My chapbook, "Crossing" is finally done and ready to launch! I'll be reading on Wednesday, November 23, 5:00-6:30, at Mon Petit Choux, 101 Commercial St., Nanaimo, along with the poets Leanne McIntosh, K. Louise Vincent, and Ursula Vaira. (A chapbook is a publication of up to about 40 pages, usually poetry, often handmade, folded, or wrapped.)
I wrote this poem after my husband and I sailed for a year in the Pacific. You can read about that crossing here.
Prose breaks into poetry, fracturing when we try to describe the ineffable. As if space is needed to let the the mystery of being alive slip into the conversation.
'Crossing' is a long poem which unfolds (literally, in a handmade accordian book) as an sailing passage from Mexico to the Marquesas. It is a meditation on memory, fate, agency, wind, sea, and stars. It is being published by Leaf Press.
Looking back on the project, which has been several years in the making, writing the poem was the easiest part.
If you followed the story of the guy who made his own toaster you will know that his main lesson was that "it takes an entire civilization to build a toaster. Designer Thomas Thwaites found out the hard way, by attempting to build one from scratch: mining ore for steel, deriving plastic from oil ..."
That's how making this book felt and why it took me so long to finish it. I worked on the poem initially in a directed studies with the poet Gary Geddes, while I was completing my MFA in Creative Writing at UBC, in 2013. When my publisher, Ursula Vaira of Leaf Press, took it on, she contributed her edits. Isabel Stukator, a graphic designer in Peterborough, Ontario formatted the poem, chose the font, and fashioned trhe small moon icons which wax with the poem. I had to consult the artist and bookmaker Joan Byers, in Saanich BC, twice. I sat with her in her studio, while she patiently showed me her tools, the special heavy compass she ordered from an auto company for marking fold lines, and the bone folders for scoring. She suggested the beautiful blue cover paper, from St. Armand paper factory, outside Montreal. I had to wait several months after I ordered the paper from the owner, Denise LaPointe, as they prepared the denim off-cuts for the hand-laid run. I made several trips to Victoria to talk to Tracy Olson, of Denman Printworks, about the file, to choose paper for the book and for the printed watercolour covers. I bought 90 lb Arches watercolour paper from my local art store, Iron Oxide, for the 20 original watercolours I painted for the print run. I visited scrapbooking stores to pick up special tape (from Korea) for where the papers must be joined to create an accordian and to choose the string which binds the finished book. Finally, various friends, Alina Newton, Cynthia Coles, Valley Hennell, Ursula Vaira, and especially, Denise Bonin, have helped me make the books, trimming the sheets from the printer, scoring, folding, taping, attaching covers and cover images....It turns out 200 books have taken many days to construct! The long hours in the studio made me wonder if we have lost an important experience in modern times, the repetitive task done collectively, which allows for silence, intersperced with idle conversation, which can veer effortlessly from the superficial to the profound.
Now, the only role left is the reader! You can order a copy of "Crossing" from Leaf Press.
Other news: my novel Dazzle Patterns will come out next fall with Freehand Press. Watch this space....