The Hats We Wear

Smithbilt. Flames toque. Turban.
Stamps Cap. No cap. Bandana. Hijab.
All hats.
… And a lot of cattle.
The energy is in the ground a long way away.
But also in the air right here.
In classrooms.
In offices so high the sky is even bigger than from the ground.
In clinics and factories, on shop floors and in the rehearsal hall.
In a thousand crowded lunch spots.
Banh mi and ginger beef, perogies and dossa, roast beef sandwiches and shawarma.
Sometimes all on the same menu.
Since we’ve figured out that simple thing. That one thing that has escaped so many.
We’re better together.
Aaah, Sandburg. Your city can keep its big shoulders.
Ours are pretty big too.
But our dreams are bigger.

~ Naheed Nenshi is a passionate Calgarian, an accomplished business professional, an active community leader, and is currently serving his second term and is Calgary’s 36th mayor. His real passion is to make cities, especially Calgary, work better. He’s the lead author of Building Up: Making Canada’s Cities Magnets for Talent and Engines of Development and has long put his ideas to work in Calgary. Mayor Nenshi grew up in Calgary and has lived and worked in cities around the world before returning home. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (with distinction) from the University of Calgary and a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied as a Kennedy Fellow.

Mayor Nenshi issued the 2015 Mayor’s Poetry Challenge across Canada, resulting in the best results ever for this League of Canadian Poets initiative.

“Your Worship – Thank you for being a poetry champion. Thanks to your challenge, we have 60 cities confirmed across Canada where at least 65 notable poets and spoken word artists, including 15 official poets laureate, will be bringing poetry to the people in community events just like this one. At least half of the communities have also declared UNESCO World Poetry Day and/or National Poetry Month.

One behalf of the League, I wish to express my gratitude to the dedicated people who helped make this year such a success. Saskatchewan poet Bruce Rice; Barbara Erochina and Ingel Madrus – the excellent staff at the League of Canadian Poets; Calgary’s own Lisa Murphy Lamb of Loft 112; and Audrey Seehagen, our collaborator at the Writers Guild of Alberta – all of whom worked passionately to entice mayors to the spell of poetry, from coast to coast to coast.

Calgary is renowned for its bold and innovative poetry and spoken word culture. There are so many literary events throughout our city every month that it is impossible for one person to attend them all. Our poets are some of the world’s most distinguished poets. April is National Poetry Month. I encourage you to join us at some of our celebrations.”

Dymphny Dronyk, President of League of Canadian Poets

the fishmonger


In my dream we are terrible fish
mouths slicing our cheeks
as we siphon kelp
Sometimes we hide in the green
from the ripple and flash
of the diver and her mask
Then over the ledge
through the dark water we fall
watched by The Old Man of Hoy

And the sea hides us
under her chop and swell

But that diver with her lens
has followed us down –
down down down down
past the horrible present
and the absurd tolling knell

What are the secrets
I will never uncover
even with a camera and a knife?

Now that the ferryman is gone
all that remains is your absence
and the shadow of the woman in the rubber suit

And still that diver shines images
floats them to me
in memory of your mouth –

widened in death
so that instead of a pucker for a kiss
or the broadness of a smile
just a gaping black oh

In remembrance of your lips –
now the surreal purple of live labia
their applied colour offed by holy palmers
not content to finger your clothes
the stone from Arran hidden between you clasped hands
or the Black Watch blanket over your legs

They brush your mouth with theirs
leaving you in a mounted bass contortion
Beautiful work to some
an unearthly alum to me

I’d rather a photograph of the salty lick of your tongue
on an ice cream after a walk

All this in the mirror’s extent
below
the terrible fish
of my own reflection
(m)otherless

but I am her and she is me
forever in fins and black rubber
no matter the roll and swell
of dotted ice
double bergs

or the thunderous crack
of Easter melt

~ Anne Sorbie

Anne Sorbie was born in Paisley, Scotland and she lives and writes in Calgary. Her work has appeared in journals such as The Wascana Review, Alberta Views, Geist, and Other Voices, and in the anthology, Home and Away. Anne’s first novel, Memoir of a Good Death (Thistledown Press 2010) was on the long-list for the 2012 Alberta Readers’ Choice Award.

You can read more poems by Anne here.

This poem was read by Anne on November 2,2014, as part of the RE:act Art & Community Together Plus 15 Poetry Shuffle!

august twenty-five

death gathers
her wings spread wide
your mother’s body
to hide

soft, you ask
soft, you pray
in the morning rain
that pours tears
on the world
awash
cleansing us all
as one soul she prepares
stainless again
as at birth

in this place of
illusion that is
and is not
life and death reflect
so quaint in place
so carefully wrought
that their melding
brings surprise and not

when your mother’s breath
no longer warms
and steams the mirror
dementia’s delight will shatter

and there reflecting pure
will be her face, her smile
her wave goodbye

~ Anne Sorbie

Anne Sorbie was born in Paisley, Scotland and she lives and writes in Calgary. Her work has appeared in journals such as The Wascana Review, Alberta Views, Geist, and Other Voices, and in the anthology, Home and Away. Anne’s first novel, Memoir of a Good Death (Thistledown Press 2010) was on the long-list for the 2012 Alberta Readers’ Choice Award.

You can read more poems by Anne here.

This poem was read by Anne on November 2,2014, as part of the RE:act Art & Community Together Plus 15 Poetry Shuffle!

Alberta Human Policy

[translated excerpt from the Alberta Wetland Policy]

Humans in Alberta

*Approximately 20 per cent of Alberta’s surface
area is covered by humans

Humanlands are land saturated with humans long enough to promote formation of human altered soils, growth of human tolerant vegetation, and various kinds of animal activity that are adapted to the human environment. Humanlands are highly diverse, productive socialsystems that provide a host of social services and form an integral component of Alberta’s diverse landscapes. They play an important role in sustaining healthy humanshed by protecting human quality, providing human storage and infiltration, providing habitat for labourers, artisans and beaurocrats, and sustaining humandiversity. Alberta is home to a rich and varied array of humanland socialsystems, including hamlets, towns, cities, suburbs, and dense downtown cores.

Approximately 20 per cent of Alberta’s surface area is covered by humanlands; more than 90 per cent of these are urbanlands (primarily cities and suburbs). Collectively, these socialsystems help sustain vast populations of migratory young adults. They provide revolution mitigation by storing and slowly releasing large volumes of social frustration. They function as natural filtration systems, cleansing socialized ideas prior to discharge. In many instances, humanlands are psychical recharge zones, acting as conduits between socialite human behaviours and unconscious emotional currents. They support a diverse array of adults and children. In Alberta alone, it is estimated that humanlands are host to some 400 types of humans, some of which are listed as rare, threatened, or endangered in the province.

Alberta’s humanlands provide the basis for a wide variety of natural activities. They support several recreational pursuits (e.g. human watching, hunting) and have increasingly become a focal point for the humantourism industry. They are a highly valued resource to many First Humans and human-co-housing species, for whom they provide myriad cultural and traditional uses. Humanlands are also very important to seedtrade and humanculture in the province and play a significant role in humanlife conservation programs. Urbanlands in the province support a specialized mining industry, which supplies urbans (“city dwellers”) to the urbanicultural market.

Acknowledgements

Development of a comprehensive and effective human policy is a complex undertaking, which requires a multidisciplinary approach. The Government of Wetland would like to thank the Water council, its members, members of the wetland, and the myriad ecosystems who contributed both their time and technical expertise to this project. The perspective, experience, and input offered by Wetlanders have been indispensable in development of the Alberta Human Policy.

~ Pebble

Pebble grew up poor, and then their parents became well-off. They eat vegan topped with a biannual bison burger. They spend their time interviewing people from all walks of life and never agree with any of them. Half Canadian and half unknown, Pebble and their cat Fred spend most of their time in Canmore curled up reading poetry with a constant cup of Jasmine green tea.

What Beer Can Do

Shine my buckle, baby, he yells in my ear,
pulls me tight against him,
and two-steps me around backwards,
sloooooooow, sloooooooooow, quick-quick
one body with too many feet
we stumble, no gliding here
in the Big Tent of Nashville North,
just tired river silt and dirty
tarmac that trips our best intentions,
the bitter stain of crap beer
on my loosened tongue,
sweaty cologne of drugstore cowboys
with undertones of puke,
sloooooooow, sloooooooooow, quick-quick
the whole place as surreal as
the bucking bronc named Luscious Bubbles,
and the fake breasts on full neon display.
Up on Centre Street a billboard admonishes
that good girls keep their calves together
but I dance my way through bad covers
and worse jokes,
slooooooooow, slooooooooooow, quick-quick
my thighs spreading against his,
my belly polishing that buckle.

~ Dymphny Dronyk

Dymphny Dronyk is a writer, editor, mediator and mother. She is passionate about the magic of story and has woven words for money (journalism, corporate writing) and for love (poetry, fiction, drama, mystery novels and songs) for over 25 years. Her first volume of poetry Contrary Infatuations (Frontenac House, Quartet 2007) was short listed for two prestigious awards in 2008. She is also the author of the memoir Bibi – A Life in Clay (Prairie Art Gallery, 2009).

With Edmonton poet Angela Kublik, she is the co-publisher of House of Blue Skies, and co-editor of the bestselling anthologies: Writing the Land – Alberta Through its Poets (2008) and Home and Away – Alberta Poets Muse on the Meaning of Home (2010).

Dymphny is a founding member of the RE:act Art & Community Together Collective, and currently serves as the President of the League of Canadian Poets National Council.

With Calgary’s inaugural Poet Laureate, Kris Demeanor, she is co-editor of The Calgary Project – A City Map in Verse and Visual.