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Thursday, July 31, 2014


The olive tree

An old olive tree on the mountain
my leaves are gone, roots uprooted,
land snatched from under my feet,
unattended, I’ve been left to die.

From where I am, I can hear
thunderous sounds of  bomb blasts
wailing of mothers who have lost their babies
desperate cries of little ones

From where I am, I can see
dark clouds, ashes, burning houses,
shattered, charred bodies of children
their teddy bear still in arms

From where I am, I can smell
blood, fire, smoke, dust
fear of other, hate for other
little they know, they’re all one.

Children of Jacob, followers of Moses
Jews, Christians, and Muslims
they were my branches, my leaves , my fruit
now, alas! they are my enemies.

(by Asma Warsi © July 2014)

Thursday, July 24, 2014



Whatever the strokes
whatever the colors
I will paint the rainbows
I will paint the blues.

The colors of life,
a rainbow's song
in every storm,
a sunflower blooms.

The wordless picture speaks silently
the magic that colors brings
a melody to a symphony,
a poem, a song, a memory!

by: Alberto Magsuci 

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I understand that this was a father/son endeavour
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Alberto and Aldi

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Poetry Stratford & The Ontario Poetry Society

Invite You to Attend & Participate In

The Bardic Collage Poetry Event

Sunday August 24, 2014
2:30 P.M.

Café Ten
10 Downie St.
Stratford, Ontario

Special Spotlight Reading
By TOPS Life Member
John B. Lee
Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford in perpetuity
and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County (2011-2014)

Featuring The Sienna and Gold Raffle

Sponsored By:
Random House, Guernica Editions,
Brick Books, Serengeti Press, HMS Press,
Creative Vocalization Studio,
Hidden Brook Press, Canada Cuba Literary Alliance,
The Azrieli Foundation, Snowapple Press & Dundurn Press

Many Exciting Prize Packages
of Brand New Books & CDs to win!

Free Admission, Members Readings & Open Mic

For directions, contact Effie at 519-508-2233

Friday, July 11, 2014


Sun Dance
From sun-up to sun-down
we dance to the beat of the drum.
Focused on the Creator
we cry for vision.
Four days we fast - no food, no water.
Four days we commit ourselves to the dance.
The hot summer sun blisters our skin.
We smudge with cedar to purify;
offer tobacco to the buffalo for strength,
to the Eagle for spiritual endurance.
Every day a few people drop out –
the heat, the thirst, over powers us.
Someone’s dry heaving over there.
To my right, somebody’s crying.
On the second and third day some pierce:
insert wooden dowels through their skin,
tied by thongs to the Creator-tree.
The skin rips
and with it his problem –
On the fourth day some choose to drag:
pierce the back, and with long thongs
drag buffalo skulls over the ground.
The skin ruptures
and his intent is accomplished –
life for a dying sister.
Each summer at full moon
in the traditional Native way,
the people worship:
searching for vision – a direction in life,
enduring pain to overcome personal problems.
Their customs are foreign to our eyes.
Yet, not so different from what we did –
sacrificing upon the cross;
pilgrimages on bleeding knees.
I experienced the Sun Dance.
I felt honoured and loved;
but I had expected joy and revelations,
(not doubt and confusion).
Why do we feel we need to suffer –
believing that our suffering will free us,
or save others –
when Great Spirit is all love and understanding?

Monday, July 7, 2014


New post on Kites Without Strings

All Aboard! Hop on the My Writing Process – Blog Tour

by d78hill

Writing transports you to places you’ve never seen before. Here’s an inexpensive adventure anyone can take without leaving home.

Cobalt, Ontario, home of the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival.
Cobalt, Ontario, home of the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival.
This is how it works. You start here, spent some time on my blog and then you may travel backwards to the website/blog of my writing colleague Marianne Jones. She’s invited several writers to chat about their writing processes and has also provided recommended links for additional blog hopping.
Then next Monday, July 14 you can travel forward and visit the blog sites of three more of my writing friends. Scroll down for my recommendations but before you do, below are the four questions that Marianne asked me about my writing process, followed by my answers:
Professionally, I am working on three main projects:
1) The promotion of my first trade book Tarnished Trophies(Black Moss Press, 2014).This is ongoing but the main push will occur in the fall when people are starting to attend readings again.
RIP: Another tree gone.
RIP: Another tree gone.
2) A new collection of poems dedicated to the dying ash trees. More editing and polishing of the work will begin later this summer.
3) A progress report for the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is due in a few weeks. Thanks to an OAC Writer’s Reserve grant, I have almost completed new research and poetry drafts based on my interest in crafts and rural living.
Personally, I am also concentrating on balance. For me, writing is an obsession just like competing in sports is an obsession for some individuals. So I am seeking ways to balance my literary life with my summer love for gardening, being outdoors with nature, and meditating. I love to read and I’ve long abandoned (due to time restrictions) my interest in the arts and crafts: painting, sketching, knitting, sewing, etc. There is also a need to find balance between my private spiritual being and the public demands of a published writer. Many writers struggle with that: the need to find time to write when hours are consumed with promotion such as blogging/touring/attending readings/etc. especially when a new book is launched.
For the past 11 years, I’ve been focusing on poetry, a genre which isn’t always understood or appreciated by the general public. I must admit, at one time, I was one of those writers and readers who ignored this genre and so I can appreciate the reservations people have. However, since reading Margaret Atwood’s novels The Edible Woman and Surfacing in high school and university English classes, I’ve had a fascination for metaphors. It took a local writer’s group to convince me that I should explore poetry. I’m glad I listened.
As for how my work differs, I’ve been told that readers recognize my style and yet, I feel I don’t have a specific style. I do know I love to experiment with words focusing mainly on free verse but I’ve also written more formal poetry such as haiku, sonnets, the glosa and even concrete poetry. I often push myself to think outside the box (which sometimes makes my poems obtuse) but I’m also drawn to image and storytelling, resulting in more narrative work.
Published by Black Moss Press
Published by Black Moss Press
In Tarnished Trophies, my recently released book published by Black Moss Press, I wrestle with the athletic soul. Nothing is black and white. There are shades of grey and although it’s a ‘sports themed’ book, my aim was to have readers reflect on their own experiences with competition beyond the athletic world. I draw attention to the ‘non-athlete’ and the “perceived loser”, creating images and stories for those spectators on the fringes of our world.
As a new member of the Writers' Union of Canada, I continue to examine the work of other professional poets and to imitate and experiment with various styles. I also have a marketing and public relations background, so I naturally mold and shape my work according to the needs of the contest, magazine or anthology I am submitting to. That’s the commercial side of my thinking.
However, due to my interest in art and photography in my early years and as a former public relations specialist with The Winnipeg Art Gallery, I continue to value the need for creative expression which isn’t always popular with the public. As I grow older (and often less wiser), I am learning to trust my inner instincts more and am less concerned about the opinions of others. The words of American author/professor Leo Buscaglia resonates with me: “You are the only you ... You are the best you. You will always be the second best anyone else.”
Owl Sketch courtesy of James C. Hill
Owl Sketch courtesy of James C. Hill
I am a night owl with my best writing completed on my computer at my desk during that twilight zone between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. My writing preference is to freefall which means starting the poem with a title, a line, an image or an idea and then allowing the words to flow without actually thinking about it. This may sound crazy but it is during these quiet moments that the muse or some unknown force takes over. As long as I don’t question or analyze what is happening, then the results can be quite magical. Rewrites and/or editing are more structured and usually takes place that same night or several days or weeks later. Spelling and/or clarity of meaning is only reviewed once a first draft is created. Some poems are also shared with other poets in a workshop setting so that the words can be further improved.
Although, I do not pre-plan my poems ahead of time, I am driven by deadlines and challenges. Every evening, I will create a list of things to do for the following day. Sometimes I follow it. Sometimes I ignore it but either way it acts as a map for setting priorities.
Because I am not a morning person, I usually answer e-mails and check social networking or promotional work during that time. If I have to, I can write on demand, but the results are never as strong as when I freefall and allow the words to just appear. I almost never write with music in the background nor do I like to write poetry long hand unless I have to.

Next week – Monday, July 14 – stop by and visit the blogs of three more writers. I’m looking forward to hearing their answers too.

Phyllis Humby
Phyllis Humby
Phyllis Humby is an award-winning crime writer and columnist. Although her passion is writing suspense novels, her short stories, often scheming, twisted, or spooky, appear in anthologies and journals in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. Phyllis’s blog The Write Break
Penn Kemp Photo Courtesy Gavin Stairs
Penn Kemp Photo by Gavin Stairs
Activist poet/playwright Penn Kemp, London Ontario’s inaugural Poet Laureate, has published 25 books of poetry/drama, ten CDs and videopoetry. She hosts Gathering Voices,  Penn’s blog:
Vanessa Shields Photo courtesy Nick Shields
Vanessa Shields Photo courtesy Nick Shields
Vanessa Shields’s first book, Laughing Through A Second Pregnancy – A Memoir, was published in 2011 to rave reviews. In April 2013, Shields edited a poetry anthology entitled,Whisky Sour City and in January 2014, her first book of poetry,I Am That Woman, was launched. All three books were published by Black Moss Press. Her poetry, short stories and photography have also been published in various literary magazines. Vanessa’s blog:

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


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New post on Kites Without Strings

This Canada Day…More Applause for Award-winning Canadian Poets

by d78hill
“Every so often, one comes across a poet and sees what makes poetry, poetry.” – Judges citation describing Anne Compton, winner of the 2014 Raymond Souster Award and author of Alongside (Fitzhenry and Whiteside).
Today, on Canada Day, all Canadian poets should be read and applauded. There are over 700 professional poets enrolled as members of the League of Canadian Poets and many more writers who are writing poetry at the grassroots level or for personal enjoyment. To select and spotlight the cream from the top must be a daunting task and yet each year, poetry awards are presented in an attempt to draw attention to certain poetic greatness and, yes, to sell more books.
The short-listed and award winners at the 48th annual League of Canadian Poets Poetry Festival and Conference
The short-listed and award winners at the 48th annual League of Canadian Poets Poetry Festival and Conference
bill bissett received the Sheri D. Wilson Golden Beret Award for his influence and impact on spoken word in Canada.
bill bissett received the Sheri D. Wilson Golden Beret Award for his influence and impact on spoken word in Canada.
One of the highlights of this year’s 48th annual League of Canadian Poets Poetry Festival and Conference early June at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in downtown Toronto was the awards dinner gala. The announcement of the winners is already old news but is worth repeating again for those who may have missed the excitement. See the League website for a media release on the gala presentations. The snapshots (my own) are being posted for the first time.
Behold the unique poetic voices rising like red and white flags from their books.
One more round of applause for these award-winners and for their contributions to the Canadian literary scene.

Happy Canada Day!

Ann Compton won the Raymond Souster Award for her book Alongside (Fitzhenry and Whiteside)
Ann Compton won the Raymond Souster Award for her book Alongside (Fitzhenry and Whiteside)

Murray Reiss won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for his book The Survival Rate of Butterflies in the Wild (Hagios Press)
Murray Reiss won the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for his book The Survival Rate of Butterflies in the Wild (Hagios Press)
Alexandra Oliver won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for her book Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway (Biblioasis)
Alexandra Oliver won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for her book Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway (Biblioasis)
Allan Briesmaster received the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award.
Allan Briesmaster received the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award
The Honouraray Life Membership Award went to Kitty Lewis, General Manager of Brick Books
The Honourary Life Membership Award went to Kitty Lewis, General Manager of Brick Books
Missing from Photos: The Life Membership Award was given to Sheri-D Wilson