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.

SatOct18b

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

Advertisements

The next chapter: 2013 in review

I think it’s important to recognize all the good things one accomplishes.  With regard to my writing, 2013 has been a banner year.  I haven’t seen its like in … well a very long time.

You may remember way back at the beginning of the year what I wrote about resolutions, how I’m not fond of them, and how I prefer to make reasonable goals so I can have a chance to reach them.

It worked a charm for me.

I wrote four (soon to be five) new short stories this year and revised six others for submission. This has resulted in three fiction publications (one paid), and another three poetry publications.

While the goal of Kasie Whitener’s Just Write Challenge was to write thirteen stories in 2013, I think that eleven was pretty darn good, considering the other things that I’ve accomplished.

I sent Initiate of Stone for a content edit in January and revised the whole thing twice. I’ve now sent the manuscript to select beta-readers and have sent it off to one agent and will ship it to one editor shortly.

In the mean time, I started on a middle grade fantasy, Gerod and the Lions, and drafted Figments, a YA fantasy, during NaNoWriMo.

Since the end of November, I’ve given myself a bit of a break. I’ve written a crap-load this year (because in addition to the 11 short stories, poetry, revisions, and the 50k+ draft, I’ve also tried to keep things rolling with my blog) and felt the distinct need for a rest before diving back into things in 2014.

Though I was not able to meet my goal of revising my blog (reader response seemed to indicate it wasn’t a priority) or moving to self-hosted WordPress, those goals remain on the list.  This time last year, I managed to accrue 100 followers on my blog. Now I’m over 222. While I’m still considering a newsletter, I continue to hold off. Until I have a novel out, I’m not certain a newsletter will have much value.

This year I also attended the Canadian Authors Association’s (CAA’s) CanWrite! Conference (June) and the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (October). Both were amazing experiences, and I learned a huge amount from the sessions at both conferences.

Currently, though my services haven’t been much requested of recent months, I’m sitting on the CAA’s Program Committee, and so putting some of my efforts into not only the CanWrite! Conference, but also, the Literary Awards, the Roving Writers Program, and other events.

As a reward for all my hard work, I’m going to be investing in Scrivener, thanks to the NaNo

Scrivener (software)

Scrivener (software) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

reward discount, and purchasing the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents.

As far as what I’m aiming for in the New Year, stay tuned. I’ll have a post on more reasonable goals coming up next week.

books for sale!

books for sale! (Photo credit: bookgrl)

In the meantime, please share your accomplishments. It really helps to put them down in writing. I think when you see everything you’ve managed over the last year in print, you’ll be amazed. I was.

Then celebrate! You were fantastic! And you know what? So was I 😉

Sorry, couldn’t help the Doctor Who reference. Geek girls rule!

LEGO Doctor Who (Collection)

LEGO Doctor Who (Collection) (Photo credit: ChocolateFrogs)

Caturday quickies: The Conspiracy of Three reading series in North Bay

I went on a bit of a road trip on Tuesday evening with Kim Fahner and her friend Brenda—a poetic road trip!  Kim and our mutual friend Roger Nash had been invited to the Conspiracy of Three reading series in North Bay.

A word about the Conspiracy

Kim and I have both read at the Conspiracy before…like nearly twenty years ago (!) and on Tuesday, I learned that the series is close to twenty-five years old.  The reading series that preceded it (and out of which it emerged) ran for an even longer time.  So the Conspiracy has a long tradition in North Bay.

To the reading

The reading was hosted in the new location of the White Water Gallery and by Doyali Islam, who I met last year at the 100,000 poets for change event.

Also in attendance were Tim Robertson and his wife, Karin, Kevin Smith, and Natalie Wilson.

There was a brief discussion about upcoming events and the group’s concerns about Gulliver’s, a local book store that they’re trying to form a co-op for.  Otherwise, this independent book store might just disappear.

Kim and Roger were the featured readers.

KimSmilesTooKim was great, as usual, and managed to dig out a North Bay poem for the crowd.

Roger read from his recently published book of shYesRogerSmilesort stories, The Cobra and the Camera, and a few of his poems.

Afterward, the final set was for open mic participants.

I’m terrible with names, but aside from the curator of the gallery, there was a man who worked as a plumber whose poetic observations were witty and hilarious.  A young poet, Mary, I believe, was also quite good, but in the way of someone new to the reading experience, she needed to project her voice just a bit more.

It was a lovely night and the worst of the shadflies were over.  It started raining just as we arrived and stopped by the time we left.  While this mostly served to bring out the fishy smell of the shadflies, it was lovely and cool for the ride back to Sudbury.

Six questions with Barbara Morrison

Barbara MorrisonBarbara Morrison, who writes under the name B. Morrison, is a poet and writer, a publisher, teacher, and dancer. A few years after graduating with a BA in English, her marriage collapsed and she found herself forced to go on welfare. It is this experience of a world very different from the one in which she grew up that she describes in her memoir, Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother.

She attributes part of her success in escaping poverty to her involvement in the world of traditional dance and music. She performed as a morris dancer for thirty years and continues to be active in the Country Dance and Song Society and several of its affiliates.

Barbara is also the author of a poetry collection, Here at Least, with a second volume, Terrarium, scheduled for 2012. She is currently working on a novel. Barbara has won multiple awards, been invited to speak as a featured author, and been published in magazines such as The Sun, Sin Fronteras, Scribble, and Tiny Lights. She conducts writing workshops and speaks on women’s and poverty-related issues. She is also the owner of a small press and speaks about publishing and marketing. Come by her website for more information.

Barbara’s Monday Morning Books blog is where every week since 2006 she has been sharing insights about writing gleaned from her reading. You can also find her on Twitter where she tweets regularly about poetry and on Facebook. Be sure to visit her GoodReads Author Page and her Amazon Author Page.

____________________________________________________________________________________

I met Barbara through Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform Challenge last year and am pleased to welcome her to Writerly Goodness.

Terrarium will be Barbara’s second collection of poetry and will be published in May 2013.

WG: When did you begin to write poetry and how do your poems come to you?

BM: I began writing poetry in high school and continued through good times and bad, even when I was a single parent working three jobs. Although I’ve also kept a journal, it is in poetry that I seem to have chronicled my life. At first I thought I had to wait for poems to come to me, but after I spent a couple of years making myself write a poem a day, I realized that there would always be something troubling or tickling me, something I wanted to praise or puzzle over.

WG: What is your creative process like?  Do your poems incubate for a while?  Do you edit extensively?  What role does your publisher play in the process?

BM: They often start with a single phrase. Some poems come quickly while others take their time. I then put them away for a while before starting another round of editing. I often repeat this process several times. I self-publish my poetry, but once I put on my publisher’s hat, I might demand further revisions.

WG: Terrarium’s theme revolves around various interpretations of home.  How did this theme evolve for you and how does it reflect the “place” you find yourself in at this point in your life?

BM: I actually started with the theme and deliberately wrote poems around it. I often dream about a particular city. It doesn’t exist in our world, as far as I know, but I could draw you a map of it; the streets and shops and houses are the same whenever I revisit them in dreams. Trying to work out why my unconscious needed to construct and continue to inhabit this place made me wonder how our places, both those we choose and those where we find ourselves, influence who we become. I never meant to stay in the city where I now live, so on some level I continue to feel even after many years that my life here is temporary, which in turn reminds me that our stay on earth is temporary, and I must make the best use of it that I can.

WG: How was assembling Terrarium different from working on your first collection, Here at Least, and what has the experience taught you about yourself as a poet?

BM: With the first collection I agonized over selecting and arranging the poems. I must have changed my mind a thousand times! With Terrarium I was more focused. Also, each of the three sections has a kind of chronology which helped.

WG: Is a launch or reading planned?  Will there be an online component to your promotion?

BM: Yes, I have a book launch party scheduled for 10 May 2013 at The Ivy Bookshop in Terrarium CoverBaltimore, MD. I also have several readings set up; see my website for details. One thing I’ve learned about online promotion is that there is no end to what you can do, so I will pace myself.

WG: What’s coming up next for you?

BM: I’ll be teaching a five-day memoir workshop called Sharing Our Stories at Common Ground on the Hill in July; for more information, see my website http://www.bmorrison.com. I am also working on a novel.

Thank you for sharing your creative journey with us!

A life sentence with mortal punctuation: part 8

How did what was supposed to be a mere two-part guest post get to be this huge?  I think it’s what project managers call “scope creep.” 🙂  Essentially, the story demanded something more, and as with many of the things I write, it told me the shape it wanted to be in.

Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me through this very personal tale.  If it touches you in any way, I encourage you to like, share, comment, or subscribe as your conscience dictates.

I’ll take the opportunity here to remind everyone that while this story is based on my life, that it is filtered through my frame, and is, no more and no less than anything else I write, a story.

Last week: I discussed some of the things that I do to keep the wolf of my depression from the door, or perhaps invite it in, let it curl up by the hearth, and make itself at home.

This week I’m going to pick up the original thread of the tale where I left it.

Those sixteen years

The years during which I was “growing up,” getting a job, and learning how to deal with my depression were largely fallow ones for me creatively.  I got off to a good start in my undergrad years, both at Guelph and at Laurentian, but faltered during my struggle to achieve my master’s degree.

Though my primary poetic publications, NeoVerse and Battle Chant, emerged around the time that I finally received my graduate degree, I found it difficult to continue writing.  A handful of scattered publications in poetry and a short-lived foray into publishing weren’t enough to validate my still-fragile writer’s ego.

I’ve never had a thick skin.

As I slowly worked through my issues, however, I started to realize that writing wasn’t something I did or didn’t do.  It’s something I am.  My inability to commit to the writing life on a regular basis made me question my calling.  If I couldn’t write, how could I call myself a writer?  Maybe it was time to throw in the towel and commit to a life without magic.

The sheer impossibility of that thought told me that writing was what I was meant to do.  I just had to find my way to it without a map or any orienteering skill whatsoever.

Upon my triumphant return from Windsor and contract jobs interspersed with unemployment, Phil and I decided to get a puppy.  We already had two cats, one a three-legged refugee from my days at the Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Mississauga, the other a sweet-natured black cat that Phil got me for my birthday one year.

Our dependent quadrupeds helped me immensely.  I believe that pets have a lot to teach us about unconditional love and being good people.  My pets are some of the best people I’ve known 😉

I got my full time job with my current employer.  Phil and I got a house and a car.  I made use of my new benefits to get some serious work done on both my body and my mind.  I figured out that medication was not the way to address my feral disease.

My mother was still working, part-time at the local hospital, at home, taking care of my father, who had graduated to a disability pension and therapy, and at the seniors’ residence where my grandfather now lived.

I went out with her to see my grandfather about once a week, and helped her to transport him to his various appointments.  My father began to have issues with his heart, eventually diagnosed as arrhythmia and congestive heart failure.  He got a pace-maker, and a new suite of medications.

Shortly after retiring from the hospital, my mom developed diabetes.  Dad started to fall.  If it happened at home, either Phil or I, or both of us would have to help Mom, because Dad couldn’t get up under his own power and she couldn’t lift him.  If it happened outside home, it generally involved a hospital stay.  Dad was on Cumadin by this time and as a result, even the smallest injury could become serious due to the complications of the medication.

Then my dog died

ZoeIt wasn’t something sudden.  Zoe developed hemangiosarcoma and though we caught it early, the vet wasn’t able to catch it all with surgery and internal lavage.

The issue with this particular type of canine cancer is that it likes vascular areas, that is, places in the body where blood vessels tend to gather, like the spleen and the liver.  Once it takes hold, it disseminates quickly and almost always results in death.

The biopsy taken in the surgery came back malignant.  It would only be a matter of time.  As it turned out, we only bought Zoe a couple of weeks.

At first, it seemed like she was recovering.  Phil and I had taken to sleeping on the futon in the living room so we could be close to her if problems arose.

The morning she woke me at 5 am looking for comfort was her last.

I won’t describe that morning other than to say that I called in sick.  I was devastated.  For the first time, I cried legitimately over the loss of a loved one.

Papa

My maternal grandfather was the only one of my grandparents left alive.  He’d been a hard-core smoker, and alcoholic for most of his life.  When my grandmother passed away, he reacted poorly and within a few months, a fall resulting from TIA, landed him in the hospital.

From there, arrangements were made to move him into a seniors’ residence and for many more years, he lived happily, adjusting to the fact that he couldn’t drive anymore, that he had to go outside the residence to smoke, and that he had to depend on my mother to ration him a few beer on special occasions.

Some irregularities regarding his heart landed him in the hospital and when I got the call at work that I should come to the hospital, I had a bad feeling.  In the time it would take me to get the car, drive to the hospital, find parking, and get to his room, I could walk, so I sped along as quickly as I could, hoping that he would hold on long enough for me to get there.

Turns out he’d already passed away when I got the call.

Papa’s passing wasn’t all that traumatic for me.  He’d lived 94 years despite his addictions and was, so far as I know, happy.  I also felt confident that I had been there for him as much as I could.

I helped Mom settle his estate.  Being able to help her out in that way made another big difference for me.

I received a small inheritance, just enough to invest in my first laptop computer.  That year, I started to get back to my writing and the novel I’d conceived of all those years ago in university.

In another year, Phil and I felt that we could bear the love of another pup.  That was when we got the Nuala-beast.

The butt-in-chair breakthrough

Though I was writing more, I wasn’t writing daily yet.  It wasn’t until Nino Ricci came to town to do a workshop with the Sudbury Writers’ Guild that my head got turned around the right way on that.

It was his sharing of his own guardian tale that helped so much.  Every writer has at least one, that big name, well-established Author who tells you that your work is crap.

The breakthrough was that I could choose not to let the well-meant, but unfortunate words of my guardian keep me from entering the inner sanctum and gaining my prize.

Productive or not, I’ve been writing every day since, and that, as the poet said, has made all the difference.

The diabetic cat

Our little black cat, Thufir (named after the Mentat Thufir Hawat due to his fondness for Thufir Hawat the Mentat Catflashing lights) developed feline diabetes.  Phil and I were surprised because he wasn’t obese or showing any of the other signs, but his blood glucose level didn’t lie.

He was on Metformin for a year and graduated to insulin after that.  I became very adept at taking his blood sugar levels and injecting him daily.  He came to tolerate, if not anticipate his injections, like he knew that they made him feel better.

Once again, however, it was a matter of time.  Eventually, organ failure took out little guy.

I wasn’t sad this loss either.  I’d been the best kitteh-mama I could have been and I knew that I’d done well by him.  I’d kind of made my peace with death by this time.

I’m going to leave things here for now.  The next big event for me was the death of my father, and that’s going to need a post unto itself.

After that, I’m going to delve into my insights into happiness as a result of all I’ve learned and that will be the culmination of the series.

Tomorrow I’m going to be writing the Wordsmith Studio Anniversary post 🙂  What’s that, you ask?  Read and find out, my friends.

Coming soon: I have a few wonderful authors who have agreed to do interviews for little ole me.  Look out in the next few weeks for six questions with fantasy author J. L. Madore, poet Barbara Morrison, and D. J. McIntosh, author of The Witch of Babylon, and the soon-to-be-released The Book of Stolen Tales.

I’m finding all sorts of writerly goodness to share 🙂

The Narcoleptic Madonna Launch, Dec. 7, 2012

Lovely night!  Music, poetry, and beautiful art.  Inspiring in all kinds of ways 🙂  Thanks, Kim, for putting together a wonderful evening.

My apologies though, for being late (!)  I knew I needed $6 for parking, but I was hoping that I’d be able to pay on exit and get some change at the launch, or, failing that, there would be some place on campus to get change, whether it be a change machine or store.  There was a store, but the vague directions of “down the hill” didn’t really help.  So I ended up stopping at a couple of different places and essentially going most of the way back home before I got the change I needed, returned, paid, parked, and finally got in.

It’s all on me, but I missed some of Kim’s opening remarks, including some very kind ones about myself.  If it’s possible to kick yourself in the ass, toe first (‘cause, come on, that’s the only way to do it so it counts), then I’d be doing it.

The day itself was a bit of a crap shoot for me.  I was ill (still am), but damned if I’d miss Kim’s launch and I am SO glad I made it.  Enough about me.

Kim Reading1Ever the gracious hostess, Kim started off with her acknowledgements to the people in her life who’ve been teachers, mentors, and friends on the way, to the artists who have influenced her and the experiences she’s had that have shaped her craft.

As mentioned in the interview I posted last week, The Narcoleptic Madonna has been twelve years in the making, and most of that time, Kim has been primary care-giver for her parents, both of whom have passed away.  Kim also struggled with depression.  This journey of love and loss, recovery and the process of reclaiming the self is the journey that Kim describes in the pages of TNM.

I’m not going to share any of her poetry here.  For that, you can friend Kim on Facebook, follow her blog, The Republic of Poetry, or, best of all, buy TNM, Braille on Water, and You Must Imagine the Cold Here, or any of the other anthologies that her work may be found in.  The experience of reading Kim’s poetry is well-worth the price of admission.

Kim reads with wit and élan, the genesis and process of her work as much a part of her presentation as the poetry.  At several points, she had the audience in stitches, and reached out to specific communities within her fandom (Catholic, fellow teachers, students, family, Irish heritage, etc.) with particular poems.

After Kim’s first set, she invited The Wild Geese of the Sudbury Branch of the ComTheWildGeesehaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann up to perform.  She sang “The Fields of Athenry” with them, her soulful vibrato pulling the tenderness and sorrow out of each verse and chorus.

In the second set, Kim delved into some of the darker moments of the past twelve years.  Then she moved into the process of how she began to reclaim her life and happiness.  She also read one poem that emerged from her recent visit to the Anam Cara Artist’s and Writer’s Retreat.

A second set of music from The Wild Geese followed in which Kim sang “Red is the Rose.”

After a brief but heartfelt thank you, we were released to refreshments, book-purchasing, and the long line-up for the signing.  Kim also made available a family “puffed wheat” recipe for those who’d been clamouring for it 🙂

TrishStenbaughArt2I took a few moments to appreciate the backdrop for the event, the evocative art of Trish Stenabaugh, who contributed the cover art for TNM.

In the line-up, I had a chance to chat with a number of friends, Doctors Shannon Hengen and Marilyn Orr from Laurentian University, Karen Baglole, a mutual friend and owner of The Ultimate You, one of the best aesthetician/day spa joints in town, Irene Golas and Vera Constantineau from the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, and some other mutual friends.

By the time I reached Kim with my five copies, I could tell that the wrist cramps were KimSigningsetting in, but she bore up well and continued to smile and share a laugh with her friends throughout.

Several of the attendees have been posting to Facebook since last night that Kim’s event was the Best. Launch. EVAR.  I tend to agree.  Kim puts on a launch like she would a dinner party, inviting us into her world, asking us to make ourselves comfortable, and sharing her life and love generously.  Kim gives us gifts and we are happy to reciprocate.

Bask in the glow, my poetic soul-sista!  Ya done good 🙂

An interview with Kim Fahner

Kim FahnerKim Fahner lives and writes in Sudbury, Ontario, where she teaches English at Marymount Academy.  She had published two books of poems, You Must Imagine the Cold Here (Your Scrivener Press, 1997) and Braille on water (Penumbra Press, 2001).  This new book, The Narcoleptic Madonna, is also being published by Penumbra Press (2012).  Kim is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, The League of Canadian Poets, and PEN Canada.  She worked with Timothy Findley through the Humber School for Writers back in the late 1990s.  Most recently, she served on the editorial board of the ezine, terra nord/north.

_______________________________________________________________________

WG: First, hugs and thanks for virtually gracing me with your poetic presence here on Writerly Goodness.  I’m really excited about the launch of The Narcoleptic Madonna on Friday, December 7, 7pm, at Thorneloe University Theatre.

TNM will be your third poetry collection.  Could you comment on how, from the poet’s perspective, your work has evolved from You Must Imagine the Cold Here, through Braille on Water, to TNM?

KF:  If I consider how my work has evolved over the years, since the publication of my first little book of poems in 1997, I find some aspects echo through all three collections, but I also find that I have grown both as a person and as a poet.  This is to be expected.  My early poems were often lengthy, wordy and more narrative in nature.  I still have narrative work, but it might be more of a ‘narrative lyric’ in style and form.  My most recent poems, some unpublished, are purposeful experiments in poetics.  In August of this year, I attended an ekphrastic poetry workshop at the Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat in Eyeries, on the Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork, Ireland.  I had, prior to that, written a few ekphrastic poems, but now I am very enamoured of the genre.  That wonderful retreat was led by Seattle poet, Susan Rich, and attended by poets from around the world.  Since then, I’ve been playing with the idea of persona poems and dabbling more and more in the ekphrastic field.  I’m trying to stretch out in a poetic yoga pose, so to speak.  I want to continue to challenge myself to evolve as a poet.

WG: How or from where do the ideas for your poems come to you?

KF:    I think, as many poets might say, my ideas for poems come from life itself.  I find that I am always observing others.  Poets need to be in the world, but not always of the world, if that makes any sense.  We must hover on the margins, so as to better see how people behave in the world.  I get poetic ideas when I’m walking my dogs.  I find inspiration in nature, something that is prevalent here in Northern Ontario.  I also love to travel and I find that traveling often inspires me to write.

WG: What themes does TNM address?

KF:  This new collection, The Narcoleptic Madonna, seems to have a few key thematic threads running through it.  The most obvious, to me, is that of the idea of journeying to find oneself.  I often find that I must journey outwardly in order to go inside.  By traveling, I journey within myself and uncover new layers of being.  Sounds elitist, but it’s not.  It’s just a heightened awareness of who and what you’re made of, and how you fit into the world around you.  The collection covers poetry that was written over a twelve year period of time.  During the last ten years, I spent a great deal of time taking care of my parents as they became ill and then died.  This was transformative to me, in terms of how I defined myself and how I saw myself.  As a result of that, a number of the poems in NM deal with life, love, death, and the recreation of spirit that comes after death.  It really is a collection that speaks to the phoenix-like quality of life itself.  There are endings, but those endings always seem to spawn new beginnings.  I’m not saying it’s easy to recreate oneself after losing someone you love, but it’s necessary and unavoidable.  That process, of walking someone through the last years of their life, isn’t an easy one, but it did serve as inspiration for poetry and for reflection on lessons learned.  I also spent a great deal of time dealing with depression.  This, too, was a painful, but transformative process for me.  Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom in order to recreate yourself.  That seems to have been part of my process, as a person, and that process is reflected in my work.

WG: I’m a big fan of writing process.  Could you say a few words about your process as a poet?

KF:   I’m not the best at revision.  Usually, when I’m not experimenting with purposeful poetic exercises like ekphrasis or persona, I tend to find that lines discover me!  Usually, when I’m walking, images come to visit.  Sometimes they come to me in dreams, but if I don’t write them down, they disappear.  Other times, when I’m driving through the city on the way to work, I see people and begin to wonder at their lives.  A poem comes to me quickly, in a rush of lines or a first stanza.  Then, I might leave it for a day or so, but whenever I return to it, the poem writes itself in a rush.  I fiddle with it a bit, initially, but then it sits on its own for a few days.  When I return, I slice and dice it a bit, but I’m nowhere near the expert at revision as some of my poet friends are.

WG: Given all of the above, how long did TNM take to come together for you?

KF:  The final part of the collection, its acceptance by publisher John Flood and Penumbra Press, has birthed itself over the last ten months or so.  I had submitted the manuscript to another press, but it was rejected.  Then, I sent the collection to John and he had it for a while.  He emailed me in January or Februrary of 2012 and said he was interested in publishing the work.  I was thrilled.  The last few months, from September onward, has been a time or editing, proofreading and revision.  I love working with John because he has decades of experience in working with poets, so he often sees things in my work that I would rather ignore.  He’ll suggest revisions that, initially, I might resist.  That’s all ego, though, as I always initially feel ‘Oh, I can’t change that….it’s my poem.’  Once I get past the idea of resisting the suggested revision of my work, I always get to a place where I see that his edits are things that make my poems stronger, leaner, and more than what they were before.  I trust him implicitly now and I know he sees my work with more objective eyes.

The actual writing of the manuscript, though, has stretched over a twelve year period.  The topics of the poems vary, but I notice that I am always a keen employer of metaphor in my work.  It’s my favourite poetic device, I am sure!  I think in metaphor on a daily basis, and I know I teach through metaphor as well, so it makes sense that metaphor plays such a key role in my work.

WG: Is there anything else you’d like to share about NM?

KF:   I’m just very excited to have this book come into the world.  My only regret is that my parents aren’t here to share in it.  Without them, without their support, I would never have come this far in my life as a poet.  They were always supportive of my creative sidnarcolepticcovere.  When I decided not to do a PhD in English years ago, in my mid-twenties, because I was worried about what academia would do to my creative work, they were the first to reassure me that I wasn’t making a mistake.  The certainty that they had in my gift, in my talent, was comforting.  I just wish they were still here to see NM arrive in the world.  I think they would have loved it.  It’s dedicated to their memory and I hold them close to my heart.

WG: Thank you for dropping by Writerly Goodness, and for your time and thoughtfulness in sharing these insights.

_______________________________________________________________________

The countdown to Kim’s launch has begun!  In six days she’ll be at Thorneloe University Theatre reading from her brand-spanking new book.  Will you be there?  I certainly will!

100 thousand poets for change in North Bay, September 29, 2012

Please note: this post originally appeared as a guest post on John Rice’s Keeper of the Sword blog on October 3, 2012.

It was a grey autumn day when I set off for North Bay.  Then I picked up Kim Fahner, and the journey became a poetic road trip of epic proportions 🙂  Talked craft, poetry, fiction, blogging, social media, and Doctor Who!

Kim brought me back a gift from her recent trip to Ireland: Leanne O’Sullivan’s Cailleach: The Hag of Beara.  Lovely book.  Saving it for the weekend 🙂

The drive was blessedly uneventful and we arrived early enough to have lunch before the event started.

On the way back to the park for the reading, we were greeted by Father Forrest.  The White Water Gallery’s Youth Arts Initiative created puppets this summer.

Father Forrest was one of them and he stopped by the reading later on in the afternoon.

We walked on to the park where the poets and audience were already gathered.

Though the organizers, Kevin smith and Natalie Wilson had brought a PA system there wasn’t an outlet to power it.

Still, Kevin introduced the event and got underway promptly, explaining a little of the background of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

100 Thousand Poets for Change was initially conceived by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion in March, 2011, as a worldwide set of events to take place simultaneously on September 24, 2011. Literary event organizers volunteered to host associated events in their own cities or schools. ~Wikipedia

The first reader of the North Bay event was Laurie Kruk, professor at Nipissing University and author of Theories of the World, Loving the Alien, and the soon to be released, My Mother Never Told Stories.

She read several selections from her new book of poetry.

I was the next poet to read and only chose a couple of poems: “Manitou Sky” and Relatively Speaking.”

I started my set with a post on Jezebel regarding a Sikh woman and her response to what seemed a malicious picture posted as a critique on her appearance.  It was my way of commenting on how social media can be an avenue for positive change.

I finished my reading by offering some advice from Kristen Lamb in this season of political frenzy on how writers really change the world.

Following my set was Tim Robertson, poet and aphorist, that is, writer of aphorisms.

He started the session with a series of witticisms and then read a couple of his longer poems.

After Tim’s reading was a brief intermission where poets mingled and chatted.  I took a few moments to reacquaint myself with Natalie, with whom I’d contributed to NEOVerse, and Laurie, with whom I’d read on several occasions during my more active poet years.

The second half of the afternoon session began with Christine Charette, artist and poet.  Father Forrest visited at this point and remained around for her set.

Christine’s poetry has as its heart the issues of womanhood and motherhood and it did speak to the theme of change.

Denis Stokes read next.  He’s taught English in high school and at Nipissing University, and published poetry in print and online.  Denis’s poetry was definitely the poetry of Northern Ontario, evocative of its sights and sounds in the context of family and change.

Then Doyali Farah Islam took the stage, er, cobblestones 🙂  She published her first book of poetry, Yusuf and the Lotus Flower, in October of 2011.

Doyali is definitely influenced by Rumi, and her poetry brought a bit of the sacred to the assembly.

The last poet of the afternoon session was my friend, Kim Fahner, English teacher, and author of You must imagine the cold here and Braille on water.  Her new book of poetry, The Narcoleptic Madonna is due out this fall.

Kim is a great reader who interacts with her audience with humour and self-conscious grace.  Kim read from her new work.

Afterward, the poets mingled again.  Business cards and books were exchanged.  Though there was an evening session where Ken Stange, Kevin, and Natalie would be reading, Kim and I had to toddle off.  Nonetheless, I understand the evening reading at the Cornerstone Cafe was a great one, and the North Bay edition of the 100 thousand poets for change event a success.

And then, after a fortifying pumpkin spice chai latte at Twiggs, we were on the road again, chatting more about the day, poetry, creativity, and again, the fabulous Dr. who 🙂  David Tennant is one of Kim’s secret husbands, don’t you know.

The day ended with a lovely supper at Verdiccio’s where I had the chance to use the coupon I’d won on Facebook this summer.

All was ‘write’ with the world 🙂

For more information, please see the 100 Thousand Poets for Change North Bay Facebook page, or the Web page, graciously hosted by Ken Stange.

Fusion: An Ekphrastic Experiment

July 1, 2009.

In light of the Willisville Mountain Project and the Cross-Pollination Series, the Sudbury Writers’ Guild decided to try their collective hand at ekphrasis.  For the curious:  Ekphrasis is the graphic, often dramatic interpretation of a work of art, thank you Wikipedia.

I became interested in ekphrasis in graduate school during a course on the Rossetti’s.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti was founder and member of the Pre-Raphealite Brotherhood and their paintings frequently feature poetry either in the artwork itself or as part of the frame.  The verse typically described the subject of the painting. So when I had a chance to participate in something similar, I jumped at the chance.  While not true ekphrasis, the Fusion project was nonetheless interesting and fun to participate in.

Essentially, writers and artists pair up and create a composite work of writing and art.  The written work can be either prose or poetry, and the visual component, while usually painting or photography, could be anything.  In our group’s case, quiting, stained glass, and a place setting of tea and cookies on china were included in the mix.  Each interested writer from the Guild paired up with an area artist in January of 2009 with the goal of having a composite work assembled by July 1st.

My partner in crime was Robert Luopa, fine arts teacher at Espanola High School.  You might say that what we worked on was the reverse of ekphrasis.

Due to our limited ability to get together and work in a truly collaborative fashion, Robert felt that creating a painting based on one of my unpublished pieces of poetry might work out better.  I sent him a likely selection of suspects and he chose “Fire and Ice.”  From there, I described the original inspiration for the poem and Robert then when out and took some pictures.  He drew up some concept sketches and we further discussed the eventual form of the final painting.  In addition to presenting the poem with the painting, I used one of Robert’s photos and Gimp‘ed it into a background for the poem.

The Fusion Project was first displayed at Art Berries and Jazz in Espanola July 1, 2009 and then was displayed a second time at the Sudbury Theatre Centre for the month of August 2009.

Have you ever collaborated with another artist?  It doesn’t have to be ekphrastic in nature.  My poet-friend Kim Fahner had one of her poems set to music.  Some people have their stories turned into short films.  It’s good to get out of your own art-form sometimes.  I’ve found it offers respite and perspective.  What did you learn from your creative experiment?