I’m singing in hell

I’m singing in hell

This is a place where my City Councillor invokes
UN property rights instead of human rights
for the 130 people evicted
from a rundown apartment block
destined for demolition,

where the Mayor, hell-bent on the erection
of Pat’s Palace and a domed stadium
over social housing, believes he’s a big man,

where the Province slowly slits the wrists
of the homeless shelter in North Battleford
eases its way out of funding social programs,

where the country is led by a Stalinist who bullies
women, environmentalists, blames First Nations
communities, the victims of a system of Apartheid
for their own poverty and who decimates the lives
of those who dare to challenge his decrees,

(Think nuclear: Linda Keen. Think military:
Richard Colvin. Think tarsands: Andrew Frank.)

I’m in a place where I know the world wants better
but is blocked
and expected to kiss the ass of the corporate brass
who own our governments,
who know the score,
pay the piper
and call the tune.

But be damned if I’ll sing that song!
Hell no! I’m singing
We shall not be moved,
Solidarity Forever,
Give peace a chance.

And I’m not alone

Hell no! We’re singing together,
back to the future, into the next seven generations
because we will not be moved,
because our solidarity will last forever
because we will give peace a chance
until this hell transforms

and we’re living our dreams of living in
a sustainable global society founded on
respect for nature, universal human rights,
economic justice, and a culture of peace.”1

1 From The Earth Charter and recorded by Carolyn McDade & Friends on the CD, My Heart Is Moved

CD Launch

My Heart is Moved


Photograph by Cherie Westmoreland

CD Launch

This project,
My Heart is Moved, is deeply local,
circles of women caring for the global and local
possibilities in their lands and communities.

~ Carolyn McDade

In early June 2007, seven Saskatchewan women traveled to Boston to record the vocal tracks for My Heart Is Moved, a new CD of music by Carolyn McDade & Friends. In all, 85 women from 10 different bio-regions of North America — many of whom had never before met — gathered to sing! All who were there brought with them the breath and life of their local communities, the voices of all in their circles, the amazing preparation and intention of the local group, into the focused work of rehearsals and recording. Songs shaped collaboratively in word and sound by beloved artists, given instrumental voice by exquisite musicians were further shaped as they were sung in community.


Please join Carolyn McDade & Friends and the Saskatchewan Singers of the Sacred Web to listen to, sing and celebrate this new release of songs that gives us an emotional entry into the profound and urgent wisdom of the Earth Charter.

7:30 pm Thursday, October 25, 2007
St. Andrews College
1121 College Drive
University of Saskatchewan

7:30 pm, Friday, October 26, 2007
Sunset United Church
177 Sunset Drive




This music, drawn from the heart and words of The Earth Charter, pulls us to where waters run. . . seep. . . pool. . . We need these songs if we are ever to rudder ourselves through the narrows to a deeper understanding of who we are as planetary and cosmic beings, intent on the wellbeing of the community of life of which we are inextricably a part. ~ Carolyn McDade

The Earth Charter is a global People’s document that addresses how we, Earth’s people, need to exist in relationship with one’s self, with others, with Earth, and the larger whole if we are to sustain human life on this planet. Current work on the Charter began in 1994 with Maurice Strong, Chair of the 1992 Rio Summit, and former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, Founder of Green Cross International. The aim of the movement is to have the Charter officially recognized by the United Nations.

The project title, My Heart Is Moved, comes from an Adrienne Rich poem, Natural Resources, published in her1978 book, The dream of a common language.

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those,
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

We invite you to let your heart be moved by this beautiful music, to cast your lot with ours as we move from the aquifer of our hearts and souls to reconstitute the world. If you are not in Saskatchewan, you may be able to take in other launch celebrations in Canada and the USA. CDs will be available for sale at the launches and can be purchased in Regina at Bach & Beyond or online.

For additional information, please visit www.carolynmcdademusic.com, email myheartismoved@yahoo.ca.

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



The Canada Council for the Arts named the prize winners for the 2006 Governor General’s Literary Awards.  The prize for poetry went to John Pass.  Congrats!

John Pass, Madeira Park (BC), for Stumbling in the Bloom
(Oolichan Books; distributed by University of Toronto Press) (ISBN 0-88982-201-8)

John PassJohh Pass


John Pass, born in Sheffield, England, has lived in Canada since 1953. He has a BA in English from UBC (1969) and teaches at Capilano College. He has written 14 books; his poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in Canada and abroad. He has won the CIVA Canada Poetry Prize (1988), the Gillian Lowndes Award (2001) and an award from the League of Canadian Poets. The Hour’s Acropolis was short listed for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (1992); Water Stair was also shortlisted for the Livesay Prize (2001) and the Governor General’s Literary Award (2000). John Pass lives in Madeira Park, B.C.

Jury’s comment

John Pass’s poems are luminous meditations engaging us in form and style with emotion, spirit and thought. Stumbling in the Bloom approaches the world’s beauty with awe and tenderness, celebrating all that engulfs and eludes us.

–> Download a high resolution image of the book cover.
–> Download a high resolution image of the author. (Photo : Keith Shaw)

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 http://www.writersunion.ca.


– 30 –

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

Poetry and Music

This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for having both poetry and music in my life.  I read and write poetry and count several poets as friends.  And, I have a partner who plays a great guitar, has an vinyl album collection second to none and loves me.  Our kids are fast becoming talented musicians and pretty fine writers, too.

So, when I found Language Log’s, Poem in the key of what, I was naturally interested.

The idea behind this paper is that the pitch contours of speech naturally express the same sorts of melodic intervals that occur in music. This is an old idea, prominent already in Paṇini’s work two and a half millennia ago, but Schreuder et al. have a new idea about how to look for the phenomenon. While it’s clear that musical intervals are part of the stylized forms of speech that we call “chanting”, I’ve always been skeptical that well-defined intervals (in the sense of small-integer ratios of pitch values) play a role in unchanted speech. I’ll explain some reasons for my skepticism later in this post. However, it would be fun to be wrong on this one.

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 amynelson.mile@sasktel.net


See also http://www.skwriter.com 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 http://www.skwriter.com or contact the Saskatchewan Writers Guild at 306-791-7743 or by e-mail at amynelson.mile@sasktel.net .  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.



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.