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Collins and Canada

I’m delighted to be joining the celebration of former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and his 76th birthday on March 22nd. (Thanks to  Heidi Mordhorst and others for the suggestion and heads-up on this!)

Though I don’t have any complete books of Billy Collins’ poetry, I’ve come across many of his poems online and have heard him read and lecture on YouTube. I always enjoy his work. To me it has a Seinfeld-ish vibe—poetry about little inconsequential things that are almost nothing, but in his hands become big, consequential metaphors of life and relationships.

The Poetry Foundation is where I found the poem of his that jumped out at me for today’s celebration. We in Canada are celebrating too. This year is our 150th Anniversary as a country. I’m helping to edit, for our local poetry society, an anthology in honour of that birthday, so I’ve read quite a few poems about Canada lately and was delighted to find a poem of Billy Collins’ called “Canada.”

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Canada Bag – Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly

Canada

– Billy Collins

I am writing this on a strip of white birch bark
that I cut from a tree with a penknife.
There is no other way to express adequately
the immensity of the clouds that are passing over the farms
and wooded lakes of Ontario and the endless visibility
that hands you the horizon on a platter.

I am also writing this in a wooden canoe,
a point of balance in the middle of Lake Couchiching,
resting the birch bark against my knees…

Read the rest…

I used Collins’ “Canada” as a mentor poem for my own Canada poem:

Canada

– Violet Nesdoly

I am writing this on a beaver tail
that my camera captured
beside a dammed prairie stream
under a canopy of blue
that sets off bordering quilt blocks
of yellow, brown and gold.

I am also writing this in Tim Horton’s
where I have just rolled up the rim
to “Please Play Again”
and am thinking of ordering
another coffee along with more hope
of a CRV, TV or even a Tim’s card
to help colour the long white winter.

O Canada, as the anthem goes,
scene of massive mountains
and mosquitoey lakes,
you are the memory of Mountain Lake,
the one-room school on the Saskatchewan prairie
where I learned to skate and spool knit
play Rook and binge read
sumptuous fare: Pookie and Old Yeller
My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead
Caddie Woodlawn, White Fang
Pat of Silverbush and Mistress Pat
which wondrously arrived
from time to time
in a traveling box.

O Canada, I want to be friends
as long as my memory lasts
to snap the bluebells in spring
and herons in fall,
cool off with Iced Capps® in summer
hibernate with poutine in winter
knit toques and pick Saskatoon berries
with only the occasional foray
over the line.
See that north-moving row of cars
approaching the Aldergrove crossing?
The woman in the passenger seat
of the blue Honda
wiping Edaleen ice-cream off her hands
before she digs for her passport
is me.

© 2017 (All rights reserved)

Happy Birthday, Billy Collins (and Heidi Mordhorst, who also has a birthday in March)!

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Heidi Mordhorst and her blog My Juicy Little Universe.

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Posted by on March 3, 2017 in Poems by others, Poetry Friday

 

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January Almanac

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Ice sculptures form in the creek – Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly

January Almanac

Frosted black pavement
Slush hillocks turned ice, packed snow
Slippery when wet

Streetlights spot diamonds
Every street a booby-trap
of black ice

East outflow winds
Harsh, strong, glittering, long
freeze-drying Winter

Puffy Capsize coat
Icebreaker socks, Northside boots
my new best friends

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Winter has caught my attention. This year we’ve had particularly long cold spells with snow off and on since mid-December. Then mid-day the temperature warms to just above freezing and for a few hours the snow melts till the temps dip again. The pair of sturdy, warm hiking boots I bought way back in October is getting lots of use. No falls on the ice so far!

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Keri at Keri Recommends.

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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Haiku, Nature, Poetry Friday

 

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Vancouver Island

Today (July 1st) is Canada Day! A Happy 149th Birthday to Canada, the country I love. As you can imagine, the birthday celebrations this year will be eclipsed by celebrations next year when Canada turns 150. (Our poetry society is planning to publish a book of poetry to commemorate the event. Our members are busy writing about Canada. That bit of writing is also on my to-do list.)

Today, a poem about one of my favorite places in Canada to visit. Though it’s just a 90-minute ferry ride away, Vancouver Island is a special place full of memories of the wonderful times we’ve spent there. The accompanying slide show lets you see just a few of its features. Of course the best part of any place we visit is the friends we have there.

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Vancouver Island

Ninety-minute crossing meanders between Gulf Islands
from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay
slows us down to island speed

Drive roadways lined with rocky outcrops and arbutus trees
that shed their trunks in curling rusty flakes

Shiver in bone-cold Port Hardy fog
Breathe air that feels thick as a milkshake.

Watch whales breach, sea lions sunbathe
on a brilliant Telegraph Cove morning

Spend a day wandering Chemainus
camera in hand gathering murals

Gawk at Buddha statues and goats
on the roof of the Coombs market

Stroll past Victoria’s Parliament Buildings outlined in lights
to the skirl of the bagpipes of buskers

Talk with my friend till late
Wood fire embers snap a sleepy goodnight
as I head to the guest room

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Poetry Friday

 

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Savary Island in September

Our weather has turned gorgeous again after a couple of weeks of welcome rain. The last few days remind me of a September holiday we took some years ago. We spent part of it in the area of B.C. called the Sunshine Coast. On that trip we drove the whole highway from Langdale (near Gibsons) to Earl’s Cove and then caught a ferry to Powell River.

One day in PR we took the road north of town to a tiny settlement called Lund. At the marina there we boarded a water taxi for Savary Island.

What a magical place! There were no cars on the very basic roads. A walk through the woods took us to a small settlement where there was a store—which was closed for the season (fortunately we had brought along a small lunch). A walk along the beach took us past some cottages.  But mostly it was waves sloshing onto the white sand under sunny peacefulness.

I started the poem below sitting on the beach of Savary Island waiting for the water taxi to take us back to the mainland.

Savary Island in September

Savary Island in September (Photo © 2008 by V. Nesdoly)

Savary Island in September

Time dozes in the sun-brilliant afternoon
wind holds its kelpy breath
chorus of invisible crickets
trills a shrill chord to a motor’s drone

At the dock a boat
coughs to life
low-loaded it putt—putts
from the harbour

Voices echo in the still salt air
clear, glassy as the mirrored
double-boats anchored beside the two-headed
orange, yellow and white buoys

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the multi-talented Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Nature, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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Canadian Rivers

Our poetry group is part of the Abbotsford Arts Council meet and mingle event at Mill Lake Park on Saturday afternoon. We’ll even be giving a short poetry reading.

Because Canada Day is just around the corner I was reminded of and have decided to read a couple of Canadian poems that I wrote a few years ago. One that I’ve been practicing is “Canadian Rivers.”

I’ve posted it on the blog before but I’m re-posting it today, along with a recording of it. Maybe it will whet your appetite to discover some of our beautiful Canadian rivers for yourself!

 

Unnamed Alberta river seen from the air

The river in the photo (name unknown) meanders across the Alberta prairie between Lethbridge and Calgary. (Photo © 2007 by V. Nesdoly)

 

Canadian Rivers

Headwaters drip from snowy melt of mountain glaciers
gurgle down glistening rock faces in nameless rivulets.
Fed by rain and sibling trickles they become sinuous streams
adolescent-eager in descent, unafraid to dash against boulders
froth into canyons, course over rock beds till they reach the flat.

Mature and strong they gouge valleys, meander through meadows
nurture forests, bears and eagles, rejuvenate farms and hamlets
flow regal yet restless through villages and cities
under bridges and over tunnels
ever pressing on to an ocean destination.

The watermark of veins, arteries and capillaries on our maps
they carve their initials, scrawl their signatures
all over Canada: Snake, MacKenzie, Coppermine
Exploits, Hillsborough, Saint John, Margaree, Moisie
St. Lawrence, Red, Qu’Appelle, Athabasca, Cowichan…

Named by Indians and explorers for Indians and explorers
they inscribe the plot lines of our history
hide the gold and call the salmon
propel the ferries, carry the logs, barges and ships
pave thoroughfares for tugboats, speedboats, kayaks, canoes.

We settle beside them for their sustenance and beauty
feel betrayed when, with spring-fevered earthlust
their swift-flowing waters bite off chunks of our land.
Then we fear them, dredge them, soil them,
treat them, dyke them, dam them.

I have toe-squished the mud of the South Saskatchewan
pulled Jackfish from the North
been awed by the Hell’s Gate fierceness of the Fraser
spied loons and cormorants gulping fish in the Nicomekl
otters cavorting in the Serpentine

driven miles beside the Thompson
as it winked at me through clearings
admired the canyons carved by the Bulkley
dreamed the legends of the Kispiox
listened from a tent to the night secrets of the Skeena …

Oh for more lifetimes
to make all of them mine.

© 2007 by Violet Nesdoly

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday. It’s hosted this week by Carol at Carol’s Corner.
This poem was first published at Utmost Christian Writers Canadian site where it received honorable mention in 2007 Canadian Landscape Poetry Contest.
 

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Winter blossoms

Lighted trees in Douglas Park - Langley, BC, Canada

Lighted trees in Douglas Park – Langley, BC, Canada

Winter blossoms

In the verdant season
under sun’s bright ray
in its warm expanding light
trees flower by day.

In the other season
of cold and fading light
pines and cedars, trunks and twigs
bloom at break of night.

© 2014 by V. Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Christmas, Light, Nature

 

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