What's New

JC’s new piece for Mother’s Day, 2018

We lose our mothers

Not on street corners

or in parks or grocery stores

though we may be mislaid

 

Today, I wear a dead-woman’s coat

Not my mother’s

Hers were too large

 

I lost myself in their embrace

as I combed through her clothes

their old-woman scent still strong on

what she wore until she couldn’t stand to dress

 

I pushed deeper into that closet, touched

garments she chose in middle age to flatter

her long legs, to hide her extra layers

Then Channel No. 5™assaulted me

 

I rushed outside

onto the balcony that

overlooks the city

 

breathed in that view

just as she did

until she could not

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Home and homelessness themes in Poetry Quarter in May Glebe Report; new submission call issued for August

Shelter, home, homelessness…

Serious subject matter for Poetry Quarterin the May issue of the Glebe Report.

Cut and paste this link into your browser to access the page published on May 11.  http://www.glebereport.ca/2018/05/poetry-quarter-6/

JC curates the selection from local poets and found this quarter’s offering rich.“We received many, fine poems.  A connection to home came into sharp and soft focus in a number of them. Street people figured in others.

“We were honoured to receive such sensitive and original work from poets whose poems have not appeared in PQ before and from other writers Glebe Report readers will recognize from previous issues.“

A call for submissions for the August Poetry Quarterhas just been announced. It’s all about water—critical to life; one of the Ancient’s four elements that make up the world; around 60% of the human body.

PQ seeks poems that will make readers “sink or swim.”

“Climate change, days or nights by a shore, access to clean drinking water, tears of laughter or sorrow—I cannot wait to learn what local poets will say.”

The deadline for the August issue is midnight, Friday July 27, 2018. Submission guidelines appear at: http://www.glebereport.ca/2018/05/poetry-quarter-6/

 

 

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Ottawa Launch of “South Shore Suite…POEMS” Tuesday June 5, 7:00-9:00 PM Octopus Books

On June 5 at 7:30 PM, JC Sulzenko will read selections from her poetry collection, South Shore Suite…POEMS, published by Point Petre Publishing. www.pointpetrepublishing.ca

This is JC’s first full collection of narrative and lyrical poems. “A milestone year for Canada gave me the impetus to create a manuscript with both published and unpublished poems written over the course of four decades of my adult life. I am delighted that Point Petre Publishing included my work in its publishing program.”

The book takes its title from its first section, which contains poems rooted in the nature and landscape of Prince Edward County and written a line-a-day for more than a year. Its second section brings a wider lens to the natural world, including poems about experiences in Ottawa. Poetry that reflects on life choices made by people in diverse professions, from carpenter to composer, from lightkeeper to librarian, comprises the third part of the book.

“I held interviews in Ottawa and elsewhere with people I knew, and I sought out others whose work interested me. South Shore Suite…POEMS offers samples from both categories. Perhaps readers will recognize some local folks.”

The collection concludes with poems that illuminate moments ‘from cradle to grave.’

Why did Point Petre publisher Brian Flack choose this particular book? “To me, many poems in South Shore Suite use language beautifully and capture the universality of experience in an accessible way, which is not often apparent in contemporary poetry.”

This award-winning Glebe poet and writer is well known through her workshops and poetry residencies for emerging, young writers. She has published six books for children. The most recent, What My Grandma Means to Say, takes a child by the hand in exploring how to handle dementia in the family. She also writes centos and found poetry for which she uses a pseudonym.

This summer JC’s work will be featured in County CollAboRaTive, the 25thAnniversary celebration of the Prince Edward County Studio Tour, and on the Redenersville Road Art Tour on Labour Day weekend.

She has collaborated with Carleton Place poet Carol A. Stephen on two chapbooks, Breathing Mutable Air and Slant of Light. Together, they are seeking a publisher for their new collection of poems inspired by works of art.

For information on the evening at Octopus Books, 116 Third Avenue: http://octopusbooks.ca/event/ottawa-launch-of-south-shore-suitepoems-with-jc-sulzenko

 

 

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League of Canadian Poets published Garnett Weiss in its April “Fresh Voices” post

“Where, watching life through windows” appeared online in this April offering from the League of Canadian Poets. The cento originally appeared in Oratorealis in 2017 and draws lines unaltered from poems by George Barker, Louis MacNeice,  Dylan Thomas,David Gascoyne, Ronal Bottrall, Edith Sitwell, Cecil Day Lewis, Ezra Pound, William Epsom, and Stephen Spender.

Here is the link to paste in your browser to access the post:

http://poets.ca/2018/04/17/npm18-fresh-voices-norma-kerby-martha-swinn-a-garnett-weiss/

Using the pseudonym A. Garnett Weiss for found poetry and centos gives JC Sulzenko the distance she needs to distinguish such experimental forms from the narrative and lyrical poems she writes using her own name.

 

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Can you write poetry like Rupi Kaur? Do you want to? JC’s April 10 Poetry Workshop for the Canadian Authors Association (Ottawa Branch)

JC was delighted by the lively discussion that included a romp through selections of poems from Rupi Kaur’s two, best-seller collections of poems.

JC read from her first, full poetry collection, South Shore Suite…POEMS, which came out in November (www.pointpetrepublishing.ca) and touched on aspects of her writing life from works for children to self-publishing, from writing collaboratively to assuming a pseudonym.
When asked about writing collaboratively,  JC revealed “it’s 85% pleasure, 15% pain.”

She has been working together with Carleton Place poet Carol A. Stephen for about 5 years. They have published two chapbooks, Breathing Mutable Air and Slant of Light, the latter all poems inspired by works of art.

“Carol and I are finalizing the manuscript of a full collection of ekphrastic poems to send out to publishers.” The works from which these poems depart include sculpture, multimedia, textile and visual art.

 

 

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Review of “South Shore Suite…POEMS” in the March issue of The Glebe Report

J.C. Sulzenko’s South Shore Suite: poetry to celebrate

37 Tunney March 2018 a3.Cover.19 Sept 2017review by Deborah Tunney

J.C. Sulzenko tells us in the introduction to her soulful and varied poetry collection, South Shore Suite … POEMS, that the inspiration to gather her poems together from the past four decades was Canada’s sesquicentennial celebration. These poems not only celebrate this Canadian milestone but also one Canadian woman’s life, her appreciation of nature, her empathetic recording of other lives and her awareness of time’s passing.

To do this, she divides the collection into four segments, the first and second being a meditation on the role of nature in a life spent in observation and appreciation, the third illustrates her keen observation of character in a segment appropriately entitled “Cameo Appearances,” and in the fourth she looks at aspects of time, creating a sense of closure for the collection as a whole.

Sulzenko sees in nature and in particular the landscape of Prince Edward County, the symmetry and wide, overarching beauty that defines and limits our lives. Many of her poems are inspired by the quiet certainty of haiku, by its ability to slow life to an image that points to the miraculous and capture the frozen essence of a moment. Her touch here is gentle and fine, and perfect for the intent of poem:

it’s alright, okay
to become much like the sand:
water-weary, sun-bleached
reduced to grains that glimmer
as waves advance and waves withdraw.

One of the longer poems of the first section gives us the demise of a man in the very nature that the poet has glorified. His death stills the beauty – this place where he can “find no wonder” so that by morning he is reduced to “an object to recover with a boat and body bag.” The language here shifts from the wonder of nature to the blunt and painful reality of death, and it is this shift that stops readers and makes them, with a renewed reverence, appreciate the encompassment of nature, holding both life and death.

Although the poet’s approach in “Cameo Appearances” is to give us unique personalities, the underlying questions and concerns are the same as in the rest of the collection: the meaning, appreciation and mystery of life. Listen to the economy of this poem as it paints with quick, deft strokes a portrait of a doctor:

Morning
Coat off, computer on, patients
questions, examination, diagnosis, injections

Afternoon
Prescription, referrals, reports
No excuse if she runs late

These are the moments that occupy a life, give it its shape and resonance. In the poem “Light on Bay,” Sulzenko gives us an empty lighthouse, bereft of keepers, as a soulless entity: “those lighthouses, empty now, still shine/a safe course for ships, but without a soul”. This poem is an exploration of the family that lived there, of the era that allowed that life choice and both are strikingly eulogized in the calm sadness captured by those closing words.

One of the most poignant poems in the last section chronicles the loss, through euthanasia, of a beloved pet. It describes in almost clinical terms what the vet must do, but ends with the human need for comfort. “He returns to the living room/Places his hand on the spot/where she died/Still warm.” It is here that Sulzenko is at her strongest. She leads us with fine, careful but stripped-down language to a place where we must contemplate the savage, uncompromising emptiness that remains.

The poems in the first section and half of the second are not titled or numbered and the resulting sense of flow and inclusion will either make the reader feel the unity of the work or be annoyed by its formlessness. I found it on first reading a bit disorienting, a feeling that lessened with each reading as I came to appreciate how each poem leads to the next and leans on its neighbouring poem for increased poignancy. However, a small quibble with the book production: the font was a sans serif, which I did not enjoy, and the kerning for certain words seemed clumsy.

This is a collection that rewards the reader with its careful, precise and often-beautiful rendition of those elements in life that enclose us: nature, other people and the progress of time. As she writes: “when it falls to death, the line between/what’s real and what you hope for/breaks you.”

As readers we thank Sulzenko for honouring Canada’s 150th by gathering her poems into this enlightening collection and for her clear-sighted vision of our human condition.

Deborah-Anne Tunney is a former communication officer and a writer of both prose and poetry whose work has appeared in many literary journals.

South Shore Suite … POEMS,
by JC Sulzenko
Point Petre Publishing, 2017 (Milford, Ontario)
Available at Octopus Books (116 Third Ave.), Singing Pebble Books (206 Main St), Books on Beechwood (35 Beechwood), Perfect Books (258 Elgin), from the publisher and www.jcsulzenko.com.

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JC Edited “Nature Matters!”– a calendar of nature events published by Prince Edward County Bird Observatory

“I was very pleased to assist the Observatory (PEPtBO) in bringing out this second annual booklet, which highlights events around and about the County’s South Shore that celebrate its unique habitats, flora and fauna, and history,” JC noted. (She serves on PEPtBO’s Board.)

This is the second year JC worked on the project, which lists some 24 events ranging from bird walks, excursions and tours to a 100 km. bicycle ride, from fish fries to graveyard walks, from fishing derbies to fossil hunts.

“Nature Matters!” has been published online at www.peptbo.ca. 7000 hard copies of the glossy book will be available throughout the County starting in April.

The booklet also launched a poetry contest for a chapbook PEPtBO will publish on its website.”For the Birds” invites poets aged 9-16 and adult poets living in or visiting the County to send in poems that relate in some way to birds native to the County or migrating through it. Specific information on the contest appears in “Nature Matters!” on line and in print.

(PEPtBO is a not-for-profit, registered charity with a focus on monitoring and providing information on populations of migrating birds at since Edward Point National Wildlife Area during spring and fall. PEPtBO acts as official caretaker for the Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), designated as globally significant and comprised of over 40 kilometres of Lake Ontario shoreline and 90 square kilometres of land and water habitats.)

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Oratorealis publishes two centos by A. Garnett Weiss

BC-based Oratorealis, which focuses on spoken word and experimental poetry in a triannual literary journal, published two centos by A. Garnett Weiss in Volume 2/Issue 2, which came out at the end of the summer.

“Reflection, stained glass” welcomes lines from poets such as Toi Derricotti, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, Brenda Hillman and Alicia Suskin Ostriker. “Where, watching life through windows”* takes its words from poems by some of the greats of the 20th century, including Dylan Thomas, Ezra Pound and Stephen Spender.

Weiss finds great joy in creating centos. “Living with the poems I read until individual lines or partial lines dictate the way a new work, original in form and meaning, evolves is an exciting and humbling process. Each piece both pays homage to and honours the poems from which the lines have been selected. There such such energy inherent in crafting poems in the cento form.”

*The title of this poem regrettably was misprinted in Oratorealis.

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New Bookends Review: Henning Mankell’s “Italian shoes”

JC gives this 2006 novel by prolific master of the ‘dark’ Swedish tale, Henning Mankell, 7/5/10 even though she couldn’t put the book down. Why? Go to Bookends to read her mini-review.

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Impromptu poetry morphs into BESPOKE POETRY– JC Sulzenko writes poems on commission

“I just can’t resist the challenge: writing to a subject not of my choosing, suggested by someone whom I didn’t know beforehand, for the most part, to mark a birthday, an anniversary, a special event or person, or in memoriam,” JC admits. “I’ve now launched “BESPOKE POETRY” to give me the chance to create new poems this way.”

JC began her love affair with poetry written on demand many summers ago at what was then known as “Art in the park,” a showcase for artists, crafts people and assorted others in her neighbourhood.

Wearing a lot of sunscreen and with paper pad and pen, she set up a table and offered to write poems for visitors at $2.50 each, the proceeds of which went to a charitable organization. She cannot remember to which one the modest take went that first year.

She attached certain caveats to the process: payment upfront; she held the copyright to the poem; no one could dispute what she had written; she reserved the right to refuse to write on a subject with which she was not comfortable.

Those who dared to test her skills were interviewed briefly about the subject they had chosen, then sent away to wander among the artisans. When they returned, they picked up the poem in a neat scroll. More often than not, they unravelled the poem and read it on the spot. And commented. Almost all very pleased with the result.

Though not a big fundraiser, JC found the experience exhilarating. “I used a number of the poems written at that festival in “Fat poems Tall poems Long poems Small,” my ekphrastic book of poems for families and children to which Ottawa artists contributed interpretative illustrations.” Several other poems found their way into chapbooks.

For a couple of years, JC returned to the venue, adding a tent and two chairs to facilitate the interviews and for the sake of privacy. Each year, the price tag went up by a bit. The final year of her participation, the funds raised were donated to a local hospital.

Then she stopped, overtaken by other writing projects including “Boot Crazy” and later by “What My Grandma Means to Say,” her book and play about Alzheimer’s disease.

Now she has taken up poetry on commission again with enthusiasm. The process begins with agreement on a base price for the poem, which can take the form of free verse or rhyme. The ‘buyer’ pays JC upfront. Then, there’s an interview which can take as little as 10 minutes over the phone or up to an hour face-to-face, where that’s convenient to the parties.

JC considers carefully what she has learned about the subject and writes the poem within the timeframe agreed to in the discussions. The length of the poem can vary depending the subject matter. Once she’s satisfied, she shares the poem and asks for comments as to accuracy only. If there are any factual inaccuracies, she corrects them and then provides a final text.

She asks that the poem not be published without her prior permission and then only with clear acknowledgment as to her authorship.

“I have written about a granddaughter’s graduation from high school on her birthday, the death of a child, a dog who dreams. It’s such an adventure, never knowing where a new poem will begin or to where it will take me.”

 

 

 

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Silver Birch Press features A. Garnett Weiss poem in new ‘lost and found’ series

Garnett’s prose poem “When Johnny came marching” appears online in the newest series from Silver Birch Press (SBP) in California.

This is how Garnett described her creative process: “I’m always intrigued by subjects Silver Birch Press suggests for a series. I read the cue, then waken as though from a dream to revisit experiences I hadn’t thought of in many, many years. The title for “When Johnny came marching,” comes in part from a war song. The song led me to recapture in prose poem form rather than in free verse circumstances and details around the disappearance of my favourite doll when I was five years-old and to situate that doll in my life today. I am grateful for the prompt.”

The photo, which complements this poem, shows Johnny still in Garnett’s hands and favour.

Here’s the link to Silver Birch Press:

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/when-johnny-came-marching-poem-by-a-garnett-weiss-lost-and-found-poetry-and-prose-series/

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JC Reviews “Jonagold” by Peter Blendell

JC has been reading steadily but not caught up on her mini-reviews, which use up to the same number of words as characters for a tweet. Go to “Bookends” to read her review of Prince Edward County author, poet and artist Peter Blendell’s “Jonagold,” published in 2014.

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Two poems by A. Garnett Weiss in the 28th issue of “The Light Ekphrastic”

Editor Jenny O’Grady paired Garnett with Maryland artist Gina Pierleoni as co-contributors to the 28th issue of the online journal “The Light Ekphrastic, ” now celebrating its 7th anniversary.

Garnett chose The Deepest Sleep from among the extraordinary works of art on the website featuring Pierleoni’s art– http://ledbaltimore.com/featured-on-the-board/gina-pierleoni/. “Given the range of work Gina exhibited, so much of her art called to me, but the instant I saw The Deepest Sleep, I had to write to it. Surrender is the result,” Garnett noted.

“My poems have appeared before in “The Light Ekphrastic,” and I am grateful to the editor for publishing them in this fine journal. It’s always an adventure when I embark on a new partnership with an artist who will interpret my poetry and whose art will prompt me to write a new poem. I never know what to expect of the artist or of myself. That is the ‘magic’ of the ekphrastic process. That’s why I welcome opportunities to be surprised by each, such collaboration.“

In response to Garnett’s poem For Nathan Cirillo, soldier, Gina created Lamentation, a poignant collage that captures indelibly the relationship between the soldier’s death and an aged mother’s response. Here’s where to find these works: https://thelightekphrastic.com/2016/11/25/november-2016-issue-28/

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Comments about A. Garnett Weiss’s winning centos in The Banister Niagara Poetry Anthology

For the second time, Garnett’s centos took top honours in The Banister, the annual anthology featuring “ an eclectic mix of Ontario voices,” in the words of Poetry Chair Keith Inman.Here’s what award-winning poet and author Keith Garebian, who judged the entries, wrote: ” Never mind the first unicorn is an expert cento—a form that is a level ahead of the found poem as a poetic mode because its inspiration comes from multiple poetic sources. For a good cento, the poet’s mind must never merely wander across quotations. It needs to keep a firm focus on unity of theme, tone and rhythm—which this one does superbly, using surprising images in order to channel the poet’s melancholy reflection.”

“I am most grateful to Keith Garebian for these comments, which align closely with what I set out to accomplish in each cento I compose, “ Garnett noted. “I find joy in this form of poetry, Though considered by some poets and editors as ‘experimental,’ writing centos has become my mainstream.”

Never mind the first unicorn received second prize. Honourable mentions went to We lie down in each other, we lie down alone, and to The only song I know.

Garnett’s cento Nothing is eternal. Not even the trees won the 2013 contest judged by Gregory Betts. He also awarded honourable mentions to Against a guttering candle, written dreams and to Psyche.

 

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In honour of Leonard Cohen–“After ignorance, blessings” by A. Garnett Weiss republished

When Silver Birch Press (SBP) featured Garnet Weiss’s “After ignorance, blessings” in its Same Name Series, it gave her the chance to mark how as an undergrad she ‘bumped’ into Leonard Cohen at university and how she evolved into a devoted fan. Here is the link:https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/after-ignorance-blessings-poem-by-a-garnett-weiss-same-name-poetry-and-prose-series/

Given his passing yesterday at 82 and having seen a clip from the media conference at the September release of his last CD where he explained he was ready for death but rather would ‘live’ forever (and he will), it feels appropriate to republish that poem in his honour here.

After ignorance, blessings

Without much prompting, I return to that moment fifty years ago,

while we waited together for a book on reserve at college.

The librarian bellowed out my last name.

We both stepped forward, lightly bumping hips.

 

Shy as a virgin, I felt heat rush to my face

as the man at the desk glared through thick lenses.

“Leonard,” he harrumphed, dismissing me.

Just then, I realized who you were.

 

So did the other undergrads, the spectator chorus,

who stared as though it was my fault to carry

the same family name.

I bowed my head, rejoined their line.

 

Even as poems and songs brought you more fame,

I didn’t become a fan, though I recognized

some tunes, knew bits of lyrics from the CDs

my mother listened to every day till she died.

 

But after you had to come down from the mountain

‘cause someone had stolen away with your wealth,

after you started to tour, that’s when I fell for you.

 

I saw you perform live a first time, then again, and again,

just to hear you sing of love and loss and longing in that voice,

its low-growl purr seductive as the melodies that play in my mind.

 

Which is how I’ve come to regret having no kinship with you

either in blood or in the way you make your music turn words

into a benediction.

 

 

 

 

 

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JC Reviews “On the Outside Looking Indian” by Rupinder Gill

Go to the Bookends tab for JC’s most recent review of Rupinder Gill’s 2011 memoire, “On the Outside Looking Indian.” She gives it a 6.5/10 rating.

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A. Garnett Weiss featured in Silver Birch Press’s Nancy Drew Anthology

For kids of many generations, Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene hooked them on reading. Whenever a new book came out, the local bookstore (and there were several independent! bookstores in my neighbourhood!) would sell out very quickly, as young readers couldn’t wait to follow their favourite sleuth as she unravelled threads of the next puzzle.

Garnett is pleased that Silver Birch Press of California chose her erasure poem “With original mystery” for the anthology, published on October 1. This poem extracts words from titles of Nancy Drew books in the order they appeared on the the page preceding the inside title page of “The Hidden Staircase,” published in 1930 and reprinted in 1995. The poem and the page showing the erasures both appear in the collection.

Copies of the anthology will be available through the publisher and from Amazon.com. The publisher’s price per volume is $15. Here’s the link to Silver Birch Press’s release:

https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/new-release-nancy-drew-anthology/

Garnett’s second poem arising from Nancy Drew sources has been posted under the A. Garnett Weiss tab. “Siren” uses non-contiguous phrases, taken unaltered from”Nancy Drew: The Secret of Mirror Bay,” published in 1972.

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“What My Grandma Means to Say” — lynchpin for the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward Island’s outreach program in PEI Elementary Schools

JC is thrilled that the Alzheimer Society of Prince Edward Island (ASPEI) chose to anchor its 2016-2017 education program in schools with “What My Grandma Means to Say,” JC’s play and storybook for children and families about Alzheimer’s disease.

With the province’s Department of Education and input from JC, ASPEI developed a resource kit for teachers which puts a copy of the book, plus JC’s Discussion Guide, into every elementary school in the Province. Here’s a link to the CBC’s report:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-alzheimer-students-education-book-1.3773649

“As I wrote in my op. ed. piece published by papers across Canada (go to the Archive table to read the article), I feel it’s essential for kids to be part of the discussion when Alzheimer’s affects someone they know and about whom they care. Understanding what they can and cannot hope for is one way to get at the fears this disease raises,” JC believes.

A number of Alzheimer Societies in Ontario incorporated “What My Grandma Means to Say” into their programming. With the new program launched on September 21, World Alzheimer’s Day, PEI’s Alzheimer Society is the first to take “What My Grandma Means to Say” province-wide.

“I look very forward to whatever feedback comes my way from the use of this story and play in schools. I know that having an open and safe environment to talk about Alzheimer’s can really build awareness and dispel myths, without sugarcoating what people living with the disease face.”

 

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Globe and Mail prints JC’s letter to the Editor: “Dead Birds Cannot Sing,” 17/09/2106

JC responded to the Partners in Flight report in the Globe on the large decline in bird populations with a scathing indictment of governments that site industrial wind turbines in environmentally sensitive areas on bird migration routes and in habitats of endangered species, such as the Blandings turtle. The Editor included a verse from “Spectacle,” for which is she is grateful. The verses first appeared on this site. Here it is:

Dead birds cannot sing,

their melodies lost to winds

that rouse high towers

to our great hades of steel

that churn songs and soft feathers.

Here’s the link to the edition:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/letters/sept-17-whats-policy-got-to-do-with-the-us-election-plus-other-letters-to-the-editor/article31930945/

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Next Bookends Review

Go to Bookends to read JC’s review of Plum Johnson’s 2015 memoire, “They Left Us Everything,” which won the Charles Taylor 2015 Prize for Non-fiction. A review and rating with reservations.

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New Bookends Review: The County Murders J.D. Carpenter, 2016

Again, it gives JC a kick to keep her reviews within the same number of words as twitter allows characters per tweet. Focuses the mind. Adds discipline. Makes her not yak on and on with thoughts about a book.

Go to Bookends to read JC’s review of J.D. Carpenter’s 2016 mystery, “The County Murders.” She gave it 8/10!

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Bookends Review: “Little Bee” Chris Cleave, 2008

Go to “Bookends” to read JC Sulzenko’s mini-review of Chris Cleave’s 2008 novel, “Little Bee.” Why does she give this best-seller only a 7/10 rating? See for yourself.

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New Bookends Review: A God in Ruins Kate Atkinson, 2015

Go to bookends to read JC’s mini review of  A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. Her rating?                                  6.5/10

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Brick Books Celebration of Canadian Poetry Series features JC’s introduction of A. Garnett Weiss who celebrates Al Purdy and Friends

The day before Canada Day, Brick Book’s website featured JC’s article on A. Garnett Weiss’s use of the cento form to celebrate the writing of poets such as Al Purdy, Lorna Crozier, E. J Pratt, Monty Read, Molly Peacock and Leonard Cohen.

Here’s the link to the article:  http://www.brickbooks.ca/category/news/celebrate-canadian-poetry/

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New Bookends Review: The Education of Augie Merasty, A residential school memoire

Go to Bookends to read JC’s latest review: 7/10 for Mr. Merasty; 2/10 for his ‘editor,’ David Carpenter.

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“Ekphrasis at BLIZZMAX” show, co-curated by JC Sulzenko, closes

This ekphrasis show at BLIZZMAX Gallery in Prince Edward County that JC co-curated with Alice Menacer closes on July 24. Featuring works of art inspired by poetry and poetry inspired by works of art, the show paired nine local artists with  nine local poets.

“I am thrilled with the feedback received about the show from gallery visitors and the artists and poets who participated. A good number of the works of art sold which is also a measure of the quality of the exhibition. My thanks to Alice and Peter Mennacher for embracing the concept, ” JC noted.

Ekphrasis at BLIZZMAX included sculpture, multimedia and visual art. A copy of the poem that either gave rise to each artwork or responded to a work of art was sold with each work of art.

A chapbook with high quality, full-colour reproductions of each work of art and the text of each poem has virtually sold out.

Here’s the link to the story about the show: http://wellingtontimes.ca/developmentApril16/nine-poets-nine-artists/

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New Bookends Reviews: Bryson, Boyden, and Scofield

Finally returning to review some of the readings from the spring. I begin today with the posts under “Bookends” tab of three books in two reviews: See my thoughts on Bill Bryson’s “*A Short History of Everything.” I’m a huge fan of Bryson’s books, and this huge volume didn’t disappoint.

And then look at how I contrast Joseph Boyden’s book “Extraordinary Canadians Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont” with  Gregory Scofield’s “Louis: The Heretic Poems.” Both worth a read.

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Irresistible prompt to write online erasure poem (April 27, Greg Santos in FPR)

imageerasure

I will return to April 28’s fine prompt from Jenni B. Baker in FPR which warrants far more time than one day provides.

Instead, I chose one of Greg Santos’s from yesterday to: “Go to Wave Books’ Erasures website to find online source texts…The cool website lets you click on any word or punctuation mark to make it disappear. You can save, print, or email the newly sculpted text when you’re done.”

Well, I went to the site, which, indeed, worked as he suggested. In fact, I felt a ‘frisson’ of power as I erased parts of the source text “Pointed Roofs,” by Dorothy Miller Richardson.

I failed dismally, though, when I attempted to save and email the poem, though I could print it.

So you see, above how “Home Schooled” appears, to which I added punctuation by hand, though I seem to have mislaid the period at the end. Sigh.

Here is how it reads:

Home schooled

Bright faces collected misery.
Dreadful experiences at home had swollen
until she worked her trembling wrists and hands,
elbowed the bottle of green Chartreuse on the tiles.
Full of angry discomfiture, she had poked fear,
and burning nervousness twice
had astonished her day.

 

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April 27 Impromptu from Greg Santos in Found Poetry Review to write a reversal poem

Though it proved hard to select which of Greg Santos’ April 27 prompts to follow, I chose this one: “Find a draft of a poem you’ve already written. Rewrite your new poem backwards, writing the last stanza first and so on. The new order might reveal something new and exciting.” I began with a piece I had posted in response to the day 6 FPR prompt to create a poem comprised of a single sentence, spread across at least seven lines of no fewer than five words each, in which I had to repeat one of the lines three times, but not in succession, and include specific vocabulary.

Here is my April 6 original.

Uncle

You make me do what I don’t want to
but I can’t pretend I don’t understand —
you: Self-satisfied, self-pleasured, self-absorbed, self-ish Sam—
you speak to me in dialects I wish were foreign
or that I’d need a cochlear implant to hear
but I can’t pretend I don’t understand
which is to say I’m like helianthus facing south and west
as when the sun goes down toward Ecuador
and I turn, too, because you make me do what I don’t want to
but I can’t pretend I don’t understand.

Here is the first reversal I tried, where I simply began with the last line and worked back to the first (with one minor word change, some line break adjustments and the addition of punctuation.)

I can’t pretend I don’t understand,
but I turn, too, because you make me do what I don’t want to,
as when the sun goes down toward Ecuador,
which is to say I’m like helianthus facing south and west.

But I can’t pretend I don’t understand,
or that I’d need a cochlear implant to hear
you speak to me in dialects I wish were foreign,
you self-satisfied, self-pleasured, self-absorbed, selfish Sam.

But I can’t pretend I don’t understand
you make me do what I don’t want to, uncle.

Here is a variation on the first reversal,with line breaks all changed and a surprise reversal of victims in the last line. Who would have expected that?

But I can’t.
Pretend I don’t understand.
But I turn, too, because you make me.
Do what I don’t want to,
as when the sun goes down toward Ecuador,
which is to say
I’m like helianthus, facing south and west.
But I can’t pretend.
I don’t understand.
I’d need a cochlear implant to hear you, uncle.

Speak to me in dialects I wish were
foreign, you self-satisfied, self-pleasured,
self-absorbed, selfish Sam.
But I can’t pretend.
I don’t understand.
You make me do what I don’t want
to uncle.

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April 26 prompt: Write a call-and-response poem

This prompt from NaPoWriMo.net resonated with me. Here’s what was suggested:“Calls-and-responses are used in many sermons and hymns, in which the preacher or singer asks a question or makes an exclamation, and the audience responds with a specific, pre-determined response….as a sort of refrain or chorus that comes up repeatedly, while the call can vary slightly each time it is used….Think of your poem as an interactive exchange between one main speaker and an audience.”

For once, I allowed myself to have a good time trying something new without setting expectations that were too high. I wrote two poems as a result.

Psalm for Hestia

Let him persuade you, let him cajole you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

He has love to offer, let him show you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

He will want you always, let him please you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

He will hope and hope, let him win you!
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

Let him persuade you he has love to offer.
He will want you always. He will hope and hope.
I’ll not listen, I’ll not heed.

Let him cajole you. Let him show you.
Let him please you. Let him win you.
I’ll not listen. I’ll not heed.

 

Imaginary numbers: A song

How many rings on the tree, on the tree?
How many rings will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

How many birds on the wing, on the wing?
How many birds will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

How many drops in the rain, in the rain?
How many drops will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

How many moments in a life, in a life?
How many will there be, will there be?
Too many, too many, too many to count.
Too many, too many for me.

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