Wednesday, October 19, 2011



I've not posted anything lately. Too busy with yard work and similar endeavors. But I see people are still surfing in here so it's more than time for an update. 

Ah, fall. Season of taking stock. I was away, on Vancouver Island mostly, for a couple of weeks and since I got back there has been no end of things to do. It all began last week on an October-warm day when I decided I should prepare the basement room for wintering over my geraniums. Went down to clear of the table where some of them will sit and noticed there was a new thick layer of dust over everything. The room in question used to be Ted's turning shop. He built a proper one seven years ago and at some point this summer he finally removed some lumber that was still in a rack suspended from the basement ceiling. This unleashed a fury of the aforementioned dust, so instead of dealing with the geraniums I found myself vacuuming. The next day I attacked four boxes labeled "Sort Me" — full discloser here, I have a nasty habit of cleaning my workroom and at the very end, when it's all done except for a variety of paper vomit all over my desk, I sweep said paper into a box and, well, you get the picture. Such treasures I found! Like the last page of a four page poem I revised for a reading in February 2010, then promptly lost the revision. I knew it wasn't gone. It was "somewhere". It may be time to hunker down with an episode or two of Hoarders again. It's all a matter of degree, and that show keeps me honest. 

So here's a recap of my time away. First up was Nanaimo and WordStorm. Cindy and Peter hosted us lovingly, as you can see by this beautiful beverage complete with chocolate that we had after dinner the night we arrived.

WordStorm's new venue is the Rendezvous Restaurant. It has good food and a great performance space. Here's Cindy Shantz, one of the organizers.

Winona Baker at the open mic part of the evening. I've been reading her book, Flesh in the Inkwell: poems from a writer's life. Knew some of her work in haiku, but these are longer poems, and such stories she tells. I'm still haunted by one about her mother who threw herself on the ground over and over when she discovered she was pregnant again. 

Ursula Vaira read from her new book, And See What Happens, which contains three long poems that explore the ramifications of putting oneself in challenging situations; in Ursula's case, a thousand-mile paddle from Hazelton to Victoria and a kayak trip around the treacherous northern tip of Vancouver Island. 

Lisa Shatzky read from her new book, Do Not Call Me By My Name, an often harrowing telling of some of the stories gleaned from her work around as a trauma therapist with people who have suffered directly or indirectly because of residential schools.  

The end of her poem, The Elders, says it all.

When you take away 
a people's children, 
the elders lose their stories. 

With this collection of poems some of the stories are coming back.

 I read some poems, too.
 So did David Fraser.
 Next up was Victoria where I got to meet Lyra, a lovely new member of the family. 
 Then it was off to Val's for our annual Georgette's reunion of some poets who met and bonded at the Victoria School of Writing in 2005. This year we started with some genuine excitement — Kim Clark got to open a box containing her first book, a collection of stories called Attemptations. It's a brave and funny read that's not probably not like anything you've read before. 

Lenora came up from California so as not to miss out on the fun. And what a great weekend it was. We read and critiqued each other's work in the mornings and wrote new stuff in the afternoons (thanks to George's gentle prompting). Evenings were devoted to eating (everyone swooned over Jean's spinach and pear soup) and drinking wine. Some things never change. 
 Here's most of us (next time we'll coordinate the group picture before anyone leaves).
And that's it for this time. I'll be posting about Anne DeGrace's book launch next, soon as I upload the pictures from my camera. 

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