Category Archives: Workshop

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.



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Midwinter at the Beach!

Blue sky out the studio windowIt’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.

Looking out the kitchen windowI’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.

2014-02-19 11.45.50Though 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.

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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.




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Writing on…

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 Broccol2013-03-28 11.51.45i 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 inwinter 016 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!

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In the write space

It’s a busy day at Regina Beach!  This morning, I met with the Walking Club at Memorial Hall, made some great connections for tales and saw historical photos of the community.  This afternoon, I’m back at the hall with the Cribbage group.  I’ll play a hand or two and see what tales I can collect from them!

Then, tonight, 7 pm at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre in Regina Beach, I’m leading a creativity workshop, In the write space.  Geared for writers, in particular, this class is open to all who are interested in developing an artistic practice. We’ll explore breathwork and creative visualization, freefall and experimental art-making, as well as  what stops us from creating and how we can move through the challenges.

Like I said, it’s a busy day!




For more information, email


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As time flies…

First, my thanks to the staff, students and community at Marion McVeety School in Regina for hosting an lovely Author’s Night at their school in January. Apologies for my tardiness is expressing how grateful I am for the opportunity to share my work. Here are the writing ideas or prompts some participants submitted:

    skating on an outdoor rink
    an old man on a ship gets lost at sea
    Burrowing Owls
    a funny story
    a magic box that can move people through time
    three people
    a magical object

In other news, my second central Canadian jaunt is getting close and my excitement is rising! Sadly, the Hamilton reading will not go ahead. However, the Winnipeg event is now a League of Canadian Poets Fundraiser on March 23 at Aqua Books. And, the next night, I’ll be presenting a workshop, “Speaking Truth to Power: Writing for Change,” also at Aqua Books.

Then, I’m off to Toronto for a reading at the Art Bar Poetry Series, Canada’s longest running poetry reading series, on the 29th. I’m really looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting Facebook friends in person!

After that, I’m off to Windsor for a reading at the Bookroom where I plan on meeting some of the Gaia women I sang with in the recording of My Heart Is Moved. And then it’s to Saskatoon to take in the Bruce Cockburn concert. When I get home, around the 4th, I think I’ll collapse for a week!

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The New Year Rolls In!

Happy new year, folks! Mine’s already proving to be wonderful. No less than 48 hours into 2011, I received an invitation to read at the Art Bar Poetry Series in Toronto on March 29. I said a resounding yes before I even checked my calendar.

That’s setting many things in motion, including potential readings at Aqua Books in Winnipeg, at ArtWord ArtBar in Hamilton ON, and at Bookroom in Windsor ON. Here’s hoping they all work out for me!

I’m also working up a new writing workshop I plan to offer in February.  More about that and upcoming readings as details become available.

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