Poem of the Week: Choices by Tess Gallagher via Alison McGhee

Choices, by Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,   
an unseen nest
where a mountain   
would be.  

                              for Drago Štambuk

​For more information on Tess Gallagher, please ​click here.

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Thanks to Alison McGhee for curating these beautiful poems.

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Shrimp Cakes with Dill Remoulade & Fennel Slaw

My brother brought this recipe to my attention when he was planning his wife’s birthday meal. It turned out to be a huge success so I thought I would also give it a try. He got this recipe in the LCBO magazine where you can find many great recipes. I made a rookie mistake when I made these and made them too big so they literally were shrimp CAKES. While delicious it was pretty rich! What I like the most about these shrimp cakes is that it really is mostly roughly cut pieces of shrimp held very delicately together with egg and breadcrumbs! Hope you enjoy these as much as we did.

DILL REMOULADE
½ cup (125 mL) mayonnaise (reduced fat is fine)
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) thinly sliced green onion
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped dill
2 tsp (10 mL) capers, rinsed, chopped
1½ tsp (7 mL) Dijon mustard
1½ tsp (7 mL) grainy mustard
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh lemon juice
½ tsp (2 mL) hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

FENNEL SLAW
½ fennel bulb, trimmed
1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

SHRIMP CAKES
1 lb (500 g) shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 green onion, thinly sliced
½ tsp (2 mL) smoked paprika
6 tbsp (90 mL) panko bread crumbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
⅓ cup (80 mL) cornmeal
¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil, divided
Dill leaves to garnish

1 For the dill remoulade, combine mayonnaise, garlic, green onion, dill, capers, mustards, lemon juice and hot sauce in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Season with salt, if necessary, and pepper. (Remoulade will keep, covered and refrigerated, for 5 days.)

2 For the fennel slaw, cut fennel in half lengthwise through core. Slice thinly crosswise on a mandolin, discarding cores. Add olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Mix. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Drain before using.

3 For the shrimp cakes, rinse shrimp and pat dry with paper towel. Using a sharp knife, chop into pieces between ¼ and ½ inch (0.5 to 1 cm). Place in a mixing bowl with egg, onion, smoked paprika and panko. Season with salt, if necessary (most frozen shrimp are salty), and pepper. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

4 Place cornmeal on a plate. Form heaping 2-tbsp (30-mL-plus) portions of shrimp mixture into 2½-inch-diameter (6-cm) patties. Coat patties in cornmeal.

5 Working in 2 batches, heat half of vegetable oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Pan-fry half of shrimp cakes until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towel. Repeat for remaining shrimp cakes.

6 Arrange shrimp cakes on a serving platter. Top each with a dollop of remoulade and some drained fennel slaw. Garnish with dill leaves.

Makes 12 cakes

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Poem of the Week: For Nothing is Fixed by James Baldwin via Alison McGhee

By Alison McGhee, a pre-amble to the poem “For Nothing is Fixed” by James Baldwin

Last week, late at night, the fire alarm in my cheap motel began to shriek. Doors opened up and down the hall and men began to emerge: huge men, small men, men in their underwear, one on crutches, one pushing a walker, one carrying a case of beer, one sweating as if just out of a sauna. This is the strangest assortment of men I’ve ever seen, I murmured to myself. One of the men leered or smiled, hard to tell.

Next morning in the breakfast room I sat tapping on my laptop while the hallway men shuffled in one by one. The leer/smile man sat next to me. I could tell he wanted to talk but I pretended to be too absorbed in my work to look up. This did not stop him.

“Hey! I like your pink hair! How’s it goin’?” 

It was early. There were six hundred miles ahead of me. I didn’t want to talk. But then the last lines of this poem by James Baldwin came to me and I closed my laptop and turned to him and smiled. Had a long conversation about the fire alarm, the slim pickings at the breakfast buffet, his favorite smoking rituals back when everybody smoked, hard to believe it now, right? 

He was a lonely man. He just wanted to talk. Sometimes it feels like most people are lonely, and most people just want to talk. 

For Nothing Is Fixed, by James Baldwin

For nothing is fixed,
forever, forever, forever,
it is not fixed;
the earth is always shifting,
the light is always changing,
the sea does not cease to grind down rock.
Generations do not cease to be born,
and we are responsible to them
because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails,
lovers cling to each other,
and children cling to us.
The moment we cease to hold each other,
the moment we break faith with one another,
the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.

If you’d like to read more about James Baldwin, this is an interesting profile.

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Canada’s Appalling Record on Protecting African elephants – The Ivory Trade is alive and well.

Many Canadians assume that Canada is a leader in areas such as conservation. It is surprising for many to learn that this is simply not the case. In fact, not only is Canada not a leader, it is, as laggard. As countries including the UK, China, several states in the US, France, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium and Israel have either closed or are preparing to close their domestic elephant ivory trade, Canada fights to keep it open. Below is Canada’s voting record at CITES, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES CoP18)

Elephanatics, World Elephant Day and Global March for Elephants & Rhinos – Toronto have been in contact with Minister McKenna’s office several times to ask why Canada, in spite of calls by CITES for all markets to close their domestic ivory trade, still hasn’t done so and in fact does nothing to support increased protection for elephants. Why is Canada an outlier when it comes to the protection of the world’s most iconic, keystone species?

There were five proposals for the regulation of elephant trade. This is how Minister Catherine McKenna’s deputies voted on these proposals at the conference.

  1. Proposal 44.2 – A near-total ban on removing baby African elephants listed in Appendix II from the wild and selling them to zoos around the world was approved.

Canada voted NO to protecting wild baby elephants from export. 

  1. Proposal 10 – Zambia proposed to down-list its elephant population from Appendix I to II, thus paving the way to allow commercial trade in ivory. It failed to pass.

Canada voted YES to decreasing the protection for Zambia’s elephants. 

  1. A proposal to tighten protection for elephants by permanently eliminating all commercial international trade of the animals throughout Africa failed to pass.

Canada voted NO to tightening the protection for elephants.

  1. Proposal 12 – Gabon and other countries proposed to up-list all African elephants to Appendix I, thereby affording them the greatest level of protection. It did not pass.

Canada voted NO to affording greater protection for elephants.  

  1. Proposal11 – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe brought forward the controversial proposal to re-open their ivory trade. It was voted down by 101 of the 183 treaty members.

Canada’s vote was non-registered.

There was also a proposal to increase the hunting trophy quota for the endangered black rhino in South Africa. Canada voted in favour of increasing the number of black rhinos that could be killed for trophies in South Africa.

The Ivory-Free Canada petition is asking the government to close the domestic elephant ivory trade in Canada has garnered close to 500,000 signatures. It is clear Canadians don’t have an appetite for being complicit in the demise of one of the world’s most emotionally intelligent and sentient species. If you haven’t already., please sign the petition and write your MP expressing your concern.

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Poem of the Week: Lumina by Darrell Bourque

Lumina
      – Darrell Bourque

We’re all extensions
          of someone or another’s
                     golden light.

In the moment
          I was made
                     stars filled the sky

& some parts
          of the bodies
                     making me

were fleetingly
          illuminated—
                     briefly luminous.

Druids see light
          in wood
                     and worship trees.

When we wave
          in recognition,
                     we disperse light,

set light in motion
          toward
                     the beloved.

We string our trees
          with lights
                     in wintertime.

We want
          to see ourselves
                     in the dark.

For more information on Darrell Bourque, please click here.

Thank you as always, to Alison for passing along these beautiful poems.

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Why Worry About African and Asian Elephants in BC Canada? — Elephanatics

This is a question I have been asked many times over the past 7 years since founding Elephanatics, an elephant advocacy organization in Vancouver, B.C. Elephanatics recently formed a coalition of organizations to include the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Humane Society International-Canada, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos – Toronto, and World Elephant Day. […]

Why Worry About African and Asian Elephants in BC Canada? — Elephanatics

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Books: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

I couldn’t put it down from the moment I read the first page. The story of a missing anybody is always compelling. What happened to them? Why did they leave? Are they dead or alive? What led to their disappearance? And who is left behind to wonder?

Swimming Lessons is the story of Flora Coleman, a young woman whose mother disappears when she’s eleven. It’s also the story of her mother Ingrid Coleman, as told through letters she has written and hidden in books throughout their house to her famous husband, the writer, Gil Coleman.

Flora returns to her childhood ramshackle seaside home to help care for her ailing father who believes he has seen Ingrid. Flora, herself doesn’t believe her mother is dead and often sees her. You’re never sure whether this is real longing for a mother who simply disappears but is assumed drowned or if in fact, Ingrid, whose life had become isolated and unbearable disappeared herself.

Just as there are no certainties in life, the reader too must decide in the end what happened to Ingrid Coleman.

What makes this book so compelling is the contents of the letters Ingrid writes to Gil, each one revealing to him what she could never say during the course of their tumultuous marriage. In Ingrid’s last letter she instructs Gil on how to care for their two young children. Is it a suicide note or a goodbye of another kind?

That she has reason to leave him is clear. When they first meet in the sixties in London, he is her handsome, flamboyant English instructor almost twenty years her senior, and she is a twenty year old student from Norway. Everything from the very beginning screams, run away, choose life number two and stay free, as her friend Louise warns her but she falls deeply in love and becomes pregnant. And the rest is history. She can’t escape the reality of her life as a somewhat reluctant mother, a husband who is emotionally and physically absent and the numerous heartbreaks along the way. That she lasted as long as she did seems a miracle but the letters describing the heady romance of their early days seems deep enough to last a lifetime and this love, in spite of everything, keeps her hanging on. If only he had loved her as she had loved him. And when she does think of leaving, the reality of being a young woman with no education stop her at the front door. How could she manage?

In the end Flora, her youngest daughter has to decide if she can let her mother live or if she has to put her to rest. It’s how we square the circle and find peace in the end and each one including Gil finds it their own way.

I loved this book. It was beautifully written, giving the reader an incredible sense of place and time and a snapshot of a young woman who’s heart was broken by love.

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