Poem of the Week: New Restrictions by Dean Young via Poetry Mistress Alison

New Restrictions, by Dean Young

It doesn’t matter how many
Wallace Stevens poems you’ve memorized
or if you had sex in the graveyard
like an upside-down puppet
or painted your apartment red
so it feels like sleeping inside a heart
or the trees were frozen with ravens
which you sent pictures of to everyone you know
or your pie dough’s perfect
or you once ran a sub-5-minute mile
or you’re on the last draft
of your mystery novel and still
don’t know if the vicar did it
or every morning that summer
you saw a fox stepping through the fog
but it got no closer
or once you helped drag a deer
off the road by the antler
sit blinked
or which song comes from which side
of your mouth as you drive
all night all night all night
or how deep and long you carry
a hitch in your breath after crying
or shot a man in Tennessee
or were so happy in France
or left your favorite scarf in a café,
the one with the birds and terrible art
or the Klimt
or you call your mother once a week
even after she’s dead
or can’t see a swan without panic
or have almost figured out
what happened to you as a child,
urge, urge, nothing but urge
or 600 daffodils
or a knife in the glove box
or a butterfly on a bell,
you can’t park here.

Thanks Alison for another beautiful poem. For more information on Dean Young, please click here.My websiteMy blogMy Facebook page. Twitter and Instagram: @alisonmcgheewriter 

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Botswana’s First Elephant Hunt to be Auctioned in Canada

Amid global recognition of the threatened survival of elephants, a hunting club in Calgary is poised to auction off the first licence for a foreigner to hunt elephant in Botswana. The Ivory-Free Canada Coalition, a partnership of Canadian non-profit organisations, including: Humane Society International/Canada, Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, World Elephant Day, Elephanatics, and the Global March for Elephants and Rhino-Toronto, has petitioned the federal government for two years to ban the import, domestic sale, and export of all elephant ivory, including hunting trophies.

The Ivory-Free Canada Coalition believes a full elephant ivory ban in Canada is more important than ever, as the Calgary chapter of Safari Club International is shockingly set to award the elephant hunt to the highest bidder at their 27th Annual Fundraiser on January 25 (provided the bid is over $84,000 CAD). Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi lifted a ban on elephant hunting in May last year, inciting worldwide outrage. He previously gifted stools made from elephant feet to regional leaders during a meeting to discuss the animals’ fate. The ban was installed six years ago by Ian Khama, Botswana’s previous president.

Michael Bernard, Deputy Director – HSI/Canada, stated: “It is absolutely appalling that in this day and age Canada is still complicit with the slaughter of elephants for trophies. We are urgently calling on the Canadian Government to ban all trade in elephant ivory and end Canada’s role in further endangering these magnificent creatures.”

Fran Duthie, President of Elephanatics, added: “Statistics have shown large-tusked elephants are in decline and need to be protected from trophy hunting and poaching. With the increase in illegal trade in ivory the need to ban trophy hunting is even more necessary.”

Patricia Sims, Founder of World Elephant Day and President – World Elephant Society, also stated: “The trophy hunting of elephants is atrocious and needs to be banned worldwide. Elephants are a vital keystone species, they are the caretakers of their habitats and climate change mitigators in their role of maintaining biodiversity. Killing elephants ultimately destroys habitats and Canada needs to take a stand now to ban elephant ivory and protect elephants for their survival and the health of our planet.”

A staggering 20,000 African elephants are killed each year. Scientists anticipate they will be extinct in the wild within 20 years if threats continue. While poaching is the main threat to elephants, legal trophy hunting only exacerbates the threat and drives up the demand for elephant ivory.

Both the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES) and members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have asked all countries to ban their domestic trade of ivory to save elephants. At least nine countries and 10 US states have done so. At the last IUCN Congress, Canada – along with Japan, Namibia and South Africa – refused to support the motion on domestic ivory trade bans.

Over 100 African elephant tusks were imported into Canada as hunting trophies over the past decade, according to the data Canada reported to CITES in its annual trade reports. Yet, exporting countries reported that over 300 African elephant tusks were exported to Canada in this same time period. The reason for the discrepancy is unknown.

Botswana was previously considered one of the last safe havens for elephants. It is home to 130,000 elephants which is almost a third of Africa’s total population.

In order to press the Canadian government into action, the Ivory-Free Canada Coalition launched a petition to ban elephant ivory and hunting trophies at change.org/ivoryfreecanada. With over 517,000 signatures, it is one of the largest Canadian petitions on Change.org for 2019.

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Poem of the Week: Clearing by Martha Postlewaite

Clearing, by Martha Postlethwaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.

​For more information about Martha Postlethwaite, please click here​.

Thanks so much to Alison for finding and sharing these poems.

My websiteMy blogMy Facebook page. Twitter and Instagram: @alisonmcgheewriter 

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Bringing Reub back to the swimming hole

When we first moved to North Vancouver (the North Shore) finding places to bring Reuben, our then 4 year old lab, was a real process of discovery. When we discovered the “Berkeley Trail” it felt like discovering a wild jewel in a well treed but orderly suburban neighbourhood. It had a winding path that was surrounded by a canopy of spruce, fir and pine trees. It led to a long hill that wound itself around natural vegetation under a beautiful thick canopy of trees. Eventually this led to the river and we would wander alongside the river until we came to the steep rickety steps that led to the beach. It was at this beach that we spent countless hours throwing balls for Reub. Admittedly unlike any other lab-ish dog I’ve ever met he often took his sweet time fetching them, as though he were weighing the options between us fetching the ball or him. Often the ball would slowly drift down the river, the three of us watching and wondering, “Who’s going to get the ball?”until it was too late and another ball would be lost. Other times we would sit on the large flat rock where sometimes Dave would skip rocks but mostly we would just hang out and talk. One year we celebrated my birthday down by our swimming hole. We brought wine and cheese and watched as Reub watched his ball float away. We did this for years and every season offered its own special magic. On beautiful autumn days the reds and oranges of the changing leaves and the crisp cool air made us linger longer taking it all in. Even on those mad, rainy westcoast days we would still go, slowly winding our way down the trail to the river thankful that the canopy could offer some protection. In the summer we would put on our shorts and be grateful that those same trees now offered shade. We didn’t always swim with Reuben but one hot summer day the water was running high and first Reuben went in after his ball and Dave and I both followed, swimming and laughing, as we raced him for his forever disappearing orange ball.

I’m not sure why we stopped going to the swimming hole. We almost lost him when he was five and there was a period of recovery where we didn’t take him anywhere too challenging. Then the trail got busier and we were no longer one of the few to wander these beautiful lost trails. There were too many bikes and Reub was oblivious with bikes. So we stopped and found other places to take him. But there were at least 4 or 5 years when we went every weekend both days and often Dave would just take him on his own and it felt like this place was our own. We had our own rhythm, our own way of being, alone and together. And that place more than any other just felt like us. The every day ritual bound us together in the smallness and the greatness of the measure of everything. It’s as close to what I imagine church is supposed to be that I have ever gotten.

It has been nine years since Reuben left and we haven’t been back until today. We thought we would return Reub to Berkeley where he seemed to belong more than any other place except home. Then we were like, nope, not ready. Can’t do it. Instead we went and visited and wandered down the trail in the pouring rain, turned right at the bottom that led to the rickety staircase that took us to his and our swimming hole. We looked at the rock where we sat, at the water where we swam and at the trees that watched over us all those years ago. For a brief time it felt like that place had been ours alone forever. The thing about grief is that it never really goes. You just come back and visit with it in different ways.When the time comes we’ll be ready to bring him there. Just not yet.

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Poem of the Week: Canoe, by Alison Luterman via poetry mistress Alison McGhee

Canoe, by Alison Luterman

When I was young, years ago, canoeing on the green
Green River, with my young first husband,

I wriggled out of my shorts, eased over the lip
of our little boat, and became eel-woman,

naked and glistening, borne along in the current.
He paddled, I floated and spun,

and let the ripples take me.
Even an hour of that kind of freedom

can last for years and years,
can become a touchstone you return to

long after the rented canoe has been returned,
and the road trip has ended, and then the marriage,

and then the husband’s brief life, and you yourself
have become someone else entirely; still

you return in your mind to the days
you could set up a tent in the dark,

and build a small fire
from birch bark and newspaper

and sit beside it, sipping tea, savoring your muscles’ sweet ache,
as one by one the uncountable stars came out.

A big thanks to Alison McGhee for finding and sharing these beautiful poems.

For more information about Alison Luterman, please check out her website. Website Blog
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@alisonmcghee

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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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