Monday, December 28, 2015

Review of I Wasn't Always Like This by Shelley A. Leedahl

I Wasn't Always Like This by Shelley Leedahl

I Wasn't Always Like This by Shelley Leedahl
This is a brave and honest book of very well-written essays from a writer born in Saskatchewan, home of the first province-wide (or state-wide) arts council in all of North America. Yes, it could be the visionaries who determined that art was the distaff maiden to cereal grains more than forty years ago but whatever is in the alkaline water there, that flat landscape is remarkable for great writers, musicians, visual artists, scientists and Tommy Douglas, among others, you name it...this sparsely-populated province produces a disproportionate number of doers and dreamers. The hard-won wisdom contained in this book is proof of that.

Essays allow the reader to dip in and browse, waiting for something, a turn of phrase, a topic, a place name maybe, to catch and hold the eye. I took my time, savouring each one in the order it was presented (and knowing that author and editor would have spent a good while placing each essay just so, a logic which reveals itself to the careful reader). Essays can leapfrog entire decades, whole years, the pivotal labours to produce a child, then another, a book and then four others and then still more. (Leedahl is the author of many genres of published and broadcast work: poetry, young adult novellas, adult novels, collections of short stories, essays, radio ad jingles, magazine and newspaper articles, to name just a few.) The wild and fertile terrain of childhood is given short shrift and I am curious about this. I want to know why the child took the short-cut across the territory patrolled by the big boys, time after time. There is an undercurrent of menace and something else too, the something else that drew this particular child to take the short-cut again and again and not to avoid whatever happened to her there or whatever she initiated there. There is nothing to be gained or learned by taking the long and safe way to and from the school perhaps, a metaphor to set us up for the life she lived as an adult, an exciting life in many ways but also a life fraught with more than a few dodgy choices, fuelled by a predilection for romance or at least dressed-up lust, the compulsion to run many miles a day with surgically-reduced breasts to enhance her mileage and comfort versus static routine and family stability on a borderline budget.

Other essays are very forthcoming about the need for a writer to escape the hub-bub and relentless responsibilities of family life to the sanctity of a quiet room -or a small prairie house- wherein to sit and think and maybe get a page of writing accomplished every single day. Or craving the lively and stimulating community to be found with other writers and artists, in particular the exchanges between Saskatchewan and Mexico, where she obviously thrives and blossoms. But here is the rub, the hard and brave necessity of writing the truth, which gives us the kind of writing that other readers and especially other writers begin reading and then flinch, shrinking away, thinking, 'Oh, don't go there, don't, don't, oh, boy, now you've gone and done it.'

It is rare for writers (especially those with living relatives, old and young) to admit to feeling confined and constrained and Leedahl does it. She cops to the things about living one life and yearning for another that the rest of us can't or won't for fear of hurting feelings and blowing up fragile detentes and alliances with those who share our DNA or our bed. She puts herself out there, showing us her crappy taste in lovers who all seem to end up treating her rather poorly, and all the while her modest financial wherewithal is eroding as she chases the dream of writing, and making a living at it, which is increasingly difficult to do, especially in the Canadian market.

Which is why I was so heartened to see the tremendous exposure her title essay received in Medium, the online forum based in the US, spotted and gleaned from the newsletter produced quarterly by the Writers Union of Canada, earlier this year and where my heartfelt response (full disclosure) earned me a free copy of the book (I didn't remember until after it arrived in the mail unexpectedly that I must have checked a box saying 'Yes, I'd love a copy!', so unused am I to actually winning anything. This title essay is worth the reasonable price of the nicely-produced book on its own as the author fesses up to her Damn the Torpedoes, Life is Short approach to living and loving and creating art en route. Yes, sometimes it meant she was "selfish" and left her teenagers to forage in the fridge and her husband to maintain the home-front as well as his own work and hobbies (he's a fitness buff too).

Question: would we think, or even blink an eyelash, if we read about a male author with nine or ten books to his credit that he was self-absorbed and a 'bad father' if he spent two or four weeks in a village or a monastery working on a new book? No, I'll supply the answer, but even those of us who have made those choices to get a book finished have to still our small-town tongues from going, "Tut, tut, tut, those poor children/teenagers, that poor helpless fellow, all alone in a warm and dry house for fourteen days or even fifteen..." Same thing for affairs which end badly. Transpose the situation to a tragic male writer and see what happens to your head-set. Uh-huh. Highly recommended reading for those pursuing or helplessly ensnared in the writing life. I just hope this book or the next provides the author with more than a modicum of financial recompense for her hard-won wisdom and that she won't be foraging for blackberries in order to save lunch and breakfast money in earnest going forward. Foraging for the sheer pleasure of sun-ripened blackberries, sure, we all love that, but the hungry stomach roils with acids and undigested seeds after too many meals of them. This writer deserves a break and success for her unsparing, unflinching look at herself. Brava!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Caroline Woodward

I have known of Caroline Woodward’s writing since the early 90s when I was a bookseller in Calgary. She published Disturbing the Peace and Alaska Highway Two-Step with Polestar Press of Winlaw, BC. Our careers have managed to intersect a couple of other times, as Caroline opened a bookstore in the West Kootenays of BC – I had already operated a mail order bookstore in the East Kootenays – and then as publishers’ sales reps for the same agency, with Caroline travelling about schlepping books on Vancouver Island and the northwest coast of BC, and me in Alberta. Polestar was always one of the publishers we both represented. And we are also now writing and publishing books! I was so pleased to see that Caroline had published Light Years, and it found a home with one of the other publishers we had both represented. Here she is to tell you more about this new book.
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Caroline Woodward

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper (Harbour: fall 2015) – Memoir
Quick description: The very true story of a writer who always chose adventure over security, love over logic, and who (naturally) quit her best job ever to go off with her equally peripatetic husband to live at a lighthouse and write all the stories she always wanted to write, including this one.
Brief biography:
Caroline Woodward grew up on a B.C. Peace River homestead and began her writing career as a weekly columnist for two years at the Alaska Highway News while still in high school. While toiling at many white, blue and pink collar jobs ever since then, she wrote eight books for adults and children (so far). She now lives, works as a relief lightkeeper, and writes like a spring unsprung from her home-base at the Lennard Island Lightstation near Tofino, B.C.

Links to buy Caroline’s book:
Harbour Publishing
Bolen Books
Mosaic Books
Mulberry Bush Book Store
Coho Books
Munro’s Books
Laughing Oyster Books
Volume One Bookstore
McNally Robinson
Bookmark Bookstore

Caroline’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I have two nautical picture book mss. for little ones on the go at the moment, with photographs by Jeff George, who also contributed most of the beautiful photos for Light Years (and is also a writer and my husband, a trifecta of talents!) I have about three other books in various stages of readiness so when I get stuck with one genre or project, I move on to another. It’s amazing how much manuscripts improve when left alone for a few months or even years!

Caroline’s reading recommendation:
I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of The News of the World by Paulette Jiles (HarperCollins: 2016). Unforgettable characters, brilliant language. (Paulette Jiles was also published early-on by Polestar Press!)

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway for Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper AND/OR a Rant About Technology

Bear with me as I am still struggling with the 'user-friendly' Apple system...which, after 27 years of slow, medium and fast PCs, is not all it's cracked up to be.

My PC photo albums, easily accessible by date and/or by name, suddenly became over five thousand individual photos on my Mac. Which I now have to figure out how to coalesce back into albums when I least have the time for doing this extremely time-sucking chore.

Next discovery: I cannot transfer my Goodreads book reviews to this blog like I used to  do because suddenly a school district blog site I worked with three days after getting this MacBook Pro proclaims itself as "my" go-to blog-site. I somehow have to find a way to de-link, sign out or otherwise block that site and make this my go-to site. Don't ask me how. 

Did I mention that I've never taken a computer course in my life? And that I am not fascinated by technical matters at all? I don't care how stuff works. I just want it to work. Or that it's hard enough for me just to think a coherent thought and to express that elusive insight/connection/wisdom in words as clearly and eloquently as possible and to keep doing that, sentence after sentence, until I have a book? 

If I was filthy rich, I would have People who would do all this computer trouble-shooting/social media stuff. My job is to write, not to figure out technology and its love of constant change. I'm from the "If It's Not Broke, Don't Fix It" school of life and work. I prefer hand tools to power tools as well, no big surprise there. Less mangling, noise, fumes, expense and things that go wrong. I prefer more careful, peaceful, observant work. Meditation with a hoe in my hand, or secateurs. A tool I can sharpen and oil and otherwise fix by myself through many decades of use.

My dear and supportive husband and house-mate grew weary of hearing my profanities blasting through the walls of my writing office and ordered a copy of iPhoto: the missing manual which seems like a good book except it doesn't tell me how to downsize a photo so that I can change my five year old author photo on the Goodreads site, which tells me the new photo is too big and/or the wrong dimension. The book is thick. I just want to fix this one small problem, how to downsize one *&^%$#! photo, which should be in the index along with hundreds of other tips. But of course, it's not. Someone assumes we all know how to do this and the authors have merrily skipped over this basic information. As have the blithely no-manual, "psst: Can I sell you an add-on app you don't really need?" Apple folks. Intuitive capitalists, the lot of them!

I do not have time to read a thick manual on technology when I'm supposed to be letting the world know, via social media, about my new book and writing a 30 minute script to accompany a slide show of lighthouse images by the D&S husband... I'm going to email or call the human being we bought this over-hyped computer from and ask him how to downsize a photo in order to upload it to Goodreads.

Oh, right, go to my Goodreads site if you're a member there since I can't transfer the widget for free books to my own blog here. That is, if you'd like to enter to win a free copy of my memoir. Hard cover. Gorgeous cover. Very good quality colour separation and b&w contrast for Jeff's photos as well. It's beautiful to look at, thanks to the human beings at Harbour Publishing who have the skill and experience to wed content (and who pay for three sets of editors and a designer to work on each book) with technology to publish books they believe in. Thank you, Harbour! 

See? I start out kvetching and end up with gratitude. That's the way I work through the need to vent my spleen. Get to a good place with it, poke fun at my limited skill set, and move on! As they say on the radio, thanks for listening.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reclaiming Chaos or Garden as Metaphor yet again...

Hollyhocks, saved from seed collected while doing a late summer relief stint at Chrome Island Lightstation several years ago, now add their glorious shapes and colours to our lives on Lennard Island. I started them from tiny seeds, separated into seven different colours first, in greenhouse flats. Excellent 100% germination! Then I transplanted them into my sawed-down cardboard milk cartons, the two litre size, and let them grow and establish even better root systems. Finally, I cut out the bottom of each milk carton, being careful not to sever any roots, and planted them with the protective anti-slug waxed shell of milk carton, into a flower border which had been so overcrowded with creeping buttercup, renegade comfrey and thuggish Shasta daisies that I physically winced everytime I walked by it. Which was often as it is right outside our house.

But thanks to the hard work of both Jeff and myself with sustained weeding and then mulching with lawn grass clippings over the last two years, I was able to plan the sites for each hollyhock as well as thin out incredibly crowded clumps of daffodil and agapanthus africanus (Lily of the Nile) bulbs and to replant the lovely pale orange dahlias which were here when we arrived (and doing battle with the buttercup, which never sleeps....) Now, at last it is a flower border which lifts my spirits whenever I look at it, with glorious early spring bulbs, dozens and dozens of them, followed by the hollyhocks-white, pale pink, medium pink with a burgundy centre, dark pink, lime green with a pale red centre, pure, clear red and deep burgundy, with one lovely contained clump of Shasta daisies. The cheerful white and yellow-centred daisies will carry on blooming as the hollyhocks die back and the "sunrise" dahlias (my description as the original name is unknown) come into their long-lived summer and fall showing.

I still get in there with my dandelion digger and my bare fingers to pull out baby buttercup seedlings and teeny comfrey leaves but now it's simply low-maintenance beauty.

The gorgeous lime-green hollyhock with the pale red centre. The bees and hummingbirds are thrilled.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

On Red Enamel Guard Rails and Other Mishaps

There are two seasons on the lights, as we grizzled lighthouse keepers refer to working and living on a B.C. lightstation in the 21st century...and in the preceding centuries. Winter = months of rain and high winds running the gamut from frisky gales to borderline hurricane force and keeping the roofs on, hatches battened and fixing tools and equipment within the warm and dry workshop building, solid and sound since 1904.

Summer=lawn mowing and painting and hedge-trimming and gardening, which means planting, protecting, watering, harvesting, replanting if the fox sparrows have succeeded in finding a hole in the chicken wire or a gap in the remay cloth. There are not quite enough hours in the day when it's a dry day. Start bread, water greenhouse. Water new plantings and pick another batch of snow peas to freeze. Get started on phase two of the bread. Time to paint the many, many metres of guard rail with red enamel paint. Hours spent, many upside down, painting with nose filled with fumes and knees and back adjusting to the task. Groaning out loud helps. It's a grotty, messy job best shared with another lightkeeper to keep the momentum going, like all onerous tasks in life. 

But for two days now, despite wearing my ancient sun hat, I have managed to get red enamel paint on my hair. Yes. The first time it happened I was taking a break from the sweltering heat of the work to do my afternoon weather report observations in the radio room. I took my hat off and ran my hand through my sweaty bangs and tugged at my ponytail. My damp, stiff ponytail. The red paint was drying rapidly while I watched the wind anemometer to see if it really was gusting in five knot jumps or if it was just puttering between 17 and 21 knots at an unhurried pace. I had the sky, the height of the waves, the size of the swell all figured out and noted, but I always leave the wind speed for the last observation. NW19, I noted in the logbook and raced to the shelves of the workshop in the room right next to the radio room. Enamel is oil-based not water-based and we all know what that means.... my eyes scanned the shelves.

Ship-2-Shore Industrial. A large plastic tub proclaims that it stops rust and corrosion, it penetrates and lubricates. It was recommended for anchor chains and bilges, for ships and barges. I passed on this one.
W-D40 and 3-in-1 oil, both Lightkeeper's Friends and often used but not for this hair job. Ditto Never-Seez, an anti-seize and lubricating compound which "assures absolute parts protection" against extreme heat, over 2000 F., and I found this most useful to know, it protects against "Fretting, Galling & Galvanic Pitting". 

I plan to take a can of this stuff to my grave in case I end up in Hell where it surely would come in handy. I passed on it for now and frantically sped up my eyeballs past the Plastic Dip, the Instant Patch, Bondo-Glue and finally, a slim can of turpentine on a lower shelf saved the day. Or at least a chunk of my hair. While Nootka and Estevan lightkeepers gave their weather reports to the MCTS in Prince Rupert, I dabbed turpentine on my ponytail, trying not to think of melting my hair into a strange clump, and delivered my weather data with what I hoped was a calm and steady voice. Then I headed back to the land bridge to help Jeff pack up the painting supplies and get the brushes into yogurt containers filled with gas to keep them pliable overnight. 

I had nice Aveeda shampoo and conditioner and a hot shower in mind for myself.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Review of The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula Le Guin

Unlike many readers, I have come to reading science fiction and fantasy decades after devouring all kinds of mysteries,  literary fiction from many countries, Canadian literature (novels, poems, children's books, histories, political analysis and especially, short stories), and assorted other interests. Initially it was because I found so much of the so-called science fiction writing to be 2-D,  filled with metallic gadgets, stick figure archetypes and stilted dialogue,  with futuristic premises so imaginatively threadbare, so politically and psychologically juvenile that I wrote off the entire genre and moved on. I have to confess, and this may cause shrieks of dismay, that I have yet to read Tolkien and C.S. Lewis or any of the Harry Potters beyond the first one. I don't know why I haven't and I suspect it's a character flaw. I just have not gotten around to reading these Great Works but I will. Honest!

But I started by reading Ursula K. Le Guin and her wonderful EarthSea books and The Gift. Then, years later and in no particular order,  Jim Crace's The Pesthouse, Bodil Bredsdorff's The Crow-Girl, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Paulette Jiles' Lighthouse Island and many other brilliant, beautifully written books with unforgettable characters. I haven't read all of Le Guin's impressive output in several genres but it's also on my to-do list, especially after reading the essays in this collection.

They are grouped under the categories of: Personal Matters, Readings, Discussions and Opinions and On Writing. The edition I read came from the library. It is a book I must now buy because like Bredsdorff's timeless book, The Crow-Girl, I plan to read it once a year or so, just to cleanse the mind's palate and remind myself what great writing is all about. For any writer in the doldrums, proceed directly to the essay: The Question I Get Asked Most Often. To cut to the chase, and to repeat what other fine writers, like Caroline Adderson, say when asked where those story ideas come from, Le Guin writes: "Well, the secret to writing is writing. It's only a secret to people who don't want to hear it. Writing is how you be a writer."

She goes on to elaborate the ways in which imagination interacts with life experience, reincarnates the truth as art, in fact. It is simply a wonderful, illuminating, encouraging piece of writing that will elevate any writer who reads it. Clearly, Le Guin grew up with brilliant, kind, adventurous parents (the kind most writers and artists could only wish they had). This may be why she tackles Tolstoy, in another one of my favourite essays, on his famous quote, one which has undoubtedly inspired tonnes of morbidly introspective novels in which extra-Grimm realism and Ultimate Tragedy is the highest artistic achievement and Humour, Empathy, Courage and the complex and difficult achievement of Happiness are seen as highly suspect and sentimental notions. I cheered as Le Guin ripped up this heavy-handed dictum in 'All Happy Families'. As the stand-up comics like to say, with straight faces: Tragedy is easy, Comedy is hard.

So is being patient and trusting one's own material, waiting for the story-statues to emerge from the stones we all lug around as writers. I'm still pondering the title of the book, which comes from a sentence fragment in a letter Virginia Woolf wrote, describing how she just could not find the rhythm of her next book yet, that she sat "crammed with ideas, and visions and so on, and can't dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm". It is a profoundly interesting insight and so true. I know when I've tapped into the "wave of the mind" like a surfer who leaps onto a magnificent roller that will carry her off to new acrobatic heights. I'm all-too-familiar with what it's like to be chucked off after a few false starts, and I've made many premature, undignified landings... But I'm always working while I'm waiting in the line-up for the rhythm, paying attention to the undertow of every story, and I'm always on the look-out for the really big one as I'm testing the waters, practicing, always practicing the craft. What an inspiring book!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thoughts About Poetry for the Finale of Poetry Month

So why write poems every day or at least once a week? Why bother to learn about archaic forms when it's so much easier to write reams of floppy emotive free verse, paying no attention to consonance, assonance, beats per line, never mind rhyming endings?

And how dare anyone, some prose writer yet, hang a one or two draft poem out to air in public when poetry is a mysterious mental alchemy conducted in secret by the high priests and priestesses of the craft? Why, demystifying the joy, the process and the mental work-out of writing a poem could open the floodgates to hordes of amateur poets!

Wait, now I want to research what the collective noun for a thundering herd of poets might be...I thought I had that wonderful book, An Exaltation of Larks, but a quick browse of my bookshelves in this writing room does not reveal it. It has the collective word for all sorts of creatures. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on the matter.

That's what writing, any kind of writing but especially poems, and especially trying out set forms, does for me. It makes me curious. Analytical. Forms compress words and therefore sharpens up and excises flabby vocabulary. It wakes up my ears. It opens my heart and mind. It forces me to think bigger. Think better.

Now I have to finesse an online workshop with six different classrooms with ages ranging from Grade 3 to Grade 10. I'm going to have the students in New Denver, Nakusp and Edgewood tackle the topics of Fear and Imagination. So I will, being a prescriptive type of teacher, spend the next days really homing in on those two entities. I like to reinvent my own workshops, keep them fresh, discover new things. I have the bones and the props but now I need to find the right words to help each kid find a way to tap into their own imaginations. And to write freely and without judgment.

Isak Dinesen (Out of Africa) said: "Write a little every day without hope and without despair."

I would add, write a little every day that is simply writing for the joy of it, for the writer needs to flex her muscles for the big projects ahead and, just as a runner or a hockey player does his stretches before starting to train in earnest, the writer needs to practice daily. Otherwise it's all talk, no action, no results.

Albert Einstein said it best: "Your imagination is your preview of life's coming attractions."

I'm not nearly as profound as either of those great minds but I humbly submit that growing plants from seed is a lot like planting a spark in my own mind. I nurture it and watch it grow, fend off any negative mildew and bugs, give it light and air and good soil to keep it grounded. Then everything, inside and out, grows. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Poem #28 for Poetry Month-Sicilian Tercet

                                               Sweet & Sour Endurance

                    Small tough tree, rising yet again, surprising me, that will to live
                    You survive us inept and bungling humans; drought, cold, aphids, heat
                     Little lemon, tree with ancient heart, you flower now, you forgive

This is a Sicilian tercet and a poetic and climatic sort of homage to my Meyer lemon tree which was once a graceful and balanced 3-D sort of plant but now strives for renewed life in a lopsided yet still graceful fashion. The label in the large pot it lives in says "Lazarus" and the implications are obvious. The tercet is a three line poem with an A B A rhymed ending pattern and iambic pentameter rhythm ~/~/~/. There are no set number of syllables per line.

If I can keep it protected from a killing frost inside the greenhouse and give it lots of light and enough air circulation, it will be grateful and do what it is doing right now, flowering and growing many healthy leaves. It also appreciates seaweed spray and as with all potted plants, enough nutrients and water to keep it thriving, not merely surviving. It is a plant with much to teach me. Ditto its neighbour, an avocado which somehow survived the winter outdoors under a black tarp and which Jeff spotted and rescued when he was transferring the compost (under the black tarp for many months) from one of the old wooden bins to his newly built barrel composting unit, a gift from the sea which he cleverly rejigged to become a thing of beauty that the folks at Lee Valley would endorse!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Poem #27 for Poetry Month- Sicilian Septet

A Sicilian Septet caught my eye as the form to try out this morning with seven lines of ten syllables each and an A B A B A B A rhyme scheme. An iambic pentameter rhythm ~/~/~/~/ and so on for ten syllables is the plan, which is trickier than it seems of course. Songwriters are especially attuned to internal beats, rhyming line endings and modulating emphasis syllable by syllable. So are writers of most picture books, another genre which is much more difficult to compose successfully than adult fiction writers ever imagine it to be until they try it.

This poem was inspired by the lush crop of volunteer greens in our greenhouse, grown from seeds which the previous season’s mature plants let fly inside the greenhouse where dill and kale have taken up permanent residence for the last few years. The Chinese mustard, which may have hitched a ride in some compost which didn’t fully “cook” a clump or two of it containing its seeds, is a new indoor spring crop and a welcome peppery addition to salads and stir-fries. The dill is a reliable three-season source of fresh flavour to add to roast whole salmon, dill pickles, potato salad and dill pesto, which is probably our favourite pesto of all.  

Try three tablespoons of dill pesto with cooked farfalle or any compact pasta, six ounces of chopped smoked salmon, a tablespoon of capers and another one or two of finely chopped red onion. Add a dash of heavy cream or a glop of plain cream cheese or alfredo sauce to mellow it all out and you will be in your happy place speedily and forthwith. Fantastic warm or cold.

These photos were taken yesterday, April 27th, and our task is to eat all these greens before it gets too hot in the greenhouse for them because by late May, I will need their soil for the new crop of tomatillos, five kinds of tomatoes and the English cucumbers now growing in their starter flats on the potting bench. I will leave the dill in the main beds as we will continue to enjoy it during the summer and fall seasons ahead.

Gardening is absolutely my favourite hobby of all. Hope springs eternal and all that wise stuff. Growing green things is good for the soul. There, I said it with a straight face. Don't get me started on my Meyer's Lemon tree. It's worthy of a poem unto itself. Maybe tomorrow...

One Season’s Green Bounty Must Make Way

Here is the lush and lovely kale in spring
The dill and Chinese mustard volunteer
For long mild months of winter lay sleeping
But now April days bring Sun's heat to sear
And kale in every dish is appearing
Tomatoes and cucumbers hover near
Yearn for depth and breadth and summer’s blessing

Monday, April 27, 2015

Poem #26 for Poetry Month- Japanese Renga

This popular, and often collaborative, Japanese form consists of alternating stanzas of 5 7 5 syllables and the next with 7 and 7 syllables. Non-rhyming and non-metrical, each stanza is linked to the next by images or subject. With this one, I used the sound of human voices spanning hundreds of kilometres down the BC coast seven times daily as lightkeepers deliver "the weathers" to the Coast Guard radio staff handling communications.

The weathers are so-called because we primarily serve mariners and aviators with our dual-purpose weather reports, hence plural, the weathers. My photo is of Estevan Point Lighthouse, known for its graceful cement flying buttress architecture. It was twilight on a fine summer day with fair weather cirrus clouds backlit by the setting sun. 

Today's poem is dedicated to the stalwart men and women who served, until April 21, 2015, at the Coast Guard MCTS station in Ucluelet. They, as well as Vancouver and Comox MCTS stations have for years been handling may-days, pan-pans, marine hazards, lightkeeper weathers and foreign vessel transit through Canadian waters and much more.

Farewell, comrades of the airwaves. Prince Rupert, Comox (slated for closure in 2016), Vancouver (also on the chopping block) and Victoria MCTS staff will now handle the entire 27,000 km of BC coastline.

Weather Report Renga
For whom do we wait
without fail each third hour?
One voice: rushed or calm

The weather collector greets
us, wants our vital signs

One by one, we speak
of skies and seas and winds in
radio cadence

northwest three-five
fog bank distant south through west

Estimated wind
over sea five-zero knots
(seas three stories high)

Better someone stops, stays put
won’t drown for the halibut.