Saturday, December 8, 2012

Inspiration, Imagination, Intuition: Email Writing Workshop

This seven-week email workshop will be of interest to anyone who wants to explore the creative process through writing. It will benefit both beginning and established writers in all genres from fiction and poetry to technical writing and memoir. Participants will: 

  •  make the space to write – physical, mental, emotional  
  • practice easy and effective writing guidelines to move through creative blocks     
  • hush those internal nay-saying voices that lead to abandoned writing projects
  • enjoy writing opportunities that invite the muse to play
  • bring mindful awareness to the creative process

How the workshop will work:

-      Each week the facilitator will email a short discussion of an aspect of the writing/creative  process, along with an opportunity to practice through a specific writing exercise.
-      If they choose to, participants will email back their responses: short excerpts from what they have written in response to the assignment; and/or insights that arose from completing the assignment.
-      With participants’ permission, a selection of these responses will be sent anonymously as encouragement to all workshop participants.

The seven-week workshop will begin January 8. Cost is $85.00. Payment by check, cheque or Paypal. Registration deadline: January 4. 

I will donate 30% of tuition to the Zen Monastery Peace Center

What previous participants in the workshop have said:

clear, imaginative and supportive
- KM, British Columbia 

It was fun to open an e-mail and see what was in store for me that week. This is a wonderful and gentle way to start coming out as a writer.
JZ, Alberta

Your questions for us regarding the ideal writing space had me traveling ...emotionally....physically...historically...habitually...returning to my own home place.
CW, Saskatchewan

To register, contact: 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pages and Patches: Review of Watermarks

Pages and Patches: Watermarks - Laura Burkhart:
Watermarks Author: Laura Burkhart
Publisher: Wild Sage Press Web:

You might suppose creative licence means you can do whatever you like as an artist, but much like any licence, say for driving, hunting, or practicing medicine, there are rules to follow. Creative licence isn’t a hall pass into anarchy – artists have an obligation to their craft to make it worth our attention and time. Some art might teach, while other art might simply teach the lesson of beauty.
                Laura Burkhart’s Watermarks is a collection of Carpe Diem poetry, the purpose of which is to teach us to seize the day, and by extension, our lives. To find fulfilling personal experiences, Burkhart’s poems seem to say, is a pursuit of transcendence above our egos. After all, the final piece, a sonnet titled “Time”, ends with the phrase, “Time is of the essence. Who said that?” Burkhart’s question perhaps points to our desire to find answers at the risk of missing the point.
                We are finite; one day even our legacies will be watermarks on stone. Why not leave a beautiful mark?
                I don’t mean to turn this review into an epistemology discussion – because truly, Burkheart’s Watermarks is a tour of gaping wonder. While asking the big questions about life, her command of sound alone lifts us to that higher plane of the sublime. Note the lilting line in “Household Effects”:
                                An accessory to beautify, frou-frou embellishment, gimcrack knickknack, maybe one
                             they chose together on a rare outing to the country on one Sunday afternoon touring
                                antique shops.
The speaker in this poem discusses her curiosity regarding a news story about a woman who murders her husband with a “household ornament.” The poem is both an absurd seize-the-day story and, simply, is a lot of fun to read.
                Many of Burkhart’s works are playful, such as the opening “Advice from Noah’s Wife”, in which the prophet’s marital partner questions the logistics of the biblical journey and her husband, who needs looking after just as much as the animals. Gender is a prominent theme of Watermarks, as many of the female voices are empathizing tourists journeying through Hawaii, the Middle East, and Asia. Their surroundings are mystical, and the people in them are curiosities, sometimes tragically so.
                The transition from ecstasy to tragedy is stark in Watermarks. “Feed Me”, an example of ecstasy, is a call to worldly delights:
                                Start with that strawberry, the crimson one,
                                plump drops of moisture on its skin. Then move on
                                to praise a poet, Rumi say, or sing a psalm
                                of David to Bathsheba. Next on the menu
                                a belly laugh so deep and pure it attaches
                                to my wit and holds me tight
                                as you do in the night.
Several poems later, we are brought to “Burdened As We Are”. Here, “Headstones grow from our spines.” The transition from “Feed Me,” where the body is built for pleasure becomes a thing that will ultimately pass. Burkhart teaches us to pass on to the next life, without passing up this one.

Devin Pacholik is a book reviewer with Global News Regina, an Editor with Fine Lifestyles, Business Regina, and Business Saskatoon magazines, a humourist, and author.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hawaiian Launch a Success!

The room  was filled to overflowing. Members of the
Inkwells read from their work, and selected poems
from Watermarks made their Hawaiian debuts.

Food, fun, and visiting until the library closed.Lauren Lobowocki, talented local caterer, augmented the food and mulled cider with excerpts from the poems. Yes, the fruit on the platter is all locally-grown.

More photos to follow (photo of me by Elena Graham; food photos by me). I'm also figuring out how to upload an audio file (MP3) of one of the poems.

Inkwell readers were Michael Foley, Julia Rooney and Lynn Mallard - watch for more from them!
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Interview with Alice Munro

by Deborah Treisman, fiction editor of the New Yorker:

My favorite quote: "I have never kept diaries. I just remember a lot and am more self-centered than most people."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hawaiian Launch of Watermarks November 26

Mark your calendars for this post-Thanksgiving celebration. North Kohala Library at 6:30 pm. It will be fun!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Watermarks Launched in Saskatchewan

I'm home again, after the Wild Sage Press launch of Watermarks and How to Be a River (Brenda Niskala). It was great to see so many friends all in one place. A standing-room-only crowd at Connaught Library in Regina enjoyed music by Seven Seas, and readings by the authors on a gorgeous fall evening in mid-October. Barbara Kahan, publisher, also produced some great collector cards based on poems - you can see them at Wild Sage Press. Rumor has it that some broadsheets, with poems and images, are also in the works. Here I am, about to start the reading. Great glasses, eh?

Next reading: November 26, North Kohala Library, 6:30 pm

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Poem from the fair: tanka

How the poetry booth works: fair-goers give us ideas we call prompts. Prompts can be titles, themes, phrases, grocery lists, whatever comes to mind. We take the prompt, put pen to paper and see what emerges. Sometimes the poem even speaks to the topic! It's great writing practice and a good opportunity to send ego off to watch the spam-carving contest while the muse settles down at the table.

I've just been introduced to this "mother of the haiku" (sorry, don't know who I'm quoting). Here's a tanka ( I wrote yesterday at the Inkwell Booth:

The Green Path

Many-legged gap-toothed
path unseen by color-blind.
We stumble against
cherry trees. They shower us
with petals, soft as kindness.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Inkwells: Poems by Request

Every year our community hosts an annual fair, with music, games for the kids, crafts and booths that offer food and locally-produced goods. Our writing group's contribution - poetry on demand. If you're in the North Kohala area next Saturday, October 6, stop by the booth and we'll write you a poem.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

In Both Languages

Here's a poem from my poetry collection, Watermarks, which will be published next month:

In Both Languages

Here on earth we translate eyes
into ears and hearts into words.
We run needles through streams,
thread thoughts together like leaves
on barren trees. Today the dogs
next door bark unceasing, and my cat

hasn’t returned from his morning walk.
His breakfast waits like a new hat
for a headless giant. Perhaps the animals
have all gone up the mountain, or would
if they weren’t tied here by rope or loyalty.

Mynah birds wait until almost too late, give
a last warning squawk, then turn into dark
receding blots against the sky.

Where will you be when the earth trembles
like an enraged lover?

How will you translate into meaning
what you grab to take along? What
will fill your open hands, what will
tumble on the path when you follow
the animals up the mountain?

I used to think I would seize
my contact lenses on the way outside
in the middle of the night: what good
would I be in an emergency if I
couldn’t see? Later, it was my laptop,
all that history I didn’t want to lose.

Now, today, this evening, I would take
only myself, and urge my dog and cat
to follow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walk to Writers’ Group

In North Kohala the weather is moody as a tired child. One moment the sun beats down desert-hot rays; the next it’s raining sideways. Another minute and the sun returns to steam moisture from the ground.
This morning I walk down the lane to the highway, smell of night-time rain still in the air, Allen Sapp clouds in a sky so blue it would be unbelievable if painted on a canvas. Another day in paradise and I’m on my way to meet the other Inkwells, our Wednesday morning writers’ group.

When the dog and I walk down the highway I notice dark clouds move in. But the rain only threatens until we’ve walked a mile. Then, just outside the credit union, the monsoon strikes. I have an umbrella, but the wind picks up and nothing can withstand the trades when they work themselves into a squall (like that over-tired child having a tantrum). In thirty seconds the dog and I are both drenched.

A white van pulls up across the road, blue bubble on the roof. It’s Jonathan, one of the dog’s favorite people and the police officer who provides procedural advice on the murder mystery I’m writing. He passed us when the rain started, then turned around to offer us a ride. We pile our sodden selves into the van and he drives us the remaining mile to meet the other Inkwells.

North Kohala – there’s no place like it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

New book of poetry

My second book of poetry, Watermarks, will be published in October. More information at Wild Sage Press

Book launches and readings will take place at Connaught Library, Regina Saskatchewan on October 17 at 7:30 pm, and at the North Kohala library on the Big Island of Hawai`i on November 26 at 7:00 pm.