The Daily Blend

Writing to make connections

Janet L Fraser published on Bywords.ca

face and body of a dark reptile with yellow markings

photo by Christopher Shearly

It was gratifying to come home from a Fall vacation and find that one of my poems has been published, under the name Janet L Fraser, in the Ottawa on-line journal Bywords.ca. Why the formality of using my middle initial? There are a number of Janet Frasers in this world (a surprising number just in the Ottawa area) and an award winning poet named Janet Fraser in New Brunswick. Hmm, perhaps a pen name would makes sense for me.

Having a poem selected for publication for the first time begins a new stage of development for me as a writer. Up to this point, very few people I don’t know personally have read my work – I and my work have lived in a relatively safe semi-public space. From this point onward I’m guessing I have to be prepared to experience “slings and arrows”, however modest, just like any other public figure. A prospect at once exhilarating and terrifying for an introvert such as me.

Being published follows my start into public reading at the Tree Reading Series open mic in October. Reading my work to people I’d just barely met reminded me of a Canterbury High School t-shirt for the students in the non-performing arts: the slogan began Don’t look at me – my own first thought about reading in public. However, like many before me, I discovered that people in an audience are mostly friendly and supportive. People mostly contribute to a positive vibe and send waves of energy to me as I speak. How does that happen? As in other forms of theatre, it’s a mystery.

Here, then, is my poem Predators I Have Known, first published in the November issue of Bywords.ca. 

next door in his tower
lived the handsome wolf
dangling sweet guitar and song
“come up and hear me play”
how lucky for me:
my innocence, like a sturdy woodsman,
split open his belly and I walked free

into a bedroom in his house
crept the agile weasel
familiar face a masquerade
“hey honey, how ya’ doin’ t’night?”
how lucky for me:
my aunt, like a fairy god-mother,
appeared in an instant and I slept safe

down the hall in his classroom
floated the smiling crocodile
solitude and a mentor’s warmth
“visit here as often as you like”
how lucky for me:
my knowing friend, like a woodland sprite,
lead him away and I moved on

across the quad in his dorm room
lived the silky python
mesmerizing with bookish charm
(what did he say, exactly?)
lucky for me:
my head and heart, now budding alchemists,
used salt water and turned dross into gold

 

Val des Monts January 2017

Read More

Revised edition of “First Chapbook – Proof” now available

street scene with large tree and bright sun for a revised edition

ethereal Elgin for a revised edition

Why a revised edition?

Each of us moves in our our own way and in our own direction through this life due to personal experience and current situation. This can create confusion and conflict when people we’re close to move differently from the way we do.

When I first wrote the poem You Think You Know Me I followed my muse through a specific door, in a specific way, on a specific vector. Some months ago I realized that the door had been swinging in the wrong direction when I went through it so I’ve made a new poem by turning around and going through the door the other way. This new poem is a replacement for the old and reflects a clearer and deeper understanding of myself and of the world around me. My sincere apologies to those of you who may have been dismayed or offended by my first attempt to translate that particular musing onto paper.

For your enjoyment, here is the new poem and a revised edition of my First Chapbook – Proof with the new poem in place of the old.

You Think You Know Her

You think you know her,
angry young man
who shifts his weight
leans just a bit,
and bumps her shoulder
to knock her off balance
in passing
on a suburban city sidewalk.
(just some old white hetero bitch)

what you don’t know is
when the girl from the only Jehovah’s Witness family
in her neighbourhood stood alone
every day in the school yard,
she was the one who went over and made friends

what you don’t know is
a closeted queer guy was her best friend,
and in high school they were seen as a couple
so she never, not once, got asked on a date
‘cause she was not gonna be the one to out him to anyone

what you don’t know is
of all the variety of guys who were her friends
and who she dated over the years,
an immigrant from a different culture and language
was her first love and her first lover

what you don’t know is
when same-sex “couples” prom tickets
were debated and voted down by the student council
she was the one who called out her friends
and walked out of the meeting

what you don’t know is
when the first black department manager
was hired to help run her family business
working with him on the leadership team
came as naturally to her as breathing

Your anger may be righteous, young man,
but what you don’t know is
if you open your fist, she will shake your hand.

Val des Monts March 2017

Read More

Photography page and Georgian Bay Cruise 2016

For your viewing pleasure, I’ve added a new page to The Blend: Photography.

Yes, after years of resistance, I’m acknowledging that I do, indeed, take snapshots and make some arty images. There seems little point in making images without sharing them. Since I want to do that and keep my right to control them, they’ve become part of The Blend.

Please bear with my initial attempts to create some albums. I’ll get the hang of it at some point.

Here’s the start of the first one: Georgian Bay Cruise 2016.

A clock without hands on a disused dock with a hoist hook dangling above and some reeds growing in the water below.

On Cruising Time

Read More

First Poetry Chapbook – New Canadian Writer

Roadside with yellow coltsfoot

Janet L Fraser, Yellow, 2014

It turns out that blogging is a habit that’s not too hard to break. After shooting myself in the foot by posting at a rate that was more frequent than the thoughts worth sharing and interesting events in my life, I ran out of material. Life kept me from creating new material for a while and then I was just out of the habit. I think it’s sort of like documenting your work – a very useful practice but no one really wants to take the time to do it because they’re so busy doing whatever it is they do.

You may be glad to hear that over the last few months I’ve done some real writing work. Attending several sessions of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, including a poetry workshop (more about that another time), was a First After Fifty. Hearing other writers read their work, buying and reading books of poetry, and listening to panel discussions about writing gave me hope that there’s an audience out there that is interested in reading the sort of thing I write.

Fresh from that experience, I sat at my desk with a goal of producing my first poetry chapbook. I focussed on two things: revising every poem I’d ever written, and writing a bunch of poems based on ideas and fragments I’d collected over I don’t know how many years. A vacation intervened to foil my 2016 NaPoWriMo plans but I got back to my desk this week. Today I can tell you that I’ve made proof copies of my first poetry chapbook filled with some easily accessible work. (Yay!) Paper copies will be available in the next few day to anyone who asks for them. You can pick them up from me or send me your postal address.

On another note, I’ve dusted off my sewing machine and am altering some clothing from the ’70s and ’80s so it’s vintage to wearable now that it’s back in style; after that you’ll see more work on the Ocean Quilt.

Welcome back, Friends of the Blend! Welcome back, me.

Read More

Cloth Gift Bags for Christmas Wrapping

Cloth gift bags make wrapping easyLet’s face it, lots of the things we do for fun entail consuming for pleasure. But many of us are genuinely concerned about the waste involved in some of our traditions. One way to reduce (the highest “R”) the resources you consume over the holidays is to buy or make cloth gift bags that you can re-use (the middle “R”).

Yes, I know, it seems like more fun to rip open wrapping paper. And, yes, you can recycle (the lowest “R”) wrapping paper in many Canadian municipalities. But I urge you to just try using cloth gift bags just once and see how people respond. Untying a ribbon and peeking inside a festive gift bag can be just as satisfying.

Read More