Wednesday, August 09, 2017




There was a time a trip across the border
for a meal or a night out was no big deal.
Now you can arrive with every document you own —
driver’s permit, passport, birth certificate, marriage license,
sworn affidavit that the kids are yours —
and still you may be denied.

What to do about the fire that jumped the border
at Pend d’Oreille, no declaration whatsoever,
no documents from either side,
just another refugee from the north
headed south for the winter.

Wrote that poem a few Augusts ago, for the poetry postcard exchange that's now in its 11th year. Some things don't change.

We haven't had rain in I don't remember when, there are water restrictions and campfire bans all over the province, and both the sun and the moon appear as balls of orange in the sky. It's ever so smokey in these parts, thanks to forest fires in various parts of the province as well as Washington State south of us. 

One of the fire-fighting helicopters heading for the airport

Consequently, I'm happy to be spending time in the basement where I play with paper. I've been busy sewing journals for the Columbia Basin Studio Tour this weekend when Ted and I will both have our studios open to the public. Here's a great article about  the tour in the Castlegar News.

If you're in the area we'd love to see you. If you're too far away, here's a glimpse of what you're missing!

Ted has been busy turning and oiling and creating a display for his beautiful creations 
Where it all began. In 2001 I saw this little Coptic bound book at the gift shop at the Quarry Arts Centre in Whangerei, New Zealand, and I had to learn how to make one. I was taking a paper-making class at the time. Until then, I'd always thought of paper as something you wrote on. I just looked up the book artist online — her name is Mary MacArthur — and lo and behold, she's in Canada! I just sent her a thank-you note. Check out her website, aptly called Those Great Little Books.
The first of these happened at an artist collaboration event in NZ in 2001. I call them "haiku-scales", although the little poems aren't technically haiku. More like senyru. 

Some of my books. No two the same!

The guestbook is made from PR postcards 

Examples of other kinds of binding

My work station

How to make a book

My book press. And there's a lot of paper hiding behind that Mexican Amate paper I love.

Nose in Book's publishing display

In other news, Big Pond Rumours has three of my poems in its latest E-Zine and you can read them here. Editor of the micro press, Sharon Berg, is currently fundraising to buy a new, heavy-duty printer so she can continue to produce chapbooks without killing her printer. If you have a few dollars you can send her way, here's the link

And now, back to work! Thanks, as always, for reading.


Sunday, July 30, 2017



Ted and I are busy as proverbial beavers these days. We're part of the Columbia Basin Culture Tour that happens August 12 and 13 (Saturday and Sunday) from 10 till 5. It's an annual event where artists of all kinds open their studios so the public can see what we do. Of course, you're invited!

Ted's out in his shop a lot these days, oiling things when he's not actually turning. You can see what he's getting up to here.

He's even polished up his welcoming reflecting leg at the end of the driveway!

Given we're experiencing extremely high temperatures these days, 37-38C, you could almost say I've got it made in the shade as I get to hang out and sew books in the basement where it's degrees cooler! (38C = 100F for anyone needing the conversion.)  Here's the link to my contribution to all this.

Some of the books on that will be on display 
I'm binging on The Handmaid's Tale as I work. Talk about terrifying, given the state of the world these days. I see there's going to be a second season. This is not the time to wish for life to imitate art. 

Coptic binding in progress. Eighteen needles going at once. My Home Ec teachers would never believe it!

Meanwhile, no interface fires here so far. Lots of activity in and out of the airport (we live right on the flight path). Everyone's fingers are crossed and there's a good deal or praying we're spared. 

Heading out to a fire
See you on a beach sometime, maybe!


Wednesday, July 12, 2017



Hi, y'all! I know, it's been almost a year since I posted anything. I simply didn't feel like it.

But hey, it's nearly August and if you're interested in a month of creativity that involves scribing a poem on a postcard, it's time to sign up.

I've written about this event before. And before that too! This is the eleventh year of the fest. Soon, there'll be a brand new anthology of poems written by some of the participants last year.

Meanwhile, here's one of the made-by-me cards I sent last year.

Deadline to sign up is July 18th. That's next Tuesday. It'll cost you ten bucks (well, more like thirteen for us Canucks), plus the cost of stamps (when mailing from Canada, a card to the US is $1.20 and if anyone on your list is more international than that it's $2.50, with .85 for cards sent within Canada)

Official call is here.

I'll try to be a better blogger. Or at least a more frequent one.



Monday, August 29, 2016



Ernest Hekkanen

I met Ernest Hekkanen probably about 1999 or so when a student in my friend Heather Haake's class brought in an author/book report about him. Heather and I were involved with the Federation of BC Writers at the time and were naturally curious about this writer we'd never heard of who apparently had all kinds of books to his credit and who was publishing a literary magazine, The New Orphic Review, right out of Nelson! 

Ernest wrote all these books!
We invited Ernest to give a workshop at one of our Fed festivals in Kaslo and I remember him demonstrating how "easy" it was to put a book together. At that time he was binding every copy of the NOR by hand, and he had the method down. Flash forward to last week when someone asked me to fix a book they loved whose pages were coming out. I ended up deconstructing the whole book and putting it back together using the very method Ernest taught me. 

This week about 35 people showed up to support Ernest and the New Orphic Review. Why? At the end of April the almost unthinkable happened when Ernest's computer was randomly attacked by ransomware, one of the latest forms of computer viruses whereby the target computer is frozen by who-knows-who and large amounts of cash are demanded before the required keys to unlock it are provided. 

Happily, most of Ernest's files were backed up. Ernest refused to pay, and his computer was pronounced dead.

When Tom Wayman heard about this he decided the writing community needed to help and a benefit was planned. 

Tom Wayman

Ernest asked Ross Klatte, Diana Morita Cole, and me to read from some of our work that he's published in the New Orphic Review. 

Linda Crosfield
Ross Klatte
Diana Morita Cole 
Given the reason behind this particular literary event, Gordon Andrews then spoke about nastyware—the viruses, worms, and whatnot that can make your time at the computer nothing short of miserable. He talked about passwords and how to make them stronger and safer, and answered questions during a short Q and A session. 

Gordon Andrews, talking tech
Then Ernest came up to the podium, thanked his partner in work and life, Margrith Schraner, and read some of his work. 

In 2013 I blogged about the 16th Anniversary celebration Ernest and Margrith threw for the New Orphic Review. You can see more pictures of most of these fine folk there.

Anne DeGrace and Verna Relkoff were among the folk who came out for Ernest
That's Diana looking over her shoulder at Ross
Poet Jane Byers beside me. She has a new collection coming out this fall
Diana sharing a laugh with Ted
Julian Ross of Polestar Press on the left, and Margrith Schraner, Ernest's right-hand woman on the, where else, right.
Although the reason for this particular literary event was not as happy an occasion as, say, a book launch, it proved beyond a doubt that Nelson and area writers look after their own. 

Stay safe out there in cyber-land, people!


Thursday, July 14, 2016



Please note, this year the cut-off for joining is July 17th at midnight. If this sounds like something you'd like to try, sign up now.  

The other day I received an email from Judy Kleinberg who is working on a blog post of tips for poets interested in participating in the 10th Annual August Postcard Fest and wanted to know if I had any suggestions as to how to organize/manage/write postcard poems. To celebrate a decade of this poetry-writing frenzy there's going to be an anthology published next year and Judy's one of the editors. Judy produces wonderful found poems like this one:

The Condition — found poem by Judy Kleinberg
I've been doing this since 2007, the year Paul E. Nelson and Lana Hechtman Ayers, two Seattle-area poets, came up with the idea. For the paltry sum of USD$10 you sign up, get a list of 31 names and addresses, find yourself a bunch of postcards and stamps (mostly US; the majority of participants are from the States), and get writing.

Paul posted a comprehensive list of instructions here. The idea is to write your poem directly onto the card (ie. no practice drafts!). I don't think I was able to do that for the first three or four years, but now I find the process to be exceptionally liberating. Combing through old blog posts to do with August postcards, I found the following: 

For the first few years I found this (writing directly onto the card) to be well nigh impossible. What if I got going and ran out of room? What if I got the line breaks wrong? What if it was too bad to send? What if I thought of a better subject to write about? Well, honestly, after a few years of sketching the poems in a notebook first, I came to realize that I could write directly on the cards and the world would't end. Now I love the process. I love surprising myself with what comes out of my pen. And there's something very satisfying about the physical act of mailing the card to someone — most often a stranger, and it's both amazing and gratifying that many of those strangers have become "friends" through Facebook. Many of us send the requisite number of cards to the assigned people plus several others to folk we've exchanged with in the past. 

It just so happens that I've been busy cleaning up my basement studio so Judy's tip request couldn't have come at a better time. 

As far as organizing goes, I live for file folders. 

I take photos, front and back, of every card I send. Mind you, with changes to hardware over the past decade I would be hard-pressed to find the earlier ones, but I can locate them from 2011 on. I use keywords: postcards/postcard images (for when I just want to see the pix, as in the attached)/the year, and thus can find them pretty fast. 

Once written, I transcribe the poem into a Word doc with the name of the person who will receive it. (For some reason, 2010 has gone AWOL, but I'm sure it's around somewhere!)

I've prodded myself with various prompt devices over the years. There's a fabulous postcard store on Granville Island in Vancouver where I've picked up several cards. In 2011 I went with a box of Nancy Drew cover images. In 2013 I used  epigraphs culled from poems in that year's Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology.  

I've even started making some of my own cards, sometimes using coloured pencils, sometimes pasting together a collage from off-cuts of paper I use for the books I make. These are my favourites now, and for someone who felt like she failed any art class she was ever in, this is huge! 

I used one of my collage images as the cover for a chapbook I did for Ottawa-area poet Carol A. Stephen. 

Another became the cover for one of Jan de Bruyn's novels. (Jan, who's 98 now, is still writing novels "to keep his mind fresh". He gets me to publish six copies of each, for himself and his children. Jan was an English professor at UBC for many years and is responsible for starting Prism International, the university's lit mag). 

Five of my postcard poems appeared in the fall 2014 issue of the New Orphic Review.

Proceeds from this year's postcard exchange will go to support the 4th Annual Cascadia Poetry Festival to be held in Seattle November 3–6, 2016. 

If you want to exercise your poetry muscles, this is a great way to go about it.


Sunday, July 10, 2016



Just back from a great weekend where I got to immerse myself in words and wine. Words, because it was Nelson's Fifth Annual Elephant Mountain Literary Festival. Wine, because the opening gala has a wine-pairing thing where four different writers are "paired" with four different wines, and you get to try them all out as long as you're not driving; thanks, Ted! The only thing I missed was Caroline Adderson's talk on craft on Wednesday night, and already I'm kicking myself. (I'd just got my studio painted and was attempting to put it back together). Missed seeing Lynn Krauss, who's been part of the festival organization committee pretty much since EMLF began. Next year we're going to see her dancing!

Thursday night's 100-Mile Gala saw the Richard Carver Award for Emerging Writers go to two deserving people. Here's Alanda Greene of Kootenay Bay whose historical novel Napi's Dance was published by Second Story Press

Co-winner of the Carver Award, Donna Macdonald, whose book Surviving City Hall was published by Nightwood Editions earlier this year.

Jazz singer Jill Barber entertained the enthusiastic audience with a few songs.
Jill's husband, Grant Lawrence's reading included some old diary notes about the first time he visited Nelson as a young guy, when he was touring with The SmugglersHe was also frequently spotted wearing the cutest baby!
 Leesa Dean and P'nina Shames working the book table.
Will Johnson (who has much better pictures from the evening on his blog as he was using a real camera) read from his story that won the Kootenay Mountain Culture fiction contest. 
Fletcher Fitzgibbon also read from his prize-winning KMC story.
"Reading the Earth" on Friday night at the Capitol Theatre. The audience was treated to talks, readings, and slides by Richard Cannings (being from the riding Castlegar's in as opposed to Nelson's, he's my MP!), Briony Penn, and J.B. McKinnon. The inimitable Bill Richardson was MC for the evening.
 The recently rebuilt/refurbished/repurposed old CPR Station building housed the Saturday panels where various aspects of the writing life were discussed. The first one was "Writing the Land",  moderated by Calvin Wharton and featuring (left to right) J.B. McKinnon, Eileen Pearkes, Briony Penn, and Grant Lawrence

Next up was a panel that looked at the state of children's literature in Canada, appropriately titled "Once Upon a Time". Verna Relkoff moderated this one which included Murray Kimber who illustrates children's books (among other things), Caroline Adderson, and Jill Barber. The consensus? Canada's children's literature is doing just fine!

What Nelson literary event would be complete without Tom Wayman? (Answer: None.) Here he is, moderating the afternoon panel that looked at the state of publishing in Canada these days. 

Nancy Wise of Sandhill Book Marketing, Julian Ross of Polestar Press fame and calendars, and New Star's Rolf Maurer took on the "Publishing: Perish or Prosper" panel. Consensus on this one? Somewhat grim; although that might be just me.

At the festival's Saturday night wind-up Bill Richardson read from new fiction he's working on as well as sharing a few of the wonderful poems in his latest book, The First Little Bastard to Call Me Gramps: Poems of the Late Middle Ages. 

A pensive Bill. Probably hatching a new poem.

Bill shared the stage with Caroline Adderson who read from her latest book, Ellen in Pieces. Both Bill and Caroline have given readings in Nelson before, when the Kootenay School of Writing (the ad hoc local committee that sought funding from Canada Council to bring in readers, not the Vancouver off-shoot) was organizing such events. If memory serves (and it should be noted that mostly, it doesn't), Bill was here in around 1991when Queen of All the Dustballs came out, and Caroline was here a few years later when she was touring with her short story collection, Bad Imaginings.
Something new at EMLF this year was the Holley Rubinsky Memorial Blue Pencil Sessions, funded in part by a generous bequest from Holley who died last August. Caroline Adderson was the writer-in-residence for this and from what I hear those who took advantage of the 40-minute one-on-one sessions got marvellous feedback from her.

Just some of the folk who came out for the Saturday panels.
And finally, if I was looking for the one photo to sum up the energy and attention to detail that EMLF organizer Anne DeGrace puts into it, this is the one. She does everything!