Premiere: 27.10.16 TWO WEEKS IN JAPAN: More Than A Family Vacation

As I’d hoped, the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre in Regina Beach will host the premiere of TWO WEEKS IN JAPAN: More Than A Family Vacation! Please join me there at 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 27.


What began as an idea for an essay about a family trip to visit our daughter in Japan morphed into an  interdisciplinary, multimedia memoir project, a mashup of photographs, songs, websites, essays, rants, family stories, poems, peace politics, anecdotes, and archival data that speak to a range of social, political, and cultural issues. A Q&A will follow the presentation. Refreshments will be available.

Bonus: Carol Daniels, on hand drum, and Sandra Topinka, on singing bowls, will join me at points during the presentation.  I met these multi-talented women during my term as writer-in-residence at the Centre and appreciate their participation.

This is a free event organized by the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre with the support of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Author Readings program.



Leave a comment

Filed under Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, Regina Beach, Saskatchewan Writers Guild


Oh, I had a great #summerofwriting! I wrote some, edited a bit, and gardened a lot. Now, the golden-orange, red glory of autumn is here.  And, I joined a book club!

The Saskatchewan Writers Guild, in partnership with Knox Metropolitan United Church (Knox Met) in Regina and Turning the Tide Books in Saskatoon, started Unsettling Ideas: A book club. From the Facebook link:

Unsettling Ideas is a book club aimed at creating discourse, generating ideas and raising awareness to the 94 Calls to Action … from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

My kind of club! I hear the Calls to Action (pdf) from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and need to respond and to do so in community.  Lasting change happens when more than one person takes it on.  Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has (attributed to Margaret Mead).  Unsettling Ideas is that group.  We’ll meet monthly from September to June to discuss a book by an Indigenous writer and hear from a guest speaker who will help the group engage with the work itself, the particular call to action, and broader themes of decolonization and reconciliation.

The response was greater than organizers anticipated, which is a great problem to have so far as problems go, anyway.  While they ensured copies of the book were available, planned an event, and worked through the logistics of sharing it out to communities of interest all over the province, we read the September book,  The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir (U of R Press, 2014) by Joseph Auguste Merasty, edited by David Carpenter.  They chose it to pair with TRC Call to Action #59:

We call upon the church parties to the Settlement Agreement to develop ongoing education strategies to ensure that their respective congregations learn about their church’s role in colonization, the history and legacy of residential schools, and why apologies to former residential school students, their families, and communities were necessary.

We met at Noni’s, a cafe in downtown Regina, with a camera feed running through Facebook Live while Jamie Lerat and Sarah Longman delivered their presentation and facilitated discussion afterward.  Jamie works as the Strategic Advisor on First Nations and Metis Education at the Saskatchewan School Boards Association and regularly meets with two First Nations Elders.  Sarah is an educator working to make the education system accessible and successful for Aboriginal people and she facilitates the Blanket Exercise with students, teachers, principals, and the community.  They provided a gentle entry into the book and related it to their lives as Indigenous people. The points I’ve taken away are:

  • Residential schools created an intergenerational trauma that’s still being felt today;
  • There are historical gaps that experiences such as those described in this book begin to fill and that many people did not learn about during their schooling;
  • Some parents may have difficulty with this book being in the schools but an Elder, when asked about it said, “It happened to children;”
  • Generations of silence have grown up around the residential school abuses.  Many did not \ can not talk about their trauma;
  • There is resiliency in a people who have been brainwashed, psychologically, and sexually abused.  That resiliency is key to healing.

It was a powerful presentation.  And the discussion was very good, but we didn’t have time to really delve into the literary aspects of this book, so I welcome more discussion about that.  I’m thinking particularly about “survivor stories” which this book definitely is, but different from Elly Danica’s, Don’t: A Woman’s Word, for example.  And I’m thinking about memoir in general and how this book adds so much to that genre but also to our historical record, a much-needed addition.

Thank you, Nickita Longman, Cam Fraser, and Peter Garden, for making this book club happen.  Looking forward to the next read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Summer of Writing: Acting Out

The summer of writing continues in fits and spurts.  I continue to write about our trip to Japan, in between tending the garden and enjoying the summer.  I’m seeing how our visits to Kyoto and Hiroshima rekindled my interests in peace politics and the anti-nuclear movement.  How could they not, having been moved to tears more than once during our day at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park  and the Museum it houses, where images and artifacts from the death and destruction after the US dropped the A-Bomb are on display?  Remnants of an atrocity.  Skeletal remains. Saskatchewan uranium. Image after image.  Powerful stuff.

Sometimes, writing isn’t enough. I must also act.  As such, I give you this , the Montreal Declaration for a Nuclear-Fission-Free World, from the World Social Forum recently held in Montreal:

(excerpt) As citizens of this planet … we are collectively calling for a mobilization of civil society around the world to bring about the elimination of all nuclear weapons, to put an end to the continued mass-production of all high-level nuclear wastes by phasing out all nuclear reactors, and to bring to a halt all uranium mining worldwide.

(Montreal Declaration for a Nuclear-Fission-Free World, PDF)

It’s particularly pressing that civil society gain some movement on this issue at this time as “a new Cold War” is afoot.  Please take time to read and endorse the Montreal Declaration.  Then share it with your networks and communities.  Saskatchewan’s Premier Brad Wall will do what he can to kill it.  Please don’t let him.

Leave a comment

Filed under Activism, Anti-nuke

Summer of Writing

I haven’t posted since mid-February, right after a week at the SWG/CARFAC Retreats at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, SK.  The next day I started a full-time plus contract which ended in early April.  That allowed almost two weeks of prep time for the conference I mentioned in that last post and three weeks for our 16-day trip to Japan to visit our daughter.   She had time off work for “Golden Week” so we were able to explore pieces of Japan’s culture, history, and geography.

Flag of Japan

Flag of Japan

We — we being my husband and our adult son — landed in Tokyo after 10 hours on the plane and spent the night at a hotel to get our bearings before heading to Nagoya where our daughter lives.  From there, we visited Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Osaka then returned to Nagoya.  We also visited a family friend in Tokyo, attended a baseball game to see the Nagoya Dragons soundly defeat the Tokyo Giants (11-4, I believe), spent the night in a traditional Japanese guest house, then made our way back to Nagoya for two nights.  Two days later we were back in Saskatchewan.

It was a whirlwind trip, just a taste of Japan, but I have more than 400 photos which I’m culling to prepare a travel talk, Excerpts from Two Weeks in Japan, which I hope to premiere at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre this August.  Details to come, we hope.

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, near the epicentre of the first atomic bomb ever detonated on a human population.

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, near the epicentre of the first atomic bomb ever detonated on a human population.


Silver sand piled to represent Mt. Fuji

Silver sandhill, piled to represent Mt Fuji at Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavillion), Kyoto.


Nagoya Dragons vs Tokyo Giants

Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Nagoya Dragons vs Tokyo Giants.

1 Comment

Filed under creative nonfiction, Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, Ramblings, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, St. Peter's Abbey

#CNFC2016 #WritingTrue12: The Roots of Story

CNFC CREATIVE NONFICTION COLLECTIVE SOCIETY logoIn the midst of the business of living and writing came an invitation to serve on the Creative Nonfiction Collective Society‘s Writing True 12 Conference Committee.  I’d attended three or four previous conferences, loved them, and was happy to help out.  Smart decision; it’s been great!

Writing True 12: The Roots of Story, taking place April 21-24, 2016, will be fantastic! Deni Béchard, Elly Danica, Hal Wake, Camilla Gibb, Heather Conn, Wade Davis, James Fell, Lori A. May, Trevor Herriot, Beth Kaplan, and John Barton will all be carte-blanche-logothere.  As well, the ever-popular Literary Cabaret (this year with a twist), a Members’ Dinner, and the presentation of the carte blanche/CNFC Award all take place at the Saturday night gala.

The Banff Centre inspiring creativityTake a look at the conference schedule then go here to register today, February 14, 2016, and take advantage of the earlybird rate which ends at midnight.  It is going to be a fantastic extra-long weekend at the Banff Centre in Canada’s glorious Rockies this April.  You don’t wanna miss it!

1 Comment

Filed under Awards, Books, Uncategorized

Going home!

I was a teenager, living on a farm in rural Saskatchewan, when I first had the urge to be a writer.  That was a long time ago.  The dream never faded.  And here I am, a much better writer now, and I’m going back home!  On October 17, I’m heading to my hometown, Earl Grey SK, to deliver a day-long workshop on writing.

Earl Grey posterWhat’s in a Lifetime? will be an opportunity to explore your life story. What would you like to say about yourself? What are you afraid to say?  Are there tales from your past you’d like to tell?  Is there something you’d like to leave behind for future generations?

I’ll share writing exercises and memories, joys and sorrows, as well as tricks and techniques for getting started, keeping going, and knowing when to stop.

No previous publication or professional writing experience required. Bring your favourite pen, a sense of humour, and a bagged lunch. For more information or to register, please contact Anne Pennylegion at 306|939|4442 or by email at an.penny[at]

This is a free workshop with funding provided by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, the Canada Council for the Arts and Sask Culture with support from Sask Lotteries.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Writing Place: An Exploration

Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre

The Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre in Regina Beach is having me back September 18 to 20 to facilitate a weekend workshop, Writing Place, which will be an opportunity for writers of all skill levels to explore the concept of place in writing.*

I’ll invite participants to consider special places that inspire their writing, if there are particular places they write about.  We’ll look at the emotional and psychological places we write from, too, and talk about the genres we find to be the best place(s) for our writing.  I’m also curious to see if there are places in the writing process where writers regularly get caught or stuck.  And I’m prepared to offer a few suggestions and opportunities to try writing exercises to help us get unstuck.

On the final day we’ll look at how we place our writing into the world, if at all, and we’ll have time to create a mini-chapbook, art card, post card, poster, or some other document to showcase our work.  In essence, we’ll create a short first draft, and revise, edit, and publish it.  Then, we’ll share it with the community at a public reading (at which there may be a very special guest).

So, please join me in creating a safe and respectful environment where we can play with words and language and share our art in community.  Registrations will be taken by the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre beginning September 8.

* The maximum number of participants in this workshop will be 16.

Presented with funding support from the Saskatchewan Writers Guild and the Canada Council for the Arts.


Leave a comment

Filed under Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, Literary Arts, Regina Beach, Workshop, Writer-in-residence