Charlottetown, PEI poem

Last poem for this year’s challenge comes from PEI. We thank Charlottetown’s Poet Laureate Dianne Hicks Morrow for sharing her sonnet wits us.

PEI Poet Laureate Dianne Hicks Morrow’s introductory comments at Charlottetown City Hall monthly council meeting, 13 May 2013:

Thank you for participating in the 2013 Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge, a national initiative begun by the mayor of Regina in partnership with the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the League of Canadian Poets. I believe part of my mandate as poet laureate is to make poetry less intimidating and more fun, so here goes… When I read Mayor Lee’s biography on the City website, I decided his long-service record deserved a sonnet (must be only 14 lines) in dramatic monologue form. In a dramatic monologue the “I” (Mayor Lee here) speaks to an unidentified “you”:

By Dianne Hicks Morrow

You asked me how the clarion call came
to seek office twenty-six years ago.
If I’d known then the municipal games—
hotel havoc, failed festivals, water woes—
I might never have run at all, kind sir.
But here we are, and I’ve run and I’ve run—
just like the energizer bunny blur—
obviously I’m still having some fun.

You say you want more advice from me:
how to break my record for longevity?
Here’s my hot tip for free—you’ll need to be
on the good side of Catherine Hennessey*.
That way lies your blessing. In a nutshell—
any other way won’t go quite so well.

*Catherine Hennessey is a well-known heritage activist on PEI who has successfully influenced heritage policy at
Charlottetown City Hall during Mayor Lee’s tenure.


Dauphin, MB poems

We have received poems by two poets from Dauphin, MB. Jen and Brian, thank you for sharing your poems with us!

by Jen Jenkins

My lazy summer day drifts by
As I
rest between the apple trees
slung in a hammock, shaded and jaded
by leaves and life.
A time-out, a brief respite
reading a book as the bees drone here, buzz there
exploring, collecting, nurturing
their queen and her young.
Were I their queen, I’d give them a day off
from making all that golden honey,
a reward for being so seriously
loyal and focused.
I wonder what my bees would do for fun
with their free day in the sun?

by Brian Erikson

java shop, off portage somewhere
in downtown winnipeg one summer.

a kid from farm country
11 years old or so
at a small table that my chest barely reaches,
with red and white checkered oilcloth tablecloth
sitting on a chair on a floor that my feet hardly
unless i shift to the front of the seat …

drinking strong, thick, black java
and listening to the beat poets
recite obscure poetry
to the sounds of a sax
and the staccato tapping of bongos.

watching tall gaunt women with long black
gypsy hair
all dressed in black leotards and bulky knit
and sandals.

Watching forlorn emaciated men with goatees,
berets and
black turtle necks sipping cold coffee and
smoking turkish cigarettes.

all quiet and still yet drifting and talking
around the dingy dark smoke filled cafe.

with little me all wide eyed and my ex-farm
town buddy bob connon
showing me his new urban sophistication.

we sip our heavily sweetened java
and try look cool and pretend to groove and get
into the poetry
in the atmosphere that is just too old and sad
and slow
for two kids just starting on their roads.

pretty heady stuff for a kid from dauphin.

those sad post-kerouac closing days of the beat

in an old prairie town.

Creighton, SK poem

Kevin Imrie read his poem Fragment at the council meeting in the Town of Creighton, SK on April 24.

by Kevin Imrie

And as the moments pass they curl
around you like a rasp around

a wooden spindle. They grate against
the factory-fresh corners and spit

splinters onto the floor, spent. Yesterday’s
to-do list, what you wore to dinner

last Friday, the time you forgot
to let the dog in during a thunderstorm.

What’s left, the trace of a balustrade, of when
you lost your favouriute toy under the house,

your first and second kiss, how the lights
in the church glanced off the casket trimming

at your great-uncle’s viewing. All this
to be sanded down and smoothed,

upon reflection.
Or not.

North Battleford, SK poems

North Battleford, Saskatchewan, took part in the challenge during the week of April 22, when four grade 5 students of Bready School read their poems at the city council meeting, marking the city’s centennial:

by Alex Chmelnyk

One hundred years, what does it mean to us as a community?
To live together in unity?
So much has changed it must have been strange.
To live without power, no cellphone tower, a couple cents an hour.
The sun rose and the bridge closed.
One street was King, now there’s another name but it didn’t change a thing.
Our city was sure to change and grow, but I still love it so.
To live together in unity is to be a community.

by Catherine Zens

A long time ago, a hundred years ago…
Young men were riding their stately horses along the stunning river, rather than driving cars.
A long time ago, a hundred years ago…
People were wearing rather unique clothes, not similar to the bright ones we wear today.
A long time ago, a hundred years ago…
There was no electricity or clean water, to see fascinating light or clear running water from taps.
A long time ago, a hundred years ago…
The beautiful, phenomenal city of North Battleford came to be. We celebrate these one hundred years to remember this wonderful city.
A long time ago, a hundred years ago.

by Tanner Gartner

My city is my home,
My happy place,
My sad place,
My safe place,
It’s a place for homes,
A place for families,
A place for buildings,
A place for fun,
A place for a river,
My city is special,
My city is North Battleford,
My city celebrates 100 years.

by Ashlyn Elmer

A century ago, technology like IPods and television weren’t invented yet;
A century ago, buffalo roamed,
A century ago, the first Nations people lived on the land and settlers arrived and we learned to live together;
A century ago, North Battleford was a small and happy place just like it is today;
Many things have changed since a century ago,
Buildings are bigger and a taller water tower for North Battleford has also been crafted;
That is what I think it was like a century ago.

Victoria, BC poem

Acts of Emancipation (for the Maritime Museum)

There was very little
ceremony in a time when
words didn’t mean very much.
There was carelessness
in the justice
and this
would see men
lives in a house
cobbled together with
fear and conflict
so much untold
waiting patiently
as ghosts
left breathing
and un-avenged.
Statements folded together
braids making ropes
waving in the wind

Connect back to this
While pushing rocks away
from caves entering
like heroes in a Hollywood movie
complete with capes
floor length, that sweep
the corners of frozen
spaces collecting particles
of disconnected time

Singing in new songs
resonating with new sounds
dethroning those
paid handsomely who
never learned the difference
between story telling and lying.

Sighs of joy and sorrow
breathed from the souls
who stood witness
to this

is more than
is more
than healing
this is much more than
is not entertainment
this may
look like
this may be
This will stay with
this is

We slip through
on quiet canoes
finding our way
by light
and sound
over courses
never chartered
open instincts

All the walls
were touched
where spirit
and wood
fused into
new vibration
of cultural voices
never before spoken
making rooms ache
with memory echoes.

A digital history
lives, absent of life
no more safe
from deletion
than the foreign
handed down blanket

The inconvenience
of justice touches us all.

New ghosts walk over
blood stained cobble stones
the wind tunnel whistles
fancy songs leaving
as fast as they fly in
rain returns
as words unspoken
yet so much is

transformation has begun
and will continue
to ripple into
years to come
rescued spirits rest
and now have new ways
to say

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you

Janet Rogers March 2013
Victoria Poet Laureate (2012-2015)

Moose Jaw, SK poem

This poem is written by Jessy Lee Saas, a high school student in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and was read at the Moose Jaw council meeting on April 15.


The day was hot
Making asphalt melt into molasses
I was 11 years old
I remember exactly what I was wearing
Blue-jean shorts
A tattered sun dyed butterfly top
With beads on the straps
I had my hair pulled back and
Despite my grandmother’s efforts
I wore no shoes
The gravel of a nearby friend’s driveway
Poked at my feet as if to tease me
But what can I say, I am a prairie girl
I was taught the importance of campfire gatherings
Before my ABC’s
I learned how to put a frog to sleep
Before I knew my timetables
And I was 11 years old
The rest of the day is blocked from my memory
But I do remember
My friend’s dad
Reaching into a burlap bag and pulling out a creature
I had only heard existed until that moment
A garter snake
At first I was in awe
But then a frail hand touched my shoulder
“Darling,” she had said “It’s your grandpa”
I hadn’t heard the sirens come or go
And I would not have believed what I was being told
Not my Albert
I stood frozen staring at the garter snake
The edges of that memory
Going fuzzy like an edited photograph
And to this day
I cannot look at or talk about snakes without feeling
A strangling fear take hold of my chest

I live in a small city
Stamped on the front of a Saskatchewan letter
That was never posted
Because we have nowhere to send ourselves
I am 16
I live in The Avenues where
History falls from the trees every autumn
Where wind sings through the Great Pines
Making records of places it has been
And places where it will go
I am a prairie girl
Tucked between walls of a house I never grew up in
I grew up on the front yard
With hula-hoops tied to bikes with jump rope
Those were the inventions when my neighbors and I would cry out
“Look, we are scientists making horses from scooters
And time machines from skate boards”
We were young and had the imagination that could take over the world
Or at least our perfect tree lined city block
But now I am 16
As I write this a moving van has stopped and gone
For 12 years I have lived next-door to a family
A boy
And a girl
Who have become like siblings to me
And by the time you hear this
They are two provinces over unpacking boxes
Because living in Our Avenues has become a hardship
Because a couple years ago a boy a grade younger than me took his own life
He was best friends to the boy next-door
He lived a few blocks over
5 months after his death my neighbour’s family split
We stopped talking
The boy
And the girl
We become separate
Only connected through a front-yard-past of hide-and-go-seek
But down the block the hula-hoops keep spinning
And the wind keeps singing
Even though in my chest there is this tightness
A strangling fear
As familiar to me as the day with the garter snake
Something is telling me I’m about to loose
I was lucky that day when my grandpa was rushed away with sirens
He lives
And he is watching me right now
He is the kindest, best of people
And he stayed
But my neighbours did not
Could not
I have grown up in The Avenues where wind whips though the branches on its way
To other streets
It is within the great pines
That I feel a comfort that tells me
Everything will be alright
Because there is something about this part of town
Something about my home that says memories are meant to be looked back on
A place where
Despite my grandmother’s efforts
I won’t wear my shoes
Leaving the grass in the front yard to tickle
My toes as if to tease them
But what can I say, I am a prairie girl