Sunday, November 05, 2017



Friday night an all but standing room only crowd gathered at Nelson BC's Oxygen Art Centre to bid a fond farewell to Ernest Hekkanen's and Margrith Schraner's lit mag, The New Orphic Review. The NOR began in 1998 in Vancouver. After Ernest and Margrith moved to Nelson three years later, they continued to publish it out of their home/gallery on Mill Street. Two issues a year for twenty years. Scores of writers. So very many words. Writing in the NOR has appeared in a Best American Mystery Stories anthology and twice in Journey Prize anthologies.

I've blogged about the NOR and/or Ernest, it's Editor-in-Chief, quite a few times. Unfortunately I wasn't blogging yet when I attended a Federation of BC Writers' workshop in Kaslo one year when Ernest showed attendees how to construct a book. He was well suited to present the workshop as text blocks of early editions of the NOR were hand sewn and the covers glued on, by Ernest. I was just starting to delve into the ins and outs of bookmaking myself, and that workshop was invaluable to me.

In 2011 I blogged about one of his book launches, in May of 2013 I wrote about the NOR's 16th Birthday party where nine of us read, and in August of 2016 there was another gathering of writers, this time to support the NOR after Ernest's computer got hacked.

Here are a few photos from Friday.

Bobbie Ogletree and Susan Andrews Grace with the big smiles. Verna Relkoff is there, too, and Jude Schmitz and others. Margrith's red hair is a beacon at the book table.
Over the years I've been published in the NOR four times. I am forever grateful as it's always nice to read out of something resembling a book and my poems that have wound up in the NOR are ones I enjoy reading. In the spring of 2012 I was the featured poet. Several poems were published in that issue, as well as a short essay about my relationship with poetry. 
The man of the hour was sporting a medal of distinction he'd just received from Finland!  
As well as being published in the NOR, Margrith Schraner was its Associate and Copy editor. She read from her essay about the NOR's history that was published in the last issue. And now I'm agonizing now over whether "She read from her essay published in the last issue about the NOR's history" would be better. Or "She read about the history of the NOR from her essay that was published in the last issue". And you wonder why I don't blog much!
Bobbie Ogletree read from her creative non-fiction piece that explores her experience as a Jewish woman going to Germany to see her grandchildren.
Jude Schmitz read a mesmerizing braided essay that compared her experience of getting lost in an airport and winding up where she wasn't supposed to be with that of Robert Dziekański who essentially did the same thing and wound up dead.
The last reader was Barbara Curry Mulcahy. She read a delightful selection of poems about people at a cocktail party. 
In addition to his prowess as a writer, Ernest paints and carves. One year, at another Fed event, he donated as a door prize a gorgeous walking stick he'd carved. All (I think all; I don't actually have ALL of them to check) of the covers of the NOR sport images of paintings or collages he's done. Walls in the home he shares with Margrith are covered with his art. Will Johnson, a reporter for the Nelson News, posted several photos of Ernest's art here. (Will's article on the NOR can be found here.)

As always, there was a book table. As always, it did a brisk business.

Margrith got flowers from MC Tom Wayman.
Ernest Hekkanen
Thanks for everything, Ernest and Margrith, but it's not goodbye. I know we'll keep running into each other at all the readings and other literary events this area is famous for. Until then, keep your metaphorical pens moving and those keys tapping. I know you've both got lots more to say.


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