Posts Tagged ‘CanLit’

nexus

Posted: October 20, 2018 in iona whishaw
Tags: , , , ,

A connection linking two or more things
like one empire to another, until there is a palimpsest of empires
laid one upon one upon one,
cultures lathered like paint, higgledy piggeldy, on a practice canvas

Romans with their Caesars and their Latin language,
spreading like a stain across the known world,
gobbling tuna from Sicily,
celery from Asia Minor, (itself a long mislaid empire)
then, by tea-time
muffins from a press-ganged England.

But not for long.

England has its own eye on the boons of empire—
spices, sugar, sun 24/7, Ireland brought to heel,
English nosing out
other languages in the Roman manner,
like the big kid who comes from the city,
and knows everything.

Then, suddenly, the dissolution of it all,
til, in the end, people even stop believing in empires,
and the only thing left
are Jamaican patties and a few good memories.

 

 

Iona Whishaw was born in BC and spent her childhood in the Kootenays and in Mexico. After twenty years working with disadvantaged adolescents she became a high school teacher and then a Principal, and retired in 2014 to write. The inspiration for her work comes from a bouquet of influences including the outsized personality of her mother and family, a year in Eastern Europe during the Communist era, and the people she absolutely adored in the tiny lakeside community of her early childhood. And Nancy drew, obviously… (the beginning of her love for reading). She has a passion for history and people’s stories and lives with her husband in Vancouver.

 

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Up Next:

“Two or three weeks pass. We’re doing it every morning and I’m starting to feel obligated. I find myself staring at my reflection in the mirror, questioning my sanity.”

 

 

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the doll

Posted: September 10, 2018 in kim fu
Tags: , , , ,

 

The Mullins had lived on a corner lot, and it was easy to hop the fence between their backyard and the quiet street, taking turns boosting each other over. The shortest of us went first, and the tallest—tall enough to scramble over on her own—went last. Gathered again on the other side, the ambient music of summer insects seemed heightened, their conductor raising his arms in crescendo. The weeds along the three-sided fence had spread inward and upward: dandelions and tall grasses starting to seed, scalloped and jagged broadleafs that belonged on a jungle floor. A bush of nettles and trumpet-shaped purple flowers towered regally over the rest. The lowered blinds and creeping mold in the window corners made the house seem abandoned longer than the two months since it had gone up for sale.

It was August. Katie Mullins’ parents were gone to parts unknown, and our parents had stopped murmuring such a tragedy, can’t imagine every time they crossed paths. The dead baby had fascinated us all summer, blending in our minds with the cherubs painted on our Sunday school wall. We imagined little Katie Mullins sprouting angel wings and a full head of golden ringlets, her baby blanket twisted modestly around her waist, downcast eyes and a playful smile. One of us had read that victims of carbon monoxide poisoning sometimes look healthy and alive, because the end product of the gas turns blood vessels bright red, a rosy glow lighting up their skin from within.

We gravitated towards the toys scattered in the singed grass near the back door, moving in a group, giggling. An underinflated soccer ball yielded to our poking fingers. A basket of beach and pool toys were netted together by spider webs, still gritty with sand from some distant place.

We paused beside a toy stroller, two hammocks of pink fabric in a pink plastic frame, a baby doll nestled inside. The doll was turned onto its side, the arms and legs drawn up, a realistic sleeping pose despite her painted, forever-open eyes. Her felt pajamas had been bleached by the sun, the pink stripes faded to nearly the same shade as the white ones. Someone had tucked a patterned burp cloth over her lap as a blanket.

One of us lifted the doll out of the shade of her stroller, adjusted her articulated shoulders and neck so she was reaching out to be held. Her fingers and feet were molded in a curled shape, loose fists and tucked-under toes. We took turns cradling her in our arms, positioning her sitting upright in our laps, cooing, burping her, saying, “Oh, she’s crying,” though her face remained locked in its sleepy pout. The sunlight reflected off the pink nightcap and gown, giving the doll a faint blush upon its plastic cheeks. Some of us had the exact same doll at home.

When we agreed that the doll had settled, that her fussing had stopped, we swaddled her in the burp cloth and headed to a shaded corner of the yard, where the Mullins’ dog used to dig holes to sit in on hot days, the earth still churned up and soft. We cut into the ground with Katie’s beach toys, lifting out neat heaps and setting them aside until we’d dug an ovoid hole—a deep, cool resting place the Mullins’ dog would have loved.

We lowered the doll into the hole. Her blank, contented face was turned up to the sky. We sang songs over her, lullabies and folk songs that had been sung to us. We smeared our dresses and shoes with dirt to make them darker, more fitting for the occasion. We held hands and wailed. We decapitated flowering weeds around the yard and laid them over the doll, dandelions that still had their canary-blond hair, the purple trumpets, tiny white chickweed buds.

We filled the hole back in with our plastic buckets, shovels, forks, sifters, and spades, patting over the mound it left. We climbed back over the fence and scattered home with various excuses or no excuse at all for being so filthy. We sat in our bathtubs, at our dinner tables. We whispered to our dolls, still aboveground, still in our beds, still falling into the crack between the wall and the radiator, still getting their hair cut and their outfits stripped to reveal their stark stitched anatomy, still getting mashed against our faces at night. We told them to be grateful.

 

 

Kim Fu is the author of the novels The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore and For Today I Am a Boy, as well as the poetry collection How Festive the Ambulance. Find her online at kim-fu.com.

 

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Up Next:

“Cultures lathered like paint, higgledy piggeldy, on a practice canvas…”

 

 

“A life thus names a restless activeness, a destructive-creative force-presence that does not coincide fully with any specific body. A life tears the fabric of the actual without ever coming fully ‘out’ in a person, place, or thing. A life points to … ‘matter in variation that enters assemblages and leaves them. A life is a vitality proper not to any individual but to ‘pure immanence,’ or that protean swarm that is not actual though it is real: ‘A life contains only virtuals. It is made of virtualities.”[1]

 

“Human existence is so fragile a thing and exposed to such dangers that I cannot love without trembling.”[2]

 

“The steps that a person takes from the date of birth to the date of death draw a design upon time that we cannot imagine. The divine intelligence sees this design all at once, like we see a triangle. The design may very well have a specific function in the economy of the universe”[3]

 

“I think there is choice possible at any moment to us, as long as we live. But there is no sacrifice. There is a choice, and the rest falls away. A second choice does not exist. Beware of those who talk about sacrifice”[4]

 

“Around us, everything is writing; that’s what we must finally perceive. Everything is writing. The fly on the wall is writing; there is much that it wrote in the light of the large room, refracted by the pond.”[5]

 

[1] from Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things.

[2] from Simone WeilGravity and Grace

[3] from Jorge Luis Borges, “The Mirror of the Enigmas.”

[4] from Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry

[5] from Marguerite Duras’s Writing.

 

Johanna Skibsrud is most recently the author of a collection of short stories, Tiger, Tiger (Hamish Hamilton 2018). She is also the author of two novels, including the Scotiabank prize-winning novel, The Sentimentalists, and three collections of poetry, including–most recently–The Description of the World (Wolsak and Wyn 2016), winner of the 2017 Fred Cogswell Award and the Canadian Authors Association Award for poetry. Johanna teaches literature at the University of Arizona and divides her time between Tucson and Cape Breton.

She can be found online at  http://www.johannaskibsrud.com/

 

 

 

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Up Next:

“We smeared our dresses and shoes with dirt to make them darker, more fitting for the occasion.”

  

“I want each of you to tell us why you’re here.”

An awkward silence hangs over the round table in the church basement.

“Doesn’t anyone want to share why you signed up for this?” Ms. Maria asks.

To fix my soul? Iris thinks, looking down at her feet under her chair. She rotates her right sneaker. Her sole is definitely cracked.

The other five souls stare down at the blue box and paper Ms. Maria has given them. Minutes into the first art therapy for beginner’s class, Ms. Maria is already exasperated. “All right then, take out your crayons and let them wander.”

Iris hears wonder and wonders, about what? She’d like to tell Ms. Maria that everyone’s scared because of their cracked soles. Plus they were expecting more than just three crayons.

Ms. Maria soldiers on. “With these primary colours, you have everything you need. You can mix blue and yellow for green, make purple with red and blue!”

Iris hears blew, opens her box, removes a crayon and blows on it lightly. The woman next to her shifts in her seat. The man on her other side coughs nervously. They all watch Ms. Maria draw red lines on her piece of paper.

With her crayon, Iris draws three parallel lines across the page. Within each section she scrawls some loops in blue. They look like words with a secret message. Take part, make heart. The crayons’ waxy smell intoxicates.

At the end of the hour, Ms. Maria gives them homework, urging her students to spend their days (Iris hears daze) outdoors as much as possible. “Go out to see!” Iris hears sea and wonders who’s confused now. The town is landlocked, the closest body of water being a river that ribbons nearby. Ms. Maria says, “Remember, we’re here to share. For next time, we’ll all exhibit our art.” Or is it heart?

On her day off work, Iris goes out with the box of crayons and a sketchpad. In the park by the river, a floppy Lab is playing fetch with a kid on the field. It’s a blustery spring day, too early for flowers, the grass in between winter and summer. The river is an icy grey.

Iris sits on a boulder. The wind blows her hair all over the place. She takes the blue crayon and works on the river. Ripples and water are hard to do, she discovers. For the grassy riverbank, she draws one inch vertical lines, the old, withered blades in yellow and the new ones in green made of yellow and blue.

A gust sends her crayon box flying. She tries to catch it. The Lab beats her to it, chews the box before spitting it out. The blue box flies off in the wind.

Iris returns to her boulder, thinking bolder. She’s still got her three crayons. It’s what’s inside that counts, write?

 

Cora Siré is the author of a poetry collection, Signs of Subversive Innocents, and two novels, The Other Oscar and Behold Things Beautiful. She lives in Montréal, and can be found online at www.quena.ca

 

 

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Up Next:

 

“Around us, everything is writing…”

you twisted into yourself
& it’s only tuesday afternoon
what are you going to do friday

we drowned in our tears last week
& you won’t stand straight
your back like
grandmother’s
cracked into grief

 

Juliane Okot Bitek  is a poet and author of 100 Days (University of Alberta Press 2016) and Sublime: Lost Words (The Elephants 2018). Sublime: Lost Words is available through open access at: https://theelephants.net/ephemera/sublime-lost-words.

She is also the 2018 writer-in-residence at The Capilano Review.

For more on Juliane’s work, visit: https://julianeokotbitek.com

 

 

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Up Next:

“She’d like to tell Ms. Maria that everyone’s scared because of their cracked soles. Plus they were expecting more than just three crayons.”

 

 

 

 

Hard to tell what this is, but if it`s an abandoned sleeping bag:

A romantic-minded young man curls overnight on the beach, bursting-hearted with grief for a woman who has advised that whatever his views, or his passions, or his desires, he is not, after all, the person for her, and so, good-bye. Sleepless and thunderstruck, he listens to waves and counts stars, now and then flailing in pity for his own anguish.

At dawn, much refreshed, he rises, stretches, pees into a sand dune, and starts back to town, to hell with sad souvenir sleeping bags.

~

Or, if this is a ruined air mattress:

Beware the undertow. Uh-oh.

 

Joan Barfoot`s  eleven novels include long-listings for the Man Booker and Dublin IMPAC prizes, a short-listing for the Scotiabank Giller, a movie adaptation, and the Amazon first novel and Marian Engel awards. A former newspaper journalist, she lives in London, Ontario. She can be found at www.joanbarfoot.ca

 

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Up Next:

“it’s only tuesday afternoon/ what are you going to do friday”

 

 

Must remember: short list of documents
proves the rule of legal union
in this country and the old one.
It’s all over us. The rules apply on the tarmac
and the blotter, the Astroturf and the linoleum.
Magic is in the details. Romance is all a bank
can offer. I need two of everything.
It’s a massive mess, but the country and its coffers
will hold the salve. I put marriage in the garage
and drove tension out. Blank cheque of confirmation
underwritten by an action plan.

 

 

Alice Burdick lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. She co-owns Lexicon Books, an independent bookstore in Lunenburg She is the author of many chapbooks and four full-length poetry collections, Simple Master (Pedlar Press, 2002), Flutter (Mansfield Press, 2008), Holler (Mansfield Press, 2012), and most recently Book of Short Sentences (Mansfield Press, 2016). Deportment, a book of selected poems from the early 1990s to now, is forthcoming in autumn 2018 from Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

 

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Up Next:

“Beware the undertow. Uh-oh.”