Fresh Voices 18

Welcome to the eighteenth edition of Fresh Voices, a project from and for the League’s associate members, edited by Joan Conway (Check out her personal blog!) and Blaine Marchand. The League’s associate members are talented poets who are writing and publishing poetry on their way to becoming established professional poets in the Canadian literary community. We are excited to be taking this opportunity to showcase the work of our associate members in this series!

Fresh Voices 18 features poems by Josephine LoRe, Meg Freer, Christopher McCarthy, Gavin Barrett and Louisa Howerow.

Into Panic inspired by Leonard Cohen By Josephine LoRe when I wake up into panic my heart racing my mind blank I reach for your slender collection the first book of my new testament open at random certain that you and the nameless gods of revelation will know what I crave like a cigarette I strike a match to your words inhale deep letting the burn light a path to my stone soul your voice gravelly smooth like a hand sliding between silken thighs like tulips picked too early set in a tall blue vase in a southern window warmth and water to coax them into bloom End of poem. Josephine LoRe’s words have been published in print and online in Canada, the US, England and Japan. She has an MA in Comparative Literature from l'Université de Rouen, France and has published two collections of poetry and photography. Her second collection, The Cowichan Series, was #1 on the Calgary Herald Bestseller List. Josephine often features locally and is anticipating the launch of her first short story Cornflower in November 2019. Dreaming of Tbilisi By Meg Freer late-night exploration gardens courtyards cable car wave-like iron railings swirling cobblestones statue of a couple embracing under an umbrella artists music color surreal mix of empty ruins historic buildings propped up with girders classy renovations in progress café above a former speakeasy apricots mint lemonade khachapuri mismatched furnishings uneven wood floors bowls of fresh flowers everywhere shisha hookah coffee glass goblet of the most flavorful hazelnuts something about the soil on the Black Sea’s eastern coast or a bit of magic one of many small green squares on a map silence birdsong cicadas will it still be here in the light End of poem. Meg Freer grew up in Montana and went to school in Minnesota and New Jersey, where she studied musicology and worked in scholarly book publishing. She now teaches piano, takes photos, wishes she had more time to write poetry, and enjoys the outdoors year-round in Kingston, Ontario. Her photos, poems and prose have been published in journals such as Ruminate, Vallum Contemporary Poetry, Poetry South, Eastern Iowa Review, and Rat’s Ass Review. In 2017 she attended the Summer Literary Seminars in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. Her poems have been shortlisted and have won awards in several contests in both the U.S. and Canada. this at the counter by Christopher McCarthy Toast pops in the toaster. Crumbs remain on the board and loneliness votes down my resolutions to make this day with its sun different from last Wednesday. I pull back the drapes and let sun shine on the tomato plant. Your cookbook left open in the kitchen needs to be re-shelved. So I put it up. Then, I sit down to this at the counter. End of poem. Christopher McCarthy lives in Yellowknife, NWT. He used to play in bands. His writing has appeared in White Wall, Half A Grapefruit Magazine, Red River Review, and Anti-Heroin Chic. In 2016, Flat Singles Press published his chapbook, Vancal. RIP Ginger Baker. Or every Indian restaurant blues By Gavin Barrett This is the place lager comes to die, or it is where the air filled with cumin-sweat sadness, red onions softening in a sauté of their own tears. The owner’s husband had a heart attack. He was answering WhatsApp messages in the toilet when Yama came for him or his wife is diabetic and she died yesterday and the restaurant is closed even though there’s a game on. The white tablecloths are stiff and crisp like a widow’s wailing cotton sari. Or they are permanently oil-sodden and limp like the bandages and bed linen of some tragedy stained with blood and turmeric. The hollow eyed maître d’ is called Gopal and the white men say I’m going to call you George. Or he is bright and chirpy and his name is Rangaswami but they call him Sammy or Barry which makes as much sense as the miracle of the naans which are light and wrought from steamclouds or how every grain of biryani rice separates itself from its neighbour. End of poem. Born in Bombay, Gavin Barrett lived in Hong Kong for several years before immigrating to Canada. Gavin’s poetry has been published in Reasons for Belonging (Viking Penguin India), an anthology of 14 Indian poets; the Pen India journal; The Folio; The Independent (Bombay); The Toronto Review of Contemporary Writing Abroad; Poiesis, the Bombay Poetry Circle journal; and he was a contributing writer to This|ability, a book on Canada’s art brut and outsider artists. He co-curates the Tartan Turban Secret Readings, a series promoting BIPOC writers. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Canadian Authors Association (Toronto). Understan (Mawenzi House), his first collection of poems, launches this spring. www: | tw: @ideawallah | | IG: ideawallah Why Scrabble By Louisa Howerow Because Scrabble’s square board says it is a plane figure, a stable figure Because in the board’s 15 X 15 grid no square can be truer than another Because 15 is my mother’s lucky number, and she loved numbers long before she loved letters Because she says her tongue can’t twist itself to those strange English sounds and she’s deaf to them when she needs to be Because Q and Z are worth ten points and if AA ZA QI exist then she can invent others Because to play Scrabble is to slap down tiles left-right, top-down, and laugh our fool heads off Because once she made bingo on her first turn, and we took photos to pin on her bragging wall right there with her row of winning scores Because Scrabble proved to be the canary in the coal mine Because when she begged off the second game, couldn't finish the first, we knew (end of poem). Louisa Howerow's poems have appeared in a number of Canadian anthologies, among them: Gush: Menstrual Manifestos for Our Times (Frontenac House), Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press), Imaginarium 3 & 4: The Best of Canadian Speculative Writing (ChiZine Press), I Found It at the Movies: An Anthology of Film Poems (Guernica Editions), and An Unfinished War: war of 1812 poetry & prose (Black Moss Press).