BOOKS:

See News and Events page for a description of my novel, "Dazzle Patterns," out this fall with Freehand Press

 

 

 

 


 There are still copies of my chapbook* "Crossing" available! You can contact Leaf Press or me, directly to order a copy. They are $30. *(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 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. 

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.

 

THE LAST ISLAND - A naturalist's sojourn on Triangle Island


My first book The Last Island – a Naturalist’s Sojourn on Triangle Island, is an attempt to recall and share the summer I spent with Anne Vallée, a serious young biologist whose dedication to her field made her a formidable and inspiring mentor. The book, written in diary form, recounts my initial time on the island and my second visit 16 years later, following Vallée’s death. I returned to continue my research of Vallée’s work and was flooded by memories of our time together.

Published by Harbour Publishing in 2002, it won the Edna Staebler Award for a first or second book of Canadian non-fiction: “The judges felt The Last Island was a beautiful and emotional blending of native legends, evolutionary theory, scientific knowledge and an appreciation for the delicate balance of life,” says Staebler award administrator Kathryn Wardropper. “The beautiful language combined with the watercolour paintings transports the reader to the island.”

 

 

 

Book pages:

 

 

 

Here is the first page:

INTRODUCTION

August 15, 1996

I am falling upward--the ground dropping away so fast my stomach clenches. Suddenly it is as if no time has passed--I am twenty-three, not thirty-nine. Once again I have been seduced by a romantic notion of adventure, and once again the moment of departure has filled me with disbelief--for some reason I have planned to fly off the edge of the world.

As we leave the long sand beach of Cape Scott behind, I imagine how we must look to the hikers who have set a yellow tent there--a helicopter growing smaller and smaller until it is a tiny speck, an insect that has lost its bearing and is flying inexplicably out to sea.

I lean on the cold glass of hte window, to see the Scott Islands scattered below us, the first low and heavily wooded, like fragments of Vancouver Island unmooored and set adrift, the farthest rugged and treelss. Finally we seem to leave land behind.

"Flying out here, over nother but water, makes me nervous," I confess to the pilot.

"Me too, he says, adjusting his headset and giving me a quick sideways glance and an incomprehensible smile. 

 

 

My poems have appeared in many literary journals, including Event, Room of One’s Own, Arc, and the League of Canadian Poets Anthologies. I have won the Backwater Review and subTerrain magazines’ poetry prizes and placed second in Prairie Fire’s Bliss Carmen competition. My poems have also appeared in two chapbooks “Poems from the Basement” and “The Invention of Birds”, published by Leaf Press.

Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario's blog to hear me read "Two Figures" at one of the gallery's ekphrastic poetry event.


My first book of poetry, Circadia came out with Pedlar Press in 2005. One of my paintings appears on the cover of this book; my drawings of small ordinary objects are scattered through the text.

Presently I am in the middle of an MFA  through the Creative Writing Department of the University of British Columbia.

The Last Island can be purchased for $32 + shipping.
Circadia can be purchased for $20 + shipping.

Please contact me to order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From a suite of 5 poems was published in subTerrain's Magazine's May 2012 issue:

Divide

Windward Slope

Along Howe Sound—

wind has stripped the maples.

 

I am six, in that town in northern Ontario,

collecting fallen leaves

to press between wax paper—

Miss Tasker holding the iron down

until the scorched smell

fills the first grade classroom

where leaves, taped to the windows,

will fade by Remembrance Day.

 

You are eleven,

lost in elaborate fantasies,

pushing your bike up

the steep hill below your house

in that seaside town.

 

Highway narrows

to two lanes, flexes

for the long climb.

 

I lose the radio signal—

the panel on the pros and cons

of our military mission

dies out

as if the speakers have forgotten their arguments,

wandered away from the mikes.

 

Cottonwood gives every old logging road away—

cadmium yellow slashes through blue slopes

even after all these years,

after the grapple yarders, the loaders

and haulers are gone

and the fallers have grown old

and sunk into recliners.

 

Rain, exhaled by ocean,

streaks asphalt,

becomes rivulet, stream,

river running to salmon

pouring their red bodies into current

dying to end it all, dying

to begin it all again.

 

Coastal western hemlock gives way

to subalpine spruce, frozen

in place, stiffly motioning—move on—

winter is just around the next hairpin.

 

Summit

Receding glaciers gleam on granite,

old medals from the Pleistocene cold wars.

 

I am ten, a bookish girl with skinny legs

and thin hair prone to tangles,

crossing this divide for the first time,

from the opposite direction,

just beginning to understand

how big things were:

prairie, mountain, river,

loss: the wheels of the train chanting

nevermindnevermindnevermind

 

closing the miles between us.

 

Given enough summers

ice a mile thick from valley to peak will melt.

Given enough revolutions

wheels can take us anywhere,

but memories—the smell of my mother’s grey wool coat,

Evening in Paris and stale cigarettes,

the first time I saw you

at that dinner party years later in Kitsilano,

rumpled white shirt and shock of red hair—

clatter like tin cans tied to the bumper

of my getaway car. 

 

Rainshadow

Pines, riddled with bark beetle

drop red needles like Christmas trees in January.

 

Clouds collapse and forest peels back to sage,

land exposed, belly and thighs

of hills, dipping

into brush filled draws.

 

I am watching you

in memory’s rearview mirror

as you sleep, your hair grey now.

 

Far across the valley,

the train I remember

moves slowly on track cut through alluvial dust.

 

Something pale shines in a window—

a girl’s face.

She’s thinking that it is simple:

surrender,

pack some bags, lock a door,

step into a moving thing,

cross from one life

to another.