Sunday, April 20, 2014









All photos Assiniboine Forest, Winnipeg, MB. April 19, 2014.
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I've managed walks in the forest every weekend for the past three weeks.

It's been good to see the masses of snow shrink around my house, to hear the crows and merlins up in the trees and the geese kicking sullenly at puddles, but it's been especially good to see the mulch paths of the forest.

The pussywillows are just beginning to emerge and there is the faintest green in sheltered spots beside logs, where I've observed these mushrooms. I think one or two of these might be a new mushroom, but I can't be sure...

Next weekend too. And the weekend after.

That's the plan. That's always the plan.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


All photos by Mike Deal, except for the B&W one, which is by Anthony Mark Schellenberg.
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So I read last night at McNally's with Vancouver poet Kevin Spenst and Angeline Janel Schellenberg.

Kevin had a boatload of chapbooks he's published (and other people have published) over the past year or so, to share. Angeline had clutches of poems, published over the past year or so in literary magazines, to share.

I had six or seven pages of poetry, printed from the final proof of Stowaways.

This was my first reading from the collection. And it fell in the few weeks between approving the final proof and the book appearing in the world.

I've performed some of the poems quite often - when they appeared in chapbooks, for instance, which I then grandly and gratuitously toured. But many of the poems are so new that they've never been aired at a reading...

So I was sort of baffled as to what I should read. The ones I've got mostly memorized? The new ones that feel strange and metallic in my mouth? What?

So I made M., who I recently bullied into reading the manuscript, again in the amorphous few weeks between final proof and book, tell me his favourites.

And so I read his favourites to him. As he said in the second row, his camera in his lap, waiting for me to look up.

And I made some terrible jokes, because that's what I do. And listened to Kevin and Angeline carefully once I was done...

(I'm going to rehearse those unaired poems over the next few weeks. I'm going to rehearse them hard.)

Monday, April 14, 2014

forest clearing

Photo from Assiniboine Forest, Winnipeg, MB. April 14, 2014.
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I made a deer path this winter. By which I mean a meandering trail from the main path to the place where this burnt-out clearing opens.

I feel strangely committed to seeing how this clearing changes after last fall's fire.

Not much change from December. But I'm guessing it'll look different the next time I go walking in the forest.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

River with Obsolescent Buildings

“Downtown Problems, Patterns, & Influences," from A Market Analysis for Metropolitan Winnipeg by Reid, Crowther & Partners, 1967.

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Huzzah! My poem, "River with Obsolescent Buildings," was shortlisted for Arc's 2014 Poem-of-the-Year contest.

Which means that my poem was included in the Readers' Choice Award and available for download via's Arc's website, though without my name attached.

I didn't feel like coercing people to vote for me, to have to coyly parse out details of which poem was or was not mine.

So I didn't.

This is my third Arc shortlisting. I didn't win, place, or show the other two times. But I'm glad to be included again and, like always, I'll wait to see how the main contest - and the Readers' Choice thingy - shakes out.

(If you were also semi-secretly shortlisted or love a semi-secretly shortlisted poet, the winning poems will appear in the Summer 2014 issue...)

In the meantime, here's a map that poet Laura Lamont shared on Facebook one mid-winter afternoon. I wound up using some of the text in my poem - credited, of course - so I thought I'd share it too.

Check out the Manitoba Historical Maps Flickr group for lots of other intriguing maps. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Sunday, April 06, 2014



Cracked heel




Snow hills

All photos Assiniboine Forest, Winnipeg, MB. April 05, 2014.

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So my desktop died today. And I spent most of the first sunny days in ages in the buzzing silver hive of the Apple Store at the mall, dragging folders to safety.

I saved my essays about the Forest - or, rather the beginnings of my essays about the Forest - and then ran to the Forest.

M and I walked through granular old snow. And skirted puddles. And held hands.

There was nothing moving in the forest besides disobedient dogs and the odd chickadee.

And then I found a patch of unearthed grass, at the base of a snow hill. The snowplow would push the snow off the path onto these hills, all winter long.

So I stood there on the sodden ground, with last year's grasses moistly rotting, and tried to smell the earth. I have a terrible sense of smell, so I only got the faintest whiffs through my usual congestion. And M couldn't get anything, either.

It'll be a long time before all the snow melts.