NaPoMo poetry party.4


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It’s my pleasure to welcome Daniela Elza to our little gathering. It amazes me how it is possible to create online relationships, and I appreciate ours. It’s been years since I met you in person, just once, at a reading at the Okanagan Regional Library when you launched your first poetry collection. You are a friend, inspiration and encouragement to me.

I appreciate the considerable depth of your responses to the three questions that are becoming our unifying party chatter here. Thank you for that.

1. What is this quieter version of life teaching you?
Daniela: The quieter version of life that leads to the quieter version of me has always taught me that there’s so much wisdom there. That I’m wiser than I think, if I can still myself long enough to listen. It takes getting very still, very quiet. Now the whole world is cooperating with me to accomplish this. All my life I’ve fought hard to earn this quiet time. Now everyone says stay home, be a writer-in-residence. The world has also gotten quieter. A place where we can look into the mirror of this still surface the way we look at our reflections in a pond. And see what a mess we have made of the world. Hopefully (yes, I am an incurable optimist), hopefully, we will change a few things in our lives to become more sustainable and better stewards of this planet. It’s telling us to shape up. It’s teaching us that our reckless lives will lead to lots of misery, migration, and epidemics. If you look at what the experts are saying, you will see how we are bringing this upon ourselves. That means we can also choose to change. We have the knowledge. This quiet version of us hopefully will teach us how to also have the will and commitment to accomplish this.

2. We often say we wish we had more time for certain things. Having been given this gift of more time, what are you spending it on?
Daniela: I am spending it on writing, connecting with friends with whom I’ve been planning to hang out over the last 6 months, on submitting the submissions I couldn’t get to in the last three months, on playing games with my son (who is trying to finish his second year projects at Emily Carr University from home), we are back to having dinners together, playing scrabble, and listening to podcasts with popcorn together. I am spending it on learning to do yoga from home, since my yoga studio (after 25 years in the community) closed its doors forever after March 16. I had been going there for over half of the time they have existed. Now I’m rallying a few friends to get into the habit of doing yoga at home. Once I commit to that, and get the teaching online up and running, I will feel more anchored in my routines. After more than 50 hours of screen time teaching and prepping last week, I am also realizing there there is such a thing as screen hangover. Going back to reading the books that I’ve been waiting to read might just be what I need more of right now.

3. What is one surprising thing that happened today?
Daniela: Today I cracked open a box of 40 copies of my brand new book. Held the first copy in my hands. I didn’t have to even give my signature to the Purolator delivery man. He said he just had to be sure it’s me (no touching anything). How did he know it was me? I have no idea. But I must be doing something right if it’s easy to tell, just by looking at me in my grungy grey writing sweater and yoga pants.

Daniela Elza’s poetry collections are:

the broken boat (Spring, 2020) preorder now at
http://www.mothertonguepublishing.com/page22/2019-new-books.html
milk tooth bane bone
(Leaf Press, 2013)
the weight of dew  (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2012)
the book of It (iCrow Publications, 2011)
website: http://strangeplaces.livingcode.org/

Your beautifully crafted poem winter light resonates with me. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. And hearty congratulations on the arrival of the broken boat.

Blessings and good health,

Lesley-Anne

winter light
~ daniela elza


how harsh  our winter  is
      on the thin skin of  light
          I pick up    every morning 

to carefully     carry  across.

ice on the pond      in the backyard 
         you put your foot    down
                the morning   fractures.

as days   move through us
         I can never  tell
                where  the surface is

still frozen    where it thaws 
       with a   warm    undercurrent.
                and then     there are 

the words       we throw.

our    son     old enough now
       crouches        on the edge
            picks up a shard.      aims.

pieces glide    down the length 
         of us.     words shatter 
                 on our frozen faces.

on this pond we like to 
   play   as shafts of    light
        pierce   the cold breath of 

the afternoon.      the four of us
      over winter water  and the fear 
              of shadows on ice

what ice can    hide
    what we do    when we pick it up
         in the splintered light.


It’s a “blog hop” … let’s get hopping!


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I was nominated by Daniela Elza (or I may have invited myself by answering Daniela’s call on Facebook for writers who blog… and I do) to participate in a global blog hop that has its roots in Young Adult Fiction. Daniela and I share similar geographies, she in Vancouver and I in Kelowna, both writing from spectacular British Columbia. I had the opportunity to attend one of Daniela’s poetry readings in Kelowna a couple of years ago and purchased her compelling book of poetry, The Weight of Dew.

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Daniela Elza is a talented, widely published and awarded Canadian poet who keeps a blog called “Strange Places.” You can read Daniela’s answers to our four vital blog hop questions about writing HERE. Thank you for allowing me to jump on board with you, Daniela. This is fun!

Now a wee bit about me. My writing genre is poetry, although I write non-fiction and technical pieces occasionally. I was born in Northern Ireland and have roots in rural Ontario farm life. A sensibility toward land stewardship and the arts led me to a degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph in 1987. I find myself revisiting themes of land, spirit and human narrative often in my poetry. Photography, gardening and cooking are other creative pursuits I enjoy, and family life with husband, three young adult children and a dog keep me from getting too serious about things.

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On to my blog hop answers now;

1. What am I working on:

This month is heavy with poetry readings and performances so my current work involves creating lists of what I will read, then editing and more editing and reading the poems aloud until they roll off the tongue. Earlier in the month I participated in a short poem a day exercise with a friend and poetry mentor, Heidi Garnett. We met and worked through several draft poems together and discussed how they could be made better. Great fun and stretching for me! I am working on a collaborative poem to performing at a music and arts festival this summer. And I get out regularly with another photographer and shoot photos. I see better that way. The details of things.

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2. How does my work differ from others of its genre:

I believe in the process of discovery and unearthing one’s voice, and the more I lean into this, the more I see my poetry is primarily different because of my voice, but also in message, theme and musicality. I tend toward lyrical poetry but I am also attracted to the avant guard, the idea of words/typeography as artistic objects on the page, although I have not yet pursued this past thought. I’m always learning, and hungry to learn and apply new ideas to my work. I enjoy writing workshops, lectures, conferences, and just finished taking a fantastic Brit. Lit Survey course at Okanagan College.

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3. Why do I write what I do:

I find writing poetry is like an archeological process, one digs away and does the hard work of digging sometimes for days with nothing to show, but suddenly, there it is, a corner of some compelling artifact peeking out. So you continue to dig, but in that particular area, carefully, gently, and something more is exposed, something meaningful discovered and brought into the light. Poetry is about digging away and stockpiling all the extras that aren’t really needed, or maybe again but later, and polishing the little itsy bit worth keeping. I love the sparseness of it, although I’m still learning what this looks like. The scariest part for me is taking apart at draft poem that I thought was going somewhere and turning it on it’s head. My mentor suggests this and it makes me quake but I know she’s usually right.

4. How does my writing process work:

The above metaphor explains it well, but I find I have to make space for it. For a couple of years now I’ve created a daily space of 3 or 4 hours each morning. Then I go to work, putting in the dedicated time of writing, editing, submitting, promoting, and also getting out into the community with my work. If I have a project with a particular theme, I just start writing things down. Sometimes in a journal, sometimes on my laptop. I think on it a lot. I chew and chew. Even when my writing time is up I am in the head space of writing, leaving myself notes on my cell phone that I return to later. I am a little lost to regular life sometimes. A bit of a dreamer. And I read poetry almost every day. It’s the last thing I read before I go to bed. I read lots of different poets that come across my path. And I live my life with my family. I watch what’s going on around me. Absolutely everything can become fodder for future poetry.

My three nominees to continue this blog hop are Robert Rife, Kathie Thomas and James Bell.

Robert Rife and I go way back, back to this side of the border. Rob is, among his many talents, a lyric poet of great sensitivity and grace:

Rob Rife photo

Calgary native, Robert Alan Rife, works as the Director of Music and Arts at Yakima Covenant Church in Yakima, Washington. He is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (including Highland Bagpipes!), poet and, writer here, here, and here. His life and art are dedicated to discovering those places where life, liturgy, theology, and the arts intersect with and promote spiritual formation – who we are becoming. Rob’s blogs primarily at Innerwoven. www.innerwoven.me.

Kathie Thomas is a high energy and big hearted writing friend from Australia who has published several books. Kathie and I met online through a writer’s community and have since met in person when she did a Canadian Tour:

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My name is Kathie Thomas and I live in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, 50kms east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Surrounded by natural bushland and rainforest and visits by native bird life and wildlife – who could blame me for wanting to live here? And it’s here that I run my full time business as a Virtual Assistant. Not only that, but I provide VA training and web design and hosting services as well. Why did I start working from home? So I could bring up my 5 daughters. They are all now grown up but I continue to work at home because I love it.  My blog can be found at http://vadirectory.net/acsblog/

James Bell lives just a few mountain ranges over on the B.C. coast and we have only met virtually, though he knows my family well over many years. Jim has fallen head-over-heels in love with my country of birth, Northern Ireland, which has become his writing focus of late:

Jim Bell photo

Jim finds inspiration in many areas of his life: the education and tutoring of youth, literature, family, God and of course Ireland. He was born of Scottish descent, is a true Canadian (Brantford, Ontario), but when he married into his Northern Irish family, his focus changed. He has visited Ireland some 25 times with some stays as long as 2 months, and during those periods, his love for Irish authors grew. Jim lives with his wife, Esther now that his two daughters have married, both to men of Irish descent! His recent book, “A Year in Eire” is available here through his new blog! This blog hop will be Jim’s first post!

images-13Thank you for coming by. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know a little bit about my three writer friends and me. In two weeks time you can visit Rob, Kathie and Jim at their blogs to discover their insights into the writing life and see what three writers they highlight, and so on, and so on, every two weeks while we keep hopping along. And of course, you can go back to Daniela’s blog and work your way down other rabbit trails of writers. Everyone knows how things that hop get prolific very quickly! Just go with it.

Best for the journey,

Lesley-Anne