Welcome to the eleventh edition of Fresh Voices, a project from and for the League’s associate members. 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!

by Christen Thomas


Summer lingered enough
for October wasps to be out
in the open lips of the cider cans
and you were in bib shorts
as we’d determined tight was right.

You were making friends with a stranger
on the park bench by Rooster
on Broadview and I immediately
felt at ease by your charms.

You were seriously funny
and I’d packed crunchy peanut butter
Cliff bars to suit your profile bio,
though they went forgotten
and I never mentioned it since.

I should have understood
by the enthusiasm of the wasps
that I was going to be stung,
your question about whether
kissing was too soon.

my lips opening as easily
as the lids of the chilled cider,
in the sun on the plaid picnic blanket,
your thumb, a light rub, all of my honey rushing.

You couldn’t get me home
fast enough, my body responding to your push
on the bike paths, my heart
racing beyond the exertion,
pedaling into the streets with the eagerness
of new lovers, colliding languidly
like wasps after the same drops of sweetness.


Christen Thomas works in Canadian publishing and her poetry is featured in magazines and journals such as Room, The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, and Rampike.



A Daisy Grew Within Clay
by M.A. Mahadeo


A daisy grew within clay reaching,
Reaching for the clay. All day.
Hair like straw,
Brushing brushing brushing it out.
Conditioner made it feel too soft at first,
And you,
Cut it off like a mushroom,
An explosion.
“You look like one of those girls.”
I wanted to.

Reaching to plunge back the roots within that clay,
It sinks with rain falling.
I couldn’t help, but cry at everything.
Those commercials,
Hitting me hard.
I felt sinking into the Earth,
As memories were dragging my roots,
Without nourishment.
And that mold-able ground sucking sucking until
I couldn’t push out.

A daisy grew out of the clay.
A tip of the iceberg all you see.
Beauty like sunlight kisses,
Yet roots deep within that shadow place.

You pluck me.
And I escape finally to live,
Before that clay would drag my petals down.


M.A. Mahadeo is a 24 year old poet from Queens, New York, who now loves living in Toronto. Her work is featured in Man In The Street Poetry Magazine, Blood & Bourbon, Rejected Lit, and Unwritten.



How Woodpeckers Avoid A Brain Injury
by Michael Quilty 


is flora.
Tree is a sponge.
Tree a sponge,
bones uneven,
beaks face down.

Beaks facing down,
head unique.
The head unique,
bones receptive.
The balance           flora,
brain–an innate mutation.

The brain receptive,
bones unique.
Tree facing down?
Beaks uneven,
balance            receptive.
Head is a sponge.


Michael Quilty lives near Midland, Ontario. His writing and other work has appeared in literary journals and sporting type publications since the 1990s. The poem “Concussion 1”, originally published in PRISM international, also found its way into Best Canadian Poetry 2013 [Tightrope Books].

Curated by Lesley Strutt and Blaine Marchand, these poems represent just a small portion of the great work being produced by our members, and we are excited to have this opportunity to share their poetry with you. If you are interested in contributing to Fresh Voices, please send 3-5 poems to [email protected]. You may submit only once per month, but you may submit every month until your poetry is selected. This opportunity is open only to associate members of the League–if you are interested in joining the League, please visit our membership page!

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