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Student teams up with award-winning artists for love-struck poetry reading

Photo by Remi Yuan

Remember the days before romance became mass-produced and depersonalized by clogged dating websites and TV programs like The Bachelor? In a new collaborative work, two award-winning Canadian artists try to remember.

Written by Gerald Lampert Award-winner Joanne Arnott and illustrated by Governor General’s Award-winner Leo Yerxa, Halfling Spring: an internet romance explores romance and the idea of love amidst our reliance on mechanization and technology.

The book takes a quirky look at the early stages of an online relationship, juxtaposed against the romantic courtships of traditional cultures, like a Kwakiutl marriage. The poems feature cross-cultural, star-crossed lovers in a deep and entertaining love affair. It’s a storyline that should pique the interest of those who’ve grown tired of the cheesy content so often found in today’s romance aisles.

In partnership with the Department of English and the Institute of Canadian Aboriginal Studies at the University of Ottawa, two Canadians are celebrating the release of their collaborative new book with the help of a U of O English student.

Arnott and Yerxa will host a reading of their new book on Nov. 10. They’ll be joined by fourth-year English student Rachel Fernandes, who is taking part to read excerpts from Halfling Spring as well.

Fernandes, who’s also the vice-president of literary and publications of the Undergraduate English Students’ Association, hopes the event will help the authors gain new audiences: people who might stumble upon the event, find it intriguing, and then decide to stay to learn more. That’s why the reading will be at Café Nostalgica, one of the most popular social hubs on campus.

“That is always the most exciting thing—people who do not normally come out to these things and happen upon them,” she says. “I hope they get excited about what they hear.”


  • Spring 2022: Desiree Nikfardjam Fall 2021: Zofka Svec 2020-2021: Aisling Murphy 2019-2020: Ryan Pepper 2018-2019: Iain Sellers 2017-2018: Ryan Pepper