good-bye to a beautiful and talented yukon writer

I only met her a few times when I was in Whitehorse, Yukon, last year, but my spending time with her, whether in conversation, or at Bean North Coffee with The Yukon Writers’ Collective, or having a meal with her at the home of writer/travel guide Elizabeth Weigand was all too short. Later, when I had read her novel From Ice to Ashes, and worked with her (and Kathy Munro) on Body of Evidence,  a collection described in the following article, I realized that someday I would like to meet her again.  Hearing of her passing was a shock that brought me great sadness.

A eulogy/article written by Erin Linn McMullan was published in the winter issue of the superb magazine YUKON: NORTH of ORDINARY.

She and Jessica’s husband Mike, as well as Tara McCarthy, editor of YUKON magazine, have given permissions to reprint Jessica’s photo and the article from the magazine.

In Memory of Jessica Simon

1964–2017

The Yukon mourns the loss of author Jessica Simon, who recently died of unknown causes after returning from a four-day hike with her dog, Curly.

“It is hard to understand that somebody so full of life passed away,” writer Elke Reinauer says. Simon was planning a gathering of Yukon writers to attend the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair and working on the German translation of her novel From Ice to Ashes.

“Jessica was all about creating a writing community,” writer Jerome Stueart says, “whether it was the Cramped Hand [writing sessions] so people could come and write together, featuring local writers in parking lot readings, or her columns in What’s Up Yukon.” Simon also exported the Cramped Hand workshops, developing sessions in Germany, Norway, and Namibia.

Earlier this year, Simon helped pioneer the literary component of the Atlin Arts & Music Festival and published Body of Evidence: A Collection of Killer ‘Ku with writer kjmunro.

She also completed another mystery novel, Adventures of Talking Stick, featuring her fictional protagonist Markus Fanger. She excitedly shared her whiteboard outline of the novel with me during a Skype tour of her new home built with her husband, Mike Simon.

“I think Jessica’s shown us the bar,” Stueart says. “That bar being that a Yukon writer is about investing in the writing community, growing and celebrating it, giving of yourself.”

Simon called the Yukon home for over 30 years, working as a journalist and editor, and previously as a minister’s executive assistant in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. She won a number of short story contests and contributed to many publications, including What’s Up Yukon, Outdoor Edge, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Yukon News, and Yukon, North of Ordinary.

“I miss her laugh and her company,” says friend Norma Shorty.

Written by Erin Linn McMullan

I miss her too, though I knew her for so short a time. I was in the process of arranging a reading here in Ottawa for Jessica when I heard of her passing. I would so much have enjoyed seeing her again. Thank you Mike, Erin and Tara, for letting me share Jessica Simon, her smile and her spirit, with an even wider group of writers and readers. Here is Jessica Simon at Bean North writing on a Wednesday afternoon in May, 2016, as a member of The Yukon Writers’ Collective.

 

 

Joining the second decade of the twenty-first century

Another big step: I’ve been using photos of myself by Jacques Pontbriand (Rawdon, Qc) taken in 2003, as I’ve been: a) chicken to go before a camera again, and b) I’ve been lazy and c) there hasn’t been much reason to take that step, and d) Jacques’ photos were so lovely that it was tempting to use them forever, and e) vanity. I got older.  Not always much fun to see evidence…

The latest version of moi.

But thanks to photographer John W. MacDonald of Greely/Ottawa, who made me so comfortable, I have something I can use and not feel that I’m faking it. The evidence isn’t as hard to witness as I thought it would be. Thank you, John.  Vanity, vanity… you’re so vain!

The issue is deeper I think, having thought in my teenage years, that I was so ugly that I felt bad for people who had to look at me.  Something sticks from that, and yes, probably a good shrink would help. Go back to the mothers and the fathers, as Larkin insists. So there, I’ve bared part of my soul. I know too, that I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Am I not doing all right for an elderly bird!

I think I’ll go and write a poem.

 

 

Joining the Twenty-first century

caribou sign croppedI’m such a dinosaur!  Bucking this and ducking that, like using Twitter!  Years ago, my publisher for Arctic Twilight, said Get a blog! Get on Twitter! But no, I went on down my antediluvian path, trusting to the ether…and of course, not getting very far.  So, I’m kicking over a new leaf, or sloshing through the piles of dropped ones. Wish me well. Look for me on Twitter as well as on Facebook and tell me how clever I am, how modern, how glorious!  I look forward to connecting with everyone.   It sounds so strange to use a ‘handle’, like I’m home on the range somewhere, and lost. So that’s @claudiaradmore (On Twitter, don’t use the one with ‘leisale’ in the address…I had to start all over today with a new account…)

I’ll tell you now that I’m very pleased to be having The Alfred Gustav Press publish a chapbook of a selection of the Fogo island poems that ended up short-listed for Malahat’s 2017 Long Poem Contest! Hence, the image of the handsome fellow at the top of this post.

It’s been a busy time, working on four manuscripts at once and completing all of them before going to Santa Fe on September 12th.  My fingers are so crossed, but I am only getting younger in my mind…Again, wish me well. Dropping a comment to this post would be the best way.

book fair w catkin signIn Santa Fe we were welcomed not only by New Mexico State Senator Bill O’Neill, a poet in his own right, but also by Craig Quanchillo, Governor of the Picuris Pueblo. We were at The Santa Fe Hacienda & Spa which is owned by the Picuris Pueblo, and for the most part, staffed with people from that nation. It is a wonderful place, with a lovely open atmosphere.  This was the bookroom.  (There were $15,000 worth of sales overall in four days!) Way up in the top left corner of the photo, you can find my new catkin press signage!

My husband Ted and I continued on a tour of the state, and you may get to see more of it in further posts. Visiting pueblos and staying at Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch are some of the highlights. Oh, Abiquiu, how beautiful are your mountains!