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Friday, May 23, 2014


New post on Kites Without Strings

Yikes, the Books have Arrived! Now what?

by d78hill
Copies of my first poetry book Tarnished Trophies arrived last Friday. The doorbell rang. I opened the door and on the step there they were: nicely stacked like flattened test tube babies in three boxes. Even the front cover image: Skater by Toronto artist Olena Kassian depicted a figure in a fetal position. Time for a celebration.
Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press 2014)
Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press 2014)
I had been waiting so long for this delivery: over three and a half years of hard labour. The mid-wife-middle-man-delivery-truck-driver didn't even want an autograph, I mean a signature. He left no instructions and there was no book tour manual in the boxes.
What does a first time author do? I grabbed my phone and made a few calls. Then I danced but not too long, preferring to conserve my energy for the days ahead.
Two days later, my book tour jitters began in Cobourg at The Ontario Poetry Society's Springtime Poetry Soiree. Below are some of the photo highlights:
What a special family....all these poet friends.
What a special family....all these poet friends reading and supporting each other during The Ontario Poetry Society's Springtime Poetry Soiree, Sunday, May 18, 2014 in Cobourg.
John Di Leonardo
John Di Leonardo
John Di Leonardo launches his chapbook "Book of Hours" (Beret Days Press, 2014)
John Di Leonardo launches his chapbook "Book of Hours" (Beret Days Press, 2014)
Debbie Okun Hill
Debbie Okun Hill
Debbie Okun Hill launches her book Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014)
Debbie Okun Hill launches her book Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014)
Bob McKenzie
Bob McKenzie
Bob McKenzie launches two books "Songrise" (Dark Matter Press, 2014) and "Spirit Creek"
Bob McKenzie launches two books "Songrise" (Dark Matter Press, 2014) and "Spirit Creek" (Dark Matter Press, 2014)
The poetic journey and book tour continues....

Friday, May 16, 2014


Armchair Hippie

I was an armchair hippie
During the war in ‘Nam.
I read Time and Life.
I cheered Ruban
And was awed by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert.
My hair was long.
I made peace symbols in the snow.
Inuits, back from school in the south,
Shared their hash with me.
Friends grew the weed
In grandma’s flower pot,
And made brownies during the darkless nights.
I protested pollution in the Northwest Territories,
And wrote to Trudeau;
And wrote words of wisdom:
I shot an arrow in the air
And it stayed there.
        Unwrap the parcel of water,
        Keep the stamps,
        And drink it.
Peal a million Balloons
And breath the fresh air.
Psychedelic man!
During my programmed holidays I bought music:
Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel,
Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd.
I dug it!
I wore bell bottoms, painted T-shirts,
Bought incense and black candles.
During the winter we would fondue
With wisps of smoke entwining our noses.
I was at Woodstock – in my head –
Sliding in the mud,
Number nine, number nine.
My stereo never stopped:
Country Joe and the Fish.
Far-out man!

Armchair Hippies – Sequel

As I age
Sitting in my armchair,
I think about the hippie sixties –
Much more than beads and drugs,
A time of great psychic change.

The revolution saved thousand of lives –
Stopping the dissolute war in Nam.

Ecological consciousness shifted then –
Rachel Carson, energetic youth, we needed you
To escape from the ignorance of the fifties.

The church invoked power –
“Produce a baby a year.”
“Masturbation is a sin.”
“Women are subservient to men.”

Religion controlled our morals –
Dogma, rituals, rules, fear.
The sixties changed that.
Hippies discovered spirituality –
Sure, it started with drugs,
But it ended with meditation.

I’m thankful for them.
They cut the strings of oppression
And set us free.
Religion, as we know it, will die
A new world will evolve,
And it all started with the hippies
In the sixties.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I had the pleasure of listening to a talk given by author David Haskins yesterday evening on "How one book got born."  He was the guest speaker for this month's Lit Chat which is held in Central Library in down town Hamilton.

His style was very laid back and as I was sitting very close to him, I could hear him quite well.

He talked about the writing process,  collecting the writing together, selecting the publisher who you want to publish your work, doing drafts, researching, the art work needed and how it is in dealing with publishers. As I know his publisher as well, it was very interesting to me.

In my case, it  was particularly interesting to hear him talk about the contract, how to promote the work and how it can be distributed.

I learned a great deal from his topic and from follow up via email and I am most grateful to David for his insight into this difficult world of publishing.  It is a tough time for publishers right now as eBooks have become very popular for the younger generation.

Who knows, perhaps in due time, I may try to do an Ebook but first, I would like to do a regular book. I am still gathering up material to send to my publisher so it will be a very lengthy process.

David has such good knowledge and it was very well attended.  A very pleasant evening spent with compatible people.

Thanks for dropping by.


New post on Kites Without Strings

“It is Easy to Read Short Stories” or Is It?

by d78hill
Ask Toronto writer Carol Malyon and the narrator of one of her published stories.
Last Saturday during Sarnia’s Bluewater Readings Series, Malyon pulled an empty chair from the audience, sat down, got comfortable and joked about reading from her children’s picture book. She made the adults laugh and relax. As a novelist, poet, short story and children’s picture book writer Malyon has often shared her work on stage and with others. She knows how to hold an audience’s attention and she did.
“It is easy to read short stories,” she said reading the first line of “Pencils” a whimsical yet heart-wrenching story from her bookLovers & Other Strangers (The Porcupine’s Quill). “There are lots of them around. Some of them could be true; they could have happened already or be happening right now.”
In her story, the narrator touched on the act of strangers reading stories by others strangers. “You don’t know the author” she read.
          So how do writers feel about sharing their work?
Afterwards in a private dinner conversation, Malyon explained it isn’t easy for authors to find locations to read short fiction. “Poets are lucky. Most of the reading series and open mics in Toronto and other large centres tend to focus on poetry. Whenever, I have a chance to read my short stories, I grab it.”
Celebrating Out-of-Town and Local Talent
Celebrating Out-of-Town and Local Talent
Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading Series mixes both poetry and fiction as well as celebrates both local and out-of-town talent. Malyon was one of four writers spotlighted in May.
Another guest London poet Andreas Gripp launched his new poetry collection The Better Kiss and surprised the audience with a sneak peek at his ‘hot-off-the-press’ chapbook All Here Sail in a River of Light, a collaborative effort between Gripp and southern Ontario poet Katherine L. Gordon.
Quite the collection of books.
Quite the collection of books.
Sarnia writers Norma West Linder and James Deahllaunched their first poetic collaboration Two Paths Through the Seasons. (Read a review here.) Linder also read a short story from her book No Common Thread.
          For additional biographical information, see below:
James Deahl has been part of the national poetry scene for over 40 years and was a co-founder of Mekler and Deahl, a publishing company that produced 50 books for established and emerging writers. Now a Sarnia resident, he is the author of 22 books including his most recent work North Point (Hidden Brook Press), Rooms The Wind Makes (Guernica Editions), and North of Belleville (Hidden Brook Press).
James Deahl
James Deahl
He also edited In A Springtime Instant: The Selected Poems of Milton Acorn 1950 -1986 (Mosaic Press) and Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems For & About Raymond Souster (Quattro Books). Two Paths Through The Seasons: Poems by Norma West Linder and James Deahl (Cyclamens and Swords Publishing, Israel) is his first collaboration with Linder.
In addition to literary activities, he has taught creative writing and Canadian literature at the high school, college, and university levels and for several years has been a full-time writer/editor/translator. 
Andreas Gripp
Andreas Gripp
Andreas Gripp is the author of 18 books of poetry, includingThe Better Kiss (Harmonia Press, 2014) and Selected Poems 2000-2012 (Harmonia Press, 2013). He lives in London, Ontario and works in a used bookstoreVegetable gardening and nature walks are among his activities. Work by Andreas Gripp has recently appeared in What We Carry Home (Ascent Aspirations Anthology), Window Fishing: The night we caught Beatlemania, Under The Mulberry Tree: Poems For & About Raymond Souster, The Prairie Journal, and Quern: An Anthology of Contemporary Poets. He was shortlisted for theAcorn-Plantos Award for Peoples Poetry in 2010.
Norma West Linderis a prolific and award-winning Sarnia writer who taught Creative Writing and English at Lambton College for 24 years. A member of numerous national writing organizations and proficient in various genres, she is the author of five novels, 14  collections of poetry, a memoir of Manitoulin Island, a children’s book, a one-act play and a biography of Pauline McGibbon. Her poetry has been published in The Antigonish Review, FiddleheadWhite Wall ReviewRoom of One’s OwnQuillsTowards the Light, Prairie Journal, FreeFall MagazineR & M JournalMobius, and other periodicals.
Norma West Linder
Norma West Linder
Her latest work includes Adder’s-tongues: A Choice of Norma West Linder’s Poems 1969 –2011 (Aeolus House) and No Common Thread: The Selected Short Fiction of Norma West Linder (Hidden Brook Press).
Two Paths Through The Seasons: Poems by Norma West Linder and James Deahl (Cyclamens and Swords Publishing, Israel) is her first collaboration with Deahl.
Carol Malyon has written novels, short story collections, poetry books, and a children’s picture book. In her fiction, Malyon writes of women and their relationships with lovers, mothers, and children. She is interested in the fundamental and irreconcilable discord between men and women: their differing views of the world, of themselves, of others; and their disparate modes of communication.
Carol Malyon
Carol Malyon
Malyon has been writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, led fiction workshops at the Maritime Writers Workshop, and at Canadore College in North Bay, owned a book store (Beaches Book Shop), and worked in health research.
Her latest book, Griddle Talk, co-written by bill bissett, consists of 52 breakfast conversations at the Golden Griddle where they discuss “love and life and anything else you want.”
Carol Malyon lives in Toronto.
The Bluewater Reading Series is a new literary offering organized by Sarnia writers: James Deahl, Venero Fazio, Debbie Okun Hill, and Lynn Tait. This May reading was the second event in the 2014 season

Sunday, May 11, 2014



Never an instigator 
By Asma Warsi ©
(Inspired by the abduction of school girls in Nigeria by a so-called Islamist group, Boko Haram.)

Never an instigator 
nor involved in any conflict
yet the worst kind of persecution
upon her, they inflict.

From your habitat, your garden of love
they round you up to slay
crushing till you lose fragrance and colour
and your petals scatter away.

You’re forced to bear children of war
with broken dignity,
they leash out reign of terror on you
and disgrace you with impunity.

From Boko Haram to Balkans genocide
from World Wars to Holocaust
from religion to religion, land to land
you’re always punished, harassed.

You cry and wait for a savior
Who might end your misery
they say “never again,” after the fact
then always repeat history.

Bring back, our sisters, oh men of conscience
our daughters and mothers-to-be
let them bloom in their gardens
where they are supposed to be.

Asma Warsi May 11, 2014

Monday, May 5, 2014

Tower Poetry Poet Talk 2014

A Creative Synergy

By Eleanore Kosydar

Selections from annual TPS PoetryTALK

February 22, 2014

My theme for the 2014 TPS Poet Talk grew out of a question posed to me several years ago about poetry and natural areas. My husband Richard and I had just concluded a Hamilton Association public lecture, "Landscape Photography as Art." Our presentation was illustrated primarily with photographs by others, but we included a few of our own photographs of the Dundas Valley as well.

During the question period that followed, a young lady in the audience who was familiar with my interest in poetry, asked how poetry influences the way I see when walking in natural areas. Not previously having thought about this, I mumbled something inadequate about each influencing the other. Since then, I have often reflected on her intriguing question. This Poet Talk constitutes the background for the answer I would have liked to provide that evening.
Every poet experiences a unique personal journey with poetry. My particular path has been somewhat unusual in that I responded to purely visual "poetic" aspects of the natural world long before being drawn to pursue the poetry of language and words. From a young age, certain natural places seemed to fill me with a kind of thrilling visual rhythm built of colours, textures, contrasts and inevitable harmony. A photograph of Yosemite Falls in a magazine sparked a deep response that fueled some serious romantic dreaming in my teenage years (the sheer poetry of water falling!). Two years ago, I expressed in a poem some of what had captured my heart:
Landscape as PoetrySlender surge of joy
hurtling down
a granite
against the
dark grey cliff.
Among the world’s
highest, they say.
Among its best loved. . .
(ca. 2012)

Yosemite Falls (recent photo, courtesy Internet)
The rugged North Shore of Lake Superior, experienced frequently and "in the flesh," exerted an even stronger influence at that time:

Lake Superior (photo courtesy Mary S. Hendrix)
. . .
My young heart raced, too, at the sight
of “root beer” cascades pounding down
Superior’s rocky passageways
to union with the Great Lake. A marriage
of unremitting vigour to a larger power:
to grandeur, and periods of calm.
Distracted by Yosemite, I stumbled;
fell on slippery rocks along the shore.
Tore a cavernous gouge in my leg,
bled a warm cascade that led
to noticing the wound I had not felt.
The interplay of water and rock was central to my visceral response to each of these landscapes. Several years later, I also began to notice the beauty of individual trees. Some seemed to speak to me through their particular beauty of form, structure or shape; or perhaps their leaf colour or texture would capture my attention.
When Richard and I moved to Ancaster, Ontario in 1976, exploration of the rich diversity of nearby natural areas became a major focus for our free time. Rapidly, my repertoire of "poetic landscapes" expanded to include the steep-sided hills, deep ravines, woodlands, meadows, marshes and streams of the Dundas Valley.
Together, these various experiences from my youth to my mid-30s have led to a lifelong love of water, rock and trees.

Soon Richard and I were irresistibly drawn to photographing the natural beauty of the Dundas Valley. Hoping to capture on film something of what we encountered on our outings, our early photographs were a disappointment, dismally failing to do justice to the beauty we saw. Moreover, we wanted our photographs to be true to our aesthetic and emotional response to the landscapes we had come to love.
These goals in mind, we undertook an intensive study of the work of numerous outstanding landscape photographers, among them Ansel AdamsEliot Porter and Ernst Haas.

The process of learning to capture images that felt true to our aesthetic and emotional response to Valley landscapes spanned a few years. Gradually we began to notice more details, compositions and moods within a landscape, and to envision these elements at a wide range of scales, from panoramic overviews to close-up detail. At the same time, we were developing better technical and artistic photographic skills.

This became an interactive experience between ourselves and the landscapes we photographed. Selecting and framing compositions through a viewfinder allowed us to perceive more elements of beauty than previously caught our attention. In turn, the Valley seemed to show us more instances of exceptional "poetic" alignments of elements, as well as peak moments when light, shadow, atmospheric conditions, etc. conspired to lift a given landscape to an emotionally/ spiritually higher level.

In many ways, the process of photographing poetic elements in a landscape is similar to organizing words, images, sounds and thoughts into poetry. The main difference is that "poetry" within landscapes can't be imagined and manipulated by a photographer with the ease of a poet or painter, but must be discovered and then revealed.
The day came when Richard and I felt compelled to create a book celebrating the exceptional richness and variety of Dundas Valley landscapes. In 1989, we published the first of four colour photographic books, Natural Landscapes of the Dundas Valley. We each contributed photographs as well as written text for the project. I included in my sections a scattering of recently discovered poems that expressed feelings similar to what I felt about our experiences in natural areas. Two that particularly moved me were:
The natural world is a spiritual house, where the pillars, that are alive,
let slip at times some strangely garbled words;
Man walks there through forests of physical things that are also spiritual things,
that watch him with affectionate looks.

– Charles Baudelaire, from Intimate Associations (transl. by Robert Bly)

Wide-spread they stand, the Northland's dusky forests.
Ancient, mysterious, brooding savage dreams;
Within them dwells the Forest's mighty God,
And wood-sprites in the gloom weave magic secrets.
– Jean Sibelius, from the notes to his last composition,Tapiola (1926)

Having discovered the joys of writing, I determined to develop better skill and artistry in this craft, and a seminal book finally brought me to poetry as language. Selections and excerpts from masterpieces of western literature, from classical Greece to the modern era, were accompanied by brief biographies of their authors. The selected works of three English Romantic poets opened new vistas of expressive possibilities and beauty for me unlike any I had known.

The power and evocative imagery achieved by William Blake through very simple words stunned me: Tiger, tiger, burning bright/ In the forests of the night . . .

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with vivid imagination and rich, sensitive use of language, inspired me profoundly: In Xanadu did Kubla Khan/ A stately pleasure-dome decree/ Where Alph, the sacred river, ran/ Through caverns measureless to man/ Down to a sunless sea.

And the lyrical musicality of Percy Bysshe Shelley [...evening's breath, wandering here and there/ Over the quivering surface of the stream,/ Wakes not one ripple from its summer dream] took my literary breath away.

The desire to express myself with some of these poetic qualities—imagination, rhythm, music, imagery, and deeper themes—led me to join the Tower Poetry Society in the mid-1990s. This is where the integration of landscape and photography with poetry as language finally began. It was immediately apparent that I had much to learn. Not the least of my problems was to overcome a naturally verbose style of writing that is inherently inimical to poetry.
The brilliant Canadian writer Robertson Davies has said, We must sing with the voices God gave us! Here, then, lay my challenge: to find my own voice using more spare, carefully chosen language, within the discipline and tools of poetry. Just as with photography in the 1980s, I now studied the works of great poets, and experimented with many attempts of my own. By faithfully participating in TPS poetry workshops, I learned to critique and revise my poems fearlessly. And as the native verbosity gradually attenuated, I even began to think of myself as a poet. Not surprisingly, water, rock and trees figured prominently in much of what I wrote, and continue to play an important role for me to this day, as the following examples will demonstrate.
(Canada Day, Spencer Gorge)
splayed across two boulders
at the bottom of the gorge
he lay like a fallen bird,
head oddly askew
dead to the holiday world
of revellers scrambling over rocks,
bony bare chest impossibly still . . .
above water’s tumultuous
anxious whispers
struggle to bridge a gap:
is he all right?
he hasn’t moved for ages!
is he breathing?

the gaunt figure
   from numbed depths,
weakly brushes haze and tangled
waist-length hair from glazed eyes,
slowly, painfully sits up
downcast head in hands
rising at last
to trembling feet
draws threadbare shirt
over haunted frame, then stumbles
along his rock-strewn
crestfallen way
as this place
of ragged beauty
where, for a while
he strayed (ca. 2003)

Such a massive oak,
burly arms outstretched to shoulder
this leaden sky
(The Niagara Escarpment)

They told me that your face was hard
and worn. Stubborn. Old.
I thought to find it harsh, spent,
and cold; now see that this was wrong.
True, it is hard-edged. But hardly stern,
or monotone. There’s a weathered softness,
too. Vibrant life’s writ strong upon a bold
visage which still admits the new. Naked
and raw, a fresh tear bares
underlying vigour. Cheeks are tinged
with rose. Is that a tear falling from
venerable eyes who’ve seen
much come and go?
You wear your years with grace, Ancestor.
Let me set roots in your embrace,
burrow deep into enduring
strength . . . absorb
an ageless
of place.(2005)
Cradled by Rock  (excerpts)We scamper along the shingle shore
nephew by my side, my brother close behind
feet slipping/tripping our playful way
 smooth clack and slide of waterborne
 waterworn stones & Superior’s
 laughing rock-play
 healing our heavy hearts

 . . . need intervenes for reflection
 on the moment, the day,
 our grieving and loss . . .

Nested on the shifting shingles, a large
rounded low-slung rock seems to whisper
 Here. I am what you seek.
and I sit down upon that beckoning rock,
settle into its gently concave watersmooth curves

the sky perhaps blue and clear, or is it
cloud-streaked? I notice a breeze, and air
so clean and pure; the shore brimming with life
and I still numb . . .

Nestled in my waveworn, silica-flecked
 pink-and-white hassock,
bones connect with patient strength
 of the ancient, rocky land that cradles this vast
 fathomless ever-changing body of water . . .


 Waterfall Meditations
 Insistent, urgent power­
 draws me downward
 atremble, losing
 into an abyss . . .
 From the base of the falls
 all is thunder, mist
 and torrential
 of descent:
 deluge, racing
 through swirling air
 Eyes drenched, I see
 with rare clarity­, insp­ire
 the essence of thrust and hurl
 like an aphrodisiac,
 aware in her songs
 of water’s variable volume,
 and speed:
 mellifluous ripples
 deep, throaty outpourings
 sweet dribbles of treble tremolo
 Saturated to the bone,
 blood coursing with music
 and all around,
 effervescent avatar
 of Icarus sparkling like fire—
 my every nerve
 is a falling star . . .(2006)

for Richard



In the beginning, a yearning: a slight stirring
of unborn souls in far-flung corners
of the universe

Then, dreamily afloat, tiny limbs
a thousand miles and two wombs apart
start to swim a slow tempo

When at last we meet, bones breath
hearts clothed in flesh,
our words dance
like the laughing red/gold leaves
falling beside the fast-flowing Mississippi

Your darker, more intense roots
stimulate my milder Nordic sensibilities
An energetic river arousing a wind-riffled pond

We choreograph life together
with eurhythmics
and uncanny synergy

cherish our differing rhythms,
the contrasts a natural

(TANGO: . . .  CARIOCA: . . .)


River dance or carioca,
tango or polonaise

you are forest,
I the trees

Travelling far,
swimming deep

we've danced on the graves
of broken dreams,

flown with the phoenix,
braved new pathways

And on that day
when our Earth dance is through —

we'll waltz, as one, with winds of change
to whence we came

I have come to realize that my best poems often draw upon or reflect my experiences and explorations of natural landscapes, deepened through the eye of photography. While I seldom compose a poem in response to a photograph, or take a photograph for the purpose of illustrating a poem, there is often an uncanny resonance between certain of my poems and images. It is as though each constitutes a reservoir of inspiration for the other.
The following poem for my sister Liisa, composed in the final weeks of her life, seemed to be given to me as a gift. Trees were a natural metaphor for expressing the depth of our relationship:

The Turning of Leaves
 for Liisa, with love
I have stood in a grove of aspens
and heard trees tremble

 playmates: our paper dolls
 and little girl dreams

 heard their leaves turn freely
 cartwheels and hopscotch
 on slender flattened stems,
 flipping green to silver to green.
 the way our roller skates careened

 I’ve quickened to the silvery song
 silly laughter!!
 of leaves in motion, thousands
 of leaves twirling loops/
 circles/spins flipped sideways

 down and up by a dancing wind.
 Leaves turning and tumbling
 Dad flying us through autumn,
 bounced around
 in the leaf-filled wheelbarrow

 but not falling. And I have heard

 green/silver leaves slip into yellow,
 sisters grown to womanhood,
 our ups, downs and turnarounds

 turning golden beneath
 a southward migrating sun —

 walking, running together; the laughing
 greenness returned to sunshine
 mellow as a languid whirl of wind.
 conversing…shared confidences;
 the spiritual and the everyday

 I have heard aspen leaves turning
 your staggering illness, relentless
 pain and slow decline

 heard them turn to gold and fall,
 swirl   slowly   toward silence . . .
 your voice quieter now,
 and low
We, dear sister, are that grove of aspens, golden
leaves flipping and turning. Listen . . . we tremble
Looking back on my respective journeys with landscape, photography and poetry, I feel able at last to offer a meaningful response to the question that was the starting point for the 2014 Tower Poetry Society PoetryTALK:
"How has my poetry influenced the way I see when walking in natural areas?"
Poetry as language and literature has strengthened my sense of structure; of rhythm and flow, contrast and resonance; and of the paring down of elements to something that comes together as a strong, coherent whole. Poetry also asks that we look beneath the surface to discover and explore layers of meaning: to probe deeper into the essence of a thing. I would hope that these insights from poetry have made me more sensitive and aware when experiencing and responding to natural areas.
Just as many of my best poems have drawn upon and reflect my experiences and response to natural areas, I feel that my best photographs of natural landscapes reflect heightened perception and sensitivity honed by my passion for poetry. For two and a half decades, I have photographed Websters Falls in all seasons and all kinds of weather, during periods of high and low water flow, and under a wide range of light and atmospheric conditions. I submit to you my most recent photograph of this endlessly fascinating place of many faces as a visual expression of the influence of my poetry on the way I see when in natural areas:

* * * * *