The Most Dangerous Writing App- literally.

I’ve known writers who use this and it works for them!

The Write Nook

I am always looking for new writing exercises to pass onto you fabulous writers. Writing can become very tedious, which in turn can force us to become stagnant. How many times can we sit down at the same computer, at the same coffee shop, and work on the same few pages? It will make anyone go a little crazy and will eventually bring on a nasty case of writer’s block. To make sure we keep our creative juices flowing, we need to switch up our routine a bit every once in a while. Maybe we take up a bench in the park for a few hours instead of writing under the dim light of our favorite coffee spot. Or maybe we try writing at night, versus during the wee hours of the morning. Or just maybe, we take a break from our current project and focus on some freestyle writing-…

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not your usual evening at the library

Carleton Place (and environs) is bursting with writers!  It is also bursting with amazing librarians who listen to the members of their library, and so, when local writers wanted to know more about publishing, a plan was hatched to get that information for them. An evening was planned. Here, after the librarians, is the second cast of characters. From the left, me, then Joelle Hubner-McClean, David Mulholland, Sandra Nikolai, and Linda Seccaspina, who moderated the panel.

We were all treated better than the Queen, we four panelists being directed to ridiculously comfortable red leather sofas, and Linda to her matching chair.  This is the way writers like to be treated.

Linda asked questions about our backgrounds and publishing experiences, which we answered as best we could. The audience was interesting and intent, their attention and conversations before, during the break and afterwards insightful and delightful.

What did we write, and how did we get that published, and what were the various choices on the road to getting published. What were the time frames involved. What about rejections.

I learned so much, and brought a lot of reality to the conversation concerning sending manuscripts to big publishers. We covered wait times and probabilities. David, Sandra, Linda and Joelle have had wonderful successes and know so much about e-books, self publishing, and Amazon as well as where to go on the internet to find the information needed.

I was so impressed by all the others. They write history, fiction, mysteries, children’s books. They’ve done their homework and publish in ways they are quite happy with. They actually make money writing!  They are happy with their results but that has everything to do the quality of their writing as well as with the time and effort they spend publicizing their books, doing readings, networking. They are good at selling their books, and great at explaining content, motivation, how a story or a book starts, all the way to how their books get edited, how to work with editors, how they arrive at the cover designs and who their audiences are. 

We were asked whether we preferred e-books or ‘paper’ books, and the answers were surprising. All preferred the paper versions, but they all have more money in the bank from the internet ventures. One benefit from being on internet sellers’ forums is that their books are being sold all over the world.  Given that, I admitted that I love the physical form of books that my publishers created, but working with publishers is difficult. Arctic Twilight, for example, does well on Amazon, but the publishers benefit for the most part, as they are still the sellers. These writers have done the wiser thing; they have remained the sellers, which makes for a much better deal.

Our examples of publications ranged from chapbooks and hand-made books to hard cover books with dust covers and paperbacks. Tables were set up for our books and for signing those books, and a delectable array of treats book-ended the coffee machine. I don’t think any writer could have had a more agreeable venue, audience, company or organizers.

I did not expect to go home with gifts. One was meeting Jennifer Fenwick Irwin. She brought me a gift from her father, Roly Fenwick, who had enjoyed Arctic Twilight so much that he gave me a copy of the catalogue for his latest exhibition. The paintings are glorious. Thank you Mr. Fenwick.  Thank you so much!  

Then more topping on the cake, with parting gifts from the library. I’ve been using this lap desk since that evening; it’s something I may have been looking for all my life.  Thank you.

I don’t know who was responsible for choosing that gift, or for writing our names so elegantly on the card envelopes. I keep that envelope propped up on my mantel. It makes me feel great every time I see it, reminding me of those hours enriched with so many people interested in words, and interested in getting those words out where they should be.

Thank you Meriah Caswell and Heidi Sinnett. That evening was a gift to everyone who was there, the writers, as well as the readers who love words.  And thank you Linda Seccaspina, for captaining our ship last Friday evening.


fish spine picked clean end of conversation

Hello new book! I begin this post with my editor and publisher’s name along with mine, and part of the skeleton of a fish. It’s sometimes a good idea to start with a part of something, a manageable piece, to take time to see the part, and so the whole, more clearly.

So here is Éditions des petits nuages, a small press with a big vision, one that takes risks and sends out into the world a fullness of books on poetry, mostly Japanese-form poems, in French and in English. Poet, translator and editor in his own right, Mike Montreuil’s ‘nuage‘ publications run from the historically important through compilations of contemporary poetry. I’m proud to be published once more with Éditions des petits nuages, pleased that some of my books are part of his publications list.

Montreuil is also the Publications Editor of Haiku Canada, main editor of the Haiku Canada Review and its Haiku Canada Sheet Series, both functions he has recently taken over from LeRoy Gorman. It’s a hat that is not easy to fill, but Mike will do a fine job.  And so, back to some the many poets published under the mantle of the ‘little clouds’: Andre Duhaime, Micheline Beaudry, Maxianne Berger, for starters, and Jocelyne Villeneuve. The Villeneuve project alone is worth many blog pages, as is the collection of years of The Betty Drevniok Award poems and judges’ comments, all this besides Montreuil’s work for The Haiku Society of America and sundry other poetry-related projects.

Now it is my turn again to be published by the little clouds, with fish spine picked clean, a collection of tanka, the five-line poems that can, every once in a while, be written in one line as it is in the title of this blog. It’s one of my briefest tanka, but one that pulls in what I like to portray in such a short poem, an image, but an image that links with an emotion, a very human poem.  After so many publications with my name on them, it’s still amazing to see the title and my name on the spine of this spine.  It’s been a long time coming for another tanka collection (after Your Hands Discover Me/ Tes mains me découvrent, 2010, Éditions du tanka francophone,  Montreal), and it mostly comprises already-published tanka in other other journals, in paper or online, such as Skylark, Take Five: Best Contemporary tanka, or Gusts, Canada’s Tanka Magazine, or in themed books such as Blackbird’s Throat.

These poems might count as a section of memoir expressed in tanka, but as such, it is of course, only the smallest part, a particle perhaps, of thoughts and feelings throughout my life.  Records of a kind. Not a narrative per se, but bits and pieces of nature, happiness, love, and sadnesses such as most people have, and about which many poets write. The ‘spine’, so to speak, of tanka poetry.

And what is this spine, my spine, trying to say and why collect all these pieces of my self into a book.  For I am not famous or rich as a many a poet may and should be. Not a celebrity poet whose books everyone wants personally signed, a writer the world clamours to know more about, which doesn’t matter, as it’s the right time to do what you’re doing as long as it is the right time to be doing it. Ah, I will be known throughout the land for long, oblique, tortured sentences. Still, it’s the way it is. Now is the time for fish spine to be shouting ‘life’ and this is how life is for me: how it has been, how it is, including the lusty erotics… who is to say when those experiences in life have been there and gone. Not me.

fallen into temptation/i unbutton/his shirt —/moon’s wry/romantic grin

never sleep they say/in the path/of a moonbeam/but my love/who’s thinking of sleep

crossing the bridge/across the border/the fire in us/could have melted/this steel

Putting the collection together has given me the chance to share the beauty of a dear one’s love of language, the simplicity of  a Brahms passage, or cross cultures with the poetry of another country, showcasing the relationship between early tanka and the Chinese poets.

languish languid limpid livid/you loved words/they came tripping out/like spring brook water/lively

then three simple notes/down and back/generates a measure/the ordinary…/seeding the/extraordinary

the smiles/of small girls/deny what is written/that no one is glad/when a girl is born                        (with reference to a poem called Woman by the poet Fu Hsüan who died c. AD 278.)

Within this collection of notes and whimsies written over the years, and the freedom allowed by Montreuil as editor, I can even approach being funny, reference Artificial Intelligence, indulge in my liking for the word ‘tarty’, and, using a famous pair of dancers, give a nod to how women are men’s equals, perhaps at times more equal, despite obstacles that few even notice.

it’s been with me, officer/all night long/the robot/had already/learned/to lie

fred and ginger/she in high heels/this marmalade is a hit/packed with tarty bits/of orange peel

The book will be out by March 12th, and I will be reading from it at Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series on March 13th.  Thank you so much,  Mike Montreuil and your little clouds.


You never know what treasures you’ll find at the Ottawa’s Small Press Book fair, and an edit

rob mclennan has done it again, put together a collection of books, presses, and artisans that would rival any sales venue.

I’ve played around with the display on the bird, buried / press table, to catch your eye. Here is Elisha Rubacha, in charge of that display, one of the friendliest poets you could be sitting next to.

Here she is, in the flesh, so to speak.

Going around the room to hand out some freebie mini books, I spent time with artist friend Nancy French, here, as usual, with a gorgeous display of hand-marbled papers, and various items made with her Lindenlea Papers, and results of her talents, like bookmarks and notebooks.  Time spent with this smile is time well spent.My wanderings came with surprises: this gentleman with his amazing hand press books and broadsheets, for example. Hugh and I had a conversation in which I bemoaned my lack of sufficient funds with which to purchase his glorious creations, and then he came after me to compliment me on the poems in my freebie, Cyclone Vanuatu. Here he is, is book artist Hugh Walter Barclay, of Kingston with his THEE HELLBOX offerings.

My neighbour on the other side was June M. Coxon with Juhal Publishing’s children’s books in English and French, featuring her book about Ernie the cat.  I saw quite a few cat lovers stop by her collection.

Also showing their wares were rob, with his various press collections, and other Ottawa presses, like Angel House Press and Devil House Press; Stuart Ross with a table that included Mansfield Press titles, who gave me a chapbook, forty-nine cents. Much appreciated Stuart.  Here are a couple of fugitives, Jennifer Baker and Monty Reid, at the Arc table, and  

Here is Sonia Saikely, with her two books, and just as important, some mochi cakes.


Pearl Pirie with her Phaphours press…and then a delightful surprise…

This is Colin Knight in his first appearance at the fair. He had his thrillers on display, and when I gave him my freebie, said, “I’ve been to Vanuatu!” Now what are the chances?  Turns out he was there for nine weeks scuba diving all around the little country.  We talked about places like Millionaires’ Point on the island of Santo, and Champagne Beach. “There’s a lot about Vanuatu in my book,” he said, so I bought Some People Deserve To Die, and am chomping at the bit to read it. It was great and we will certainly stay in touch.

And of course, I was there with two presses, Tree Press (featuring all the Tree Chapbook winners and especially

The Binders, by Doris Fiszer) and catkin press,

feeling very professional with the beautiful sign made by Michal Bowie from Algonquin College. Anyone who would like such a gorgeous addition to their presentations, let me know and I’ll put you in touch.

It’s the extras, like the chapbooks in delightful forms like cemantics, with its fold-out visual poems made, and written by Michael Casteels, a gift from Cameron Anstee of Three Knit Hats by Ben Ladouceur, a teeny-tiny chapbook called little baby in a man-made shell, by zinewrimo,  an envelope with a tri-fold of poems by Jason Heroux, created by Michael Casteels, machina/microcosm by Nina Jane Drystek, a copy of PACE, Ottawa’s independent magazine, and two copies of The Ottawa Arts Review, which I hadn’t known existed.

What else do you get from a day at the fair? Great cookies that rob baked. Great cookies. More cookies, chocolate, and cherry at the birds, buried press table, brought to Elisha by a friend. Wonderful visits from

the short-list bpNichol author, Doris Fiszer, and other visitors/book purchasers. A great way to spend a Saturday!

Meet the Presses Indie Literary Market 2017

The Tree Press/ catkin press table

It was the first time Tree Press was specifically invited to this book fair. The occasion was that one of its publications, The Binders, written by Doris Fiszer of Ottawa, was shortlisted for the bpNichol Award. It didn’t win, but it was wonderful to be there with Doris and her husband Bruce Brockington. I should have a better photo of the table, which we also shared with another publisher.  Here is Doris with Deb O’Rourke, who stopped to talk with Doris.  

Congratulations too, to Sonnet L’Abbé on winning the bpNichol Award. Her chapbook, Anima Canadensis, was published by Carleton Wilson’s Junction Books.

How great it was to share the table with Nightwood Editions and Junction Books, and just spend hours in the company of publishers and writers!

And to be able to meet them and see their books. For many poets, the big trade presses seem scary, rather lofty, with similarly distant editors.  When you meet these publishing people in the flesh, so to speak, watch them interacting with others, speak with them yourself, you find they are friendly, fun to talk with, open to questions, and just as ordinary as anyone else.

and not above a little bit of the comic side of the moment. This is the GAP RIOT PRESS TABLE, with, Dani Spinosa, whose antics, as well as serious moments, I enjoyed muchly!

Other people and presses you may recognize: rob mclennan with books from his several presses,

and Cameron Anstee with Apt. 9 Press, in double modes of cheerful publisher and pensive publisher.

Imago and Red Iron Presses from Toronto, with publishers Marshall Hyrciuk and Karen Sohne, with many offerings.

Haiku people will recognize them from Haiku Canada Weekends and Haiku North America, and for their renku presentations at Versefest a couple of years ago.  Remember? Sake was served after link 6 of the renku, as per tradition. Perhaps the cause of that renku being continued in an Ottawa restaurant until the 36 verses were done.

And so it was. We’ll be seeing some of these presses next Saturday at Ottawa’s Small Press Book Fair. See you then!

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


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!



seven months

It’s been seven months since I came back from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and those months have been busy.  I’ve been writing, and am pleased and proud to be one of seven (out of two hundred submissions) on the shortlist in the 2017 Malahat Long Poem Contest with my series of lyric poems about Fogo Island, Newfoundland.  I didn’t win, but have been sending those poems out as a chapbook submission, and maybe, just maybe, have had a hint of a chance with one publisher.

I love designing the covers of my books, collaborating with the authors so that they are completely happy with their books. Here are the books catkin press has published in the past seven months: First, Firefly in the Room by Grant D. Savage.

Cover photograph: Grant D. Savage

This unusual collection of erotic haiku by Grant Savage, an excellent haiku poet. His luscious photography was perfect for this theme in his use of colour and composition. And the haiku are astute and sassy.

The two next publications were compilations of haibun with tanka. The first was Hans Jongmann’s Swooning, a manuscript that was so good and so unusual in its narrative of love and being young, has a central mystery, that I just had to publish it. His wife Farida wrote a prose section which set things up beautifully. The reader is captivated, held to the last page.

The next venture was a chapbook of poems, My Head Full of Pakistan, about Blaine Marchand’s deep love of the country where he worked with CIDA.  Blaine was with me in every step of publication, from editing (and there was very little) to layout, to cover background and images, including choosing textured papers for the cover and for the interior pages, which reflected the textiles of that country. This is the cover in an early stage of design.

Blaine’s photograph is featured on this cover. There are several more inside the chapbook that serve to enhance and illustrate Blaine’s lyric poems. These are poems that give you a slice of Pakistan written by someone who loves that country and who is known for the depth and insights in his writing.

Then another haiku/ tanka/ haibun writer sent me a memoir called She Don’t Mean a Thing If She ain’t Got That Swing that intrigued and amazed me. Guy Simser of Ottawa focused on the love of his life, wife Jan, and on their travels, on the music and activities they shared for so many years. His writing was so rich in expression, description, detail and humour. What could I do except say I’d publish it.

Again the author was particular about the papers used for text and cover, and his choice of sensuous paper for the text meant that the many fascinating photographs printed perfectly in colour. This is a beautiful object as well as a well thought-out book.

In February we launched three books at Pressed, for Grant, Guy and Blaine, and what a dynamic set of presentations that was!

In the new year, Hans said he had a couple (a couple…!) more manuscripts. He has a reputation in the Japanese-form world for his sterling poems, so first we published Below the Frostline, which is completely haiku.  The second, Shift Change,  was another variation on memoir that focused on travel, bicycling, and work experiences in various places. His writing has honesty and colour. Each poem is just right. We argued over editing as we always have, but he is a wise writer and makes the right choices.

When Haiku Canada held its conference in Whitehorse last year, it happened to be Mystery Month in the Yukon. With that theme in mind, Haiku Canada members submitted ‘crime’ ku, a selection of which was printed on file cards in a clear large font and displayed with kindred books in a case in the library/museum foyer. The library asked whether there would be a book, and so Kathy Munro, haikuist, and Jessica Simon, crime writer, edited a thoughtful, humorous, delightful collection of Killer Ku.  I loved working with them; I appreciated their enthusiasm and their fine insistence of particulars. They came up with the perfect headings for the sections, such as Breaking and Entering, Cannibalism, and Cell Blocks. Their inspired early layout and concise editing add so much to this very different collection which can be enjoyed, not only by haiku enthusiasts, but by anyone who picks it up.

Anna Vakar is a long-time haiku poet who has spent her years in the haiku life learning what haiku is, what it could be.  Vicki McCullough met Anna Vakar and realized that this poet needed to be better known and needed to have a book of her work. Vicki has done an amazing job writing introductions to both Anna’s life and her haiku path. Anna Vakar is a strong poet who has the habit of writing comments on the pages of any anthologies or haiku collections she acquires. The book includes a list of the kind of comments Anna writes beside and around the poems. A couple of photographs show pages of this perceptive self-teaching marginalia. Vicki is an editor who insists on academic excellence. She and Ms Vakar have produced the finest kind of haiku book, one that shows a haiku poet’s path while teaching about this form.

During these months I was co-editor, with Marco Fraticelli of Haiku Canada’s 40th members’ anthology, which is being published by Ekstasis Press in British Columbia. It is dedicated to one of the founders of the society, Eric Amann, who passed away last fall. The anthology is unusual as it isn’t just a haiku collection, but rather a gathering of haiku experiences, memories, stories of one’s first haiku publication, or how one came to haiku. Each member had one page which could be comprised of just haiku or part prose, even haibun.

Its title, Wordless, is from a little book Amann wrote early on, which influenced many haikuists. Marco and I learned a lot from co-editing this collection, especially about how accommodating and patient an anthology publisher can be. Richard Olafson of Ekstasis Editions is a dream to work with. I’m sure we were a nightmare to him with our hundreds of edits.  We are so pleased that the cover will feature a painting by Aili Kurtis of Perth. Richard let me design the cover, at least in its first phases. This is an early draft:

Then came a great event! Managing editor Mike Montreuil of Éditions des petits nuages said the press would publish MY haiku collection! AND would be happy to let me design its cover. Well, paradise for me!  The book is dedicated to musician/philosopher Oliver Shroer, whom I knew, but would like to have known better for how he lived his life, the music he took risks with. He was one of those special people. When he was diagnosed with leukemia, he walked the Camino, and played in 25 churches along the way.  Much of his playing, on stage and in those churches, even in hospital during the later stages of the disease, can be seen in videos on the net. When I met the 6’3′ or 4′ Oliver at a festival in Owen Sound, he was wearing a bowler hat.  I had kept a file of an image Ellen Drennan had put on facebook, and she let me use it as the background. Her image is full of energy and light, perfect for an ‘Oliver’ book. The haiku are not about Oliver, except for a few; the poems range, I hope, between a very few ‘not-too-bad’ haiku to several that will be judged ridiculous, and everything in between. I had three very good editors beside Mike Montreuil: Philomene Kocher of Kingston, Marco Fraticelli and Grant Savage of Ottawa, but they can’t be blamed for what I finally included.

One of the last cover designs has been for the winning Tree Chapbook manuscript for 2017, Amanda Earl’s Electric Garden. The judge, Steven Brockwell, took the time he needed to choose a winner from so many fine submissions, but is definite about the talent of Ms Earl. Her poems are tight and energetic and honest with a superlative use of language.  She sent me an image of a lily I might want to use, and agreed to let me incorporate it into a collage. I think we’re both pleased with that collaboration. Here it is:

And that will almost do it. I produced a tiny personal chapbook of a long poem, Body of Light, and will publish one more collection before the end of June, for Grant Savage.

That’s been my publishing year.  These titles join the previous list of publications, including Singing in the Silo by Philomene Kocher, and Drifting by Marco Fraticelli, as well as others. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t turn up for a lot of poetry events. I won’t have such a heavy schedule ever again, but I’m glad every one of these is a catkin press production, and I am so proud of the editors and authors.  What a great crew!

Most of the books will be available at the Haiku Canda Weekend in Mississauga, May 19 – 21 at The University of Toronto at Mississauga, and at the Small Press Book Fair in June. This adventure of being a small press publisher is turning out to be quite the journey. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Oops! I forgot something… Pearl Pirie’s Phafours Press published a chapbook of my gendai one-liners. That means a lot.  Many thanks, Pearl for sometimes seeing the world and language the way I sometimes do… I apologize that this is only an approximation of the cover with art by Judith Copithorne. I’ve run out of copies, so I can’t photograph it. But I love it!






enter the frog, or haiku from the Haiku Canada Review

20170215_153331It could be the snow, or the grey sky, but something is drawing me to post about haiku recently published in Haiku Canada’s most recent publication, the Haiku Canada Review.  Perhaps I’ll do anything to stop me from going downstairs and having another piece of the custard cake I made earlier; I’d never tried this before and thoughts of literally diving into its creamy custard are very strong. So it’s a good day to write this post, one I’ve wanted to do for a while, on the power of very short haiku.

LeRoy Gorman has edited the Review for forever. Each issue usually includes a few broadsheets called Haiku Canada Sheets by selected poets. It’s an honour if he chooses to produce one with your haiku as it gives you the opportunity to have a small collection of your poems out in the big wide world. Each issue also contains tanka, renku, haibun and other Japanese form poetry, as well as reviews, essays, and as they say, more. Members can submit artwork which every issue includes, often lovely drawings like the frog on this issue’s cover, and at the head of this post, drawn by Brent Partridge.

Many of the poems are quite wonderful, but I have a special place in my sensibilities for the very short ones that work. This issue begins with an essay by Vicki McCullough about Allan Brown and his poetry; Allen passed away in 2016. One of his shorter poems is:

it is too dark to hear

the loon’s cry

The poem was written after his wife Pat died. Ms. McCullough has done wonders bringing Allan’s philosophy to the fore. After all, 99.99999999 % of people wonder what the big deal is, with haiku, anyway. She quotes some of his thoughts about his relationship with haiku. He has learned from Issa, he said, “a little…about the fashioning of both delight and despair.” In the poem above, I can be with him in the dark, the dark being much more after Pat’s death than an indigo sky; this dark is the dark that makes us think the light can never come back again. Some might say that the poem makes little sense- how can the dark make you unable to hear. That’s the power in this poem. A good haiku brings you into it, makes you want to spend time with it, to be where the poet is, and to expand the insight that comes into one that enters one’s own life.  Nine words, and they could have been the whole eulogy at a memorial service.

One of the Haiku Canada Sheets features the poems of Charlotte Degregorio from Chicago (for Haiku Canada has members all over the World) whose books and blog, among other media, show that this lady knows what she is doing. Her tiny poem caught my eye:


the well

in his eyes

And without knowing the background story, I knew a background story, I knew a moment, I knew his eyes, and I was a granddaughter remembering my grandfather’s face, remembering his hands, and the way he sat, how his attempts at speaking English are still in my ears. The poem grows as you spend time with it. A lyric poet with the same set of circumstances would have written stanzas, a sonnet, used reams of words to get in every wrinkle, every good deed, every special time with her grandfather, but these nine words contained all of that, and more.

An even smaller big poem of hers is:


I scatter

his life

It’s what we would be thinking in the same situation, but that she has captured that moment in five words fills me with awe. Read it again, and again. It will stick with you and come back to you when you need it.  It’s the kind of poem that sticks for there is no stress about remembering it. You know already that it is part of you.

Not quite as short, but equally full of things to ponder, is this poem by Jennifer Hambrick:

evening fire

thoughts flicker

in his words

The comparison of flickering flames and flickering thoughts is clear, and, at first, the poem looks rather light as compared to the previous ones. But our deepest thoughts need not be about sad times, they don’t have to make your emotions run up and down the scale. This poem is a quiet one and brings to mind the times when people are together trying to share thoughts, when those people might wonder about what a person’s words might mean. It’s a poem of uncertainty. Flickering thoughts could indicate doubt, or hesitation. They could be very important in any kind of relationship and are sometimes hard to pin down. These flickering thoughts, and the image of the person’s face in the flickering light…even that image is strong enough to be frightening, or calming, or loving, or simply an exchange of philosophical ideas. This little poem is packed if you take time with it.

Edward Cody Huddleston wrote this poem:

whether I give it

or not


A serious decision, and these seven words express the problem. The poem suggests everything that goes through a person’s mind when the question of giving a eulogy comes up. Seven words that say it all, the guilt, feelings of duty, feelings of love, the last chance to say what you want said, the fear of not saying it completely, of letting people down, of what others see as your responsibility, and more. There, it’s taken a paragraph to begin getting into this one. For behind it are all the commonalities, the losses that have already been experienced, the idea of funerals and memorials, possibly a fear of speaking in public, all those eyes and ears in the room or chapel, that you may not believe in eulogies, that giving one may take all the strength you have.

At first Debbie Strange’s one-liner seems simple, and light compared to the poems already mentioned, but

a butterfly wing beneath my boot autumn

tugs at me. A boot is crushing the most delicate of creatures, those brilliant dusty wings, or perhaps just a torn off wing. It calls into question why a butterfly is on the ground, the heavy boot that possibly means a hike, a good thing in autumn air,  but oh, doesn’t it bring to mind innocents in all parts of the world that are under the ‘boot’. This poem comes very close these days as our neighbours to the south are losing healthcare, and the right to live their own lifestyle, when everything good is endangered, even our earth. It is the refugees who are walking to Canada through the snow.  Enough said, the poem says it all, and much more if you let it seep into your self.

The next poem, a one-liner, at first seems jus clever and humorous. You might read the poem quickly, smile to yourself in response to the wordplay, and go on to the next haiku. But I find, along with the cleverness, that kjmunro’s poem

in ten(t)se camping in bear country

has more to offer; she gives us the romance of camping in a northern wilderness, and its inherent dangers. The poet lives in Whitehorse, Yukon. She is a woman who experiences the possibility of having only canvas between her and a grizzly, so images of long curved claws haunt the poem. She would not have been alone, most likely, and would have taken all precautions. After all, bears are fairly common around where she lives. There is even a bear incident map that indicates all human-bear conflict in the Whitehorse region. The danger is real. This word play contains a recognition of danger, but the poem also shows the spirit of an adventurer, one who will not give up having great experiences because there is a possibility of risk. We have here, the Yukon version of climbing Everest, one small bit at a time. I like the levity, the devil-may-care quality of these few words. These few words are more ‘intense’ than an initial reading may have suggested.

So thank you, thank you, LeRoy, for what you’ve done for Haiku Canada, for selecting and publishing poems all these years. Because of the Review we know our fellow poets across Canada and many places in the world, and have been kept aware of the development of Japanese form poems as they develop outside of Japan.  No one else could have done it, but you did. Months of collecting, making decisions, doing layout, mailing out hundreds of issues.

And thank you poets, for writing these very brief, but wonderful, poems.