Fresh Voices 25

Welcome to the twenty-fifth 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 25 features poetry by: Anthony Purdy, PJ Thomas, Margaret Code, Karen Quevillon, Nan Williamson, Francine Fallara, Danny Peart, Callista Markotich, Atma Frans, Lindsay Soberano-Wilson, K.P. Heyming, Louisa Howerow, Megan Stobbe, Meena Chopra and Carol Good.

Fiddleheads By Anthony Purdy Beyond the willows twilight stills the fields. Deer sink from sight to pass their watchful night in crabgrass, while we settle by candlelight to fiddleheads steamed over rust-red water and scallops simmered in an iron pan. You lift the ferns clear of their peaty juice, tip them in to join the scallops, finish quickly with a knob of butter, then, with shaking wrists, place the cast iron skillet there between us on a blacksmith’s trivet. We don't need plates, you say, just bread and forks, as you brandish yours in time to unheard music, bowing wildly. I swing round, laughing, to make it real on Spotify, then catch myself – of course, we have no signal here. The scroll, it’s true, is purely decorative – it makes no sound – but when we listen to the violin, some part of what we hear is what we see; and when we eat the fern, its tight-sprung fronds are music on our tongues. Bio: Anthony Purdy lives in Nova Scotia. His poems and stories have appeared in recent issues of The Dalhousie Review, The Fiddlehead, FreeFall, Fresh Voices, The Goose, Prairie Fire, Poetry Pause, and Queen’s Quarterly. One of his fictions was longlisted for the 2021 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize.


The Last Swim By PJ Thomas Are all the apples in? It's zero degrees C. Fog and frost hang in the field, filigree ice on spider webs, dragon's breath curling through the cornstalks. You alone, naked in the mist of October, leaning over the water to see the sky's reflection. A toe in, then dunk and swish. Fresh and clean, you quickly leave the lake. Warmth by the fire, dry towels, and a cup of tea. I give you wool socks and scotch, you cuddle up with the kitty. PJ Thomas was born and raised in Toronto. Formerly a newspaper editor and novelist, Ms. Thomas is a senior emerging poet. She self-published her first book of poetry, Undertow, in October 2020. Thomas writes lyrics as well, some of which were included on the album, Solar Powered Too, nominated for a 2021 Juno Award. She is currently working on a second collection of poems, Waves. Ms. Thomas makes her home with her cat by the Otonabee River. Online links: Website: YouTube Channel: Patreon:  

A Quiet Roomer for Lucas Roscoe When I open my front door to him I little know I will open my heart too He settles into his room respectful of my space and privacy I never even have to ask for these When his sense of adventure has him spending copious time in our shared kitchen, I don’t mind, especially with spicy samples to savour He helps out too, in so many ways Without my asking dishes vanish from the sink (I might have to scramble to do my share) Garbage disappears when bags are full Storm-damaged tree limbs are silently sawed off and chopped new toilet carefully installed the sink unplugged with a snake. When thanked, he always says “Well, I live here too.” Sociable, he always asks “How was your day?” “What are your plans?” Soon he’ll receive his Ph.D., leave for a new life and I will close the front door sadly behind him his key in my palm Bio – Margaret Code A Toronto poet published in various poetry collections and anthologies, Margaret Code won a Best Originals contest in 2013. In 2015 she took second in Big Pond Rumours’ poetry contest. Over time, she received three Hot Sauced Words Best Poem awards. Margaret is Director the Art Bar Poetry Series and President, Toronto Writers’ Coop.  

Witness by Karen Quevillon What can they become, all the days we experience together-but-apart, if not battlefields? If not trenches? For so long I craved a witness all-knowing and strong enough to arbitrate, with the power to take us back in time and match the meanings to my words; but who is not a desperate fool for love? I took you on a walk by the water hoping, modestly, for your tightness to ease and we came to sit on a bench, near each other and watch the sailboats so full of sail, travelling upon a vast, glimmering lake and under the pillowed clouds I whispered inside sky, draw out her pain, please, soak it up like a sponge and keep soaking— surely you would be no match for the sky who holds the whole Earth without fingers or questions. Behind us were blank, empty mansions and before us rocky beaches. We chose the beaches, left the path to walk on big smoothed stones and stand toe to toe with the lapping shore; it made me think of us at Lake Superior, years before. You said you remembered that day too. I bent down and chose a wet stone and you chose your own, and pocketed it. Now I know the stones will be our witness. Karen Quevillon is a writer/editor and writing coach based in Oakville, Ontario. Her début novel The Parasol Flower (2020, Regal House Publishing) won the 28th annual Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction. Over the past decade she’s published poetry, nonfiction, and short fiction in a variety of venues including CV2, Grain, Geist, Fieldstone Review, FreeFall, In\Words, Untethered and in the edited collections Heartwood: for the love of trees and When All Else Fails: Motherhood in Precarious Times. Karen is currently working on two collections of poetry and seeking representation for fiction. @KarenQuevillon

Demonic snow By Nan Williamson I’m not mollified by sun-rays in my kitchen, striking green bottles, igniting crystal goblets, stems up on a red linen towel. Showers of flying embers on west coast roof tops kindle dry pine needles, blaze, leave rows of houses flattened. White-hot cinders smolder. No one sees the flames lick crackling trees break limbs, crash overhead. Tosca´s song does not console me, nor oven’s warmth, nor baking bread. Not even my Siamese cat nestled in the yellow chair, nor green pears curled in a deep blue bowl. Black ashes fall. Demonic snow.   Nan Williamson is an emerging poet, a teacher, artist, and author living in Peterborough. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, Toronto, 2013. M Her chapbook, leave the door open for the moon, was published by Jackson Creek Press in 2015. Always interested in the verbal-visual connection, Nan plays with shapes, colours, and texture to wed form and content in paint and poetry. More than 70 of her poems have been published in juried literary journals and anthologies in Canada, the US, and the UK. She was the illustrator for Delicate Impact, a Canadian anthology of poetry, A Beret Days Book, 2018. For National Poetry month, April, 2021, Nan led a weekly poetry course, “Poetry 101” for members of the Canadian Authors Association in Peterborough.

Complex Beauty - Emerging from Grays By Francine Fallara, Gray vents sleepless misty storm cloud souls, obscuring treasured opal-pebbled beaches, hazing smoking cold charcoals opaque veils. Gray divulges natural unfading beauty, nuancing the essence, the truth of the real, refining subtle emotional vibrations. Gray bares blank canvas that revels, emerging tones of artists’ carousels, portraying wildest dreams inevitably. My poem’s interpretation: Seeing the beauty in life’s grayish panoramas liberates us from dull, meaningless quests and offers us a spiritually balanced existence. Learn to let grayish scenes become your life's masterpieces. Francine Fallara is the author of the novel Inkling Whispers (eBook and paperback, 2021). Francine expresses her own journey within a collection of poems inspired by her numerous photo-walk escapades comforting her explorer’s soul. Inkling Whispers has received 4/4 stars and is eligible for the 2022 Book of the Year from the Online Book Club. Collaborated in 2021 to Blue Insights’ Magazine as an author and editor (‘Starlights Glow’ Poetry & Art Collection Paperback – Feb. 2021, and ‘Empowered, Empowering’ a Black History Month Poetry & Art Collection eMag – Feb. 2021). On Medium, owner of both Blue Insights Publication and Music Voices Publication. Top writer in Music, Poetry, Art in various other publications on Medium since 2018. Francine was a recipient in 2021 of the limited edition trophy of ‘The 21st Century Emily Dickinson Award’ for her participation in writing 21 poems in the Canadian 21 days Writeathon Writing Challenge. She also writes poetry inspired by Maii’s Timeless Art Gallery collection.  


 Danny Peart WANDERING Not all of those who wander are lost. J.R.R. Tolkien I am a man who wanders and I have been lost too often. The first time was my sister’s fault. I, seven; she six, out paddling a canoe as Canadian kids do. Judy in the bow paddling weakly. I said, “I’m steering to shore and getting out. Let’s see how you do on your own, Lilly Dipper.” I followed the lakeshore on foot until a heedless river intervened. So I followed that river to a bridge, and down a country road. Just kept on walking. Hours passed, and somehow Judy made it back to our rented cottage unharmed and proud. She reported to our parents that I had disappeared while acting snooty. I was quite happy to see the family Buick pulling up some few miles into the wilderness, Judy with a beaming smile. It was on this occasion that the Peart family began to wonder if their favourite child had a faulty sense of direction. Judy and I were very young then. It would take us a few more years to realize that working together was the better path.   Danny Peart currently lives 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. In 2019 he was promoted to Ship’s Poet aboard the sailing ketch Seabird out of the Sunshine Coast’s port of Tillicum Bay. He is most comfortable reading and writing in a quiet café. Though he seeks the mountains often for hiking and snowshoeing.


Soprano By Callista Markotich Girl of my girl, she grew up singing. In the rosy dusk through music-room windows I watched the evening star tremble in her voice. Then musicals and operettas, night-lit streets shimmying with show tunes on the drive home. That man on the corner was a songful soft-shoe, those kids pub-trekking the care-free chorus, traffic-light choreography with stop-and-go encores. Then concerts, recitals, chorales, leaded windows shimmering, her voice ascending like incense, the choir lofting sacred into vaulted space. Then adjudications, auditions, congratulations, and I dreamed myself into the lush velvet tiers of an opera house with my pearly opera glasses, sharing glory, sharing space in the periphery of her efforts, the spiral of her gifts; my unsubtle, incessant, heart-breaking pride. Then she stopped. She’s sing in the shower, she said. It was history she wanted, she said, the quiet accounts, innumerable ticks of innumerable clocks muffling battle hymn, mourn of pipe, drum of treaty. It was the documentary photograph she wanted, voiceless speaker of a thousand words, an aria’s perfection flooding the calm tasks of collection, curation, conservation. My velvet chair is empty, my opera glasses a phantom artefact in a darkling dream. I imagine her at work, girl of my girl, and hear the archives intoning wordless tales, silver nitrates vibrating with message, my own voice, humming a yearning sound. Bio Callista Markotich, retired teacher, principal and Superintendent of Education, lives gratefully at the source of the great St. Lawrence River in Kingston, Ontario on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat. Her poems appear in Arc (Awesome Award, June 2021), Grain, Prairie Fire, Riddle Fence, The New Quarterly (Honorable Mention, Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest, 2021), The Nashwaak Review, Saddlebag Dispatches, Pilgrimage, in a few ezines and anthologies and in Room (Poetry Award, 2019).  

Alea Iacta Est By Atma Frans Most evenings, my father’s family played board games, black-out curtains drawn. A single candle. The red glow of coals. A community divided by war, collaborators against resistance fighters, neighbour against neighbour. Dice tumbled onto the table. My father’s face filled with the pleasure of random luck. Outside the town held its breath. Even the nightingale was silent until the siren screamed and death took your childhood or the boy you played marbles with at recess. Either way you lost. BIO: In her writing Atma Frans searches for the voice beneath her personas: woman, mother, trauma survivor, architect, queer, poet. Her work has been widely published in literary magazines including in The New Quarterly, Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Understorey Magazine, Obsessed with Pipework, Lighthouse Literary Journal and (forthcoming) in The Dalhousie Review and Prairie Fire Magazine. Originally from Belgium, Atma now lives in Gibsons, BC.

Ice Queen by Lindsay Soberano-Wilson Even though she had to drown without even ever making a sound in a frozen Muskoka Lake wearing an unruly mane of blue crystallized icicles from the top of her head down to her toes where the underworld’s deep freeze lived inside of her as heavy as black ice. ~ Even then, she still found a way to float back up with the muddy spring thaw like that overflowing styrofoam cup as boundless as the sea with her untamed mane of washed-out locks lost in the loch ness monster of her heart after scouring the bottom of the pack for promises broken and unborn. ~ That is when she met resolve to dissolve into the fog of murky green algae waters like a puzzle, she tried to solve from afar that looked clearer as winter drew further and she drifted like an iceberg to spring’s embrace to take her home despite the fear in her pace like Juliet contemplating her fate in a vial hanging from a sterling silver chain. ~ It was on that day when she saw the reflection of a melting Ice Queen that her fate was sealed and she walked through the industrial-sized freezer nursing her cold heart to health and wealth as she floated back to life with the hummingbirds of spring healing from the fight, flight, and freeze to live again in green buds and phosphorescence blooms on lush wreaths and vines that thrive alive. Lindsay Soberano-Wilson is a poet, teacher, and editor of Put It To Rest and iPoetry. Her debut chapbook, Casa de mi Corazón: A Travel Journal of Poetry and Memoir (Poetica Publishing) explores how her sense of community, identity, and home was shaped by travels to Israel, Morocco, and Europe. Her poems and articles have appeared in FreshVoices22, Embrace of Dawn, Poetry 365, PoetryPause, Quills Erotic Canadian Poetry Magazine, Canadian Woman Studies Journal, Running with Scissors, and Poetica Magazine. She holds a MA (English Literature) and a BEd from the University of Toronto, and a BA (Creative Writing and English Literature) from Concordia University. Follow her at Medium, Instagram, or Twitter.

How to Speak to my Mother By K.P. Heyming I have forgotten how to speak to my mother without hurting her. Every “hello” is answered with hot tears and every “goodbye” replied with an apology. My voice tries to handle her with care, like a child setting the table with the good china, but I somehow always end up tripping, shattering her into pieces I struggle to pick up. But I cannot stop talking to her entirely because my distance will disappoint her more than my words ever could. I must remember how to speak to my mother before the only thing left to say to her will be how much I regret that I did not remember how to do it sooner. KPH is a bilingual Canadian writer with a yearning to set her soul in ink and paper. Fiercely driven to ensnare all of life’s little moments, she works tirelessly for her passion so that she may someday lead others to find their own meaning in her words. @kpheyming

Adieu Tristesse, Bonjour Tristesse By Louisa Howerow The lecturer is going back to France, the Alps. He’s been with us two years, his first semester an obligatory French course I entered dreaming of bistro smart talk, the Left Bank, Parisian chic. Monsieur D is leaving with no big party where we wish him bon voyage, bonne chance. No more watching him sprint across the campus, his herringbone coat flying out behind him. The lecturer is going back. Our French Ichabod Crane who stood before us smelling of Gitanes, last night’s wine, and stale sheets. In my room, the weight of French logic sags a bookshelf: two Bescherelles, conjugaison, grammaire, a Larousse, dictionnaire bilingue Français- Anglais. And those endless exercises, analyses of prose, of poems. “Lisez et réfléchissez, Mesdemoiselles.” Our Monsieur D is going back, the one who lived here alone. I open my second-hand copy of Bonjour Tristesse, the pages assigned in class crammed with pencilled marginalia. This time I begin at the beginning: Sur ce sentiment inconnu dont l'ennui, la douceur m’obsèdent... Note: title from the first two lines of ”À peine défigurée” (Paul Éluard) Bio Writing from the traditional territory of the Attawandaron, Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, and Lunaapeewak peoples, Louisa Howerow's poems have appeared in a number of anthologies, among them: Resistance: Righteous Rage in the Age of #MeToo (University of Regina Press.), GUEST 19, guest editor Pearl Pirie (above/ground press) and Leap (League of Canadian Poets). Her poems, “Why Scrabble,” and the “The Why of It” were selected for Poem in Your Pocket, 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Dear Sister By Megan Stobbe Today I tried to reach you. I called. I was a raw nerve and wanted to ask how brave how brave must we be but you were out and we missed each other again. Always missing one another we are each others’ hearts. You said mine is wild - a bird you will care for in Vancouver in the rain or in blossoms. And I love you like a ukulele soothing heartache. Our aches are mostly old mostly shared memories and missing days, like suppers and yoga, or milkshakes, walks along the breakwater, missing days and daily-ness we couldn’t orchestrate. Get our lines lined up to keep the matched set of us. I got the couch and you the vinyl James Taylor Clary Croft and his Carrion Crow. We split the small ceremonies that shaped a shared life. Anyway now we share the less tangible particulars. Particles and waves. Plans. Like dentures on nightstands. Juicy adventures ahead. We still do look forward and back together. Even apart we are together. Anyway I’m looking forward. See you soon. Megan Stobbe is a poet in Edmonton, Alberta where she lives with her three sons and a geriatric cat. She works in government communications. When she’s not reading, writing or chasing her children, she can often be found in her garden or running in Edmonton’s beautiful river valley.  

The Silent glory of Port Credit by Night By Meena Chopra Bright beam drizzles down from the lighthouse Shimmering waters on rocks Breaking the silence of silver-patinas. Ashen moonlight. Stars sentinels. Soft gentle breeze on my cheeks. Like the water I am swamped in silence. The heavens fall, And the sky is empty. 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.

What’s next By Carol Good I bought this desk for university in 1975 from a friend’s father who refinished furniture A surplus teacher’s desk, solid oak, three heavy drawers on each side of a skirted knee-hole Bridged by single shallow one with compartments to hold a lifetime of bits and bobs Books papers technology have designated parking spots on its lot-sized desktop Years later a thickly painted wheeled chair arrived as a gift Its fine grain revealed when scraped bare again Now the matched pair yoked workhorses help me plough Bio Since retiring as a certified professional facilitator, Carol has redirected her creativity into writing – mostly poetry. Her pandemic projects included publishing of her first poetry collection – Alive & 65: a celebration for her 65th birthday and joining the League of Canadian Poets. Her snappy new website – – was designed by her long-time friend, Sue Reynolds. She lives in an octagonal century home in Caledon, Ontario with her very handy husband and at least one cat.