Limerick Fun

by Lee Anne Johnston

FIRST KISS

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!

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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.

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Heritage

HERITAGE
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
fastidiousness.

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.
MISSILES BOMBS WAR.

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

ID-10018236

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.

The Cat in the Hat

by Barb Day, March 2013

The Cat in the Hat
That Cat in the Hat Is a very spry guy
He can balance on a ball with a book in his hand!
And a cup on his hat!
But not everyone is as spry as a cat

Take old Mr. Jones who lives alone
Not quite ready for an old age home
He asked his wife after they wed, after the war
“Will you still love me when I’m 64?”

Now Mr. Jones is 84
Mrs. Jones has been dead fifteen years or more
And Mr. Jones’ old bones are feeling quite frail
It’s been awhile since he ventured out

But today his pension cheque is in
So he must venture out
To pick up bread and honey
With his nickels and pennies

But poor old Mr. Jones’ feet are unsteady
And that curb’s concrete is crumbling
Now Mr. Jones lies crumbling and crumpled like a tossed away crumpet

If only Mrs. Jones was here
But now he lies alone in pain and fear
Why does a walk have to be so hard for Mr. Jones
Wherever he goes?

Then there’s Elyse
Elyse had Baby One when C.J. was still around
And things were sound
But when Baby Two entered the scene
C. was no place to be seen you see
He went back to the hood

And Elyse understood
This time C. was gone for good
This morning Elyse must walk downtown
Baby needs diapers and food
Elyse is not in the best mood
Struggling with a stroller
With a two-year old in tow on the way there

But on the way back
The skies are no longer clear and it’s clear
They must take a bus
Now she juggles an umbrella and the bags from Pharma Plus
The fold-up stroller and baby on her shoulder

Those steps up to the bus are just too much
She stumbles and the bags tumble
Spilling their contents onto concrete
As she weeps

Then there’s the story of nine year old Neil
One day he can walk and run
The next a crash leaves Neil crushed in car metal
He wakes in hospital
His mother crying trying to suppress her pain
Knowing her child will never walk again
Neil will be in wheelchair

But Neil perseveres
And pursues a career
Designing buildings with improved accessibility
To make changes for people with disabilities

So planners and developers
Keep in mind your design
And municipalities keep our roads and our sidewalks maintained
And make public transportation user friendly

Because not everyone is as spry as that Cat in the Hat
Look! Look!
He can hop up and down on that ball!
But that is not all
Oh no. That is not all

No, that is not all we can do
We can do more to make the lives of 1.9 million Canadians living with disabilities
Barrier free for a complete community
Because we don’t always see and conceive
That not everyone is as spry as that Cat in the Hat

*published in Broken, Barb Day’s collection of spoken word poetry

image by Stuart Miles | freedigitalphotos.net

image by Stuart Miles | 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”.

Making Dialogue Sound Real

by Rob Quehl

photo by Stuart Miles | freedigitalphotos.net

photo by Stuart Miles | freedigitalphotos.net

Writing dialogue is tough. Like many, when I began writing, I thought that dialogue was simply prose with quotation marks around it. At a workshop last year, I had the pleasure of meeting award-winning Canadian playwright Gary Kirkham. Talented, funny, and an expert in dialogue; here are four insights he spoke to us about:

  1. Dialogue is completely different from prose. Completely different. Traditional grammar and punctuation rules go out the window. The principles of writing great prose simply do not apply. Creating dialogue is like “converting” the sounds of the human voice into words on paper.
  2. Similarly, it needs to sound real. Only a “professor” type character speaking to his class would speak in a crisp and clean style, with perfect grammar and succinctness. Gary emphasized that real speech can be many things, including: odd, clipped, slangy, repetitive, interrupted, fragmented, stuttering, cryptic, bland, quirky, four-lettered, etc.
  3. Pay close attention to the emotions of the character. Like real people, their speech patterns, vocabulary, and word choices will change depending on whether they are happy, sad, angry, excited, gossipy, giddy, depressed, or drunk. Gary advised us to speak the dialogue out loud and to act it out like an actor would.
  4. Sound. We did a fun exercise to practice this: the raw sound patterns that can be discerned regardless of the words used. The exercise was to produce an emotional dialogue between two people using only nonsense words. Example:“Blah blah blah.”
    “Blah? Blah blah blat!”
    “Twee.”
    “Twee…twee? Skrak twee. Shish fu frak twee!”

    The point of the above example is that if someone is in a gentle, peaceful mood, you hear soft and gentle sounds, flowing, and pleasant to the ear. But when a character gets angry, their speech changes because angry words tend to have harsh sounds, hissing and spitting sounds like: s, sh, t, k, d, f, ck, etc.

    So give it a try on your dialogue. Say it out loud and act it out to see how it sounds.


Rob Quehl lives in Kitchener and is currently working on two novels

Member News

Monica George, a fifth year composition student at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio set April Bulmer’s poem “The Waist of the Moon” to women’s choir music. It was performed two weeks ago at their Spring Concert.

Thought you might want to have a listen, as it is quite haunting.

Congratulations April and Monica!

Happy Mother’s Day

Photo Writing Prompt

photo by Stuart Miles | freedigitalphotos.net

photo by Stuart Miles | freedigitalphotos.net