Tag Archives: Inspiration


by April Bulmer

Are you a poet suffering from writer’s block malaise? Here’s a quick remedy: take five minutes and write down every word that comes to mind. Then link the ideas and images to create meaning. The result can be a quirky and unique piece.

Here’s a poem I wrote using this method:

Eartha: Indian Bands

My spirits come
in good makeup
and little white gloves
for it is the winter
of mine husband.
I wear bust lace,
but outside
the Natives gather
in buck pants.
They have brought
an offering of blood.

It is true I love him
and he has grown
his hair long
through the seasons.
It is the red of autumn
and of snake.

I have smoked
my gown in fire.
My veil I have hung
from a tree.
It bears the breath
of step dance
and Langdon Lake.

I touch his hand
we eat a pretty cake.

All night, the Indians
cry like virgins,
their voices torn like lace.

Previously published in Tower Poetry Winter Edition 2008-2009

April Bulmer has published six books of poetry. The poem above is an excerpt from her new manuscript Women of the Cloth. 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.

What I Did on my Summer Vacation

by Marcie Schwindt

photo by Marcie Schwindt

My goal this summer was the same as every summer—to finish one novel and start another, and for me, that meant it was time to hit the road. I love the hurry-up-and-wait rhythm of road trips, the exploding energy of the explorer’s spirit when the car finally stops and everyone pours out. Some years, the road trips are short getaways. Harbinger’s Kiss, for example, embodies the trek of the weekend cottager. This year, my family went further afield, soaking in Atlantic Canada for two whole weeks. I’m hoping to get two novels from that experience, though only one story has formed itself enough at this time. What inspires you to write? People, places, things?

Marcie Schwindt loves to read and write fast-paced, character and travel driven stories. She writes under the names Marcie Schwindt, Marcie Walker, and Amber Willow and can be found on Twitter @marcie8

In With The Environment

by Barbara Lefcourt

The feelings/ideas that inspire my poetic muse are wide ranging. Many focus on the sense of a particular place and moment, some on personal relationships (loves, regrets. pleasures), others on environmental issues and contemporary political-social problems, but I’m always open to writing about particularly amusing situations, such as the following IN WITH THE ENVIRONMENT. I was so proud of the composting toilet we installed in the guest cabin we had built on our cottage property some years ago. And then a thought about its unexpected not-so-pleasant effect took hold of me…


Seated nobly in cottage private space
is wise wife on solo business, apace.
Then down on her knees, so it’s not forgotten,
she’s “compost-friendly cleanser” swabbin’
to purify sweet the shiny bowl
of human droppings completely foul.
With task completed and standing upright
she swells with pride at the pedestal bright.

Plastic made, but of ceramic look,
it’s topped by a throne of old oak wood.
Musing, she eyes the seat of solidity
wouldn’t Mr. Crapper jump joyfully?
But ask, he might, where is the closet hid,
why does no water tank stand by the lid,
why no big stink assaults his knowing nose
when one moves the flap to open from close?

He would find no sewer pipe, fly or mouse
in this state-of-the-art in-house outhouse.
But to keep it in such a pristine state
means following steps both humble and great.
First, one must act with punctuality,
be in tune with own regularity:
with care, to excreta often adding
measured spoons rich of mossy peat padding,
occasional pinch and part of a cup
of friendly microbes and aqueous drops.
With simple smart trappings, aerate, blend, slice
by pulls on the handle many times twice.

Heeding directives will surely unfurl
organic alchemy: dung into pearls.
In several months time, perhaps a full year,
the decomposition becomes most clear.
When opened wide, the broad drawer below
bursts forth no stench, mere pseudo tobacco!
The aging mix is totally ready
from full black box to be quickly emptied.
Then bury the brew for further steeping,
enriching the earth in its safekeeping.
A while later, we don’t really know,
the dug up treasure will amaze and show
that any novice can improve thin soil,
by abetting nature with clever toil.

Towards all earth’s creatures around and about
show respect, not offense; never have doubt.
Full, of visions high-minded and mighty
the wife dances outside, stepping sprightly,
laughing broadly at her singular wit:
thoughts of grounds laced with her very own shit!
Molecular morsels, broken down slow;
energy, atoms for new life to grow.

Suddenly, by pines, loud birds are heard call
nearing the turning of a turret tall.
With neck craned to eye such activity,
the wife gasps, “There’s more to this recipe!”
To expel far beyond our lungs’ intake,
to shield us from reeks that make senses quake,
we cleverly build grand venting tower
that owes its thrust to electric power!

Meanwhile, resting from a mindless chore
where, on his knees, he’d been staining the floor,
the husband stands gazing across deck rail
at glories against which all others pale.
Basking in well-earned, serene elation
his mind floats to the bay’s undulations.
He hungrily savours the far shore long
where conifers mass in majesty strong.

But, sudden squawking pierces from behind
shakes placid air, jolts the dreamer’s mind.

Stretched out aloft on the pristine blue
a stately goose is leading its crew.
They veer sharp to skirt the stack’s release.
The grand vee breaks, of these Canada geese.
The husband surveying over the deeps
where the turning birds then gracefully sweep
to regain their course with wings a’thunder,
rivets his eyes in speechless wonder
at the brilliant guide whose flock’s now arrayed
in vee of perfection deftly remade.

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.

Divinely Inspired

by April Bulmer

Image: scottchan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Before moving to Cambridge, I did graduate work in religious studies at the University of Windsor.  There I studied a pantheon of gods, some of whom are associated with poetry and writing.  Several cultures identify such gods and goddesses and invoke them when they are involved with creative work.  Here I identify some of those deities (as well as a couple of other divine sources), their mythological backgrounds, and their unique interests.

Hermes.   A major player in the pantheon of Greek gods, Hermes is known as a trickster, messenger of the great Zeus, and the guide of the dead into the underworld.  He is identified as the inventor of the Greek written alphabet and thus is the god of writing, as well as speech and dreams.

Apollo. As the Greek god of the sun, Apollo was also a god of music and often depicted with a lyre.  He was also, at times, seen as the protector of poetry, reciting and dance—anything that was associated with the public playing of the lyre.  It is believed that his music was inspirational in developing written work, inspiring the artist to produce thought into a document.

Muses. The Greek muses inspired and protected dance, poetry, writing and dramatic stories.  Today, they are still associated with modern theatre, music, science and research.  The muses are not true gods, but they are the focus of many Greek minds and literary inspiration.  The muse who protects poetry is Kalliope.

Odin. Chief god of Norse mythology, Odin is lord of wisdom, poetry, war, death and magic and is provider of the runic letters.  He is the Norse equivalent of Woden who was honoured in pre-Christian Europe and England.  He is considered sire of many other gods and co-creator of the cosmos and of humans.  It is thought that Odin/Woden may have originated in the Wild Hunt, the traditional mythology of Germanic peoples that tells of thunder storms being developed by the loud gallop of spirits of warriors.  In another story, Odin becomes wise by hanging upside down in the World Tree for nine nights without food or drink, dying from a self-inflicted wound with a spear. There he discovered magic runes and learned nine inspired songs and returned to life with wisdom which is associated with letters.

Sarasvati. In the Rg Veda, one of the early sacred Hindu texts, Sarasvati was the personification of a sacred river that bore her name.  Aryans performed religious rituals on its banks.  As the river-goddess, Sarsvati was associated with power, purity and fertility.  She is recognized as the inventor of the Sanskrit language and as the goddess of wisdom and learning, speech and eloquence.  She is also patron of all arts and sciences.

Devi Sarswati. Hindus also honour Devi Sarswati who is the goddess of knowledge, books, literature, and alphabets.  Each year they celebrate a day in her name.  They pay her respect by not reading any book or engaging in writing.  They believe the goddess, herself, resides in books.  They never touch books or writing material with their feet because they are considered a mean part of the body.  If, by chance, such materials are touched by feet, they hold them to their forehead, as it is considered an honourable place where knowledge resides.

Thoth. Thoth was a moon god in early Egyptian mythology.  He was associated with the sacred bird called the ibis, perhaps because its bill resembled a crescent moon.  As the moon became more significant in the Egyptian religious rituals and its calendar, Thoth became associated with calculation, magic, the organization of time, and writing.  He was the inventor of hieroglyphics and became known as the “Lord of the Holy Words.”  He was also scribe of the gods.  He kept accounts and records of them and the divine archives.  He also recorded the histories of the kings of Egypt.  He wrote their names on the leaves of a sacred tree.

Gabriel.  The Judeo-Christian archangel, Gabriel, is the angel of creative writing and literature.  She aids the writer in beginning the writing process and helps keep thoughts clear while writing.  If one asks for guidance, it is said she works though a person to write divinely-guided thoughts.  She inspires and fuels ambition.  She even helps to get the work published.  If you wish to summon an angel, burn a pink candle.  It is believed that Gabriel and other angels respond to the colour pink.

Sources:  Internet: “Gods of Writing,” by WolfWikis.  “Is there a god or goddess of literature, books, reading, writing, authors, etc.?” Yahoo.

In 2008, Serengeti Press published my book, The Goddess Psalms.  Below is one of the poems from that book that was inspired by my relationship with a divine goddess. 

Psalm 44

The rains came and
the well water
was clean and sweet
for drink,
a covenant of dirt and heaven.
I bury ashes
among old roots
where witches gather
to raise the moon:
arms lifted toward her veil:
crown and torn tulle.
And I bury my prayers
in the cradle of a tree.
Bear water and shadows:
a new mythology.

April Bulmer has published six books and four chapbooks of poetry.  She holds Master’s degrees in creative writing, religious studies and theological studies.  She has been published nationally and internationally in many prestigious journals including Harvard University’s Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.  In 1998, her second book, The Weight of Wings was nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for the best book of poetry by a Canadian woman.  She is long-time member of the Cambridge Writers Collective.  She also belongs to Voices Israel, the International Women’s Writing Guild and the League of Canadian Poets.

Writing Poetry

by Barbara Lefcourt

In the dozen or so years I’ve been writing poetry, which is a late-in-life pursuit for me, I find poems grow mostly from personal encounters. I’m humbled by the experiences of others, which are often so very different from the life I’ve been leading. Oh, yes, there are many commonalities, but the fabric of individual lives, of particular place, cultural history and its expression and unique personality are infinitely varied.

The few times I try to write from the point of view of the “other” grow from a kind of kinship I have developed with that particular different culture and place. Empathy is a natural extension of my sense of feeling connected so I have more confidence in my ability to imagine truths of particular situations. In earlier, inexperienced stages of my life they might have seem alien.

Writing poems help me reflect on the gifts, the tribulations and the mysteries of being alive. In so doing, I seem to have a greater hold on what has come to pass. Here are some of those early reflections.


Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Smells of paint stored in toddler memory
with images of Mom
breathing expectation for an apartment
in the brand new building.

Some years later she let me
flutter out with friends
to tear along our home’s ramps and tunnels,
explore the side courts.
We’d hover in the backyard
sipping honeysuckle nectar from blooms
that tantalized us through fences
behind the single-family homes.

On wet days we’d scout hallways,
speed up and down all six stories.
Pumped, we tumbled into elevator
especially to burst forth in the basement
where mysteries lurked in incinerator closet
and cavernous furnace room.
Kids whispered that someone once saw
the superintendent high on a ladder next to
what looked like a tall ship.

In warm seasons we’d flee the streets
to sprint above the top flight
and open wide the door to the roof.
Revving up across wood walkways,
we’d reach the edge leaning toward
that world of trees, aging homes,
smattering of new apartments buildings,
the elevated train line,
church spires, schools and shops.

Don’t know what held us back,
poised over the fire escape.
Puffed-up, almost airborne,
we’d turn, scoot full throttle
into lines of billowing sheets
richly sweetened with unfettered sun.

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.