Friday, April 20, 2018



Yes, another #bookspinepoem is coming your way. I was out just about all day on behalf of poetry.

I drove to Balfour to catch the 2:50PM ferry over to Kootenay Bay/Riondel, which is where I was reading. 

Another view from the ferry from Balfour to Kootenay Bay.  
Longest free ferry ride in the world (or at least it used to be. Now that the new ferry is faster, who knows?)
 Got there in plenty of time to a) refresh my memory as to the location of the library and b) to go and park by the lake and work out (ie. time) my reading.

Riondel's library is now the home of the Riondel Historical Society. These two, Terry Taylor and Susan Hulland, are two members of the Society and have written books on the history of the area.
Susan Hulland was first up. She read a delightful section from a memoir she's writing about growing up in Oyama.  

Wendy Scott organized the reading. She's a lovely hostess.

Alanda Greene read an engrossing section from her sequel to Napi's Dance. 

Luanne Armstrong began her reading by showing us a couple of books she's helped midwife into the world.

Luanne then read from the introduction to her new memoir, due out this fall from Caitlin Press.

I read a few poems, including two that began life this month, right here on this blog. You can tell; take a look at this, for example.

I caught the 8:40 ferry back to my side of the lake by the skin of my teeth. Drove to Nelson where I'm housesitting for a couple of weeks. 
Not entirely sure where I'm supposed to sleep!

But I'll be okay

Oh yes! I promised you a #bookspinepoem and here it is, inspired by the absolutely incredible part of the world in which I'm lucky enough to live. Assisting authors: Catherine Anthony Clark, Jennifer LoveGrove, an anthology edited by Jodie Renner in which I have a couple of poems, and Miranda July.

Now to see if I can get a small corner of that bed. Thank you, my lovely, faithful readers, for checking in. I know who you are!


Thursday, April 19, 2018



I've been invited to read at the Riondel Library tomorrow night along with Luanne Armstrong, Alanda Greene, and Susan Hulland. Riondel, a lovely little village on the east shore of Kootenay Lake, is celebrating the official opening of the Historical Society's new location in the Library building. I read there last in 2015. Lovely community that celebrates the written word. The evening kicks off at 6PM with the readings from 7 until 8. Everyone welcome.

And as I'm putting together what I'm going to read tomorrow, here's a #bookspinepoem for Day 19 of National Poetry Month. With deep appreciation to Stuart Ross, David W. McFadden, Kirsten Emmott, Heather McHugh, and Rosemary Griebel.

I'm calling this one Finger Dogs Feel Serious. Yes?


Wednesday, April 18, 2018



Glo/NaPoWriMo's needs more time than I had to give it today. 
Drove to Nelson, which proved to be a bit of a challenge as a mudslide came down just past the Brilliant Dam this morning so traffic had to go via Pass Creek. Given the amount of snow up in the hills I expect this is just a start on interesting weather-related events. 

Nearly forgot to do a poem today! Here's another #bookspinepoem, brought to you by moms everywhere, as well as poets Joanne Arnott, Julie Bruck, Di Brandt, Evelyn Lau, David W. McFadden, Barry DempsterLesléa Newman, and Allen Ginsberg


Tuesday, April 17, 2018



Today's prompt from Na/GloPoWriMo: "...write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time."

So I've been wondering what sort of #bookspinepoem I could get using fiction/non-fiction titles. Would they be very different from the poetry ones? And tonight I further wondered if I could get a #bookspinepoem to tell a family anecdote, however vaguely. 

Let's call this one Novel Narrative. Thanks to writers Terry Griggs, Shaena Lambert, Jane Rule, Bonnie Bowman, Thomas Moore and Barbara Gowdy for helping out with this one. Here's to vague! 

Novel Narrative


Monday, April 16, 2018



Glo/NaPoWriMo says, "write a poem that prominently features the idea of play. It could be a poem about a sport or game, a poem about people who play (or are playing a game), or even a poem in the form of the rules for a sport or game that you’ve just made up."

Well, once again I'm slacking off and found you a #bookspinepoem instead. It does examine the idea of play, though.

The poets whose books provided the playful titles for this are Susan Andrews Grace, Leslie Greentree, Margaret Atwood, David Fraser and Pat Smekal, and Elizabeth Bachinsky.


Sunday, April 15, 2018



Glo/NaPoWriMo says maybe we can "write a poem in which a villain faces an unfortunate situation, and is revealed to be human (but still evil). Perhaps this could mean the witch from Hansel & Gretel has lost her beloved cat, and is going about the neighborhood sticking up heart-wrenching “Lost Cat” signs, but still finds human children delicious. Maybe Blackbeard the Pirate is lost at sea in an open boat, remembering how much he loved his grandmother (although he will still kill the first person dumb enough to scoop him from the waves)." 

Should I pick a politician? The world has a few who might reasonably be considered villains. 

No. Not a politician. I'm picking an alleged murderer, a man charged with seven counts (so far) of first degree for killing men he met in the part of Toronto known as the gay village and putting their remains in planters (he worked in landscaping). The gay village — a place I've visited more times than I can remember, a place where kind and beautiful friends live, a place that's always treated me well. 

Detail of plaque on the Alexander Wood (1772-1844) bronze statue. Wood was a magistrate who, when a young woman reported that she'd been raped and had managed to scratch her assailant's junk in the process, insisted on examining the bits and pieces of several young men deemed to be potential perps. He also was quite wealthy and bought up a lot of what is now downtown Toronto, including the area around Church and Wellesley known as the gay village. Hence, the statue and plaque. Do read about him, it's an interesting story. You'll notice a discoloured area on the exposed right buttock. It's considered good luck to touch it. I wonder if any of the seven men who've been identified as murder victims ever touched it. I wonder if the subject of my poem did. 

Growing Season

he places the planter 
on the terrace 

tamps down soil 
that cradles so gently 

bedding plants 
whose tiny roots 

stretch and stretch 
beneath the surface 

seek shade and sustenance
settle in for the long haul

but the unrelenting ruin
of a hot Toronto summer 

proves no match 
for gentle coaxing

new growth withers
dies of exposure

no longer responsive 
to his touch


Saturday, April 14, 2018



Glo/NaPoWriMo says, "Pick one (or more) of the following words, and write about what it means to dream of these things": 

Teacup  Hammer   Seagull   Ballet slipper  Shark  Wobbly table   Dentist  Rowboat

Taken in Scotland. Because boat.

You Never Know What Will Happen Next

dream seagull 

stealing bread flung out to sea           

a shark appears 

regurgitates a ballet slipper

or a dentist

— the remains too far gone 

for casual glance to know 

dream top-of-the-roller-coaster 


upraised hammer 

watch it begin its inexorable descent 

towards wobbly table 

that secretly wants to be kindling

dream cadence and caricature 

circle and swear — 

        dream this, and you're the next victim of loneliness

        whose name will erupt from strangers' lips

        unexpectedly, like roses in January 

        lava on a regrettably manicured lawn 

dream teacup in a rowboat

or rowboat in a teacup

and just like that you're Disneylanding with your boy  

and your friend from Montreal 

your boy fell asleep 

his head on a plate of spaghetti 

after a day of rides and Magic Kingdom magic

and a Pirates of the Caribbean blunderbuss to take home

(his first gun toy not made from Lego) 

years later, boy's grown up, 

friend's gone on to whatever happens next —

        dream this and you're secretly in love with a republican