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January 2019

Dear Royal City Literary Arts Society Members:

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members a wonderful, happy and creative new year. The New Year is a time of rebirth and new beginnings. The worst of the winter is over and spring will not be long coming.

Now is the time to be brave, pick up the pen, open the laptop and start again! Writing will always be a long term game. When we feel like giving up that is the very time to continue. In the honest knowing and selfreflection that you have not reached your best, there is the seed of new creativity ready to germinate. Embrace that doubt, hold it for your own, warm it through and let it grow new shoots.

The world needs good writers. Good writing illuminates the human experience, tells us who we are, who we are not, how to love and how not to love. Becoming a good writer is the end point of a hard journey and possibly not all of us will get there and become the best we can be. There is however all the fun in the universe, all the being part of a community, all the friendship you can hope for to be discovered along the way.

We on the Board of RCLAS look forward to continuing with you on that journey and to helping you on your way in 2019.

Onward and upwards, one and all!

Best, Alan Hill RCLAS President

Deep Winter Reading, Dec 29, 2018 Anvil Centre

2019 RCLAS Write On! Contest Judges (2018 First Place Winners)

Claire Lawrence has been published in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and India. Her work has been performed at the National Gallery, UK, and on BBC radio. Claire’s work has appeared in numerous publications including Geist, Litro, Ravensperch, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Curating Alexandria and Bangalore Review. Her creative non-fiction appeared in Just for Canadian Doctors Lifestyle Magazine. Claire Lawrence has a number of prize winning stories, including winning RCLAS Write On Fiction Contest 2018. She was nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. Her goal is to write and publish in all genres. She lives in British Columbia, Canada.

Jude Goodwin’s poems and prose have been published in print and online by various journals and anthologies. They have won or placed well in the IBPC: New Poetry Voices competition, were twice shortlisted in the CBC Radio Literary Awards, and were recent winners in the 2018 RCLAS Write On Poetry Prize and the 2018 Jack Grapes Poetry Prize. Jude is a founding member of the Squamish Writers Group, founder and co-editor of The Waters, an online poetry workshop and founder and co-editor of the Sea to Sky Review. Jude is currently pursuing a degree in Creative Writing with Douglas College. Her first chapbook, The Night Before Snow, was published in the fall of 2018.

Jennifer M. Smith is an offshore sailor and a writer. She writes essays and memoir in short stories. Her work has been published in print in The Globe and Mail and Canadian Stories, and on line on Feminine Collective, CommuterLit, Scottish Book Trust, Quick Brown Fox and 50Word Stories. Her work won first prize for non-fiction in the 2018 Royal City Literary Arts Society Write On Contest. She currently lives a landlife in Burlington, Ontario.

Writing Prompts by Jerena Tobiasen

Treasure my foot! Charles thought as he tipped the old wooden chest onto his dolly. He pushed it toward the stairs with a groan. I expected the chest to have some weight, but I certainly didn’t expect it to be as heavy as it is! He paused, testing the balance before fastening the straps that would hold it snug. If I can just get this down the stairs without damaging it or harming myself, I’ll be happy. He tightened his muscles and his grip on the dolly, and slowly lowered the wheels off the landing and down to the first step. At each stair, he paused to ensure the cargo was stable, before lowering to the next one, until he reached the lower landing. “That’s what happens,” he muttered to himself, “when people inherit old houses from elders who have lived a lifetime in one space and never ventured far from it. Nothing is ever discarded! If a beneficiary is lucky enough to inherit the stuff that I’ve inherited, it should be all neat and orderly, catalogued and classified. It rarely is. Fortunately for me, however, I was blessed with a fastidious family who often referenced their collection.” Charles recalled how, over the years, the stashes of paraphernalia had often come in handy, especially the reference books, magazines and newspapers. Often during family holidays, the living room would erupt in debate and someone would be sent off to the attic to locate material supporting, or not, a particular point of the current debate. I miss those debates and loud family gatherings, but I don’t miss being the one dispatched to the attic to find that vital bit of information supporting an argument. Charles chuckled. As a small child, I had been intimidated by the stacks of paper and accumulated assortment of furniture, stored ‘just in case someone might need it sometime’, as Grandpa would say. “But, Grandpa, you didn’t say anything about the spiders and their webs! I’d rather not have inherited them too.” Idly, he scratched behind an ear where he sensed a feather-light tickle.

Now they were all gone: those beloved family members who had collected and sorted and saved every item that had entered through the doors of the old manor, and sometimes the windows, and, on one occasion, the roof. It was all his. A legacy of stuff had fallen to him for disposal. At the foot of the stairs, he wheeled his cargo into the kitchen. Of all the stuff I’ve had to weed through, I’ve been saving this chest for last. It has always been shrouded in mystery and now I’m going to discover why. Charles loosened the fastenings and tipped the trunk onto the floor. Everything else from the attic was gone, sent to local museums, sold, given away, or disposed of as junk. Over the past few months, the lives of his parents and grandparents and those who had passed before them had been reduced to an empty two-story, eight-bedroom, red brick manor, complete with a ballroom and a library of old tomes and records, and one domed chest, which happened to be locked. Charles reached for a kitchen chair and sank into its leather seat. Now what! “Hey!” Blanche said, backing her way through the door that separated the kitchen from a mud room, dangling grocery bags from each hand. She sat the bags on the counter and ran her fingers through her damp hair. “So that’s it!” She nodded toward the chest. “Yes,” Charles replied with a grin. “The last item in the attic has finally escaped.” “Is it as heavy as we thought?” Blanche asked, emptying the shopping bags and putting away her purchases. “It is,” Charles replied. He placed his elbows on the table and propped his chin on his fists, frowning. “And, it’s locked.” “Oh, how intriguing!” Blanche said, lowering herself into an unoccupied chair. “A medieval security system?” The young husband and wife studied the locked chest. “Could be,” Charles said, fingering the padlock. “Although I think it’s likely early Victorian. And, I seem to recall Grandma telling me when I was a kid that the chest is made from olive wood.” “Olive wood!” Blanche ran her hand reverently across the domed lid. “Double intriguing. “See here,” Charles said, stroking the sides. “Grandma told me that, under this leather skin and the reinforcing wooden slats, is another box made of solid olive wood one-and-a-half

inches thick. These slats and leather handles are fastened to the sides with steel trims, and three steel hinges fastened the lid to the box.” “Heavy-duty stuff!” Blanche said. She ran her hand across the lid on the opposite side. “The hinges on this side seem to mirror your side.” “Yes, and the steel padlock in the centre of ‘my’ side suggests to the uninformed eye that it is the only lock, however, I happen to know that the two steel fasteners on either side of the padlock have hidden keyholes.” He gave his wife a mischievous wink. Charles jiggled the padlock. It held fast. Then he remembered the odd-shaped key that he had received from his mother’s solicitor during the reading of her last will and testament. He had twisted it onto the ring that held the manor key, so he would keep track of it. Now, he reached into his pocket and pulled it out. The old key fit into the padlock perfectly and, when he twisted the key, the padlock popped open. With his thumb, he flicked the covers of the two hidden locks and tried the key again, finding success with each turn. “Very clever,” Blanche said, noting the efficient manner in which he had opened the chest. “I wouldn’t have thought to flick the tabs.” “I saw my grandfather do that once a long time ago,” Charles said. “I had been exploring in the attic. He didn’t know I was up there, and when I heard him on the stairs, I scooted into a shadow. I don’t know why I hid. I had no reason to fear him or the fact that I was up there without permission. But, that day, I felt like an intruder. I watched as Grandpa wiped the latches with a rag, then went back downstairs. I guess he was lubricating them. I imagine that if he didn’t lubricate them once in a while, the locks would have corroded.” Charles ran his hand over the lid again as he remembered that day. “As soon as my grandfather was out of ear-shot, I scooted downstairs, listening carefully to determine where he was, then set off in the opposite direction.” “So, are you going to open it?” Blanche asked, her words breaking Charles’ reverie. “You bet!” Charles lifted the lid slowly, listening to the groan of the old hinges. The lid was heavier than he anticipated, and as the weight of it shifted, he slowly lowered it as far as it would open. “What’s this, Mom?” he asked the air. “What are you trying to tell us?” He fingered his way through a layer of neatly placed journals with red covers.

“Mmm, smells musty,” Blanche said, “like old memories. What are those?” She stood on tiptoe to peer over his shoulder, then reached around him to pick up one of the red books, and read the title written on the cover in a neat script. “Each of these journals holds an initial outline for the manuscripts that Mom wrote.” Charles picked up several and flipped through pages. “I’ve watched her write and sketch in many of them over the years.” “Yes,” Blanche replied with enthusiasm. “I recognize some of the titles.” She frowned. “But, not all of them.” “That’s ‘cause some of them are working titles that were changed at a later point, prior to publication.” Charles lifted the journals out of the chest and stacked them on the table. “These, on the other hand, I have never seen before.” He collected what appeared to be several small diaries, tidily bound together with pink ribbons. Each packet contained ten such diaries. “Look,” Blanche said, pointing to the labelling. “They’re all labelled ‘My Life’ with a year noted. Wow! Your mom has a diary for almost every year of her life!” Charles sorted the piles of diaries by decades. “This seems to be the earliest stack,” he said. “It has only four books, and the first one is dated 1906. He untied the ribbon and flipped through the pages of each of the diaries. He grabbed another bundle, and then another. “Look! You can watch her handwriting mature with each year!” “This is the most recent stack,” Blanche said, lifting a bundle bearing dates within the last decade and setting them down again. A diary bearing the current year lay unbound, on top of the others. “May I?” She held it up for Charles to see. “Go ahead,” Charles said, feeling apprehensive. Blanche flipped the pages until she reached the last of the handwriting. “This last entry is dated three weeks ago,” she said, “the day before your mom went into the hospital. She must have known something was amiss. I mean . . . for her to put this last one in the trunk. That would have taken some effort to climb the stairs to the attic, open the trunk . . .” Blanche let her words fall away. “Let’s leave them for now,” Charles said. “I’m not sure I’m ready to read Mom’s intimate thoughts just yet.” They retied the pink ribbons that had been loosened and set the diaries in piles next to the manuscript journals.

“What’s this?” Charles said, lifting three leather-bound journals of differing shapes and thicknesses from the chest. “These are altogether different from Mom’s journals and diaries, and they’re numbered.” “How curious!” Blanche said peering over Charles’ shoulder again. “This one seems very old.” Charles said, fingering the cover of the journal marked with a number one. “See how the ‘one ‘is written. He set the journal on the kitchen table, and carefully lifted the cover. The script seems old too, maybe French or German. He tapped his finger at the top of the first page of writing. “Look at this!” he exclaimed, making space for Blanche to stand next to him. “Look at the dates and the way the entries are written. This seems to be an index of sorts, numbers corresponding to items.” “I can’t read any of it,” she said. “You’re the historian and antiquities scholar. Can you?” “Well . . . this is a date.” Charles finger tapped on the page. “May 25th, 1505. The paper is vellum.” He lifted the top corner of the page gently. He looked up at Blanche, wide-eyed. “If I’m reading this entry correctly, there is an item in the chest that was acquired, and recorded, in 1505. Apparently, the item was used as a seal by the Hanseatic League.” “Hey! Wasn’t the name of your mom’s first novel ‘The Hanseatic Seal’?” Blanche remarked. “Indeed,” Charles replied, scanning other items on the list. “Here’s another entry, dated 1602. It describes the recent acquisition of a pewter plate.” “One of your mom’s subsequent novels was called ‘The Pewter Plate!’” Blanche declared. “This appears to be the source of my mother’s ideas for her novels,” Charles said, continuing to scan the pages of lists, turning each page with great care. Finally, he closed the ancient book and reached for a modest looking volume. “This one has more recent dates, starting from 1896.” He tipped the book for Blanche to see. “Look!” she said. “The entries recorded over the last fifty years seem to have been written in the same hand. Isn’t that your mother’s writing.” Charles closed his eyes and nodded. “And the writing preceding hers is my great grandfather’s.” Charles opened his eyes and peered at Blanche.

“This is a lot to take in,” he said, “and more work will be required to authenticate everything, but . . .” He shook his head trying to digest the curious revelations. “It seems that my mother acquired the more recent items herself.” He set the volume on the kitchen counter and reached for the pile of diaries dating from 1940 to 1950. He untied the pink ribbon and withdrew the diary dated 1946. As he flipped through the pages, he heart began to beat faster. He placed the diary on the counter, next to the index volume, and tapped a shaking finger on the entries. “This entry,” he said pointing to the index, “says ‘six gold buttons from the Fuhrer’. And here . . .” He indicated the handwriting of his mother’s diary. “Mom explains how she acquired the buttons and that, before she could sew them on Hitler’s new uniform, he took his life and the war was over.” “Your mother was a Nazi sympathizer!” Blanche blurted in astonishment. “I never would have guessed.” “No! No, she wasn’t,” Charles said. He flipped back and fourth amongst the pages. “It appears she was a British spy! She was under cover and employed by the Fuhrer as a tailor!” He snapped the diary shut and reached for another one marked 1943. “Her novel! ‘The Fuhrer’s Buttons’! That’s about her, isn’t it?” “It’s certainly seems to be based on her experiences,” Charles replied. Blanche snatched a diary marked 1941 and flipped the pages as well. “Wow!” she exclaimed. “This one talks about working with Albert Einstein!” For the next while, the young man and his wife read and chatted about his mother’s work, and her experiences, and they marveled at what they had yet to discover – not only the contents of her diaries, but the treasure that lay in a maze of numbered boxes at the bottom of the olive trunk. My quiet, stately mother, who never had so much as a hair out of place! Words jumped off each page, holding them spellbound. The diary entries recorded in his mother’s hand had become the seeds of her novels, and the adventures that her protagonists encountered were based on her own. “My gosh,” he whispered in awe, “what a life you led, Mom, and I had no idea!”

--------------------------------------------------------------- Writing Prompts copyright Jerena Tobiasen

HOLIDAY MEMORIES Winter Celebrations at the Anvil Centre --------- RCLAS Deep Winter Readings, with Emcee Alan Hill, held on Dec 22, 2018. Featuring Cynthia Sharp, H.W. Bryce, and Janet Kvammen.

HOLIDAY MEMORIES Winter Celebrations at the Anvil Centre --------- RCLAS Deep Winter Readings, with Emcee Alan Hill, held on Dec 29, 2018. Featuring Candice James (Poet Laureate Emerita), Alan Girling, Lilija Valis, Enrico Renz and Vancouver Tagore Society.

Happy New Year 2019! Upcoming Events - Winter 2019 Info:

Please watch for event updates and news via our website, and social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)

RCLAS presents “In Their Words: A Royal City Reading Series” Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019 Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free admission Location: Anvil Centre, Rm 411A Host: Ruth Kozak If you are interesting in reading at a future installment of In Their Words, please send a note to Featured Presenters: Susan Lundahl reads Alice Munro, Short Stories WJ (Wanda) Kehewin reads Vera Manuel, Indigenous writer Gail Norcross reads Ian McEwen, English novelist/screenwriter 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.

Are you interested in being a reader at “In Their Words”? Would you like to find out more? Email a quick note to Ruth Kozak at RCLAS Workshop: “Introduction To Wordpress – How To Make A Website” Facilitator: Cassandra Metcalfe Date: Saturday January 26, 2019 Time: 1:30pm – 3:30pm Location: Anvil Centre, Room 417 Pre-register at Workshop Fees: RCLAS Members $15/Non-members $25 Pay via Paypal here: Description Are you a writer? Looking to build a website? 2019 is your year! In this workshop, Cassandra will walk you through the steps: * the basics of picking a theme * using widgets * how to upload images and other media files * how to connect to social media and other online spaces. Plus, learn the pros and cons of purchasing a domain or using a free WordPress hosted domain. This workshop will not be participant heavy, but will demonstrate with input, the building of a website. A brief Q&A will be included and a resource checklist and best practices review provided. This will include information on the incidentals (images etc.) that will be needed to build the site and a warning about some of the dangers (copyright infringement, IP lawsuit etc.) and pitfalls. This workshop will appeal to the computer literate who are comfortable with certain online spaces but have not yet built a website. This will also be great for those who have been using Square or Wix and are ready to switch to a WordPress but have no experience with it. Bio: Cassandra Metcalfe graduated with a BA Honours degree in English Literature, a Certificate in Hellenic Studies and a Certificate in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in June of 2012. She is in the final stage of her Masters in Publishing from Simon Fraser University. She is also a blogger, poet, and novelist, photographer, and maker.

RCLAS presents “Tellers of Short Tales” Feature Author: Evelyn Benson Date: Thursday February 7, 2019. Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free admission. Location: Anvil Centre, Rm #417 Close to Skytrain. Wheelchair accessible. Come to listen! Bring a friend! Bring a short story to share on Open Mic. Description: A program of monthly readings designed to engage fans of the short story genre with emerging and published short story writers. Bio: Evelyn Sangster Benson is uniquely qualified to author this, her second book of stories about ordinary people and everyday events. Her middle-class family has lived in the same town for five generations and been active in community sports, church, politics and the arts. A retired high school teacher, she related stories she had collected over half a century to her fascinated students who urged her to write them down. Many of the stories were passed down to her in family lore or recorded by interview. The author lived many of the events herself and her folksy way of telling her stories immediately engages the reader of any generation. Young people will learn something new and older generations will enjoy a flood of memories.

RCLAS Writing Workshop: “Exploring the Poetry of Place” Facilitator: Alan Hill Date: Saturday Feb 23, 2019 Time: 1:30pm – 3:30pm Location: Anvil Centre, Rm #417 Close to New West Skytrain Station. Wheelchair Accessible. Workshop Fees: RCLAS Members $15/Non-members $25 (Payment available online starting January 26. ) Pre-register at Description: Come and explore and experience the power of writing about the significant places in your life. Create poetry that explores significant locations that are important to you and your life in our community. Improve your poetry writing skills and find out more about your City and the places that are important to the people that live here. Maybe that important place is your local park,

store, café or historic site, or maybe it is a place that is much more personal to you? Come and share, create and learn. Poetry of place is poetry which values locales, which sees and lets the reader experience what makes a place unique amongst places. Much contemporary poetry focuses on psychological states, feelings, intellectual concepts, or language play totally devoid of reference to the real, lived, sensually experienced and infinitely varied physical world. Poetry of place may focus on such interior subjects, but it lets us experience them more profoundly and more authentically because they’re rooted in a specific time and place. Bio: Alan Hill is the Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster and RCLAS President. Alan is the author of The Narrow Road to the Far West: Travelling New Westminster by Postcard (Silver Bow Publishing 2018). He has published three collections of poetry in addition to being published in over forty literary magazines and periodicals across Europe and North America.


...and a reminder for all the poets and lovers of poetry: “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. For information visit and Email


Open For Submissions Jan 15 – April 1

Save The Date

LITFEST NEW WEST April 26/27, 2019


RCLAS Members Open Call for Submissions No theme required to submit. Submit Word documents WITH YOUR NAME and Title on document to Janet Kvammen, RCLAS Vice-President/E-zine Email

Our Annual Haiku February Feature is coming up! Deadline January 15 Submit up to 5 Haiku. Poetry, Short Stories, Book excerpts, articles & lyrics are all welcome for submission.

General Inquiries:

Celebration of Poetry - December 1, 2018

Vancouver Tagore Society Westminster, Dec 2018


Thank you to our Sponsors & Venues 

City of New Westminster

Anvil Centre

Arts Council of New Westminster

New Westminster Public Library

The Network Hub

The Heritage Grill

See upcoming events at


January 2019 Wordplay at work ISSN 2291- 4269 Contact: RCLAS Vice-President

Profile for RCLAS

Jan 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 60  

Jan 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 60 ISSN 2291- 4269, 54 pages. Featuring – President’s Letter, 2019 Write on! Contest Launch and Ju...

Jan 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 60  

Jan 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 60 ISSN 2291- 4269, 54 pages. Featuring – President’s Letter, 2019 Write on! Contest Launch and Ju...

Profile for rclas