‘Time’ pieces Free Press celebrates National Poetry Month with a selection of poems centred around the theme of 'time'

April is National Poetry Month. For the second year in a row, the Winnipeg Free Press is celebrating NPM with the help of Winnipeg poets. This year’s theme is “Time,” and the eleven poems here represent a wide breath of experience.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/04/2017 (1982 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

April is National Poetry Month. For the second year in a row, the Winnipeg Free Press is celebrating NPM with the help of Winnipeg poets. This year’s theme is “Time,” and the eleven poems here represent a wide breath of experience.

This is Julian Day’s first publication, for instance, while George Amabile has had his work appear in ten books and more than a hundred national and international venues. It’s also timely to include the work of Angeline Schellenberg, who just this weekend won three Manitoba Book Awards for her debut, Tell Them It Was Mozart.

If you’ve spent some time with these poems and are interested in more, attend a reading at McNally Robinson. Or sign up for a subscription with local literary magazines Prairie Fire or CV2.

By this time next year, Winnipeg will have its own poet laureate, promoting poetry, literacy, and the arts. Now that’s something to look forward to!

melanie brannigan frederiksen (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

after, again

  for K.

By melanie brannagan frederiksen

breath slowly returns

after you drowned

after i re-read your letter

again &

after remembering:

you & i walking down Bloor

laughing & crying, dancing

as the last chorus followed us

after the stories we lived

the pasts we survived, for a time

after we promised we’d show them all

after i find your letter


melanie brannagan frederiksen’s poems have been published by Prairie Fire and The Waggle. She lives and writes in Winnipeg.

● ● ●

Aisha Walker (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Tempo of Life, Without

By Aisha Walker

Basement chills are chased

by chamomile with honey,

with blankets freshly warmed

in an old tumble dryer.

Yesterday’s cold still rings

in my ears, and yesterday’s dirt

will have to wait for me to find

the grit to face the shower.

I gently tap on the crown of my head,

or rub the space between my thumb

and forefinger, when I can’t afford

the magic to keep myself going.

Aisha Walker is a biracial trans woman who lives in Winnipeg with her life partner and five-year old daughter. She has had a deep love and appreciation for poetry her whole life, and finally began writing her own in 2014.

● ● ●

Excerpt from circuits

By Eileen Mary Holowka

eventually, you tell a story enough times that your tongue falls out.

this is what you’ll need to do: learn how to darn socks. you need to keep your feet warm. when you’re ready, stitch your tongue back on using the same technique. learn a new vocabulary. one with all the same words but none of the old uses.

hold on to your tongue. if it falls out again, repeat these steps.

Eileen Mary Holowka is a Winnipeg writer, editor, and grad student currently living in Montreal. She writes music and makes games. She runs Contemporary Verse 2’s 2 Day Poem Contest and has published in Lemon Hound, CV2, and Little Fiction.

● ● ●


By Catherine Hunter

Rain falls on the plum tree

and the catnip patch. Rain

falls on the gravesite

of the hawk who crashed

into our window in July. Rain fills

the rain barrel and the wheel barrow

and the bird bath. But we’re snug

inside, watching people on TV

watch people on TV watch

television: the presidential debates.

It’s the autumn of 2016. Nobody

is really sure how close to death

we are. But Voyager 1 has long ago crossed

the border of the solar system.

Each day it’s sailing farther

into inter-stellar space. Rain

falls on the garden gnome

the neighbours gave me for my 50th

birthday. That night my brother

and I clicked glasses, saying,

“how in the hell did we ever

get this far? How did we get in

so deep?” Stayed up till dawn,

counting the many friends

we had outlived. The hawk,

looking into our window,

must have seen the ferns

suspended from our ceiling,

must have seen the reflection

of the Scotch pine branches

in the yard, and above them,

the sweet eternal blue of sky.

Catherine Hunter is the author of seven books, including, most recently, the novel After Light. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Winnipeg.

● ● ●

Jason Stefanik (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press).

Gup, ‘Rider

By Jason Stefanik

Gup, ‘Rider,

wiley curr

son of a burr-

bushed witch

with bramble itch

in the armpit

of the continent,

your green

real obscene

on Labour Day.

Of all prairie

Commonwealth cities

named for Queens

none as foul,

stankly, spleen-

smelling as dour


spindly, dead

bespectled tellers,


truck customizers

whose wives are grand

as wheat elevators,

like that Lancaster

just a lucky

town drunkard,

son of a plucky

bingo caller

from wherever

lost on your plains.

What rural brains

or town knave said

melons on your head

would help you win?

It’s just a joke,

your goblin yoke,

to draw hornets

to your ‘Rider stench,

or it’s your way

on Banjo day

to block the Trochee

chant starting

from the east:

“Go, Bombers, Go!”

Gup, ‘Riders,

you may view

Blue reigneth

over you.

Jason Stefanik is a second-generation adoptee raised in Manitoba’s Interlake. His poems have appeared in tart, Misunderstandings Magazine, Grain, Nashwaak Review, and Arc. He is the recipient of Prairie Fire’s 2015 Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award.

● ● ●


Meira Cook (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

Notes on Her Dear Perversion

By Méira Cook

In 1939 Georgia O’Keeffe was invited to Hawaii by The Dole Pineapple Company to create paintings they could use in their advertisements.

They want someone who understands the hard poke

of deciduous hunger. Or they want someone

who can turn stomach acid into the lost translations

of What a Woman. Bright, bright. Lots of nipples hanging off.

Might mention “the smell of cut fruit

on the blade of a knife” is the memo from the desk

of some ad exec to the effect of.

She paints engorged scarlet ginger hanging

off the sky’s blue tree. Paints the shuddering

inner lives of hibiscus and plumeria.

Oh! green crevasse tongued by silver streams.

Doesn’t paint a single pineapple so they send her home.

The desert tosses and murmurs around her,

wish you were, wish you were.

When is the sea larger than the box it comes in?

When is an idea too big for its fruit?

She finally paints it, her mild and doleful

pineapple of the mind.

Méira Cook’s most recent book of poetry is Monologue Dogs and her most recent novel is Nightwatching. Her latest novel, Once More With Feeling, will be published this fall.

● ● ●


MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Winnipeg poet Julian Day


By Julian Day

This place has a cadence, a memory

encoded in blackbirds and tallgrass.

Wild rye, coneflower at the fringes.

Remnants of the world before

the Last Best West, railroad and rebellion.

The light cuts the stillness, wends through ash

and maple. In evening, the braking of trains,

a shrill plainsong. Birds in the rushes.

You listen for an echo,

a spoken word –

But there is only transience.

Sway of poplar, the long laugh of crows.

And now it’s in you:

beauty and grief,

your breath as wind.

Julian Day grew up in Saskatoon. He earned his MSc from the University of Saskatchewan, and now lives in Winnipeg, where he works as a software developer. This is his first publication.

● ● ●

Lightning Marks

By Joelle Kidd

And the pain, it punctures

and drains you.

Year after year after

year, again,

the dulling magic of regeneration

makes scars, like paths crossing

your skin, as if ghostly fingernails

were dragged across the surface,

leaving trails.

Here is my wound: which has faded

to a pencil-mark.

You tease your own blood out

for an examination.

Still red,

still moving.

Joelle Kidd is a food writer and editor by day and a writer of short fiction and poetry by night. Her work has appeared in The Manitoban, The Maelstrom, Halfway Home Anthology, and the Stoneboat Literary Journal.

● ● ●

Angeline Schellenberg (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)


By Angeline Schellenberg

Everything you’ve never been handed

on a platter: a shiver of mercury,

sliver of moon.

Sterling and refined, silver skates

around lampposts, snips

loose ends, holds manuscripts


Read Jean Valjean by candlelight,

Johnny Tremain by the crack

under the door.

It’s the spoon

you’re born into.

The marriage that lasts

until the children

have left home. The handle

on your coffin.

A near-win.

Lustrous: it’s the lining you’ve

been looking for.

The ebb and flow of time.

A vessel in the house of God.

A stirring under the frozen lake

of your pelvis.


Angeline Schellenberg’s first collection, Tell Them It Was Mozart (Brick Books, 2016), is nominated for three Manitoba Book Awards. Angeline lives in Winnipeg with her husband, two teenagers, and a German shepherd/corgi.

● ● ●

Grant Guy (Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press)

The Tall Prairie Grass Was In His Language

By Grant Guy

Tall prairie grass was in his language

The unending sky was in his blood

How he howled

He walked a path now his

(Walked by ancestors not his)

By virtue of blood dried atonement yet gained

How he howled

For the ghosts of those ancestors

For the ghosts of the living

For himself

How he howled

In the air In his soul

He wanted to dance the dance of atonement

He could not dance But he could not dance

How he howled

Grant Guy is a Winnipeg writer, poet, essayist, playwright, performance artist, video artist and a very bad maker of experimental films, stage director and designer, puppeteer, and producer. He has two books published, On The Bright Side of Down and Open Fragments.

● ● ●

Country Road

for Evan

By George Amabile

This is the time of day

after the sun goes down and before

the moon rises, when the light is thin

and very still, when it hardly matters

where we came from or where we might be

going, the air enriched by nothing

more than it can easily carry, and being

alive in this place is the same as being

anywhere where the first lights come on

in the valley, where birds return from dying

fire at the edge of the world, and sing

themselves to sleep in the tall trees.

George Amabile has published ten books and has had poetry, fiction and non-fiction in over a hundred national and international venues. His most recent publications are Dancing, with Mirrors (Porcupine’s Quill, 2011) and Small Change (Libros Libertad, 2011) both of which won Bressani Awards.

● ● ●

Join several of the poets for an evening of poetry at McNally Robinson Booksellers on Monday, May 1, beginning at 7 p.m.

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