Category Archives: Saskatchewan Writers Guild

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

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

What I’m up to

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. 🙂

an image of trees and sky framed by a window

The view out my window at St. Peter’s


Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Last Mountain Lake, Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, Literary Arts, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, St. Peter's Abbey, Writer-in-residence

Upcoming Reading

Just a quick note to say that I’ll be giving a reading along with Scottish Poet, Ian Stephen, at the Saskatchewan Writers Guild on Saturday afternoon at 2 pm.  Short notice, but I’ll hope to see you there!  Click the link for more info.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Literary Arts, Saskatchewan Writers Guild

It’s almost time for #CVAF2013!

For the 3rd year running I’m chairing the Literary Arts sub-committee of the Cathedral Village Arts Festival which runs from Monday May 20 to Saturday May 25 in the Cathedral area of Regina.  It’s so much fun working with a great collection of Cathedral area writers — Brenda Niskala, Bruce Rice, Coby Stephenson, Debra Bell and Tara Solheim — to bring together another great lineup of literary events at this year’s festival!

Check out the Kickoff Picnic on Monday and catch our very own Tara Dawn Solheim on the Les Sherman Park Stage (off Elphinstone St at 15th Ave).  Later that night, we partner with the Vertigo Series for a featured reading by Greg “Ritallin” Frankson followed by an All Ages Open Stage at St Mary’s (3337 15th Ave) where you can sign up and share your words!

On Tuesday, it’s the Poetry Slam at the Mercury Cafe (13th Ave & Robinson St).  We’ve snagged Jillian Bell, Co-Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Publishers Group, Joanne Crofford, of Boomtown Drums, and Warren McCall, MLA for Regina Elphinstone Centre as our celebrity judges for this year’s fun.  Bring your toonie to enter the sweat/slam or stop in to watch the words fly!

We’ve dedicated Wednesday night’s event to young people.  Over at the Unitarian Centre (College Ave & Angus St) is the Saskatchewan Writers Guild‘s launch of Windscript Magazine, Volume 29, featuring readings of original works by award-winning high school writers.  For the younger crowd, stop by RPL Connaught Branch Library to hear stories and traditional First Nations Legends from storyteller, Hazel Dixon.

The 3rd Annual Get Lit Cabaret taking place on Thursday night at The Artesian features some local writers’ groups, including the Phantasts, the 2012 Regina Slam Team and Too Legit to Quit as well as Saskatchewan Book Awards First Book Prize winner, Melanie Schnell.  We are very pleased to host the Premiere of a multidisciplinary collaboration by Flamenco guitarist Peter Dickoff, poet, Bruce Rice and dancer, Robin Poitris!  And we’ll have a full performance by Greg “Ritallin” Frankson, spoken word artist, and to close out the night, ArtStarts & the Local Onlyz, a 4-piece HipHop group.

Needless to say, we take Friday off to recuperate!  Then to end the week we take part in the Saturday Streetfair from our Literary Tent (empty lot, 13th Ave & Retallack).  This year, we’re starting with a FlashMob Photo Op and invite everyone who loves to write to show up at the tent at 11 a.m. to be part of it.  Bring a piece of writing or your book to wave at the camera!  We’ll catch up with the Streetfair Parade as it passes by on 13th Ave, just after 11:30.  After that, it’s back to the Literary Tent for author readings by Anne McDonald, June Mitchell, Jayne Whyte, Randy Lundy, Lynn Gidluck, Laurier Gareau, Cassidy McFadzean, Bridget Keating and Coby Stephenson!  And, for the entire event, the Book Table so that you can purchase and take home books by the authors.


Like I said, it’s gonna be fun!  And if literary’s not your thing, well, there are a lot of other events taking place  throughout the week.  It’s the best and busiest week of the year in my neighbourhood!  Check it out!


Leave a comment

Filed under CVAF, RPL Connaught Branch Library, Sask Book Awards, Saskatchewan Publishers Group, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, Vertigo Reading Series

Spin-off of WIR

Two things have come about as a direct result of the writer-in-residence position I held at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre. Both leave me thrilled and deeply touched.


The first, an invitation to participate as a guest poet at Creating in the Qu’Appelle, a 2.5 day creative writing workshop for youth, came as a surprise.  When making arrangements to work in Lumsden High School during the residency, the Creative Writing teacher, Heather Winter, asked if I’d like to participate in the event.  I’d heard about this fantastic writing camp for youth a few years ago in conversation with former Saskatchewan poet, Jennifer Still.  A regular on faculty at C in the Q, she could not say enough about how wonderful it is!  So I gave Heather an immediate YES!


Sanctioned, but not greatly publicized, by the Prairie Valley School Division, and funded by the school division, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, Coteau Books, Lumsden High School, and the Lumsden Cultural Council, this event saw 40 students from across the province come together for instruction and support in writing prose, poetry and songs.  Along with Jennifer, three other artists served on the faculty.  Chris Fisher, from Lumsden, provided expertise on writing fiction.  Michelle Muir, a Toronto-based spoken word artist, covered performance art.  And Little Miss Higgins, from Nokomis SK, was the singer/songwriter on faculty.


The faculty had done their work.  I walked through the doors of the Dallas Valley Ranch Camp’s main entrance and felt the energy right away.  It was electric!  Dallas Valley sits on the edge of the Qu’Appelle Valley, that sacred land on which Saskatchewan writers have a bit of a tradition hanging out.  The young people were on supper break, hanging around the tables talking and laughing.  Some played card games.  Others sat, feet up, taking it all in.  In the main room downstairs, a few played guitars and sang, not a whole song, but part of one I didn’t recognize.  Still, I had to stop myself from joining in with a descant line that called me.  Everything I witnessed was strong evidence of a solid community in place.  It felt, immediately, like a safe place to practice art.


And practice art they did!  30 individuals — students and some of the teacher support staff — took turns standing at the front of the room to present their work.  I recognized a handful of the students as those I’d worked with in Heather’s classroom during the residency, some whose work I’d published in the chapbook, TALES FROM THE LAKE. Oh, there were some great lines, lines I wish I’d written!  I also wish I’d had the good sense to write a few down for future reference.  I was struck by the presentation skills of a few of the students, too.  Courageous and fantastic presenters, they could give a few writers I know a lesson in presentation skills.  Oh, and that song, when they put the whole thing together, well, it brought tears to my eyes.  So beautiful!


I feared my talk and reading, in which I focused on my grandmother and land poems and an excerpt from my Wolverine Creek essay, would pale in comparison.  But I gave it my all and hope that someone found something they needed in it.  I started by inviting them to help me work through Notes Toward Goodbye: A Lullabye, which is a poem that’s becoming a song, I think.  I asked them sing a chorus, “Rock me,” or give a bass line or echo words that I spoke.  I liked the chorus, think I should have given more direction for the bass line — or more freedom — and loved their eagerness! It felt so good to be nurturing young writers; it always does.


Actually, it doesn’t matter what age the writers are.  Any time I can encourage others in their writing, I try to do so.  And that brings me to my second spin-off of the residency.  A group of women regularly attended the classes I offered at the LMLCC.  Last night, we had the first meeting of the writing group that formed as a result of it.  Not only were we happy to see each other, visiting and laughing and sharing stories, but we also talked about writing and wrote.  I think I may have an ice cream poem as a result.  Another spin-off! The plan is to meet again in a  month.  And I’m looking forward to it because I’ll be at the beach, working on my writing, and wanting feedback on it, too.


One final thing, speaking of community…  I attended the Creative NonFiction Collective’s Annual Conference and General Meeting at the Banff Centre last weekend.  Because of the political nature of some of the material, I have posted my notes from it in a series of posts on my other blog, the regina mom.




Leave a comment

Filed under Creating in the Qu'Appelle, Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, Workshop, Writer-in-residence

Spring has sprung!

The bees have found fulltime work in my back yard.  At present they’re working on the white blossoms of the Nanking Cherry tree.  Soon, they’ll be able to move to the neighbours’ apple trees and my ornamental plum tree.

While they’re busy with that, I’m busy preparing for a few events.  My neighbourhood celebrates the 21st annual Cathedral Village Arts Festival beginning May 21 with a parade and a picnic in the park, followed by a stream of events throughout the week, and ending with the largest street fair in the province on May 26.  Again this year, I’m the co-ordinator of literary events and hope to see many of you at them.  I’ll again be hosting the Poetry Slam, which is always a lot of fun!

The following week, I head out of town for a road trip to Regina Beach and Bethune where I’ll work with some students at South Shore Elementary School and Clive Draycott Elementary School. I always look forward to school visits because they give me the opportunity to offer students something I wish I would have received when I was young and venturing into writing.  The Saskatchewan Writers Guild must be commended for continuing this program year after year.  It builds future writers, employs current ones and promotes the SWG all at the same time.  It’s a win-win-win!


Details of the events are here.

1 Comment

Filed under Saskatchewan Writers Guild, Workshops