I’ll have to start a new page, one entitled, The Dry Valley, because I have recently signed a contract with Radiant Press, a new Regina-based publisher, for the publication of a poetry collection by that name! It will be released in the fall of 2019 and I’ll be touring it as soon as it’s available.
This is the work I produced while serving as the inaugural Writer-in-Residence at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre in Regina Beach and with the support of the Saskatchewan Arts Board. I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world!
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.
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
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.
Silver sandhill, piled to represent Mt Fuji at Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavillion), Kyoto.
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Nagoya Dragons vs Tokyo Giants.
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.
I haven’t given much time to blogging over the past several months. Seems I’m more caught up in getting my life back to normal. The writer-in-residence gig was fantastic! I’m grateful for the joint initiative of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture Inc. and the funding provided by the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation to make it possible. The residency was an opportunity to do a lot of things I have always wanted to do, including giving back to a rural community and to solicit and edit work for an anthology. A GIFT OF THE PRAIRIE: Writings from the Southern Shores of Last Mountain Lake gave several writers in the area their first publication credit as well as their first opportunity to give a reading of their work. How wonderful that would have been when I was growing up in rural Saskatchewan! And, SaskBooks gave the book a lovely review, too! If you’d like to purchase a copy, contact them or the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre (LMLCC).
Though I worked with other writers during the course of the residency I also had time to do my own writing. My new work continues from this hot place, in a way. The “love-whisper of the creek” in the last poem of thp refers to my love of Wolverine Creek which is one of several smaller streams that flow into Last Mountain Lake. The LMLCC sits on the southern end of the lake, as does my inlaws’ cottage where we’ve spent a portion of each summer for the past 25 years. And, as a child, I spent a lot of time on that lake; our farm was just 20 miles east of it. Suffice it to say that the lake and the Qu’Appelle Valley feature in some of the new poems.
However, I’m nowhere near finished the manuscript! But I am on retreat at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, SK to consider the feedback I’ve recently received on the manuscript and to write some new poems. Im also hoping to get some revisions to a children’s manuscript I’ve been working on with the Regina Public Library’s writer-in-residence, Art Slade, while I’m here. And yes, retreating here in the cold of February is part of returning to normal. I think this is my 15th year of doing so, give or take a year. It’s a gift of the prairie, too. 🙂
The view out my window at St. Peter’s
It’s very different being here, in Regina Beach, in the middle of winter. I’d forgotten. Yesterday was clear skies and balmy weather. This morning, it was white on white on gray. It took me longer to clear the snow off my car than it did to drive to the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre where I am again serving as writer-in-residence. I am so pleased to be back for another stint! It’s such a great gig! I love being out here, even with the snow and winter and all that means on the Prairies. But it’s really quite lovely. Yes, I mean that.
I’m not staying in our rustic cottage at Lumsden Beach this time. That would require a prairie constitution I don’t quite have. I mean, if I had to, I could stay in an uninsulated place, chop wood, haul water, etc. But I don’t have to. I have made the acquaintance of many wonderful people here in Regina Beach and one such wonderful person, Audrey, offered me the luxury of her spare room. This is the view from her kitchen window this morning. Beyond those trees is the lake, long frozen over and dotted with fishing shacks. A couple of them will be attacked with art during the Ice Fishing Derby & Winter Festival the first weekend in March. I look forward to seeing how the Shack Attack transforms the fishing shacks.
Though the view out my office could be considered rather glum today, I’m loving it. There’s nothing quite like a storm in the country. And I have a great view of the countryside from this second storey perch!
I’m here for four weeks this time. The call for submissions to the anthology we’ll publish this fall has resulted in a nice stack of reading for me. I will be reading through it, suggesting edits to the contributors’ work, if needed, and divining a way to put it all together. And doing the administrative work on it, too.
I’ll also be teaching a couple of classes while I’m here. One is a make-up class from the fall. I was unable to teach The Realm of Nonfiction because I came down with the flu at the end of my previous session here so I’m offering it next Wednesday, February 26 at 7 pm in the Cultural Centre. Two weeks after that, on March 12, I’m offering a session on Marketing Your Work, which really should be entitled Sharing Your Work, because that’s how I have to look at it or I’d never send anything out! And I’ll be doing a Women’s Words & Art Workshop with the Lumsden & District Arts Council for International Women’s Day on March 8.
And now I shall read.
Wow! These past weeks have moved quickly! And now I’m heading towards the last week of this part of the residency. To say that I’m having fun is to put it mildly. This is truly the best job I have ever had! I am grateful to the Selection Committee here at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre for bringing me in. And, most especially, I am grateful to the community the Centre serves — Bethune, Lumsden, Buena Vista, Regina Beach and Kinookimaw and points inbetween — for opening wide their arms and making me feel at home here!
We have done much to build the writing community already. I have visited nine classrooms, both high school and elementary, and did what I could to raise excitement and skills around writing among the students. I have tried to do the same in the community by offering regular classes on Tuesday nights (the last one is Oct 15) and by participating in the pop-up workshops held during Culture Days. I have also tried to make my self available to the community by holding a regular Open Studio time on Thursday evenings and by offering one-on-one consultations to writers.
I am keeping busy, to say the least! There’s so much more I could say, but I need to accomplish a few other tasks today while I’m in the office…