Ideas are all around Philip C. Stead says in his children’s book of the same title. Philip doesn’t think he has anything to write about but of course as he takes a walk with his dog Wednesday, he makes lots of observations. He sees Frank the painted turtle and Barbara in the tall blue house who waves from up the hill. (Ideas Are All Around by Philip C. Stead, Roaring Brook Press, New York). The website devoted to the book is here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe book reminds me of Nanaimo artist Dale Schultz who takes walks around the city with his dog Indy and posts photos on his facebook page. (Dale painted the signs behind him in this photo.)

And I’m reminded of Nanaimo artist Titia Jetten who also takes pictures of ordinary objects seeing the extraordinary and beautiful in them. She and her husband Robert Plante create art and design at Balbina Studio.

When Philip Stead gets back home following his walk, he takes a “walk on the page”. Many of us take walks on the page following physical walks and travels or we let memories lead the way. This month is National Poetry Month and the theme is “The Road.” The League of Canadian Poets, of which I’m a member, says: “It’s time to celebrate the roads we travel, the roads we wish to travel, the roads we’ve found and made and cherished for decades.” The League also wants to know about “the road most important to your literary journey. Even more, we want to know about the roads in your future, in our future, in the future of poetry in Canada.”

I highlighted that one phrase as it’s inviting me to create a map of my literary journey. I’ve been working on an essay lately that’s all about personal mapping. One of my journals I’ve entitled: “Mapping a Memoir.”

Last year at this time several Nanaimo poets, including me, were getting ready for the Cascadia Poetry Festival held at Vancouver Island University. It was a fabulously successful event with poets coming from far and wide to join us for presentations, workshops and late night events. One of the events that led up to the festival was The Living Room. Over the four days of the festival (beginning April 30th with The Living Room), 124 poets read their own work in circles gathered at the Nanaimo Museum.

1davidfraser&kimgoldbergDavid Fraser, co-chair of the festival, has continued The Living Room tradition at the north branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) in Nanaimo. New, emerging and established poets are welcome to attend in a sense of poetic community to share their work. Listeners are welcome too. The April gathering has already taken place. There will be another one on May 12th from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Visit to find out about future dates.

That’s Nanaimo poet Kim Goldberg with David Fraser in the photo taken in May 2015. Both David and Kim have new books about to be released or already published.  David’s book of poetry is After All the Scissor Work is Done to be published by Leaf Press in May. Kim’s is Undetectable (Pig Squash Press, 2016) which combines haibun and haiku to tell of her journey of recovery from Hepatitis C. She wandered the streets and forests of Nanaimo during the 84 days of treatment, meditating on all things undetectable. I reviewed Kim’s book and trust it will appear in the Vancouver Sun soon. Here’s a link to Kim’s blog to find out more about her book and other activities.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANanaimo’s inaugural poet laureate, Naomi Beth Wakan, was also on the Cascadia Poetry Festival planning committee. She wrote a poem to open the festival as well as poems to open many other local events,  included in her new book Bent Arm for a Pillow (Pacific-Rim Publishers, 2016). Naomi has done so much during her three years including earlier this month launching the Poetry in Transit program. The featured image above is  is of Kim Clark’s “bus poem.” (Photo by Darryl Knowles taken at Diana Krall Plaza outside the Harbourfront library, Nanaimo.)

Naomi even initiated a poetry map of Nanaimo. One of my poems, “A Place of Belonging,” is included for Newcastle Island. If you visit and click on the “Culture and Heritage” tab under “Departments,” there will be a list of options including “Poet Laureate.” That’s where you’ll see what Naomi has been up and there’s a link to the poetry map.

David Fraser mentioned above is the co-founder of WordStorm, Nanaimo’s monthly spoken word event. The next one is on Tuesday, April 26th at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Fellowship Hall. If you arrive at 6:30, you’ll hear some live music. If you bring one of your poems, you can read at the open mike which is the first event of the evening before the featured readers.

vancouvermapFour of my poet friends (Ann Graham Walker, Jazz Smekal, David Fraser and Ursula Vaira), are reading at the north branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) today (Saturday, April 16, 2016), as I type this blog. The theme: “The Road Will Take You Anywhere.” The poster to advertise the event says: “Perhaps, this morning, you walked to work. Maybe you drove. Maybe you took a bus to school; maybe you stayed home, on the road to recovery. You travelled today, certainly, from point A to point B through a map of your choosing—to the office, over a mountain, on a detour or a rest stop. Maybe your map shows the roads of your adventures (real, imagined), maybe the branches of your family (given, chosen), maybe the chaos of a road not yet determined. But you found a road, or you made one, and you made another journey today; and you’ll make another journey tomorrow.” (The illustration is the type of map you can draw as you spot different creatures, trees, plants along the way. This one, “Naturally Curious,”  by Lena Umezawa is of Mundy Park in Vancouver, B.C. I found it on

I’m not at the event but that paragraph gives me lots of ideas. As it says “on the road to recovery,” I’ve included my poem, “Twenty-Five Days,” below.

On Saturday, April 23rd, the Harbourfront branch of the VIRL in Nanaimo will be launching an Anthology of Nanaimo Poetry at 11 a.m. I’m going to aim to read at that one as I have two poems in the anthology. It was printed on the Espresso Book Machine, at the Creativity Commons in the library. Second Storey Press, as the library calls its press, can print and bind your book for you and ship it to any of the thirty-nine library branches from Sidney, on Vancouver Island, to Haida Gwaii. Visit for more information.

I’ll still have my walker next Saturday but I’m getting really close to a cane. I’ve been “marching” on a trampoline, while hanging on to bars, at physio. I also practised with a cane while leaning on my physiotherapist’s arm. The walker has been a reliable and stable companion but it’s getting in the way now. I’m also visualizing a completely pink skin graft. Think pink is still my motto.

There are ideas all around and the walks on the page or on the roads will take you anywhere.

Twenty-Five Days

Every day after breakfast
(not always at the same time),
I sign myself out on the big white sheet:
time and destination: clinic.
Walk out the front door, down the steps
past the big rumpled man, his long hair,
his burning cigarette, turn the corner onto Richmond,
always on the same side so I can pause
at the house with Buddha in the garden,
pass the bus stop where no one makes eye contact,
wait at the corner until the chirping for the blind
gives me a sign to cross the street.
The hospital security men are serious,
the patients heading to and from, worried,
the medical personnel, determined.
Inside the clinic, past the café and the gift shop,
I head downstairs. A man stops by the wall,
says it’s bad luck to pass on the stairs.
I know where I’m going, through the waiting area,
a smile from a volunteer, peach and lime covered chairs,
the hall of donated paintings, the sign
that points me toward Radiation Department,
put my white card in the tray that says Fir.
Sometimes I don’t wait at all. One of the RTs
says: “We’re ready for you.” I take off
my shoes and socks, roll up my left pant leg,
lie down on the hard table they’ve cushioned a bit.
Hannah says “good morning sunshine.”
I shimmy into position. “Two to the right”
one says as they calculate and line up the machine,
place a pink bolus on my shin. Hannah covers
me with a warm blanket, says “once upon a time . . . ”
I don’t remember the name of the 6 million dollar
machine even though I’ve looked up at it
twenty-five times. I close my eyes, see my dead
mum and dad doing what they can to say everything
will be all right.