Seasonal nostalgia

For those of us who write poetry as a way to express what we're feeling, nostalgia is a handy treasure chest. We should, though, make sure we have the light on when we rummage through it and we should wear a head torch too so we can see exactly what our fingers are poking into. Someone might have tossed a knife or a mousetrap into the chest or thrown in an old plate that broke when it landed inside. Maybe we were the ones doing the throwing and the tossing and have only ourselves to blame when we cut ourselves.

One of the things I get nostalgic about is the passing of the seasons. I'm always sad when the snow goes and I always miss the sound of the stream behind my house when it freezes over. Here's a little, wistful poem on this sort of theme.


I love to see the ground again,
though I love the snow as well.
I stop and stop and lay my hands
on copper needles warm
from light that lasts.

I gently press the tiny mosses
rebounding green each boreal year.
I dip my finger in a clump
of crystal snow, small as my boot,
that will be gone tomorrow.

Animal poetry chapbook free to welfare groups

I've produced a chapbook of poems about animals called They Bring it on Themselves and I'm offering it for free to animal welfare groups who would like to use it as a fundraiser. If you're interested or would like more details, just send me an email.

I'm hoping to produce an e-version as well but haven't quite got round to it yet. Here's a kind mention of it on Barbara Julian's Animal Literature blog.

2013 Whitehorse Poetry Festival on its way

How about spending the longest day of the year not only north of the 60th parallel but in the company of award-winning poets? The Whitehorse Poetry Festival takes place in Yukon from Thursday 20 to Sunday 23 June and it's going to be a good one. Stephanie Bolster, Brad Cran, Jamella Hagen, Ian LeTourneau, Bren Simmers, Garry Thomas Morse and Jo Shapcott are all in the line-up, along with Wolsak and Wynn editor Noelle Allen and Brick Books general manager Kitty Lewis.

To keep up to date with announcements, check

By the way, is this Canada's northernmost poetry festival?

Not just American life in poetry

Poetry doesn't have to be easy to understand but if it is, then more people are likely to read it, aren't they? Or perhaps it's just that the 'easy' poems help people feel less daunted by those poems that take a little more concentration, a little more willingness to let words merge and overlap each other like layers of paint and see how it all dries. Former US poet laureate Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry project helps make accessible poetry more accessible. Every week, Kooser posts a poem and brief introduction online that publications can print for free. Individuals can sign up free of charge too. It's like having a rectangle of sky delivered to your email in-box once a week.

Whitehorse Poetry Festival set for June 2013

Volunteers here in Whitehorse are gearing up for the biennial poetry festival in June 2013. As usual, we're anticipating a glittering line-up, including some international poetry stars. You can keep up to date at If you're interested in volunteering, let me know. Whitehorse is in Canada's Yukon, north of the 60th parallel, so coming to the festival is a chance to experience magically long hours of daylight. You could stand outside at midnight during the festival and still be able to read a book of poetry (or any other book of course).

Chapbook of animal poems

I'm thinking of producing a chapbook of animal poems as a fundraiser for animal welfare organisations. There seems to be a logic to this idea. One: I keep writing poems about animals and probably always will. Two: I don't seem to be able to stop writing poems long enough to do something useful to help animals. I'm probably going to call it The Abattoir Worker's Wife and will include poems that look at human relationships with animals: the meat industry, vivisection, hunting, for example. Perhaps not the lightest of reads then. The Poetry Archive, by the way, has some lovely poems about animals in the children's archive.