Fresh Voices 27

Welcome to the twenty-seventh 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 27 features poetry by: Zein Mari Alsaka, Angel Edwards, Mark Featherstone, Meg Freer, Dagne Forrest, Ben Gallagher, Norma Kerby, Josephine LoRe, Sally Quon, Gordon Taylor and Cathy Thorne.

FINAL OFFER By Gordon Taylor for Ned if you’d held the kiss I offered in my room of books— pirate treasure—jars of laundry quarters shining fish scales— beginning and end of us— my crush— instead of the meth pipe— could we have saved each other in words sweat and tangled arms in morning dimmed by a paper blind Bio: Gordon Taylor (he/him) is a queer poet who walks an ever-swaying wire of technology, health care and poetry. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Grain, Rattle, Event, Banshee and Plenitude. In his spare time Gordon is a volunteer reader for Five South Magazine.

you always had an answer By Norma Kerby my father was a quiet man burdens of his youth rode on his shoulders but he carried his past like dark mole between stiff shoulder blades never went shirtless in summer sun do not speak loudly do not interrupt conversations do not approach trouble timidly with thoughtless childhood voice I confronted him you always have an answer only his eyes smiled he pointed towards clouded horizon and when my life spun deep into a whirlpool when he whispered no matter how far you are down a wrong road you are still on the wrong road I knew I could not hesitate Biography: Norma Kerby is a writer and poet located in the traditional territories of the Tsimpsean First Nations on the North Coast of British Columbia. She has been published widely in e-zines, journals, magazines, and anthologies, and is a member of the writing group, Writers North of 54o. Her work focuses on the environmental and social concerns of rural and northern communities and people.

Harvest Pantoum By Dagne Forrest Makeshift roadside stands piled high with ears of corn beckon to me every year. On the porch I pause by the piles of roadside corn. The cats have become statues on the porch. I pause, distracted as I notice the cats become statues, certain of their catch if not distracted or noticed by their prey in the shadows, certain of its capture. Stripping the husks this year I feel like prey in the shadows, recalling the surprise of death: stripping the husks last year revealed a tiny dead mouse. Unnerved by the frisson of death where it shouldn’t be. It was just a small dead mouse, still, as though just sleeping — where it shouldn’t be, there, lifeless in my hand, as though just sleeping. And that's the point right there. Life less in hand than makeshift and fleeting. Bio: Dagne Forrest's poetry has appeared in journals in Canada, the US, Australia, and the UK. In 2021 she was one of 15 poets featured in The League of Canadian Poets’ annual Poem in Your Pocket campaign, had a poem shortlisted for the UK's Bridport Prize, and won first prize in the Hammond House Publishing International Literary Prize (Poetry). Her creative nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Lake Effect, Paper Dragon, and Sky Island Journal. Dagne is an editor with Painted Bride Quarterly, as well a part of its Slush Pile podcast team. Learn more at

Phoenix By zein-mary saca I’ve been bitten by ants and spiders and snakes I’ve fallen in love and other mistakes But, oh, dear life you know it takes Much more than that to weigh me down I was born with faults and faults I’ve done I’ve ran past the days, and watched the days run But what is is, and what’s done is done Now pass months, I no longer frown I’ve known nothing, and hadn’t a clue Believed lies, and told of what isn’t true But all in good time, what’s due is due I close my ears till the lies go brown So now I shake, I break, you’ll hear my cries But as a part of me lives on, the other dies The next day, it should come as no surprise That I will be reborn from my ashes, again I rise. Bio: Zein Mari Alsaka was born and raised in Jordan, she immigrated to Canada in 2020 and currently lives in Nova Scotia. She started writing poetry when she was only eight years old. She often found it difficult to convey her thoughts through speech and therefore resorted to writing rhymes and reading them to people instead. Surrounded by family and friends who fostered her talent and encouraged her ambitions, Zein continued to write and her simple rhymes transitioned into poetry. After over twenty years since she wrote her first rhyme, Zein self-published a collection of her favorite love poems on Amazon in a chapbook called “Love, Through The Eyes of a Poet”. The book explores falling in love, being in love, finding true love and heartbreak through the eyes of a poet. Instagram: @ZeinsQuill TikTok: @ZeinsQuill

The Difference

By Mark Featherstone

As a boy, he’d crouch like an Olympian 
in the tenebrous belly of the garbage pit, 
shielding the lantern’s nub of flame, 
and stroking intermittently the hockey stick 
he couldn’t see for darkness by his boot. 
And when the denizens, bald-tailed,
all crept foolishly afoot, 
he willed the lantern’s mantle fulgent, 
closed his fist about the shaft 
and wheeled the stick-blade scything down 
on skull, on neck, on spine. 

Yesterday, while he stained the deck, 
a cat leapt in the backyard, 
its mouth aflutter with a bird beating 
futile feathers at decisive jaws. 
He sprang at the cat and lunged 
and snatched and weaved and dove 
across the yard, scrabbling to free 
the bird from that suburban hunter: 
the tabby bounding with feathered face, 
the flap-winged, squawking sparrow, 
and a white-haired man stumbling 
in the measure of a harvested grace, 
still looking to make a difference.

Mark Featherstone is a retired biologist currently residing in California with his wife and youngest daughter. His poetry has appeared in Arc (2000) and the anthology Let Yourself Go (Black Moss Press, Hugh MacDonald, ed., 2005). He has published one chapbook, Mechanicsville (Over the Moon Press, 2004).

Love Lives On By Angel Edwards Love lives on since he has gone part of me has gone with him my soul is still heavy even with part of me missing since he has died part of me has died with him my heart overflowing love lives lives in the living Bio: Angel Edwards (her/she)is a singer songwriter guitar player from Vancouver BC She is a longtime member of SOCAN and BMI She has written four books of poetry, published by Silver Bow Publishing from New Westminster BC Many of her short stories have been published in Ireland,the United States, France, England and Canada

Etch By Cathy Thorne Paper and pen or pencil or crayon, but always marks on paper because the lure of the newsfeed is so strong, the delete key too available, and the hand always eager to scribe: Ideas need permanence. Mistakes need remembrance. Paper tracks the evolution, with scored symbols of humanity. Bio With a background in improvisational theatre, creative writing and visual arts, Cathy Thorne writes on-the-spot personalized poems at weddings and events. She is currently working on a book of poetry entitled Shift. Her website is

Dad Jokes - for Runa By Ben Gallagher At three months daughter foot-grabber I catch myself going chick-a-cha, chick-a-cha in my father’s voice selling my soul for a laugh One smile among plentiful cloth diaper sink or swimming every night alone with the basement laundry god Emanations of a holy spirit through our pet cockroach named Gwendolyn There are a thousand Gwendolyns Gift of a dad who isn’t dead? Paternal life Runa on our bed loves mobiles only on her back Not yet wounded by the world wind I ask my therapist for a Freudian splint chick-a-cha, chick-a-cha she suggests I try amnesia —Stop reading postcards from my childhood— Beans on toast the old soup-can supper carcinogenetically gifted My child will not live my life fewer and fewer literal fish in the sea after all Ben Gallagher lives in West Dublin, Mi'kma'ki (Nova Scotia) with his wife and two children. He is a Zen practitioner with the Oak Tree in the Garden sangha. His poetry and essays have appeared in untethered, Sewer Lid, The Puritan, (parenthetical), Lion's Roar, and Arc, among other places. His first collection of poetry, A Grief Cave, was published by Frontenac House in October 2022.

Piano Dreams By Meg Freer Steinway’s manufacturing director had a dream in which his wife turned into a piano. No wonder, after hours and days with curves and dips and bends, purple felt in the center of the hammers, large, gold letters on the case of a concert grand, meant to be readable from the back balcony. Eye-catching, labeled like sportswear, its rich signature wielded with flair the way William Steinway walked across the Brooklyn Bridge the day it opened, as it arced with style and artistry over the river. The Manhattan skyline, a soundboard. Bio Meg Freer grew up in Montana and lives in Ontario, where she writes and teaches piano. Her award-winning work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, as well as in two poetry chapbooks: Serve the Sorrowing World with Joy (Woodpecker Lane Press, 2020) and A Man of Integrity (Alien Buddha Press, 2022). She holds a Graduate Certificate with Distinction in Creative Writing from Humber School of Writers.

liminalities By Josephine LoRe my sister held your hand as you drew your last and told me your touch faded finger by finger until only in her pinkie and then gone but papa’ I feel you differently in dawn air drawn into lungs newborn sky strisce di bianco in un cielo azzurro a flurry of sparrows rising into beech tree and echoing your whistle il frischietto del cardinale Bio: a pearl in this diamond world … Josephine LoRe’s words have been read on stage and global zoom-rooms, put to music, danced, integrated into visual art, and published in eleven countries and four languages including FreeFall and Vallum in Canada, Fixed & Free in the US, and Ireland’s Same Page Anthology. Josephine has two collections, Unity and the Calgary Herald Bestseller The Cowichan Series.

Light By Sally Quon the light that shines through the water tumbles over stones turns mineral flecks to gold if only it could be captured stored away brought out on dark days and nights when the wind calls your name and the door tempts you to step out onto the road if only it could be held like water in cupped hands to sip when shadows crowd your heart and laughter is a season past light- fresh and sweet hummingbird nectar Bio: Sally Quon is a back-country blogger, dirt-road diva, and teller of tales. She was a finalist in the Vallum Chapbook Contest for two consecutive years. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies including “Better Left Standing,” Catlin Press 2022. Sally is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets. FaceBook: Sally Quon Instagram: @sallyquon Twitter: @QuonSally Blog: