On our visit to the Chapters bookstore in Regina, SK, this week, my companion pointed out that the computer showed three copies of Exile on a Grid Roadon the shelves.
I found them at the beginning of the Canadian Poetry section.
And yes, I know Banks comes after Acorn in the alphabet, though that may be news to some. So when I reshelved my poetry collection after this iPhone photo, I placed all of the copies in a somewhat more traditional alpha-order… Right between Milton Acorn and Lorna Crozier. How cool is that!
Then again, my poems were originally nestling up against a hard cover edition of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, which is pretty cool, too…
(And yes, I also know Crozier’ The Wrong Cat is also out of sequence, but I didn’t feel like reorganizing the entire shelf.)
But look at the other names here!
I’m delighted to see Shelley Banks also sharing space on this Canadian Poetry shelf with Ken Babstock, Christian Bok, Ann Carson, Leonard Cohen, Robert Curry, Michael Crummy, Gerald Hill, Jeanette Lynes, Peter Midgley, Dennis Lee, Marilyn Dumont, Lynda Monahan, Cassidy McFadzean and Jane Munro! (Someone seriously doesn’t know their alphabet if they are placing books — Lee’s and Dumont’s — together by colour in the midst of the Ms! But I’m taking this to mean that poetry books in Regina are very well browsed, and that’s a lovely thing!)
On the shelf above, there are books about/by Chaucer, Dracula, Hunter S. Thompson and Tolkein, with Angelou, Baudelaire, Berryman, Bukowski, Breckt, Dante, Rumi and the Epic of Gilgamesh on the shelf below.
I am honoured to be asked to participate in the new “Poet Laureate Emerging Writers Reading” on November 25 at 7 p.m., at the Art Gallery of Regina, 2420 Elphinstone Street.
My thanks to Saskatchewan’s poet laureate, Judith Krause, for hosting “The Future is Always Beginning”!
I’ll be reading with Cassidy McFadzean, dee Hobsbawn-Smith and Jim McLean. For an insight into the range of work you’ll hear, here are short bios, from the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild.
Shelley Banks was born in a small town in the BC Rockies, and raised in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Shelley has an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC, and her first collection of poetry, Exile on a Grid Road, was published this fall by Thistledown Press. Her current writing includes photography blogs about Prairie wildflowers and birds, as well as poetry and fiction projects. Shelley lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Poet, essayist, fiction writer and journalist dee Hobsbawn-Smith is the 35th Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library. She holds an MFA in Writing. Her writing appears in Canadian, Scottish and American literary journals, anthologies, newspapers and magazines. Her most recent books are What Can’t Be Undone: Stories; Wildness Rushing In, [a finalist for SK Book Awards’ 2015 Best Poetry Collection and Book of the Year]; and Foodshed: An Edible Alberta Alphabet.
Cassidy McFadzean was born in Regina, received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and now teaches at Luther College. She released her first collection of poems Hacker Packer with McClelland & Stewart this past April, and has published poems in magazines across Canada with new work in Prelude, The Puritan, and The Walrus. She is currently at work on a Saskatchewan Arts Board-funded poetry collection, Drolleries, named for grotesque figures found in Medieval manuscripts. Two poems from Drolleries are long-listed for the 2015 CBC Poetry Prize.
Jim McLean had a long career with Canadian Pacific Railway and with Transport Canada, living and working in various Canadian locations. He is an original member of the Moose Jaw Movement poetry group, and his work has appeared in magazines and anthologies and on CBC Radio. He is the author of The Secret Life of Railroaders and co-author of Wildflowers Across the Prairies. His illustrations have appeared on book covers and in several literary and scientific publications. Coteau Books will publish his poetry manuscript tentatively titled 1957, in early 2017.
AND! For any flower fans in Saskatchewan, I would like to point out that Jim’s book, Wildflowers Across the Prairies, is simply awesome. This is the best guide I have found, and I’ve searched manyfor my PrairieWildflowers blog! Seriously! You might have to hunt to find it, but copies are out there…
Last week, we drove to Big River, Saskatchewan, to join Jan Wood for her launch of Love is not Anonymous. (We, being Tara Gereaux with Size of a Fist, and me, Shelley Banks, with Exile on a Grid Road, along with my partner.)
It was a mini-reading tour that also included Regina and Saskatoon, planned to celebrate our books that were published at the same time.
I’ve never been to Big River. Never been further north in Saskatchewan than Batoche. And so the drive was both familiar and new…
Familiar, because we drove north on Highway 6, the route I usually take to the Saskatchewan Writers/Artists Retreat in Muenster. That meant we passed through Watson, Home of the Original Santa Claus Day. (Started in 1932, according to the town website.) We stopped for perogies, borscht and pictures.
New, because we saw a Bald Eagle perched high in the tree along the road.
New, too, because of the different landscapes we drove through, the bush and marshes that looked like — and were posted for — moose. Hidden moose, which can be a good thing, I guess, even though my camera was at the ready for a shot.
And new, because of the risks of reading new material at the library in Big River. Materials I hadn’t read in its full format from my book before.
I’m not sure how writers on long tours manage to read the same material, night after night, each time bringing fresh excitement and enthusiasm to the performance. Acting lessons would help for this, I suspect, as for so much of life…
As for me, I guess I’m too easily bored and I wanted to tackle different pieces than what I’d read in Regina, and without thinking too much about it, dived into “Kiss of Knives,” a suite of poems about dealing with treatments for breast cancer.
Difficult to go through; difficult to read. But the feedback was positive — and I’m happy I took the risk. (And happy I didn’t over think this at the time, or I likely would have read something that would make me feel at the time, less vulnerable, and in the end, less strong…)
(Or maybe it was, what with my computer locking up last night, but that had nothing to do with the process of creating a site icon.)
I’ve been wondering lately why my website pages show only a white square on browser tabs, while corporate and other pages display distinctive logos. Ditto, when I save a page from my site to the home screen of my iPhone.
How do they create site icons, I wondered. And today, I discovered that it’s really simple with Photoshop and WordPress.
I thought the star shape of a flower I photographed last year would work well as an icon, so here it is, post-posterizing! I now have a blue-purple starflower logo for my site. (A version of this image is also included in the muted rotating flower images at the left on my desktop site.)
The flower is Blue-eyed Grass, a lovely and very tiny summer Prairie wildflower. It can be difficult to see, as the flowers nestle close to the ground, beneath stalks of other grasses and flowers. But so lovely, up close. (I have a few pictures on my Prairie Wildflower blog.)
The deadline to apply for the Sage Hill Writing Experience summer session is getting closer—March 23, 2015. This is a great program, which this summer will feature classes by Canadian writers Steven Heighton, Alissa York, Miriam Toews, Denise Chong, Wayson Choy, Merilyn Simonds and Wayne Grady.
And, for any poets who want to work with Don McKay at Sage Hill this spring, that deadline is March 6, 2015. Friday. This week.
The Sage Hill Writing Experience offers small classes with time to write and network. Past instructors include Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negroes), who visited Saskatchewan last fall a for Sage Hill fundraiser. (A few of my photos from that event appear below.)
This year, the program is moving to Cedar Lodge on Blackstrap Lake near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. For details on how to apply, see the Sage Hill Writing website.