Fresh Voices 23

Welcome to the twenty-third 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 23 includes poetry by: R.J. Calzonetti, Meena Chopra, Janice Colbert, Melanie Flores, Mark Hertzberger, Louisa Howerow, Camille Lendor, Kamal Parmar and D.G. Peart.


After Watching Live Coverage of Another Military Parade By Louisa Howerow with its jubilant onlookers, voice-overs, release of doves—so much pomp—and yet none of it helps me celebrate victory. I keep returning to Robert Capa’s photo, Chartres, 1944: Flags hang from balconies. Boys blow whistles, bang pot drums. A little girl wears a flowered dress. The triumphant citizens, the barely saved are marching a young mother and her infant to the Palais de Justice, gendarme at her elbow. I keep returning to my great aunt, how she turned away from the photo, told me I knew nothing. But there must have been the usual shouts: Salope! Collabo! Spits and slaps. And through it all the young mother holds her newborn so close against her breast I half-imagine it as dead. Robert Capa, Europe 1944, Chartres, just after its liberation Bio Louisa Howerow's poems, “Why Scrabble,” and “The Why of It” appeared in Fresh Voices and were subsequently selected for Poem in Your Pocket, 2020 and 2021. What does the wind say? By Kamal Parmar Still silken night descends, a veil over the valley, twilight takes a final bow and a lone star, smoulders in the dark cauldron of the sky. Silhouettes of junipers and conifers stand stark, their branches inter-twining like a wire-mesh, pale moonlight that pours through. Around the turn, the valley hemmed by a shallow pond, a silver blur with soft ripples that disappear into bulrushes, swaying with the drifting breeze. A path weaves through the valley, swallowed by the dense cavern of the shadows. A footstep shatters the eerie spell, Someone who has lost his way? Someone going homeward, after back-breaking work? Someone for whom the open star dusted sky is a roof. The rolling glades, his bed. As the earth rocks him to sleep.   Bio Kamal Parmar has been passionately involved in writing since high school and University years. Her genre is poetry and creative non-fiction and she dabbles frequently with Haiku poetry. Her poems are simple, though poised and evocative enough to set the reader thinking. She has a few books published in UK, Canada and India and many publications in reputed US and Canadian literary journals and anthologies. Her writings have won many honorable mentions and prizes. Kamal has been a member of several writers' organizations and Writers Guilds. Currently, she is an Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets and a Board member of the Federation of BC Writers. She is also a member of Haiku Canada and of The Writers Union of Canada and a member of Canadian Authors Association.  Hummingbirds By D.G. Peart I filled the feeder with nectar hung it by the back door, left the door open, thinking “wouldn’t it be something if a hummingbird came inside the kitchen?” Not long after, I came downstairs to clicking sounds, the burr of wings as flashes of iridescence rose up and down the windows seeking escape. I pulled open one glass door, then another, grabbed a pillow from a chair gently guided them, one then the other, safely outside. Something I had wished for, yet not expected, there and then gone.   Danny Peart currently resides in Vancouver, B.C. In 2012, he published a slim volume of poems, cheerfully titled Ruined By Love. The collection was guided by Aislinn Hunter. In 2016, he published a collection of stories and poems titled Stark Naked in a Laundromat. This book was edited by Zsuzsi Gartner. In 2018, he published a collection of poems titled Another Mountain to Climb. Edited by Aislinn Hunter. He is most comfortable reading and writing in a quiet café. Though he seeks the mountains often for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing. Moon Light By Meena Chopra Fragments of light interlace with sodden dreams scrape of the full moon rides the high tide crests with waves that disappear and reappear, settle then rise along the pulsing shore, shine on wet sand Shaken, awake by dreams too close to my reality, forsaken and fossilized with passing time Silver studded wings shiver and gasp along the sprawling coastline malleable, ready to soar through the shimmer in re-animated life.   Meena Chopra is an internationally renowned author, poet & visual artist with an unbridled passion for words, space, colours and forms. Born and brought up in India, now lives in Mississauga, Canada. She writes poetry both in English and her native language Hindi and has authored three poetry books. She has co-edited one anthology. Her poetry and art has been published in many literary journals worldwide like, American Diversity Report (USA), Artis Mag (Canada), Word Masala (England), , The Journal of Poetry Society (India), Poets International’ (India), Word Fest (Mississauga Writers' Group), Canada Our Home, Zenith (Austria), Capriccio (Germany), Indian Voices (Canada), Acta Victoriana (Canada), Fresh Voices (League of Canadian Poets), Trinity Review (Canada) Amongst many accolades, she has also been awarded (December 2018) for her distinguished work in literature and art by National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada. She was a finalist for MARTY’s award for literature in 2019. Reflections in Ash By Melanie Flores Sifting through the ashes of my mind. Digging for those golden nuggets of memory. Moments unearthed; moments remembered. Brushing off the ash; burnishing the gold - until it’s aflame with life. A young you and a younger me gaze at each other with adoring eyes. Holding hands, supple bodies intertwine in a lovers’ embrace while vowing eternal love between fervent kisses. Time and familiarity breeds complacency, arguments and power struggles. Innate differences surface as the tedium of everyday threatens to rip us apart. Yet, somehow, we weather through before it’s almost too late. An old me and an older you forgive each other for their wrongs. Comforting each other in solidarity because time is ticking, threatening to run out. Cherishing the dying embers of recollection. Stirring up the ashes to keep the flame alive. Moments re-lived; moments half-forgotten. Treasuring those golden nuggets of memory - reflections in ash.   BIO Toronto-born Melanie Flores works as an editor/writer and audiobook narrator. Melanie has been a contest winner in national poetry competitions and her poetry has appeared in national and international anthologies. An Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets since 2017, Melanie published her first chapbook, “The She: An Exposé”, in July 2019 and she is currently seeking publication for her first book of poetry.   the dead have more decorum By Camille Lendor weary pupils blurring blue light a psychological fight: Sartre’s words shake you while watching the living fight the walking dead— You ignore him. Sartre’s essence strikes you: You, the living dead— the living who act like the living dead— beings who claw at impulse and devour rationale. You continue to gaze at this stupid show as if your freedom’s unbathed stench doesn’t smell! Above your body, you can see him slap you as you look down— ceiling centre to your crown— while you choose to cling your gaze onto the screen like a dumbfounded clown Camille Lendor (she/her) is a poet living in Toronto, Ontario. Her work has appeared in Canadian Literature, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, and The Foundationalist. The Robins on Main Street By Mark Hertzberger Sunday afternoons in 1957 used to feel just like this one. Exquisite blandness sun-soaks the town, storefronts like books unopened, streets grand and open, trails to a midsummer night’s countryside, waiting for dusk. Am I an abnormal creature, some sort of mutation? Should I not miss the buzz and flight, the endless cycles of hiving and stinging looping and spiraling our days into weeks, months, all the years before our isolation? A stranger’s singular smile in passing takes root in my mind, spreads and blossoms. We can both hear the robins on Main Street. Bio Mark Hertzberger is a member of Poetry Stratford and the Huron Poetry Collective. Mark has recently self-published his first chapbook: Fog & Mirrors. His poetry also appears the following Anthologies: • “Denouement”, published by Beliveau Books • “Writers Undercover: Tenth Anniversary Issue” - Cambridge Writers Collective • “Writers Collective Anthology: Volume 1” - Kitchener Public Library • “The Language of Dew and Sunsets” – Huron Poetry Collective Mark was the winner of the 2008 Poetry Stratford Open Mike Contest and has read his poetry on CJCS Radio and at Culture Days Festivals in Stratford. Mark resides in Stratford, Ontario with novelist Yvonne Hertzberger. Complement to Blue by Janice Colbert Olivia (painted by Elizabeth Bishop c.1941) Key West, Florida St. James First Missionary Baptist Church watercolour and gouache, 5 x 7 inches The belfry clanged a one-note bell, electric in the blue sky, as Elizabeth sketched the pocket church on paper scrap small enough to line a cigar box. The lump of a steeple cut the edge of the page, the heavens limpid sienna wash, the same for the earth where she stepped. The timber-shingle roof, batten-and-board wall, louvered shutters and steps, dog-eared fence and power pole are opaque umber, like dried leaves of tobacco. In her northern village back home, wool carpets, hooked rugs sent from her great-uncle, a missionary in India, cozied her grandparent’s sitting room. Psalms her grandmother crooned were Elizabeth’s prelude to poetry. The familiar hymns stayed her for life. In this tropical fishing village, mothers with babes on hip watched, children played barefoot in dirt lanes. Spanish-lime boughs, lashed to a stick were for sale. Laundry died in the coral dust. Awash with salt, winds of brine shuddered the bow of homes despite bolts anchored to native coral. Floors were plank, paint could not last long, the houses blighted. An aproned-flock of black churchwomen baked Saturday pies, timed the boil on cauldrons of chopped sweet potatoes. Malleable butter joined the drained cubes. Egg congealed the cooled orange puree. Prodigal pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, one-quarter cups sweet milk and sugar, smoothed into short-crust shells, take-away lunch for sale, after Sunday service. The ill-starred bell was strung rope to a beam. Restorers discovered the frayed strands poised to drop anchor on the parishioners. Shortly after, when Elizabeth quit this island, brick walls muted the wood building. In time, white plaster blooming erased it all. Copyright © Janice Colbert Janice holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC and a BFA in Visual Art from OCADU. She winters in Key West, a childhood home, where in 2019 she joined other Elizabeth Bishop enthusiasts to launch the Elizabeth Bishop Committee, to champion her achievements. In 2020 the group, in conjunction with the Key West Literary Seminar was able to have the city declare February 8 as a public day of recognition for EB. Each year at the celebration Janice reads one of her (often ekphrastic) original poems about Bishop. Closet By RJ Calzonetti Grinding the flowers between the gears of my teeth Gambling lost dreams of slot machines To a heart groping the wind Wandering the city homeless For a bench to cradle Little specks of colour with big souls stained neon On imaginary megalomanic avenues Landing on faceless moons Expressionless little astronauts with big dreams Cluttered with stars Butterflies in jars Stanzas that soak into the pages like rainfalls over landfill daffodils Cold and grasping for air in a fickle breeze Gasping out heartbeats from monotone smiles Kissing empty vessels in(to) a red sea Dancing amaranthine unanswered cancerous Concussive muscular lustrous brushstrokes Stoking colloquial altocumulus On the painted faces of half angels Flying home On polycrystalline peninsulas Crawling to their fatherlands An encore again to the murals of incoherent earlobes probing tenebrous euphoria Peering through the veneers of sulphuric speleothems Golden omens holed in homeless agoraphobia Bio R.J is a youth poet who loves how abstract, intense and dark epics poetry can be. Identifying as he/him, he was born in 1997 and is asexual. He often finds himself writing hour after hour, never satisfied. He was a finalist two years in a row at the Burlington Poetry Slam within the first two years of writing. He has since branched out from spoken word into other forms of poetry. Headline Poetry and Press published a good dozen of his poems, and for several months he worked together with the head editor who he owes a great debt. After leaving the magazine in order to focus more on building his skills in hopes of eventually publishing a booklet, he has been bunkered up for two years of constant writing. His early work focused on mental illness and abstract works. These days he focuses on improving in new areas. He wants to be inspired by experienced poets, and eventually, be among them.