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People at work to move RCLAS ahead: Board of Directors President: Nasreen Pejvack Vice–President: Janet Kvammen

Secretary: Lozan Yamolky Treasurer: Carol Johnson Director at Large: Alan Girling Director at Large: Alan Hill Director at Large: Lisa Strong

Our Dedicated Volunteers Assisting RCLAS Board Deborah Kelly (Acting Workshop Host)

Ruth Kozak (In Their Words) Julia Schoennagel (SheLa) Nefertiti Morrison

"RCLAS President Nasreen Pejvack is going on yet another Book Tour, across the country and in Europe."


Thank you to everyone who submitted! Winners will be announced on April 30, 2018 Save The Date:

Ruth’s historical novel SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON was published by MediaAria-CDM of UK in 2014. Volume 2 THE FIELDS OF HADES was published in 2016. Ruth has been a travel journalist since 1982. She edits/publishes an on-line travel zine. She taught writing classes for VSB and currently conducts workshops at the Heritage Grill (formerly at WAVES) in New Westminster, Brock House, Jericho, and does a variety of in-home workshop or presentations to writing groups as well as editing and writing coaching. She has also participated in the RCLAS ‘Lit Fest” at Douglas College.

WEBSITES AND BLOGS for W. Ruth Kozak Travel Blog Blog for novel Shadow of the Lion Website for published books and articles (ezine, edited and published by W. Ruth Kozak)


Alan Hill

Alan Hill is the Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster. He has published three full collections of poetry including ‘The Upstairs Country’ (Silver Bow Publishing 2012) and ‘The Broken Word’ (Silver Bow Publishing 2013) and been published in over forty literary magazines and periodicals across Europe and North America. In Canada his publication credits include CV2, Event, Canadian Literature, Acta Victoriana, Dalhousie Review. Antigonish Review, subTerrain, Windsor Review, Poetry is Dead and many others. His latest collection of poems, 'The Narrow Road to the Far West' is a very personal tribute to some of the places that have meant most to him in his time living in New Westminster. The book is an exploration of his own mental and geographical landscape, but he hopes you will find poems here that resonate with your own lives. Like poets everywhere, he has dug in to explore the general in the very particular, the heaven in a wild flower, the universe in a grain of sand; or in this case pub or dollar store. Alan met his Vietnamese-Canadian wife to be whilst working in Botswana. He is the proud father of two young children and a soccer coach. He thus spends most of his life being ignored by young people who know better than him.

Visit Alan’s City of New Westminster page here:

Check out his Facebook page:

In The Absence of Rain by Jerena Tobiasen

I had been six years old for three months. By the time I was to start school in September, I would be closer to seven than six. In those days, you didn’t start school when you were five. You had to wait. I passed my days playing with neighbourhood friends caught in the same dilemma as me, talking with grandpa, or playing by myself or with my two younger sisters. Saturdays were different though. On Saturdays, mom would dress the three of us in fancy clothes, and dad would take us on a bus ride into town. We’d walk up and down the streets, wander through the toy departments at Woodwards and Eatons, and ride the bus home again. “Don’t you dare buy them anything to eat!” mom would admonish him before we’d leave the house on our Saturday jaunt. “Bring them back just the way you take them out – clean and tidy!” I loved my grandpa more than any other person in my life. I was his princess, and the only one who could understand what he said, since he had his stroke several years ago. I understood his tone, his gesticulations and his body language. I can tell you that now. Back then, I just ‘got him’. If an adult, especially my grandma, couldn’t understand what grandpa wanted, I’d be called to interpret. I’m sure my grandpa loved me as much as I loved him.

My second favourite person in the world was my dad, because he made Saturdays special, something to which we could look forward. Mom would dress us up, so we’d look pretty for him, and he would take us out - out of the ordinary routine and into another world. We’d ride on the bus and everyone we met would tell us how pretty we were. They’d tell my dad that he had a beautiful family, and he would beam at the praise. We weren’t allowed to ask him to buy us cake or ice cream or chocolate milk, because we might spill something on our special clothes. But he could lift us high, so we could slurp fresh water from the fountain on the street. He’d be quick with his hanky to catch the drips on our chin. He would push the stroller, with my youngest sister in it, up and down the streets and we’d gaze into shop windows. My other sister and I held onto the side bars of the stroller, so dad could easily keep an eye on us. When we’d board the bus for the return ride home, dad would straighten our outfits and tell us to behave so we stayed neat till we arrived home. When we arrived home, the commander of our universe would greet us at the door, and check each of us to ensure we were as clean and tidy as when she’d happily released us to the unknowns of downtown Vancouver. Later, I’d sit with my grandpa, holding one of his huge bear-paw hands in both of mine, while I prattled on about every moment of our Saturday adventure. In turn, he would reward me with a great hug and a nickel for a roll of cherry flavoured Lifesavers. Easter was coming. It was a few weeks away, and that meant spring showers and fragrant flowers, baby birds peeping and new buds peeling on trees. It also meant that the rain that had been falling heavily for the past few months would lessen. The stinging bite of frozen drops

would soften, and black-grey skies would brighten. It also heralded a new outfit – an Easter outfit from a shop called Helen’s on Hastings Street. In mid-March, mom took my sisters and me to the shop that sold fashionable children’s clothing. She chatted with the shopkeeper who helped her to pick out three matching outfits: pink dresses, smocked across the chest and trimmed with tiny flowers, a matching pink coat with a peter-pan collar, a white straw hat with tiny flowers around the band and colourful ribbons to be tied under the chin, snow white socks, white patent shoes with a matching purse, and lacy white gloves. For the youngest, mom also bought white panties with lacy trim across the behind. “Let’s keep this a secret,” mom said confidentially. “We’ll surprise daddy when he takes you to town at Easter time.” My sister and I grinned with excitement to think that we would have a secret for dad. I knew his eyes would light up with love when he saw the three of us on Easter Saturday, dressed like blossoms plucked from a Japanese cherry tree. When we arrived home, my mom opened the three white boxes she’d brought from Helen’s, each containing one Easter outfit. She shook out each dress and coat and hung them in our special closet, she placed the hats and purses on the shelf above our clothes and put our shoes and socks in a community dresser drawer. In the days that followed, I often found myself sitting at the foot of the stairs that began in the closet and rose to the attic. From there, I admired our new outfits, and dreamed of Easter Saturday and the look of surprise on my dad’s face. That Easter Saturday, my sister and I vibrated with anticipation as mom dressed the youngest and help the two of us as needed. The door to the bedroom was shut tight, and dad had strict instructions to stay in the living room with his newspaper and morning coffee.

A short time later, my mom twirled each of us about giving us a thorough inspection. When she was satisfied that we were ready, she raised her fingers to her lips. “Sssh!” The sound hissed quietly over her smiling lips, as she opened the door to the hall. “You two, take your sister’s hands so she doesn’t trip,” she whispered. The three of us skipped into the living room and stood before dad. He appeared to be absorbed in a newspaper article. “Well?” mom asked. Dad looked up at her, his paper standing stiffly on his lap, masking his ability to see us. We quivered with excitement. “Well, what?” he asked, drawing out the moment. He knew we were there. “Your daughters are ready for their day in town!” mom exclaimed. “They are?” dad asked. I could imagine him grinning behind his paper. He enjoyed teasing us. “Where are they then?” “Put your paper down and you’ll see,” mom said. Dad promptly folded his newspaper with a snap, his face showing shock at the three little girls dressed in pink who stood before him. We giggled with glee and clapped our hands.

“I’d better get my shoes on!” he stated, rising from his favourite armchair. A few minutes later, we were out the door and dancing up the street to catch the next bus into town. Saturday sunshine bounced off our white patent shoes, and fresh air filled us with energy. The day was full of promise for my dad and his three cherry blossoms. As years passed and Easters approached, I often remembered my grandpa, his impact on my life, and how my dad had consoled me when we received news that he had died. I was heartbroken. A few years ago, my dad died, and once again I was heartbroken. On the day of his memorial service, I consoled myself, remembering an Easter Saturday and Japanese cherry blossoms, and I realized only then that we had never had to use the three pink umbrellas that lay folded on the rack under the stroller. My dad had known all along about our surprise that day. In return, he had a surprise for each of us, but, in the absence of rain, he had had no opportunity to share them with us. Now, I wish it had rained that day, if only for a few minutes.

---------------------------------------------------- In The Absence of Rain copyright Jerena Tobiasen

Sad Trains, Lonely Stations by Ruth Kozak

ITALY. Napoli Centrale. Crafty street boys slouch, watch for stray luggage, unguarded purses: Young tarts skirt-seams bulging, walk waggle-assed past leering men at tables littered with cigarette butts, empty espresso cups. Guiseppi’s monotonous dialogue drones, clacks like diesel wheels over steel tracks. He shoves me into a compartment with six men, says: “Watch out. Some of them are no good.” No “Goodbye!” Leaves without a handshake, kiss or “Ciao!” The train snakes out on steel rails, clatters past ramshackle buildings where laundry sags on lines across filthy alleys. I swelter in the heat of the compartment, watch the blur of dusty fields and dingy towns. The train passes lonely station platforms where nameless faces watch. I am alone with strangers. BARI. A blur of yellow lights; train whizzes past night-lit buildings, clangs into a station. Weary passengers tumble out into the humid night. I am left along in the empty compartment. The train groans, shuffles. Then I see him, running, swinging up to the coach: an elfin boy with an angel smile. He stops. “Yes? Can I sit here?” plunks down a duffle-bag. When opened, it reveals delicious surprises: secret and gifts displayed proudly with announcements: sports clothes, racquet balls, army sweat shirt with red chevron, packets of treats carefully wrapped by a caring mother: marinated octopus, fish pates, pepperonis red and green, ale yellow cheese in crusty rolls, a single bottle of beer. Cold. He insists we share, entertains with impressions of famous comedians, impromptu vocal renditions, pantomimes, sound effects of rock stars. Hands agile as a magician’s produce a wad of silver foil: exotic tobacco, chocolate and resin-sweet, rolled into a paper cone, passed to me with a smile. This young Italian soldier learned English at a nursery school in Toronto. Writes our initials on the compartment wall. A * R IT WAS GOOD. He made me laugh that day. At Brindisi we kiss goodbye. He bounces down the neon street into the night. Happy.

Writing Animals Into Life, March 30, 2018 (SheLa) Nefertiti Morrison’s workshop traced the beginning for critter lit to religious writing including the Bible and Quran. She categorized the genre into those writings with animals without human traits, those with traits of both animal and humans and those writing from only a humanistic(anthropomorphized) approach. Nefertiti's generously provided us with a ten-page handout with these definitions and descriptions, as well as an extensive list of book recommendations.

Examples included stories where … · humans were at the center of the story facing an emotional, physical or spiritual crisis and through the present of an animal they found a way to health, love, compassion, and community. · human memoirs with a critical animal moment. · political or environment issues told through the humanistic lens of animals

The genre was not limited in nature drawing from all species of animals – chickens, pigs, turkeys, rats, dogs, cats, birds – to name a few.

Testimonials: I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop as it sparked & inspired one of my life long goals to write children's books. Learning about the different types of categories of books was also very helpful. Thank you for a wonderful evening and I even went home and wrote down ideas wanting to keep the momentum of inspiration fresh in my mind. – Michele Labelle

Thank you for sharing your passion for critter lit and inspiring me to work on writing projects that have sat idle for months. Thank you for sharing your vast knowledge of the subject with ease and grace. Your ability to allow participants to engage with the material without losing sight of your goal was greatly appreciated. Discussion was sparked by the memories of animal stories from childhood, and current reads and movies. – Lisa Strong

Upcoming Events – Spring 2018 Info: RCLAS presents “Tellers of Short Tales” Feature Author Patricia Donahue Date: Thursday April 12, 2018. Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free admission. Location : Anvil Centre, Room 413B, 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster Host: Deborah L. Kelly Open Mic Sign Up will be available for writers who would like to share their stories. More info Description: A program of monthly readings designed to engage fans of the short story genre with emerging and published short story writers. BIO: Patricia is published academically in international journals on Morita Therapy. Turning to fiction, she penned the Mighty Orion Series, focused on mending family relationships. The third installment, Mighty Orion - Accord, (Borealis Press) was recently released. Her shorter literary pieces are in anthologies, local magazines and in newspapers. Following an extended stay in Argentina, Patricia wrote Claudia, an e-novel (; a coming-of-age story set on the pampas in 1810. An instructor in formal and creative writing at university, she is a presenter & panelist at writers’ festivals, and continues to present writing workshops. She was the featured author for the University of British Columbia’s (Kelowna Campus) Fifth Anniversary celebrations, and won the Okanagan Literary Arts Award, 2012. In 2017, she won the Global Peace Alliance Literary Prize for her story ‘My Little Sister Marte’. Patricia judged the prose entries for the latest Cecelia Lamont Literary Contest and was one of the featured authors for LitCafe, Alexandra House, 2018. A memoir workshop to remember was one she presented to an enthusiastic group in Dalhousie, northern New Brunswick, the very setting of her series. For their anniversary celebration, Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival (formerly the Shuswap Writers’ Festival) invited Patricia to present a workshop in May 2018. RCLAS presents “Wordplay New West” Date: Thursday, April 26, 2018. (New Date and Time) Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Free admission. Location: Buy-Low Foods Community Room, 555 – 6th Street, New Westminster Host: Carol Johnson

More info Description: Wordplay is our monthly idea-generating drop-in series for writers of all kinds. Find new approaches to your writing; unlock that treasure chest in your head! This group generates some fabulous first drafts; all you need to bring is writing tools, paper, and a ready mind. This is not a critique group; let’s have some fun! RCLAS presents “Songwriters Open Mic Night” Date: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Free admission. Location: The Heritage Grill, Backstage Room, 447 Columbia St, New Westminster, BC Hosts: Enrico Renz, Lawren Nemeth and Poul Bech More info Description: Original music only, performed by the songwriters! Great venue: good sound, food, beverages and a friendly, supportive audience that actually listens. RCLAS Writing Workshop: "CREATING BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS AND SETTINGS" Facilitator: Ruth Kozak Reserve your spot: Date: Saturday May 26, 2018 Time: 1:30pm – 3:30pm Location: Anvil Centre, Room 411B, 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster Workshop Fees: RCLAS Members $15/Non-members $25 Pay via Paypal here: Description: Whether you are writing a short story or novel, when you create characters it is important to make each one distinct and different in order to keep your story interesting. In a novel that has a lot of characters, readers can have a hard time keeping track unless there are clear distinctions. When you introduce a new character, you must provide a clear impression of that character's uniqueness. Characters, even in fantasy stories, need to seem ‘real.’ Try to create characters so memorable that they stay in the readers' minds for the rest of their lives. What is their back-story? What made them like they are? How do they speak? What do they think about? What are their aspirations? All of these things are important ingredients in building characters.

How to do this will be the subject of this workshop. This will include not only writing description, dialogue but also tips on how to keep track of your characters, what and how much research is needed, keeping Bios of your main characters and how much information is needed for minor characters? How do you create believable settings? The settings of your story are important and should engage the reader. Paying attention to detail, using all 5 senses, are some of the techniques that will be discussed, along with necessary research if you are writing from a past time. Even fantasy story settings must seem

believable. Whether you are writing from present time to ancient times details of setting are important. Author, Ruth Kozak, wrote her novel SHADOW OF THE LION based on a historical time-line with mostly historical characters but some fictional. How did she write these characters, including a child, warriors and women, so that they seem so real to the reader? Ruth’s historical novel SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON was published by MediaAria-CDM of UK in 2014. Volume 2 THE FIELDS OF HADES was published in 2016. Ruth has been a travel journalist since 1982. She edits/publishes an on-line travel zine. She taught writing classes for VSB and currently conducts workshops at the Heritage Grill (formerly at WAVES) in New Westminster, Brock House, Jericho, and does a variety of in-home workshop or presentations to writing groups as well as editing and writing coaching. She has also participated in the ‘LitFest New West” at Douglas College. RCLAS presents “In Their Words: A Royal City Reading Series” Date: Thurs, May 17, 2018, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free admission Location: Anvil Centre, 4th Floor Room TBA, 777 Columbia St, New Westminster Host: Ruth Kozak 3 Featured Readers: Jacqueline Carmichael reads Caroline Leavitt (Fiction) Eileen Kernaghan reads Gwendolyn MacEwen (Poetry) Neall Ryan reads Percy Bysshe Shelley (Poetry) Description: In Their Words happens on the 3rd Thursday of every other month. Feature speakers present their favourite author from any genre in poetry, fiction, non-fiction or drama. Presentations include a brief commentary about the author and a reading of selections that exemplify what the presenter loves about the author’s work. A short Q&A follows each presenter. ...and a reminder for all you poets and poetry lovers: “Poetic Justice/Poetry New West” Sunday Afternoons (except Holiday Weekends) Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Free admission. Location: The Heritage Grill, Backstage Room, 447 Columbia St, New West

Description: Two Featured poets and Open Mic. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. For information visit and Email

SAVE THE DATES APRIL 30, 2018 WRITE ON! Contest Winners Announced JUNE 1, 2018 Cogswell Award Open For Submissions RCLAS presents “The Write on! Contest Winners” Date: Saturday JUNE 9, 2018. 1:30 to 3:30PM Location: Anvil Centre, 4th Floor, 777 Columbia St, New Westminster More info coming soon at Hope you will be able to attend our little event!

Happy National Poetry Month April 2018


Janet Kvammen, RCLAS Vice-President/E-zine General Inquiries: Lozan Yamolky

RCLAS Members Open Call for Submissions No theme required to submit. Deadline April 22 Suggested Spring themes include Form poetry Spring Blossoms Solstice Rain Ongoing Submissions for an upcoming “New Westminster” Theme Feature. Submit Word documents (Please include YOUR NAME and Title on document name) to Poetry, Short Stories, Book excerpts, articles & lyrics are all welcome for submission to future issues of Wordplay at work.

Thank you to our Sponsors & Venues 

City of New Westminster

Anvil Centre

Arts Council of New Westminster

Buy-Low Foods

The Heritage Grill

New Westminster Public Library


See upcoming events at


April 2018 Wordplay at work ISSN 2291- 4269 Contact: RCLAS Vice-President/ E-zine

Music Can Do That H. W. Bryce

In pain and sorrow for you to feel. Listen to the music.

A cry for peace on all fronts Have you ever seen a grown man cry? A man distraught and don’t know why, Life can hurt so hard he want to die ’Cause he thinks his life has been a lie? Have ya?

Music talks and it can tell In whispers what your voice would yell, Put your rifle down my man, There’s no need to kill at all. Listen to the music, Won’t ya?

Well turn the music on because Music salves the bitter tears. Music’ll carry you through the years And lift you up to carry on. Music can do that For ya.

Have you ever heard a widow cry? Have you ever wondered why Such bitterness controls the world, Why we dance in such a whirl? Have ya?

I need to hear that music now, Play it for me, play it now, I need to hear the farmer’s plow Put your bullets down my man, They will only make you die. Put your bullets down right now, They will make your widow cry. Won’t they? They will make your children bitter And they will shoot and they will die, And sad the music that will play As you kneel and as you pray. Listen to the music. Won’t ya? But listen to the music, man, Music can help to heal the holes That bullets yield when bullets deal

Well instead, try listening to The song the children sing, They sing it for their missing ones Who died by bullet without a song. Listen to the music. Listen to the children’s song, Listen to the children sing, And if that don’t ring right true You are a hard-hearted thing. The children sing it true. Don’t they? Have you ever heard a lifer cry? He’s rued each cruel act and lie. For sure he does not want to die; For once his prayer is not a lie. Is it?

So he will kneel and he will pray And he will sing a hymn to stay, And if you hear his plaintive cries, You will join his choir of sighs, ’Cause music will do that To ya. Have you ever seen a mother cry Bitter tears for one who died At the barrel of a gun? No one here has ever won When bullets fly, Have they? Have you ever heard the heavens cry? They cry for all of those who die Needlessly when bullets fly. Bullets only make you die, Don’t they? So won’t you put your rifle down Trade it for song and sing it down ’Cause music soothes the savage breast, And won’t you work for peace and rest? Well won’t ya? Have you ever heard a vet’ran cry? Have you heard him ask God why? And have your heard him once decry All his sins that cloud his sky? Well have ya? Have you ever heard policemen cry? He cried until his tears ran dry For all of those he couldn’t save And all the ones the bullets crave. Well have ya?

And have you heard the fireman cry? His tears could make the fire die. Bullet powder fired the blaze That left a city in a daze— Listen to the music. Have you ever seen a killer cry Because he’s killed and wants to die? Have you ever heard of such a thing: A dying crow with a broken wing. Well have ya? Have you ever heard a small child crying At his mother’s side as she lay dying, Shot by a bullet bought to kill By an angry soul with a twisted will? Well, have ya? Music can break or heal your heart, Music and you should never part, Play the music, play it now, Make my peace, make bullets bow. I need to hear that music now, Play it for me, play it now, I need to hear the farmer’s plow, Put your bullets down, They only make you die. Don’t they? Listen to the music Music will soothe your soul. Music can do that For ya.

April 2018 RCLAS Ezine Wordplay at work Issue 53  
April 2018 RCLAS Ezine Wordplay at work Issue 53  

April 2018 EZINE ISSUE 53 ISSN 2291- 4269, 56 pages. Feature Writer of the Month: Alan Hill. Write on! Contest News Upcoming RCLAS event...