Fresh Voices 20 is here!

Welcome to the twentieth 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 20 includes poetry by: Michelle Barker, Meena Chopra, Angel Edwards, Lesley-Anne Evans, Meg Freer, Louisa Howerow, Janice Lore, Patricia MacKay, Deirdre Maultsaid, Kamal Parmar, Renée M. Sgroi, Ivana Velickovic and Martha Warren


A Girl is Capable of Baiting Hooks and Drowning Worms in a River By Lesley-Anne Evans We hunt night crawlers on damp grass with flashlights after supper. Next afternoon Grandpa takes us down the back road to Conestoga; a silent bend in the wide river Grand. The banks where we eat tuna buns with pickles, and watch our bright bobbers hover over the lazy flow. Years later I find a photograph — me, with a catfish hooked on a weigh scale. My face is grey as a worm submerged for a time under water. Lesley-Anne Evans belongs to four acres of woodland in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is a poet, photographer, librettist, and arts facilitator, born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Lesley-Anne’s immersion in nature, creative practice, and contemplative spirituality continue to save her life. Lesley-Anne’s poetry is published in literary journals, and she recently won the 2019 British Columbia Federation of Writer’s Literary Prize. Her first poetry collection, edited by Harold Rhenisch, is making the rounds of publishers. Lesley-Anne is an Associate Member of The Canadian League of Poets, and a Member of the British Columbia Federation of Writers. in the garden By Renée M. Sgroi so much depends* on your voice, echoed inside a cracked wheelbarrow the hollowness of your tone, tined and faltering through a fault metal *The first line of this poem is taken from William Carlos Williams’, “The Red Wheelbarrow” Renée M. Sgroi edited the anthology, Written Tenfold (Poetry Friendly Press) and her first book of poetry is due for publication (erbacce-press) this December. She is the current president of the Brooklin Poetry Society in Brooklin, Ontario ( Her work has appeared in Synaeresis, Prairie Fire, The Prairie Journal, The Banister, Verse Afire, and various anthologies published by Beret Days Press. You can find her online at, and on Twitter @ReneeMSgroi and Instagram @renee_m_sgroi. Bourbon By Angel Edwards Baltic amber earrings velvet gold turban crimson fingertips clutch a decanter of bourbon aquamarine eye shadow blue broach from past birthdays cherry smeared lip gloss on cigarettes in ashtrays flat gold floppy slippers silken day night wear filled plates for no guests an empty golden chair baltic amber earrings velvet gold turban crimson fingertips clutch a decanter of bourbon Angel Edwards has performed as a solo artist singer songwriter guitarist around the Vancouver area for over 30 years. She has written three books of poetry and this is her fourth book. Her short stories have been published by "Our Canada Magazine","More of Our Canada Magazine", "Vancouver Weekly "and "The Galway Review" in Ireland. Her poetry has been published in numerous ezines including "Spillwords from New York New York,as well as numerous E zines from Toronto, New Westminster,the USA and the UK. Angel is a long-time member of SOCAN and BMI a member of The League of Canadian Poets and Vancouver Musicians Association branch of the AFofM. The Habit of Hate By Deirdre Maultsaid I know our dark romance: show no fear. You are wily when you throw stones at my window, my terror a zealot. You lean heavily against my door. I imagine your hiking boot with greasy laces, raised for the berserk kick through. Torture is an instrument for fantastical dread. I would tell all to end the waiting. If I tilt my head, I can count the wooden floorboards near my chair. Why can’t the halos of floor sheen heal me? My hate tastes of you, and I choke on it, secretly. Long ago, we invented the exquisite gate between us and Coming Out. We were hidden gods once, and I was sorry. I don’t mean here, I don’t mean now. You made my heart a thinning, twanging fibre. You made my mind a card deck: worn, nicked with cheat signals. You made my mother a bigot, dwindling, polishing grudges. How can I draw you in a few thin lines, your rage one tiny dot? How can I uncolour the past? I cannot. I do not. I make mistakes, but still I yearn for the risk. Still I crave the spangled fame of heartsickness. Deirdre Maultsaid has been published in The Barcelona Review, Canadian Women’s Studies, Canthius, CV2, Filling Station, Pif, Prairie Fire, the Puritan, the White Wall Review and others. Deirdre Maultsaid (she/her) is a queer writer living in Vancouver, Canada on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish People. She teaches at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. More information at and @deirdmaultsaid chinatown For Jim Wong-Chu, Poet 1949-2017 I don’t know it the way he knew it but I remember pender street as a girl keefer and shanghai alley roast ducks in windows cabbages over doorways waiting in the rain for the dragon saving my allowance for boxes of cocktail umbrellas and paper fans when I moved away and was homesick I sought out that memory in food toffee banana fritters in norwich steamed noodles on gerrard in london boxes of frozen spring rolls and dumplings from wing yip’s in croydon then ginger beef in nicosia up the hill in engomi watching the glittering lights of the north across the green line memories made me brave now back in vancouver I pack sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves for my children’s school lunch By Martha Warren Martha Warren is a writer and poet. Her subjects have ranged from fairy stories, to cooking, to aspects of law. Her most recent project is the ebooklet, mother talk, a collection of ten poems on motherhood by emerging Vancouver poets. A graduate of Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio, Martha’s work has appeared in The Canadian League of Poets’ Poetry Pause, Headline Press, the Red Alder Review, and others. @m_warren_writer July Song By Meg Freer Garbage collection morning assaults my senses in this heat that glues together rubber-speckled garden gloves on the garage shelf and requires eyebrow pencils be wielded with a light touch to avoid a tumble of muddy brown crumbs down my cheeks. Short-tempered crows bark, I’ve spoken with a woodpecker, and flat looks uphill all day. The aftertaste of my drink sings a higher pitch than usual, until Venus nestles into the crescent moon. 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, Arc Poetry Magazine, Eastern Iowa Review, and Poetry South. 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. Publications may be found on her Facebook page at: Time passes By Kamal Parmar 1. Buds open their pouted lips, as tulips unfurl and sculpt into flowers, unblemished and untouched. Warm winds blow, bright reds and golden yellows fade. One by one, the petals, twirl to the ground, the movement of stars and planets. Only a naked stub remains, swollen belly ripens into a knobby fruit. 2. In the approaching dusk, a wing-flutter of swallows, I smell the air laced with the sweet smell of honeysuckle, Walk across the shadow- flecked lane lined with laburnums— so familiar to me, as this is the place where I was born. Nothing is unchanged. My eyes are moist and my feet linger— I was a mere schoolkid, in piggy tails and a heavy satchel, playing hide and seek under the shady laburnum. 3. Time slips away like sand. My clenched fist, unfolds like a petal, my palm, a pod dry and empty of seeds. Kamal Parmar‘s genre is poetry and creative non-fiction. and she dabbles frequently with Haiku poetry. She has a few books published in UK, Canada and India and many publications in reputed US and Canadian literary journals and anthologies. Kamal has been a member of a several writers' organizations and Writers Guilds. Currently, she is an Associate member of the League of Canadian Poets and was former Secretary of The Ontario Poetry Society. She is also a member of Haiku Canada and of The Writers Union of Canada. She is, at present working on a new manuscript of poems. Palestine By Patricia MacKay Winds of disquiet blow off Jordan River rustling linens on clotheslines dust whirls along alleyways yellow sun radiates its intensity blasts columns of heat under the dome of a diluted azure sky. Below, children chase a ball across a grassy field hands bathe babies with cotton washcloths pat taboon bread into thin discs reach in heartfelt supplication as the devout make du’a in earnest tension lends to an invasive uncertainty and vigilant eyes dart in fear as winds of disquiet blow off Jordan River. Patricia MacKay is a poet with 18 years teaching experience (English and Creative Writing and Poetry) at the senior secondary level. Her publishing credits include poems ‘Beautiful Daughters (2008), ‘The Skater’s Test (2008), ‘Mallorca 1796’ (2012), ‘Crone and Child’ (2015) and short story, ‘Restitution’ (2010). She was longlisted in the CBC Short Story Prize Contest (2016). She developed BAA curriculum for Peer Tutoring 12 and Peer Tutoring 10 (2004), as co-developed curriculum for Special Ed. programs (2010). She prepared and presented Poetry and Creative Writing Workshops for Cowichan School District 79 (2010-2015) Patricia lives on beautiful Vancouver Island. She lives a simple life that includes writing, music, travel, cooking and knitting. Strays By Ivana Velickovic In the dry Serbian summer, I submerge myself in water up to my nose. The stray dogs watch me, wait patiently for my alligator crawl back to shore. They launch their flea-ridden bodies up towards my ice cream and chase each other round and round to the point of exhaustion. I do not meet their eyes. At the cottage, we kids eat dinner first, grab at the centre of the bread loaf and at the biggest tomato chunks, leave the uneven pieces of onion for the adults, wash it all down with water cooled in the spidery basement cellar. I place any scraps into a small bag, pretend to take them out to the large metal garbage container. I throw them to the strays, their matted fur, peculiar ears. I do not approach them. In the evening, the kid coalition plays hide and seek, offer our ankles to the mosquitoes become too good at hiding no better at seeking, let the soft bark and trot of the strays nudge us home. I do not pet them. As I walk, swinging my arms, forward back forward back I feel teeth around my hand, resting for an eternal moment, then released without care, delicate skin still intact. In the middle of the hot, dry night I awake to strays howling on the front steps and a smokiness that permeates their stares. Across the water, the trees glow tangerine, rampant red. I gather the strays around, and we watch the flames devour the land, with the lake as our armour. Ivana Velickovic is a poet based in Toronto, working as a writer in the UX design field. She spends her free time vacillating between writing, reading, and listening to music. At the Lost and Found by Michelle Barker What does it look like, the way back to love? How can I explain what I’ve lost to the matron who runs this office— her conspicuous busy-work, her St. Bernard jowls, the mole on her lip growing one wiry hair. “Well?” she says. “I don’t have all day. What’s missing?” “The 90s,” I say. “My father—you know.” She knows. Behind her on dusty back shelves are the names and photographs of thousands of fathers, lost on Vegas junkets and honey can I buy you a drink? Yellowed birthday cards beside stacks of neckties and wait till your father gets home. She waves a hand. You recognize any? All of them. None. And who am I kidding? Would my life improve if we reconciled? So I’d be allowed into the big house, with the elevator and the dog that doesn’t pee on the rug. So what? Would all the starlings magically assemble on the telephone wires and not shit on the laundry? He would call once a week to advise me how to raise my children. He would chastise me for writing poetry that doesn’t rhyme. We would disagree on movies and he would still tell jokes that aren’t funny. And I would listen, and laugh anyway.   Michelle Barker is a poet and award-winning novelist living in Vancouver, BC. She holds an MFA in creative writing from UBC and works as a senior editor at The Darling Axe. Twitter: @MBarker_190 Facebook: @MichelleBarkerAuthor Mouthful of Eternity By Meena Chopra I pause gasp catch a breath a deep sleep mode as the slumber breaks. Seven colours rise staining the dream sequence hidden in my dark womb. Kiss me with a mouthful of Eternity raid me, tear the vizard apart mould me with clayful reality seed me with coarse fertility an ageless fecundity a handful agility Meena Chopra is an internationally renowned Canada based ' fine artist & poet' of Indian origin with an unbridled passion for words, space, colours and forms. Meena has authored three poetry collections and co-edited one anthology. Meena writes both in English and her ethnic Hindi language. Her poetry and articles have been published in various magazines, journals and anthologies. Meena has been the recipient of numerous national and international awards for her contribution to literature, fine art and community work which includes the recent First Prize by Visual Arts Mississauga Award from National Ethnic Press Council of Canada (NEPCC) in 2018. As a qualified artist-educator, she advocates collaborative experience between the visual arts and other art forms in order to give the audience a comprehensive and vibrant artistic experience thereby “bringing diverse cultures together through arts”. Website: www.meenachopra-artist.comMeena Chopra Prepare to Dance By Janice Lore Our troupe arrives in a vintage open-top car, the children the dancers me with my wild desire. I am drawn to the man in black tights and tutu. His eyes embers — what once must have been wild fire. But the tutu! Ridiculous! Its feathered netting stands stiffly out from ropey limbs, slackening skin. His lined face a study of concentration, he rolls his long black gloves up his arms, presses the cloth into the fingers’ webbing, tugs them off again, one digit at a time. The prima ballerina does not show. We will dance without her! Tell stories of the children the scorning diva the beloved man. The dance is everything to us. It is our kiss, the possibility of growing into love. Janice Lore writes poetry to explore her psyche and make sense of the world. (It’s premature to speculate on her success.) She has written plays and short stories, makes handmade books, and is inspired by the synergy of interdisciplinary performance work. Her long poem, Ipsissima Verba, was published as a chapbook and staged as a dramatic reading. The Why of It By Louisa Howerow You know before you start you won't succeed in creating the ideal pain français, not the crackly kind you'd buy from a village boulangerie, not even if you follow Julia Child's instructions and advice, accompanied by drawings. Twenty pages worth. You don't have the right flour with its precise gluten strength. You don't have a baker's oven with a fire-brick floor. You still haven't mastered how to form the dough into the shape you want, but you will go at it again and again, because you want your muscles doing, keeping busy, taking you away for seven hours, plus three for cooling down. You like the elastic feel of the dough, its smoothness. The kneading, the scraping, the lifting and the slapping down. Repeat, repeat. Yes! Moving fast, creating a rhythm. No matter how the table shakes, you work that dough, until you're spent. If there was a river, you could beat your wash on rocks, or a carpet to bang out on a fence, but you don't have river or a carpet or fence. All you have are muscles making good, doing something they’re learning to do, believing they can keep death at bay. Louisa Howerow’s poem, “Why Scrabble,” appeared in Fresh Voices, 2019 and was selected for Poem in Your Pocket, 2020.