Tag Archives: Norma West Linder

Sarnia-Lambton Poets Prepare For #NPM17 Celebrations

Shift the colours on your page;/and softly coax your reds and purples,/that have concealed themselves/for years…” – Kara Ghobhainn Smith*

Close your eyes for a minute or two. Imagine what it would be like to be a poet. What does today’s poet even look like? Listen to the words melting into a new sound or image. What does a poet write about? Perhaps, you are a closet poet afraid to admit that you are moved by words.

Kara Ghobhainn Smith, author The Artists of Crow County

Kara Ghobhainn will be one of two spotlight readers at Sarnia-Lambton’s 2017 April is Poetry Month Celebration.

Today’s poetry, like colour, shifts on the world stage and April is one of the best times to not only explore this form of writing but to seek answers to your questions. All across Canada and the United States, poets are planning launches and readings for the big #NPM17 celebration.

According to The League of Canadian Poets’ website, this professional organization for established and emerging poets boasts over 700 members. The Ontario Poetry Society, a provincial grassroots not-for-profit organization has over 250 members.

The Sarnia-Lambton area houses poets from both organizations as well as The Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, the Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW), and such local groups as AfterHours Poets, Lambton Writers Association, Writers Helping Writers (WHW), and Writers International Through Sarnia (WITS).

Every poet whether published or not, deserves to be applauded for his/her efforts. If you know a poet, take time to get to know him or her. Ask why writing is so important to them.

Below is an event featuring six area writers who wish to show the public what their poetry is all about and why poetry matters. Hope to see a few of you there!

National Poetry Month April 18, 2017 in Sarnia for distribution

Mark your calendars for this FREE public event – Tuesday evening – April 18, 2017

Six former and current members of The Writers’ Union of Canada will showcase their work during Sarnia-Lambton’s 2017 National Poetry Month (#NPM17) celebration, Tuesday, April 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. at John’s Restaurant’s Famous Room, 1643 London Line.

Featured poets Kara Ghobhainn Smith (from Chatham-Kent) and Sharon Berg (who recently moved to Sarnia) will share the spotlight thanks to the financial assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts through The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Ghobhainn was the Chatham-Kent Cultural Centre’s 2015-2016 Writer-In-Residence. She recently launched her book The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press) which includes the poem shortlisted for the 2016 Walrus Poetry Prize. Many of her poems (within this collection) were inspired by artists in the Chatham-Kent area as well as her trip to Mâlain, France.

Author Sharon Berg, founder-publisher-editor Big Pond Rumours E-zine and Micro-Press

Sharon Berg will be one of two spotlight readers at Sarnia-Lambton’s 2017 National Poetry Month Celebration.

Berg is the founder/publisher/editor of Big Pond Rumours (the literary e-zine and micro press) and former host of Sarnia’s Cadence Reading Series. Her third manuscript, The Book of Telling, reveals many secrets that wait on the other side of truth.

Four local poets (James Deahl, Debbie Okun Hill, Norma West Linder, and Carmen Ziolkowski) will also share the stage. Ziolkowski, who is in her nineties, is Sarnia’s oldest living poet. Her granddaughters will assist with her reading. 

“One of the exciting developments in recent years is how Sarnia has emerged as a poetry hot spot”, said James Deahl, one of the organizers and the emcee for the event. “Indeed, it can now be said that Sarnia is an important literary focal point in Ontario. Local poets commonly travel from Nova Scotia to British Columbia to present readings or participate in literary festivals, and several Sarnia poets have contributed to the sesquicentennial anthology celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. This is your chance to hear them.”

Sarnia-Lambton’s April 18th celebration is free and open to the public.

As part of National Poetry Month, several Sarnia-Lambton poets have also been invited to read at out-of-town and local events in April.

Both Okun Hill and Berg will be reading in Toronto at The Art Bar, considered to be “Canada’s longest running poetry-only weekly reading series”. Okun Hill will be the sharing the stage with poets Phlip Arima and Ian Burgham on Tuesday, April 4 while Berg will showcase with John Terpstra and Betsy Struthers on April 11. The Art Bar series is held at the Free Times Café, 320 College Street (College and Spadina). Featured readings begin at 8 p.m. followed by an open mic.

art-bar-reading-april-4-2017

The Art Bar in Toronto is considered to be “Canada’s longest running poetry-only weekly reading series”.

On Wednesday, April 5 in London, Deahl and Linder are the featured guests at the London Open Mic Poetry Night held at Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide Street North. Their readings begin at 7 p.m. followed by an open mic.

James Deahl

James Deahl, the author of 26 literary titles, will emcee the April 18th event as well as read at numerous events.

Deahl and Linder will also read in Hamilton with several other poets including Sarnia’s Lynn Tait, Thursday, April 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at The Staircase, 27 Dundurn Street North as well as in Toronto on Wednesday, April 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Main Branch of The Toronto Public Library, 137 Main Street.

On Saturday, April 29 in Sarnia, Okun Hill (who has a manuscript of over 60 poems about the ash trees and the emerald ash borer) will share the stage with artist Mary Abma and other performers during the special event Signposts & Traces: Ash Tree Memorial Trail Performance from 10 to 11 a.m. at Canatara Park.

In Chatham-Kent, Ghobhainn will participate in Poetry City, an annual poetry celebration that encourages mayors and city councils in Canada to declare April as National Poetry Month. She will open a council meeting with a poetry reading.

Additional information about these and other upcoming literary events in Ontario can be found here.

Additional information about The Writers’ Union of Canada can be found on the organization’s website .             

OUT-OF-TOWN SPOTLIGHT READER/PERFORMER

KARA GHOBHAINN SMITHis the author of The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press, 2017), co-author of Next to the Ice (Mosaic Press, 2016), Teaching, Learning, Assessing (Mosaic Press, 2007), and the author of the blogspot poetry series, ‘The Travelling Professor’. Ghobhainn is Chatham-Kent’s 2015-2016 Writer-in-Residence, and Editor of the Journal of Teaching and Learning (JTL), as well as the books’ editor for the Canadian Journal of Education (CTL). Her poems have been shortlisted for the 2016 Walrus Poetry Prize and the Polar Expressions Prize.

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT READERS/PERFORMERS

SHARON BERGis an author of fiction, poetry and educational history related to First Nations. She is also the founder and editor of Big Pond Rumours E-Zine and Micro Press. She published widely up until the 1980s, with her poetry appearing in periodicals across Canada, the USA, the UK, The Netherlands, and Australia. Then she pursued her teaching career. Since she retired from teaching in April 2016, she has returned to her writing and has new work appearing in several places in 2017. She has produced two full books, three chapbooks, two audio tapes, and a CD of her work. Additional information on her website. Follow her review blog here.

Norma West Linder

Norma West Linder is a prolific Sarnia writer (novelist, poet, and short story writer).

JAMES DEAHL – is the author of twenty-six literary titles, the four most recent being: To Be With A Woman, Landscapes (with Katherine L. Gordon), Unbroken Lines, and Two Paths Through The Seasons (with Norma West Linder). A cycle of his poems is the focus of a one-hour television documentary, Under the Watchful Eye. Currently, Deahl is writing a series of essays on ten Canadian poets of the Confederation Period for Canadian Stories magazine for their sesquicentennial issues.

NORMA WEST LINDERis a member of The Writers Union of Canada, The Ontario Poetry Society, and WITS. A novelist, poet, and short story writer, she spent her formative years on Manitoulin Island and now lives in Sarnia where she taught English at Lambton College for 24 years. Her latest publications are The Pastel Planet (children’s novel), Tall Stuff (adult), and Two Paths Through The Seasons (poetry with James Deahl) published by Swords & Cyclamens, Israel. Her poem Valediction has been performed by choirs in Toronto and Calgary, set to music by Jeffrey Ryan, a West Coast composer.

DEBBIE OKUN HILLis Past President of The Ontario Poetry Society and a current member of The Writers’ Union of Canada and The League of Canadian Poets. She has been writing poetry since 2004 and has over 350 poems published in literary journals across Canada and the United States. Windsor publisher Black Moss Press published her first trade book Tarnished Trophies in 2014. This July, Big Pond Rumours Press will publish her art-themed chapbook manuscript Drawing From Experience. Okun Hill enjoys promoting the work of other writers and blogs about her literary journey on this site: Kites Without Strings.

Carmen Ziolkowski

Carmen Ziolkowski, an amazing woman and poet who is still writing in her nineties.

CARMEN ZIOLKOWSKIwas born in Italy and following WWII, lived in England where she worked as a registered nurse and later a midwife. In 1955, she emigrated to Canada and enrolled in the Port Huron Junior College, where she studied Journalism, finishing the course at Wayne State University. She has won several prizes for her poetry and in 1988, Ziolkowski received a special award for her contribution to Canadian and Italian literature from the Italian Vice Consul to Canada. Her first book of poems, Roses Bloom at Dusk, was translated into Italian and Japanese. Carmen has taught creative writing at Lambton College. She is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Canadian Authors Association, the Association of Italo-Canadian Writers, Pen International, Writers International Through Sarnia, and The Ontario Poetry Society. Ziolkowski’s first novel, House of Four Winds, was published in 1987, her 2nd book of poetry, World of Dreams, was published in 1995, her chapbook, Moments to Treasure, was published in 2008, and her latest work, The Moon Before the Sun, was published in 2009. Ziolkowski is currently working on her diary of life on La Monaca, where she was born, in Italy.

*from the poem “Change” published in The Artists of Crow County (Black Moss Press, 2017) page 19. Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright © Kara Smith, 2017

 FOLLOW THIS BLOG FOR A FUTURE POET PROFILE ON KARA GHOBHAINN SMITH.

Poet James Deahl was profiled here and Norma West Linder was profiled here. Sharon Berg’s involvement in the Cadence Reading Series was featured here.

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH EVERYONE!!

Sarnia Writers James Deahl and Norma West Linder Launch Three New Books

So much of our journey occurs/between two great silences./We must either walk the path/of the blood-red moon/or go down to the river/and welcome whatever rises/from its black depth – James Deahl*

linder-and-deahl-2016-books

Toronto Launch – October 18, 2016                                      Sarnia Launch – October 23, 2016

Summer’s heat lingers-clings to the windshield, to the steering wheel, to the green autumn leaves dipped in brilliant yellow paint and crimson red stain. Prolific Sarnia writer James Deahl tugs the knot in his tie and opens the power windows as he drives his car along Highway 402 towards London, Ontario.

james-deahl-at-the-toronto-public-library-parliament-street-branch-october-18-2016

James Deahl chats about love and death during the Toronto launch of To Be With A Woman (LUMMOX Press, 2016)

His tour schedule includes the launch of three new books at the Toronto Public Library’s Parliament Street Branch and, for the next three hours of his trip, he speaks (almost non-stop) about Ontario’s landscapes, love and death. His passion for both poetry and his partner the prolific Canadian writer Norma West Linder rises with each breath as perspiration beads like liquid pebbles along his forehead.

“When Gilda died very shortly after her fifty-third birthday, I thought I would also die,” he says. He emphasizes this at the Toronto book launch and again in the introduction of his book To Be With A Woman: A Journey of Love & Death, Poems, 2007-2010. Gilda Mekler was Deahl’s second wife and his business partner for the now defunct small press Mekler and Deahl. After his long mourning period, he developed a close friendship and fell in love with Linder. “I love and honour my Norma and strive to be the man she deserves.”

His new 134-page poetry collection, published by LUMMOX Press, focuses on these two women. As stated in the Toronto Public Library flyer: the book “begins with the death of his second wife, Gilda Mekler, in early 2007 and ends with his engagement to Norma during the summer of 2010.”

pat-connors-at-toronto-public-library-parliament-street-branch-october-18-2016

Guest reader and poet Pat Connors reads from his second Lyricalmyrical chapbook during the October 18, 2016 launch at the Toronto Public Library’s Parliament Street Branch.

Toronto launch’s guest reader Pat Connors, author of Part Time Contemplative (Lyricalmyrical), wrote that “James Deahl’s newest release is philosophical and ironic. It tells of love lost, and then of new love found, all leading to a great appreciation of an even more foundational relationship. He writes about the events which have marked his life with such clarity and honestly that it speaks to all of us.” Connors’ full review appears in the Volume 19, Number 111, October-November 2016 issue of Canadian Stories. 

Linder’s new and 26th book and 6th novel Tall Stuff (Hidden Brook Press, 2016) also focuses on love and has been described as “a romantic novel based on ‘little theatre’” or as the back cover states: Tall Stuff is “Singing in the Rain” meets “Love Story”.  Additional information about Linder’s book appears in this Lambton Shield article written by Sarnia writer Sharon Berg and posted on October 10, 2016.

The third book launched in Toronto is Landscapes: Poems from the seasons of Ontario’s soul published by Israel’s Cyclamens and Swords Publishing. The 74-page collection includes the poetry of both Katherine L. Gordon and James Deahl. According to Ottawa writer Ronnie R. Brown, “In Landscapes, two well-respected poets join forces to present a stunning display of places and ideas, “giving a tongue to the world around them”…”To read Landscapes, is to experience Canada from the comforts of your armchair.”

norma-west-linder-at-cadence-reading-series-october-19-2016

Norma West Linder shares her work October 19, 2016 during CADENCE, Sarnia’s newest reading series with a little music.

Brantford’s Poet Laureate John B. Lee in his review published in the August/September 2016 issue of Canadian Stories concludes: “Like Anteus who takes his strength from the earth – they seem to be writing –I am here – in Ontario – standing on worthy ground –ground as good as any – inspired and inspiring – a place on which to stand from when you might move the earth with the fulcrum and lever of these fine poems.”

The Sarnia launch of all three books will be held this Sunday, October 23 from 1 to 2 p.m. at The Book Keeper, 500 Exmouth Street. Stop by and meet these prolific writers in person!

An earlier blog post about James Deahl and his poetry book Unbroken Lines (LUMMOX Press, 2015) appears here.

An earlier blog post about Norma West Linder and her novel The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015) appears here.

An earlier blog featuring their joint poetry collection Two Paths Through the Seasons (Cyclamen and Swords Publishing, Israel, 2014) appears here.

norma-and-james-sarnia-launch-october-23-2016

Canadian writers James Deahl and Norma West Linder will be reading in Sarnia on Sunday, October 23, 2016.

*epigraph is from the poem “Our Travail” published in To Be With A Woman: A Journey Of Love and Death, Poems, 2007-2010 (LUMMOX Press, 2016) Copyright © James Deahl 2016

Follow this blog for additional Canadian Author and Poet Profiles.

Norma West Linder Adds Second Children’s Book to Her Diverse Literary Portfolio

But right until the end of the period, all Katie could think about was Mindemoya. What a funny name! It sounded like the sort of place where strange things could happen. –Norma West Linder*

For over fifty years, Canadian writer Norma West Linder has surrounded herself with words. Books spill from shelves in her living room. Tabletops hold magazines and other reading material. Not only is she an avid reader but she has produced an impressive and diverse portfolio of literature during her prolific writing career. Her contributions to the literary community include 5 novels, 14 collections of poetry, a biography on the former Ontario Lieutenant-Governor. Pauline McGibbon, a one-act play, a children’s book and a memoir on Manitoulin Island. She also taught English and Creative Writing for 24 years at Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada and wrote a monthly column for The Sarnia Observer for 7 years.

Norma West Linder

Canadian Author Norma West Linder

Retirement is far from her mind. In fact, her latest book The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015) is a 77-page ‘chapter book’ that transports her back to her youth, to Manitoulin Island where she spent her formative years, long before she settled in Sarnia.

It’s the same setting she showcased in Morels and Maple Syrup: A Memoir of Manitoulin Island (Vesta Publications, 1977) and in her poetry chapbook Magical Manitoulin (Beret Days Press, 2006). This love for her childhood haunt is reinforced in her poem “Going Back” where she states: “when I was twelve/we moved from Manitoulin/yet somehow I remained an Island girl/and each time I go back I live again/those carefree days**”

Linder’s imagination soars with her latest novel. Marketed for children ages 8 to 10, the book follows the fictional story of Caleb Larkin and his step-sister Katie Lambert who witness a spaceship landing on the island. Her chapters are beautifully enhanced with 10 full-colour images by Calgary resident and artist Afsheadeh Abbasnezhad.

According to poet, publisher, literary judge and reviewer Katherine L. Gordon, “Norma West Linder has written a tale imbued with the historic magic of Manitoulin, a place alive from the ancient of days with spirit power. A perfect setting for adventure and self-discovery.”

Book - THE PASTEL PLANET - Norma West Linder - F and B Cover

The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015) by Norma West Linder

The Pastel Planet will be officially launched Saturday, January 16 starting at 2 p.m. at The Book Keeper, Northgate Plaza, in Sarnia. James Deahl, Linder’s biggest fan and significant other will also be reading from his new poetry book Unbroken Lines: Collected Poetic Prose 1990-2015 (LUMMOX Press, 2015). More details about Deahl’s book appears here.

Additional details about Linder’s The Pastel Planet appear here.

Below is an interview conducted with Linder earlier this month:

1)      Describe your new book The Pastel Planet. What inspired you to write it?

My book takes two youngsters, Katie and Caleb, on space trips over Manitoulin Island with friendly aliens who resemble huge Gumbo babies. I wanted to write another novel for children because my first one about our family dog was well received.***

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

Even though it’s said there’s nothing new under the sun, each writer has his or her own voice and a unique way of seeing the world, as unique as our fingerprints.

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

I’m erratic in my writing habits; some days I’m at it for hours, other days I accomplish nothing. But if I’m not writing, I’m usually thinking about it.

4)      What are your plans for promoting your book?

The Book Keeper in Sarnia will do a launch for me on January 16th at 2 o’clock, when James Deahl, my Significant Other, launches his book of poetic prose pieces, Unbroken Lines.

Norma West Linder & James Deahl Photo 1 by Okun Hill

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

 5)      Who are/were your mentors and why did they inspire you?

Other writers inspired me, novelists like Margaret Laurence and Ernest Buckler, and poets like Ray Souster. James inspires me on a daily basis. 

6)      You are a prolific writer. What advice would you give to a young writer just starting his/her career as a writer?

The best advice I can give beginning writers is to know everything there is to know about your characters in short stories or novels. For poems, it’s a good idea to put the first draft away for a day or two, let it get cold, then revise if necessary. Oddly enough, you may have to discard the very line that prompted you to write the poem in the first place.

7)      What are some of the challenges facing writers today?

For writers of short stories, a form I’ve always enjoyed doing, the market today is lamentably small. When I was able to sell stories to Chatelaine, the pay was good, and often the stories would be picked up for publication in England and Australia, again, with substantial payment. Much of what is written today appears only online with minimal payment or none at all. To me, that is less satisfying than holding a magazine or book in my hands.

8)   What future writing project will you be working on following/during your tour?

I’ve written articles, essays, stories, novels and plays. However, the publication of poetry has given me the most satisfaction, although the reward is not a monetary one. But unlike other kinds of writing, one has to wait for Erato, the poetic Muse, to come to call. And she can stop calling for long stretches when you might think she has abandoned you. Just wait. She always comes again.

Thank you for sharing your comments. I wish you continued success with your writing!         

*epigraph is from the end of Chapter 1 of The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015). Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright ©2015 Norma West Linder

**from the poem “Going Back”, Magical Manitoulin (Beret Days Press, 2006). Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright @2006 Norma West Linder

***Linder’s first children’s book was titled Corey (Vesta Publications, 1979). It was 91 pages long and was illustrated by K. Herb Linder.

Watch this blog for additional Canadian Author and Poet Profiles.

 

“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.

Why I’ll Never Share a Beer with Canadian Poets Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster

Did you choke over my words, spit out gasps into a brown paper bag? Were you startled or just amused? A headline like a poem title needs to grab the reader by the throat and I hope this one does. Still it’s not intended to be disrespectful of two literary giants.  My rationale easily rolls like water from my tongue: I hate the taste of beer and wouldn’t share a bottle or glass of lager or ale with anyone no matter how famous he/she might be.

Learn more about Canadian poets Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster.

Learn more about Canadian poets Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during this free reading in Sarnia, Ontario.

Also it’s too late to cry over any type of beverage including a tipped over bottle of poetic spirits. Imagine the suds sliding across the wooden table and along the pub floor. Okay, that’s moving away from the topic. Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster are both dearly departed and unless their apparitions appear before us, no one will have the privilege of speaking to them again. Sad news indeed! Acorn passed away in August 1986 due to complications of a heart condition and diabetes. Souster died in October 2012. He was 91 years old.

I wish I had met them or at least heard them read.

Celebrating Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during National Poetry Month

Celebrating Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster during National Poetry Month

Both are considered legends in the poetry world. Acorn received a Governor General Award in 1976 for his poetry collection The Island Means Minago. Souster received the same award in 1964 for his work The Colour of the Times. Both would have been great mentors. Unfortunately I was a late poetic bloomer; Acorn and Souster escaped my radar before I knew who they were.

Even today, my knowledge of these two poets is limited, gleamed from second hand sources. My goal is to read all their work cover to cover! I wish I had the luxury of time but this is what I’ve learned so far.

Souster’s legacy reminds me that poetry does not make one famous or financially wealthy. All his life, he was considered shy and despite being prolific and leaving behind more than 50 volumes of his work, he remained a banker to pay his bills. According to Canadian poet James Deahl, Souster wrote about “love, nature, war, social, injustice jazz, religion, and beauty. He was also the first president/chairman of the League of Canadian Poets and was a kind and gentle man. As I wrote in my tribute poem “Won’t see his poetic face/plastered on a Canadian bill.” Societies in general scratch their heads when it comes to respecting and understanding poets.

James Deahl has edited several books to celebrate the legacy of his friends Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster.

James Deahl has edited several books to celebrate the legacy of his friends Milton Acorn and Raymond Souster.

Acorn’s legacy of work taught me that there are different types of poets, just like there are different types of musicians or artists to suit different markets. Acorn was a “people’s poet” who wrote about everyday concerns for the common folks and employed wit, politics and strong emotion in his work. He produced more than 15 books and like Souster, he enjoyed helping younger and more inexperienced writers.

James Deahl is one of those poets who knew and spent time with both Souster and Acorn. He has studied their work and has written extensively about their lives. In 1987, he edited and compiled The Northern Red Oak, a tribute to Milton Acorn published by Unfinished Monument.

More recently he edited In a Springtime Instant: Selected Poems by Milton Acorn published as part of the Mosiac Press Canadian Literature ‘Icon” series.

Reading during the Under the Mulberry Tree (Quattro Books) launch in Toronto, January 15, 2014

David Eso

 

Michael Fraser enjoyed meeting Raymond Souster.

Michael Fraser

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Joe Fiorito

 

Laurence Hutchman

Laurence Hutchman

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Carleton Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Yin

Anna Yin

Earlier this year in Toronto, he edited and launched Under the Mulberry Tree: Poems For & About Raymond Souster. Published by Quattro Books, this anthology features tribute poems by those who knew the poet well and those who are just learning about his work. The contributors include: Steven Michael Berzensky, Kent Bowman, Ronnie R. Brown, Terry Ann Carter, John Robert Columbo, Allan Cooper, Robert Currie, James Deahl, David Donnell, G. W. Down, Margaret Patricia Eaton, David Eso, Chris Faiers, George Fethering, Joe Fiorito, Michael Fraser, Ryan Gibbs, Katherine Gordon, Andreas Gripp, Debbie Okun Hill, Laurence Hutchman, Karl Jirgens, Laurie Kruk, Dennis Lee, Norma West Linder, Bruce Meyer, Brian Purdy, Bernadette Rule, Simcha Simchovitch, Glen Sorestad, Lynn Tait, S. J. White, Carleton Wilson, Michael Wurster, and Anna Yin.

Norma West Linder

Norma West Linder

 On Sunday, April 27 starting at 1 p.m. at The Book Keeper in Sarnia, seven of these contributors: Berzensky, Bowman, Deahl, Gibbs, Okun Hill, West Linder, and Tait will be reading and celebrating the legacy of Acorn and Souster. Additional readings are also planned for Ottawa and North Bay in June.

As Deahl wrote in his introduction to Under the Mulberry Tree: “No poet learns the craft without the help and sage advice from those who have already achieved a higher level of writing.”

Steven Micheal Berzensky

Steven Michael Berzensky

Kent Bowman

Kent Bowman

Three cheers to all the poets including Acorn and Souster who believed in the power of the written word and who will continue to leave their mark on the next generation of writers. As an emerging poet, I still have so much to learn. Maybe one day, I’ll acquire a taste for beer or maybe not.

Ryan Gibbs

Ryan Gibbs

Lynn Tait

Lynn Tait

Debbie Okun Hill

Debbie Okun Hill