Canada’s Deadly Secret

Finally, the true story of Saskatchewan’s uranium will be out there for all to read, thanks to dedicated no-nukes activist, Jim Harding. Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System, has been a long time coming and chronicles 30 years of intense struggle. It comes at a time when the nuclear industry is trying to make a comeback: a uranium refinery proposed for SK, nuclear plants for the AB oilfields, and Bush’s global nuclear pact which would force us to accept nuclear wastes from abroad.

Helen Caldicott, who wrote the Foreward to Jim’s book, says,

“Harding exposes the role the government played in perpetuating nuclear propaganda through the disinformation of campaigns of its covert Uranium Secretariat and penetration of the public education curriculum…He also explores the deadly corporate planning processes that reveal the growing partnership between the oil and nuclear industries.” Harding “unveils the dark side of nuclear politics in his home province, which bears the distinction of of being the largest uranium-producing region in the world and he challenges us to explore how Canada has consistently been complicit and instrumental in the expansion of the global nuclear system.”

Jim is a retired professor of environmental and justice studies. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and International Uranium Congress and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Jim also acted as Prairie Corresponent for Nuclear Free Press and consultant to the NFB award-winning film Uranium.

Fernwood, a non-profit publisher, cannot compete with the nuclear industry’s expensive PR, but we can build grass-roots networks here and abroad to counter the pro-nuke propaganda. If you can help to organize a reading in your area, post here, and I’ll let Jim know.

Upcoming SK Book Launches

1. Sat. Sept. 29th, PCTC, Fort Qu’Appelle, 7:00 p.m. (as part of the KAIROS Prairie Conference).

2. Tuesday Oct. 16th, McNally Saskatoon Bookstore, 7 p.m.

3. Sun. Oct. 28th, Regina Exchange, 7 p.m. (as part of a Non-Nuclear Benefit).

4. Sun. Nov. 11th, Regina Unitarian Hall, morning service (still to be confirmed).

Landscape: Subject Matter or Technique?

A poem by Charles Wright has entirely captured and enraptured me. Thanks to Lorri for reading it aloud in the Severin Hall lounge at St. Peter’s Abbey one day last week.


Landscape was never a subject matter, it was a technique,

A method of measure,

                    a scaffold for structuring.

I stole its silences, I stepped to its hue and cry.

Language was always the subject matter, the idea of God

The ghost that over my little world

Hovered, my mouthpiece for meaning,

                                   my claw and bright beak…


                                              --Charles Wright


I’d love to hear what others think of this concept of landscape as technique.

A Poem for the Winter Solstice

As we move into the winter, Politics’n’Poetry wishes you light and love.

This Holy Space


In ruffles as supple as satin, a small space hangs,
suspended mid-air in the middle of the room. Unbelievably real,
this curiousity of curves perplexes, beckons, teases
her consciousness, presenting only when her mind is calm,
when she is prepared, only when she knows the window
beyond the folds of here-and-now hides behind,
only when her focus is just so, her body
nothing more than cells curving into the fabric.

Only then can she draw back the curtain,
open herself to the bright light beyond the ruff.
She gathers courage, wraps it ‘round her
like a shawl, and steps through. Her feet,
first one, then the other, tingle with a pulse
that moves up into her calves where it thickens,
rises to her thighs, then up to her Yoni centre
and through and up again to that place of individuation,
climbing still upward to the beat of her aching heart,
and up through the breath of her love and up again
through the power of voice and higher still
through wisdom and thought and finally
up and out through the crown of glory shimmering
around and down in a shower of light and colour.

Oh, she is whole!
Oh, she is beginning!


— Solstice, 2006


Writers Decry Cuts

From The Writers Union of Canada:

October 6, 2006


“The fresh round of cuts to Canada’s cultural programs by Harper Conservatives will be a serious impediment to all Canadians who enjoy visiting museums and reading books,” says The Writers’ Union of Canada chair Ron Brown.

At a recent meeting of its National Council, the Writers’ Union of Canada unanimously agreed to demand a meeting with Minister of Canadian Heritage Bev Oda to discuss the cutting of funds to a variety of cultural programs including regional museums, adult literacy and programs that promote Canadian culture abroad.

“It has become clear that this government is no great admirer of Canada’s culture,” said Brown. “Canada’s regional museums, like our writers, help tell the story of Canada to other Canadians. These institutions are strapped for funds at the best of times. This is a slap in the face of local heritage,” he said.

Adult literacy programs have also been slashed. “At the same time as the Ontario government recently launched its Spirit 2006 program to promote literacy, the federal Conservatives are placing a serious hurdle in the way of adults who want to enjoy the rewards of reading books, many of which Canadian writers create,” Brown added.

Regarding the cuts to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ “public diplomacy” program Brown added, ” It is odd that at a time when the U. S. government, which Mr. Harper so admires, has tripled its cultural diplomacy budget, our government is working to reduce ours. What better way to tell Canada’s many cultural stories abroad than through programs like these?” said Brown. ” When all these cuts are factored together, it’s as if the Harper Conservatives were ashamed of their own culture.”

The Writers’ Union of Canada is our country’s national organization representing professional authors of books. Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada, and promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic well being of all writers. For more information, please visit


– 30 –

For additional information
Ron Brown, Chair -The Writers’ Union of Canada
Deborah Windsor, Executive Director -The Writers’ Union of Canada

A New Poet Laureate in SK

Finally some poetry news.  Congratulations to Bob Currie, the new Poet Laureate for Saskatchewan!

28 September 2006

For Immediate Release

New Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Announced


Robert Currie of Moose Jaw is the new Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan.  Currie’s term will begin 01 January 2007 and will run until 31 December 2008 .


Currie has written four poetry chapbooks and five books of poetry.  His most recent work is the just-published book of poems Running In Darkness.  He has also written three works of prose (including the novel Teaching Mr. Cutler).  He has won numerous awards for his work, and in 1991 he was named as Poet Laureate of the City of Moose Jaw (jointly with Gary Hyland). He is currently working on a new poetry manuscript and a second novel.


Currie was chosen by a selection committee consisting of Elizabeth Brewster ( Saskatoon ); Michael Trussler ( Regina ); and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond ( Saskatoon ).  The selection committee’s members represent the literary, academic, and broader cultural communities. 


The selection committee is enthusiastic in their recommendation of Currie.  They note not only the beauty and skill of his poetry, but also his work in the literary community:  “Currie has been a steadfast promoter of poetry and the writing of literature in Saskatchewan .  Few writers dedicate their lives to the public promotion of literature as Currie has done; more specifically, throughout his career as a writer and teacher, he has effectively championed writers from Saskatchewan .”


Currie is the third person to hold the title of Poet Laureate; his two predecessors were Glen Sorestad (2000—2004) and Louise B. Halfe (2005—2006).


Begun in 2000, the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Program was the first provincial program of its kind in Canada .  The Poet Laureate Program is funded by the Saskatchewan Arts Board and is under the patronage of the Lieutenant Governor, His Honour the Honourable Dr. Gordon L. Barnhart.  The Saskatchewan Writers Guild administers the program and the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Saskatchewan Book Awards act in an advisory capacity.




For more information: 


Amy Nelson-Mile: 306-791-7743 or


See also and attached Bio and Backgrounder.


Bio of Robert Currie


Robert Currie, who was born in Lloydminster, lives in Moose Jaw, where for three decades he taught English and creative writing at Central Collegiate, winning the Joseph Duffy Memorial Award for excellence in the teaching of language arts.  He and his wife, Gwen, continue to live in the same house where they raised their children, Bronwen and Ryan, both of whom have moved on, raising children of their own.  Since taking an early retirement in 1996 Currie has been busy writing, editing, and volunteering.


Currie began publishing poetry and fiction in 1967, and since then his work has appeared in numerous literary magazines (Grain, Canadian Forum, Fiddlehead, CVII, NeWest Review, Queen’s Quarterly, Wascana Review, and Prairie Fire included) plus more than 40 anthologies.  He is the author of four poetry chapbooks, five books of poetry and three of prose, including the novel Teaching Mr. Cutler and the just published volume of poems Running in Darkness.


In 1969 he founded, a little magazine of contemporary writing, which he edited and published for seven years.  Although its pages were cranked out on an old gestetner, they contained many good writers before they were famous, Lorna Crozier, Lois Simmie, Glen Sorestad, and Carol Shields among them.  Currie was chairman of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild for 1973-1974, wrote a column for Freelance, taught creative writing four summers at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts at Fort San, and, with Gary Hyland, Barbara Sapergia and Geoffrey Ursell, founded Coteau Books on 1975—and still volunteers on its board.  Beginning in 1997 he spent six years on the Guild’s Colony Committee.  He was also a founding board member of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words, serving on its board through ten festival with more to come.  In 2006 he was thrilled to be on the faculty of the Sage Hill Writing Experience at Lumsden.


In 1980 Currie won third prize for poetry in the CBC National Literary Competition.  he has won first prize on four occasions in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Literary Awards (thrice for poetry, once for children’s literature).  One of his radio plays won the 1977 Ohio State Award for Radio Drama.  In 1984 he was honoured by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild with a Founder’s Award, and in 2004 he received the Guild’s Volunteer Leadership Award.


His current writing projects include a poetry manuscript and a second novel.


Backgrounder—Poet Laureate Media Release


The Program


Communities, non-profit organizations, service organizations and educational institutions may submit applications to support the participation of the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate at a public reading or special event in Saskatchewan .


Preference will be given for events that meet the following criteria:


·          are linked to a significant community event (e.g. festival, anniversary, historical milestone)

·          involve a public presentation (e.g. lecture, awards presentation, luncheon address)

·          show a willingness to promote both the event and the presence and participation of the Poet Laureate

·          involve partnerships with other organisations (e.g. school, library, service club, arts organisation)


What Costs the Program Covers


The program will cover the cost of the Poet Laureate’s fee, travel, and meal expenses.  The host organization is responsible for covering the cost of accommodation, if required.


How to Apply


To request an application form, please see or contact the Saskatchewan Writers Guild at 306-791-7743 or by e-mail at .  Applications must be received at least five weeks prior to the event, and bookings depend on the availability of the Poet Laureate and available funding.


Objectives of the Poet Laureate Program


1.       To celebrate the spirit of the people and place of Saskatchewan

2.       To raise the profile of writers in Saskatchewan

3.       To elevate writing as a vocation

4.       To raise awareness of the power of poetry and the spoken word

5.       To create a recognized spokesperson for writing in general and poetry in particular who will be a respected participant of festive occasions and official functions in the province

6.       To be a focal point for the expression of Saskatchewan cultures (time, land, people) through the literary arts.




Successful recipients will acknowledge the Poet Laureate sponsors on all printed material.



The avante garde

At Times of Hate, Times of Joy you’ll find a quote by Roger Shattuck, from The Banquet Years, about the precursors to the Dada-ists and Surrealists:

Words of Wisdom about the avant-garde

Conventionally, a work if art is considered to be the product of a different self from the one displayed in habitual action and ordinary living. A few courageous members of the avant-garde set out to extend the artistic, creative self until it displaced all guises of habit, social behavior, virture and vice. When our entire life stems from our one deepest self, the resulting personality is usually so startling and abnormal as to appear a mask or a pose. It is the ultimate paradox of human character.

However, I can’t find a comments section at that blog, so please feel free to comment here.

Or not.

Article re Legris

Visit the Globe and Mail quickly to read the full article acknowledging Canada’s new superstar poet disappears behind their pay-wall.  Here’s the teaser:

A poet’s winning season

Sylvia Legris’s break-out book won the Griffin, and her life may never be the same

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail

SASKATOON — At the beginning of this month, Sylvia Legris’s quiet poet’s life was dramatically altered when she won the coveted 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize. Three times is apparently a charm, since it was her third book of poetry, Nerve Squall (Coach House Books, 2005), that garnered top honours.

Recently Legris and I shared a discreet upstairs booth at Grandma Lee’s Bakery in downtown Saskatoon. It’s her favourite haunt, she says, because it’s low-key and serves great Rice Krispy squares, but she’s a bit on edge. Since the Griffin gala on June 1, Legris has hit the poetry jackpot, been inundated with attention and been run over by a scathing critic.

While corporate revenues top seven billion she steals

While corporate revenues top seven billion she steals

a moment alone where music blares, cubes

tinkle glass, and balls clack on green tables.

She tries to find solace in her away from home

break, a quick trip to the mall

to the new Winners, looking for wooden blocks,

finding two sets: one letter-stamped with faded primaries

the other, factory-carved, bright, bold characters,

both stickered Made in China where, she knows, gears and buttons

churn out purchases, plastics, assorted other toxins, and

more of what she thinks she just might need…

And she never says stop. Enough. No more.

No more of the bore. No more more-more bore,

cuz she’s hooked on the rush of the buy,

the eightball in the corner pocket, the next fix —

convinced this is freedom of choice:

two sets of educational blocks.

An earlier version of this poem was published in In Medias Res, St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, Fall 2004

Poetry & Politics

Here's a poetry and politics round-up for a change. 

In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Pablo Neruda said

In the midst of the arena of America's struggles I saw that my human task was none other than to join the extensive forces of the organized masses of the people, to join with life and soul, with suffering and hope, but it is only from this great popular stream that the necessary changes can arise for writers and for nations . . . Lastly, I wish to say to the people of good will, to the workers, to the poets, that the whole future has been expressed in this line by Rimbaud: 'Only with a burning patience can we conquer the splendid City, which will give light, justice, and dignity to all.'

Demetria Martinez, an American writer, was imprisoned in the 80s for assisting El Salvadorean people get into the USA.  She continues to work on immigrants’ rights issues, with Enlace Comunitario, and feels extremely empowered. by this work.  She's also published three books of poetry, a novel and, most recently, a book of essays. In this short interview she talks about self-censorship and racial profiling, among other things.

I found an interesting piece on Carl Sandburg, the radical. I've always enjoyed Sandburg's work, and maybe this is why:

Sandburg's socialism encompassed both the welfare of society as a whole and the value of the individual life. He found lyrical affirmations of the "broadest average of humanity" in the writings of Whitman, Emerson, William James. He understood the propaganda of the self-help movement in oratory, and tried like his friend Elbert Hubbard to leaven the realities of daily existence in the new industrialized society by encouraging individual initative. In the platform of the Wisconsin Social-Democratic Party, he found a design for the kind of society he envisioned

Gotta wonder what he'd be thinking of his America today…

Finally, here is a conference I'd love to attend: Poetry and Politics — but it's at the University of Sterling in Scotland this July.  Take a look at the program (DOC file) and you'll see just how great it's going to be.  Adrienne Rich (!) is the Norton Keynote Speaker. Anyone with too much money on hands or anyone travelling that way, with room in their suitcase for me, please contact me!


Thanks, Brenda, for the link to the essay that reminded me of the poem below, written after viewing an image of the Venus of Laussel and reading Sacred Pleasure by Riane Eisler.



Upon discovery you were dismissed–

another Venus, another paleolithic fantasy


For 25 million year you stood in Laussel's rock,

your happily bloated belly almost jiggling


while one hand holds a crescent moon

notched thirteen times, marking cycles


your free hand points

to your reddened venus mound and I know


you are more than man's plaything


— B_

This poem might have seen its way into one of my chaps, can't recall offhand. And I just received word that it will be included in an upcoming Sandburg-Livesay anthology.