The poems in my first full-length book of poetry, Fishing for Mermaids, have been washed, dried and polished. And then polished some more. My editor at Leaf Press, Ursula Vaira, is meticulous. That doesn’t mean my words have changed. Just occasionally, words that didn’t enhance a stanza, were removed. Every word counts in a poem. Now these poems have been released into the world in fine form between two very shiny covers.

Some of the poems go back a long time. I chose to include a few poems from the CD I produced in 1999 when I lived in Guelph, Ontario. It was called When My Heart is Open. I hired artist Maria Pezzano to create a cover and inspired by the title poem, she drew the cover images. The fact that I led a women’s writing circle called Flying Mermaids inspired her to draw a whimsical mermaid.

The Bookshelf in Guelph still has a publication called Off the Shelf and it was in that publication that I saw graphic designer Sarah Clark’s ad. It read GET HELP. I needed help with the design of the CD cover and the inside booklet of poems so I gave her a call. I visited Sarah at her home on Kirkland Street and several times after that we got together as the project progressed. When it was finished, I invited her over for dinner.

I was living in an apartment in what I called the Mermaid Mansion. It was a marvelous old stone house where the owner lived as well as tenants in two other apartments. That’s where I launched When My Heart is Open on December 13, 1999. Sarah was there along with new friends from Guelph and several from Toronto. A program called “Spiritual Journey” was being shown on WTN that evening in which I was one of the subjects. Poet Penn Kemp was the other.  I can’t even remember watching the show although I know it was part of the celebration. What I remember most is Sarah asking me out on a date! As my friends were there I excitedly told them, I’ve been asked out on a date. We’ve been celebrating and creating together ever since.

I can’t help but think of that time when it comes to the launch of this new book. There’s the mermaid connection and there are all these poems created through the years with Sarah as my partner. And she designed the cover. I’m so pleased Ursula Vaira of Leaf Press hired her to do that so Sarah and I could collaborate on this project.

This time the celebration took place on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Shepherd Hall, a building on the grounds of the Bethlehem Retreat Centre on Westwood Lake in Nanaimo. I’ve been offering women’s circles and poetry circles there and it’s become a special place to me. The labyrinth is near Shepherd Hall and all are welcome to visit the property and walk the spiral path.

I was so pleased to be celebrating these poems inspired by all sorts of people, locations and experiences. As Sarah describes on the cover: Ancient Turkey, the Ottawa Valley, the West Coast. Frida Kahlo, Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda. Odes to the ordinary, words of praise, sorrows revealed. Colours, textures, and sounds of the everyday. Honouring ancestors, making peace, embellishing history.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My friends Harvey Jenkins and Sharron Bertchilde surprised me and I was so touched and delighted to see them. They’ve moved to Winnipeg and needed to come back to Nanaimo to tidy things up at their former home (for over twenty years!) and say farewell. I’m so pleased they came back in time to join the circle.

Everyone who came sat in a circle so we could see one another and there could be a conversation about poetry. I always feel at home in the circle and I felt especially at home with all these Nanaimo friends who include artists, musicians, writers, poets, storytellers, dancers, wood carvers and so much more.

Although I’ve completed the poems in Fishing for Mermaids, they aren’t actually finished as they’ll become something new when others read them. They’ll remind the readers of something or soothe a question. The poems will become their own. I’ll move on to writing other poems and collecting them into another book which I will then, with help, wash, dry and polish.

I’ve been thinking of the celebration on Saturday and seeing friends in a circle as I shared poems and stories and together we asked questions, and shared observations. Maybe we ought to have celebrations before books are “completed.” Maybe a gaggle of friends should appear at a poet’s window and cheer her on, clapping their hands, because there she is, working at her craft, in solitude, every day.

To purchase a copy of Fishing for Mermaids, visit your favourite bookstore. Their data base will let them know how to order a copy or several copies for their shelves!  Or you can order directly from Leaf Press at and you don’t have to pay postage! You can also order from Or if you see me in person, I can definitely sell you a copy!