with glazing earned her an invitation to relocate to an artist colony in Big Sur, California. The U.S. had the military draft on, and since Barbara had one son already of military age and another growing fast, she reluctantly declined. At age 9, Jennifer moved to the coastal area of British Columbia with her mother and three siblings. After showing an aptitude for French lessons in grade 5, Jennifer was encouraged to join a late French immersion program starting from grade 6 (taught by the extraordinary Ms. Chin). It was around that time that Jennifer also started writing her own poetry. Although Jennifer continued excelling academically, their family's economic situation was still dire and she turned to poetry to express herself. At one point in her final year, she was dating a young man, Dan, who attended another school. He became sick for two weeks and got behind in homework, including a poem required for English class. Jennifer helped out by giving him one of her own to submit. Dan's teacher was so impressed with it, he had Dan discuss it for the whole class (thankfully, Dan was good at improv), and told the rest of the class to re-write their poems as they 'clearly hadn't taken the time and attention that Dan had.' Once Jennifer started working, she eagerly frequented local bookstores, where the proprietors introduced her to poetry from many cultures, including Persia, China, Japan and India. During that period Jennifer also explored Biblical poetry and its unique aspects, like vivid verbs, concrete words for abstract concepts, short conjunctions for flow and rhymes of thought (parallel ideas or words used purposefully to connect different lines and allow groupings to make multiple points), and she passed many nights listening to recordings of the psalms. For more information about Jennifer, please visit See less
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