Fresh Voices 28

Welcome to the twenty-eighth 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 28 features poetry by: Padmaja Battani, Karin Cope, Meg Freer, Carol Good, Louisa Howerow, Sadie Kromm, Salem Paige, D.G. Peart, Pauline Sameshima, Lindsay Soberano-Wilson, Megan Stobbe and PJ Thomas.

Process after artwork by Erika Olson By Meg Freer She smooths dust off the table, balances and creates palettes, recipes and techniques to evoke a teapot’s aggressive spout, aligns husk snug to corn kernels, prepares sumac for its still-life moment, cuts a lime in half. She chooses green for wisdom, for the lime’s rind and segments, squeezes the last bit of paint from the tube with a pasta roller, white for peace, for the membranes, like spokes that roll her colour world out to play beyond the frame. 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

Conquering Compromises By Padmaja Battani 1. She chose a red saree. But mother said ‘it’s too gaudy, let’s get you a pink one’. When she wore the pink saree, she felt invisible. That night, she drew a troop of girls dancing under moonlit sky all in bright colored robes. The red and orange hues shimmering on their dark faces, their smiles competing moonlight 2. She studied her biology notes. Physics, Zoology, and other books piled on her table screaming for attention. She kept reading and rereading, all her waking hours devoted to attain the goal set before her. However, all her efforts failed to earn her a seat in medical college. She proved to be a disappointment to the family. But her mother had a way out – marry her to a doctor. 3. Her husband decided to move abroad. For better career options. She had a dream that night. Copious peacocks were building a nest for them on high mountains. She never spoke about her dream, interpreted it. Just chose to forget. Their move to Florida was uneventful. Her husband got busy with work. She confined herself to the kitchen voluntarily. He started complaining about her Indian cooking. She began burning more scented candles to rescind the smells. The evaporated aromas never came back to her home. She lost her sense of taste while her husband relished homemade pastas and pancakes. Bio: Padmaja Battani has received an MA in English Literature. Her work has appeared in Sierra Poetry Festival, Trouvaille Review, New Pages, Coffee People Zine, Poetry Paus (LCP), Bitchin' Kitsch, Black Cat Magazine and elsewhere. Her latest passion is hiking. She is currently working on a Poetry Collection.

Improvisation in a Metro Car, Montreal By Louisa Howerow On the wall a poster invites me to discover Les îles Canaries. Votre Vie Brille de Nouveau. A road snakes down cliffs, plunges to the waiting sand, the sea. The stranger beside me pleats a metro map into a fan as if heat even in January is inevitable. Above his left wrist, a faded tattoo. Maybe a lizard that suns on island rocks. The stranger catches me watching, smiles. Nothing in particular, but I feel beautiful, no longer as lonely. I want to speak with him, but this is a city, and I'm not sure how one begins. It would be easier in the Canaries. We'd feed each other honey cakes, drink a rosado, its grapes born from volcanoes and the sea. A woman's voice announces the next stop, UQAM. He adjusts his backpack, leaves me his fan. Given more time I'd overlook his missing tooth. His shirt was immaculate. Louisa Howerow Bio: Louisa Howerow writes from the traditional territory of the Attawandaron, Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee, and Lunaapeewak peoples. Her poems have appeared in a number of anthologies, the latest being (M)othering (Inanna, York University.) Framed and Familiar: 101 Portraits online, and Nocturnes: Haïkus de Nuit (Paris: Editions Pippa).

Her peonies still bloom By Carol Good Mom’s peonies bloomed this week on the twenty-ninth anniversary of her death Transplants from her garden where we kids had been reluctant helpers She tended these beauties as she tended most things with frenzied intensity followed by collapse Only the hardy and wily survived over-pruned shrubs didn’t friends with thin skins fell away We learned to grow quietly bloom predictably endure stoically just like those peonies One month after her death Dad decided to destroy her garden it too would be buried under sod He made a last call come and salvage what we could Bio Blurb Since retiring, Carol has redirected her creativity into writing – mostly poetry. Her pandemic projects have included publishing of her first poetry collection – Alive & 65: a celebration for her 65th birthday and joining the League of Canadian Poets. She lives in an octagonal century home with her very handy husband located on the Treaty Lands and Territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. She recognizes the land as being home and traditional territory to other Indigenous people since time immemorial.

The True North by Lindsay Soberano-Wilson We either creep at a snail’s pace or fly like a bird but sometimes the distance between cutting corners and turning corners becomes reality meeting realized dreams forming a sacred dance because we haven’t really lived until we’ve trekked no man’s land or is it the badlands or better yet the highlands no, no that’s not it (that’s not it at all) it must be the backcountry (after all) in the arms of the Arctic down to the tip and dip of the Blue Mountains Yes, like a true Canadian —the true north strong and free It’s time we’ve found that the road less traveled is where we want to be Here and there, like a true Canadian —the true north strong and free Is where we flutter and glide peacefully. BIO Lindsay Soberano-Wilson’s debut full-length poetry collection, Hoods of Motherhood (Prolific Pulse Press, forthcoming May 2023) is a homage to women who had to learn to nurture themselves the way they nurture others. As the editor of Put It To Rest, a mental health magazine, she believes in writing poetry and essays to put personal stories to rest. Her hybrid poetry chapbook, Casa de mi Corazón (2020), explores how her sense of community, Jewish Canadian identity, and home was shaped by travel. Her poems have appeared in Embrace of Dawn, Poetry 365, Fevers of the Mind, PoetryPause, Quills Erotic Canadian Poetry Magazine, Canadian Woman Studies Journal, Running with Scissors, and Poetica Magazine. She holds a MA (English) and a BEd from the University of Toronto, and a BA (Creative Writing) from Concordia University. Find her on Medium, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok at Poetry Matters.

Time Alone Together By PJ Thomas We met without distraction, no wine we could swirl in a glass as we take our time to think, no smoke to look away and light for a second, no dinner, no movie; the things that would have kept me away, or vaguely there, and looking elsewhere. We met without a board game, arcade, or ping pong. We had so much to discuss though we haven't known each other long. And for the first time alone together we were there in nature, sitting on a log listening to frogs and the comforting drone of bees, when you reached for my hand, and I casually touched your knee.   Bio PJ Thomas launched her second poetry book ‘Waves’ on November 6th, 2022. Thomas’ work involves the movement of celestial bodies, the natural beauty of Ontario, and the searching human heart. Ms. Thomas moved to Peterborough from Toronto in 1982 to attend Trent University, where she became editor-in-chief of the Arthur Newspaper. She was a co-founder and the first executive director of the 4th Line Theatre Company. Thomas also promoted contemporary Canadian music until becoming disabled. She has since marked a triumphant return to literature with two novels published to critical acclaim, and for the last five years has been writing and publishing exclusively poetry. Thomas published her first collection of poems ‘Undertow’ in October 2020. Her lyrics appear on the 2021 Juno Award-nominated album ‘Solar Powered Too’ by Rick Fines. Thomas’ work is included in the 2022 Bill Bissett anthology, ‘Poemdemic’. She has been published in the River Magazine, Poetry Present, and Poetry Pause. Ms. Thomas makes her home with her cat by the Otonabee River.

LOST NAME By Pauline Sameshima Sonia, the health care assistant washes romaine lettuce The closing seal of the salad spinner makes a sound like ‘Haa” the loving way my father says my mother’s Chinese name We are at the kitchen table a pack of new batteries is open Mum is working on a small table clock I have a dead flashlight in two pieces Our heads whip round toward the sound in unison She puts down the clock and rushes to him hopeful He is in his hospital-issued bed inclined, asleep in propped pillows his loose jaw a full O a vacant cavernous darkness utterless He forgot who she was two months ago   Bio: Pauline Sameshima is a Professor at Lakehead University. Her professional interests include community-engaged, multi-modal research, learning and teaching. Pauline serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies and Curator of the LAIR Galleries. Her favourite pastimes include cooking with her children and arranging flowers from her garden. Website:

Departure song By Karin Cope For whomever holds their breath before leaving before everything to be done and everything to be undone before heartache before parting before remembering or forgetting before loss before neglecting before taking or leaving what they are taking or leaving before zipping and unzipping the duffel bags before filling and unfilling them before leaving what they ought to be taking before taking what they ought to be leaving before carsickness and airsickness and seasickness before thirst and hunger and aching feet before dire warnings and admonitions before sudden snows before hail and hurricanes before the harried stowing of precious things beneath the desk or if not beneath the desk then in a corner of the room or if not in a corner of the room then beneath the bed or if not beneath the bed then at the back of the closet or if not at the back of the closet then behind the bookshelf. For those for whom leaving risks wreckage and ruin. For those for whom arriving is but danger or confusion. For those who worry that the house will burn, or if the house does not burn that the pipes will burst, or if the pipes do not burst that the dogs will stray or if the dogs do not stray that the cats will be rent limb from limb by coyotes. For those who hold their breath for those who weep before parting for those who fear sorrow and sudden loss for those who hesitate to depart for those who cannot abide goodbyes, but nevertheless are determined to go for our departures are never done. Bio: Karin Cope is a Nova Scotia based poet, professor, activist and photographer who has logged months at sea with her partner, Marike Finlay, in remote coastal communities in Mexico and Central America, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia and Alaska, while conducting collaborative research and developing poetic, scholarly and socially engaged bodies of work. Her publications include Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live with Gertrude Stein (University of Victoria, 2005), a poetry collection entitled What We're Doing to Stay Afloat (Pottersfield, 2015), and, since 2009, a photo/poetry blog entitled Visible Poetry. The poems submitted here are taken from a recently completed manuscript entitled Ghost boat of my heart sail for me. With support from Arts Nova Scotia, Cope is currently working on a new expanded poetry project entitled If Sappho were a sailor, centred on migrant movements in the Mediterranean.

Alsek Lake By Megan Stobbe we paddled silent among icebergs as through forest distant rumble of glaciers letting go how beautiful it was and dangerous peaks towering from slate still water a thin skin below us blue giants biding time in late-night sun with sage smoke and steaming stones we passed schnapps and swam cast our burning bodies to glide anchorless in ice ever shifting, whispers rising not rooted to the bones of things we slept as pale stars wheeled in almost dark dreamed hawk and moose, wolf and bear morning came in its grey cloak a belt of ice to keep us stay not rooted to the bones of things in ice ever shifting, we spoke in whispers our burning bodies anchorless as sage smoke rising sad and sacred in night sun passing blue giants biding time below water slate and shade chasms and precipices plunging dangerous how beautiful it was letting go the distant rumble of glaciers we paddled silent among icebergs as through forest Bio Megan Stobbe (she/her) is a poet living in Edmonton Alberta. She is an associate member of the League of Canadian Poets and is just beginning to send her work into the world. She loves words and getting her hands in the dirt. @megstobbe

A Floral Touch You wonder why I send my mother photos of flowers from everywhere I go. Or, why actual flowers whenever I can. In a chapter of her life my mother was a florist. Her shop, A Floral Touch. Flowers remind me of my mother. There is a difference though, her beauty is within. While flowers unfurl their striking colours outside. One day my florist will be at rest. If asked, “Is there anything I can do?” I’ll say, “Flowers. There must always be flowers.” D.G. Peart   Bio Danny Peart resides in Vancouver, BC. In 2012, he published his first collection of poems, Ruined by Love. In 2016, he published a collection of stories and poems titled Stark Naked in a Laundromat. 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. In 2023 he published a collection of poems titled Not Quite So Handsome, edited by Rob Taylor. He is an Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets. He was the Writer in Residence at the Wallace Stegner House in Eastend, Saskatchewan for February 2023.

memory-eater By Salem Paige into the mouth of the spinning clock, yesterday’s grace gone and eaten. i swallow time like a taker, a thief of moments, return them with heat and sharpened edges. i burn these seconds between my rotting fingers, place them askew in anti-peace, rebalancing reality, the scenes in order of no order at all. you don’t get to remember when, only what what what and only until i hunger again. Bio: Salem Paige (they/them) is a transgender poet and designer living on Algonquin Anishinaabe territory (so-called Ottawa, Ontario). Their works revolve around the exploration of identity, technology, space, nature, and the uncomfortable. In 2022 they were shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize and longlisted for the ROOM Poetry Prize, and their poems have appeared in Beyond Words magazine, STREETCAKE magazine, flo. literary magazine, Ariel Chart Literary Journal, BiPan magazine, and others. Paige can be found at or @corpseofapoet on instagram and twitter.