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

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Second Chapbook – Songs of Privilege

Wooden railings with black metal balusters capped with snow.

Angles 2015, Janet Fraser

 

Here’s a new collection of poems in a Second Chapbook – Songs of Privilege. There are a few less obvious pieces in this one.

Challenge Piece

I wrote On the Beauty of Men as a challenge piece after a dinner with three gentlemen friends. During the meal we had a discussion about beauty. One of my friends said that women are more beautiful than men. My point of view was, understandably I think, opposed to this point. A little while later I wrote this piece in honour of my life-companion’s 50th birthday.

Sound Poem

Road Trip DNA is a sound poem (so try reading it out loud) in which I tried to imitate (very roughly)  the form of DNA by using 3-letter words only. Hope you’ll find it amusing.

Searched Language OR down the rabbit hole

programmed molecular dancing is my first piece in this form. I developed it in November of 2015 using a web search tool. I used a selected seed term and a cyclical search pattern to yield increasing numbers of terms until I’d had enough.
Roughly:
First cycle – one term yields one term
Second cycle – one term yields two terms
Third cycle – two terms each yield multiple terms
Fourth and subsequent cycles – N terms each yield multiple terms
Note that each cycle may yield more than the specified number of terms; however, this method may increase the process inputs exponentially.

Song Lyric

As anyone who knows me well will tell you, I remember song lyrics. So writing No Picnic using the form of the song Teddy Bears’ Picnic (melody Op103 by John Walter Bratton, lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy) was a natural for me. As I wrote I imagined my musical friends playing and singing it in a minor key.

Fair Warning

While politically incorrect to some people, I identify as a native Canadian. I was born in Canada, that makes me a native person. I respect my First Nations cousins and use that term to honour them rather than the more general “native Canadian”.  A Native of Immigrant Ancestry Speaks was inspired by the play Huff by Cliff Cardinal. During the performance, in which there is a suicide/attempted suicide, I had the almost uncontrollable urge to breach the fourth wall and intervene in the on-stage action. This post stands as fair warning that if I were to see the play again I would select my seat with the intention of doing so.

I hope you will find some enjoyment, amusement and food for thought in this Second Chapbook – Songs of Privilege.

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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.

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