Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jeffery Donaldson's Echo Soundings

An excerpt from Jeffery Donaldson's Echo Soundings: essays on poetry and poetics appeared in The Puritan (issue 26).

Read the entire excerpt here:

"I have no idea what poems are. I feel an odd double-take when I see one on the page. The way it simply assumes itself. How absurd, how extravagant. What is it doing there? Like a frog on a lily pad, blinking. Like a child it stands before you—ready, curious, expectant—without the least worry of what it means that it should be. Of course I am, say the eyes of the child. What else would I be? The innocent audacity of simply existing.

Pick up a stick from the imagined beach you are now standing on, and draw a circle with it in the sand. Now lay the stick down inside the circle. What the heck is that? I can’t figure it out. I want to protest. I want to laugh. The stick is just a stick; it existed before now, and now there it is inside a circle. Before there was nothing, and now there is a circle with a stick inside it, a shape and a content. Or take a further step; pick up another stick and lay it down somewhere else on the sand: all on its own, a shape and a content. You took a thing that was over there and you put it over here in this new place, a place that is new because a stick was put there. Poets spend their lifetime trying to get it right just once, laying the stick down in the sand, just so."

The book can be pre-ordered here:

Friday, August 29, 2014

September Palimpsest Readings

This September:

Ariel Gordon
September 9-12, 2014. Under Western Skies Conference. Calgary, AB.

Blair Trewartha
September 20, 2014. Village Bookshop. Bayfield, ON. 

Kate Braid
September 25, 2014. Wood and Words Book Tour. Hornby Island, BC.
September 26, 2014. Wood and Words Book Tour at Planet Earth Poetry. Victoria, BC.
September 29, 2014. Wood and Words Book Tour. Pender Island, BC.
September 30, 2014. Wood and Words Book Tour at Wordstorm. Nanaimo, BC.

Yvonne Blomer
September 18, 2014. Hornby Island, BC
September 28, 2014. Word Vancouver. Vancouver, BC. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Boblo poem in anthology

My poem "Boblo" appeared in Whisky Sour City (Black Moss Press, 2013). Just getting around to posting it now. The link to buy the anthology is Of course, it can be bought through Amazon or Indigo, if one so desires.

Publisher's description:
"Sex, love, alcohol and pollution are on tap within these pages. Whisky Sour City is a collection of poetry written by people who have experienced both the sour and the sweet of Windsor, Ontario."


Rumor has it the island is cursed,
the owners gone bankrupt and then swiftly struck dead.

Of that, I cannot say, but what I do know
is the French fries are small pellets that swell when immersed in oil,

the woman supposed to be running the carousel swings
is down at the docks fucking a rich American,

and my boozy boss keeps offering me shots of vodka. 
He wants me drunk for all the usual reasons, but I never do.

After many slurred lures, I unlock my ten-speed and pedal home.
Desire—that cagey, crazy-making thing

I never understood—eventually takes hold.
Like Bacchus or Baudelaire or the carousel swings girl,

I soon became aware of appetites that were longingly hard
to fulfil. I slip into the borders, the paradoxes

of casual intimacy, of melancholic passion.
Rumour has it I am cursed. The kind of woman

you treat well for a short time, the kind you want
your buddy to hook-up with after his girlfriend dumps him.

Of that, I cannot say, but what I do know
is I get a lot of free drinks when I never ask for them,

that certain men expect they will take me home
when we flirt all night. I never do when they are sure of it.

I wear silk lingerie at night, my chest and neck bloom
with heat. It is summer, I sweat the sugar of lemons,

once again walk the silvery sun-drenched platform of the Corkscrew,
drinking lemonade, dumb with heat. Hornets grow furious.

Lilacs wilt. Across the river, fields of corn are scorched.
They will be harvested late this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Hopeful Misanthrope

Despite a diagnosis of bi-polar in 2008 and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 2011, I feel more hopeful than I ever have. I have always been very private about my health, or lack thereof, and yet recent discussions in the media about depression and struggles with disease has led me to speak openly for the first time about my own plight. I was afraid that people would judge, see me as damaged, or worse—pity me. Over the past couple of years I have told a few people, and been pleasantly surprised by their understanding and compassion. A friend of mine, who had breast cancer, told me that she felt compelled to tell everyone about defeating her disease because she was proud of herself. It makes sense, really, to want to share such achievement. But I have never felt pride or accomplishment. Mostly, I feel a reprieve.
In my mid-twenties it must have seemed as though I had a good life. Fresh out of university with a Master’s Degree—I started my own publishing company, pursuing my passion, while also having a paying job, a husband that loved me, and a charming split-level ranch in a quiet neighbourhood. What was there to be sad about? Logically— nothing. And yet I felt this overwhelming despair, that at times, bordered on panic. The kind that grips you so hard that you struggle to breathe. It is difficult to explain what sent me spiralling down—perhaps it was smaller episodes that had a cascading effect, perhaps it was my sometimes sullen personality breaking through—there have, in fact, been many episodes in my life that afterwards have left me thinking, “what just happened?” In retrospect, some of them are comical, but others decidedly dangerous. Perhaps one day I will explore these more and write about them as I can. But for whatever reason, in the summer of 2002, I quite my job and, for a while, I checked out of living. I no longer did the simplest of things, like changing my clothes or brushing my hair. I slept most of the day. I would drag myself out of bed around six o’clock, and say hello to my husband who would make some sarcastic remark about how easy my life was after noticing I failed to make dinner yet again. Then I’d go back to bed. All I wanted to do was sleep. Then five months later, I came out of it as miraculously as I went in. I have no clear idea what sunk me or what pulled me out. It wasn’t until later that I realized what a terrible state I had been in: insomnia, migraines, loss of appetite, migrating aches and pains, hopelessness, confusion, and a fatigue like I have never felt before. And yet, after my diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, I felt sorry for myself for a few days and then I was fine. It wasn’t denial. I understood what I had. There was a point where I could barely walk, my leg kept giving out from under me, both my legs and up into my pelvis were tingling with pins and needles, and my arms and hands were completely numb. For days, I would jab a fork into my forearm, scared yet fascinated by the fact that I felt absolutely nothing. The symptoms would go away, sometimes for months, but they always came back, again and again. And then finally…after years, finally I had answers. Now I knew. I knew that any given day I could wake up blind or unable to walk, and there was nothing I could do about it. There is no point stressing about things that I have no control over, which has been the most challenging part, that life will happen to me and I have to accept it. There is a feeling of sadness and loss that comes with that acceptance, and yet I know I can manage this sadness. I instead focus on what is still in my control: I exercise when I don’t feel like it, take my dogs for walks, chug down kale smoothies, take vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids, and see my therapist on a regular basis. Perhaps because I have felt the weight of depression, the loneliness and futility of day-to-day living, I fear that downward spiral more than anything else.
That is the thing with depression—the disease has nothing to do with circumstance. We are meant to feel grief when tragic losses happen, but in 2002 I had every reason to be happy, or in the very least content, and yet I was consumed with an intense darkness. And now, in 2014, after a diagnosis of MS, I have as good a reason as any to feel hopeless. And yet, despite a lack of order and control, I feel fulfillment. I am aware of my limitations, that if I walk too much or push my body too hard I can have set backs, that my leg will temporarily give me grief, that sometimes I twitch and limp and stumble. I know that I cannot do what I use to do with any amount of ease. And those limitations have necessitated change—moving to a single level ranch and selling my publishing business—but by reducing stress, and demands on my time, I have been able to prioritize experience. I fulfilled a life-long goal of getting my SCUBA certification, swimming with sharks in Florida. I also published my first poetry collection, travelling with my family on a mini book tour, which jointly served as a whale-watching trip to British Columbia. I have many reasons to be grateful, to feel hopeful, and yet am keenly aware that it may go away at any moment. That our time is brief, good health ephemeral. And for a reclusive introvert, I have begrudgingly realized that relationship to others may be the key to ensuring I stay healthy longer while keeping depression at bay. I have forgiven for its own sake, learned to be more tolerate, and at the same time, I am acquiring the skills to be my own champion, to better express my needs. I have tried to open myself to opportunity, and for someone crippled by anxiety, this has been no small feat. I take my successes as they come—whether that is navigating public transit or introducing myself to a stranger—things that I find both difficult and exhausting. I doubt I will ever be “good” at social interaction—people can overwhelm me, I say the wrong things at the wrong times, I am easily wounded, and drink when I feel anxiety. I also know there is a family history of mental illness. I am adopted, but found out that many of my biological relations suffer from depression and bi-polar, my maternal grandmother having committed suicide. Yet, despite my genetics and sullen disposition, I have a support system and a will to stay healthy. I keep to myself and the idea of being dependent on others is terrifying. Over the past couple of years, however, I had no choice but to rely on people. Learning how to trust is something I am still working on—to trust doctors to have my best interests in mind, trust family and friends not to judge me, and trust strangers to treat me with respect. I’ll never be that person who goes to weekly meetings or talks on the phone for hours, crying to a friend, but I now value, more than ever, the relationships I have. If my struggles have taught me anything, it is that I need to be more open. Writing this is a step forward.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Shark Logo

I created this logo for a shark conservation group. Those of you who know me, know that I LOVE sharks, so this was a thrill! The White Shark Interest Group and White Shark Advocacy, founded by Dr. Dirk Schmidt, are aimed at educating the public and protecting this apex predator.

Twitter: (account renamed from whitesharkig to)
Tumblr blog: