Tag Archives: Quattro Books

Poet Kate Marshall Flaherty’s Healing Ingredients – Yoga, Poetry, and Stone Soup

What a big iron pot/is mothering–cast wide/and heavy as a hippopotamus/smelling of grass and river. – Kate Marshall Flaherty*

Take a deep breath. Inhale her simmering ingredients. Allow the silver-bell-tinkle of spoon and other trickling sounds and taste of vegetable broth to soothe what ails you.

Toronto poet Kate Marshall Flaherty calms and charms her readers as she ladles poetic murmurings from her latest poetry collection Stone Soup (Quattro Books, 2014).

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Stone Soup by Kate Marshall Flaherty was published January 2015 by Quattro Press. Included is Flaherty’s poem “A Mouse’s Prayer” which was the inspiration for a YouTube and Vimeo video by Micro Films.

According to the publisher’s promotional literature, her book “is inspired by the poetic folktale in which three travelers enter a village and open the minds and hearts of the townspeople by inviting them to contribute whatever they can to a simple meal that begins with a stone: a gesture that dispels fear, forges connections and nourishes the entire community.”

As a certified creative writing guide in the AWA (Amherst Writers and Artists) Method and as an instructor of yoga and meditation, Flaherty blends her interest in diverse cultures, the natural world, and family relationships with a sprinkle of spiritual seasonings. Her child-like wonder, her mothering instinct, her aura of optimism rises like the bubbling communal stone soup simmering on the stove.

It’s a recipe she often shares.

For example, one of the five affirmations of the AWA method is Writing belongs to everyone – of all classes, faiths, sexual orientation, experience etc. – and writing knows no borders.”

In the poem “Zatoun” she writes “In this pale olive space/we meet,/softer than handshakes,/warmer than the wrap of scarf.”

Another AWA affirmation is “Each of us has a strong unique voice.”

For me, it was Flaherty’s soft voice and first person “accessible” narratives, both on paper and on stage, which first attracted me to her work in 2004. Since that time, she has been published in journals such as CV2, Descant, Grain, Malahat Review and Vallum, was Shortlisted for Descant’s Best Canadian Poem, the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize and Robert Frost Poetry Prizes. Hidden Brook Press published her first book Tilted Equilibrium in 2006 and in 2009 Piquant Press released where are we going. Her most recent books are Reaching V (Guernica Editions, 2014) and Stone Soup.

reaching v_oct29

Reaching V by Kate Marshall Flaherty features over 55 poems including “When the Kids are Fed”, a first prize winner in This Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt, 2008.

In a recent review** of Stone Soup, Canadian poet Katherine L. Gordon stated, “Her (Flaherty’s) language can leap from literature lovely to playful patios, and is entertaining and delightful – quite a mix.”

I agree and strongly encourage readers to view the three video poems posted on Flaherty’s website, peaceworks. Her latest video, A Mouse’s Prayer, which also appears in Stone Soup, is spoken from a mouse’s perspective, “I will scurry my prayer/across the stone mantel/beneath the clock”. A beautiful mix of voice, visual and original music.

Not all the poems are laced with light. In the poem “Statue” she writes, “This stone angel is the colour of letdown/after the Christmas star, the colour of a snowman melting into pavement.”

One of my favourite lines is from the poem “Resentment”. The setting is inside a hoarder’s home and the narrator speaks, “the only space in this dank mansion/is the hope of air/through the keyhole”.

Flaherty is like that ‘hope of air’, that ‘ray of light’ that inspires and guides other writers around her. According to her website, poetry is her passion, yoga is her peace, and performance is her pleasure.

Earlier this week (Tuesday, July 5, 2016), Flaherty was one of four featured poets at the Quattro Books/Aeolus House reading held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Quattro Book launch poster July 5, 2016 with revised location

Flaherty was one of four featured readers at the Quattro Books-Aeolus House event, July 5, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

 

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

1)      Describe your new book in a few sentences. Why did you decide to write it?

I wrote the poems in Stone Soup in response to over a decade of guiding Golden Rule Leadership retreats for young people, studying World Religions and working at an inter-faith centre. Most of the poems explore in some way our commonality, common ground and/or “Signs of One-ness,” which was almost the title.

2)      How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I think that my poems are more spiritual and metaphysical than many poets of this era who tend to be gritty, edgy and experimental. I can be experimental (see “Discovery of the God Particle”) but find these poems really delved into the mystical at times.

3)      What inspires you and who are your mentors?

 I feel Rumi, Hafiz, Derek Walcott, Mary Oliver, Marie Howe, Ellen Bass and many others have inspired and influenced me.

Kate Marshall Flaherty 1

Kate Marshall Flaherty is an award-winning poet from Toronto.

4)      Describe your writing process.

Usually, I see a connection or a paradox in life that excites me. I often scribble words, a web of ideas, associations, and then just play with the places where I feel energy. I usually write very fast and without any editing in a real flow. Then I edit on paper (I always write in pen first) and next type the poem into the computer, editing and polishing as I type. Finally I let some time elapse and return to the printed version for more polishing. At last I take this version to a workshop, if I can, to get the feedback of other poets.

5)      What are you currently working on?

 I am currently almost finished a work of fiction about a young girl in a foster home with special needs who runs away with her best friend. Something happens when they reach the train station that changes their lives forever.

 6)      Describe your writing workshops and when is your next intake.

My StillPoint Writing Workshops are in the AWA method, and are usually the first Monday of every month from 6-9 p.m. We begin with an entering meditation to get us into that liminal state where creativity can flow and the subconscious is accessed. Then I guide two writing prompts, then we share our raw writing in a safe, creative and constructive environment. Break and snacks. Then two more writing prompts, with lessons on craft, and one more sharing of this fresh writing. They are wonderful and I encourage people interested to visit my website.

7)      What are your future plans?

 I am guiding yoga and writing with Sue Reynolds and James Dewar of InkSlingers in Ireland this summer! I hope to guide more StillPoint Writing Workshops around Toronto and area, and to guide more yoga and writing retreats around the world. I also hope to get my novel out there into the world when it is done, and perhaps get back to play-writing. I am happiest when I am writing or sharing writing in some way. I have been performing poetry to music with musicians Mark Korven/Cathy Nosaty as well as musicians Anne Hurley/Jim Video … I think the fusion of music and poetry is a wonderful way to deepen and enhance poetry.

LCP Toronto rep Kate Marshall Flaherty

Flaherty teaches StillPoint Writing Workshops.

Thanks Katie for the interview. I wish you continued success with all your literary projects.

Additional information about Flaherty appears on the “Members page” section of The Ontario Poetry Society website.

Information about her books can be found at Quattro Books, Guernica Editions, peaceworks, and Amazon.

*from the poem “Stone Soup” published in the book Stone Soup (Quattro Books, 2014) page 39. Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright ©2014 Kate Marshall Flaherty and Quattro Books Inc.

**See the complete review by Katherine L. Gordon in the Sept. to Dec. 2015 issue of Verse Afire or posted on-line on the Quattro Press website.

Watch this blog for additional Canadian Author and Poet Profiles.                                           

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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

 

International Celebrity John Wing Kicks-Off Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebration April 5

Back in his hometown to introduce his new poetry book, Why-Shaped Scars, Los Angeles resident and internationally-known comedian John Wing Jr. will officially kick-start Sarnia’s National Poetry Month Celebration Saturday, April 5 from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line on the outskirts of the city.

From Los Angeles: John Wing

From Los Angeles: John Wing

Spotlight readers also include League of Canadian Poets members Allan Briesmaster (Thornhill, Ontario), Clara Blackwood (Toronto) and Sarnia’s Lynn Tait.

Organized by the Bluewater Reading Series, this free inaugural event aims to introduce professional out-of-town poets and their work to the general public and will reflect the League’s Poetry Month 2014 theme: “Poetry City”. Several poetry books will be highlighted including work produced by three well-known traditional publishers Black Moss Press (Windsor), Guernica Editions (Oakville/Montreal) and Quattro Books (Toronto).

“Poetry has always been a “spoken word” art, not a “book page” art,” said James Deahl, committee spokesperson for the new Series. “It is difficult for poetry to truly live and breathe in a city without a reading series. Fortunately, the Canada Council and the League of Canadian Poets understand the true nature of poetry. Through National Poetry Month, poets are able to travel all over Canada and present live readings. We are extremely pleased to present three important out-of-town poets — two of them reading for their first time in Sarnia — along with Sarnia’s own Lynn Tait for our NPM debut presentation.”

Tait, an award-winning photographer/poet will be reading work from her two manuscripts Chatter Marks and Broken Days. According to Canadian poet George Elliott Clarke “Lynn has a gift for startling and stunning metaphor, for juxtaposition of casual conversational style and sudden, arresting, poetic language and for irony that moves often toward allegory.”

Why-shaped Scars by John Wing Jr. published by Black Moss Press 2014

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

Wing who was a semi-finalist on last season’s America’s Got Talent will perform a half-hour reading based on his latest Black Moss Press book which according to poet reviewer Bruce Meyer “captures those moments that leave their enigmatic scars on our souls…he does so with craft, power, and poetic precision.”

Against the Flight of Spring (Quattro Books) by Allan Briesmaster

Against the Flight of Spring (Quattro Books) by Allan Briesmaster

Briesmaster, a freelance editor and one of the Quattro Books’ founding partners, will read from his recent and sixth full-length poetry collection Against the Flight of Spring. The back cover states that the book “explores such themes as identity, personal growth, love and friendship, Canadian landscape, climate change, visual art, and the roots of poetry itself, in moods of anxious questioning, deep affection, dread, awe, and grateful praise.”

Forecast (Guernica Editions) by Clara Blackwood

Forecast (Guernica Editions) by Clara Blackwood

Toronto poet, visual artist and tarot reader Blackwood will read from Forecast, her latest and second book published by Guernica Editions. The publisher’s website states “this collection of sometimes sombre, sometimes whimsical poems takes the reader on an odyssey whereby things bizarre, miraculous and bewildering can and often do happen.”

The Bluewater Reading Series is a new literary offering organized by Sarnia writers : James Deahl, Venero Fazio, Debbie Okun Hill, and Lynn Tait. This inaugural reading is made possible with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets’ National Poetry Month program.

Additional national poetry month readings include: a poetry themed Spoken Word open mic where members of the general public may share their work Friday, April 25 from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts, Sarnia and a Raymond Souster Legacy Reading to celebrate the publication of Under the Mulberry Tree (Quattro Books) to be held Sunday, April 27 at the Book Keeper in Sarnia.

SPOTLIGHT READERS/PERFORMERS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

From Toronto: Clara Blackwood

Clara Blackwood is a poet, visual artist and tarot reader. Her first poetry collection, Subway Medusa (2007), was the inaugural book in Guernica Editions’ First Poets Series, which features first books by poets thirty-five and under. Her poetry has appeared in Canadian and International journals. Forecast, her second book of poetry, was published by Guernica Editions in 2014. She lives in Toronto.

Allan Briesmaster from Thornhill

From Thornhill: Allan Briesmaster

Allan Briesmaster is a freelance editor, micro publisher, and one of the founding partners of Quattro Books. He is the author of six full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is Against the Flight of Spring (April, 2013), and seven shorter books, and he has been active on the Toronto poetry scene for many years as a readings organizer, workshop leader, and mentor. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and he has given readings, and talks at venues from Victoria to St. John’s. He lives in Thornhill, just north of Toronto.

From Sarnia: Lynn Tait

From Sarnia: Lynn Tait

Lynn Tait, originally from Toronto, is an awarding winning poet/photographer, who has lived in Sarnia for 40 years. Her photography has graced the covers of poetry books and literary magazines, and been exhibited in Gallery Lambton, Gallery in the Grove, Cheeky Monkey and The Lawrence House. She has been a nominee, in various categories, for the International Black & White Spider Awards for Photography, 4 years in a row. She is a member of the Sarnia Photographic Club, The Ontario Poetry Society and the League of Canadian Poets. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary magazines in Canada and the U.S., including the Windsor Review, Quills, Contemporary Verse 2, and in over 70 anthologies including Under the Mulberry Tree, published by Quattro Books and edited by James Deahl. She published a chapbook “Breaking Away” in 2002, a book: Encompass I in 2013, with four other poets, and has currently completed two full-length poetry manuscripts.

From Los Angeles: John Wing

From Los Angeles: John Wing

John Wing Jr., born in Sarnia, has lived in Los Angeles for the last 25 years, while maintaining his Canadian citizenship. Along with six appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Johnny Carson, ten appearances at The Montreal Comedy Festival Just For Laughs, and a semi-finalist on America’s Got Talent last season, John has also published eight books of poetry, A Cup Of Nevermind, …And The Fear Makes Us Special, None Of This is Probably True, Excuses, The Winter Palace, So Recently Ancient, Almost Somewhere Else, and the new book from Black Moss Press, Why-Shaped Scars. His memoir of his early years as a comedian is When You See The Red Light, Get Off, also from Black Moss Press. John is a regular contributor to CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera, and The Debaters.

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Internationally-known comedian and Black Moss Press author John Wing, Toronto area editor and a founding partner of Quattro Books Allan Briesmaster, Guernia Editions/Toronto poet Clara Blackwood and Sarnia’s award-winning photographer /poet Lynn Tait will introduce new books/work as part of Sarnia’s National Poetry Month celebrations. Open to the public. Organized by the Bluewater Reading Series, this inaugural event is made possible by the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets. Follow this blog for additional information.