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.


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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.

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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!

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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.

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

Lammas 2015


Pods, once yellow, long, and juicy, now shrivelled
and dirty-cream coloured, plucked from brittle stalks.

Potential of Ceres alive within each
bold black seed our fingers squeeze out.

Heat and humidity, light and time
welcome the goddess back to Earth.

She takes her place.
A tender stem reaches up,

roots take hold, a strong strand
with delicate leaves stretches to the sun.

Tendrils twist, sticky-wrap support,
and bloom to create abundance.

A process so ancient I often
forget a single idea’s power.

c. 2015 Bernadette Wagner



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Singing, Learning and the Road to Reconciliation

Many who know me know that I’ve been part of a group of women who gather and scatter and gather and scatter, as my friend, Ruth, puts it. We gather to sing and learn, then we scatter to our parts of the continent and we come together again.  We sing love songs to Earth, songs of struggle and social justice, songs of peace and hope. Most of theses were written by Carolyn Mcdade, a spiritual feminist, activist, and poet from the USA.

This week about 120 women from more than a dozen places in Canada and the USA are gathered in Edmonton for “A Planet Singing On.” We’re singing the long road of Carolyn’s music and activism to celebrate her 80th birthday. For more than 50 years, she’s been doing this work, travelling to various communities on the continent to lead programs, prepare women for recording projects and lead larger gatherings such as the one this week.

In the summer of 1999 or 2000 — I can’t remember at the moment — I attended my first gathering with Carolyn. We met at the former Calling Lakes Centre in the Qu’Appelle Valley, near Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.  It was a powerful time for me. The singing, combined with stories of activism and fueled by feminist rituals and songs seemed to crack me open.  I cried a lot.  I almost left part way through.  My friend, Maureen, sat with me as I decided whether to leave or stay.  Well, I stayed.  The experience enlivened me in a new way and I have continued to attend gatherings near and far and have participated in two recording projects, My Heart Is Moved and Widening Embrace.  All of it has impacted my writing, my writing life, and how I define who I am and what I do.

In our gathering this morning, we honoured some of the women involved in the civil rights movement in the USA: Harriet Tubman, Soujourner Truth, Fanny Lou Harmer, and Alice Walker, to name a few. We also learned of some more recent actions of the anti-racism movement in the USA.  We sang the song those protestors sang and chanted, “Black lives matter.”

Then tonight, we honoured Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and were called to answer the call to reconcile. We heard brutal details about the residential school system, considered some statements from the TRC report and listened to stories from four women who have worked alongside First Nations people over several years.

We also sang songs that honoured the struggles, powerful songs that tell stories about individuals and social movements. To say that I was moved seems too simple an explanation of what I experienced. I cried so hard my body shook.  More than once.  But I had absolutely no desire to leave!  That a gathering of Settler women has begun to not only discern its role in the reconciliation of our relationship with First Nations people but also considered ways to be involved in the healing seems incredible to me.  It’s been such a long time coming!

Oh, yes, we have a long road to walk to get to true reconciliation. But tonight, our sacred circle began that work. I am honoured to have been part of it.  And I’m grateful to the leadership team for including this important work — on both sides of the border — in our week.

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Filed under Activism, Sacred Web