Happy 150th Canada – from Cambridge Writers’ Collective

To celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday the writers and poets of Cambridge Writers Collective have compiled an anthology of poems and stories under the theme ‘all things Canadian’. With the help of a grant form Cambridge North Dumfries Community Foundation, we are gifting this anthology to as many libraries across Canada as our funds will allow. It is our gift to Canada.

We are local writers and proud to be Canadian.


You’re Invited to a Poetry Slam

You're Invited to a Poetry Slam

Come out to cheer on the CWC’s Barb Day, and/or read your own writings during the open mic portion.

After the Grinning

by Diane Attwell Palfrey

photo by luigi diamanti | freedigitalphotos.net

photo by luigi diamanti | freedigitalphotos.net

Cheshire Cat dissipates,
stripes drift from wonderland
as though he was never there,
never part of Tulgey Woods
where eyes hang at night
like miniature moon drops.

Providing paw prints
and parentage,
he changes his name
to Boris W. Pinkerton,
the ‘W’ impressive or so he thinks,
a delicious male title after years
of explanation on gender identification
and riddles surrounding
his pink princess palette.

He’s on a health kick, too.
Bounces on a Bosu.
Claims to tail curl 50 pound
weights when Zumba class
seems more credible
since he likes to get jiggy,
even joined a seniors’ dating site
to wink or grin at mollies
regardless of their status.

And travel plans are underway.
Sicily, Tuscany. Vineyards purrrrfect
for golden afternoons where a fat
indulgent tom might listen to Pavarotti
instead of tone deaf roses,
or court Italians with alluring accents,
all bellissimo – retire in a place
where catnip is lower class,
lapping wine shows proper pedigree
and flowers don’t need paint.

Diane Attwell Palfrey is a poet and prose writer and a long-time member of the Cambridge Writers Collective. Her poetry has been published by the Waterloo-Wellington CAA, Serengeti Press, Craigleigh Press, Hammered Out, The Ontario Poetry Society, Cruickston Charitable Research Reserve/RARE, Calvary Assembly, & several editions of Ascent Aspirations Anthologies. Diane was also the 1st place winner in the 2009 and 2010 Cambridge Festival of the Arts – Poetry Contests.

Wax and Wane

by April Bulmer
I fall through the mother space
crawl from her on hands and knees.
I live among the mushrooms now:
their soft, moist pleats.
I take one in my teeth
and my eyes are as big as beetles.
A caterpillar like a drop of rain on a leaf.
A mad man so nervous
his cup of tea trembles.
My heart is a deck of cards.
I play the Queen of Hearts.
Her hair the shade of blood.
At night even the moon dreams
it waxes and wanes.
How it swells and shrinks
on currant cake and drugs.
Queen of Hearts

April Bulmer has published six books of poetry. Her work has appeared in many national and international journals including the Malahat Review, PRISM international, Arc, Harvard University’s Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and the Globe and Mail. She recently placed second in the Trinity College Alumni Fiction Contest and was a judge for the Hamilton Literary Awards


by Barb Day

Can you hear Mother Nature weep?
As man reaps the benefits
Of a perfect creation
The only colours left on her palette
Hues of brown and grey
The only green to be seen from an ATM machine

As acid rain drips
Drops splatter history books
Blending with the blood stains of slain species
Butchered to extinction
Discard the shark. Keep the fin
Whales dying
In the aftermath of a bloodbath

Birds’ beating wings silenced
As CEO’s wait silent in the wings
Sow concrete subdivisions to reap the profits
But their credit cards won’t repair the damage they deny
As the Reaper stands by
Overlooking horizon no longer gold with wheat
What will your gold card buy you now?
When there’s no food left to eat
Every cloud’s silver lining ripped apart at the seams
It seems immaterial what you once held in high esteem

Food flowing with poison
Rivers arteries clogged
With the cholesterol of overindulgence
Elegant waterfalls no longer cascading
And rushing downstream
Rushing, rushing like the stream of suits and briefcases
On Wall Street on Monday morning
The rivers mourning
Warning of last chances caught in the current
As continued dumping in streams
Turns rivers to sand

Preserve the ground on which you stand
See brittle twigs break off and fall
Hear the forest cry for sanctuary
Speak as chain saw scars
Through trunk already marred
Where you carved your names
Samantha loves Shane
Your only claim to fame

Weeping willow weeps
As axe falls
Severs the lifeblood
The sap a flood of teardrops flowing
Onto dry earth
Roots ripped from the dirt and bark torn like paper shredded

The bells toll the peal of impending doom
The world has blown a fuse
But still we refuse to stop the abuse
We choose not to acknowledge the smog we breathe
We bleed the planet with our greed
Strip it bare, but beware
Sand in hourglass will turn to ash

Our world on life-support
We huddle, praying for redemption, salvation
For the preservation of the slaughter of God’s creation
Clean the slate
Clean up your act before it’s too late

Wait! There’s time to plant a tiny seed of hope
Watch it grow
And lower our heads in prayer

Let your children’s children
Play in parks of green
And still see sunlight through polluted skies
Don’t bleed the planet before it dies
Don’t leave future generations victims of our crimes

See, hear, speak out!

pic by worradmu | freedigitalphotos.net

pic by worradmu | freedigitalphotos.net

Barb Day, lives in Paris, Ontario with her husband and daughter. A Writing for Publication graduate of Mohawk College, Barb’s short stories frequently appear in local publications like “Daytripping”.

Thoughts on Point of View

Our most recent around-the-table discussion…

photo by Marcie Schwindt

photo by Marcie Schwindt

Elizabeth McCallister
I think point of view is one of the most difficult things that new writers can face. It seems like a simple enough task – are you writing in the first, second or third person.

It gets more complicated when you actually get down to doing it well. In a sense, you must inhabit not only the personalities of your characters but also the world that you have created. A narrator who describes someone or something seems the easiest route until you realize that you have written something from one of the characters’ POV.

Trying to write from more than one character’s POV can be one of the most difficult tasks. How do you clearly separate the two characters’ POV so that each rings clearly?

Which is the final most difficult task – creating a character who seems fully human.

Jockie Loomer-Kruger
I like first person especially ideal for memoir which is my preferred genre. I [also] like it for the poetry I write.

Second person – sounds like a lecture. Thou shalt not…

Third person – can add a different type of detail from first. Good for fiction with various characters.

Omniscient – All knowing and able to get into everyone’s thoughts – best for descriptive scenes, for commentary on a character.

Barbara Lefcourt
From 1st person, there are unlimited POV – age, sex, ethnicity, personality, stage of life. What first person POV do you feel comfortable writing from.
What kind of minds are you able to get [into] and imagine being?

A major reason I love to read novels is to be able to get into the body and minds of persons totally different from myself.

My own writing of course grows from my personal points of view that have changed with age and with living in totally different environments.

Kathy Robertson
[POV] should convey the author’s opinion without being obvious.
Metaphors are effective tools in conveying imagery.
The true meaning should be elusive, not fully comprehended until the end.
One image building on the other until the complete meaning is fully realized.

Becky Alexander
I like to use the antiquated POV known as the “omniscient storyteller,” the guy who knows all, sees all and this includes knowing (and telling) what the characters even think, let alone what they do, see, etc. Think of the writers of the Bible.

I like this form as it is time tested, has survived for centuries and is the easiest form (for me) in which to write.

Case in point: I hate second person POV. [Sounds like a lecture].

Wendy Visser
Narrative style a) where narrator stands outside the story b) where narrator is part of the poem or story

Humour – writer writes from humourous perspective
• form of entertainment
o should not be forced but natural.

3rd person perspective – work written in 3rd person allows easy access to the reader. Can identify more with the situation – empathy.

First person -[works] depending on subject matter.

Marcie Schwindt
When I think about POV, first, second, third, whatever, just seems like an obvious choice based on the character’s voice and how intimate the reader needs to be with him/her to “get” who they are.

What’s more interesting, I think, is choosing which character’s viewpoint to write from. Personally, I choose the weakest character to showcase because they always seem to pull the most interesting text from me. Strong characters are boring. Weak people have to “fake it”, still have to learn how to cope. They have the greatest potential character arc because they have less to lose from taking risks.

Life is too short to waste writing on boring characters. The next time you need to decide whose story to tell, pick the less obvious choice: the character who might otherwise have been the sidekick. Give the non-speaking stock character a voice. Their story might surprise you.

Rob Quehl
1. In my opinion, if an author switches from one character’s point of view to another’s, then the style of writing should change to reflect this, so much so, that after a few chapters, the reader should be able to flip open the book at random and know whose point of view is being shown at that point.

2. I like the second-person point of view. If done well, it can pull the reader in and get them involved in the story, as it makes it sound like YOU, the reader, are the main character. A wonderful example of second-person for children is the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of books. (See example below.) I have also read second-person for adults, and found it unique and engaging.

Your Very Own Robot (Choose Your Own Adventure #1) synopsis:

Your parents are scientists and inventors. One day, they throw some pieces of a robot into the trash. If you can figure out how to put the pieces together, you’ll have a robot of your very own! But do you know enough to control it? Are you ready for the adventures your very own robot will bring?

Lee Anne Johnston
I find first person narration comes naturally to me and seems to flow. I feel too artificial using third person, although this is just me. First person has obvious limitations, i.e. your narrator can not get into the minds and hearts of others, whereas an omniscient 3rd person narrator can easily float from and into many characters.

Congratulations Elizabeth!

20130723-215735.jpgCongratulations to Elizabeth McCallister on the launch of her first poetry collection.

Notes From Suburbia is available from the author, and through the publisher, Craighleigh Press


Limerick Fun

by Lee Anne Johnston


There was nothing intrinsically amiss
With that rite of passage, the first kiss.
I was fourteen, and curious,
My parents found out, and were furious
And the boy, I don’t remember his name!


There was once a young man from Dundee,
Who was as tight, as the proverbial flea,
The coupons he clipped
The cashier she flipped
As he left with three bags free.

pic by stockimages | freedigitalphotos.net

pic by stockimages | freedigitalphotos.net

Lee Anne is a prose writer and has been a member of the CWC Since 2008. Her love of writing started when she learned to read as a young child. She holds a BA and an MA in English from the University of Toronto. One of Lee Anne’s current works in progress is a Victorian piece set in the City of Cambridge. It is chock full of drama, rich language and time period references. Lee Anne currently lives in Cambridge with her husband and daughter.


by Barbara Lefcourt

As if heralding royalty
throngs of wildflowers,
lacey white, petals of blue
sprays of gold
bow our way as we
drive country roads to town
in dancing ambience.

Eons from our
ancient heritage
of diaspora,
long rooted in this world’s
cloistered polity,
we swing predictably
between spells of
holiday indulgence
and fits of

With never a thought to
this life’s fragile crown:
freedom, civility, sanity
we glide through shops,
their shelves dependably stocked,
meet old acquaintances,
amiably chat, and
wait our turn in line.

Imagining well-earned diversions:
working the crosswords,
inner dialogues with
favourite columnists
we happily scoop up the
weekend paper set aside
just for us.

But, like spores of toxic fungi
finding succor in disturbed soil
to grow far
secret networks underground
and burst forth into the light

their poison fruit
luring the unwary and confused,
the living fervor of ancestral feuds
fed by passions of ancient myths
blaze headlines into consciousness.

And we see
our trembling blooms wilt,
feel our high-stepping
being reined in
by eternal bonds
in our DNA.

pic by Idea go | freedigitalphotos.net

pic by Idea go | freedigitalphotos.net

* Published in BORDERLINES, Ascent Aspirations, Fall 2007

Barbara Lefcourt was born, raised and educated in New York City and moved to Kitchener-Waterloo with her young family in 1964. She had taught elementary school before staying home to raise three children. She became a member of the CWC in 2003 after starting to write poetry around the time she retired from her mid-life career as teacher of Literacy and Basic Skills for Adults.

Sound Effects

by Wendy Visser


Pic by Idea go | freeDigitalPhotos.net

Voices, like people, come in all shapes and sizes, but what do we mean when we refer to a writer’s voice? Is it a technique, a gift, or a combination of technique and gift unique to each writer? I think when we speak of writers finding their voices, we mean they have developed a style or a way of speaking that flows through all their work, thus making the individual author’s voice identifiable. Is this a desirable trait and one that every writer should practice? Perhaps if voice is more gift than technique, then it is innate within the writer’s soul and not something that can be practiced.

Established writers asked to aid and abet would-be writers, unanimously offer three pieces of advice. First. Read. Read. Read. No argument there. Second. Write about what you know. On the whole that’s good advice. What we know and what we’ve experienced are safe territories, familiar surroundings, and our voice will have a ring of truth to it. It should sound natural. Personally, I like to tackle foreign subjects and topics beyond my experience. Research can be rewarding and the ability to empathize; to place yourself into someone else’s journey is not only challenging but stretches horizons and exercises those vocal muscles adding a new dimension to this thing called voice. Third. Find your voice and stick with it. I don’t believe you find your voice. It finds you.

Once it arrives at your doorstep, by destiny or design, do you rigidly follow it, letting it always take the lead until it is familiar, as comfortable as a lover’s hug and easily recognizable?

If you accept the ‘stick with it’ approach, then the answer to the above query would be a resounding yes. Shakespeare’s dry wit, double-entendres, mistaken identities, comedic flair, steeped within the history of kings and queens, courts and courtiers of a high-browed castled England, were all part and parcel (techniques) of Shakespeare’s voice; but the indefinable, mesmerizing part of his voice, that part which was gift was born to fit a stage. Staying true to what his hearing audiences expected, bore well for ‘Willy’ and his longevity speaks for itself.

There are times when the consistent voice of a particular writer resonates around and through each piece, so much so, that theme and voice become inseparable. In Wilfred Owen’s poems, lines march from one battle to the next and readers see the bugles and the drums of war through Owen’s anti-war voice. Pauline Johnson’s compelling voice speaks of native struggles against injustice within a non-native culture. Her background coupled with her presentation was applauded by both sides.

The raspy, romantic voice of Leonard Cohen, novelist and poet, combines the harshness of a world cynic with the soft cadences of physical intimacy. Edwin John Pratt’s narrative style of voice is well suited to the unpredictability of nature pitted against man’s ingenuity and courage, while Carl Sandburg’s voice of steel speaks for the underdog in an industrialized civilization. And Robert Frost’s quiet voice hovers above the solitude within the landscapes of rural America.

The voices of the above, in my opinion, are characteristic of outward techniques used in writing, but that phenomenon of voice, which I refer to as gift, is what makes them and their work unforgettable.

If a writer’s voice resists change, can it lead to predictability, even boredom? I suppose that possibility depends upon the individual writer. William Blake’s earlier work, for example, hinged on uncomplicated, and light lyrical poems which later evolved into darker poems more satirical in content. Changing one’s style or way of speaking has the potential for growth and the opportunity for improvement. Trying a different style may or may not work for you, but at least you will have tried a new approach, and it just might be fun.

See if changing your topic or your perspective changes your voice.

  • If you always write in the first person, try second or third.
  • If your work tends to be humorous, try writing a tragic piece.
  • If you are always the narrator or spectator, be the participant.
  • If you never write about nature, put yourself into a landscape.
  • Try writing under a pseudonym.

There is a great deal to be said about the technique and the gift of writers’ voices, and I feel that I have only grazed the surface. However your writer’s voice comes into its own level of expertise, the design or technique part of voice must not sound forced or contrived but believable to readers and when your voice carries the potential to come alive; therein lays its destiny – its gift.

* Information about Cohen, Pratt, Sandburg, Frost and Blake was gathered from their bios contained in ‘An Anthology of Verse’ ed. by Charlesworth and Lee, published by Toronto Oxford University Press, 1964

Wendy Visser is a long time member of the Cambridge Writers Collective. She has recently released her second poetry collection, ‘This Side of Beyond’. Books are available through the publisher, Craigleigh Press, or from the author.