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Elee Kraljii Gardiner is the author of serpentine loop (Anvil Press, 2016), Trauma Head (Anvil Press, 2018), Trauma Head: the chapbook (Otter Press, 2017) and editor of Against Death: 35 Essays on Living (Anvil Press, 2019) as well as V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2012).

Michael Turner is a writer, critic and curator based in unceded Coast Salish territory. His books include Hard Core Logo (1993), The Pornographer’s Poem (1999), Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs (with Grant Arnold) (2007) and, most recently, 9x11 and other poems like Bird, Nine, x and Eleven (2018). A frequent collaborator, he has written scripts with Stan Douglas, poems with Geoffrey Farmer and songs with cub, Dream Warriors, Fishbone and Kinnie Starr. He received his MFA Interdisciplinary Studies from UBC Okanagan and is presently Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences and School of Interdisciplinary Studies and Graduate Studies at the Ontario College of Art & Design University.

Emilia Nielsen’s debut collection of poetry, Surge Narrows (Leaf Press, 2013), was a finalist for the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Her poems have appeared in literary journals across Canada including Descant, The Fiddlehead, Grain, and PRISM international, which nominated her work for a Pushcart Prize. She holds a PhD in Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice from the University of British Columbia, a MA in English from the University of New Brunswick and a BFA in Writing from the University of Victoria. Throughout 2017–2018, Emilia was Visiting Scholar at the Canadian Literature Centre at the University of Alberta. In summer 2018, she will join York University as Assistant Professor, Department of Social Science, in the Health & Society Program.

Upcoming Events Nov/Dec 2019 Info:

Save the Date SAT DEC 14 Winter Social 1- 4 pm at The Gallery on 12th located at 712C 12th St, New West “Cat Musings Reading Series” Variety Open Mic Feature Author: Sandra Walton, Children’s Book Author. Host: Janene White Date: Wednesday Nov 20, 2019 Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Doors open at 6:30 pm Free Location: New West Artists Gallery 712C - 12th Street, New Westminster

Writing Workshop: “Writing The Hero/ Heroine’s Journey” Facilitator: Carol Johnson Date: Saturday Nov 23, 2019 Time: 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Location: Anvil Centre, 4th Floor. Workshop Fees: RCLAS Members $15/Non-members $25 Payment available online Pre-register at

“In Their Words: a Royal City Reading Series” Host Ruth Kozak with Three Feature Presenters Date: Thursday November 21, 2019 Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free, Anvil Centre, 4th Floor Featured readers: Stephen Karr, Isabella Mori and Janene White

6th ANNUAL FRED COGSWELL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN POETRY Award Ceremony SAT NOV 30, 2 pm at the New Westminster Public Library Emcee Alan Hill with 2019 Judge Fred Wah, Kathleen Forsythe, Candice James and Winners!

“Poetic Justice/Poetry New West” Host: Warren Dean Fulton Sunday Afternoons (except Holiday Weekends) NEW Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm, Free admission. Location: The Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia St, New Westminster Open Mic. Prizes, trivia, writing prompt, fun!

Fri Nov 29 Author Shawn Gale Book Launch “THE STORIES THAT MAKE US” at New West Artists Gallery on 12th, 7pm (712C 12th St, New Westminster)


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RCLAS monthly E-zines and Find us on Facebook Instagram @royalcitylit

RIVERS OF BLOOD by Jerena Tobiasen

Bill stood near the stern of the HMCS Bayfield, one of sixteen Bangor Class mine sweepers comprising the 31st Flotilla of the Royal Canadian Navy. He watched the sea off Omaha Beach and waited for the next sighting of a soldier’s body. As lead stoker, he should have been below deck, spared the sight of carnage that dotted the waves. Since mines were now few and far between, however, the sweepers had been charged with recovery as well. Two days prior, the Bangors had been ordered to the Bay of Normandy. The Germans had planted a minefield stretching 120 kilometers across the Bay, sixteen kilometers wide. For the allied troops to reach the beaches the following day, ten channels had to be cleared, each 900 meters wide. Six Bangors in an overlapping v-formation cleared those channels. Vessels carrying danbuoys followed behind marking the boundaries between life and death. Cables had been lowered from either side of the sweepers and dragged through the mine fields. When a cable snagged the mooring line of a mine, the line was cut, and the mine popped to the surface. Typically, a spotter stood ready with an armed rifleman next to him. As soon as the mine appeared on the surface, he’d point out its location. Then the rifleman took aim and fired. A successful hit detonated the mine. However, on this occasion, labelled Operation Overload by those in higher command, the riflemen were told to stand down. The sweepers were operating too close to shore, too close to have explosions witnessed by beach defenders. The mines were left to float away on the sea’s current.

The Bangors began their risky work late in the afternoon of June 5th, 1944 and worked through the black of night. By early morning on June 6th, the Bayfield was less than two kilometers from Omaha Beach, cruising under overcast skies. Bangor Class mine sweepers up and down the coast had cleared the channels making it safe for 7,000 invasion vessels carrying military personnel tasked with taking the beaches along the Bay of Normandy. Beaches labelled by the allied forces as Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach and Sword Beach. As troop ships began arriving, the sweepers patrolled the coastline keeping the sea clear and safe. That day, they had been assigned a secondary task: picking up survivors. From a deck on the Bayfield, Bill and other crew watched the beach invasion unfold. He kept his small Brownie camera handy and took photographs of the carnage and horror. As the Bay of Normandy ran red with rivers of blood, he felt helpless. He watched vessels explode, and bodies blown to bits. He saw wounded men and men weighted by their military gear drown yards from shore, unable to swim the distance to the beach. His ears throbbed from thundering sounds of aircraft overhead, of antiaircraft fire and exploding missiles fired from concrete bunkers hidden on the cliffs. He saw planes burst into flames, their death screams silenced only when they’d slammed into the sea. He knew there’d be no survivors. And, like the rest of the crew, he continued to watch for survivors. As the hours crawled by, the sailors began voicing their frustration, feeling helpless and guilt-ridden for not doing their part. “This is shit!” hollered one of the on-lookers. “Those men are being slaughtered. We need to do something!” “Your work here is and has been vital,” the captain said approaching from behind. “Clearing the channels so those brave boys can get through was heroic. It’s up to them now, to reach the shore and carry on. Our job is to save

as many of those who can’t.” The captain looked around him and seemed to look every crewman in the eye. “Now, get back to work. We don’t want a man dying when we could have saved him.” At the age of seventeen, in 1942, Bill and two of his friends had enlisted. They were tired of the hard life dictated by the Depression Years. Unlike the drifters who had been unable to find employment for several years, they wanted real jobs that paid real money, and the billboards told them that the Armed Forces would provide that. Underaged, they lied on their enlistment applications. They soon learned that boys from the prairies were sent to sea, deemed less likely to become seasick, having grown up around wheat fields that rose and fell in the wind, like ocean waves. The three friends stood together near the railing, one with binoculars, searching the sea for survivors. The others held grappling hooks to reach into the sea, to snag soldiers before they succumbed to the unusually red sea. “This is ridiculous!” Albert declared. “I’m getting off this bucket. I can do more on land.” “I’m with you, Bertie,” Thomas said. “I’m better with a rifle than a hook. Besides, this bucket stinks! Let’s get us some fresh air!” “Wait, fellas,” Bill said. “Don’t be hasty. Think about it. How do you plan to get to shore? You can’t take a boat.” “We can swim!” Albert snapped. “We’re both ace swimmers.” “And then what?” Bill asked. “You won’t have guns.” “We’ll have our knives,” Thomas said. “We’ll creep into that bunker and slit the gunners’ throats.” He pointed to the guns atop a cliff.” “Ya!” Albert said. “Then we’ll take over! We’ll win this war, us two!” Bill tried to dissuade them. They wouldn’t listen. As one, his two friends leaped over the side of the ship and began swimming toward the shoreline. He screamed at them to return. They didn’t listen. They swam as if their life depended on it. Bill heard the muffled sound of

yelling as Thomas and Albert encouraged each other to shore. He watched them drag themselves out of the icy water and pause long enough to wave at Bill. Smiles of delight and relief seemed to brighten their faces. In the next moment, Bill watched in horror as they ran in single file across the beach, each of them unwittingly stepping on a land mine. In the lead, Albert seemed to die instantly. Thomas lay a meter from the water’s edge, his detached leg nearby. They were nineteen. Bill’s knees buckled and he sank to the deck. He was barely down when he felt firm hands under his arms, lifting him to his feet. “On your feet, man,” the captain said. “Won’t do for the other men to see weakness.” He patted Bill firmly on the back, his gaze full of concern. “Stand down for thirty minutes and pull yourself together. Get some hot tea. There’s nothing to be done about your friends. They made a dire mistake and they’ve paid for it. This is war.” So much for yesterday, Bill thought. No more survivors. Just bodies now and free-floating mines. The crewman next to Bill pointed. He saw the soldier’s body float toward the Bayfield and lowered the grappling hook, snagging an arm. He raised the body alongside the ship and waited while another crewman reached over the side and pulled off the dog-tag. Then, Bill lowered the body gently into the sea and nudged it away from the ship. “Today,” the captain had said earlier during morning orders, “we watch for free-floating mines and bodies. Snatch the bodies, remove the tags and release the bodies back into the sea. We’re here for at least another week and have no way of stowing bodies until we’re ordered back to shore. This war isn’t over yet.” He gazed around the gathered crew. “Now, to your posts. Families back home will want to know what happened to their sons and fathers.”

In memory of Bill Opitz, who, in June of 2014, shared with me his memories of life aboard HMCS Bayfield, a Bangor Class minesweeper, during Operation Overload. He returned to Europe many times over the intervening years, hoping to chase demons from his dreams. At 90 years, he was still hoping. Additional information provided by Valour Canada’s video D-Day: Clear the Mines,

Plaque overlooking Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, June 2014. Photo by Jerena Tobiasen

Bill Opitz, Ypres Belgium, May 2014. Photo by Jerena Tobiasen.

Bill Opitz and Jerena Tobiasen sharing the story, Paris France, June 2014. Photo by Robert Douglas

Point du Hoc overlooking Omaha Beach and Bay of Normandy, June 2014. Photo by Jerena Tobiasen. Copyright Jerena Tobiasen.

Upcoming Events Fall 2019 Info: Please watch for event updates and news via our website and our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @royalcitylit

RCLAS Writing Workshop: “Writing The Hero/ Heroine’s Journey” Facilitator: Carol Johnson Date: Saturday Nov 23, 2019 Time: 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm Location: Anvil Centre, 4th Floor. Workshop Fees: RCLAS Members $15/Non-members $25

Pre-register at Workshop Description: In this workshop, we will explore material from Joseph Baker’s book, ‘The Writer’s Journey.’ We’ll discover the common elements in all compelling stories. We’ll apply those elements to our own writing. Our primary focus is character development – how and why does a protagonist choose to move out of her/his comfort zone? We’ll explore internal vs external motivations. We’ll talk about archetypes vs stereotypes, and use that knowledge to create well-rounded characters. After all, as writers we want our characters to be as real, tangible, and complex as the people around us. And as Baker says, “…the protagonist of every story is a hero.” Carol Johnson is a late-in-life writer who first fell in love with words and stories during her childhood. In grade-school she created chap books which became ‘required’ reading for her family and friends. Now a grandmother, she is an enthusiastic creative writing graduate from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC. Carol has studied with Billeh Nickerson, Jen Currin, Aislinn Hunter, Cathy Stonehouse and Nicola Harwood. Carol lives in Langley, BC with her husband Paul. They both enjoy spending time with their growing families and travelling. She is currently working on a mixed genre manuscript of short-stories and poetry that inter-weave her father’s journey with that of his birth mother.

“Cat Musings Reading Series” Feature Author Sandra Walton Variety Open Mic Host: Janene White. Featuring Cynthia Sharp Date: Wednesday Nov 20, 2019 Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Doors open at 6:30 Free admission Donations kindly accepted. Location: New West Artists Gallery (beside Renaissance Books) 712C - 12th Street, New Westminster Sandra Walton is the author of “A Tree for Teddy”... This children's story is a tale set in the 1940's but relays a contemporary message, the reader will be delighted by this account of a boy's lucky discover of a lost holiday tree. Such a heartwarming story and just in time for Christmas. It will make the perfect gift for a special little one. In Partnership with Renaissance Books, New West Artists and Royal City Literary Arts Society.

RCLAS presents “In Their Words: a Royal City Reading Series” Date: Thursday, Nov 21, 2019 Time: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free admission Location: Anvil Centre, 4th Floor Host: Ruth Kozak Three Feature Presenters Stephen Karr reads Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge Isabella Mori reads Kobayashi Issa (Japanese Haiku Poet) Janene White reads James Herriot (English Author) 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

Interested in being a reader at “In Their Words” in 2020? Email a note to Ruth Kozak at to find out more.

6th ANNUAL FRED COGSWELL AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN POETRY Award Ceremony will be held on SATURDAY NOVEMBER 30 from 2 - 4 pm at the New Westminster Public Library, 716 6th Avenue, New Westminster, Auditorium on Lower Level (Elevator access). Doors open at 1:45pm Free to attend. Our Emcee will be RCLAS President and Poet Laureate, Alan Hill Alan will welcome distinguished guests: 2019 Judge Fred Wah Kathleen Forsythe (daughter of Fred Cogswell) Candice James, Poet Laureate Emerita, New Westminster AND we are excited to announce that both our First place and Second Place Winners will be also be in attendance this year! I think that is the first time for us! Congratulations to all our winners and all those who submitted this year! On behalf of RCLAS I thank you for your support. This was a recordbreaking year for us and we look forward to 2020. - Janet Kvammen, RCLAS Vice-President/Cogwell Award

Watch for upcoming news and announcements Instagram @royalcitylit ....and a reminder to all poets and lovers of poetry

“Poetic Justice/Poetry New West” Sunday Afternoons (except Holiday Weekends) Time: 3:00pm – 5:00pm, Free admission. Location: The Heritage Grill, 447 Columbia St, New Westminster

Open Mic. Prizes, trivia, writing prompt, fun! Host: Warren Dean Fulton.

See you SAT DECEMBER 14 for our Holiday Social 1 to 4 PM at the New West Artists Gallery on 12th 712C Twelfth Street in the funky West End of New West.


RCLAS Members Open Call for Submissions IMPORTANT Submit documents WITH YOUR NAME and Title on the WORD DOC file Email Janet Kvammen, RCLAS Vice-President/E-zine


Haiku (no theme) FEB 2020 Special Feature:

DEADLINE JANUARY 15, 2020, submit up to 5 haikus. No theme required to submit.

Thank you to our Sponsors & Venues      

City of New Westminster Anvil Centre Arts Council of New Westminster New Westminster Public Library The Heritage Grill New West Artists “Gallery on 12th

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November 2019 Wordplay at work ISSN 2291- 4269 Contact: RCLAS Vice-President/ E-zine

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November 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 68  

November 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 68 ISSN 2291- 4269, 40 pages. Issue 68 includes our 2019 Cogswell Award Winner’s Announcement...

November 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 68  

November 2019 RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Issue 68 ISSN 2291- 4269, 40 pages. Issue 68 includes our 2019 Cogswell Award Winner’s Announcement...

Profile for rclas