Tag Archives: Carol Malyon

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

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



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.