Posts Tagged ‘litter’


So.  The very best thing about being a fictional character is that everything you do has significance.  I see all of you non-fictional beings, busying yourselves with walking here and there and nursing your ailments and swiping your screens but none of it means anything. It doesn’t further the plot, it doesn’t make the setting crisper, it doesn’t add to the tension, it doesn’t help to build a metaphor cluster.  It’s just . . .  making a random sandwich.

For us, by contrast, all actions, all details, are intentional and important.

Let me give you an example.  See that sandwich on the bench?  It’s a ketchup sandwich.  And that ketchup sandwich is more than pulling its weight.

Let me introduce myself.   I’m the Neglected But Resilient Child.  You’ve met me before, in many guises. I may have brought you to tears.  In this particular story my hapless, overwhelmed single father has nothing to put in my school lunch sandwich but ketchup.  The ketchup sandwich is a potential source of bullying at school and, more importantly, if some adult sees it they might find out about my family situation and alert the authorities and that would be a disaster.  So, being a Resilient Child I take my lunch out to the park rather than brave the school cafeteria.

But where am I in this picture?  How come I haven’t eaten my sandwich?

So.  The worst thing about being a fictional character is the existence of editors.  Writers are fine.  We love writers.  We worship writers.  But editors?  In this case the editor thought that the Neglected But Resilient Child was a redundant character.  So out I went, doomed to hang around for another story that needs a NBRC.   However, the editor forgot to excise the sandwich!  So there it sits, an untethered detail, a sandwich that could have risen to the level of an endowed object or even the giddy heights of an objective correlative.  But no, it’s just a sandwich.  It’s not literature.  It’s just litter.



Sarah Ellis  is the award-winning author of over twenty books for children and young adults. In 2013 she was awarded the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Award For Literary Excellence. Last year she was one of Canada’s nominees for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Having retired as a children’s librarian and then retired from college teaching she is now writing and reading fulltime in the rain in Vancouver. Her latest book is Waiting for Sophie illustrated by Carmen Mok, published by Pajama Press. All her stories feature a resilient child because, really, what else is there to write about?

(For titles and biographical tidbits see




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“The only question is when I arrive
how will you greet me —”


what to do

Posted: September 28, 2017 in joy kogawa
Tags: , , , ,


what to do
make list
notice what is not noticed
especially the creamy horsey
brown sugary people the cheesy
floury trees the walnut sky
the beanstalk growing
fast as thought
through the fontanel of
the baby as she scans
her mother for her eyes
which are fixed on her phone
notice the voracious hunger
in the baby and her giving up
and becoming a zombie here’s
what to do talk
to the mom tell her
this whole generation is
growing up in the first world
starving for connection
tell her the baby is



Joy Kogawa  was born in Vancouver in 1935 to Japanese-Canadian parents. During WWII, Kogawa and her family were forced to move to Slocan, British Columbia, an injustice she addresses in her 1981 novel, Obasan, one of the handful of Canadian novels that have become essential reading for a nation. Interned with her Japanese-Canadian family during WW2, Kogawa has worked tirelessly to educate and help redress a dark moment in our history. Her most recent book is the memoir, Gently to Nagasaki (Caitlin Press, 2016).​

In 1986, Kogawa was made a Member of the Order of Canada; in 2006, she was made a Member of the Order of British Columbia. In 2010, the Japanese government honored Kogawa with the Order of the Rising Sun “for her contribution to the understanding and preservation of Japanese Canadian history.



Up Next:

“The worst thing about being a fictional character is the existence of editors.” 



This above pic is what I sent.

This following is what I got back:

“At first I was going to draw something to do with polished silverware from a wedding but then I started thinking ’too boring’ and I kept staring at the handwriting, trying to get inspired. The more I stared at the handwritten first word, the more I started seeing the lines as part of a drawing rather than individual letters. And then, well, you can see what happened. :-)”



Debbie Ridpath Ohi  is the author and illustrator of Where Are My Books? (2015) and Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster, 2017). Debbie’s illustrations appear in books by Michael Ian Black and Judy Blume, and she has worked on book projects with Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Little Brown, Stone Bridge Press and Writer’s Digest, among others. Upcoming books in 2017 include Debbie’s second solo picture book, Sam & Eva (Simon & Schuster), Sea Monkey & Bob (Simon & Schuster, author Aaron Reynolds), Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in The Secret Ingredient (Random House, author Lauren McLaughlin), and Ruby Rose, Big Bravos (HarperCollins, author Rob Sanders). Debbie posts about reading, writing and illustrating children’s books at You can find out more about Debbie and her work at as well as on Twitter at @inkyelbows and Instagram at @inkygirl.



Up Next:

“what to do/ make list/ notice what is not noticed”




I write though you’ve asked for no letters.

No letters, then, but this long grass.

This is the long grass I cut from the edge of the pond

At the edge of winter. I use it

To cover my row of lavender shrubs, which struggle.

My friend, here is the letter I write you.


Recent work by Susan Gillis includes Obelisk (Gaspereau, 2017) and The Rapids (Brick Books, 2012). She is a member of the collaborative poetry group Yoko’s Dogs and a poetry editor at Numéro Cinq, and publishes a poetry blog, Concrete & River. Brick will publish her new book in 2018. Susan divides her time between Montreal and rural Ontario.



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“…well, you can see what happened.”


Posted: June 8, 2017 in elise moser
Tags: , , , ,


Jay. I hope you don’t mind that I am just putting the keys in this envelope for you instead of meeting you in person. I know I said I would meet you, but I got a ride tonight so I won’t be here tomorrow after all. I know you said you forgave me, and I really really appreciate it, and I hope you know I really really am sorry for the times I let you down. Also the times you thought I let you down that might not have been actually my fault.

Jay. I am really sorry but I am leaving you the keys here instead of meeting you in person, because I met some guys who can give me a ride most of the way, except they are leaving tonight after their gig (they are a band) so unfortunately I won’t be here tomorrow when you come get these keys. I know that you were pretty mad at me. I really appreciate that you said you would not be mad if I admitted that I didn’t do the stuff I said I would do, which was not fair to you. That is really great. Like, I know I didn’t do the dishes enough and that pissed you off practically every day. So: I did all the dishes before I left! Even the frying pan!

Jay. I’m really truly sorry I won’t be here tomorrow to meet you, but here are the keys. I don’t have the money for the last two weeks of rent because I have to pay these guys gas money, but I’m sure you can find someone to move in on short notice. You can keep my mattress and the clothes in the closet, there are just a few things I couldn’t squish into my bag, I know they won’t fit you but maybe you could sell them. One is my down jacket, the zipper is broken but it’s still really good. You could give it to whoever moves into my room, as part of the deal. If they aren’t vegan.

Jay. I apologize. For everything. I know I said I would meet you in the morning to give you the keys but I am getting a ride with a band tonight – so much cheaper than the Greyhound, only gas and beer money! So I really have to go tonight! I know that in the past me not taking responsibility for my actions was a really big thing for you but since you said if I apologized (really sincerely apologized) (not by text message) you could totally forgive me, I really wanted to be here to meet you and apologize face to face but I have to take this ride. So I hope you don’t mind if I apologize in this note. (This is not a text.) And also I washed the dishes before I left. (I know me not washing the dishes was a thing too.)

Jay. Here are the keys. I’m sorry I won’t be here when we said we would meet, but I have to go. I just have to say I know you were sometimes mad at me but I am basically a good person and it wasn’t my fault that you thought that when we slept together it meant more than it did. I did the dishes. You left a plate and a cup on the counter and I washed them, and the frying pan. (It wasn’t totally fair to say I never did the dishes.) I left you my mattress, I paid $100 for that a year ago on Kijiji so let’s just say that’s $100 of what I owed you for the last two weeks of the month. So if you get someone to move in immediately, you will actually be $100 ahead. Or anyway you’ll have an extra mattress.

Jay. I feel like no matter what I do, it’s not going to make you happy. I know I said I would meet you tomorrow to hand over the keys but I really feel you are going to be mad at me even though you said you would forgive me if I could truly sincerely apologize and take responsibility for my actions, but I think you will actually be happier if I just leave. So with that in mind I have found a ride for tonight so I can’t meet you in the morning, so I am just leaving the keys for you instead. I wish I never slept with you that time because I feel like no matter how many dishes I might have washed or how many times I took out the garbage you would still be mad at me because I’m sorry but I just don’t like you that way, we were both drunk and it was meaningless. I can’t help how I feel, right?

Jay. No matter what I say you will always be mad at me so I’m not going to say anything at all. I am just leaving you the keys.



Elise Moser has written a passel of short stories; a novel, Because I Have Loved and Hidden It (2009); a YA novel, Lily and Taylor (2013); and a nonfiction book for kids, What Milly Did (2016), which tells the amazing true story of the woman who invented plastics recycling — so the Litter-I-See Project is right up her (litter-strewn) alley! She is a member of the board of PEN Canada.



Up Next:

“I write though you’ve asked for no letters.”













Garbage day after
the holidays: blue boxes
overflow. Wind skates

trash over fresh snow,
drifts to a halt on the fence.
I can feel like that –

torn open, smashed flat –
mourning my dead, the future
trumped, ice sheets cracking.

Nothing left to do
but pick up the pieces, hold
to what in the end

is all that I have –
trust as the light fades to cold
you’ll not leave me too.


Betsy Struthers  is the author of nine books of poetry — most recently All That Desire: New and Selected Poems — three novels and a book of short fictions. Winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and runner-up for the Milton Acorn Memorial People’s Poetry Award, her work has been extensively published in literary journals and anthologies. She is a past president of the League of Canadian Poets and lives in Peterborough, Ontario.



Up Next:


“Jay. I apologize. For everything. I know I said I would meet you in the morning to give you the keys but I am getting a ride with a band tonight – so much cheaper than the Greyhound, “




  • Fridge door
  • Pen affixed in some clever, purposeful way to fridge door
  • Designer pad of note paper, preferably decorated with bright flowers or small animals the like of which are never seen in nature. (Failing this, a used envelope or scrap of junk mail will do)
  • Fridge magnet to hold the above in place. (Your choice of design, provided it is too cute for words)
  • Guilt, for garnish


Use the pen to list on the paper everything in your life you should have done by now, everything you ought to be doing this very minute instead of what you are in fact doing and everything that, by all that’s holy, you should at least try to do before you die. Ideally, your list will include both the somewhat doable (eg – Lose 15 pounds) and what can best be categorized as the do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry (eg – Try to be a better person)

Ignore your finished list for at least a week and preferably several years.

When the paper is yellowing and the ink beginning to fade, re-read your list, pen in hand.

If you can tick off even a single item, you have failed failure.

Garnish with guilt.

Serves one. As often as you choose to subject yourself to it.


K.D. Miller’s  stories and essays have appeared in Canadian literary magazines, have been collected in Oberon’s Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology, and have been broadcast by the CBC. She has published four collections of stories: A Litany in Time of Plague, Give Me Your Answer, The Other Voice and All Saints; an essay collection, Holy Writ; and a novel, Brown Dwarf.  In 2014, All Saints was short-listed for the 2014 Rogers Writers Trust Award and named as one of the year’s best by the Globe and Mail.
Visit K.D. Miller’s website at:




Up Next:

“torn open, smashed flat – mourning my dead, the future trumped,”