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Saturday, December 29, 2012


To quote Andreas Gripp, a well known London, Ontario poet who summarized Stella Mazur Preda's newest book,  "The Fourth Dimension".

"Stella Mazur Preda bridges the phantom chasm to The Fourth Dimension - and in it the readers meets the author's penchant for colourful description and scenes enhanced with multiple metaphors.  The images from the natural world and the thoughts conveyed by the human narrrative are rich, relentless and rewarding.  Emanating vibrancy that is always accessible, the poems in this long-awaited collection are loaded with lines that convey the author's literary craftsmanship and her experience with the subjects about which she writes.  A poet attuned to the sounds and sights of her world - and ours."

-  Andreas Gripp, author of The Apostasy of Daylight.

My review:

I particularly liked "Remnants of Home" which speaks of the poet's early days when her family began their new life in Toronto after immigrating to Canada.

The second verse;

"Mama sang as she cooked and baked;
aroma of warm bread seeping from the oven
obliterating dad's acrid cigarettes."

This poem, in particular spoke to me and reminded me of my own childhood where the smell of homemade baking filled my nostrils, and made my mouth water.

This poem also evokes a different time in Canadian life, a time when many mothers stayed home and husbands went to work.

Another poem which also spoke to me was "A Winter Retreat"  where the poet talks about an aimless walk in the forest.

"Woodland friends
from their hidden burrows;

A small sample of this poet's lovely work as published in this, her second book.

Online Purchase:All of our online purchases are made through our affiliate The Book Band. George and Trudi Down, both book lovers and published poets, operate The Book Band, a company devoted to promoting and marketing small publishers.

If you wish to make payment with a credit card, please place your order with The Book Band:
The Book Band,
1900 King St. East, P.O. Box 69001, Hamilton ON L8K 6R4

Email address:

Phone: (905) 545-5274 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (905) 545-5274 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (905) 545-5274 FREE



Friday, December 14, 2012

WILMA SEVILLE - Radio interview

What an interesting experience that was.  I have interviewed people from professors to politicians but have never been on the radio myself.

There were some technical problems in the beginning of the show but Mehdi, the technicians managed to get things straightened out.  It is a co-op radio in Vancouver, B.C. which is 3,000 miles from here.  The equipment is old but still functions.

I find it amazing how technology allows people to communicate from all corners of the world.  Apparently this show is heard in 40 different countries and gets about 1500 hits a day.

All in all, a positive experience.  My slot is near the beginning of the hour which was very considerate of the hosts as it was late here (after midnight).  I used my limited skills in Spanish which I enjoyed very much as I haven't spoken Spanish for many years.

If you would care to hear the radio show, please go to:

Click on the radio show for Dec. 11th, enjoy the music and I hope you will enjoy hearing what I have to say.  If you can, try to listen to near the end of the show, there is a young man talking through his poetry about bi-polar disease.  I thought he was marvelous.

Thanks for dropping by. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Why Teach Parsing to Grade Schoolers
If there were no more adverbs, no more places, times, circumstances,
If there were no more adjectives, qualifiers, modifiers,
If there were no nouns, names, lists, categories,
If there were no pronouns, replacements, persons,
If there were no syntax, arrangements, calculations, reasons,
There would be no board meetings, parliaments, arguments with lovers,
There would be no novels, histories, cook books, telephone directories,
There would be no schools, Dow-Jones average, film at eleven,
We would not know that 325 blackflies in the bush
Land on a square foot of cloth in a minute in June;
We would not know we are different from each other,
I am not you, you are not who;
We would thieve to get, kill to eat, spend the day
Finding a safe night’s rest;
We would not notice childhood slip away,
Nor count the mileposts toward our deaths;
We would not know we are dying, until
the sudden crunch of jaws through neck;
But, there are parts of speech....

Friday, December 7, 2012




Author:   Robert F. Nielsen.

Published by Potlatch Publications, the cover of this book has a picture of a young man in hockey gear sitting with his hand on his chin, looking somewhat discouraged. It is a very appropriate cover for this publication.

As I read on, I found myself in great sympathy with the author and emphasized with him as he stumbled his way through all the "manly" sports that so many of our Canadian lads and gals are expected to be good at.

I particularly enjoyed his sense of humour and at many points in this delightful book, he had me laughing as I read on.

A good read, especially for a young person who may not be particularly skillful on the sports field.  It will certain lift up the young person's feeling of self-esteem knowing that he/she is not alone.


Online Purchase:
All of our online purchases are made through our affiliate The Book Band. George and Trudi Down, both book lovers and published poets, operate The Book Band, a company devoted to promoting and marketing small publishers.
If you wish to make payment with a credit card, please place your order with The Book Band:
The Book Band,
1900 King St. East, P.O. Box 69001, Hamilton ON L8K 6R4
Email address:
Phone: (905) 545-5274 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (905) 545-5274 FREE

Friday, November 23, 2012


The David Macdonald Lounge
Resting by the fire in a high back chair
     drinking in the peaceful atmosphere
          enjoying quiet time away from home
Queen Elizabeth, in regal robes
     gazes serenely over the lounge
          fire blazes cheerily in the hearth 
Leather sofas with matching chairs skirt the walls
     and a pair of striped high backs, like sentinels       
          guard the portrait of the Queen
Scenic paintings, tastefully displayed
     grace the golden walls on which they hang      
          lamps and hanging lanterns gently glow
Navy blue carpet, yellow flowers peeking through
     muted soft light streams through high windows
          add notes of sunny warmth to my lovely stay


Originally published by the Hamilton Club magazine 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012


Dear Mommy,
I answered the phone and it was you
it was so good to hear your voice
we chatted for a long time
at the end you thanked me for calling you.
I cried for hours, tears wetting my pillow
I knew my suspicions were well founded
that all was not right with you.
My happiness shattered into little slivers
as I realized the demon dementia had set in
to rob me of the only mother I ever knew.
Years passed, letters flew back and forth from Dad
your input only shown by a shaky signature at the bottom
my telephone calls never reached you personally.
On that fall day, forever stamped in my mind
I tore open a letter from ”home” and learned of your death and burial.
For twenty-five years you’ve been gone
it’s time I wrote this letter poem for you, dear Mommy
to show the world how much you meant to me.
Your kindness and sweetness were my shield
against the arrows shot by fate  
you taught me, by example, to keep on going.
You are still within my mind, guiding me
your womanly grace, all wrapped up in a small frame.
I thank you for your wisdom and your love
which has stood the test of time.
Copyright©Wilma Seville2012

Editor's note:  When I was in my early thirities, I sent a letter to my parents telling them how much I appreciated their good care and told them what a good job they had done.  I have always been so grateful that I did that as life can take some strange turns.  As one ages, ones reflects back on one's life and appreciates all the good people who have influenced one's life.











Wednesday, November 14, 2012



Speaking Out
Raising the voice to speak against injustice
puts the speaker on a path of collision
from those who vehemently oppose their ideas.

One young blogger, Malala, dared to do so
speaking out about life in the Swat Valley
the need for girls to be educated.

Pakistan and the world has taken note
of the attempted murder of this girl
yet where was the outcry when many Malalas
Ayeshas, Ahmads and Bilals were killed by drones?

Who spoke up for them on the world stage?

People like you and me, living out their lives
their existence snuffed out by unpiloted drones
hope of their families, cut down where they stood. 

Injustice is a blight upon humankind
those who perpetrate it will be judged harshly
in the history books of future generations.
People who want harmony and peace
mothers, father, sons and daughters
young and old, let us work together
to eradicate injustices.

Originally published by Conrad Diodato and also by The Ambition Newspaper.

Thursday, November 1, 2012



Big Smoke Blues


new poems by Raymond Souster




An Introduction



         No one has written more lovingly, nor more honestly, about Toronto than Raymond Souster. Over the past 65 years in book after book, Toronto has been a major theme in Souster’s work. Now in his 90th year, this work continues with Big Smoke Blues.


         Souster is the last active member of Canada’s great Modernist poets, a group born between 1916 and 1926. As always, his life and work are sustained by three pillars: his love for his wife Rosalia, his Christian faith, and his confidence in the power of sharp and decisive poetry. In Big Smoke Blues, Souster explores the role of memory in deepening his understanding of the world and of his place within it. The collection closes with the lines:


                                     for the rest of my days

                                     past memories like this

                                     will continue

                                     to wash over

                                     the shores of memory.


And indeed, these poems reflect on the people, neighbourhoods, and places of old Toronto.


         Literary and historical figures abound — Milton Acorn, Margaret Avison, Gwendolyn MacEwen, and Robert Weaver mingle with figures like William J. Stewart, Archibald Lampman, John Graves Simcoe, and the United Empire Loyalists. All are treated with sympathy and honesty. Much has been made of Souster’s “ironic vision” by Robert Billings and others. I prefer to talk about humour and affirmation. There is little bitterness in Souster’s poetry — instead one finds compassion. This is especially true when the poet deals with troubled friends such as Acorn or MacEwen. He remembers Milton Acorn leaving his cheque on the floor of Grossman’s Tavern following the ceremony in which he received the title “The Peoples’ Poet” and he expresses a deep sense of loss at the untimely death of Gwen MacEwen.


         In general, the tone of these poems is one of quiet meditation. Food is remembered fondly, its sensuousness vividly portrayed in his mother’s baked apples with brown sugar, his mother-in-law’s polenta in chicken gravy, or his wife’s chili. Even bread pudding assumes a simple nobility.



         The Junction District, Kensington Market, Toronto Islands, and Gerrard Street East are brought into focus, and readers see that in these neighbourhoods the past still lives today. Certainly the ethnic composition of Kensington has greatly changed, but it remains a microcosm of Toronto, a city in which a hundred tongues speak out as one.


         Following William Carlos Williams, Souster realizes the power of a poetry rooted in place. Some of these places are gone: the Bohemian Embassy, the Village Bookstore, Pages Books, and Robert Simpson’s Department Store. But others are still vital parts of Toronto: Christie Pits, the C.N.E., Grenadier Pond, Wards Island, and Vesuvio’s Pizzeria & Spaghetti House.


         Souster is no Pollyanna. He sings no song of innocence in which his youth was only delightful days when Mr. Peanut would visit Runnymede Public School. He also remembers the Depression when Chinese restaurants would offer a full-course meal for a quarter. Like Carl Sandburg writing of his beloved Chicago, Souster tells the whole story, and with affection.


         Souster’s Toronto often starts in his backyard on Baby Point Road. Here his aged mulberry tree plays host to crows, juncos, starlings, and squirrels. Here also are his walks along the nearby Humber River, with its parks, opossums, and the occasional urbanized red fox. The Humber River valley is the setting for one of a handful of love poems to Rosalia, “Humber Afternoon”. Another poem that displays his unfading love is “For a 62nd Anniversary”.


         Social issues are in no way lacking. There are poems dealing with homelessness and the need for proper social housing, the trap of current welfare laws, and the ever-increasing level of crime, especially youth and street gang violence. So the poet writes:



                                     and shooting-ups

                                     feed the continuous

                                     nervous pulse

                                     of the city’s heartland.



There are many poems in Big Smoke Blues lamenting the prevalence of American-style street crime in what was once Toronto the Good, a problem neither the politicians nor the police seem competent to address.


         Despite the decay of civil society, something of value endures. While old Tory Ontario is lost in the past, neighbourhoods survive. Although The Boat Portuguese restaurant has closed, other restaurants (some Portuguese) have opened in Kensington Market. And Wards Island is still a charming village for poets just as it was at the time when Milton Acorn and Gwendolyn MacEwen lived there.


         Unlike his prior collections, Souster now offers five poems concerning his Christian faith. In “This Man of April” he affirms the presence of Jesus within our lives in this Easter meditation:


                                     This Man of April

                                     lives here

                                     with us still


The poet states in “At Peace” that he has found solace in the arms of Jesus:


                                     he’s found peace

                                     nestled in

                                     to his saviour’s

                                     all compassionate grace.


In this poem, and throughout the book as a whole, Souster habitually refers to himself in the third person.


         Souster is a member of Runnymede United Church. One of the few politicians he admires, William J. Stewart, was also in Runnymede’s congregation. In fact, Souster attended Sunday School with Stewart’s son. Stewart served as Toronto’s mayor during the Depression, and the poet praises his co-religionist for displaying “good common sense”.


            Readers will notice a distinct paucity of visual images. There is nothing like


                                     Rain-whipped leaf-ruin,

                                     dying green-yellows,

                                     already dead-crackling browns


in Big Smoke Blues. This is because Souster has gone blind and can no longer see the subjects of his poems. But his lack of vision is compensated for by the vitality and redemptive quality of his memory.


         While most of these poems are set in the Toronto Souster has personally known for nine decades, history does appear in the form of John Graves Simcoe and the United Empire Loyalists. The Loyalists were the English-speaking founders of what we know today as Ontario. Souster observes that while they were the “cursed traitors” of the United States, they were Canada’s “steadfast, unsung heroes.” Governor Simcoe (1752-1806) and his wife left behind


                                     such goodwill

                                     that a lake,

                                     a town, and a street

                                     still bear their name.


Simcoe’s vision of a common sense alternative to the United States has not worked out as planned. The present Americanization of our culture is, perhaps, an unintended consequence of the consumption of American culture, such as the poetry of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, and Charles Olson. No one person is to blame, of course. Canada had the unfortunate fate to share a continent with a nation ten times as powerful and ten times as committed to the notion of progress. Progress was the flavour of the 20th century. But, as Souster suggests, Archibald Lampman would have grown to curse the 20th century


                                     with every fibre

                                     of his fragile body

                                     had our great poet

                                     been destined

                                     to survive.



         Big Smoke Blues closes with a section dealing with old age, illness, and mortality. Few poets take up these concerns, as common as they unfortunately are. Raymond Souster, however, is a brave poet who ducks no topic, not even pain and his own frail and failing body. While some people speak of “dying with dignity”, all too few speak of living with dignity. These final poems, humane and with a seriousness softened by humour, written while in hospital and rehab centre, are a most welcome addition to Canadian literature. Our culture and our lives are enriched by this book.



                                                                                                       James Deahl


                                                                                                       September, 2010

Monday, October 29, 2012


Norma West Linder and James Deahl came to Hamilton to have a joint book launch of their latest books.

It was a very cozy affair, held in Artword/Artbar on Colbourne Street. For those unfamiliar with this very attractive venue and the lovely people who run it, please google Artword/Artbar in Hamilton, Ontario. Judith and Ron are super hosts and always are welcoming to their guests. They hold poetry readings, musical events and live plays there and good wholesome food is available at reasonable prices.

The weather was not very welcoming, unfortunately, with sheets of rain pouring from the overcast skies but this did not damper the good will and happiness of those who braved the elements.

Norma West Linder read from her latest book Adder's Tongue first which was very appreciated by the people present. To learn more about this prolific writer, please google her name on a search engine. She has been writing for forty years.

Michael Mirolla of Guernica Editions also enthralled the audience with reading from
James Deahl rounded off the afternoon with readings from his book North of Belleville, a beautiful book of both poetry and photographs. It was a pleasure to hear him perform again.

The afternoon finished at approximaely 5 p.m. and some returned to Sarnia, some to Toronto but the majority went to their homes in Hamilton.

Judith - joint owner of ArtWord/Artbar

James Deahl

Norma West Linder
Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla


All in all, a very cozy and wonderful afternoon. Several people remarked about it being so wonderful to have poetry readings once again in the afternoons at Artword/Artbar.

Thanks for dropping by and please come by again when you have the time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Raymond Souster


          January 15,1921 – October 19, 2012



Raymond Holmes Souster, OC, was the true bard of Toronto, the city where, aside from service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, he spent his entire ninety-one years, never far from his beloved Humber River. No other poet has written so deeply about the Queen City.


          Souster began publishing poetry at the age of twenty-one. Since turning ninety-one he has brought out two full-size books of new work: Easy Does It and Never Counting the Cost. Never a slacker, he wrote his final poem on October 5, 2012, a mere two weeks before the end. His death brought to a close a remarkable seventy year publishing career.


          He was the last active member of the Great Generation of Canadian poets that included, among others, P.K. Page, Margaret Avison, Louis Dudek, Al Purdy, Eli Mandel, Milton Acorn, James Reaney, and Anne Szumigalski. Souster won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1964 (for The Colour of the Times), was presented with Canada’s Centennial Medal in 1967, won the City of Toronto Book Award in 1979 (for Hanging In), and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1995. He was a founder of the League of Canadian Poets and served as LCP President from 1967 to 1971.


          During the 1950s, he edited first Contact and later Combustion, the foremost Canadian poetry magazines of their day. With Louis Dudek and Irving Layton he also ran Contact Press for fifteen years (1952 – 1967), which published initial books by many of Canada’s most important contemporary poets. For several years Souster hosted dozens of poetry readings in Toronto, bringing to Canada such major writers as Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and other members of the so-called Black Mountain School.


          Between 1945 and 2012 he published two novels (one a bestseller) and at least fifty-nine collections of original poetry. He also edited or co-edited ten volumes of Canadian poetry and, with the late Richard Woollatt, four Canadian literary textbooks for use in Ontario schools. Through his textbooks as well as volumes like 100 Poems of Nineteenth-Century Canada, Comfort of the Fields, Vapour and Blue, Powassan’s Drum, and Windflower, Souster established himself as a leading expert on the poetry of Archibald Lampman, William Wilfred Campbell, Duncan Campbell Scott, and Bliss Carman. These books also introduced the Confederation Poets to readers in the last half of the 20th century.


          He poetry tended to fall into five main subject areas: love poems to his wife of many decades, Rosalia; nature poems, often set in the Humberside area of Toronto, especially in the Humber River valley; poems dealing with political and current events, usually from a leftist perspective; the bravery of soldiers and the horrors of war; and his Christian faith, he was a member of the United Church. In the years following World War II no one did more to introduce Modernism to Canadian readers. His poetry is among the very finest ever written in this “snow-eyed country” he so loved. It forms a lasting legacy.


          Both Donna Dunlop, his personal secretary and executrix, and I know that Ray had no use for obituaries. In his view, the personal details of a poet’s life are unimportant. It is only the gift that counts, not the giver. But I cannot let it go at that.


          I was blessed to have been Raymond Souster’s friend for the last three decades of his life. We first met when he was working at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and I for Maclean Hunter (we were both number crunchers), and we sometimes got together for lunch. Later there were annual poetry afternoons in his backyard on Baby Point. In terms of human courage, honesty, compassion, and devotion to family and church, Souster led a life that was pure inspiration to all who were fortunate to know him. He spent more time editing, publishing, and promoting the work of other writers than he gave to his own poetry. In short, he was the most decent, generous, modest man I have ever known. And, as the final member of the Great Generation, the passing of this fine poet closes an extraordinary era of Canadian literature.


          Souster is survived by his wife Rosalia.



                                                            by James Deahl

Monday, October 8, 2012


Dodge the Hands


sunrise to full moon

a gauntlet from the start


from every mode of fashion


he panders “Buddy,

you gotta listen to my story”

as if from a ‘how to’ manual

for panhandler success

to empathy and sympathy


fifty cents or five bucks

I need booze,


I mean a coffee

food and shelter


too late

the alternate need

is exposed in the open


I reply in honesty


you got 700.00 dollars

as I need four new tires

for my car?”