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WordWorks / Spring 2015

Publication of the Federation of BC Writers PO Box 16028, 617 Belmont St., New Westminster, BC, V3M 6W6 www.bcwriters.ca / communications@bcwriters.ca Editor Craig Spence | ExecutiveDirector@bcwriters.ca Business Manager Katherine Melnyk | booktailor@shaw.ca Editorial Board www.bcwriters.ca/wordworks/editorialboard Volunteers Arthur Soles, Mary Gavan, Rosemary Rigsby, and Christina Coleman © The Federation of BC Writers, 2015 All Rights Reserved Submissions Content of WordWorks is, with very occasional exceptions, provided by members of the Federation of BC Writers. If you would like to submit something, or if you have a story idea you would like to see included in WordWorks, please visit bcwriters.ca/wordworks/submit. Join the Fed at bcwriters.ca/membership Advertising WordWorks is pleased to advertise services and products that are of genuine interest to writers. Space may also be provided to honour sponsors, whose generous contributions make it possible for the Federation of BC Writers to provide services to writers and poets in BC. For information about advertising policies and rates contact the Business Manager via the email address above or see bcwriters.ca/wordworks/advertisers Content Editorial decisions are guided by the mandate of WordWorks as ‘BC’s magazine for writers, about writing’, and its role as the official publication of the Federation of BC Writers. WordWorks will showcase the writing and poetry of FBCW members; provide news and feature coverage of writing and writers in BC, with an emphasis on stories about writing techniques and the business of writing; carry news about the Federation of BC Writers and its work supporting and advocating for writers. Distribution WordWorks is published quarterly for members of the Federation of BC Writers and distributed by mail and email to a broad list of readers interested in literature in BC. From time to time special theme editions of WordWorks are also produced.

Inside This Edition Discover the joys of volunteering

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Ben Nuttall-Smith, FBCW President

Contributors to the Spring Edition

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POETRY MONTH FEATURES Naomi Beth Wakan, Nanaimo’s Poet Laureate

Deb Clay, Poetry Editor Christine Hancock Donaldson, Photo Editor

Victoria Youth Poet Zoe Duhaime

Shaleeta Harper, Youth Editor

Poetry of Summerland’s Rachel McMillen

5 9 11

Regional Pieces in WordWorks

Coco Aders Weremczuk, Regional Editor With photos by Margo Hearne

Meet Island Rep Ann Graham Walker

Katherine Melnyk

Self-publishing doesn’t mean going it alone

Hayley Rickaby

When your manuscript isn’t working?

Katrin Horowitz

“Daniel” – Youth Writing Contest winner

Chelsea Comeau

Education on the side-facing seat, Short Story

Robyn Gerland

Nursing a Grievance, Short Story

Mary Lowery

We’ll reach our objectives if we all contribute

Craig Spence, FBCW Executive Director

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WordWorks / Spring 2015

Write on the Beach One day event for new and emerging writers Sunday , June 14, 9:15 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Beecher Place, 12160 Beecher Street Crescent Beach, Surrey

Five Workshops “Specific & Concrete”

Early Bird by 25- May, 2015 Federation of BC members $60 Students & Seniors (members) $45 non-members $75

Identity Theft & Taxes for Writers The Hero’s / Heroine’s Journey Illustrating for Writers Writing for Young Adults Screenwriting

After 26 May, 2015 Federation of BC members $75 Students & Seniors $60 non-members $90 Opportunity will be provided for non-members to sign up during the conference at a discount rate as well as recover the difference in conference price paid.

with George Opacic, Ed Griffin, Loreena Lee, James McCann and Keith Digby of West Coast Screenwriting

To register by Paypal visit:

http://www.bcwriters.ca/

– under the auspices of

the Federation  of  BC  Writers   Coffee  and  snacks  provided  throughout  the  day  

     

by cheque  payable  to  

Federa'on of  B.C.  Writers   PO  Box  16028   617  Belmont  Street   New  Westminster,  BC  V3M  6W6   !

!

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WordWorks / Spring 2015

Warren Clark Graphic Design Book design Illustration It is a pleasure working with self published authors, editors, proof readers and printers to bring words and pictures to life.

Fed President Ben Nuttall-Smith and fellow Board Members Second VP Chloe Cocking, First VP Coco Aders Weremczuk, Secretary-Treasurer Rosemary Rigsby and (not in photo) Directors Ann Graham Walker, EdiS DePencier and George Opacic invite you to join them volunteering for the Fed. NATURE/PETS

arly January, 1974. Martin

A wave of fatigue washed over me. Doris’s news was something I hoped I wouldn’t hear, but somewhere in the back of my mind, deep down, I knew it was just a matter of time. Something was wrong in the valley.

“Perrin’s two volumes of memoirs about the early days of his practice are a rollicking read of fun, folly, compassion and commitment.” —M. Wayne Cunningham, Kamloops Daily News

Fu

Will death win out?

“…Perrin displays a clever talent for depicting the characters he has interacted with in his practice…Animal and human, they all come alive, with their eccentricities and foibles, as Perrin tells tales not only on clients and neighbours, but on himself as well…[Dr. Dave’s Stallside Manner] is a fun read that will take you through the gamut of emotions and give you an insight into what it’s like being a country vet.” —Judie Steeves, Kelowna Capital News

$23.95 Cdn $15.95 US

ISBN 0-9687943-2-7

DAVE’S PRESS INC.

Distributed in Canada by Sandhill Book Marketing Ltd.

Water Light

In retirement she studies human nature and Cranbrook skies.

Joyce Beek

PArT I

For years people have been asking Tom, “When are you writing your book?” – HERE IT IS.

PhoTo CourTeSy oF BerT LearmonTh

Tom writes of the era of the sternwheelers when they arrived daily at the Lymbery door, and Depression-busted people from the Prairies camped on their beach. Here are stories of people and events as unique as the Kootenays, such as when Gray Creek changed from roadless isolation to transportation hub for the only highway across B.C. All these tales and more unfold against a broader backdrop, ranging from turning rocky land into fruit-growing bounty, to surviving two world wars at home and abroad, with the Depression in between. The book is illustrated with artwork, family artifacts, maps and over 200 previously unpublished photos.

Gray Creek Store panorama, October 2012

The Gray Creek Store, a rural general store known far and wide for its exemplary customer service, turned 100 years old in 2013. This panoramic sweep of the old and new mirrors the history of the Lymbery family, now in its fourth generation in Gray Creek. The old store at right was founded by arthur Lymbery in 1913. In the centre is the current store (1979). at left is the former lodge and dining room (1932) which began the Gray Creek auto Camp – another local Lymbery landmark.

Tom’s Gray Creek A Kootenay Lake Memoir Tom Lymbery

is a memoir of Gray Creek and its surroundings on Kootenay Lake in rural British Columbia, told first-hand by a born storyteller and veteran history writer. Tom Lymbery was raised in the general store business begun by his father 100 years ago, which is still going strong today.

The First Meadowlark

You hear his loud flute-like call in March before you see the bird, as his song rings out across the prairie. The Western Meadowlark delivers a solo performance from the elevated stage of a fence post. There, in his Sunday best he calls for a mate knowing full well his is the best voice ever to be heard. He calls and calls, each call better than the last. This hardy bird is a fitting emblem where extremes of weather are prevalent. He comes as a symbol of hope to those who make their living on the land, hope for a summer of warm sunshine and soft rains.

Luanne Armstrong is the author of poetry, novels, nonfiction, and children’s books. Her writing has been nominated for numerous prizes and awards. She teaches writing at the University of British Columbia and lives on her farm at Kootenay Lake.

Tom’s Gray Creek, Part I

Joyce Beek

I discovered the joys of volunteering as a member of a cub pack during the London Blitz. Our pack, along with the local Scout troop, scavenged old newspapers, rags, tin cans and bits of metal. We even collected the silver wrapping paper from cigarette packages. All this was for the war effort. This activity provided a sense of adventure in a time otherwise fraught with peril. Many years later, as a volunteer for the Sunshine Coast White Cane Society, I was offered my first major writing assignment when a blind ex bush pilot asked me to write his memoir. I soon began weekly visits to Pat Carey’s trailer home where he and his wife regaled me with exciting and often humorous stories of his life’s journey from Fraser Valley pioneer to bush pilot. It was through volunteer work with the Federation of BC Writers that, long after I’d given up trying to get manuscripts accepted by agents or publishers, that I was invited to submit a manuscript to one such elusive producer of books. All this because I had volunteered to help fellow scribblers. One such scribbler just happened to be a publisher. I’m sure the greatest reward for volunteering has been the countless amazing writing friends I’ve made over the years. April is volunteer month. I’d like to encourage each of you to get involved and discover for yourselves the rich rewards of stepping forward. Please join our fantastic team.

and

Brendan Gillen The First Meadowlark

The author, Joyce Lee Beek grew up on a Manitoba farm during the 1930s Depression, the youngest of five daughters of a modest farmer and a strong mother. Joyce deals with: tough times, Christian beliefs, relationships, and children’s needs. Her interests progressed from curling to teaching and promoting Anna Ingham’s Blended Sound-Sight P O E TProgram R Y B of Y Learning. LUANNE ARMSTRONG

Luanne Armstrong’s new collection of poetry travels between darkness and light, ground and spirit, time and space. These are poems about flashes in the dark, the light of understanding, the give and take between seeing and knowing. These small gifts of everyday life reflect the poet’s calling to see, to envision, and to name.

Before the opening of the Creston – Salmo highway in 1963, all east- and westbound traffic had to be ferried across Kootenay Lake. That was the job of the sternwheeler SS Nasookin, which ran between Gray Creek and Fraser’s Landing (Balfour) for sixteen years until 1947, when the MV Anscomb took over at the new Kootenay Bay ferry terminal. The largest sternwheeler ever built, the 1913 Nasookin four-decker was cut down for the B.C. ferry service in 1933-34.

Brendan Gillen

Best selling author of "Don't Turn Your Back in the Barn" and "Stallside Manner“ $19.95

Dr. David Perrin

Dear fellow Scribblers,

The SS Nasookin, with a Greyhound bus carefully balanced across the bow, approaches the Gray Creek wharf in 1941.

DAVE’S PRESS

Ballymote Books

Discover the many joys of volunteering this spring ™xHSKJQIy794326z

“Don’t Turn Your Back in the Barn is not only a replacement for the famous James Herriot veterinary stories, but an improvement in many ways. Dave Perrin…is as warm and humorous as Herriot, but he gives us an interesting picture of the complex operations he performs.” —Lois Stalvey, Sedona Red Rock News

She turns him on to a gold mine with a rich seam. They set out to rob the mine. Danger confronts them at every turn.

Brendan Gillen

omething was wrong, indeed. A mysterious disease was wiping out local dairy cows, striking hard and fast. After laboratory tests reveal inconclusive results, it is up to Dr. Dave Perrin, the area’s veterinarian, to discover the cause—while still tending to his day-to-day practice…which is anything but ordinary. Often startling and laugh-out-loud funny, Perrin’s latest offering is a window on the human side of a veterinary career. The doctor’s personal life is front and centre as he searches for answers about love and loss…and cows that eat hardware. He finds himself in one compromising situation after another—coaxing a reluctant turkey into becoming a sperm donor, battling a vicious but toothless chihuahua, rescuing his faithful dog, Lug, from trouble on the farm next door. In the midst of chaos, his friends—human and animal alike—help him focus on what is really important. Dr. Perrin practised veterinary medicine in the Kootenays for 26 years before penning the best-selling first volume of stories, Don’t Turn Your Back in the Barn, and the follow-up, Dr. Dave’s Stallside Manner. Where Does It Hurt? continues to chronicle his adventures with all new stories, bringing back familiar faces and offering up more eccentric, loveable country characters.

Maguire arrives back dventures of in Stewart Town.t He er A a Cmeets ounuptr ywithVehis r th girlfriend, Danielle.

Luanne Armstrong

Joyce Beek

Ron Fox

Helen Durham

PArT I: EArLy yEArs To 1945

Tom’s Gray Creek A Kootenay Lake Memoir

PhoToGraPhed By LuKe LewIS, oCToBer 11, 2012

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Gray Creek PubliShinG

Ben Nuttall-Smith President Federation of BC Writers

ToM LyMBEry

Tom Lymbery

Jim Cameron

Destiny Bay, BC warren@clarkbc.ca 250-223-8348 warrenclarkgraphicdesign.com


WordWorks / Spring 2015

Contributors to our Spring Edition... Deb Clay* - WordWorks Poetry Editor, Poet, Author, Web Developer. Says Deb: ‘My interactions with other writers and artists enhance my process and progress.’

Robyn Gerland - Author and operator of By the Beach B&B in Chemainus, Robyn was most recently published in the Christmas Edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Shaleeta Harper - WordWorks Youth Editor; Editor in Chief of text Magazine; FBCW Youth Director; and Vancouver Island University Creative Writing student. See more at textlitmag.com

Katrin Horowitz* - FBCW Victoria Area Rep, Author, Workshop Presenter. Her novel, The Best Soldier’s Wife, was a finalist in The Great BC Novel contest.

Mary Lowery* - Eclectic author and poet, Mary is a retired teacher of literature and drama. She is currently working on her first novel at her home on Salt Spring Island.

Rachel McMillen* - Novelist, Poet, Freelancer, Travel Writer... ‘a nomad of sorts who divides her time between Canada and Mexico.’ See www.rjmcmillen.com

Katherine Melnyk* - WordWorks Business Manager, Print Rep Assistant, Memoirist and member of the Cowichan Valley Writers Group @BookTailor1

Hayley Rickaby - Creative Writing Student (North Island University), Author, Poet. Hayley eventually wants to ‘work with kids with special needs in schools.’

Ben Nuttall-Smith* - FBCW President. Poet, Author, Artist and Presenter, Ben’s biographies, novels and stories have been published in numerous books and anthologies.

Craig Spence* - FBCW Executive Director, WordWorks Editor. Writer, journalist and communications guy, Craig has had two YA novels published and has self-published an adult novel.

Coco Aders Weremczuk - FBCW First VP, Film Producer, Script Writer, Columnist. Coco lives near Kamloops with her family ‘on a cliff near the top of a mountain.’

Thank you to all those who have submitted articles for publication in WordWorks. If you want to know more about having your work published in the official magazine of the Federation of BC Writers, please go to www.bcwriters.ca/wordworks/submit

* Indicates author has a Writer’s Profile, linked from the Index Page under Membership at bcwriters.ca Page 4


WordWorks / Spring 2015

Photos by Christine Hancock Donaldson by Deb Clay

her unique and challenging perspectives about her life and times. You can find out more about Naomi’s “I might be able to give something to Nanaimo just life and published works at www.naomiwakan.com. WordWorks Poetry Editor Deb Clay spoke with Naomi by encouraging people and saying it’s OK to do poetry,” Naomi Beth Wakan, in a 2013 interview by recently in preparation for Poetry Month here in BC... Tamara Cunningham - Nanaimo News Bulletin. Q: From your online bio I see that you have had a rich and varied life. Was poetry always there for you? In 2013 Naomi Beth Wakan began her three-year term as A: I only remember one poem I wrote as a child, but I loved reading poetry – The Lady of Shallot, La Belle Nanaimo’s first Poet Laureate. She was also recognized this winter as the first Federation of BC Writers Honorary Dame sans merci, To Autumn, Daffodils, Dappled Ambassador, an award given to people who have gone things… oh so many poems... all rhyming! Q: As poet laureate of Nanaimo - what has it been above and beyond promoting literature and supporting writers and poets in their communities. like?  Do you have specific duties? Do you write That’s a nice collection of firsts for a woman poetry for certain occasions? who – into her eighties – is still capturing in verse Continued on Page 7

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WordWorks / Spring 2015

Me and Alice Munro We had both decided, (that is Alice Munro and I) that it was time to put down our pens, cease the flow of words that previously had come endlessly… put it all to an end, when suddenly, almost without warning, and yet vaguely expected, we both (that is Alice Munro and I) get a phone call. Hers is from Sweden, while mine is from Nanaimo, (a little closer to home, I must admit), nevertheless we both hear a phone ring. Alice’s is to announce that she has won a Nobel prize, while mine is to announce my poet laureate-ship of a very small city. A slice more modest I must admit yet still an honour although with an honorarium 1,000th the size. But let’s not dwell on such sordid matters as this, let’s just say that we, (Alice Munro and I) have lived out similar triangles, similar in angles, but with sides not to be compared. My tiny-sided triangle, though similar to Alice’s, respects my comparative talents. I have always sat comfortably with small

Drumbeg Provincial Park, Gabriola Island

knowing it is similar to large, but sufficient in itself. Page 6


WordWorks / Spring 2015

A: As I am the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo, nobody had much idea what to do with me, so in the first year I pretty well pleased myself; I wrote a monthly column for “What’s on Nanaimo,” featuring other area poets; and initiated a monthly poetry competition for a poetry column in the Nanaimo Daily News for poems with a Nanaimo theme, that has been very popular. I may put an anthology of these poems together in my third year in office. I read at many civic occasions for example: Canada Day, the Crowning of the May Queen, Cultural Awards Night etcetera. I also took part in the cross-Canada Mayor’s Challenge by reading to the mayor and council for five minutes. I chose poems I had written with a theme of writing, or poetry. As I became better known, groups such as the Rotarians have asked me to speak and I am doing the occasional workshop in the High Schools. I have worked with the Nanaimo Art Gallery, the Nanaimo Museum, a Nanaimo dance company in the interest of getting cultural groups to join in using different creative outlets. These have been either readings, or workshops. It’s been a win-win situation as it has stimulated me by getting me to write a lot of poetry on demand with themes I wouldn’t normally approach and I have been a punctual, well-dressed, no-axe-togrind poet that the city really wanted. Q: April is National Poetry month. Are you doing anything to celebrate? A: I have four readings and one workshop to give in April. Also I will be participating in the Cascadia Poetry Festival, which will be held in Nanaimo from April 30th to May 3rd. I’m sure your members have been informed of this important poetry festival. A: What are you working on now? What’s next? Q: For my first year as Poet Laureate I produced a chapbook, Naomi in Nanaimo containing all the poems I had written that year. I will be doing that again this year –Naomi in Nanaimo Again, I suppose – as well as a book of tanka prose, my most recent favorite form of expressing myself. Q: You mention all these wonderful poems you read growing up. When did you ‘seriously’ begin to write poetry? Or when did you consider yourself a poet? A: I seriously began to write poetry after a two-year stay in Japan. I was influenced by Winona Baker’s great book of haiku, Moss-hung trees. To help me learn about haiku, (and also young students), I wrote Haiku – one breath poetry, which became a best-seller. I started hosting haiku meetings annually at our home on Gabriola and, meeting some of the world’s leading writers, I learned a whole lot more, and also opened to writing tanka and renku. All during this period I would write the occasional longer poem, and soon these piled up and I published Sex After 70 and later And After 80…. Also at this time I wrote five contract books for Wolsak and Wynn, several of them mixing poetry and essays, a form I called Espoe. Continued on Page 8 Page 7

Poet laureates giving voice to hopes & dreams This April marks the seventeenth anniversary of National Poetry Month in Canada. BC’s poet laureates play an important role promoting language, culture, literature… and portraying our ideas and ideals. In Victoria, Vancouver, Nanaimo and New Westminster they speak from the heart to fellow citizens. We decided to celebrate NPM by focusing on two of them: Naomi Beth Wakan, Poet Laureate of Nanaimo, and Zoe Duhaime, Youth Poet Laureate of Victoria – named this year as the first Federation of BC Writers Ambassador and Youth Ambassador respectively. It’s also fitting, of course, that we pay our respects to BC poet laureates in: Vancouver, Rachel Rose; Victoria, Yvonne Blomer; and New Westminster, Candice James, thanking them for the special perspectives they bring to their cities. If your town or city doesn’t have a poet laureate, perhaps National Poetry Month is a good time to encourage civic officials to create the office. Consider what reading poetry does for you and the added dimension poetry could bring to civic events and landmarks, then share your thoughts with Mayor and Council.


WordWorks / Spring 2015

Q: What does writing poetry mean for you? Has it changed as you have aged? A: I have just finished a book, Poetry that Heals, that tells how by writing haiku, tanka and renku I changed from being an aggressive sales-person for my husband’s and my small publishing company, Pacific- Publisher, to a person immersed in her community and anxious to pay back with encouragement for all the support people have given my writing over the years. Becoming Poet Laureate for a three year term is part of the pay back. Q: What is your preferred form in terms of writing poetry now? Is it ‘anything goes’ depending on the subject or do you challenge yourself within a style or form? A: My preferred form of writing at the moment is tanka prose – a mixture of mini-essay and tanka. This form suits most of the subjects I am interested in, but most of the poetry I have written as laureate has been longer because I have to expound at length on the civic occasion I am being asked to introduce. I could do it in haiku and tanka, but they read better on the page than being read out loud. Q: Has being Poet Laureate of Nanaimo altered the way

Cascadia Headliners

Sam Hamill

Sharon Thesen

Brenda Hillman

Robert Bringhurst

Susan Musgrave

Barry McKinnon

you think of poetry, write poetry, approach readings? A: Many poets think that the demands of a poet laureate would warp their writing in some way, but I found differently. I came to realize that most writers have only one thing to say and that can be said in doggerel, limerick, haiku, tanka or any form, whether one is writing about birth, death, or Nanaimo Bars. Q: What advice would you give the next poet laureate of Nanaimo? A: Advice to a budding poet? Choose a poetry father and mother for yourself – I chose Billy Collins and Wisława Szymborska – and then get reborn to them. When your poetry parents have guided you to your own voice, discard them – with a nod of the head in thanks – and write. You can only improve by writing, not wishing that you had written. And a strong PS: Not everything you write is golden. Allow yourself to be edited and don’t cling to every word you have ever written down on paper. Often others can see more clearly whether you have said what you wanted to say. Consider input seriously, but don’t lose your voice once you have found it.

Brenda Hillman, Sam Hamill, Robert Bringhurst, Sharon Thesen, Susan Musgrave, Barry McKinnon, Amber Dawn, Christine Lowther, Garry Gottfriedson, Christine Leclerc, Missie Peters, Peter Cully, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, George Stanley, Joanne Arnott, Yvonne Blomer, Rita Wong, Sebastien Wen, Sara Brickman, Ann Graham Walker, Naomi Beth Wakan, Kim Clark, Chris Hancock Donaldson, Ursula Vaira, Anastacia Tolbert, David Fraser, Kim Goldberg, Jay Ruzesky, Janet Marie Rogers, Philip Gordon, Harold Rhenisch, Graham Isaac, Robert Lashley, Dan Raphael, Paul Nelson, Brandon Letsinger, Nadine Antoinette Maestas, Mary Ann Moore, Leanne McIntosh, Stephen Collis, Dr. David D. McCloskey.

www.cascadiapoetryfestival.org Page 8

All Access Gold Pass $25 The Living Room April 30 + Three More Days Cascadia Issues Featured Readings Headliners Featured Poets

The Living Room The After Party Readings Two Workshops National International Poets Marmot Spoken-Word Bout “The Line Has Shattered” Five Panel Discussions Make It True Anthology Poems from Cascadia


WordWorks / Spring 2015

Fire’s lit for Victoria Youth Poet Laureate Zoe Duhaime by Shaleeta Harper

Youth laureates a Victoria first

University of Victoria student Zoe Duhaime has been named Youth Poet Laureate of Victoria for 2015. Already an accomplished slam poet, Duhaime has her first self-illustrated poetry book I Must Look Like a Fury coming out in just a few months. A few weeks in, I talked with Zoe about her new role:

Three years ago Victoria became the first municipality in Canada to appoint a Youth Poet Laureate. Given the task of reaching out to atrisk teen populations, the Youth Poet Laureate provides encouragement and education to his or her peers. The role comes with a $1,750 honorarium; $1,000 in project funding; and the mentorship of Victoria’s incumbent Poet Laureate. Zoe Duhaime is Victoria’s third Youth Poet Laureate – she’s excited about the difference she can make.

~~~ Q: What do you think the biggest challenge of this position will be for you? A: I’ve been looking a lot at making a workshop curriculum for high schools these days, and it’s a challenge to be as broad and open as I can in such a short period of time. I think it’s so important to show kids how big spoken word can be as soon as you introduce it. Q: What responsibilities will you need to get used to, as the Youth Poet Laureate? A: Well, I’ve never written for venues like City Hall before! That’s definitely a privilege and responsibility that I look forward to working with.

Q: What aspect of this position are you most excited about? A: I’m excited for collaboration in this position. My previous poetry work has always been in the context of slam, so it’s lovely to be able to create and work outside of those rules and expectations. Q: Yvonne Blomer, Victoria’s Poet Laureate, will

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WordWorks / Spring 2015

be mentoring you this year – tell us a bit more about how this works, or how you think it will be working. A: We’re still figuring out what we want to do! We’re definitely both interested in each other’s projects and work. An aspect of the mentorship that I am really grateful for is that Yvonne knows page poetry very well, so I’m very honoured to have her guidance as I venture that way for the first time. Q: What sort of experience do you have that helped you attain this position? A: With the encouragement of my grandfather and a phenomenal elementary school librarian, I’ve been around poetry for a long time. But it didn’t become a process or a passion until spoken word, which an extraordinary teacher, Brad Cunningham, introduced to me when I was around fifteen. From there I was almost always in work or competition with the art. Q: Do you think this position will change your writing or writing process in any way? A: Already it’s lit a fire beneath page poetry and illustrations for me.

Tickets on sale May 27

Rockwood Centre Sechelt

August 13-16, 2015 tel: 604.885.9631

toll free:1.800.565.9631

www.writersfestival.ca

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Poetry of Rachel McMillen of Summerland Resonances, remembrances of our spiritual being Karma Om. The eternal sound. The Word. Eternity rolled into sound As the sound rolls round My tongue and fills my body. The Word. A Word. Past life to death, Past death to life. The final combination. The first resolution. Heaven blends with hell To become The end that comes Before the first Light. God and Mohammed blended In the Bodhi-tree That grows on The Holy Wooden Mountain. Om. The sound of Silence. Final nothingness of Becoming; The Karma. Birth of death and death Of life.

Remembrance In the wind and the rain I think of you And in the sunlight, smiling. By the sea with her joyous whispers, On the plain with her swells of gold, With never a touch of sorrow But a trace of saddened joy. When the grapes grow round in the summer And fall in the languorous heat, When the leaves are gold and fragile When the wind is brushing the wheat. And in the hour of dawning You rise in me, with the sun And fill me with your presence Till, when each day is done You slip away in shadows To join the glowing night, And leave me in quiet darkness With the memory of your light.


WordWorks / Spring 2015

Mossy trail near Sandspit on Haida Gwaii, photographed by Margo Hearne. More on page 13

Regional Pieces come together in WordWorks by Coco Aders Weremczuk, Regional Editor Look for a new standing feature in the next edition of WordWorks all about our regions, our homes. Better yet, why not send us a story that will give fellow members a sense of your world. We’re asking writers and poets from each Fed region to submit material showing how their physical and mental geography differs from others – what it is that makes the places we live unique. That’s what Regional Pieces will be all about. What is it that makes us so different from the rest of the world? As Canadians it might be our unique pronunciation of the English language or our famous politeness. To be Canadian is to be part of a mosaic, a mixture of cultures harmoniously living together enriching each other’s lives. If you go to Google Earth and hover over North America, much of Canada looks like a brooch, each of the provinces made up of different gems encrusted in a verdigris setting. Our beautiful British Columbia is the

emerald cut diamond on the western edge, rectangular in shape yet surrounded by many facets. Not interested in jewelry? How about wine? Connoisseurs refer to ‘terroir,’ the unique composition of soil, sand and rocks in areas roots reach into, sucking nutrients into the vine, and producing the character of grape unique to that specific ground. The humidity in the air and the water, whether fresh from a lake or rich with minerals from a well, also add to the wine’s final bouquet and flavour. Have you ever wondered about the symbolism in British Columbia’s coat of arms? The Union Jack reflects a colonial history – and reminds us by omission of the region’s First Peoples, who were for so long excluded from our official history. Our geographic location between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean is represented by the wavy

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WordWorks / Spring 2015

blue and silver bars and the setting sun. The stag and the ram flanking and supporting the shield represent the former colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. The crowned lion wears a collar of flowers and sits atop the golden helmet of self-government. Our provincial flower, the dogwood, entwines the motto ‘Splendour Without Diminishment.’ We are indeed steeped in tradition and symbolism. Our province is rich in mountains, fields, rivers, oceans and lakes, with a wonderful abundance of sun, rain and snow. This unique variety is much prized by the film industry for in only one area of the globe can they film someone snow skiing, scuba diving, ploughing a field or being rained on – all in one day. Generally when thinking of regional writing, one thinks of literature set within a particular physical area which is frequently remote and often inaccessible. It is a composite of detailed descriptions – bits of small, almost insignificant information giving the reader a picture that helps him understand why people behave and live the way they do, their customs, dialect, and historical background. Often nature personified, with the limitations it imposes, becomes the main character. The narrator is often an observer, translating the story from the regional lingo to the language and

clarity required for an intended audience, while using local dialect to make the characters authentic. It’s that skillfully interwoven voice that gives the characters and the story the compelling balance of authenticity and credibility. That’s the kind of thing we’re looking for in Regional Pieces – stories that give a sense of you, where you are, doing what you do. Are you a Cariboo Cowboy with saddle sores, dreaming of the big city life? Or a logger on the Sunshine Coast with slivers in your hands, contemplating the softness of your newborn baby? Are you a lonely fisherman gazing across the waters in Tofino, daydreaming about a juicy porterhouse steak? Or are you a secretary in one of the high rises in downtown Vancouver, longing for the end of the day to put pen to paper – okay, fingers to keys – to write about that steamy doctor and his murderous receptionist? What are you thinking about? What are you writing about? Let’s zoom in on our regions and take a look at ourselves. This is going to be an exciting opportunity to showcase our similarities and our individualism. So let us hear from you. You are, after all, the voice of this special province, this wonderful ‘terroir’. Our literature is – in a very real sense – our soul. Come share with us!

Reflective Moment, Delkatla Sanctuary Margo Hearne writes about birds and wildlife out of her home in Masset overlooking Delkatla Wildlife Sanctuary, Haida Gwaii. More often than not it’s wet and windy, but then there is the occasional absolute stillness of a high tide afternoon. A perfect time of reflection. Margo is author and publisher of Nesting Songbirds of Haida Gwaii and Birds at Risk - a Haida Gwaii Introduction. She has lived on Haida Gwaii for almost 40 years and writes regular bird columns from her home in Masset. She has been a Fed member for many years. Page 13


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“You have to do it purely because you enjoy being of service to writers.”

Dear Island Writers: An Interview with Ann Graham Walker By Katherine Melnyk When I first contacted Ann Graham Walker in Nov. 2013, to let the Federation of BC Writers know about an online Cowichan event board Fed members could post to, I was pleased by her quick response and warm reception. It didn’t take her long to convince me to become a Fed member myself. Then I met Ann faceto-face last April at the Fed’s Annual General Meeting, and our relationship has grown from there. As a networking professional I appreciate and respect what she does, linking Island writers through her ongoing e-communication. With Ann, I have a regional rep who cares and ‘has my back’ – but why does she bother? Why put in the hours she does keeping Fed Island members posted. We’re a small organization, so it’s not for fame and glory. With National Volunteer Week coming up April 12th to 18th, I interviewed Ann about what makes a Fed regional rep tick.

Q: Ann, you are the Regional Rep for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. How did you acquire this role and why? A: To be honest, there are regions on the mainland that unfortunately don’t have a rep now, but two or three years ago that’s what the Fed looked like – a sort of provincial quilt of regional reps all networking as the BC writers’ Fed. I thought it was a wonderful concept for the province’s writers to be connected like that. There was a really strong and enthusiastic provincial writers’ federation in Nova Scotia, where I lived before, and I was a member. So when the previous Islands regional rep, David Fraser, decided he wanted to take a break and couldn’t find a replacement, I said okay, I’d give it a try. I’d already said to him earlier that I’d do it if no one else wanted it. I don’t know. I’m a quiet person. I thought maybe a more extroverted person should be doing it, if one was available. But the truth is I was glad no one else wanted to do it Continued Next Page

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because I thought ‘Wow! How amazing to have this opportunity to get to know the Island’s writers.’ I’d already come to really value and appreciate the writing community here through things I’d participated in like the Glenairley poetry retreats and the Victoria School of Writing and WordStorm in Nanaimo and other local writing events. I don’t know if people fully realize what a gifted, close-knit and approachable writing community we have on the Islands. Q: What is the most important thing you do as a regional rep? A: Really, all I do as regional rep is connect Island members through an e-list and share news of readings, publications and other member events. That’s all I do, but that small, dependable gesture of connection turns out to be important to people, I have discovered. Of course in urban areas, reps are connecting with their members in different ways, like through the cool new ‘Meet Up’ app the Fed has just introduced – you’ll start seeing it all over, here too, not just in urban areas. Q: Is the role of regional rep purely volunteer? A: Totally. I’m scratching my mind to think whether there are any financial perks, and I can’t come up with any. You have to do it purely because you enjoy being of service to writers. But what is amazing – and I discovered this very quickly – is that writers write notes. They are unique in that way. They write really lovely appreciative notes, just when you need one and weren’t expecting to find one in your inbox. It’s better than money, truly. Q: What do you see as the key components of being a regional rep? A: Always answer your member emails as promptly as you can. One-on-one relationships are what make the job meaningful and interesting – I’ve met so many people through this job. Always remember how much they are paying to be a member of the Fed, and if they are experiencing a problem or a glitch, get it fixed. You may not be getting paid but you still have agreed to be their rep so that’s your job. Q: What do you like best about being a regional rep? What are the benefits? A: I start every one of my newsletters ‘Dear Island Writers.’ That’s it. The network of writers that is here – or is it a village? Doing a job where I am interconnected with other people who share my love of writ-

ing. I regularly get huge feedback that it means a lot to the writing community, so in that way the effort directly creates its own benefit and reward. And, by the way, this is actually the perfect job for a quiet person. You can quietly do a huge amount of socializing as regional rep, I’ve learned, so that’s great fun for me. Q: What is something surprising you’ve learned as a regional rep? A: Surprising would be how wonderfully surprised and delighted writers are by personal communication. A reply to their email, for instance, is a big hit – but it’s more than that. We all work in isolation, even loneliness. But, through my little Island newsletters, writers receive news of each other on their iPhone screens or computer monitors, they find out how they can turn out for each other’s events, and they really appreciate that someone has made the effort to let them know. I’ve been at poetry readings where afterwards people come up to me and introduce themselves and thank me for the newsletters. People I’ve never met in person – but of course I immediately recognize their names. It’s so sweet that they do that. There are around 180 members on the Island’s mailing list, by the way. When I started out there were sixty. I think it’s the popularity of the list, the opportunity to network, that is building the membership. Q: If there was one thing you would want people to know about being a regional rep, what would that be? A: I am not sure how to answer that because I think everyone brings their own priorities and gifts, their own stamp to the job and that is a good thing. When I hand this over, the next person will probably do it very differently. I just hope they keep up the member events e-list and, you know, not half-heartedly. I think the e-list has huge potential to connect Island writers, even beyond where it is today. For that to happen we have to build membership, of course. But to me it’s such a perfect role for the Fed to play and play well. Writers are communicators, and through the Island e-list the Fed potentially enables them to speak to one another by building a large, inclusive writer-network. You can find out more about Katherine Melnyk and Ann Graham Walker by viewing their Writer’s Profiles, which can be opened via the Index under the Members tab at www.bcwriters.ca.

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Self-publishing doesn’t mean going it alone by Hayley Rickaby More than a hundred writers packed Nanaimo’s Unitarian Fellowship Church Jan. 24, all wanting to find out more about the Indie phenomenon from speakers at the first Vancouver Island Self-Publishing Conference. The biggest lesson they took away from the seven hour event was that going ‘indie’ does not exclude the word ‘dependent’; to be a successful selfpublisher you need to build a team that will make your book stand out on the shelf. Federation of BC Writers Executive Director Craig Spence kicked off the conference with a presentation about the six-stage cycle of successful self-publishing: inspiration, story development, writing, editing, publication design (interior and exterior), printing and last but not least, distribution and promotion. Now, if you’re a writer wondering, “How am I going to do this

all on my own?” the answer is you don’t have to. In fact, you shouldn’t. Build a team that lets you focus on parts of the process you own while getting help where it’s needed. Professional Editors’ Association of Vancouver Island President Lenore Hietkamp delved into the importance of hiring an editor, and offered some advice about how to do it. You can start by looking at professional editing websites, Linked-in profiles, online reviews of editors and good old-fashioned networking. Once a writer has found the editor they desire, they must then form a trusting editorial relationship to make sure that after all the editing is done the voice of the writer still stands out on the page. What does an editor actually do? PEAVI’s next speaker Sally Jennings gave some amusing accounts of the editor’s job, moving writers from good to better.

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She educated the audience on the mechanics of the editing process: using logic, being consistent, knowing your audience, right down to fixing grammar, spelling and punctuation. If a writer is looking for an editor with unique qualifications: they may want to higher a copy editor who specializes in spelling, punctuation and style; or, if they feel they need a higher level review, they should look for a substantive editor who will help rearrange the content of a manuscript. Your manuscript’s been edited. Now what? Author and publishing consultant Suzanne Anderson talked about the interior design of your book, how it’s just as important as what you see on the covers. The author of Self-Publishing in Canada: a Complete Guide to Designing, Printing and Selling your Book had some very useful advice, starting with proper information about copyright, legal information, and identification of the country where the book is printed. Craig Shemilt of Victoria’s Island Blue Printing Co emphasized the need to get real about costs. “Creating a budget for everything that you want to do” in the printing process and having a coherent business plan are critical steps to success. Sound planning helps writers – and publishers – choose between printing options such as: offset, which has a longer set up time but lower cost per copy for large print runs; and digital, which has a quick turnaround and is great for shorter runs. Having an open dialogue with the printer about the budget, vision and aesthetics of a book will guarantee a publication both writer and printer can be proud of, Shemilt said. Patrick O’ Conner owns the Victoria Bindery, a fifty-year-old business that specializes in binding soft and hardcover books, designing covers and binding repair. He talked about the different types of bindings – perfect, saddle stitch, coil, smyth sewn – selfpublishers can choose from. Your book is written, edited, printed and bound. Now comes the hard part, arguably the part you should have thought out loud before you started seriously putting words to page – it’s time to take your book into the marketplace. Bruce Batchelor is the owner of Agio Publishing House and author of Book Marketing Demystified. He spoke about what marketing a book entails, fundamentals such as: knowing the product,

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text Magazine Editor-in-Chief Shaleeta Harper and Editor Philip Gordon

knowing where to sell it and what the book is worth. A good marketing plan, which takes advantage of the local markets, is key. And once you’re on track celebrate! Often! That’s important too. text Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Shaleeta Harper and Editor Philip Gordon have a lot to celebrate. They capped the day’s presentations with the success story of their self-published, free literary magazine text, which hit the streets and coffee shops of Nanaimo in October. The free magazine is available at many venues: The Vault, Bocca Café, and Literacy Nanaimo to name a few. Harper’s advice for launching a selfpublished magazine: find people equally as passionate and invested in the project as you, shop around for printing quotes, and most importantly make a business plan and budget before moving forward. Hmmm! I think we’ve heard that one before! Brains overflowing with information and advice from so many knowledgeable speakers, members of Vancouver Island’s writing community left the Fed’s self-publishing conference with a single comforting assurance: no independent publisher is ever really alone. Not here.

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What do you do when your manuscript just isn’t working? by Katrin Horowitz In the middle of the journey of our days I found that I was in a darksome wood the right road lost and vanished in the maze There’s a special circle of Hell reserved for writers who, finding themselves in the middle of their stories, have lost their way. Some of you may be there right now. Some of you may have been there for years, writing, editing, rewriting, tweaking, fixing — and it’s beginning to feel hopeless. So how can you find your way out? My first and most important suggestion: do nothing. Put your manuscript away and don’t look at it for at least a month. The goal is to come back to it with fresh eyes and an open mind, so use your usual writing time to do something you normally don’t do: cook great meals that involve a lot of complicated ingredients, explore new places on long walks, learn a new language, volunteer for something you’ve never done before. Take time to read or reread as many books as you can, by authors you admire. Make lists of what you like about those books. Compare the lists and look for patterns. Not all good books are the same – figuring out what makes a book good for you is the first step toward writing your own good story. Then, after your sabbatical, read your manuscript as though you have never seen it before, as if someone else had written it. Take time to admire things you especially like. If you’re lucky, when you get to the point where your manuscript first got lost in the woods, the momentum of your story will flow into your fingertips, taking you to the next word, next paragraph, next chapter. — all the way to the end. Or maybe not.

You may arrive at the end of your manuscript still feeling bewildered. In that case, write down the three things – only three – that you like best about what you just read. It could be a single sentence or a paragraph that captures the essence of the book you want to write; it could be a character who embodies everything that matters to you as a writer; it could be a scene that crackles with suspense or humour; it could be the sheer inventiveness of a plot point or two. Look at your list, admire your skill in producing those three things. And then, putting the rest of the manuscript aside, rewrite it from the start, making sure to incorporate those three things. For some writers, this is a moment of liberation from the weight of an unwieldy manuscript. For others, it is a cause for deeper despair.

Half way along the road we have to go, I found myself obscured in a great forest, Bewildered, and I knew I had lost the way.

Midway on our life’s journey, I found myself In dark woods, the right road lost. Keep in mind that for the brave writer there are Continued Next Page

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many paths out of the dark woods. One of them will be the right road for you. Consider: Is the wrong person telling your story? There are always constraints and trade-offs when we choose a point of view for our stories – and our first choice may not be the best. Give some thought to what your story would look like if you change the point of view – from third person to first, say, or with an entirely new narrator. What would you gain? Would you lose anything important? Is the structure of your story too flat? Does it plod from start to finish without much variation in tone or perspective? Think of your story as a movie: zoom in and out with your verbal camera, add some flashbacks or flash-forwards to provide context and depth, mix quieter scenes that develop character together with dramatic action scenes, or build tension with foreshadowing. Is there a subplot that you like more than your main storyline? Maybe there’s a different and better story hidden inside your manuscript. By reversing the background and the foreground you might see new and intriguing possibilities.

A thought: If you’ve been working on your manuscript for a long time, you are no longer the person you were when you set out on this journey. You have had many new ideas and new experiences; both you and the world have changed. Take a moment to think back to how you felt when the first tiny green leaf of an idea unfurled in your mind. If you still love that idea, write it down. Then think of all the different ways you might tell that story, now that you have grown in experience and skill and wisdom. Trust yourself; you can come to yourself; things don’t stay misplaced forever. You can finish your story and you can make it better. And one final thought: It helps if you’re not alone on your journey. A critique group or a fellow Fed member who will read your manuscript can be enormously helpful.

In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself In a dark forest The straightforward way Misplaced.

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Note 1: This article had its start as a discussion in Katrin’s workshop, Writing Better Stories: Using character, structure and plot to improve your stories. Note 2: With thanks to Caroline Bergval, who collected 47 different translations of the first lines of Dante’s Inferno into her own poem, VIA. Graphic: Salvador Dali’s depiction of the ‘Wood of Suicides’ from Dante’s ‘Inferno’ Source: Library at University of Illinois

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“Daniel”

by Chelsea Comeau Daniel looms in a pair of my black heels. Some days he borrows my pleated skirts, my best sweaters, because they look just as beautiful on him. Daniel is poised and strong. Neither of us speaks the secret to anyone. Daniel and I are weeks from finishing high school and plane tickets to Vancouver burn holes in our pockets. We are like two dogs on chains who are afraid to be free. On weekends, Daniel and I drive ten miles out of this little town into the heart of another to stay with his boyfriend, Alex. I sleep on the hide-a-bed in Alex’s living room and eat pizza pockets on folded paper towels. Alex buys diet Dr. Pepper and keeps a few cans in the fridge just for me. On Sundays, the three of us cry together before Daniel and I drive home. Alex knows someone in Vancouver who will give all three

of us jobs, and when he’s saved enough money, he’s going to marry Daniel. On the night of our graduation, Daniel will wear the blue dress I alter for him with my mother’s machine. We found the dress at a shopping mall and I pretended it was for me. Daniel wants only to arrive in a limousine, stand beneath the arch of silver and white balloons, show everyone his truest self. Our town is a cliché, so we will leave soon after, before someone tries to beat him up. Daniel just wants them to know. While I measure Daniel’s perimeters, his grandfather burns leaves in the yard. Daniel and his grandfather live together in a small farmhouse. Daniel and I have known each other for so long, his grandfather thinks we’ll get married. Daniel’s dress is the colour of lapis. The hips need Continued Next Page

And the winner is... Chelsea Comeau & everyone else! Chelsea Comeau is a writer whose work has appeared in Quills and CV2. In 2014 she attended the Banff Centre’s Writing With Style Programme with Lorna Crozier, and she takes part in annual retreats in Honeymoon Bay with Patrick Lane. In January 2015, she was chosen as the Canadian winner of Leaf’s Press’ Overleaf chapbook contest. Now she can add the Federation of BC Writers’ 2015 Youth Writing Contest to her growing list of literary credentials. We have a feeling Chelsea will be a young writer to watch in the coming years – and to read. To all the entrants in this years contest, congratulations! The judges were impressed with the originality or your ideas and the quality of your work. We hope you will keep on writing and submitting your stories. Page 21


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to be brought in, and the chest, but otherwise Daniel looks perfect. There are small blue sequins fixed to the dress so when it catches the light for a moment it holds the sea. We are laughing while Bob Dylan plays on the radio, an Oldies station we like. We laugh so hard that we don’t hear Daniel’s grandfather in the hall. The door is unlocked and swings open. Daniel’s grandfather stands framed, sees the measuring ribbon between my hands, Daniel exultant in a lapis dress. Outside a curl of smoke rises from the leaf mound like ghosts at the window. Daniel’s grandfather advances soundlessly, pins his grandson to the hard-

wood floor and tears the dress from around his bones. The seam where the zipper is fused comes apart. Daniel’s palms eclipse his face. His cries are not words, but notes of pain. Without the dress he is framed only by white underwear, his chest and legs naked. Daniel’s grandfather takes the dress down the hall and out the front door. I follow him to the yard. He opens his fist, lets the dress fall into the fire that slowly eats an island of leaves. Daniel’s grandfather meets my gaze as though betrayed. The dress curls in on itself. Its sequins crackle in the heat, like birds burst open on power lines.

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“Now, when the bus comes, you get on first and wait for me. I have to pay the driver and then we’ll get a seat.” “Can I?” “Pay the driver? I better do it this time. It’s been a long while since I’ve been on a bus and I’m not sure how it works, anymore. You can pay on the way back if it’s not too busy. Okay?” People from all over the world vacationed on Vancouver Island – ocean and tall timber, rivers and lakes, villages and cities, and a famously friendly population. However, the one thing that our wonderful island did not have was diversity of culture. Living in Chemainus, one of the picturesque villages on the east side of the island, we knew many first nations people. The island of Penelakut with its sad, sad residential school history was directly across the Stuart Strait from our back yard. Other than the friends and acquaintances from the Halalt band, who regularly crossed the short distance from their homes to ours via the British Columbia Ferry service, we saw very little difference in culture or complexion. “Here it comes. We’ll let this other lady go first. She’s got a lot of parcels.” Where so much of the rest of the world came to

visit us, we had decided to take a short vacation in the city. We had arrived in Vancouver the day before and today I had decided to take my four year old son for an adventure. We were going to ride on a bus! Of course, buses existed on Vancouver Island and, of course Kit had seen them time and again. But he had never ridden in one. Due to the expansive distances between destinations, the long waits and circuitous routes of the buses between Chemainus and other island towns and villages, almost everyone drove a car. Small vehicles and hybrids were very popular. So, here we were in the big city and I was about to expand my son’s education – one more experience upon which to build his growing awareness of the world. I was holding Kit’s hand. “Oh dear,” I said, “I don’t see any seats.” The bus was full and the lady with the many parcels seemed to have taken the last available place to sit. “There’s one,” Kit tugged my arm. “On the long seat.” There was another reason that I sometimes avoided buses. This was because the stopping and

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starting and generally lurching quality of the ride often made me quite nauseous. This feeling was compounded if I had to ride on the side facing seats - watching the scenery slide by, tugging at my eyes and stomach to follow its swish. Closing my eyes was even worse as then the unexpected stops and starts and curb-ward swoops played extra havoc with my queasiness. Consequently, if I were forced to ride in one of the unfortunate side facing benches, I tried to keep my eyes open and look toward the front of the bus. It was absolutely the safest position. I sat and pulled Kit onto my knee. “Good,” I thought. His head is blocking my vision. I’ll just focus on his neck.” I really hoped that the education of Christopher Moody would be worth my discomfort and personal anxiety. On my lap, Kit wriggled to get comfortable and then sat rigidly still. “Does that man have a headache?” I looked past Kit’s neck and the head and saw seated directly across from us a large man, heavily bearded and wearing a turban. “Kit!” I hissed. In truth, I could think of nothing further to say – to defuse my son’s wrong place and wrong time question. If we had been on the street or in a passing vehicle, I must admit that I would have scurried both of us away in a very embarrassed escape. We were, however, packed into a crowded bus with a very long trip ahead of us. “Does he?” piped my son. I looked at the man, who was steadily staring at the two of us. “It’s a hat!” Kit squealed. He was delighted that he had solved the mystery. The back area of the bus had suddenly become very quiet. People were reading the overhead advertisements that they had never noticed before, picking at their perfectly manicured fingernails or suddenly dozing. “No,” I said. “It’s not a hat, exactly. It’s a religious symbol.” And then I grimaced to myself, “Well, that’ll help. That ought to clear things up.” “A simple?’ he questioned. “Shh, I’ll explain later.”

Kit had turned to look at me. I was hoping that the man would smile at my young son’s lack of social refinement or look away, or signal with hand or head that I should not be concerned – a yes, you can talk about it later signal. This was not to be. He looked steadily at both of us. The other passengers remained fascinated by the bus ads, their manicures or their dreams. I saw us escaping – leaping off the bus at the next stop - but then imagined the embarrassment of disembarking amid Kit’s protests and questions and the others passenger’s sighs of relief. At that very moment, a woman four rows up sounded the bus’ buzzer and we pulled over to the curb. I had a moment of relief as she was leaving her seat. We could move. I would be facing forward and I could answer Kit’s questions calmly and quietly; but just then the young man sitting next to me sprang forward into the vacant seat – escaping. The eyes of the other passengers around us followed his retreat with obvious envy. I saw it clearly as a further twenty minute sentence. However, almost immediately, the man from across the aisle moved next to us. Kit looked surprised and pleased. I felt only shocked. “Well Kit,” he said, “I think that’s your name. Am I right?” As he spoke to my son he glanced at me - a request for permission. I nodded. “Well mostly,” said Kit. “I have a real name but it’s too long. I can’t say it properly, yet.” “Oh,” said the man. “Would that be Christopher?” Kit’s eyes blinked and danced. “How did you know?” “I guessed,” said the man. “And I think I was right. I also think that you would like to know about my hat.” “See,” said Kit, turning back to me. “I was right. It is a hat.” “Well, sort of,” said the man. “I have very long hair and I use it to tuck the hair up under but it’s also a religious symbol – just like your mom said.” “A simple?” “No, symbol,” the man said slowly and carefully.

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“Did you wear a poppy on Armistice Day? On Poppy Day?” he continued. Kit nodded. “Well that poppy was a symbol. It showed that you remembered the soldiers who died. And you cared about them. Do you know the word respect?” Kit nodded again. The readers, pickers and sleepers were now alert. “Well, that poppy showed that you respected those soldiers.” “But your hat…it’s not a poppy...not a red one. No my hat is called a dastaar but most people call

it a turban. It’s a symbol because it shows respect for the god that I believe in and for myself. Does that make sense, Mr. Christopher?” he asked as he stood and pressed the buzzer. “Yes. You wear your hat so that I can know that you’re respectful,” said my son. The bus trip had indeed been an educational experience. The tutelage of Christopher Moody had definitely, but from a totally unexpected source, been enhanced - his growing awareness of the world truly expanded. And I? I was suddenly aware that I had not suffered one moment of the side-seat queasies.

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Nursing a Grievance by Mary Lowery I’m up here, floating around on the ceiling ― or rather under it ― looking down at my past life. No, I’m not dead. Very much alive, in fact, and given the chance ― or perhaps the opportunity ― to look at my life from a different angle. I’m in the sitting room from my earlier life: dark-oak Edwardian mantel above the modern gas fire, a suite of matching oak armchairs and stiff side-tables standing to barley-twist attention among the oriental rugs, my adored peacock carpet fanning out on the floor in pride of place. It is a room of nostalgia and fading Victorian certainty. Dominating the blank wall opposite the fireplace, I can imagine that there should have been a print, untitled, showing me as a plump, smiling mother holding a healthy, burbling baby daughter to her breast. That is how I saw myself for a long time. When

I had expectations of providing for her and creating increased security for myself and my husband in retirement. I knew the coded map to a satisfactory place in society, to respect, and what I certainly deserved if I followed the map. So I did. Even though my boss never thanked me. Even though he passed me over for promotion. Even though he said I was not available to prospective employers when I tried to leave. Those were human injustices that I did not deserve. If I re-imagined the print after them, the smile would be gone. Then came the unfairness of intractable Nature that led to a specialist removing a lump from the right breast and twenty-one nodes from the corresponding armpit. In one corner of the room beside the music

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player, there stood a blue, crushed-velvet settee from Goodwill Services. ‘My bordello blue’ I called it; it reminded me of red velvet and golden gilt in a place where other women were leading a life I could not imagine. The settee arrived following the surgery; the heavily padded side could support my swollen right arm in a way the bare wood of the oak suite could not. But I no longer trusted my continued existence and had to push away thoughts of the path one takes alone. I rested, stretched out on the crushed-blue velvet many afternoons, gazing at the blank ceiling wondering about the pernicious influences that had been at work in my life to bring this disease upon me. I often snoozed, or half-slept in the low westerly sun, and could have re-imagined the print. The mother would have been little changed but for the pinched lips and the eyes narrowed with distrust. But the child would no longer have been a daughter, but my own self – a wasted face ugly with convolutions, lips permanently fixed to a limp breast held up by my adult hand. The resentment at the wrinkles in my expectations, at my unjust desserts, would be showing. The print of my imagination would have reverted to the happy original when, with shining red hair and glowing skin, I returned to work and resumed normal social connections. My daughter grew up, flourished, and graduated. A promotion came my way. The pay now met the norm for the profession. And the need for surgery and the scars reminded me of my mortality and nudged me into activities for personal growth: landscaping the garden; attuning the sounds of the three-tier waterfall for a zen balance between stimulation and relaxation; creating a Muskoka woodland mural up and over a narrow staircase winding from the sitting-room to the upper floor; and painting a powder room as an underwater world of waving weeds and exotic fish. The bordello blue now bathed in the light of the sunroom overlooking the garden, and the formal sitting-room with its constraining Victorian certainty was deserted. I signed onto a course in which, by grappling with the basic principles of two dimensional art, I performed for the first time a wholly creative act. It began with me sitting on my bordello blue, cutting out hundreds of two-inch squares from magazines in the first of many marathon stages. It continued with me arranging a selection of them, as

directed by the instructor of the course, into a whole, with continuity of line, colour, shape, or texture between the adjacent sides of the squares. The exercise involved nearly four hundred matches and only after nine frustrating hours did a shape begin to emerge. It finished after thirty-six hours of focussed work with the appearance of a draped figure unlike any that I could have visualized. Vapours shifting between purple and turquoise, drifted around and into the form like fragments of veils floating on themselves. On the body itself – shrouded here and unshrouded there – eyes and ears formed solid in arches and doors, yet dissolved into lemon fire and flame orange. Being themselves and not themselves. The figure stood with horns surmounting its shadowed head. An eyeless face fixed me with an unspoken question, inviting me to formulate it. I was in wonderment at its mystery. And at how it came to be. True, what emerged had come partly from my hand, and from the materials themselves. But my ecstasy was at the gift which had come out of the unknown, and which had allowed my hand to transform simple paper squares into a strange figure. It was as if the creative force had manifested to me the mystery of itself. Being wholly creative had taken me from my familiar sunroom on an unmapped journey to a place of mystery and ecstasy. And perhaps unknowingly away from my husband. The surprise of his departure one year later left me stunned and at a loss, an automaton for six months. My heavy footfall sounded hollow on the narrow, oak staircase. Tissues crumpled with tears filled my pockets and accumulated in the waste basket. On the desk and the dining table, work assignments stacked up around me, meaninglessly. I was, like Prufrock, measuring out my life with coffee cups. One day, stretched out on my bed, I stared at the house opposite as the sun rose behind it and beamed into my room. I was still there as it was setting. It flashed briefly on the windows across the street, as if a signal to remind me of the tedium of my trauma when set against the gift of the collage. If the print had been real, I could have looked closer and seen the suggestion of an embryonic grotesque within my dug, and the name, ‘Nursing a Grievance’ in the tag on the oak frame.

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Up here, under the ceiling, I see another painting, a water-colour, that hung in the dining room in my husband’s pride of place and which he took with him when he left. Delicate brushstrokes suggested a Muskoka swamp of decaying, cramped trees, their dark branches and one side of their trunks barely touched by a low light entering through the middle, its source beyond the picture. No people. I see now that the artist created a very straitened place though the picture itself is large. My husband always liked it. I don’t see the textile-hanging of flying dragons and birds and lizards, or the white and indigo bedcover that came to me while working in China. Or anything precious that indicate the exotic journeys, on and off the map, that I subsequently took: in Quintana Roo, Baku, Siam Reap, Positano, and Santorini. But the picture, its tag ‒Nursing a Grievance‒ long gone, I still re-imagine. Sometimes it is placed against a wall in the basement, where the summer condensation

from the cold water-pipe has run down the faces, softening the lips into a pink water-fall, liquefying the dark eyes into drooping tulip blooms. At other times, it lies flat in the attic under the leaks, a roadless map of an unknown world: perhaps a purple sea washed into a mint sky; maybe a blue stream meandering over zircon islands. Now that no grievance is being nursed, my world has infinite possibilities. From up here, above it all, I think angelically. I ask, ‘Where would I be if there was justice in the world? Would I deserve only what I imagined for myself in the original picture? Only the failed security that I had worked for? Only the hard certainty of the furniture in my sitting room?’ I think, ‘Let’s not ask for justice, or at least justice as we can imagine it. It leads to the idea that we are deserving, when most of what we receive – a place on this earth, an inspiring teacher, music and laughter with those we love, and ecstasy at mystery – comes unbidden and unmerited.

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WordWorks / Spring 2015

We can reach our objectives if we all contribute by Craig Spence, FBCW Executive Director

We’ve all had the experience. The car’s broken down, or stuck in a snowbank. We’re straining to push it off the road, or up the hill, driver’s door opened, feet slipping, legs aching, trying to wrench the power steering as we inch it forward, cursing under our breath... Then – miraculously – the load lightens, as if an invisible hand were pushing the two-tons of metal forward for us. Instinctively we look back and there’s a bunch of teens, laughing and joining what to them is a bit of a lark; or a neighbour smiles condolences, even as he helps; or... Volunteers are people motivated by the most basic and powerful urge we humans are capable of – the simple desire to do something good and worthwhile with a group of like-minded people for a cause they believe in. If you could measure the energy contributed to thousands of non-profit organizations, by millions of supportive members, you’d have an idea of how much gets done in the country by the sheer power of dedication and good will. The Federation of BC Writers needs volunteers. As an organization providing services for writers, we

need to engage and activate that 10 to 15 per cent of our membership who want to feel empowered not only by the services they receive from their organization, but by the skills they contribute. For example, the Board of Directors wants to support events and programs in every region. That can’t be done without Event Planners, just one of the opportunities listed at bcwriters.ca/members/volunteeropportiunities right now. You don’t just throw someone into a position like that, you support them. Regional Event Planners will have start up funding available to them, promotional and design support from the Fed office, and constant referal to expertise wherever and however it can be found. We’re a provincially distributed organization. But some tasks can be handled from anywhere in BC. Take the Membership List Assistant’s position for instance – please! Your couple of hours per week would help keep our membership list updated, meaning we will be able to provide better service to your fellow members.

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There’s more listings on our web site, and more to come. And if you’re a bit shy about asking: ‘What’s in it for me?’ don’t be. Volunteers donate their time and energy for all sorts of reasons. As well as wanting to make a positive contribution to the writing community, they may have any or many of the following on their check-lists: • Meet people and make friends; • Gain experience and credentials at specific positions or tasks; • Achieve recognition within the organization and the writing community; • Take advantage of some of the ‘perks’ available to volunteers, little things like guaranteed attendance or access to events; • Be involved in bringing events and programs suited to their specific interests of their community to the Fed; • Test an idea they think might have business or commercial potential beyond the Fed; • Become more involved in the organization with a view to joining the Board of Directors. There’s no single pathway to volunteering; but we’re hoping lots of pathways lead to bcwriters.ca/members/ volunteer-opportunities, and that one of those pathways is yours. If you have any questions about volunteering, or perhaps a suggested volunteer-role, please contact Craig Spence at executivedirector@bcwriters.ca.

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Annual Non-Fiction Contest $1500 in prizes available, plus publication! $34.95 entry fee includes 1 year of EVENT 5,000 word limit Contest Judge: Andrew Westoll Deadline April 15, 2015

photo by Mark Mushet

WordWorks / Spring 2015

Visit eventmagazine.ca Reading Service for Writers If you are a new writer, or a writer with a troublesome manuscript, EVENT’s Reading Service may be just what you need. Manuscripts will be edited by one of EVENT’s editors and receive an assessment of 700-1000 words, focusing on such aspects of craft as voice, structure, rhythm and point of view. Eligible manuscripts include short fiction and creative non-fiction under 5,000 words, or up to eight pieces of poetry. The assessment will arrive in four to eight weeks. EVENT’s Reading Service for Writers costs $100 (pay online, or by cheque or international money order). You’ll also receive a one-year subscription (or renewal) so you can check out EVENT’s award-winning mix of writing. Email:

event@douglascollege.ca

Phone:

604-527-5293

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WordWorks Spring 2015  

The Federation of British Columbia Writers' magazine 'for writers, about writing.