On Friday I packed a few things and drove through the warming greening Slocan Valley to New Denver where I spent the weekend at a beautiful retreat and conference centre, Heart's Rest. This particular event was Convergence Writers' Retreat: Writing for Social Justice. Tom Wayman, who recently launched his latest poetry collection, Dirty Snow, my old friend Judy Wapp, who I got to know in Tom's 1991 writing course in Nelson (where I also met my husband of 15 years this week!) and Verna Relkoff, wonderful writing instructor and agent at Morty Mint's Literary Agency in Nelson, led workshops that explored some of the ways of getting your point across, including the rant, writing with humour and how best to reach your audience. We were fed and informed and some of us got to share our writing on Sunday afternoon at the coffeehouse. Here are a few pictures.
Oh, before I forget, I'm the Monday's Poem person over at Leaf Press this week. Here's the link. Big thanks to Leaf editor, Ursula Vaira, for all you do for poetry.
Now those pictures from the weekend.
|Sean Arthur Joyce who talked about poetry and politics and was instrumental in planning the conference.|
|Keith Wiley and Cynthia McCallum Miller, listening. Everyone was listening|
|Keith brought a great photo-op prop. If you have a chance, go see the documentary, On the Line, about the proposed Enbridge pipeline. It's excellent.|
|Anne Champagne, another tireless volunteer who helped put the retreat together|
|Some of the delicious, colourful food that fed our bodies|
|Robert Banks Foster|
|Judy Wapp (orange top), Verna Relkoff and Tom Wayman, the three workshop facilitators|
|Therese DesCamp and George Meier of Heart's Rest.|
|Jennifer Rebbetoy working on her rant|
|Dominique Fraissard played several of his songs that pertain to social justice at the coffeehouse on Sunday. I'm listening to him right now and he's really good!|
|Jenny Crakes reading from a short story|
|Bonus! A Stuart Ross sighting (okay, and beering) in New Denver, where he's been instilling the joy of poetry in school kids. He's an honorary Kootenay citizen, for sure.|
When I signed up for this weekend and was asked to send along 10 pages of my writing that had to do with social justice issues, I was amazed at how quickly I found poems that fit. I realized that The Quilt, the first poem I ever had published by someone who didn't know me, in Room of One's Own back in 1999, qualifies. It's about friends who died of AIDS.
Here's one of mine about asbestos. You know, that deadly stuff we can't use in Canada any more because it'll kill you but we still mine it to export to other countries. Here's a link to some news stories that relate. Chrysotile is the white, fibrous form of asbestos.
This poem is published in The New Orphic Review, spring 2012 issue in which I'm the featured poet. An earlier version appeared in the September–December 2011 issue Verse Afire, the tri-annual little magazine of The Ontario Poetry Society, an organization I, from my distant vantage point in BC, belong to as I still, for my sins, have an incredible soft spot for Ontario. The focus for this particular issue was the environment and I wrote the poem with that in mind, sent it off, then kind of forgot about it (do other poets out there do this?) so when it arrived in the mail and I read the poem it was kind of like running into an old friend you haven't seen for a while.
What's Best For Us
Chrysotile sounds like
a semi-precious stone
an island off the coast of South America
the name of an exotic dancer
and in a way it is
the way it skips
on the edge of breath
to unsuspecting lungs
where it clings like a pole dancer
in tights adorned with feathers
while suits in the audience
quaff drinks, count money
convinced they know
what’s best for us
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Linda Crosfield