Category Archives: Travelling In the World

St. Peter’s Abbey: Day Four

St. Peter’s Abbey is oldest Benedictine monastery in Canada. It was founded in 1903. In the early pictures, there is a distinct lack of trees, but over the years the Brothers have created a green oasis in the middle of the sweeping prairie. I have not done much outdoor exploring though. I enjoy the greenery mostly from my window and that’s because this whole area is tick-infested and I don’t want one of those creepy parasites digging into my flesh. When I do walk, I stick to the gravel roads, which are apparently safe from creepy crawlies. There are always surprises on residencies, but this was one I could have missed.

A great surprise was discovering that my Old friend Art Slade was here for three days giving a workshop on writing YA fiction. All of us enjoyed talking to and teasing Art. I love reconnecting with writers, especially those who write in the same genre!

Last night, Father D gave us a tour of the Abbey, including the college, and the cellars. I’ve posted a picture of him below. The Abbey is always on the lookout for fresh Monks. Male, over eighteen, Catholic, Find out information here. I can actually see a lot of advantages to being a monk, of which I won’t list at the moment. Of course, I don’t qualify on so many levels, but others will.

All of this peace has given me some much needed time to reflect on loss and love and out of that I’ve remember that the pain never outshines the love. Not in the end. Love is too strong. We won’t ever replace our Kitty Moffat, but one day we will all be strong enough to bring another four legged friend into our lives.

Just not yet. But a friend said to me, “Pets are temporary. They are given to us for a short period of time. During this time, they need a home and love, just like anyone else. That’s what we give to them and we get so much more back.” So, if you are suffering the loss of your four-legged friend, close the door for as long as you need, but keep it unlocked!

Yikes, metaphors… that’s what happens at a writing residency.

I’ve been working hard on new ideas, researching those ideas and getting about a thousand words a day down on the page. Not all good words, mind you, but I’m forcing myself to do what I always tell new writers to do. I’m showing up at the page EVERY morning. Something great will come out of all of this work, I know.

One of the poets asked me what it felt like for a West Coaster to be way out here in the prairie. I replied, “I feel safe and protected like I’m in the middle of a soft, King-sized bed and no matter how much I roll around, I can’t fall off the edge.”

Saskatchewan is like that. Our nearest village is Muenster, a five minute walk up the road. The abbey is surrounded by huge farms; fields of purple and yellow and green and gold. The nearest town, where there is liquor store (which we all care about), is Humboldt. Humboldt is a city recovering from terrible tragedy, filled with warm and friendly people.

The Brothers and Fathers here at St. Peters’s were and continue to play a large part in their acceptance of the bus crash that took so many young lives from this area.

Next time, I hope I get to tell you about the wind.

 

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St. Peter’s Abbey 2019

This is a very brief posting, but more to follow over the next week.

Quite a few years ago, I spent a couple of weeks in Muenster, Saskatchewan at a writing colony at St. Peter’s Abbey. At that time, I made incredible progress on the book I was working on and I met a handful of Canadian writers, some of whom I am still in touch with.

Now, late into the hot, languid days of July, I’ve returned. It’s been an impossibly difficult week, since we had to euthanize our Kitty Moffat last Sunday (July 20, 2910) and the anticipation I’d been feeling for my week at St. Pete’s all but disappeared when Kitty’s eyes closed for the last time. But now that I’m here, in my monastic white room with its narrow single bed and windows looking out at grove of maple trees dancing in the warm Saskatchewan wind, I think that being here and surrounded by quiet and nature is exactly what I need.

I sent my last book out to a publisher a few months ago and I am patiently awaiting word. I’d hoped to have heard by now, so that I could work on editing, but alas, nothing. I can only hope that in the next few days, I’ll find something to write about.

Otherwise, I’ll have lots of time to reflect under the wide prairie sky. For that, I am thankful.

Kitty Taking it EasyLove.

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Applications for Residencies at Historic Joy Kogawa House

Residencies at Historic Joy Kogawa House
The Historic Joy Kogawa House is seeking applications for residencies in 2020. The House aims to offer a voice and space for representatives from groups that may experience barriers or feel marginalized within mainstream society; writers whose work resonates with these aims are strongly encouraged to apply. Deadline: February 28. Learn more.

This is such an amazing opportunity for a Canadian writer. The Joy Kogawa House does so much for the literary scene in Vancouver and residents will benefit from the peaceful space to create as well as the opportunity to get to know local writers. I have held book launches here, as have many of my writing colleagues and friends and I’ve attended many readings so can attest to it being a very special part of Vancouver.

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Maelor, Wales Remembering How to Play

It’s hard to believe but my residency at Stiwido Maelor, in Corris, Wales is coming to a close. It’s been a very successful, inspiring and wonderful three weeks. During that time, I’ve managed to edit and submit the almost final draft of my upcoming novel to my publisher Second Story Press, in Toronto, Canada. This would never (and those of you who are writers can confirm this), have been possible if I hadn’t been given the gift of time and freedom to write.

Beyond that, I’ve made friends with other artists and writers from all over the world.

And beyond that, I’ve discovered a magical corner of the world that it’s hard to get to from Vancouver, but worth the long hours it took to get here.

Last night I went to sleep trying to figure out what it is that makes an extended period of time away from real life in a place like Corris so extraordinary and difficult to describe. I didn’t come up with the answer before I drifted off, but this was my dream:

I was jumping on a trampoline with a group of unknown people; the only thing I actually knew about them was that they were artists and writers and they were having a good time. Every so often, one of us would leap off the tramp and skip rope or just lie on our backs in the grass. I was doing just that in my dream when a man and his little girl walked by. “What on earth are they doing?” the dad said to his daughter.

The little girl looked up him with a puzzled expression on her face. When she replied, she sounded worried or maybe puzzled. “They are playing, Daddy,” she said. “Have you forgotten how?”

And I think that’s what I’ve been remembering for the last three weeks; how to play and be free and create without any restraints. As they say here, ‘that’s brilliant.’ And it is.

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Stiwdio Maelor; Wales Writing Residency

One of the greatest gifts a writer can have is being invited to spend time in a Residency. Last year, I applied and was accepted to an International Writers’ Residency in Wales. The process of applying seems so long ago, but suddenly it’s only a month away. My heritage on my mother’s side is Welsh so in a strange way, it feels like I will be travelling to a country that feels familiar, even though that familiarity is a product of stories I heard as a child and my imagination.

I’ll have the precious gift of time to write and I hope to keep up a blog while I am there, so check back for news and stories of my time in Wales.

I’ll be at stiwdiomaelor, and no, I can’t pronounce it yet, but that will change when I arrive mid-May. Thank you to Australian artist Veronica Calarco for giving me this wonderful opportunity to Write in Peace.

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There’s something unknown waiting for me! 

 

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Ottawa Shooting, Lest We Forget: Hold on to the Dream (of Peace)

When I woke up this morning to the news of the shootings in Ottawa I felt sick and saddened because my Canada has never included gunfights in the Parliament Buildings.

Like many Canadians, I heard the news on CBC first and like many Canadians I tripped over myself leaping to conclusions. Conclusions about who did it and why, anger toward the Harper government, fear about travel, and personal security.  And then I tried to make myself stop, to slow down and push away hateful thoughts of blame and fear and hopelessness. To pause and think about the victims. To take a deep breath and send a prayer to our Capital City.

It was a struggle, until out of nowhere, Roger Waters started to sing to me 🙂

As an avid Pink Floyd Fan, who has probably listened to The Final Cut a thousand times, the lyrics to The Gunner’s Dream flooded unbidden into my mind. I remembered how I used to listen to this song and sing along feeling incredibly lucky, blessed even, that as Canadians we, can relax on both sides of the tracks and maniacs don’t blow holes in bandsmen by remote control. And everyone has recourse to the law. And no-one kills the children anymore.

Had a crazed and bloody morning in Ottawa destroyed our country’s sense of security?

Had an insane act of misdirected hate taken away my right to feel lucky about being Canadian?

“Canada under attack,” said one reporter. Fear mongering and hate can grow from these three simple words. But just because it happened once, doesn’t mean it has to happen again.

I don’t believe we should be at war with anyone and many, many Canadians are of the same mind. The decision to drop bombs in a far away place was never a democratic one. So, it’s up to those of us who believe in Peace to not let the horror in Ottawa destroy us. It’s up to us to “Hold on to the dream.”

Do it for Corporal Nathan Cirillo, (Rest in Peace).

*Fellow bloggers, out of respect for CPL Nathan Cirillo, let’s not ever name the shooter online. Let’s use social media to erase him.

Julie

The Gunner’s Dream (Waters) 

Floating down through the clouds
Memories come rushing up to meet me now.
In the space between the heavens
and in the corner of some foreign field
I had a dream.
I had a dream.
Good-bye Max.
Good-bye Ma.
After the service when you’re walking slowly to the car
And the silver in her hair shines in the cold November air
You hear the tolling bell
And touch the silk in your lapel
And as the tear drops rise to meet the comfort of the band
You take her frail hand
And hold on to the dream.
A place to stay
“Oi! A real one …”
Enough to eat
Somewhere old heroes shuffle safely down the street
Where you can speak out loud
About your doubts and fears
And what’s more no-one ever disappears
You never hear their standard issue kicking in your door.
You can relax on both sides of the tracks
And maniacs don’t blow holes in bandsmen by remote control
And everyone has recourse to the law
And no-one kills the children anymore.
And no one kills the children anymore.

Night after night
Going round and round my brain
His dream is driving me insane.
In the corner of some foreign field
The gunner sleeps tonight.
What’s done is done.
We cannot just write off his final scene.
Take heed of his dream.
Take heed.

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The Kent Harrison Arts Council Artist in Residence Program

The Kent Harrison Arts Council Artist in Residence Program
Visual Artist / Writer in Residence
Program Dates: September 1st – August 23rd

Kent Harrison Arts Council is a not for profit organization, nurturing and supporting local arts and culture in the region for over 40 years. The arts council operates the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison Hot Springs, BC and is supported by the BC Arts Council. We are currently seeking writers or visual artists for a one year artist residency. The art gallery and artist residence are located on the shore of beautiful Harrison Lake, approx. 100 kms  east of Vancouver.

The annual residency provides an unfurnished 2 bedroom suite with adjoining studio space on second floor of the Ranger Station Art Gallery. In exchange for this space the Artist in Residence will be expected to devote an average of ten hours per week to the operation of the Arts Council and the Ranger Station Art Gallery.  The majority of this time will be spent working in the Gallery on Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays from 1:00pm to 5:00pm.  The Artist in Residence will also present an annual art exhibit of their work in June and organize two public outreach programs or workshops. Artist in residence is responsible for monthly utility costs of residence and studio. Please refer to the artist in residence job description for specific duties and responsibilities at: kentharrisonartscouncil.com

Artist in Residence Job Description:

The Ranger Station Art Gallery
98 Rockwell Dr. Harrison Hot Springs, BC
Phone #: 1 604 796-2723  email:  kentharrisonartscouncil@shaw.ca

The Kent Harrison Arts Council Residency program is a one year contract running from September 1 to August 15 and is presented by the Kent Harrison Arts Council

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