Spring has sprung, and so has the Spring issue of The Fiddlehead, blooming with the winners of our 24th annual literary contest. We’re pleased to announce that Sean Howard has won the Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem, and Lisa Alward has won the Short Fiction Prize. Each has been awarded $2000 + publication! The honourable mentions for poetry are Michael Prior and Julie Cameron Gray; the honourable mentions for fiction are David McLaren and Kari Lund-Teigen. Each received $250 + publication. Thanks again to our wonderful judges. Jeramy Dodds, Danny Jacobs, and Sina Queyras judged our poetry contest, and Craig Davidson picked the fiction winners.
But that’s not all! The Fiddlehead’s Spring issue also includes more stories, poems, and reviews to whet your appetite. Sit in on dinner as a grandmother attempts to impart moral lessons to her granddaughter in A.W. Marshall’s “In the Highest Limbs” and join the sing-along at a family wedding in Kate Kennedy’s poem “Northwest Passage.” Among many reviews, M. Travis Lane assesses a new translation of Guido Cavalcanti and Ian Colford reviews The Freedom in American Songs by Kathleen Winter.
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 Retailers page under the Resources tab. Here you'll find a list of local magazine retailers that stock The Fiddlehead!
Contents, No. 263 Spring 2015
5 Ross Leckie: Editorial
11 Lisa Alward: Cocktail
21 David McLaren: [nar-uh-gan-sits] a Rhode Island
31 Kari Lund-Teigen: Something Like Joy
55 Mark Jordan Manner: Of All Things That Rise From the Earth
82 A.W. Marshall: In the Highest Limbs
7 Sean Howard: Cases (Unbound Poems, from Nova Scotia
8 Michael Prior: The Hinny
10 Julie Cameron Gray: Skinbyrds
43 Louisa Howerow: Two Poems
45 Barry Dempster: Two Poems
48 Kate Kennedy: Three Poems
51 Emily Skov-Nielson: Painting Suburbia
52 Michael Quilty: Familiar Gathering: Vermillion
53 Gerald Hill: Two Poems
65 Sue Chenette: Three Poems
69 Iain Higgins: That the Proper Work of Speech is Praise
71 David Solway: Four Poems
75 John Kinsella: Three Poems
78 Darryl Whetter: Two Poems
80 Laura Matwichuk: Two Poems
92 Micheline Maylor: Two Poems
94 Roger Nash: Imagining a Cormorant
95 Amber Homeniuk: Two Poems
99 Kateri Lanthier: What Washes Off, What Sticks
100 Bill Howell: Two Poems
102 rob mclennan: South Florida journal, abridged:
103 M. Travis Lane: A Labour of Love
The Metabolism of Desire, the poetry of Guido Cavalcanti,
trans. David R. Slavitt
105 Ian Colford: "Everybody's Looking for Somebody"
The Freedom in American Songs, Kathleen Winter
107 Jenny Haysom: Lady Lazarus Returns
Broom Broom, Brecken Hancock
109 Rebecca Geleyn: Almost Belonging
Interpreters, Ron Schafrick
111 Richard Kelly Kemick: Outrunning Ghazals (and other
Surge Narrows, Emilia Nielson
Notes on Contributors 117
Buoy and Manhole
Oil on Panel
20 x 24 in.
Editorial by Ross Leckie
Fiddleheads are not cultivated, but picked in the wild, along the banks of rivers and streams. They are the alpha and omega 3 of freshness; they taste of spring itself. But they have to be handled with curatorial care. In preparation for these tender shoots you have to “remove as much of the brown, papery husk as possible.” Savour with the tang of an excellent vinaigrette, or, as the Indonesians do, in a rich coconut sauce spiced with chili pepper, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric leaves, coriander and cumin seeds, tamarind extract, and kaffir lime leaves. Regardless of seasoning, The Fiddlehead must be read for at least fifteen minutes at a time, says Dr. Eilish Cleary, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer. Don’t listen to me; you should follow her advice.
I could say that fiddleheads provide the best spring nutrition, no contest! But there is a contest, and the winners unfurl at the top of an exquisite violin. It is the entire body of the instrument that makes the glorious music. It is a time to welcome the echoing music springing up along the streams’ harmonious edges and the rivers’ resounding banks.
I am grateful to the judges and their remarkable care in reading the poetry and fiction this year. The judges for poetry were Danny Jacobs, Sina Queyras, and Jeramy Dodds, this year’s UNB writer-in-residence. Our fiction judge was Craig Davidson. Thanks to all of you.
Sean Howard is the winner for poetry with “Cases (Unbound Poems, from Nova Scotia Reports).” The numbered “reports” catch snippets of the language of the social worker and place them in the echoing juxtaposition of courthouse halls. Queyras declares that “Cases” “wears its lyricism under its sleeve, but it evokes a powerful sense of lives lived, insisted, even as they have, on the surface, faded away. The poet offers us well chosen glimpses, in medias res, to be continued, or to stick like a bit of iron, under the nail.” Dodds adds, “In each stanza the seemingly familiar, tragic edges of story and imagery quickly crumble to reveal a gutting emotional undertone.”
The honourable mentions are Julie Cameron Gray for “Skinbyrds” and Michael Prior for “The Hinny.” Cameron Gray recalls the familiar scene of girls and boys from a tough neighbourhood and their jostling, waiting for something to happen, and she presents the scene with a honed wit and keen observation. Jacobs asserts that the poem “is a brilliant portrait of the fraught negotiations that take place in adolescent identity construction.” Queyras adds: “Loved the language here, the compacted syllables and the cheek.” Prior takes the conceit of a hinny, the cross between a stallion and a female donkey, and uses it to describe what it is to be out of place. Dodds portrays “The Hinny” as “a descriptive meditation on a rare animal that leaves no stone unscathed. This poem has a systolic vocabulary that champions imagination’s lineage, while sustaining a linear, albeit layered and sharp, narrative.”
This year’s winner for fiction is Lisa Alward for “Cocktail.” The story reimagines a little girl recalling the roaring parties of the cocktail generation, and the infidelities and broken marriages she observes. Davidson notes that “Cocktail is remarkable for its attention to small details, its ability to situate a reader in a distinct time and place, and for its ability to maintain an uncomfortable level of threat during its key scene. I love stories told from the vantage of a character looking backwards in time, reconfiguring and recontextualizing past events, understanding them from an adult perspective.”
Kari Lund-Teigen’s “Something Like Joy” and David McLaren’s “[nar-uh-gan-sits] a Rhode Island Thanksgiving” are the honourable mentions. Lund-Teigen takes on the complexities of two brothers and a sister who choose different routes in their lives and the tensions in their relationships. Davidson suggests that she brings “a thoughtful and nuanced writing approach” to the difficult topics of “growing up (or trying to, even if it’s a little late in life), sickness and death, the simmering anger that siblings occasionally feel toward one another.” McLaren’s story is raucously comic, though it embodies the painful differences between race and class. It relates the theft of a farmer’s turkeys and the escapades of the turkeys as they sashay through different parts of town. Davidson describes how “this energetic story unfolds in a really visual and cinematic way.”
I am always appreciative of the quality and energy of the writing submitted to our contest and I want to thank everyone who entered. Now I look forward to what Gerry Beirne and Mark Jarman will do with our summer fiction issue.
-------Ross Leckie is the editor of The Fiddlehead.
Excerpt from Cocktail by Lisa Alward
The problem with parties,” my mother says, “is people don’t drink enough.” This is a joke. My mother is no lush and never has been one. Her fingers don’t shake when reaching for her coffee cup or laying down a trick at bridge. She doesn’t call up old friends late at night, slurring into the mouthpiece, “It’s Marrrgo how arrre you?” Like most of us these days, she sticks to wine — no more than a glass or two — or occasionally a beer in summer. Even the bottles of Grand Marnier and Cassis that she used to bring out for special occasions, such as my unexpected wedding at thirty-nine, are gathering dust in the sideboard now that both her own husbands are gone. No, this is just her stock response to my complaints about going to parties, the ones where all the middle-aged couples stand in well-lit kitchens chatting about their vacations or their home renovations or the academic or athletic or toileting triumphs of their children. Her meaning is that if people drank more, they’d loosen up. Parties would be more fun, like they used to be. And I laugh along. “Yes,” I say, letting her top up my glass of Chardonnay. “That’s it, not enough booze.”
But I’m thinking about Tom Collins. . . .
-------Lisa Alward lives in Fredericton, where she teaches courses in clear writing and has worked as an editor and freelance writer. She has been writing short stories for three years. “Cocktail,” her second story to be published, is inspired by the cocktail party world of the sixties and early seventies.
Excerpt from [nar-uh-gan-sits] a Rhode Island Thanksgiving by David McLaren
My job was to make sure none of the Narries fell off the back of the pickup. Charlie was in the other truck doing the same. He’s my brother. Stickman and Sunshine were driving because Charlie and me were too young and neither one of us knew the first thing about driving anyhow. So Stickman and Sunshine drove.
It was late . . . or too early . . . and the trip to town too long. My eyelids drooped from watching out the back window in case anything flew off the tailgate. Squinting against the bouncing headlights of the truck behind didn’t help. I laid my head against the back of the seat of the Model A.
Sunshine’s elbow in my ribs was as sharp as a stone and my head came up out of a little pool of slobber I had made on the seat. I looked out the back window. The canvas cover we had put over the turkeys to keep them quiet hadn’t moved. Whew, that was close.
-------David McLaren has worked in government, the private sector, in the arts, for NGOs and for First Nations. He currently lives at Neyaashiinigmiing on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario and from here he writes fiction, publishes in Ontario’s Sunmedia papers, and volunteers with a group called Peace & Justice. His non-fiction essays can be found online.
Excerpt from Something Like Joy by Kari Lund-Teigen
"Waldo,” Dan calls into his sister’s silent house. He turns on the hall light, places his helmet on the floor. Pulls off his boots. In the kitchen, he looks at the food bowl. The cat hasn’t eaten anything since he stopped in two days ago. Or at least not enough to tell in the pile he’d left.
“Waldo,” he calls again. He holds still so his leather coat won’t creak. On previous visits, Waldo had greeted him at the door with a meow that sounded both mournful and accusatory. And when Dan would try to take his motorcycle boots off, Waldo would thread between his legs, threatening his balance so that he’d reach out for the front hall table, knocking off an envelope or two from the growing pile. But today the hum of the refrigerator is the only sound.
“Here, kitty kitty,” he says, walking down the hall to the laundry room. There’s no shit in the litter box, only a few clumps that he scoops out with the plastic shovel. He whirrs up the stray litter with the small vacuum. Kate didn’t say this was what it was for, nor did she ask him to clean up the floor, but he does it anyway.
He heads up the stairs. Her house has a smell, not unpleasant, that smells nothing like the house they grew up in (cigarette smoke and frying meat). His own apartment has a smell too, he assumes, but he doesn’t know and can’t imagine what that smell might be. It must be different than the smell of his sister’s house, otherwise he would not be able to notice it now — something like bleach and maybe dust.
“Waldo,” he calls at the top of the stairs. He’d thought it was funny when his sister had named the cat Waldo. This was before she’d had her kid — before Andrew even — back when they’d watch old episodes of Kids in the Hall and play nine-letter Scrabble on nights when neither of them had anything better to do. Where’s Waldo? It wasn’t a joke you could make more than a couple of times. The reference lingered though. Like an embarrassing smell. Now that Dan stood wondering, where, in fact, Waldo was, the joke seemed funny again. Where’s Waldo?
-------Kari Lund-Teigen work has appeared in Prairie Fire, Grain, The New Quarterly, Alberta Views, and can be heard at The Canadian Fiction Podcast. Her stories have been nominated for the CBC Short Story Contest and the Western Magazine Awards. Her screenplay “Say You’re Sorry” won a special jury prize at the MPPIA Short Film Award pitch at the Whistler Film Festival. She lives and writes in Vancouver.
Cases (Unbound Poems, from Nova Scotia Reports) by Sean Howard
for Mark Silverberg
# 5851 #102
home? ‘the violence the personal
of custody.’ the ran- brain? a woman
sacked child- struck by history . . .
# 85 # 1391
the fatal wife the heavily populated
made love man, driving fast
out of town
the multiply # 6209
fractured old his wife’s small
man claims to action
# 8804 # 1374
youth: breaking, the judge consumes
entering the a pint of code. (the car
world passed the breathalyzer.)
# 4018 # 4006
guilty of what? absence in the
‘the man who couldn’t case of the
recognize his children’ child
# 356 # 2008
the cross walking the constant effort
the misty night to maintain the
-------Sean Howard is the author of Local Calls (Cape Breton University Press, 2009) and Incitements (Gaspereau Press, 2011). His poetry has been published in numerous Canadian and international magazines, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US. Sean lives in the lobster-fishing village of Main-à-Dieu, NS, and is adjunct professor of political science at Cape Breton University.
The Hinny by Michael Prior
To be honest, you looked a little strange.
The harness cuirassing your skin
strained above the rib cage:
end of the line.
Like a Chaplin flick in reverse, your shtick
was easily mimicked,
the set-up remained
the same. Play it again —
this time at half the speed.
Childhood’s cobwebs gossamer in your hair,
recall the frightened nights
you pissed the bed,
refused to take the blame —
though the room
was yours alone. You were called poor taste
by relatives uneasy with the foreignness
of your face.
It was only fair. A snout
from here, an eye from three
generations spilled across the waves.
In class, you played the dunce
neither breed nor herd
would let you slip away.
The clatter of your heels on tile each time
you cobbled an escape.
In later years,
you wished yourself
one of Breughel’s figures
bisected by the frame. Of time and not,
they remain complete in incompletion,
your darling leitmotif.
You bucked the reins
at the end of a century,
the city shrugged tectonic into sea. You kicked
and brayed and snuffled. Refused
to be the same.
-------Michael Prior is currently a student in the University of Toronto’s MA in Creative Writing program. His poems have recently won The Walrus’s 2014 Poetry Prize and Grain’s 2014 Short Grain Contest. His first chapbook is Swan Dive (Frog Hollow Press, 2014). His first full-length collection is forthcoming in 2016 from Véhicule Press.
Skinbyrds by Julie Cameron Gray
Tattooed by friends, the spittle of Hastings
in spring: my life, not much so far but a hard
look setting my face to read working class pride.
My hands stuffed in pockets or flicking some
endless cigarette. I’m with the other girls,
feathercut and sloping our spines against the brick,
all trucked up in heavy eyeliner and bright lips.
We’re young enough to still be lovely things
no matter how hard the old siren screams
it’s paddywagon song. So why are we standing
around, waiting for the boys to be interesting?
Look at them, shoving each other against cement
for fun and games, ladding down a back alley
wild as red fur, foxing about, hell-bent
on a trick of the light and a five fingered discount.
And that one — scrap of silk in his pocket,
half rude boy, halfway handsome, all jumped up
in not trying too hard. He’s going to come over now
and start blagging on about things we all know,
like coppers can’t be trusted, and parents are a joke —
We know why we’re here. We’re waiting for our moment
to come, the chance to throw our arms
around the milky sun, the mace of our days,
and hunt down the good time that we’re owed.
-------Julie Cameron Gray is originally from Sudbury, Ontario. She is the author of Tangle (Tightrope Books, 2013), two chapbooks, and has previously published in The Fiddlehead, Prairie Fire, Event, PRISM International, Carousel, and in Best Canadian Poetry 2011 (Tightrope Books, 2011). She currently lives in Toronto.