Tag Archives: Bluewater Reading Series

October’s Bluewater Reading Series Event Spotlights Nova Scotia, Toronto and Lambton County Writers

“One thing I understood quickly was the poems would be shorter, and seemed to be arriving in a plain kind of language I figured could be read by anyone.” –Chad Norman*

Award-winning Canadian poet Chad Norman may have settled in Truro, Nova Scotia but he’s back on the road with a stop in Sarnia, Ontario in early October as part of his 2015 multi-city book tour. He’ll be sharing work from his sixteenth book of poetry, Learning to Settle Down, a collection of short “laid-backness” themed poems recently published by well-known Windsor publisher Black Moss Press.

Canadian poet Chad Norman is on a multi-city tour with his 16th book of poetry Learning to Settle Down.

Canadian poet Chad Norman is on a multi-city tour with his 16th book of poetry Learning to Settle Down.

Norman’s “impressive writing career spans the last thirty years,” stated his press kit. “He has won the BC Writers’ Poetry Contest as well as the Gwendolyn MacEwen Memorial Award as well as several other prestigious places, honourable mentions and runner-up awards.” His work has appeared in numerous publications across the globe including The Antigonish Review and Fiddlehead.

The League of Canadian Poets new_logo_2

His travel to Sarnia is made possible by The League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Saturday, October 3, 2015 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

The 7th reading in the Bluewater Reading Series spotlights both poetry and pose Saturday, October 3, 2015 in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

During the October 3rd Bluewater Reading Series event, he will share the spotlight with three other guests: Patrick Connors, manager for the Toronto chapter of 100, 000 Poets for Change, historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy, and retired Lambton College Literature Professor Patrick Sheridan.

Sarnia’s award-winning poet Lynn Tait will emcee. Both prose and poetry will be featured.

This community event, open to the general public, starts at 2:30 p.m. at John’s Restaurant on the outskirts of Sarnia, Ontario. Admission is free.

To date, the Bluewater Reading Series committee has organized six other successful readings. Previous out-town guest readers (in alphabetical order) included: Becky Alexander, Clara Blackwood, Allan Briesmaster, Ronnie R. Brown, Barb Day, Andreas Gripp, David Haskins, Laurence Hutchman, John B. Lee, Carol Malyon, Antonino Mazza, Elizabeth McCallister, Michael Mirolla, Kathy Robertson, Denis Robillard, Vanessa Shields, and John Wing Jr.

OCTOBER’S BLUEWATER READING SERIES FEATURED READERS (in alphabetical order):

Toronto poet Pat Connors will read in Sarnia for the first time.

Toronto poet Pat Connors will read in Sarnia for the first time.

Patrick Connors has been published in Zouch Magazine & Miscellany, This Place Anthology, Northern Voices Journal, Poetry’Z Own Magazine, Chrysalis Zine, and was nominated for the 2011 Best of the Net contest. He was Lead Artist in the pilot of Making a Living; Making Art, a project of Cultural Pluralism in the Arts at the University of Toronto. He was literary juror of Big Art Book 2013, a digital project of Scarborough Arts. In celebration of National Poetry Month, he was featured on the blogs of The Toronto Quarterly and the League of Canadian Poets. His first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was released by Lyricalmyrical Press in 2013. He has also had work published in Belgium, India, and Timmins. He has recently been posted on the Toronto Poetry Map. He is part of an anthology coming out next February in Cuba, and is also working on a full manuscript. He is a manager for the Toronto chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change.

Local historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy is touring the Lambton County area with his commemorative edition of his historical novel Early Days in Oil Springs.

Local historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy is touring the Lambton County area with his commemorative edition of his historical novel Early Days in Oil Springs.

Bob McCarthy: a Sarnia author, historian and photographer, has written three fictionalized accounts based on the lives of his ancestors, two children’s history books presenting Stories of Lambton, five books based on local history in the form of historical fiction and one murder mystery. A member of Lambton Writers Association and Writers Helping Writers, Bob is currently working on GENERATIONS, a follow-up to CASE 666 – the Story of Elizabeth Workman.

Chad Norman’s writing career spans over 30 years. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications across the globe including The Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, Bogg, Inkshed, Capman, Edge Magazine, The New Criterion, and Voices Israel (Anthology). He has won the B.C. Writers’ Poetry Contest as well as the Gwendolyn MacEwen Memorial Award as well as several other prestigious places, honourable mentions, and runner-up awards. He is also a member of the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia and a full member of The League of Canadian Poets. He organizes and hosts River Words: Poetry & Music festival in Truro, Nova Scotia, each year in July. Learning to Settle Down (Black Moss Press, 2015) is his 16th published poetry book.

Bright’s Grove poet Pat Sheridan is a retired Lambton College Literature Professor.

Bright’s Grove poet Pat Sheridan is a retired Lambton College Literature Professor.

Patrick Sheriden: started writing when he was in first year university. He studied poetry with Robin Skelton and prose with Bill Valgardson. He was a Literature professor at Lambton College for 29 years and helped edit and was published in Rose and Gasoline, a literary journal for teachers and students at the college. He is a former member of Writers in Transition (WIT) and a current member of the Sarnia poetry critique group: ‘After Hours Poets”.

OCTOBER’S BLUEWATER READING SERIES FEATURED BOOKS (in alphabetical order):

Early Days in Oil Springs by Sarnia’s historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy

Early Days in Oil Springs by Sarnia’s historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy

Early Days in Oil Springs- A Historical Novel About Lambton County (Quinn Riley Press, 2015) is a ‘novelized’ re-telling of the first days of oil (1858 to 1863) and the lives of real people who were a part of the oil heritage of Lambton County. It was first published in 2008 and recently reprinted with the book Black Springs Abbey by Gloria Pearson-Vasey. This double-book commemorative edition was issued to celebrate the sesquicentennial of The Village of Oil Springs. It was published with the assistance of a grant from the Creative County Fund of Lambton County.

Learning to Settle Down by Nova Scotia poet Chad Norman

Learning to Settle Down by Nova Scotia poet Chad Norman

Learning to Settle Down (Black Moss Press, 2015) is Chad Norman’s sixteenth poetry book. According to Norman’s press kit, Norman is inspired by the “laid-backness” of the growing town and inhabitants of Truro, Nova Scotia. “Part of his writing process includes taking long walks to ‘stir up the words when a poem is being stubborn.’ Learning to Settle Down is the result of learning to follow his Muse and let the poetry flow.”

Scarborough Songs (LyricalMyrical, 2013) is Patrick Connors’s first collection of poetry. This limited edition handmade book features 20 poems including previously published work in Poetry’Z Own issue, the J Peachy Gallery blog, The Toronto Quarterly, unFold mag, and John Oughton’s blog. Several of the poems have won and/or been shortlisted or nominated for prizes.

Scarborough Songs by Toronto poet Patrick Connors

Scarborough Songs by Toronto poet Patrick Connors


*quote from “An Interview with Chad Norman” originally published in his press kit.

Follow this blog for future literary events, reviews and profiles.

The Bluewater Readings Series’ September 12th event spotlighted four out-of-town and two local writers: (back row) Elizabeth McCallister, Becky Alexander, Barb Day, and Kathy Robertson plus (front row) Debbie Okun Hill and Phyllis Humby.

The Bluewater Readings Series’ September 12th event spotlighted four out-of-town and two local writers: (back row) Elizabeth McCallister, Becky Alexander, Barb Day, and Kathy Robertson plus (front row) Debbie Okun Hill and Phyllis Humby.

New Fall Season for Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading Series

“I believe that most poets have a moon poem tucked away in a file somewhere”.–Becky Alexander*

If you’re in or within travelling distance to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada mark your literary calendars with two more Bluewater Reading Series offerings planned for September 12 and October 3, 2015. Expect to hear new poetry, prose, and non-fiction by both local and out-of-town writers.

This September 12th reading by local and out-of-town writers represents the 6th event in Sarnia's Bluewater Reading Series.

This September 12th reading by local and out-of-town writers represents the 6th event in Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading Series.

The Saturday, September 12 event showcases an all-female lineup with four out-of-town readers sharing lunar themed work from the recently released anthology Moon Shine: A Canadian Collection (Craigleigh Press). Presenters include the Cambridge, Ontario publisher/editor Becky Alexander plus three other contributors: Barb Day (Paris, Ontario), Elizabeth McCallister (Brantford) and Kathy Robertson (Kitchener).

Moon Shine was edited by Becky Alexander, publisher of Craighleigh Press in Cambridge, Ontario.

Moon Shine was edited by Becky Alexander, publisher of Craigleigh Press in Cambridge, Ontario.

Local readers include Debbie Okun Hill who is back home following a multi-city-multi-province tour of her first book Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press) and Phyllis Humby, a First Monday columnist and a crime fiction writer. Both local writers have previously read on the Fringe Stage of the Eden Mills Writers Festival: Okun Hill in 2011 and Humby in 2013.

On Saturday, October 3, Canadian poet Chad Norman will travel from Truro, Nova Scotia to read from his latest book Learning to Settle Down (Black Moss Press). Pat Connors, manager for the Toronto chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change will share poetry from Scarborough Songs (Lyricalmyrical). An additional out-of-town guest is pending confirmation. Local readers include historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy and retired Lambton College Literature Professor Pat Sheridan.

“All of the out-of-town writers have never visited or read in this area of Ontario before,” said Bluewater Reading Series committee member and prolific Canadian poet James Deahl. “This is a great opportunity for guest readers to network with other writers. Local writers, in turn, will hear different voices which can often stimulate ideas and future growth for their own writing.”

Barb Day

Barb Day

Both readings are free, open to the general public, and will start at 2:30 p.m.at John’s Restaurant on the outskirts of Sarnia, Ontario.

To date, the Bluewater Reading Series committee (consisting of emcees Deahl and award-winning poet Lynn Tait) has already organized five other successful readings. Previous out-town guest readers (in alphabetical order) included: Clara Blackwood, Allan Briesmaster, Ronnie R. Brown, Andreas Gripp, David Haskins, Laurence Hutchman, John B. Lee, Carol Malyon, Antonino Mazza, Michael Mirolla, Denis Robillard, Vanessa Shields, and John Wing Jr.

Elizabeth McCallilster

Elizabeth McCallilster

Below is additional information about the anthology Moon Shine and the September featured readers:

Moon Shine: A Canadian Collection: features moon-themed poems by 21 writers including Sarnia’s award-winning poets James Deahl and Norma West Linder. Published by Craigleigh Press, the book was officially launched May 31, 2015 in Cambridge, Ontario. Additional information about the book and a list of contributors can be found on the publisher’s website.

Featured Moon Shine Contributors:

Becky Alexander (Cambridge) is the author of Growing Up in Hespler, a memoir. With her husband Dave Allen she runs Craigleigh Press. Becky is active in the Cambridge Writers Collective.

Kathy Robertson

Kathy Robertson

Barb Day (Paris) is the author of Zanzibar, a children’s book. She is a spoken word performer and the host of The Brant Rant Poetry Slam.

Elizabeth McCallister (Brantford) is the author of Notes from Suburbia. She is active in the Cambridge Writers Collective and the Brant Poetry Group.

Kathy Robertson (Kitchener) has had work in The Cambridge Citizen and other places. She is active in the Cambridge Writers Collective.

Local Writers:

Debbie Okun Hill (Photo: Melissa Upfold for Calculated Coloured Co.)

Debbie Okun Hill (Photo: Melissa Upfold for Calculated Coloured Co.)

Debbie Okun Hill (Lambton County) recently completed a multi-city-multi-province book tour with her first poetry collection Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press). She also edited/compiled the recently released MINDSHADOWS (Beret Days Press), a membership anthology for The Ontario Poetry Society. She is a member of numerous local and Canadian writing groups.

Phyllis Humby

Phyllis Humby

Phyllis Humby (Lambton County) Although her passion is writing novels, her short stories, often scheming, twisted, or spooky, appear in anthologies and journals in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. In addition, she writes a monthly column, “Up Close and Personal” for First Monday magazine. She blogs at her websiteThe Write Break.

Additional information about the October 3rd event will be posted soon.

Follow this blog for future updates on the Bluewater Reading Series and other literary events, reviews and profiles.

*Becky Alexander’s quote first appeared on the Craigleigh Press website.

                   

In Sarnia – Feast on Two National Poetry Month Events – April 11 and 25

The Bluewater Reading Series presents a National Poetry Month Celebration of Food and Poetry.

The Bluewater Reading Series presents a National Poetry Month Celebration of Food and Poetry.

Poetry fans can feast on an eclectic mix of poetic voices by twelve local and award-winning out-of-town talent as well as the Canadian launch of a California-based anthology during Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebration, Saturday, April 11 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line on the outskirts of the city.

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Bluewater Reading Series Moves Forward With Events in April and May

Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading Series is gearing up for another great year.  As temperatures dip and nip fingertips, howling winds play havoc on icy and snow covered roads. Venturing outdoors can be a challenge; travelling great distances to participate in an out-of-town reading seems like such a gamble.

Speaking in front of a full audience: emcee Lynn Tait (Sarnia), fiction writer Diana Koch (Sarnia), Poet Laureate of Brantford John B. Lee (Port Dover), author of Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy Vanessa Shields (Windsor) and poet Grace Vermeer (Sarnia

Last November, speaking in front of a full audience: emcee Lynn Tait (Sarnia), fiction writer Diana Koch (Sarnia), Poet Laureate of Brantford John B. Lee (Port Dover), author of Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy Vanessa Shields (Windsor) and poet Grace Vermeer (Sarnia

However, despite the temptation to escape to a warmer climate or to hibernate in a snowbank, plans are indeed moving forward for the committee’s next two offerings: a special April is National Poetry Month event scheduled for Saturday, April 11, 2015 and a fiction/poetry reading set for Saturday, May 9, 2015. Both literary events will be held during the afternoon at John’s Restaurant on the outskirts of Sarnia, Ontario.

According to committee member and prolific Canadian poet James Deahl, “seven out of town guests have already agreed to participate in this spring’s program; five of whom have never visited or read in this area of Ontario before. We are working on posters and media releases. A formal announcement will be made soon.”

To date, the Bluewater Reading Series committee has already organized three successful readings. Previous out-town guest readers (in alphabetical order) included: Allan Briesmaster, Clara Blackwood, Andreas Gripp, John B. Lee, Carol Malyon, Vanessa Shields, and John Wing Jr.

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JOHN B. LEE AND VANESSA SHIELDS! COMING TO SARNIA THIS WEEKEND!

Window Fishing…Burning my Father….Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy…I Am That Woman. The poster says it all…If you’re in the Sarnia area this Saturday, November 8, check out the next offering in the Bluewater Reading Series. Admission is free. Open to the Public! More info here.

Saturday, November 8 in Sarnia

Saturday, November 8 in Sarnia

What Do The Words ‘Beatlemania’ and ‘Second Pregnancy’ Have In Common?

 If you guessed that ‘Beatlemania’ and ‘Second Pregnancy’ will be spotlighted in an upcoming literary event in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, then you are absolutely right!!!  Check out the media release that just crossed  my desk….

AWARD-WINNING POET JOHN B. LEE TO PRESENT NEW BOOK ON BEATLEMANIA

Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press) selected and compiled by John B. Lee.

Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press) selected and edited by John B. Lee.

John B. Lee, the Poet Laureate of Brantford and one of Canada’s most prolific poets will travel to Sarnia to join three other award-winning writers for this fall’s Bluewater Reading Series event Saturday, November 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line. His reading will focus on two new books Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press), a commemorative anthology on this British rock band’s invasion into North America and Burning My Father (Black Moss Press), a poetic reflection on Lee’s life as a farmer’s son.

Burning My Father (Black Moss Press, 2014) by John B. Lee

Burning My Father (Black Moss Press, 2014), a poetic reflection on John B. Lee’s life as a farmer’s son.

Lee will be joined by three other readers: League of Canadian Poets member and former Black Moss Press editor Vanessa Shields (Windsor, Ontario), and local award-winning writers Diana Koch and Grace Vermeer. Shields and Vermeer will be reading in Sarnia for the first time.

“We are excited about the calibre of authors reading for this free public event,” said Venera Fazio, committee spokesperson for the Series. “Not only will we be featuring professional out-of-town writers with emerging local talent but the afternoon will offer a varied program of fiction, poetry, memoir and humour.”

Lee, who is also the Poet Laureate of Norfolk County, is the author of seventy plus published books.  His work has appeared internationally in over 500 magazines, literary journals and anthologies.  A two-time recipient of the CBC Literary Award for poetry, he has won over eighty prestigious literary awards for his work.

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“It is Easy to Read Short Stories” or Is It?

Ask Toronto writer Carol Malyon and the narrator of one of her published stories.

Entertaining....

Entertaining….

Last Saturday during Sarnia’s Bluewater Readings Series, Malyon pulled an empty chair from the audience, sat down, got comfortable and joked about reading from her children’s picture book. She made the adults laugh and relax. As a novelist, poet, short story and children’s picture book writer Malyon has often shared her work on stage and with others. She knows how to hold an audience’s attention and she did.

“It is easy to read short stories,” she said reading the first line of “Pencils” a whimsical yet heart-wrenching story from her book Lovers & Other Strangers (The Porcupine’s Quill). “There are lots of them around. Some of them could be true; they could have happened already or be happening right now.”

In her story, the narrator touched on the act of strangers reading stories by others strangers. “You don’t know the author” she read.

          So how do writers feel about sharing their work?

Afterwards in a private dinner conversation, Malyon explained it isn’t easy for authors to find locations to read short fiction. “Poets are lucky. Most of the reading series and open mics in Toronto and other large centres tend to focus on poetry. Whenever, I have a chance to read my short stories, I grab it.”

Celebrating Out-of-Town and Local Talent

Celebrating Out-of-Town and Local Talent

Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading Series mixes both poetry and fiction as well as celebrates both local and out-of-town talent. Malyon was one of four writers spotlighted in May.

Another guest London poet Andreas Gripp launched his new poetry collection The Better Kiss and surprised the audience with a sneak peek at his ‘hot-off-the-press’ chapbook All Here Sail in a River of Light, a collaborative effort between Gripp and southern Ontario poet Katherine L. Gordon.

Quite the collection of books.

Quite the collection of books.

Sarnia writers Norma West Linder and James Deahl launched their first poetic collaboration Two Paths Through the Seasons. (Read a review here.) Linder also read a short story from her book No Common Thread.

          For additional biographical information, see below:

James Deahl has been part of the national poetry scene for over 40 years and was a co-founder of Mekler and Deahl, a publishing company that produced 50 books for established and emerging writers. Now a Sarnia resident, he is the author of 22 books including his most recent work North Point (Hidden Brook Press), Rooms The Wind Makes (Guernica Editions), and North of Belleville (Hidden Brook Press).

James Deahl

James Deahl

He also edited In A Springtime Instant: The Selected Poems of Milton Acorn 1950 -1986 (Mosaic Press) and Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems For & About Raymond Souster (Quattro Books). Two Paths Through The Seasons: Poems by Norma West Linder and James Deahl (Cyclamens and Swords Publishing, Israel) is his first collaboration with Linder.

In addition to literary activities, he has taught creative writing and Canadian literature at the high school, college, and university levels and for several years has been a full-time writer/editor/translator. 

Andreas Gripp

Andreas Gripp

Andreas Gripp is the author of 18 books of poetry, including The Better Kiss (Harmonia Press, 2014) and Selected Poems 2000-2012 (Harmonia Press, 2013). He lives in London, Ontario and works in a used bookstore. Vegetable gardening and nature walks are among his activities. Work by Andreas Gripp has recently appeared in What We Carry Home (Ascent Aspirations Anthology), Window Fishing: The night we caught Beatlemania, Under The Mulberry Tree: Poems For & About Raymond Souster, The Prairie Journal, and Quern: An Anthology of Contemporary Poets. He was shortlisted for the Acorn-Plantos Award for Peoples Poetry in 2010.

Norma West Linder is a prolific and award-winning Sarnia writer who taught Creative Writing and English at Lambton College for 24 years. A member of numerous national writing organizations and proficient in various genres, she is the author of five novels, 14  collections of poetry, a memoir of Manitoulin Island, a children’s book, a one-act play and a biography of Pauline McGibbon. Her poetry has been published in The Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, White Wall Review, Room of One’s Own, Quills, Towards the Light, Prairie Journal, FreeFall Magazine, R & M Journal, Mobius, and other periodicals.

Norma West Linder

Norma West Linder

Her latest work includes Adder’s-tongues: A Choice of Norma West Linder’s Poems 1969 –2011 (Aeolus House) and No Common Thread: The Selected Short Fiction of Norma West Linder (Hidden Brook Press).

Two Paths Through The Seasons: Poems by Norma West Linder and James Deahl (Cyclamens and Swords Publishing, Israel) is her first collaboration with Deahl.

Carol Malyon has written novels, short story collections, poetry books, and a children’s picture book. In her fiction, Malyon writes of women and their relationships with lovers, mothers, and children. She is interested in the fundamental and irreconcilable discord between men and women: their differing views of the world, of themselves, of others; and their disparate modes of communication.

Carol Malyon

Carol Malyon

Malyon has been writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick, led fiction workshops at the Maritime Writers Workshop, and at Canadore College in North Bay, owned a book store (Beaches Book Shop), and worked in health research.

Her latest book, Griddle Talk, co-written by bill bissett, consists of 52 breakfast conversations at the Golden Griddle where they discuss “love and life and anything else you want.”

Carol Malyon lives in Toronto.

The Bluewater Reading Series is a new literary offering organized by Sarnia writers: James Deahl, Venero Fazio, Debbie Okun Hill, and Lynn Tait. This May reading was the second event in the 2014 season.

Linder & Deahl: Two Canadian Poets Travelling Hand-in-Hand with New Book

Something magical ignited in Al Purdy country when Canadian poets James Deahl and Norma West Linder saw each other during a weekend launch of the Hidden Brook Press anthology And Left a Place To Stand On: Poems and Essays on Al Purdy.  Their friendship grew stronger and this Saturday, May 10, they will be in Sarnia, Ontario to launch their first collaborative work Two Paths Through the Seasons.

This Bluewater Reading Series event will also feature readings by London Poet Andreas Gripp who will launch his latest book The Better Kiss (Harmonia Press) and Toronto’s short story writer, novelist, poet and children’s picture book author Carol Malyon will read a short story from her book Lovers & Other Strangers (The Porcupine Quill).

Below is a reprint of my review* on Linder and Deahl’s new book:

Two Paths Through the Seasons: Poems by Norma West Linder and James Deahl will be officially launched in Sarnia, Saturday, May 10 as part of the Bluewater Reading Series.

Two Paths Through the Seasons: Poems by Norma West Linder and James Deahl will be officially launched in Sarnia, Saturday, May 10 as part of the Bluewater Reading Series.

Two Paths Through The Seasons
Poems by Norma West Linder and James Deahl
Cyclamens and Swords Publishing (Israel), 2014, 44 pp
ISBN 978-965-7503-15-7

Review by Debbie Okun Hill

North wind howls during this mid-March blizzard and thoughts drift to a familiar poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” written in 1922 by Robert Frost. This American poet often described nature and the solitary traveler in his writing. In an earlier poem “The Road Less Taken” he penned the lines: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,/And sorry I could not travel both.”

When Canadian poet James Deahl started his poetic journey, Norma West Linder was already five years ahead of him and strolling down a different path. Season after season passed until the fork in their travels lead them both to a literary event in Brighton, Ontario. Since then, they have travelled extensively side-by-side and hand-in-hand to poetry readings from Edmonton in the west to the Canadian east coast then south to Philadelphia in the United States.

Now thanks to Cyclamens and Swords Publishing in Israel, their first poetic collaboration has resulted in a 44-page book: Two Paths Through The Seasons. Not only does the collection showcase some of their best work written during the long and separate literary careers of these seasoned poets but it demonstrates the mystical charm that occurs when two writers weave their personal and poetic lives together.

As individual writers each could be considered a legend in his/her own field. Deahl who lives-breathes poetry is most prolific as the author of 22 literary titles. Linder who is better known as a novelist, started writing poetry in her forties. Her poetic career now spans over 40 years with fourteen poetry books to her credit.
To review their work is a daunting task.

All of Deahl’s poems in this collection have been previously published in various books, magazines and anthologies during the past 35 years.
Linder’s work is mostly reprinted from Adder’s tongues: A Choice of Norma West Linder’s Pomes 1969 – 2011, a Canadian collection published by Aelous House in 2012. The remaining poems have been printed elsewhere or appear in print for the first time.

While the book title Two Paths Through the Seasons appears mundane for such a dynamic and creative couple, it isn’t until the reader begins analyzing the work inside that the significance of these words is revealed.

Similar to Frost, both Linder and Deahl are fond of recording the idiosyncrasies of nature and those lonely or familial people found along their journey. Seasonal details such as “bone-chill of stone”, “autumn crow”, and “beaded curtains/of rain” lift each memorable setting and character from the page. Using a narrative style, they embrace the clarity associated with the “people’s poet” tradition.

For example, Linder’s work leans towards a minimalist style. Her words are simple, easily understood and yet they resonate, grabbing the reader’s attention with evocative images. She has mastered both free verse and more traditional poetic forms. Even her oil painting “Trilliums at Highland Glen” on the front cover reinforces her love for nature. “Like a greedy child/I long to pick spring beauties”.
Her featured selection begins with haunting descriptions of “an island/fogbound in morning mist, “ghost-like cows” and the whippoorwill with “its three ghostly notes”.

Drawing from familiar places (Manitoulin Island where she grew up and the conservation/nature trails near her current Sarnia, Ontario residence), she often dives into the nostalgia of childhood and an earlier era. Her strongest poems pay tribute to both famous and everyday characters: American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, Canadian poet Irving Layton, a black-haired secretary in Vancouver, a frail old man playing a violin “for love alone” at a mall entrance and the “girls in trouble” with hair described as “a golden curtain/over silent water”.

Her poem “Names Etched in White Marble” is a touching recollection written and inspired by a recent visit to a national memorial built in Pennsylvania on the United Airlines Flight 93 September 11, 2001 crash site.

Because she favored turquoise
he bought a silver bracelet
studded with polished stones
like bits of summer skies

Like Linder, Deahl also writes about the seasons where “the harp of rain falls quiet” and mentions the mist and the haunted: “the dockers stare with ghosted eyes” and “From the dark wind the dead/were filing up, obstinately/refusing to name themselves”.

Norma West Linder and James Deahl travelling together on their literary journey.

Norma West Linder and James Deahl travelling together on their literary journey.

However, unlike Linder, his work is more complex with a layer of depth added especially when he turns his attention to history, politics and unique geographical locations. He is a well-travelled, articulate poet who likes to count his syllables and hone in on those precise details that transform an ordinary line into something extraordinary.

In the poem “Rhondda”, he writes:
And the lightless water
filling the abandoned shaft

is the voice of our bones
calling from a great distance,
from miles beneath our white skin.

When describing the changes in “Kampuchea” he pens “The rice beds lost their odour of flesh” and “Skulls are stacked in stalls, on tables/like pale melons stained with summer heat”.

His work in the collection often juxtaposes this dark reality with that of beauty. His most touching works are tributes to his daughters, his wife Gilda and his grief following her death in 2007. “This evening/even the full moon/wears its black mask”.

The binding strengths of this collaboration are the undercurrents of new romance and the tight manner in which the poems are woven together. For example Linder’s tribute poem to James bridges her work to Deahl. She writes: “Only the soothing sounds/of nature fill the air/till we arrive full circle/back where we started.”

In Deahl’s second last poem, he writes “It is an old friend I had almost forgotten/returning after many years/in this season of need.”

In his final poem, a tribute to Norma, Deahl begins with: “Seasons arrive and pass” and concludes with an intimate moment and his “wonder/at this inexplicable life.”
This captures the book’s breath, lifeblood, and beating heart: not necessarily the traditional depictions of spring/summer/winter/fall but the way those seasons reflect the cycles and stages of life, from birth to death to birth again.

As the epigraph by Yoshida Kenko reminds the reader “So everything is grief/until the green leaves come”.

Deahl and Linder are master poets, risking their individual careers for each other. They are like Frost’s character faced with a tough decision: “I took the one less traveled by./And that has made all the difference.”

Two Paths Through The Seasons autumn-swirls and spring-sings on pebbled milestones like a well-rehearsed duet. Bravo, on a job well done!

*Previously published on Riffs & Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens (the buoyant blog of Canadian haiku poet (haijin) Chris Faiers) on March 20, 2014 and on http://www.coviews.com on March 21, 2014.

Sarnia’s Bluewater Reading Series: A Pictorial View

Behind the swinging doors of the “Famous Room”, a new reading series emerged. Below are the poetic highlights!

The official 2014 National Poetry Month poster!

The official 2014 National Poetry Month poster!

James Deahl, Master of Ceremonies and Spokesperson, Bluewater Reading Series.

James Deahl, Master of Ceremonies and Spokesperson, Bluewater Reading Series.

A time for reflection.

A time for reflection.

Special thanks to the four guest readers!

Special thanks to the four guest readers: John Wing Jr., Allan Briesmaster, Lynn Tait and Clara Blackwood.

 

Allan Briesmaster reads from Against the Flight of Spring (Quattro Books)

Allan Briesmaster reads from Against the Flight of Spring (Quattro Books)

Clara Blackwell reads from Forecast (Guernica Editions)

Clara Blackwell reads from Forecast (Guernica Editions)

Lynn Tait reads from her manuscripts Chatter Marks and Broken Days

Lynn Tait reads from her manuscripts Chatter Marks and Broken Days

John Wing Jr. reads from Why-shaped Scars (Black Moss Press)

John Wing Jr. reads from Why-shaped Scars (Black Moss Press)

Featuring New Work

Featuring New Work

Relaxing

Relaxing

A stellar and captive audience.

A stellar audience.

“In Celebration of National Poetry Month. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets”

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The League of Canadian Poets new_logo_2

 

 

 

 

Please note: Two more National Poetry Month Events have been planned for Sarnia.

Spoken Word welcomes writers to share their work in front of an audience, Friday, April 25 starting at 8 p.m. at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts. Sign-up for readers is at the door. Admission is free. More info here.

Seven poets Steven Michael Berzensky, Kent Bowman, James Deahl, Ryan Gibbs, Debbie Okun Hill, Norma West Linder and Lynn Tait will celebrate the literary work of literary giants Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster, Sunday, April 27 at 1 p.m. at the Book Keeper. Admission is free. More info here.

Celebrating Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during National Poetry Month

Celebrating Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during National Poetry Month