Welcome to the eighth 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!

A Winter in the Baja
by Karin Cope

A sudden drift of

fish startles up from the sea,

their silver backs flash.

Nightfall. The Little

Dipper pours starlight over

darkened mountain tops.

Walking a desert

track we turn and stumble on

piles of pipefish bones.

Break a branch of the

torote tree—sharp scent of

bitter orange lingers.

Palo Adan, grey

branch, half-moon: one scarlet bud

streaks the evening sky.

A Pacific wind

freshens. Hungry clouds nibble

The fattening moon.

Empty shells of a

conch graveyard glisten: so much

broken crockery.

Almost spring but the

sharp scent of beach fires burning

intimates autumn.

Walking on the beach

we startle a cricket; it

leaps into the sea.

A buzzard sits on

an abandoned power pole,

lines cut and dangling.

A beached sea lion

skull slowly submerges: sand

fills the eye sockets.

Karin Cope is a poet, sailor, photographer, scholar, rural activist, blogger and an Associate Professor at NSCAD in the Division of Art History and Contemporary Culture. Her publications include Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live with Gertrude Stein, the 2015 poetry collection What we’re doing to stay afloat, and since 2009, a blog focused on verbal-visual interfaces entitled Visible Poetry: Aesthetic Acts in Progress ( Cope has also authored and co-authored popular histories, short stories, policy papers and travel literature; her artworks include video installations, performances, guerrilla theatre and online works.

by Nan Williamson                                                                                             

This morning    my body unfurls from sleep    soft sheets teasing bare breasts    groin thrumming     outside my window    a goldfinch whistles and warbles    I laugh aloud    there are miracles in the garden    water spurts from the fountain    splashes over mossy stones    licks my bare feet    lush late blooming peonies    bend in sweet heaviness    until the lover sun urges them awake     they unfold glad petals    tip perfume to the air

Renoir painted them open    brushed on thin washes    and strokes    of iridescent white   daubed the centre    soft dots veined with purple    faintly crimson shadow     he caught the creamy petals’ silky feel    peonies    dew-slippery    wanton    luxurious in their prime    as if    aware       that imminent rain       will leave the petals     pale and splayed

I walk around all day    naked under my clothes    half-annoyed as you tug at my roots again    planted long in the garden of affection and easy love     tenuous links with old romance mix memory and desire    enough to renew faith in my own power     I move more assuredly now    seductively    little tongues of fire flickering low    astonished by appetite at my age    I am  amused     these sudden surges of desire disrupt the current narrative     last night     I felt both beautiful      and unprepared

Nan Williamson works as an artist and writer in Peterborough, Ontario. She was mentored by Karen Connelly during her time at the Humber School for Writing, and has been published in several journals. She is the author of the chapbook Leave the Door Open for the Moon.

by Barbara Black

You dream a plain grey room,

a table, a plate. One gooseberry

set there as punctuation.
Since you are destructive

you break the plate, the berry

drops like an orphaned eye

causing a massive tidal wave

which runnels its way

to your coast, drowns the house,

the neighbours, engulfs the store,

dogs float past with snaking leashes

there are middle-aged women

in west coast coats, a man

clutching The National Post,

and, of course, the postman,

with your sodden parcels,

the books you’ll never read.

You hear dire pronouncements,

go back to your tea and yet

all along there’ve been quakes,

minute ones, that only caress

the needle, the underpinning moves

without your knowing

and you put down the cup,

and it’s fall and the garden

rots—but so beautifully slow,

as if not afraid to succumb.

At the end, she wrung her hands
as if—absolution.
You recall the word “forsaken.”

Months later you make

a mask that frightens you.

The instructor screeches:

“You will write about this!”

pulling ugliness from you

you didn’t know was there.

First, torn paper—three layers at least,

nostrils were difficult, and ears.

Then the gesso, the white face.

You like that best, stopping there.

She says “Paint it!” You do:

red-white-black, black-white-red.
When you put it on it unbirths you.

Mother, mother, where are your
lovely hands?
I have already lost your face.

Barbara Black recently won first prize in the 2017 Writers’ Union of Canada Short Prose Competition and was a fiction finalist in The Malahat Review 2017 Open Season Awards. Other publications include Freefall, The New Quarterly, and Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal. A recipient of the $1000 first prize in the 2017 Don’t Talk To Me About Love Poetry Contest, her poems have also appeared in Contemporary Verse 2, FreeFall, Forage Poetry, The Dying Dahlia Review, and Poems from Planet Earth. She lives in Victoria, BC, where she’s currently busy riding the twisties on her new motorcycle.

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!

Leave a Comment