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.
I flew into BC on Wednesday evening, arriving early for the Creative NonFiction Collective‘s annual conference. What a fantastic conference in a beautiful venue with an amazing group of writers! My thanks to the conference committee, chaired by JoAnne Dionne, and the CNFC Board of Directors, especially Cathy Ostler, whose dedication to the organization has been stellar! Special thanks to Betsy Warland and Myrna Kostash, the two whose vision for a connected network of CNF writers coupled with hard work, manifested the CNFC.
I’ve learned a lot at this, my third, CNFC conference. And, I’ve renewed acquaintances, made new friends, and found inspiration for the dive back into a CNF manuscript this fall. It’s interesting to me how I can think I’m sitting down to write a poem and something entirely different comes through the pen. I’m paying attention to that now and I think I may have laid the groundwork for another CNF piece this fall. Time will tell.
When I began this post, I was aboard a ferry to Galiano for a visit with an old friend before I head back to Regina on Tuesday to gear up for the Cathedral Village Arts Festival where we will celebrate from the heART
Hi folks! I’m so happy to be back as Writer-in-Residence at Regina Beach! It’s wonderful to be able to stay in my inlaws’ cottage at Lumsden Beach and wander over to the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre to work. This summer marks the end of my stint here and it’s been so much fun! I’ve met so many creative, loving and compassionate people during my time here. All the years (25+) I’ve been coming to RB from LB to get groceries I had no idea the amazing community I’d been missing! So, even though I’ll be finished at the end of this summer, I know I’m not finished with this community.
But while I’m here now, I’m working on final edits for the anthology project, setting up readings for the launches and encouraging people to keep on writing. Today I met with our designer, Amber. Later this week, I’ll be setting up official launch dates. And on Monday night, from 7 to 9 pm I’ve invited local writers to gather at the LMLCC for Write On! I see it as an unstructured time to talk about writing, share writing, and do the writing thing. We’ll try it for a few weeks and see how it goes. And, I’m hoping we’ll all be able to take in the Poetry Slam and banquet that local artist, Carol Daniels, is organizing because I told her I’d be one of the judges.
Never a dull moment in this community, I swear!
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.
It’s been more than two weeks since I started my gig as writer-in-residence at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre (LMLCC) and I am starting to feel a little settled, more capable of taking on what I said I’d take on. Yes, moments of doubt haunt me from time-to-time! But I can and will do this.
I’d already moved a computer desk and chair into my studio space at the Centre. This morning my husband helped me move in a rather large basket of books and a couple of bags of art supplies. Attending Gerri Ann Siwek‘s Artist Trading Cards (ATC) workshop here last weekend reminded me how much fun I’d been having with the multimedia work I’ve been doing on and off for a few years. So, I’ve decided that while I’m WIR, I’ll spend a bit of time each week working with words in other ways. The ATCs posted here are from that workshop with Gerri Ann. Both are unfinished but Garden 3 is the one that really inspired me to take this work forward, perhaps because it provided me with another way into a poem. I don’t know if I’ll make any more ATCs, but I will be making more poems!
And I’ll be helping others make new poems, too. And fiction and nonfiction, as well. That’s what the basket of books is about. They are almost the full extent of my About Writing reference library. I’ve been mentally leafing through a number of them since posting the list I created in collaboration with Facebook friends last week, jotting down the occasional note-to-self as a reminder to pass along this or that tip to students. I’d thought it best to have copies here for easy reference and to leave the library’s copies in the library for those who might be interested in reading them. I’m excited about our first class beginning on Tuesday night, 7 pm sharp, in the lower level of the LMLCC!
Duck Derby Mascot
Before that, I have a busy weekend ahead of me. Tonight (Saturday), I’ll be at the Lumsden Beach Corn Roast, encouraging people there to submit their work to the anthology we’re publishing next summer. Sunday, I’ll take some family time because my sister’s visiting from Alberta and there is a Rider game to watch. And on Monday, I’ll be costumed up and taking part in the Lumsden Duck Derby Parade with the Library’s Book Worm as well as checking out in the festivities there.
Have I mentioned that I love my job?
To serve as the inaugural literary artist-in-residence at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre was a great gift! It allowed me to do three things I love to do: share what I’ve learned, build community, and write. Ok, four things– hanging out at the beach, but in a way very different from what I’m used to! It was an honour and a privilege to give what little I could to a unique rural community.
Though I hesitate to call it a real residency because of the shortness of the term and being unable to reside in the area I did spend the better part of a month in the Regina Beach/Buena Vista/Lumsden area and experienced the exquisite hospitality of the locals. Unfortunately, I was unable to make a solid contact in Bethune. A month is a short time to get to know a community, let alone three or four. And then there was the weather!
Still, I feel as though the residency, as limited and short-term as it was, was a success. I met the goals of engaging the community in the written word by participating in classes, utilizing the one-on-one Storybooth Studio sessions and contributing to the TALES FROM THE LAKE chapbook. The chapbook launch saw more than 30 people in attendance. And, though I spent more time than I had committed to on the community project, I did get a suite of six poems more or less worked out. I have since misplaced the new piece I read at the launch and hope it turns up somewhere!
The project had a positive impact on me in that it gave me a stronger sense of myself as a professional writer. As I’ve said to some of my writer friends, I feel like a big kid in the writing community now! Also important to me personally, especially, is my deepened connection to Last Mountain Lake. Prior to this my experiences with the lake had been summertime ones. This helped me to remember and experience winter with Last Mountain Lake. Professionally, the residency pushed me to not only refine my abilities as a teacher/facilitator and editor, but also to explore my capacity as a community builder. I hope I had a positive impact on the community, overall, and that the writing community there grows and flourishes. There are some fine writers in the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre’s communities and some young ones to watch out for!
Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for other residency opportunities. It really was a dream come true, to serve a community in this way.
Thursday was another great day at Regina Beach! I attended the United Church fundraiser featuring homemade soup and bread with an assortment of cookies for dessert! The Broccoli Cheddar Soup accompanied by a slice of Whole Wheat Bread, followed by a couple of cookies and a cup of coffee was wonderful! As was the company. I met the Minister of the congregation, Manasse Habonimana, who has agreed to talk to me about spirit and Last Mountain Lake. I think it will be an interesting story, one I hope to include in the TALES FROM THE LAKE final project.
I collected a tale on Saturday, part of Regina Beach’s contribution to the WWII effort. Regardless what you think about war, it’s an interesting story. I’m happy to see people taking advantage of the Storybooth Studio to tell their stories.
I am looking forward to spending time in Regina Beach tomorrow. I’ll be researching and writing in the afternoon and really hope I can find someone out on the ice, fishing. I have an ice-fishing poem that’s itching to be written! Then, at 7 pm tomorrow evening I’ll be leading a class, WRITE THE EARTH (AIR/SUN/WATER/SKY…), about allowing the natural environment to inspire your writing. It’ll be fun!
It amazes me that this project is halfway through; there’s so much to do! And I’m having a great time doing it!