Tag Archives: i.b. iskov

Congratulations I. B. Iskov – More Applause for this Arts and Culture Leader

Some women are absolutely fabulous.

I. B. (Bunny) Iskov is one of them.

Last Sunday (March 5, 2017), Iskov was one of forty Greater Golden Horseshoe residents honoured during the 4th Annual Absolutely Fabulous Women – 40 over Forty Awards Gala. According to the organizers, “this prestigious annual award ceremony celebrates inspirational individuals and recognizes their outstanding contributions to the community.” Iskov received her award for her long-standing service to the Arts and Culture community (more specifically for her dedication and leadership with The Ontario Poetry Society).

Photo 3 Bunny Iskov win her award March 5, 2017 Photo courtesy Anna Yin

Canadian poet I. B. (Bunny) Iskov was recently honoured at the 4th Annual Absolutely Fabulous Women – 40 Over Forty Awards Gala held in Mississauga, Ontario. Photo Courtesy: Anna Yin

 

I’ve written about Bunny before. Back in 2015, I stated, “Canadian poet I. B. (Bunny) Iskov reminds me of the Energizer® Bunny and the TV commercial where the batteries in the pink-plush, sunglasses wearing, hare “keep going and going and going”. Even the Oxford Dictionary’s description of the generic ‘energizer bunny’ phrase resonates with her character and enthusiasm. She is indeed a “persistent or indefatigable person or phenomenon.”  See the full blog post including a question and answer segment here.

Bunny was also featured in two blogs about her involvement as editor/compiler of the recent Memory and Loss fundraising anthology and tour where monies were raised for the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. See those blogs here and here.

As I’ve mentioned before, Bunny is one of the hardest working individuals I know and is a crusader for all poets, especially those at the grassroots level who need a nudge and boost of confidence to keep writing.

Photo 1 Bunny Iskov at Absoluately Fabulous Women March 5, 2017 event photo courtesy Larry Iskov

For over 16 years, Bunny Iskov has inspired poets through The Ontario Poetry Society, a not-for-profit organization she founded and runs with the help of several volunteers. Photo Courtesy: Larry Iskov

 

With permission from the nominating committee (Fran Figge, Ronnie R. Brown, and me), below are some of the highlights of Bunny’s achievements that were shared with an independent panel of judges. I am thrilled that the judges accepted the nomination.

Toronto poet I. Bunny Iskov is the dynamic leader and Founder of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS). For over 16 years she has funneled her enthusiasm for words into the creation and ongoing development of this highly successful not-for-profit provincial literary arts organization which currently serves over 260 members.

Through Beret Days Press, Iskov has published over 150 books including member anthologies and private collections as well as a triannual newsletter Verse Afire.  Through her poetry initiatives, over $1500 has been donated to several non-profit charitable organizations.  She has also established a poor poet fund and the Make-A-Chapbook Foundation for poets in financial need.

As a volunteer and poetry promoter, Iskov helps launch the writing careers of emerging poets. She embraces writers from every ethnic and cultural background, from hobbyists to poet laureates. She creates, organizes and runs several contests, workshops, readings and open mic events each year.

In 2009, she was the recipient of the inaugural RAVE (Recognizing Arts Vaughan Excellence) Award for her work as Art Educator and Mentor in the Literary Arts Discipline.

Bunny Iskov is inspirational, irreplaceable and deserves recognition for her achievements.

Additional information about her personal literary credentials are posted on-line on The Ontario Poetry Society website.

Photo 2 Anna Yin and Bunny Iskov at award ceremony March 5, 2017 Photo Courtesy Larry Iskov

Anna Yin, Mississauga’s first poet laureate, congratulates Bunny Iskov on her award. Photo Courtesy: Larry Iskov

 

Bunny is indeed amazing. A few hours after winning her award, she was back at The Ontario Poetry Society headquarters sending e-mails and promoting other poets.

And there’s more….

Later this month, she’ll be releasing a new limited edition chapbook called Hold The Applause (Ink Bottle Press, 2017). The collection will include a sample of her poems that have either won poetry awards or have come close as Honourable Mentions and/or Judge’s Choice Awards.

She will also be preparing all the files for Transitory Tango, a poetry membership anthology to be edited and compiled by Ronnie R. Brown and released in late summer by Beret Days Press. Submissions for Verse Afire, TOPS membership newsletter must also be compiled. Several contests and members’ readings and open mic events have also been organized for 2017.

Like the Energizer® Bunny, she keeps “going and going and going”. She continues to make a difference in so many lives. Thank you for all that you do!

 

Memory and Loss Anthology Officially Launched

“…set me/wondering what an Alzheimer mind/feels like inside…” – Kate Marshall Flaherty*

 Imagine if we all lost our memories, dropped them like mittens into the snowy abyss or hid the pink mass in a suitcase and left it on a train.

Dates like Red Thursday or Black Friday or even a loved one’s birthday would mean nothing.

Think about it. That’s the point. We couldn’t! Our cognitive skills would be impaired or worse yet, our short-term memories would be zilch.

memory-and-loss-anthology-launch-in-ajax-with-bunny-iskov-and-emma-laughlini-november-17-2016-photo-courtesy-david-brydges

What a journey…the train that sparked the Memory and Loss poetry anthology project.  All aboard with Editor/Compiler I. B. (Bunny) Iskov and Emma Laughlin Photo by David Brydges

Last weekend, several Canadian poets gathered in Ajax, Toronto, and Ottawa to help launch Memory and Loss: A Canadian Anthology of Poetry. The primary goals were to draw attention to those suffering with Alzheimer and/or dementia and to raise some monies for the Alzheimer Society of Ontario.

David Brydges, one of the organizers of the fundraising project, is pleased with the response so far.

“Some very memorable moments and memories were created for the three days of book launches,” he said. “We sold 50 copies of the Memory and Loss anthology and raised $500 for the Alzheimer Society of Ontario. Ottawa musicians Anne Hurley and Jim Videto’s dedication to crafting their music to complement the themes from the Memory and Loss book were splendid and powerfully effective in bringing us all together. Those in attendance were particularly moved by the poetry, stories, and music for many had known someone who was afflicted by this disease or dementia. It was a serious but fun filled three days with a little PoeTrain adventure trip added to the mix.”

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A huge round of applause for Ottawa musicians Anne Hurley and Jim Videto for creating new music and lyrics to tie in with the book’s Alzheimer and dementia theme.

Brydges who is also the engine-force behind the original PoeTrain Express to Cobalt in 2012 and the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour in 2015, has a talent for finding unique projects to pull poets and trains together. The Memory and Loss anthology grew from a kernel extracted from a good news story.

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In Toronto, cultural entrepreneur David Brydges presents Memory and Loss editor I. B. (Bunny) Iskov with the book cover’s original artwork by Laura Landers.

“I heard,” explained Brydges, “that Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee Company had purchased and restored a 1924 Pacific rail car built by Canadian National Railway and used by King George VI and the Queen Mother in the first Canadian tour by a reigning British monarch in 1939. It was used in 2012 to raise one million dollars and awareness for the Alzheimer Society of Canada.

The ONR passenger train towed it as far as Moosonee. A stop in New Liskeard and story in the Speaker tweaked my curiosity. They said if anyone else wants to have a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s and wants to use the train to contact them.

My original idealistic plan was to use it for the venue book launch to Ottawa but there were too many obstacles with Via Rail. Previous event planning experience has taught me to reach high then plan down if necessary. So, plan B the more practical was to have the launch in the private rail car in its siding near the Mother Parkers manufacturing plant in Ajax.

On Thursday, November 17 with the sun shining in Ajax beside the Mother Parkers Tea Plant, we had our first launch inside the private rail car. Paul Higgins Jr. present co-owner (since his father died of Alzheimer’s) attended to tell his story about his father’s disease and how they acquired this historic train car. Emma Laughlin was there to help with organizing and read a poem by poet laureate Anne Margetson called “Train Travel and Memories”. Poets Bunny Iskov, and Kate Marshall Flaherty travelled from Toronto along with Wendy Jean Maclean and her sister (who came from Brockville) for the afternoon event. Ottawa musicians Anne Hurley and Jim Videto entertained some original tunes that had similar themes from the Memory and Loss book.

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Ajax was the first stop in the Memory and Loss three-city book launch tour. Supplied photo.

The second launch was held on Friday, November 18 in Toronto at The Hot House Restaurant & Bar. We had dinner beforehand and socialized with several poets in the anthology. Then fourteen poets read, from the anthology, their heart wrenching stories of how this disease has disrupted their lives and those they love. (Editor’s note: The readers included: David Brydges, I. B. (Bunny) Iskov, Kate Marshall Flaherty, Fran Figge, Debbie Okun Hill, K. V. Skene, Kamal Parmar, Jean Kallmeyer, Donna Langevin, Charles Taylor, Joan Sutcliffe, Margaret Code, Marsha Barber, and Honey Novick.) Music and songs were once again performed by Ottawa musicians Anne Hurley and Jim Videto.

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Special thanks to Toronto poet Kate Marshall Flaherty for her enthusiasm and help with organizing the three launches.

On Saturday, November 19 in Ottawa we had our final book launch and 45 people packed an excellent ambiance Pressed Café. Featured Ottawa poets were Ronnie Brown, Janice Falls, Blaine Marchand, and Susan McMaster. Gerry Mooney asked Fran Figge to read her very personal poem. Poets Bunny Iskov, Debbie, Okun Hill, Fran Figge, and David Brydges travelled by Via Rail train from Toronto to attend and participate. Kate Marshall Flaherty returned with her Ottawa musician friends who played their final event of this tour. With a hometown audience, they performed poetry and songs that blended to perfection. A surprise of the evening was a poem crafted during the show by Theresa Cull and read to us all.”

Thanks David for your detailed report.

Memory and Loss: A Canadian Anthology of Poetry is published by Ink Bottle Press, 2016 and edited/compiled by I. B. (Bunny) Iskov. The 164-page anthology features approximately 125 Alzheimer/dementia poems by 67 Canadian poets.

For a list of anthology contributors and/or to read more about the three city tour click here.

Additional information about the launch sponsor The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS) can be found here.

Additional information about Ink Bottle Press can be found here.

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In Ottawa, several local and out-of-town contributors shared their Alzheimer-themed work. The Memory and Loss poetry anthology includes the work of 67 Canadian poets.

This Sunday, November 27 starting at noon, The Ontario Poetry Society will host The Winter WarmUp Poetry Fest at Bar Italia, 582 College Street in Toronto Ontario. Contest winners from the Arborealis anthology as well as contributors to Memory and Loss, the membership anthology Latchkey Lyricality and/or the Fire and Sky “Fort McMurray fire themed” anthology will be asked to share a poem or two from these books. All TOPS members are welcome to read and are encouraged to bring their membership card to sign up for the members’ reading portion. Non-members may share their work during the Open Mic. Sign-up is at the door. Admission is free.

Join The Friends of the Ontario Poetry Society Facebook page for additional photos and information about upcoming events, contests and projects.

*Epigraph is from the poem “Far Away” by Kate Marshall Flaherty published in Memory and Loss: A Canadian Anthology of Poetry, page 116 Copyright © Kate Marshall Flaherty 2016 used with permission from the author.

I. B. Iskov’s New Poetry Book Skirts the Edge

“Bunny Iskov writes poems that skirt the edges and plunge the swirling eddies of sorrow and joy bringing with her the light of language and music of poetry.”

~ John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford; Poet Laureate of Norfolk County*

Canadian poet I. B. (Bunny) Iskov reminds me of the Energizer® Bunny and the TV commercial where the batteries in the pink-plush, sunglasses wearing, hare “keep going and going and going”. Even the Oxford Dictionary’s description of the generic ‘energizer bunny’ phrase resonates with her character and enthusiasm. She is indeed a “persistent or indefatigable person or phenomenon.”

Larry and Bunny Iskov Photo courtesy of the author

Family and friends are important to Canadian poet I.B. (Bunny) Iskov.

As the founding member of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS), she has worked and continues to work tirelessly for this grassroots poetry-friendly organization which currently serves over 250 members. She has launched the writing careers of many emerging poets and embraces and caters to all writers from hobbyists to poet laureates. With the help of her executive, she has created contests, workshops, readings and open mic events. Through Beret Days Press, she has published newsletters, anthologies, and chapbooks for other people.

In 2009, she won the inaugural R.A.V.E. Award – Recognizing Arts Vaughan Excellence –for her work as Art Educator and Mentor in the Literary Arts.

Skirting The Edge by I.B. Iskov (IOWI, 2015)

Skirting the Edge by I.B. Iskov was spotlighted at The Ontario Poetry Society’s Autumn Harvest Poetry Gathering, October 18 in Oakville.

As an organizer and planner, she is simply amazing, but then I must disclose, we have been colleagues and friends for a long time. She is passionate about poetry, loves her family and friends and goes the extra mile to help others. Her own writing often takes a back seat in her busy schedule so I was thrilled when In Our Words Inc. (IOWI) officially released her new poetry book Skirting the Edge last Sunday, November 22 in Mississauga. Bunny also showcased her book at TOPS Autumn Harvest Poetry Gathering, October 18 in Oakville.

I asked her to share her thoughts on her writing process. Below are her responses:

1) Congratulations Bunny on your new book. What inspired you to write it?

The world around me inspires me to write poems.  Whether the muse comes from a personal experience, a news item or a work of art, I get motivated and words flow forth on the page.

In A Wintered Nest by I.B. Iskov (Serengeti Press, 2013)

In a Wintered Nest by I.B. Iskov  published by Serengeti Press, 2013.

2) How does your work differ from other writers? What makes it unique and special? 

I believe all poets are unique and special.  I sometimes will read a poem that I wish I had written and sometimes I get that same compliment from another poet I admire.  We all differ in our approach, in our use of metaphor and in our methods to create concrete visual imagery in different ways that are all worth sharing.

3) What is your writing process? And why do you write the way that you do?

I don’t really have a writing process.  Sometimes, a few months will go by without a poem, and other times, I may write 2 or 3 poems in a day. It all depends on my muse and on what I may be exposed to that conjures a poem or poems.

4) Who are/were your mentors?

My mentors include Katherine L. Gordon, Ronnie R. Brown, Fran Figge, K.V. Skene, Nancy Walden, Joan Sutcliffe, Marsha Barber, Jean Kallmeyer, Allan Briesmaster, Honey Novick, and you, Debbie Okun Hill.

Sapphire Seasons by I. B. Iskov (Aeolus House, 2009)

Sapphire Seasons by I.B. Iskov published by Aeolus House,  2009.

5) Ha ha! I think it’s the other way around. YOU are one of my mentors. What writing project will you be working on in the future?

I haven’t decided on my next writing project yet.  I am taking a cruise this coming January and maybe something on this voyage will awaken my muse to write.  I have a lot of personal responsibilities and I must give all of them adequate attention.  Writing poetry is a luxury that I must make time for when I have the time, which isn’t as often as I would like.

6) Is there anything else you would like to add about your book, your writing, your past or future?

I am grateful to Ronnie R. Brown, for taking the time to read all of my poems and put them in the best order and make all the sections for the book. I am grateful to John B. Lee and Anna Yin for their kind blurbs on the back of my book and I am grateful to my publisher, Cheryl Antao-Xavier for her expertise in making my book so beautiful.  I look forward to writing new poems yet to be created.  I know I can count on my all friends to keep me writing.

7) Thanks Bunny. I look forward to reading your new book. The reviews have been most favourable. Enjoy your literary journey!

Below is a review** written by poet Fran Figge:

Skirting the Edge  I. B. Iskov In Our Words Inc., 2015, 78pp ISBN 978-1-926926-57-5

Skirting The Edge by I.B. Iskov (IOWI, 2015)

Skirting the Edge by I.B. Iskov was recently released by In Our Words Inc (IOWI).

Creativity and cruelty are themes woven throughout I.B. (Bunny) Iskov’s latest book, Skirting the Edge. Creativity comes in many forms, from a handmade rug, to a stitched tapestry, from sculpture to painting, from theatre to film. In the book’s first section, the beauty of these diverse forms has been ‘restored by loving hand’ into poetry. Iskov captures their undercurrents, their messages and their whimsy, using her pencil/brush for ‘encapsulating fantastic footage’ of art forms and the artists who created them. Countering the lightness of creativity is the darkness of cruelty. In her middle book section, Iskov states others say she holds “the pencil like a knife”, an apt description of her evisceration of situations of cruelty, violence, alienation and oppression. In Though my Voice Breaks, she writes, “I am a wingless creature / on a hard impenetrable ledge,” nailing the feeling of helplessness experienced by the maligned. Iskov’s poems are a window to her deep and personal encounters with the world. They are also her catharsis. As she reveals in Dreaming of Poetry, “I look for metaphor / inside every human exchange.” These poems are a tribute to the successful realization of that goal.

Additional info:  I.B. Iskov,  The Ontario Poetry Society, and In Our Words, Inc. (IOWI).

Meet I. B. Iskov and hear her read at TOPS Winter Warmup Poetry Gathering, Sunday, December 6, noon to 4 p.m. at The Central in Toronto. The event includes a members’ reading followed by an open mic. Everyone is welcome. Reading sign-up will be at the door.

*John B. Lee’s quote appears on the back cover of Skirting the Edge (In Our Words Inc. (IOWI), 2015) by I. B. Iskov. Reprinted with permission. Copyright © Bunny Iskov.

**Fran Figge’s review of Skirting the Edge (IOWI, 2015) by I. B. Iskov will appear in a future issue of Verse Afire (TOPS’ membership newsletter) and was reprinted here with permission from the author.

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes – Compiling a Membership Anthology

“It reminded me of working on a jigsaw puzzle.” –Debbie Okun Hill, editor/compiler, MINDSHADOWS (Beret Days Press, 2015)

Something magical happens when poets work together, when their voices interconnect to reveal additional insights.

2015 Anthology Themes: Swallowing Confusion; The Night's Not Long Enough; Casting Shadows; and Drinking The Light.

2015 MINDSHADOWS Anthology Sub-Themes: Swallowing Confusion; The Night’s Not Long Enough; Casting Shadows; and Drinking The Light.

Below is a sneak peek at the foreword for MINDSHADOWS, a Beret Days Press anthology showcasing the best work of contributing members of The Ontario Poetry Society. The books have arrived from the printers. Contributors’ copies will be shipped by the end of August.

MINDSHADOWS Foreword

Imagine navigating through a haunted maze, crunching corn stalks (or is it brittle bones?) beneath your hiking boots as the sky bleeds into darkness. You grip a red plastic flashlight in your right hand. Your left hand shakes with a scavenger hunt list. You search for poetic themes.

An owl hoots or is it the howl of a stuttering ghost? The moon leaps like a popped button from Dracula’s cape. The Big Dipper collects neighbouring stars and hides them behind the clouds. Call it a nightmare. Call it a dream. Call it MINDSHADOWS!

Your mind starts swirling. A weeping willow bends, grabs your arm but your foot sinks into a word-mire. You taste something bitter or sour like chokecherries but you haven’t eaten in days. The faint thump of a drum mimics your heart beat. The smell of smoke startles you. Ravens scatter. You know you must run…run as fast as a masked bandit towards the dance hall where a jazz band’s trumpet blares, where a single light bulb illuminates the path, beyond your black coffin.

What a challenging yet magical adventure it has been to compile and edit MINDSHADOWS, the 2015 membership anthology for The Ontario Poetry Society. As a night owl, I was eager to read this year’s submissions with themes confronting those times and events which plague our thoughts.

MINDSHADOWS sprouted from a heavy box of 81 poet folders with over 500 poems to select from.

MINDSHADOWS sprouted from a heavy box filled with 81 poet folders. Each folder contained between 5 to 10 poems. Who said an editor’s job was easy?

Bravo to the 81 emerging and established poets who stretched their imagination to create and submit their best work. One by one, I read and re-read each poet’s folder to select the strongest pieces not only for the theme but also for placement within the anthology. It reminded me of working on a jigsaw puzzle where the photograph on the box lid was missing. I had to listen carefully to the words and trust the myriad of poetic voices to guide my decisions. What started off as individual poems eventually merged into a collection of interconnected lines and verses categorized into four sub-themes:

SWALLOWING CONFUSION begins with the question WHY? I was pleased so many members examined the five senses in his/her writing. Ellen Elizabeth Stout writes, “Thirst leads me to the deep sea”. In this section poets explore the mind, how it confuses, plays tricks, and leads us astray. Read poems about games, deceptions, lies, dreams, nightmares and regrets. Nan Williamson adds hope with the line “I dreamed/you saved me from the drowning waves.”

THE NIGHT’S NOT LONG ENOUGH continues with this quest for answers as K.V. Skene asks “What if?” Here the writers focus on night life: dancing, nocturnal careers, birds and creatures that wander in the gray-black hours.

CASTING SHADOWS is eclectic, evolving and drifting like fog through black and white settings interspersed with fans of landscaped colour. What appears to be serene may actually be disturbing with street people, addictions, Halloween hauntings, fear, the atrocities of this world, and personalized encounters with death lurking on several pages.

Available soon from Beret Days Press! Book Cover illustrated by poet Elana Wolff.

Available soon from Beret Days Press! Book Cover illustrated by poet Elana Wolff.

DRINKING THE LIGHT yanks the reader out of the dark and into a more positive space filled with fireworks, the moon, constellations, campfires and candles. Stroll through various seasons. Find love and sunshine. As Fran Figge, the president of The Ontario Poetry Society writes in the last poem of the book: “my heart/brightens/into dandelion fluff/waltzing on the breeze.”

A membership project like this cannot happen without the team efforts of so many people: I.B. Iskov, founder/treasurer of The Ontario Poetry Society who continues to keep the grassroots poetry community alive, the 2014-2015 TOPS Executive who created the MINDSHADOWS theme and invited me to edit/compile this project, Elana Wolff and Katerina Fretwell who provided illustrations for the cover and sub-themed sections, Mark Clement and his endless work on design and layout, Fran Figge for assisting with the Author Bio Answers, the contributing poets, and finally you, the reader.

Enjoy your exploration through this anthology. As John B. Lee wrote in his poem “Her Dark Secret”: “it drinks/the light/and shines”. May you continue to grow, learn more about our world, and see each poet’s inner gift as a beautiful light.

–Debbie Okun Hill

tops logoEach year, The Ontario Poetry Society produces a beautiful anthology for its members. It’s an “optional” group project funded by the contributors to showcase their best work. Additional information can be found here.

The 2016 ‘members’ only’ submission call for next year’s Latchkey Lyricality anthology is located here. Keith Inman, author of The War Poems: Screaming at Heaven (Black Moss Press, 2014) is the 2016 editor/compiler. Kate Kitchen is the illustrator. Deadline is March 15, 2016.

General information on The Ontario Poetry Society is linked here. A link listing the 81 MINDSHADOWS contributors as well as order information appears here.

DISCLAIMER: My comments on this blog post may be influenced by my involvement as a long-time member and former Executive Member of The Ontario Poetry Society. Of course, I wouldn’t belong to this organization if I didn’t believe in it.