Sundog snippet: Writerly events and an update on the construction

Kim FahnerOn Thursday, I went to see my friend Kim Fahner read her poetry at the Open Studio Showcase. Along with Kim were all three of Sudbury’s Poet Laureates, past and present (Roger Nash, Daniel Aubin, and Tom Leduc). Richard Van Camp was MC and storyteller for the evening.

A couple of people signed up for the open mic and added some much needed estrogen to the line up 🙂

The theme of the evening was Identity.

Today, I took a trip out to our Chapter’s to visit with Mat Del Papa and Lisa Coleman-Brown, who were selling and signing copies of Creepy Capreol. While there, I met with fellow Sudbury Writers’ Guild members Renny De Groot, Scott Overton, and Irene Golas.

Mat and Lisa

I an odd turn of events, a gentleman asked the table to watch his collie, fittingly named Lassie, while he dodged over to Kelsey’s for lunch.

. . .

In destruction construction news, the blasting is over, the rubble is cleared, and they’ve torn up all the old paving on our driveway.


I think they need to move the storm drain and reconstruct the curb before they get the retaining wall started. The hold up with the driveway appears to be the mass of clay around the water shut off valves, which must, of course, be excavated and replaced with proper fill (otherwise, they’ll just have to redo things next year when the frost heaves all that clay again).

Nu is doing well. Phil and I are getting used to the VetPen, but I won’t have further news until Nu has her next glucose curve on the 30th.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print, people.

See you all on Tipsday!

Sundog snippet

Wordstock Sudbury

Today, I was pleased and privileged to be a part of Wordstock Sudbury, the first of what is hoped to be a biannual literary event.  At the Sudbury Theatre Centre (STC), Wordstock took over the main stage, lounge, and lobby areas for readings, workshops, and the essential selling of books.

If you would like to have a look at the full schedule, it is available on the site linked above.

I attended primarily to support my friend, poet Kim Fahner, and my fellow members of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild (SWG).  I also read the recently revamped opening of my novel.

Kim read with former Sudbury Poet Laureate Roger Nash, and Charlie Smith from Massey, all of them published by Your Scrivener Press (YSP).  The theme of their reading was Home and Away.  Though all three have very distinctive voices, the reading went well and had a seamless feel.  It’s always a pleasure to see such consummate professionals perform their works.

KimFahnerOf course, Kim was fabulous 🙂  She has a way of addressing the audience, slightly self-deprecating yet hilarious, that establishes a relationship.  We feel instantly at home with her, and completely comfortable as she shares pieces of her life in verse.

After a brief break, Sudbury Arts Council (SAC) president, Vicky Gilhula took the stage and presented the youth writing contest winners with their prizes.  One young man (forgive me, but I forget his name) came prepared to read and his story, based on his grandfather’s life in Sudbury and his career in the mining industry, was spectacular.  Amazing: a thirteen year old young man had the confidence and presence to bring us to tears.

He was that good.

Next, the SWG took over the auditorium, beginning with Rosanna Batigelli, who read a RosannaBatigellicouple of chapters from her historical novel, La Brigantessa.  The novel’s protagonist takes to a life of a brigand when she is assaulted and forced to leave her home by a tyrannical general.  Rosanna is in the process of revising her novel for publication.

EmilyDeangelisEmily Deangelis read from her middle grade/young adult novel about a young girl who loses her father in a car accident and subsequently experiences supernatural visitations when she is left with her great-aunt in Manitoulin Island’s Meldrum Bay.

Irene Golas read a selection of her poetry and flash fiction.IreneGolas

Tom Leduc read a number of his poems centering on his experience of Sudbury and its mining industry.

MargoLittleMargo Little from Manitoulin Island read some of her works published through projects of the Manitoulin Writers’ Circle including one on the War of 1812 and how the soldiers of the time became enamoured of their muskets, called Brown Betties.

Janice Leuschen, a member of both the SWG and of the JaniceLeuschenProfessional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) read one of her stories, and Heather Campbell, also a member of PWAC, finished off the session with a discussion of creative non-fiction.

I read just after Margo and just before Janice.  I don’t have any pictures and I’ll reach out to my fellow guildies to share any pictures they may have of me at the event.  It would be a lovely remembrance of the day.  Sincere thanks in advance 🙂

As I mentioned, I read the revised opening of Initiate of Stone; it was my first public presentation and I received some excellent feedback from Kim and Emily.  The technical director of the STC also found me in the lobby and complimented me on my reading.

I have often been told that I have a great voice.  It’s one of the things that helps me both as a corporate trainer and as a writer, a learned skill from my days as a poet, honed by years of practise.  I tend to a literary style, even though I write genre, and the voice creates an appropriately dreamy backdrop for my words.

After the SWG session was over, playwright Matthew Heiti took the stage to host a series of readings from plays in which one friend, Paulette Dahl, was reading from a play by another, mutual friend, Louise Visneskie.

The English Arts Society of Laurentian University also hosted a reading, Heather Campbell hosted a workshop on the creative process, and Roger Nash and Daniel Aubin, Sudbury’s current Poet Laureate read their poetry.

And all of that wasn’t counting the Friday night cabaret, the children’s and young adult programming on the patio, or any of the other workshops and events that I couldn’t attend.

Though attendance was modest, I think that it was a good start.  The hope of the organizers is to grow Wordstock into a full literary festival at a larger venue, or at several venues throughout the city.  I wish them the best and applaud them for this year’s event.

I had a blast 🙂

Our Lakes Shall Set Us Free – November 6, 2012

A chilly night for a poetry anthology launch, but as several of my Sudbury Writers’ Guild friends were featured in its pages, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to blog the event 🙂

A very well-attended event, as it turned out.  Parking was at a premium at the Living with Lakes Centre of Laurentian University.  With the poetry of 26 of the Northeast’s best and brightest featured, 15 of them reading that night, and with family and friends in tow, the lobby was filled to capacity.

Editor of the anthology, Roger Nash, started off the evening in lieu of publisher Laurence Steven, who was unfortunately ill.  Roger spoke of the anthology’s inception, the contest that generated its content, and how he was able to encourage Margaret Atwood (not having read her Web site and not knowing that she didn’t do such things) to write an introduction for the collection.

The Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences spoke to the interdisciplinary evolution of Laurentian’s programs: students in the sciences may minor in social sciences or humanities, and vice versa.  The Director of the Living with Lakes Centre then offered a few words about his support for the anthology and how the centre is invested in the local arts community.

Then the poets in attendance were invited to come up and read.

Tom Leduc, the contest winner, read his poem “My Northern Lake.”

Mandy Steele, the youngest poet in the anthology, asked her father to read her poem, “White Water.”

Kim Fahner read “Tai Chi on Ramsey,” a poem inspired by fellow writer Rick DeMeulles.

Irene Golas, fellow SWG member, read not only her haiku sequence, “Weekend at a Northern Lake,” but also returned later in the evening to read the tanka sequence of her Breccia collaborator, Ignatius Fay.

Dillon Daveikis recited her poem, “A Lake’s Journey,” from memory.

Rebecca Salazar read “First Alchemy”; Danielle Pitman, “The Dive”; and Dr. Dieter Buse read his poem, “To Children Under Ninety in a City of Lakes.”

Connie Suite read her poem, “Born to Fish” and 90-year old Greg O’Connor asked his daughter to read his poem, “Gone Fishing.”

Christine Poropat read “Pure Dreams” and Rosemarie Mirfield read “World Under.”

The evening came to a close on two more SWG members, Betty Guenette, reading “Poor Minnow,” and Margot Little reading “Shell-Shocked.”

It was a wonderful night of great poetry in a variety of forms.  The anthology is divided into themed grouping of poems: Our Lakes Shall Set Us Free, Voyaging, Taking the Plunge, Gone Fishin’, The Seasons, and Urban Jungle Lakes.

The first printing of the anthology, priced at a reasonable $12, is already almost sold out.

Get yours while they last 🙂

Breccia: An interview with Ignatius Fay and Irene Golas

Irene Golas discovered the world of haiku when she purchased a slender volume of Japanese nature poetry in a gift shop in Elmvale, Ontario. She was immediately drawn to the brevity and concision of the haiku form. Her first haiku were published in 2005, followed by her first tanka in 2006.

Ignatius Fay is a retired invertebrate paleontologist who began writing haiku and related forms of poetry primarily for his own pleasure and as a means of personal expression. His first published poem appeared in 2008, the same year he published a small book of haiku/senryu, Haiga Moments: pens and lens, with photographs by Ray Belcourt, of Leduc, Alberta. In 2011, he published Points In Between, an anecdotal history of his early years.

Irene and Ignatius have been published in many print and online journals, including Acorn, Eucalypt, Frogpond, and The Heron’s Nest. Irene’s poems have also been chosen for a number of anthologies. Both authors reside in Sudbury, Ontario.


WG: How long have the two of you been working together?

Irene: I’d known about Ignatius since 2008, but it took me a while to find any contact information. I emailed him in the summer of 2010, asking if he’d be interested in corresponding about the art and craft of haiku. There aren’t many haiku poets in town! At first we talked in general terms about books, haiku and other poetry. Soon we were exchanging haiku books and journals and some of our unpublished work. By the fall of 2011, we had developed a mutual trust and a respect for the other’s judgment. This is when the idea of a collaborative publication first came up.

Ignatius: Irene and I are alike in that we are straightforward when asked an opinion. Our intent is always positive, to help each other become better poets. I don’t think a collaboration would have worked had we not first gone through this process.

WG: Whose idea was Breccia? When did you actually begin work on it?

Ignatius: I suggested we consider doing something jointly. After toying with the idea for a time, we got down to it in January 2012.

Irene: We were ready to prepare the manuscript for publication by the end of July. Since then we’ve spent good chunks of time writing promotional material and otherwise spreading the word about Breccia.

WG: By the way, who came up with the name, Breccia? What is its significance?

Ignatius: Irene suggested the title. She was unfamiliar with the term when she read it in one of my poems. I was referring to the Sudbury Breccia, a rock formation that is part of the Sudbury Basin. Both the basin and the breccia were formed by an asteroid impact about 1.85 billion years ago. The nickel-iron-copper ore bodies of the Sudbury area are all associated with this rock.

A breccia is made up of fragments of preexisting rock that have been re-cemented. By analogy, our collection may be considered a haiku ‘breccia,’ poems from two sources cemented together to form a unique whole.

Irene: When Ignatius sent me his manuscript, there were a few poems about his childhood in Levack. They shone a light on a way of life that was unique. It occurred to me that the Sudbury area should have a larger presence in our book. Sudbury is our home, after all, and has shaped our lives in so many ways. I encouraged Ignatius to write more. He did, expanding his focus to include details of miners’ lives and the changing face of Sudbury. I added several of my own and soon we had a ‘Sudbury Breccia’ section.

WG: This type of collection is rather rare in that it is a collaboration and in the way your poems are intermingled. What made you decide on this format?

Ignatius: Our original intention was to put together a small collection of selected and new haiku and senryu. A poem had to satisfy us both to make the cut. A fair number of poems were edited or rewritten.  We ended up with more good poems than expected. Then we complicated matters by deciding to include tanka and haibun.

Irene: At the same time, we began to discuss layout. We wanted Breccia to be a true collaboration rather than a joint publication with two sections, one for his poems, one for mine. We also wanted something different from the traditional grouping by season, something with a more organic feel. Eventually we decided to integrate our poems, creating several extended sequences in which each poem suggests some relationship to the immediately preceding poem.

WG: Breccia is 208 pages long. That’s a lot of poetry. Did you find the sequencing difficult? How long did it take?

Irene: Sequencing turned out to be the longest part of the process. And the most satisfying. We spent hours trying to get short bits of sequence to feel right, then emailed it to the other. Often the response brought suggested changes. Occasionally, emails passed each other in cyberspace and we found we had very different ideas for the next part of the sequence. This process alone took more than two months.

WG: How did you like the experience of collaboration?

Ignatius: Delightful. We’re a good match. Sure, there was lots of hard work, but we work well together. We share an interest in the English language and a commitment to our art.

Irene is an extremely efficient editor…far better than I. She has such patience and attention to detail. Many of my poems have benefited from her insights. She is straightforward in her criticism, encouraging growth. And she doesn’t hesitate to praise something I’ve written that she likes.

Irene: We both look for honest assessment of our work. We strive for improvement, which includes acknowledging a weakness in our poetry when it is pointed out and being open to editorial suggestions.

WG: Why did you choose to self-publish Breccia?

Irene: We both got the same story when we looked into traditional publishing. Finding a publisher for your first book can be a long, drawn-out process. Then it may take a couple of years for the book to appear. Our biggest concern was getting our work out there. And Ignatius had some experience with the process, which is becoming increasingly popular.

Ignatius: Another problem with using a traditional publisher is the need to travel and do personal appearances to promote the book. My inability to do that lowers our prospects significantly.

WG: This was a strictly do-it-yourself project. Did the two of you also design the cover and do the layout?

Irene: Yes, we did everything. From the beginning, we agreed we wanted this to be 100% our project. But I have to give credit to Ignatius for carrying the weight when it came to the actual layout and other aspects of desktop publishing. He’s been in graphic layout and design for 22 years.

WG: What was the most difficult part of publishing Breccia?

Irene:  Definitely the promotional writing. First we had to distill the essence of what Breccia is about – a slow process. Then we had to present that essence – sell it, really – in a catchy way, often in a hundred words or less. Too often we found ourselves reverting to a dense academic style of writing, or reaching for clichés.

Another challenge was reworking this material into different packages – a flyer, a press release, and at least half a dozen blurbs. To avoid sending out carbon copies, we had to rephrase, augment, emphasize or completely delete things from one piece to the next. A case of “how many ways can you serve hamburger?”

Ignatius: For me, the most difficult part was not being able to work regularly with Irene in person. Face-to-face, so much more can be accomplished in a short time. But my health and Irene’s other obligations were limiting factors.

Thank goodness for email! Much of the work was done through the back and forth of emails. It could be frustrating, waiting for a response or trying to iron out a miscommunication, but it allowed us to proceed. We may never have completed the project without it.


You can purchase Breccia on Lulu.

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