CAM00350For the past two weeks, I’ve spent my days gazing out a wide window at the Qu’Appelle Valley, watching the highway move cars up/down the hill, to/from Regina, and walking the road onto wide prairie, under the huge, changeable sky.

We’ve done amazing things here, we eight poets who arrived at Sage Hill to work with the inimitable Jan Zwicky.

It’s been quite literally an enchanted time: one night, an owl danced on the roof of one poet and the pen woke her, demanding to be moved. Yellow-bellied sparrows swirled and scooped the air.

Mostly I’ve spent my time in the 1800s, accompanying my great-great-grandparents into the wilds of Upper Canada – from Louth (now part of St. Catharines) to Malta (a since-vanished village built south of Southampton) and, finally, Manitoulin Island where he became the lighthouse keeper.

Yesterday, I finished that full-length collection: Migration. It’s about my Scottish/Manitoulin Island ancestry and also how we long to build our own links in a family chain but sometimes, simply, can’t.


My room: the work in progress

Today, thanks to a dream I had last night, I started the next book of poems.

I’m not unusual though. The immersion and perfect mix of personalities we’ve found here enabled us all to work hard and fast, without a lot getting in our way.

It’s been a perfect retreat: the opportunity for deep discussion and laughter at meals before carrying coffee or tea back to our rooms and closing ourselves in for hours.

But now it’s time for home: there’s the new novel that sits on my hard drive, a dog who needs knee surgery, meals to make, a garden to plant before the heat. All the things of real life outside of the 24/7 focus on one’s craft (which, of course, we can’t have all the time).

I’ve learned so much here – about my work, my process, the task of refining rhythm and the importance of poetry for humans in a human culture. And I’ve done a lot of work that I’m proud of.

I’m lucky that I get to share it right away, as well, with Ariel Gordon and David Williamson, both Manitoba poets, who I’ll be reading with on May 27th at The Pas Regional Library.

If you can, come welcome me back to the world!



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2 Responses to Transitions

  1. Avatar
    Bill Gunn May 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Here’s some Northern Ontario stuff for your to remember or maybe for me to remind myself why I live here. You have been my muse today so bear with me.

    The Senses in Spring,
    My hearing is fading but the trill of the tree frog mating call still activates my ears at this time in the spring. The gentle quacking of an overflying mallard as she banks over my house reminds men to look out for ducklings down behind the house. Yes, there’s a cackle from the Canada Geese to the east where they are nesting. A red squirrel chatters at the dog from the maple tree behind the garage and this draws my eyes up to the pale green glowing leaflets as they struggle to break out of their winter sleep. The green contrasts with the red flowers of the maple tree standing beside it and glows even more against the dark spruce boughs yet to have their spring needles. I walk out under the giant white pines who tower over all the trees. Breathing in the pitchy aroma of their boughs excites my senses even more. The humidity of the air tantalizes my nose with it’s spring nuances and I feel the joy of living here once again. What is the real miracle? It’s that I do this every season of the year and never seem to tire of this sensory adventure I take. Perhaps when I get older I will take all these moments in stride. For now it’s a glorious time of year.

    Have a happy spring Lauren

    • Lauren
      Lauren May 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

      Thanks, Bill. Sounds lovely, and not unlike The Pas 🙂

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