Year: 2018

Laurie Carr Cover illustration

Issue #4 – Ripe for the Pickin’

Folks, if you didn’t get a chance to pick up the most recent Black Bear Review issue at the launch, you can come buy one at the Kootenay Authors table the market in Nelson on Wednesday, July 11th and then every second Wednesday for the summer. Copies are also available at Otter Books and the Kootenay Gallery in Castlegar.

Seed-Saving Our Family Tree

            It always starts with two         Two who begin the thing         Who are the trunk of the tree         The trunk of this tree But what if the tree should be cut? Today? What then? So then just go ahead — Plant the seed The one you’ve been saving In your pocket Since you last walked The Old Growth Trail Under the cedar And gazed in awe at its girth, the tangled sprawl down below the dirt homing to a birthplace at the core, the perfect straightness drawn up, beyond the sky hooked to a point in the heavens around which all-else spins.          That old cedar. No other will do Inception! Its seed-germ the recall of all that came before, and of trees yet to be. Take it Plant it So it goes On and on All my relations. It always starts with two Two who begin the thing Who are the trunk of the tree The trunk of history

A NEW BEGINNING

New Canadians – First Place   On October 20, 1954, my mother and I boarded the ocean liner, Vulcania, from the port of Genoa, Italy. As I was very young, (almost 4 years old), the enormity of this trip did not fully register. However, I do have some recollections of the journey. I remember waving to my Nonno from the deck of the ship and my Mom crying, not knowing what this phase of our live would bring. I cried too, as the little white handkerchief that I was waving slipped out of my hands, and drifted slowly down into the water. The journey took 13 days, and the seas were rough. Mom did not have a good experience as she suffered from seasickness. I, however, was fine. One of the other passengers would take me to dining room for meals, and ensured that I was entertained. On November 4, the liner arrived at the port of Halifax, N.S. I distinctly remember wet snow, a new experience for me, was falling as we entered a …

ABOUT AN UNFORGETTABLE GIFT

  Adult New Canadian – First Place Foreword: I met the old man only once, almost 30 years ago. But his words of compassion and wisdom spoken to me in a heart-breaking situation changed my awareness of life forever. My gratitude for his gift is still present; just as much as my shame not even to have thanked him.   …And About Dreams, Farewells…   The first years of my life my family lived in a bombed-out city in post-WWII Germany. We resided in a wet, cold ruin with a shared smelly outhouse in the yard. Rain constantly dripping through the ceiling was the only running water source. However, playing in the remains of the destroyed chaos was always an adventure for us kids, scary, when we ran into traumatized adults and stranded hobos in rags and old army garment, all former rank badges carefully removed. They hunkered down in whatever shelter they found and either tried to chase us away or draw us near. Exciting, when we played WAR, the only game we knew. …

Strong

Youth – First Place   “My time’s run out,” Queen Isdron says. The dying woman is ashen, her voice steel. “Tomorrow you will be Queen.” Although this frozen statue has raised me since childhood, her looming death doesn’t inspire grief in me. She’s a hard woman, feared throughout her land of ice. She summoned me here tonight with a final message. At dawn, the Prophets will perform the Death Ceremony. They will cut Queen Isdron’s hair to strip away her power. “Come,” Queen Isdron commands. I lean down so my lips almost brush her clammy forehead. She extends a hand smelling of rot and digs fingernails into my neck. They’ll leave crescent-shaped bruises to match the ones on my forearms and back from days past. My face remains impassive, just as Queen Isdron taught me. “I made you strong,” she whispers. “I transformed a weak Veikur Skinner’s daughter into a Queen. You can’t fail.” I nod. Sick as she is, the terror evoked by the sight of her is only slightly less potent than usual. …

Kootenay Literary Comp Poster

The Kootenay Writers’ Society presents the Winners of the Kootenay Literary Competition 2018

In the fall of 2017 the call went out inviting writers from the West and East Kootenay areas to submit work on the theme ORIGINS: WHO ARE WE? WHERE DID WE COME FROM? Categories were: ·      Adult Poetry ·      Adult Fiction ·      Personal Non-fiction ·      Newcomers Category (new to Canada) ·      Indigenous Writers Category ·      Youth – any genre (grade 9 – 12) We received 34 submissions from all over the Kootenay area; some from as far away as Invermere, Kimberley and Grand Forks. The judges were looking for originality, creativity, as well as just plain good writing. Winners were announced in February 2018. Winners received cash prizes and publication in this winners’ anthology as well as publication in an online anthology, Black Bear Review out of Selkirk College. Our judges were hard pressed, in some categories, to choose among the interesting and creative perspectives on the theme. The Newcomers Category was judged on merit of ideas and conceptualization rather than mastery of language because these entries are expected to be from people for whom …

The Art of Ironing

Adult Personal Non-Fiction – First Place     I do not iron. My mother, however, approached this chore in a unique and careful way, which was startling in such a chaotic, tumbledown house of five children of all ages. She, who was usually so free in all things, had three strict rules. One: she always worked in front of the T.V. in the living room. Two: she only devoted an hour a week to the task. Three: the family must be still and had to stay at least three feet away from the ironing board probably because of our usual rough housing every minute of every day. She broke these rules only once. * December 1959. Saturday afternoon. When I was seven years old the Christmas heavens opened without warning, gifting me an hour alone with my mother. Carols blasted from the transistor radio in the kitchen. Baking shortbread filled the house with the smell of hot sugar and butter. Rolled dough waited on the floured table to be cookie-cut into shapes. The combined oven …

More Than Just My Mother’s Daughter

Adult Personal Non-Fiction – Second Place     It’s New Year’s Eve and I begin my annual ritual.  I conceal my daddy’s shotgun between the mattress and box spring of my bed, and gather my tiny brother and young sister to curl up with me on the lumpy hiding place.  I tell them stories about Snoopy and talking chipmunks and flying elephants until they fall asleep.  I squeeze out of the middle of my huddled siblings, tuck the blanket up to their chins, sit on the bean bag chair in the corner, and wait.  Wait in the dark until he comes home.  Wait for the New Year to begin. I know tonight will be a replay of the last 2 drunken end-of -year celebrations.   I wait for the inevitable return of my denigrated mother and my self- loathing father, when the bars close and their friends can’t sustain the party.  They will come home and fight.  It’s always a one-sided fight, with my father hurling insults and accusations at my mother, and her frightened denials. …

The Gloaming

Adult Fiction – Second Place    Paul awoke at 2:49 am fresh from the dream; not a dream, the dream. The same dream that had struck every night since he and his wife, Karen, had opened their boutique hotel in the Slocan valley. In his dream, Paul had moved out of a house where he had lived for a long time. The purchaser takes up residence and Paul’s life takes a bad turn. Invariably, he would remember a dead body buried or hidden somewhere on his old property. Sometimes the body was dry and shrivelled as if plundered from an antiquities museum. Other nights it was tumefied as if freshly plucked from a swamp. On some nights, the body was found in the flower bed beneath the picture window flanking the front door.  Tonight, the new owner had decided to install a new bathroom in the basement and had discovered the desiccated corpse when he jack hammered the concrete floor for the rough-in. Most nights in his dream, by act or omission, Paul was somehow …