Fresh Voices: Sasha Saint-Aubin, Janice Colbert, Carolyne Van Der Meer

Welcome to the thirteenth 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!

Love Is a Bridge    

by Sasha Saint-Aubin

My love, the bridge is open again
and the river we can cross,
and the river knows your name.

Love is a winter field,
not spring, as poets say.
It is a winter field
awaiting our steps on snowy mounds,
glances that mean a learning kindness
surfacing after quarrels, emotional tests.

It’s as though we had to die
to know what love really is,
and dying takes time,
and a season other than spring.

The trees are heavy with a season
unknown to us,
even as we are convinced of our differences
and the terrible distance that lives between us
that we cross every day of our lives.

Spring is a readiness, with blossoms hiding.
Winter is a stark truthfulness, with healing
after some dying.
But love, love is a bridge.

Sasha Saint-Aubin is a poet, writer, and editor who lives in Ottawa. His work has appeared in journals and an anthology. He’s published a chapbook, Naomi and Ruth, and a broadside, From the North Country.

The Locust Tree    

by Janice Colbert

I met you in November outside my window
when I was new to my studio at the lake.
Crisp clusters of your leaflets fell like daubs of paint
to the sidewalk, the pattern resembled laurel wreaths.
Red maple-leafs smacked here
and there could not compete with your grace.

I saw you through my window,
in the spring, a green lace balloon.
Your branches scratched the glass,
a sound like mice make behind drywall
made me look up. My absent landlord
didn’t notice. Unchecked by pruning,
tactful knocks, erratic clonks and then insistent
bangs reminded me you lived nearby.


Nine years later you shove against the glass
as if to say, “I’m out of room to grow anywhere else.”
I’ve grown too. In this cool, dark, enduring autumn,
a decision to make, whether to stay or not in this long
marriage here. All that is gold falls to pieces
on my patch of walkway.

We are both escape species, not exclusive to lakes.
My surface is eroded, I’m moving to higher
ground. Your cambium can tolerate the weathering.

All your gold fallen blades like tiny knives,
razor-thin enough to cut an incision in autumn’s
flesh. My hemorrhage, no one will notice until
I bleed out. My studio is bare.

Janice Colbert is a writer, painter and designer. After a fashion design career, she completed a BFA at OCAD. Poetry publication includes Rose and Brine (Frog Hollow), LRC, Prairie Fire and Three (U of T). Awards include the Random House and Marina Nemat. She holds an MFA from UBC.

Lucien L’Allier Station, Montreal Metro   

by Carolyne Van Der Meer

He held the door for her every day
cat carrier and overflowing dolly
cup out begging stray coins
reparation from the fortunate

But once she made no offering

He shoved the door towards her, angry
none of her wandering coins
clattered into his cup
And she saw for the first time

Spittle at the corner of his mouth
the pock-marked cheeks
the colourless cloudy eyes, dirt under his nails
grey kitten slinking between his legs

Next day she avoided his gaze
emptied her change purse
into the cup, felt that cat’s velvet coat
soft against her shin

Carolyne Van Der Meer is a journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer. She has published journalistic articles, essays, short stories and poems in publications in Canada, India, Ireland, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. and has work forthcoming in Germany. Her first book, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience, was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in January 2014. Her second book, Journeywoman, a collection of poetry, was published by Inanna in 2017.

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. Not yet a member? Please visit our membership page for details on how to apply!

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