by tammy robacker

My father carved his last initial
out of wood, then painted it black
and nailed it outside our house
the summer my parents split.
Like he could claim it. He widened
the driveway. Bought a station wagon
to give added room. It was loaded
and drove smooth. The back window
rolled down automatic. So there I’d sit
to mourn the perfectly good landscape
we passed. What a contrary perspective.
Homes, shrubs, lawns all falling away
as I faced it. On our last family trip
they already called it quits. But, still
my father paid a diver at SeaWorld
to go underwater and pull up a shell
with a cultured pearl for my mother.
It was pure pain he presented to her.
Himself raw and flawed with admiring
her hand as she looked away. His ache
palpable to me on the ride back. In dark
reminder, that black plaque hung over
the whole lot. Another home sold. Sacks
of bright white gravel around the yard.
The sound of his desperate scrape raking
at rocks, the end of our drive, a marriage.


by tammy robacker

In this land my mother became my mutter.
Or a mommy could be a moody depending
on how you called for her. Brother was brooder.
A sister was in-cester. Or in-sweater. I unfastened
myself to adapt and pulled new names out.

See, I was eight, but no meant nine. Then mine
was diner. This strange new tongue tying
German to my English. I learned by marrying
words I already carried to strangers. Linked
them up like plump sausages. This gets wurst.

Red hots became knocks. Brats. Bloods
and maids. This is my nightshirt. See?
Yes, I could. Opa had me touch it anyway.
Pullover was Bolivia. Dog was hunt.
But hand was still hand in this land.

statement of place: tammy robacker

I have lived, worked, and written in the Pacific Northwest for decades and have called it home since I moved here at twelve years old. My connection to the natural realm and climactic nuances of this area in the south Sound is a constant source for inspiration and poetry. The ever-present rain; the locality and accessibility of the Puget Sound; the epic, oceanic beachheads; the damp, lush landscapes; and green, rustic foliage are a constant mirroring of my own meandering poet’s mind and my observant, deep, and concerned moods that change like the weather. For me, living here is like looking into a lake every day. You see yourself reflected back, but it’s always through the fluid, changing water.

issue nine (spring season) contributor index

Joanne Arnott
Arnott is a Métis/mixed-blood writer, editor, and arts activist, originally from Manitoba, at home on the West Coast. She lived in East Vancouver 1967–72, and again from 1982, drifting to Richmond in the 1990s. Joanne has nine published books, including Halfling Spring (Kegedonce 2014), A Night for the Lady (Ronsdale 2013), and (as text-editor) Aboriginal Writers Collective West Coast’s Salish Seas: an Anthology of Text + Image (2011). She lives with four young people. (Work | Statement of Place | Website | Map)

Nick Beymer
Beymer lives in Moscow, Idaho. His work has been in four local shows: Moscow Art Walk 2008 and 2011, Pullman Art Walk 2011, and the Lewiston Art Walk. His work has also been exhibited in Moscow restaurants, including Red Bento and Bloom, and is currently exhibiting at the Black Cypress in Pullman, Washington. He is presently on the road documenting his life and work as a commercial beekeeper. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Stephen Collis
Collis is a poet, activist, editor and professor. His many books of poetry include The Commons (Talon Books 2008; second edition 2014), On the Material (Talon Books 2010—awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry), To the Barricades (Talon Books 2013), and (with Jordan Scott) DECOMP (Coach House 2013). He has also written two books of literary criticism, a book of essays on the Occupy Movement, Dispatches from the Occupation (Talon Books 2012), and a novel, The Red Album (BookThug 2013). In 2014, while involved in anti-pipeline activism, he was sued for $5.6 million by U.S. energy giant Kinder Morgan, whose lawyers read his poetry in court. He lives near Vancouver, British Columbia, and teaches at Simon Fraser University. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

David Fraser
Fraser lives in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island. His poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Rocksalt, An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry (2008), Poems from Planet Earth (2013), and in Wrestling With Gods, Tesseracts 18 (2015). He has published five collections of poetry and is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. His next collection, After All the Scissor Work is Done, is forthcoming in the fall of 2015 published by Leaf Press. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Kim Goldberg
Goldberg is a poet, journalist, and the author of six books. Her Red Zone collection of poems about urban homelessness has been taught in university literature courses. Her previous collection, Ride Backwards on Dragon, was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert award. She is a winner of the Rannu Fund Poetry Prize for Speculative Literature, the Goodwin’s Award for Excellence in Alternative Journalism, and other distinctions. She organized the Eco-poetry panel for the inaugural Cascadia Poetry festival in Seattle in 2012, and she is helping to plan the 2015 festival, which will be mounted in Nanaimo, where she lives. (Work | Website | Statement of Place | Map)

Sean Arthur Joyce
Joyce is better known in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia as Art Joyce for his popular newspaper columns and books on local history. Joyce has been a freelance journalist since 1990, working since 2005 as a reporter and arts and culture editor for Valley Voice, one of the last independently owned newspapers in British Columbia. He has published two books of regional history and last year published Laying the Children’s Ghosts to Rest: Canada’s Home Children in the West (Hagios Press). (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Robert Lashley
Lashley’s full length collection, The Homeboy Songs, was published by Small Doggies Press in spring of 2014. The book is his complex homage to the black community of Tacoma, Washington. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Christine Lowther
Lowther is the author of three books of poetry. She is co-editor and co-author of two anthologies of nonfiction. Her latest work is a memoir, Born Out of This. Her poems appear in Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia, while her prose appears in Wild Moments, In the Company of Animals, and Where the Nights are Twice as Long. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Susan McCaslin
McCaslin is the author of thirteen volumes of poetry, including The Disarmed Heart (The St. Thomas Poetry Series, Toronto, 2014), and Demeter Goes Skydiving (University of Alberta Press, 2012), which was short-listed for the BC Book Prize (Dorothy Livesay Award) and the first-place winner of the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award. She has recently published a memoir, Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga (Toronto: Inanna Publications, Nov. 2014). Susan lives in Fort Langley, British Columbia, where she initiated the Han Shan Poetry Project as part of a successful campaign to protect an endangered rainforest along the Fraser River. (Work | Statement of Place| Website | Map)

Susan Musgrave
Musgrave has published close to thirty books—poetry, novels, non-fiction and books for children. She lives on Haida Gwaii where she owns and manages Copper Beech Guest House, and teaches poetry in UBC’s Optional Residency master of fine arts in Creative Writing Program. A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World will be published in the spring of 2015. (Work | Statement of Place | Website | Map)

Jeremy Pataky
Pataky grew up in the Inland Northwest and visited Alaska twice by boat before relocating over land. He earned a bachelor of arts at Western Washington University and a master of fine arts in poetry from the University of Montana. His work has appeared in Colorado Review, Black Warrior Review, Cirque, Ice Floe, The Southeast Review, and many others. A founding board member of 49 Writers, a literary nonprofit, he migrates between his cabin near McCarthy, Alaska, and Anchorage. Overwinter (University of Alaska Press, 2015) is his debut book of poetry. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Missie Peters
Peters is a Victoria-based spoken word artist and poet. She is a two-time Victoria Slam Champion, a former Slam Master and the current artistic director for the Victoria Spoken Word Festival. She has written and performed two solo spoken word shows and has toured her work across Canada. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Dan Raphael
Raphael’s most recent books are The State I’m In (Nine Muses Books) and Impulse and Warp: The Selected 20th Century Poems (Wordcraft of Oregon). Current poems appear in Caliban, Ototliths, Eratio, Phantom Drift, and Great Weather for Media. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Harold Rhenisch
Rhenisch graduated from the Department of Creative Writing, the University of Victoria, in 1980. He is the author of more than seven poetry books. He is the editor of the book review quarterly The Milestones Review, a publisher of chapbooks, and Arts columnist for the 100 Mile Free Press. He has won several poetry prizes, including the Rosalind Hewlett Petch Memorial Prize in Creative Writing (1990), the Confederation Poetry Prize (1991), the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspaper Association Award for Best Arts and Culture Writing (1996). He has been runner-up (poetry) in 1995, 1996, 1997 of the CBC/Tilden/Saturday Night Literary Competition. (Work | Statement of Place | Website | Map)

Renée Sarojini Saklikar
Saklikar writes thecanadaproject, a life-long poem chronicle that includes poetry, fiction, and essays. Published work from the project appears in journals, anthologies, and newspapers, including, ti-TCR / a Web Folio (The Capilano Review), Literary Review of Canada, The Vancouver Review, Geist, Poetry Is Dead, SubTerrain, Arc Poetry Magazine, Ryga, a Journal of Provocations, and many more. Her first completed book from thecanadaproject is children of air india, un/authorized exhibits and interjections, (Nightwood Editions, 2013) winner of the 2014 Canadian Authors Literary Award for poetry and a finalist for the 2014 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Award. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

Naomi Beth Wakan
Wakan is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Nanaimo (2013). She has published more than fifty books. Her essays appear in Late Bloomer-On Writing Later in Life; Composition: Notes on the Written Word; Bookends–a Year Between the Covers; and A Roller-Coaster Ride–Thoughts on Aging, all from Wolsak and Wynn. Her poetry collections include Sex after 70 and Other Poems and And After 80 …, both from Bevalia Press. Some Sort of Life (2014) is her recent book of memoirs, and Poetry That Heals (2014) is a record of her life as a poet. Wakan is a member of The League of Canadian Poets, Haiku Canada and Tanka Canada. She lives on Gabriola Island with her husband, the sculptor, Elias Wakan. (Work | Statement of Place | Website | Map)

Sebastien Wen
Wen is a young poet and spoken word artist based out of Vancouver. He is a Cascadia Poetry Festival poet. He is the 2014 Canadian Underground Youth Slam Champion, the 2014 Vancouver Youth Slam Champion and the 2013 UBC Slam Champion. His work has appeared in journals such as Arc, Vallum, The Dalhousie Review, and Prairie Fire, among others. (Work | Statement of Place | Map)

requiem for a steller’s jay

by sean arthur joyce

— If I can’t fly, just let me die.

It didn’t matter how often I begged him,
Please. Let me take you
To the animal shelter.
They can fix a wing like that.

Every time, he stomped away,
kicking aside leaves, keeping his distance.
Don’t try to save me.
If I can’t fly, just let me die.

I found him next morning,
already stiff. Marvelled that such
blue could exist, apart from the sky.
Daubing of black on wings and head
a reminder of cousin Crow.
I buried him with full honours,
spirit bent low as I would
for any life. A solitary life
with the right to say, Enough.
If I can’t fly, just let me die.

Two years later. I’m spading the garden,
when obscured among the tall weeds I see
the cross I made you, held together
with elastic bands that once held broccoli.

I pause, consider the sacredness
of this spot, remove my hat.
I can only hope your limping,
shattered spirit is riding
a mischievous mistral
that soars on summery
to no end.

Prepared to safely rebury you,
lay back down the cracked lattice
of your wingbones, I’m shocked
to find no trace—not even the silenced
arc of your beak. Only a soil-fisted knot
of roots, a few stones biting my shovel.
And words, careening through the vast
blindness of time—

If I can’t fly, just let me die.