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Tuesday, June 24, 2014


When Poets Heard Music They Painted

by d78hill
Music-Evoked Imagery created during a League of Canadian Poets workshop June 6, 2014
Music-Evoked Imagery created during a League of Canadian Poets workshop June 6, 2014
Imagine my surprise when I saw a table wrapped in white paper with various crafts supplies and paints scattered on top. After all, I was attending my first League of Canadian Poets conference. I had just finished sharing my work during the Joseph Sharman Memorial New Members Reading and was still somewhat nervous about meeting so many poets that I only knew by a name in a poetry book or anthology.
Memories of grade 1 art class flashed through my mind. I relaxed. This looked like fun and it was. Mary Rykov, an accredited music therapist and experienced Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) facilitator guided us through the workshop. 
Poets were asked to listen carefully to the selected music and while doing so, we were encouraged to create images using the supplies provided. The goal was to allow the music to guide us. I grabbed a paint brush. So did others but in time, sparkles and ribbon and other craft supplies were utilized. Then we were asked to walk around the long, long table and when inspired to do so, we could add our creative touches to someone else’s work. Some of the poets added words. Others continued to create art.
Music Evoked Imagery Workshop June 6, 2014 photo 4
In a hand-out sheet called “Music-Evoked Imagery”, Rykov wrote: “Some writers and poets work while listening to music. Some use music initially for inspiration, and then proceed in silence. Others do not use music at all.”
Music Evoked Imagery Workshop June 6, 2014 photo 2
How do you use or not use music to guide your writing? Some writers turn to artwork for inspiration. Perhaps some of these images created by professional Canadian poets during this June 6, 2014 workshop may evoke a poem or two in you.
Music Evoked Imagery Workshop June 6, 2014 photo 3

Friday, June 20, 2014


Power Struggle

this circle of power
appears to be disintegrating

one another throw fireballs
across the diameter
as if to illuminate the need
of a large circumference
that should become smaller
more intimate
that is, until animosity
demands a new power struggle



mighty track engines
headed westbound
to reach cruise speed
measured in miles not seconds
hundreds of wheels
keep our economy strong

enroute its thunderous sight
never fails to inspire
each community to encourage
the next railway generation


My Movie

a most beautiful scene
starred only you
it held me in suspense
storyline, weak or strong
I could not lose focus
love stalled in place
it held the outcome or ending
for others to write

I watch as a viewer
aching to costar
to lean in close
to precious perfection
and let the ending begin

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


New post on Kites Without Strings

Sarnia’s “Books and Biscotti” Celebrates Italian Heritage with New Anthologies – June 22, 2014

by d78hill
Below is information released today by the Dante Club Sarnia:
Three new books will be officially launched in Sarnia on Sunday, June 22, 2014 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Dante Club in Sarnia.
Three new books will be officially launched in Sarnia on Sunday, June 22, 2014 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Dante Club in Sarnia.
Two new Italian-themed anthologies featuring the work of established and emerging Italian Canadian writers and a sports-themed poetry collection will be locally launched and showcased as part of this year’s “Books and Biscotti” event, Sunday, June 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Dante Club, 1330 London Road (side entrance hall) in Sarnia.
All three books (Italian Canadians at Table (Guernica Editions) co-edited by Bright’s Grove’s Delia De Santis and Toronto’s Loretta Gatto-White, Conspicuous Accents(Longbridge) edited by Montrealer Licia Canton, andTarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press) by Lambton County poet Debbie Okun Hill) were published by prominent traditional publishers and include the work of local writers.
Hosted by the Dante Club in conjunction with the Italo-Canadian Cultural Club/Laziali di Sarnia and the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW), this free community presentation will also pay tribute to Italian Heritage month.
Published by Guernica Editions
Published by Guernica Editions
The first anthology Italian Canadians at Table: A Narrative Feast in Five Courses is a passionate literary feast of poetry and prose exploring Italian Canadians’ food culture. The 268-page trade book was co-edited by De Santis, a well-known editor and short story writer, and Gatto-White, an educator turned food writer, blogger, photographer and freelance journalist.
The audience will hear work from De Santis as well as Bolton writer Glenn CarleyVenera Fazio (the prominent Bright’s Grove co-editor of the Sweet Lemons book series) and Joseph Farina, (a Sarnia lawyer and author of two poetry books: The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street).
Published by Londbridge
Published by Longbridge
The second anthology Conspicuous Accents: Accenti Magazine’s Finest Stories of the First Ten Years is a compilation of the best stories published in Accenti since the launch of the magazine in 2003. According to Canton, “there are 42 stories in the book. Most of them are winners or finalists in the annual Accenti writing contest.”
The book was recently launched in Montreal during the 16thBlue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival and at Toronto’s Columbus Centre. It was also showcased in Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and on June 22 will be presented in Edmonton and Sarnia. Canton/De Santis will share one of her stories from this collection.
“Although our main goal is to celebrate Italian Canadian writing and to introduce new books to our local community,” said De Santis, one of the co-organizers for the annual event, “we often balance the afternoon with other local emerging talent.”
Published by Black Moss Press
Published by Black Moss Press
The Sunday event will also include the Sarnia launch ofTarnished Trophies, a collection of 50 sports-themed poetry by award-winning Lambton County writer and former Spoken Word co-host Debbie Okun Hill. All guest authors and editors will be available for book signing. Entertainment will be provided by local musician Christopher Molyneaux. Phyllis Humby, local columnist and award-winning crime writer, will MC.
The Dante Italo Canadian Club was formed by a group of new Italian immigrants on  April 10, 1958, in the City of Sarnia.AICW is a national organization that brings together a community of writers, critics, academics, and other artists who promote Italian-Canadian literature and culture.
Editor Licia Canton
Editor Licia Canton
Montrealer Licia Canton is the author of Almond Wine and Fertility (2008), short stories for women and their men. She is also a literary translator and critic, and founding editor-in-chief of Accenti Magazine. She is (co)editor of eight anthologies of creative and critical writing, including two (2012) volumes on the internment of Italian Canadians. Her most recent publication is Conspicuous Accents (Longbridge 2014): 42 stories by 35 authors. A member of the Writers' Union of Canada, she has served on the board of the Quebec Writers' Federation. She is president of the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (2010-14). She holds a Ph.D. from Université de Montréal.
Co-Editor Delia De Santis
Co-Editor Delia De Santis
Delia De Santis’ short stories have appeared in literary magazines in Canada, United States, England, and Italy, and in several anthologies. She is co-editor of the anthologiesSweet Lemons (Legas, 2004), Writing Beyond History(Cusmano, 2006), Strange Peregrinations (The Frank Iacobucci Centre for Italian Canadian Studies, 2007) andSweet Lemons 2 (Legas, 2010). She is the author of the collection Fast Forward and Other Stories and co-editor of the latest anthology, Italian Canadians At Table.
Co-editor Loretta Gatto-White
Co-editor Loretta Gatto-White
Loretta Gatto-White holds an Honours B.A. in Visual Arts and a Bachelor of Education. She writes food columns, freelance feature magazine articles on food and travel as well as profiles. In 2010, her column, Food for Thought won second place for Best Specialty Column in the Atlantic Community Newspaper Awards. Her essays and poems have appeared in the anthologies, Sweet Lemons 2; international writings with a Sicilian accent (Legas Press, New York, 2010) , Christmas Chaos ( Prairie Dog Publishing, Edmonton 2010), Behind Barbed Wire (Guernica Editions, 2012) and Beer and Butter Tarts: a Canadian Literary Food Journal (Stained Pages Press, 2013).  Her premiere anthology, Italian Canadians atTable, co-edited with Delia De Santis , was released by Guernica Editions, Toronto, in 2013.
Glenn Carley
Glenn Carley
Glenn Carley likes to write sometimes and sometimes he does.  Behold...the innocenti.....behold the disdain....behold the as if.....behold the who cares?   Behold the armour akimbo.  Behold the laughter and behold that sacred things abound, when they can be seen and when they can be gotten to. He resides in Bolton.
Joseph A. Farina
Joseph A. Farina
Joseph A. Farina is a practicing lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario and an award winning poet. He has had two books of poetry:  The Cancer Chronicles and Ghosts of Water Street published by Serengeti Press. His poetry has appeared  in poetry journals and magazines throughout Canada and the USA, notablyQuills Canadian Poetry MagazineThe Windsor Review, Tower Poetry, Feile-Festa, Mobius, Boxcar Poetry Review, Ascent Aspirations, Arabesque Review, and Philadelphia Poets.
Venera Fazio
Venera Fazio
Venera Fazio is former President of the AICW, who was born in Sicily and now lives in Bright’s Grove, ON. Before dedicating herself to writing and editing, she worked as a social worker (MSW). She has co-edited six anthologies on her culture of origin including the recent Descant issue Sicily: Land of Forgotten Dreams. With Delia De Santis, she is currently working on an anthology highlighting Italian Canadian writers. Her poetry and prose have been published in literary magazines in Canada, the US and Italy.
Debbie Okun Hill
Debbie Okun Hill
Debbie Okun Hill is Past President of The Ontario Poetry Society and for eight years was a co-host of Sarnia’s Spoken Word event. Her poems have been recently published inDescant, Existere, The Literary Review of Canada, Vallum,and The Windsor Review. She has read her work throughout Ontario including the Fringe Stage of the 2011 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival. Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) is her first full collection of poems.
Christopher Molyneaux
Christopher Molyneaux
Christopher Molyneaux has loved music from a very young age. He began singing and playing piano by ear after hearing “Free Falling” by Tom Petty on the radio when he was 9 years old. He has since picked up the alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, playing for the St Clair Secondary School Senior Band, St Clair Jazz Band and the Lambton County Honours Jazz Band. He is currently studying Jazz Performance at Humber College in Toronto. 

Monday, June 9, 2014


I Caught a Fish…This Long 

My name is Christine, and boy do I have a fish tale for you. Maybe I should call it a bear tale. Let me start from the beginning. A few decades or so ago, I lived in Northern Ontario in a small settlement called Big Trout Lake. The fishing was very good up there. My husband, Bob, would go fishing every chance he had. He worked for the government, in the weather office, and I volunteered at the local school.

            There were six men working shift work maintaining the office twenty-four hours a day. His job was to release a huge balloon carrying a weather instrument, which would float up to about twenty miles in the air. I’m not good with metric, so I don’t know how far that is in kilometers.  It took two men to do the release and computations. This was before computers became popular–when people had to do all the work manually. Anyway, living in a small community, the workers became buddies, and would go fishing after a shift.

            The government supplied an eighteen-foot freighter canoe the employees could use whenever they wanted. Bob enjoyed working the night shift, then going early morning fishing with his co-worker and coming home to fry up some fish for breakfast. The smell of frying fish would wake me up and I would enjoy a delicious breakfast with him.
            I never really had the opportunity, or the urge, to go fishing with Bob. I was busy helping out at the school and left the fishing to him. It seemed to be a ‘man’s thing’. At least that is how I thought about it until one Sunday afternoon when Bob appeared especially bored. All of his buddies seemed too busy, doing this and that, and Bob wasn’t much interested in doing ‘dis and dat’. So, out of the blue he asked me to go fishing with him. I hesitated at first, but wanting to support him, I finally agreed to give it a try.

            I didn’t have a clue about fishing, but I think Bob actually enjoyed showing me the basics. The most difficult part was learning how to cast the line out. He let me use one of his old spinning reels. I had to use my fingers to hold the line, and let it go just at the right second when I swung the pole. I wasn’t very good at it. Bob finally gave up on me and we did a lot of trolling. All I had to do was hold the pole as Bob slowly guided the boat back and forth along the shore of the lake.  We got our lines entwined a few times, but as Bob said, “That’s expected with fishing”. I caught two fish and Bob caught one that day, but the biggest surprise of the day was that I became ‘hooked’ on fishing.

            I started to go down to the dock and practice casting when Bob was at work. After a few times I got pretty good at it, and I could actually get my lure to go in the direction I wanted it to go. Bob continued to go fishing with his buddies, but sometimes we would roam the big lake, fishing by ourselves. Experiencing the peace and quiet of the open water, and just hanging out as husband and wife was wonderful.

            You know, I have discovered why men, I should say ‘people’, enjoy fishing. It isn’t solely to provide meat on the table, or for the thrill of the catch. It is a time to be alone with yourself, to experience the calm and tranquility of nature.  It really is a time of meditation.  I think it is a conundrum for men. They don’t accept all of that airy-fairy stuff about intuition, and spirit, and meditation, but they can experience that same reality and call it ‘fishing’.

            Okay, I can read your mind. I’ll get to the ‘bear tale’ soon.  Taking my time, like this, builds up a little suspense, don’t you think? Anyway, I was going to say, Bob and I have grown closer since I’ve started fishing with him. During quiet moments out on the lake he often opened up and talked about his inner feelings. One day, out of the blue, he asked me what I really thought about God. Except for being in a church at our wedding, we had never attended church again. So I thought it strange that he would bring that topic up. I told him I never thought about God much anymore, especially after my nefarious childhood experience. My parents became ‘Born Again Christians’ when I was a teenager, and their blind faith in religion appeared to me like gluttony. Their heads became fat with dogma, which they tried to feed me. I don’t know what got into my dad, (I think it was the devil) but he would go around acting like a preacher, empathizing that palatal sound every time he shouted, ‘YES’, in the way preachers do. I rebelled and left home, but Bob already knew that. However, I never got around to telling him how much I hated religion after that experience.

            What surprised me during that fishing trip was the thoughtful way Bob told me about his new thinking about God. He told me he was sure we all have free will. And if that were true, then there can’t be a god who controls things. His conclusion from that reasoning was there was no controlling god. Then he continued with what I thought was an inspiring thought. He said he felt that beyond our physical life, we are all spiritual people and that collectively we are God. Cool eh! That reasoning surely made sense to me. But, I’m getting way off topic; back to fishing.

            During the winter of that year, Bob took me ice fishing. Maybe it was the freezing cold, but I just didn’t enjoy it. The tranquility wasn’t there for me, so I let Bob do that kind of fishing with his friends. When spring approached we became close friends with our neighbors, Ken and Gloria. I discovered Gloria enjoyed fishing with her husband, so we planned a big fishing trip together. I mean ‘big’ because we were going to charter a plane and fly to an isolated lake about a hundred miles away.

            Ken worked at the weather office as well, and he would fish with Bob after working the night shifts. I enjoyed being with Gloria and Ken. He had a strange sense of humor and would laugh a lot. He constantly played little pranks on Bob, and as we got to know them better, he would play them on me as well.  There was this one time when Ken and Gloria invited us for a fish dinner. After enjoying a drink we sat down at the table. Ken served us two bowls of water with goldfish swimming in them. He laughed and laughed, and them asked us how we would like our steaks cooked.

            It was in the middle of June when we all found time to charter our plane for the trip. We arrived at the lake around noon in our floatplane, with the canoe strapped to the pontoons. We unloaded and set up our tents near the mouth of a river, feeding the lake. The weather was beautiful: warm and sunny. The pilot was to return in three days to take us home.

            After having a tasty lunch, the boys took the canoe out to discover where the fish were hiding. Gloria and I wandered up the river and practiced our casting. We caught bottom a few times, but we also ended up each catching a small lake trout. We arrived back at the tent about the same time as the boys pulled in. They weren’t as lucky. Ken had caught a northern pike, but kept it in case they didn’t catch anything else for supper. Bob cleaned the three fish and we enjoyed a lovely campfire dinner. We spent the evening sipping on a beer and watching the sunset.

            We woke-up early the next morning and decided that all four of us would fish the narrow river from the shore. Since Gloria and I prepared breakfast, the boys volunteered to do the dishes and clean up. They suggested that we should grab our poles and head up river. They would follow us after their chores. Their generosity seemed out of character for them but we took advantage of their offer and left. We tried a few spots without any luck so we wandered on further, around a bend of the river. There seemed to be a deep hole there with swirling water. The first cast I made I caught a five pound trout and put it on my stringer. Gloria soon caught a grayling and we kept that one as well. We fished for an hour or so and caught three more fish. I started to wonder why the boys hadn’t caught up to us yet. I rationalized that they had found a lucky spot they didn’t want to leave.

            I lazily cast my line out, and as soon as it hit the water I could see a huge fish jump up and grab my lure. It then darted off almost pulling me in the river. My line whizzed out exceeding the reel’s tension. I saw the fish jump again and my line went slack. My adrenaline reached the ecstatic level when I realized I had almost caught such a huge fish. Disappointed I reeled in my line, but casted it out again in the same spot. Bang! There it was again. The fish jumped out of the water, higher this time, and I could swear it was the same one that got away. This time it seemed to pull harder. I ran along the shore with the fish pulling me down river. My fishing line kept feeding out until I noticed that I was almost out of line.  By this time I was approaching the bend in the river and the fish was heading down around the corner. All of a sudden the fish stopped pulling. I thought I might have lost him but I kept reeling the line in. I felt tension on the line again as I raced around the corner.

            As I looked up, not a hundred feet in front of me was a bear. I screamed and threw my pole in the air, instantly retreating up the river again. Gloria was running towards me trying to figure out what was going on. I grabbed her, screaming, “bear”, and kept running, dragging Gloria with me. She stopped me and I sat down to catch my breath.  Looking down toward the bend again I saw the bear rounding the corner, but he was walking on his hind legs. In a few seconds I recognized Bob following behind with a fishnet overflowing with a big fish. It didn’t make sense until I heard Ken’s laughter coming from the bear.

            Initially I felt a flush of anger rising up in me, but before the boys reached us it subsided and I welcomed them with a big smile. As the boys started to tell their story it made sense why they volunteered to clean up after breakfast. Ken, being his devilish self, had packed a bear costume with the sole purpose of scaring us.

             Apparently they were walking up carefully to approach us without being seen, when all of a sudden I ran around the corner, scaring Ken as I screamed and disappeared back around the corner. My fishing pole caught on a tree branch forcing the fish to come close to shore in its exhaustion. Bob, noticing the fish, jumped into the river with his net and scooped him up.

            So, that’s my story. It’s true. The lake trout measured thirty-seven inches long and weighted thirty-two pounds. Ken pulled off his prank, but not exactly as he planned. He confessed later that he had to change his underwear when we got back to camp.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


New post on Kites Without Strings

Why Bother with a Media Release?

by d78hill
Call me a dinosaur! When I first started working in public relations, one of my first tasks was to write a media release. I would compose the draft release using an electric typewriter, and then a secretary would re-type it into a final format, photocopy it onto 100 sheets of business letterhead, and then stuff the releases into envelopes with a stamp for snail-mailing. The year Canada Post went on strike, my boss and I spent the day travelling through the city to hand deliver each and every release.
Today, news can be facebooked and twittered, blogged and text messaged. Some might even want to pick up the phone and call. I still prefer the old-fashioned media release in e-mail format! These are my reasons:
1. You control the content and you have one (sometimes two pages) to tell your story the way you would prefer it to be told. (The media have the right to re-work the information to suit their needs but some media outlets may use the release the same way as it is presented. So why not write it your way and take your chances?)
Sample Media Release Page 1 of 2 2014-06-04 2329312. You can ensure that all names, dates, titles, etc. are accurate. (Reporters are human. It is easier to write a story if the information is written down and has already been double checked for spelling, etc.)
3. It helps the reporter. (Anything you can do to save time for the reporter is greatly appreciated. Most reporters work on a tight deadline. Make their job easier by providing them with as much detail as you think they may need. They will still ask questions, but it makes their life easier.)
4. It helps those media outlets with limited staff. (It is difficult to produce a product with limited human resources. If the release is perfectly written, some outlets will use it as filler instead of out-of-town stories or other material that may require additional time to compile.)
Sample Media Release Page 2 of 2 2014-06-04 233119
5. It serves as an advertisement for the publisher. (The publisher’s logo should be prominent.)
Below is a sample of a two-page media release that was recently distributed! Feel free to use it as a guideline for your own book tour and/or reading. Please note there should be a margin around the edge of the media release. My scanner chopped it off.
Oh…by the way….I have a new book out…and I’m going on tour….A media release gives the author some credibility, allows him/her to move forward in a more positive light. For the introverted, shy writer, the release places most of the bragging in the publisher’s hands.
Lambton County Poet Embarks on First Book Tour
Sarnia, Ontario - June 3, 2014 - Award-winning Lambton County poet Debbie Okun Hill travels to Toronto this weekend as part of a whirlwind schedule to showcase Tarnished Trophies, her first full collection of poetry by a trade publisher. As a new full member of the League of Canadian Poets, she will read with other professional poets, Friday afternoon during the League’s 48th Annual Poetry Festival and Conference.
Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press 2014)
Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press 2014)
Published by nationally renowned literary publisher Black Moss Press, Okun Hill’s 88-page book poetically explores the light and shadow of the sports world. According to John B. Lee, the Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford “these poems are not without humour…and the bittersweet is not too sweet, not too bitter.” Sarnia author Norma West Linder adds “the judicial use of original metaphor makes this collection a rewarding experience for the reader.” Okun Hill’s book tour began in mid-May when she participated in The Ontario Poetry Society’s Springtime Poetry Soiree in Cobourg. Last weekend she was in Cobalt for the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival. Readings in Stratford, Ottawa, Camlachie, and London have also been confirmed with additional readings planned for Hamilton, North Bay, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg and possibly the east and west coasts.

In Sarnia, her book will be launched with two Italian-Canadian anthologies as part of the
Lambton County Poet Embarks on Tour (…Continued from page 1)
Books and Biscotti literary/cultural event to be held Sunday, June 22. More details will be released soon by the Dante Club in conjunction with the Italo-Canadian Cultural Club/Laziali di Sarnia and Association of Italian-Canadian Writers. This October, Okun Hill will also be one of four spotlight readers featured in Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading series.

“All my life I’ve wanted to write a novel,” said Okun Hill, a former journalist and communication specialist “however, when I started writing short stories my mentors kept insisting I was a poet.” She finally listened and after 11 years of refining her craft and being involved with the Lambton County writing scene as a co-host of Sarnia’s Spoken Word event and later as an Executive Member of the Ontario Poetry Society, a provincial grassroots poetry organization, her dreams of having a book published by a traditional publisher were realized.

It took 3 ½ years to see her sports manuscript (most of it written between 2006 and 2011) in book format. She worked with both a professional editor and designer from Windsor. The cover features the work of Toronto artist Olena Kassian.
As part of Black Moss Press’s First Line Poetry Series, Tarnished Trophies will be distributed in Canada and the U.S. by Fitzhenry & Whiteside and on-line with 
In Sarnia the books are already available at The Book Keeper and may be borrowed through the Lambton County Library.
Since it was founded in 1969, Black Moss Press has built a national reputation for its contribution to Canadian literature. Black Moss has published more than 400 first editions and introduced more than 100 new authors to the Canadian literary scene.

A book synopsis, short review, bio and photos available upon request.