"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious by The Fiddlehead spring issue!" proclaims editor Ross Leckie on this issue's opening page. And winter this year in New Brunswick was a long one ideed, creating many discontents. But the wonderful works to be found in this spring issue make for glorious reading and will transport you far from winter's chilly climes. Go "Walking in the English countryside on a sunny day" with Joanna Lilley, or explore with Dorothy Field the work of 17th century Dutch painter Adriaen Coorte's, where "the light is everything."

The spring issue is also made glorious by the winning poems and stories from our 23rd annual contest. Take the time to celebrate with us. Find a place where the light is everything and everywhere, and enjoy the warmth that suffuses this winning issue.

Thanks again to our wonderful judges! Douglas Glover, this year's UNB writer-in-residence, chose the winning stories, and James Arthur, Elizabeth Bachinsky, and Tim Lilburn chose the poetry winners.

Below we offer selections to invite you in, and to encourage you to stay by becoming a subscriber.

If you'd rather find this issue of The Fiddlehead on a newsstand near you, please check out our new Retailers page under the Resources tab. Here you'll find a list of local magazine retailers that stock The Fiddlehead!


Contents, No. 259 Spring 2014

Editorial

5         Ross Leckie

Fiction

7         Myler Wilkinson: The Blood of Slaves
19       Jill Widner: When Stars Fell Like Salt Before the Revolution
27       Wayde Compton: The Front: A Selected Reverse-
           Chronological Annotated Bibliography of the Vancouver Art
           Movement Known as "Rentalism," 2011-1984

48       Naben Ruthnum: Clearing
62       Michael Doyle: Stars Over Triglav
85       George McWhirter: The League of the Living Scripture

Poetry

38       Kayla Czaga: That Great Burgundy-Upholstered Beacon of
          Dependability

40       Kyeren Regehr: Dorm Room 214
41       Maureen Hynes: Stone Sonnet
42       Joanna Lilley: Two Poems
45       Dorothy Field: Two Poems
47       Heather Cadsby: My Michael (1996-2009)
53       Cynthia Woodman Kerkham: Master and Man
57       John Reibetanz: Three Poems
70       John Barton: Private Viewing
94       Keith Taylor: Stone Tools
95       Michael Milburn: Two Poems
99       Ben Ladouceur: The Friendly Beasts
100     Joan Shillington: The Carcass

Reviews

101      Richard Kelly Kemick: All the Hits, All the Time
           Dante's House, Richard Greene
104      Susan Haley: Not Your Little House on the Prairie
           The Glorious Mysteries and other stories, Audrey Whitson
106      Rebecca Geleyn: Love, Spite, and Braided Doll Tresses
           Red Girl Rat Boy, Cynthia Flood
108      Mark Sampson: A Twisted Splendour
           Cottonopolis, Rachel Lebowitz
111      Sue Sinclair: The Enigma of Emile Petitot
           Petitot, Susan Haley
114      Emily Bossé: Masculine Athletics
           Cataract City, Craig Davidson
116      M. Travis Lane: A Gothic Sensibility
           Omens in the Year of the Ox, Steven Price

Notes on Contributors 121

Cover

Ann Balch
Stepping Out
Transparent watercolour and archival varnish
28 x 17.25 in.


Excerpt from The Blood of Slaves by Myler Wilkinson
Short Fiction Winner

In spring, when the ice breaks up on the Moscow River and the snow melts, they say the peasant who has consumption knows there is nothing to be done about it, that this is the time when a sick man gives up and accepts his fate — says, it’s no use sir, I shall die with the spring waters. But this was high summer, the heat almost unbearable, suffocating, and ice never helped an empty heart, he told them that when they attempted to chill his heaving chest. He heard his own voice from far away: Olga, dear, a glass of water please. He watched her take the sweating pitcher from the table near the windows. A handsome woman, not quite beautiful, she had been his little otter, his actress. Not a breeze stirred the curtains on the open French doors. Sounds of voices and children playing in the park down below. Life in all its oblivious glory.

The chilled liquid passed his lips, and he heard, somewhere very close, a rattling sound like air in empty pipes. An empty heart. The heat was suffocating, these Germans would kill him. It just made you want to cry out loud for help, to be away, elsewhere, anywhere; I’m suffocating and long to get away from here. But where to? The heat, one just wants to throw off one’s clothes . . . the women here are dressed in the vilest possible taste, it induces deep despondency. . . .

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Myler Wilkinson has published award-winning short stories set in British Columbia in journals such as Prism International and Pierian Spring. He has spent extended periods in Russia and has written three books, including Hemingway and Turgenev: The Nature of Literary Influence. He lives in the Kootenay region of British Columbia. The story in this issue is written from the point of view of Anton Chekhov and is dedicated to the memory of Alexander Vaschenko, friend of the heart, mentor.

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Excerpt from When Stars Fell Like Salt Before the Revolution by Jill Widner
Short Fiction - Honourable Mention

Sylvie stands at the window, wrapped in a blanket, the dawn in the distance, brightening the dusting of snow that has fallen overnight in the courtyard below. The dun-coloured grass is frozen. The stone fountain and concrete pools, empty and scattered with leaves.

The second-floor rooms on the other side of the courtyard are larger than the room Sylvie shares with her mother. They have balconies, each with a private ceiling, a mosaic of tile in a vaulted arch that is the same turquoise blue as the dome-shaped roof of the mosque, visible through the branches of the trees. At the top of the dome, a weathervane, like an axe head in the shape of a crescent, gleams in the sun like a coin.

And then there is no mosque. No rosehips dangling from bare branches. A girl is lifting her hand. She’s smiling at Sylvie and turning it over; she touches the mound at the base of her fingers where the skin is marked with cross-hatched lines like ideographs she can’t read, and the girl won’t tell her what they say. . . .

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Jill Widner's father worked as a petroleum engineer in the early 1970s in Iran, the setting for “When Stars Fell Like Salt before the Revolution.” It is one of the stories included in her collection, A Green Raft on a Muddy Swell, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Scott Prize. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she lives and teaches in Yakima, Washington. Visit her website.

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Excerpt from The Front: A Selected Reverse-Chronological Annotated Bibliography of the Vancouver Art Movement Known as "Rentalism," 2011-1984 by Wayde Compton
Short Fiction - Honourable Mention

Mølbach, Henley. “After the Box: Has the Cassette Swan Script Collective Killed Rentalism?” The John Pembrey Lee Appreciation Society Newsletter 2.4 (Summer 2011): 4-9. [article with interview excerpts]

In this piece Mølbach (who is, apparently, the sole hand behind this irregular newsletter) summarizes the controversy associated with the decision by the Cassette Swan Script Collective (CSSC) to feature a donation box in their 1268 Commercial Drive, February 2011 front. Citing debates on the RentalismVancouver.com message boards, as well as personal anecdotes, Mølbach traces a potentially factionalizing split in opinion between hard-line purists and those who believe that the growth of the movement depends upon donation collection. Mølbach explains the gist of the former group’s argument — that it evinces a passionate adherence to the original model set by Everything Must Go (EMG) and their maxim “Nothing’s for sale, but you’re free to browse.” Essentially, the article points out the obvious by saying that a principled anti-commercialism forms the core of the Rentalist concept. The pro-donation-collection voice is, Mølbach asserts, the minority opinion within the movement, and she points out that there is no hope of donation boxes ever turning an actual profit; at best they will make it easier for collectives to run a greater number of fronts. To expand on this, Mølbach interviews the CSSC themselves. She begins the interview portion of the article by asking the CSSCers (who, in the tradition of Rentalist anonymity, use pseudonyms; in this case, “Aisle Zero” and “Unworker”) if they can verify a story circulating both on the message boards and by word of mouth that a disgruntled Rentalist expropriated the donation box at the 1268 Commerical Drive front and started distributing the contents to patrons as well as passersby on the sidewalk outside. The CSSCers insist that this story is false, but say that they don’t mind the development of such urban myths as an extension of the debate. Mølbach then asks them (rather boldly) how much money they made, but the CSSC decline to give it up, describing the take only as “negligible” and “not even close to breaking even.” They do, however, acknowledge that whatever money they made will offset some of the difficulties the members have had in raising funds for future fronts. . . .

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Wayde Compton's most recent book is After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region (Arsenal Pulp, 2010). It was a finalist for the 2011 City of Vancouver Book Awards. He is the director of the Writer’s Studio and the Southbank Writer’s Program at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies.

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That Great Burgundy-Upholstered Beacon of Dependability by Kayla Czaga
Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem

Over dinner, my landlady laughs about her day
teaching rich Korean kids the difference
between a nightstand and a one-night stand.
Her son goes wild for the bicycle pump.
From his high chair, he wails for it, erupting
borscht. Two years old and he refuses to sit
without its hard plastic denting his chin.
I don’t get relationships. Once I got lace
panties in the mail from a friend who lives
in Winnipeg. He wrote, I’m coming to visit
you at Christmas! So I spent December
avoiding him, pretending to be busy, ice-skating
until my feet purpled, wondering how love
could transpire so oppositely between two
people. My mother once loved a grey van
so completely she sat in it for twenty minutes
every winter morning while it defrosted.
They listened to the radio together, to her
favourite tapes. The van went everywhere
with her, unlike my father who plays poker.
It lived for thirteen years in our driveway,
a great burgundy-upholstered beacon
of dependability, until its engine went.
I want to climb into you and strap myself
in, but that’s not really love. Instead,
we idle in separate uncertainties, exhausting
reassurances. You thank my landlady
for dinner and roll away into a night
that imperfectly intersects my own, and I try
to stop imagining the ways we could fail
each other, and the people in rooms
everywhere who are continually failing
each other, and hope towards someday
having one nightstand with you, maybe two.

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Kayla Czaga won The Malahat Review’s 2012 Far Horizons Award for poetry. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Walrus, The New Quarterly, Best Canadian Poetry in English 2012, Arc, and others. Her first book, For Your Safety Please Hold On, is forthcoming this fall from Nightwood Editions. She lives and writes in Vancouver, where she is completing her MFA at UBC.

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Dorm Room 214 by Kyeren Regehr
Poetry Honourable Mention

Under the blown glass angels with gold-dipped heads, strung up by their haloes, a poster of Rossetti’s Lilith, Klimt’s Kiss, all magpied from “The Barn” — our ashram swap shop, where almost anything you imagine miraculously appears soon after you think of it. Like the soda shoppe chair in front of the window where the Pole likes to fuck me, at night, with the lights on. And the sprawling threadbare chaise behind the gauzy sarong wall, where one night, three of us completely ignored Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, discovered what yoga was really for — two Aussie girls and that French cyclist with River Phoenix hair. This Dutch guy says my place reminds him of a Turkish bazaar, a harem, a Babylonian shrine. He likes to play harmonica in the shower, admire his chest in that mosaicked mirror above the sink, where the German wrote ich liebe dich with my daughter’s alphabet stickers, and I thought German had a dirty ring to it. Half the ashram bed-hops. So hard to say no. To say no seems . . . ungrateful. Like refusing Godiva’s chocolates, silk wedding saris, a foot massage. The ashram in-words: yes and thank you. Merci and oui, tak, ja, yeah, sure baby.

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Kyeren Regehr is writing her first poetry collection Cult Life with a Canada Council grant. Work from the manuscript is forthcoming in Arc, Room, and Antigonish Review. She serves on the poetry board of The Malahat Review.

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Stone Sonnet by Maureen Hynes
Poetry Honourable Mention

You could pour a cathedral into place, a Stonehenge
or Gaudí, in the Don Valley beside the straightened
waterway. You could dismiss the stonecutters, master
craftsmen that they are, and tip thick sandy liquid
into soft bud-shaped spires held in place with
rebar straws. You could light a long-burning fire,
melt silica and lapis and veins of copper verdigris
into sheets of azure or ruby or leafgreen glass to lighten
a temple or mosque or synagogue. Then climb
the scaffold and chisel a fish into the concrete capstone
over each arched doorway just to recall
the flatfish on a wall in the innermost chamber
of the Paleolithic cave, that ancient home now being slowly
emptied of images by our breathing presence.

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Maureen Hynes is a past winner of the Gerald Lampert Award and the Petra Kenney Poetry Award (England). She has published three books of poetry, Harm’s Way, Rough Skin, and the most recent, Marrow, Willow, from Pedlar Press. She is poetry editor for Our Times magazine. Vist her website.

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