Archive for June, 2016



Although sometimes I think otherwise, there’s something special about me.
I roll, I move; I am not the sea.
I have kaleidoscopic dreams.
The others, they are solitary, silent, deep. Seriously, they don’t say a word.
I rest in the shallows, looking for the world I lost.
Once I was more than this. I was…therefore I am.
I know this is true. I believe it. I have to.
The little guys, the ones beneath me, are silent. I despise them.
I long for colour, light, more.
A way to leave this hateful shore.
You can call it colourful, the grey of ocean.
You can call it life and light.
I dream of movement, the road I lost.
I remember tarmac, kerbs, sidewalks, the dry world.
Let me destroy this wet and dreadful place.
I am not destroyed. Look upon my plastic face.


Alice Kuipers  is the author of six books for young adults and children. Her work is published in thirty countries. Find writing tips and advice here: or


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“Maybe I wasn’t in the habit of reading signs on doors that I was about to burst through.”


My gran used to smoke the cheap cigarettes. John Player Specials, Craven A menthols, Number 7s. She’d buy them by the carton and squirrel them away in the closet in her bedroom. My uncles would swipe one from her open pack on the kitchen table, and cough and stare down at the red cherry between their fingertips and say fuck these are awful why can’t you get Du Mauriers? Export As?

She would make that noise with her tongue and tuck the rest of the pack into her purse.

She had one of those little cigarette machines, too, where you buy the filters and tubes and the tobacco in a tin, and her and my aunts would sit around the table and stuff little wads of tobacco into the groove in the machine and slide it back and forth and a cigarette would pop out the end. You had to get just the right amount in there to get it to burn just right, but look how much cheaper it is, they would all say, like they were trying to convince each other of something none of them truly believed.

My gran unknowingly smoked her last cigarette on a Friday afternoon, and broke her hip that night when her foot fell off of the footstool during Jeopardy! and her heel hit the floor on a weird angle. She always said that new hardwood floor was easier to sweep than the carpet ever was to keep vacuumed.  She was hospitalized right away, went into a coma, and died the following Wednesday without ever really waking up again. She was almost ninety years old. It all happened so fast but hey at least she never had to quit smoking, everybody said.

Ivan Coyote  was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of eight collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer, Ivan’s first love is live storytelling, and over the last nineteen years they have become an audience favourite at music, poetry, spoken word and writers’ festivals from Anchorage to Amsterdam.



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kuipers“I remember tarmac, kerbs, sidewalks, the dry world.”


Early in the morning, in the hour before dawn, the haunting, ethereal squeal of subway trains leaving the Greenwood yard wakes me, and I dress in play-clothes and go quietly down the stairs to the kitchen. There I take twenty-five cents from a pile of change on my parents’ kitchen table and slip out the front door and down the steps to the sidewalk.

Across the street at Mrs. Nosy’s house, no curtains twitch in the gloom, meaning that for another morning I am safe from the neighbourhood voyeur. I am safe, too, from the bantering jocularity of the teenaged Stamatopoulos brothers who live next door and spend their afternoons leaning against cars whose radios play a ceaseless round of “Stairway to Heaven” and “Xanadu.”

The street is still, but the silence is deceptive. Amid the gloom is an entire block’s worth of cats, preening on the sidewalk or posing on porches, and I greet them all as I walk past the darkened houses. Garbage bags spill across the sidewalk, and I greet them, too. Almost always I find something interesting to bring home: on one occasion a huge pile of interior decorating paint and wallpaper samples; on another morning a rusted but working toy forklift; on yet another occasion a giant grey stuffed elephant my parents make me leave on the back verandah.

Down at the corner, where Highfield Road meets Gerrard Street, the morning is already busy with foot-traffic and streetcars. Arriving at the corner is like entering a clearing filled with light. And here by the streetcar stop is a battered, rusted, red Toronto Sun newspaper box with a cascade of bright yellow suns on its side, advertising “the little paper that grew.” I put my sweaty quarter in the slot, hear it drop down into the hopper, crank open the wire-fronted window and pull out a copy of the Sun. I turn and walk back up Highfield, the metallic smell of traffic and the tang of fresh newsprint in my nose.

At this age (I am seven or eight) I do not know that the Toronto Sun is denigrated as a tabloid. I know it mainly for its accessible-to-me news reporting, and for the scantily-clad Sunshine Girl who fills most of the page inside the front cover. I tell my mother I would like to be one, someday, and she never dissuades me, never calls them “trash,” never criticizes the Sunshine Girls for allowing themselves to be objectified and ogled. It is 1979 or 1980, and these words, these concepts, have not yet entered the popular lexicon.

I read the Sun voraciously. I read outraged letters to the editor, which are usually followed by a three or four word take-down from the editors. I read the advice columns, the comics pages, and the horoscope. I read about Terry Fox, whose fund-raising run across Canada is covered almost as breathlessly as his decline and death from cancer. I read about fatal house fires, gangland murders and an abducted girl whose body is discovered in a garbage can.

I read about everything in the city we never learn about at school, but which surrounds us, begging explanation. By reading the Sun I am able to understand things our parents refuse to discuss in our presence, like the forbidden allure of the Zanzibar Tavern on Yonge Street, or the screeching of tires on Walpole Avenue, and an ensuing silence punctuated by the wrenching shrill of a mother screaming her son’s name. I learn about things I have sensed while tiptoeing down my street at dawn: that a city is composed of undercurrents, of hidden things needing to be noticed and given voice.


Amy Lavender Harris  is the author of Imagining Toronto (Mansfield Press), which was shortlisted for the Gabrielle Roy Prize in Canadian literary criticism, and won the Heritage Toronto Award of Merit. Her next book, Wild City, explores intersections of culture and nature in the contemporary city.



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coyote“She would make that noise with her tongue and tuck the rest of the pack into her purse.”


You are doubly offensive, first
for parking your damn Subaru
without a permit in a zone
for persons with disabilities,
too lazy to walk, too self-absorbed,
distracted by #fuckedup, forgot
what that painted blue wheelchair
stands for. Second violation,
ripping up the ticket, throwing it
on the ground, blatantly
littering. Yes,

that was me, badge #3082 Ontario Power,
authority to tell your line manager and to make you
pay for general vehicle infractions, waste,
and stupidity.


Lee Ellen Pottie  is a writer, photographer, painter, teacher/mentor, student, marketing coordinator, and editor for all word-related projects. She is working on a poetry manuscript about Vincent Van Gogh, his letters, paintings, and life. She and her partner, Richard Lemm, live in “Annie’s House” where they write, garden, walk their collie, Théo, and babysit the grandchildren.




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lav-harris“…no curtains twitch in the gloom, meaning that for another morning I am safe from the neighbourhood voyeur.”


Cut to her Saturday afternoon sequence of duMaurier extra lights amid the half-capacity shopping mall parking lot. As usual, Alberta arrives half an hour early, aware that her pre-teen will be fifteen minutes tardy, reveling in her new wealth of shopping detritus and gossip. Until her daughter appears, this is the single stretch of time that Alberta allows herself to breathe; the only moment she isn’t mid-task, or rushing between points or appointments. The only time, too, she allows herself to stoop to such youthful folly: a pack of cigarettes secreted beneath the driver’s seat, set alongside an increasing guilt. Weekly, for nearly an hour, she sits silent on the hood of their Ford Taurus and waits. She inhales. She follows the paths of parking lot seagulls, each one paintbrush smooth, the lacunae of blue summer backdrops. On this particular afternoon she ponders rock climbing, hospital waiting rooms and swimming pools. She ponders her lost prairie, and the anonymity of suburban parking lots. She thinks back to the summer she witnessed a neighbour succumb to throat cancer, and now, as her husband emerges from chemotherapy, stoic and withered and weather-worn. She exhales, attempting to expel all of her fears and concerns along with the four thousand chemicals that make up cigarette smoke: nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. In the soft August heat, Alberta treats asphalt as midden, newly littered with spent filters. Material remains. If everything were to end now, she wonders, if she were to disappear, might they ever find me. The small assemblage of abandoned butts the only evidence she’d been there at all.


Born in Ottawa, Canada’s glorious capital city, rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa. The author of nearly thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, he won the John Newlove Poetry Award in 2010, the Council for the Arts in Ottawa Mid-Career Award in 2014, and was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2012. In March 2016, he was inducted into the VERSe Ottawa Hall of Honour. His most recent titles include notes and dispatches: essays (Insomniac press, 2014), The Uncertainty Principle: stories, (Chaudiere Books, 2014) and the poetry collection If suppose we are a fragment (BuschekBooks, 2014). An editor and publisher, he runs above/ground press, Chaudiere Books, The Garneau Review (, seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics (, Touch the Donkey ( and the Ottawa poetry pdf annual ottawater ( In fall 2015, he was named “Interviews Editor” at Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and he is a regular columnist for Open Book: Ontario and the Drunken Boat  blog. He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at



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pottie“You are doubly offensive”



Everywhere you look

there is beauty.

The scruppled concrete

of a grey highway.

The wild purslane

with its bitter taste

of lemon and tenacity.

And here, a small gift:

a blue knot of string

shaped like a heart.



Rosemary Griebel  is a poet and the author of Yes (Frontenac). She is the Design Lead for Reader’s Services at Calgary Public Library, a position which allows her to focus on building a vibrant city of readers.



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mclennan“On this particular afternoon she ponders rock climbing,”