The Last Three Stones of January, 2016


Small Stones for Jan. 29 through 31, 2016


Jan. 29 2016

I wake to the ubiquitous white blanket, white page, unmarred

by footprint or by word. My eyes crave a prism, the sparkle

of diamonds in sunlight, they’d even settle for sunbeams passing

through white sapphire, through crystal, rhinestone, even cut glass,

anything but this flat white under grey sky that greets

morning upon morning.



Jan. 30 2016

The zodiac signs as shown in a 16th-century wo...

zodiac signs in a 16th-century woodcut ( Wikipedia)

Yesterday, a call-in show. Today, a blog post,

both focus energy on questions of astrology and how

some days our lives attune to messages from the stars, while

other times nothing goes according to the plan.

Both radio and blog remind me there is more to it

than merely sun sign. The planets, too, rise and recede,

and what moon sign held sway at the hour we arrived?

How much weight to give such influences, when

as a woman, I know the moon-tide’s cycles hold sway

just as the moon affects the high and low tides of the sea.

And I wonder how the elements of fire, water, earth and air

reveal themselves in the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Aries, the Ram

Aries, the Ram ( Wikipedia)

How does the Ram, a creature of the earth, manifest itself

instead as Fire? How is the Water-bearer, Aquarius a being of Air?

Aquarius, the water-bearer

Aquarius, the water-bearer (Wikipedia)

And how much weight does any of it have on the story of my life?







Jan. 31 2016

English: Animated image of Earth rotating.

English: Animated image of Earth rotating. (Wikipedia)

While we sleep, the Earth rotates east

In January the obliquity of the ecliptic offers days

where darkness falls too soon. It’s an illusion that

days grow shorter as we age: in truth a century ago

Earth’s time to complete its daily rotation 1.7 milliseconds

shorter than today.  And time still flies.  Already,

I have entered February, working on the news for

the coming fortnight. Already, I have thought past

Valentine’s Day, contemplated the coming of March

and its changeability from lamb into lion or lion into lamb.

I am not wishing the days by, although I long for

the return of green. With it will come another birthday.

If I might wish for anything, it is to stop counting.

The time is short - - 695749

The time is short – – 695749 (Photo credit Keith Edkins: Wikipedia)





English: Langevin Block, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Langevin Block, Ottawa, Ontario, (Wikipedia)



Need more information on CAA-NCR? Visit us at

TO ALL READERS: Please send all submissions & event notices in the body of an email; (the text needs to permit copy and paste. Exceptions: Accompanying images such as photos and book cover) to Carol Stephen at




TOPIC: Scribing Sex –  Romancing the Page

PRESENTER: Jasmine Aziz
DATE: Tuesday, February 9, 2016
TIME: 7:00 – 9:00 pm
LOCATION:  McNabb Recreation Centre, 180 Percy St. east of Bronson Ave.

Jasmine Aziz will be outlining the differences between erotica and romance – from definitions to delivery. She will give examples of how to craft stories according to the audience you are targeting, giving examples on the difference between mainstream sensual writing versus more explicit content. There will be discussion about the art of writing erotic content to elicit arousal and when this is beneficial to a story and when it is not.

This talk is based on the majority of questions Jasmine receives from authors asking how to write in various styles, e.g. erotica vs. mainstream romance, and how they can tell the difference.

NOTE: This presentation contains explicit content and language due to the nature of the topic.

BIO: Jasmine Aziz is a retired vibrator seller.  She worked as a consultant for four years doing in-home party presentations selling adult novelty toys. In that time she met many amazing and diverse women who inspired her to write a novel that would help both men and women navigate the subtle complexities of the modern woman’s life. Her first novel, the comedic Sex & Samosas, straddles the genres of women’s fiction, self-help and erotica while taking a humorous look at cultural and social issues. It has recently been optioned for a movie. Jasmine is currently putting the finishing touches to her next novel, a memoir, based on the wild and unconventional four years she sold adult toys entitled Bring Your Own Batteries.



Short Story • Poetry $300 • $200 • $100 NEW! Open to all residents of Ontario and Quebec. NEW!

  • Short Story, max. 2500 words. Poetry (not Haiku), max. 60 lines including title & blank lines.
  • Must be the original, unpublished work of the entrant.
  • In English, typed, double-spaced (but not for poems), on 8 1/2 × 11″ paper, one side only, page-numbered consecutively on bottom right of pages. No extra-large type, please! Indicate category and title on top left corner of every page.
  • Contest is blind judged which means the Contest Coordinator will assign a number to your entry that will correspond to what she sends off to the judge. (Don’t put your name on it anywhere!)
  • Don’t forget to include your entry fee.*
  • Please understand that we can’t acknowledge receipt or return your entries.
  • CAA–NCR reserves the right to withhold any prize should entries fail to meet expected standards.
  • We will need a separate page with your information on it: category, story/poem title, name, address, phone number, e-mail address. Cheques payable to Canadian Authors Association–NCR.

I’m in! How do I do this? Entry fees* are $15 per story; $15 for up to three (3) poems. Poems will be judged individually.  

MAIL ENTRIES TO: CAA National Capital Writing Contest, 163 Bell St., N., Box 57081, Ottawa ON K1R 7E1. Attention: Sherrill Wark

Awards Night: We hope that all finalists and their friends and families will attend the always-exciting Awards Night, Monday, May 9, 2016, 7 PM, AUDITORIUM, MAIN BRANCH, OTTAWA PUBLIC LIBRARY. Finalists may be invited to read their entries. Winning entries will be published in CAA–NCR’s e-mag Byline. (Copyright will remain with you.)

Deadline Midnight FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2016. (Get it postmarked if you’re close). QUESTIONS? Contact Sherrill Wark, Coordinator, NCWC at  

*“One Free Entry” for CAA–NCR members no longer available.





An online workshop early this year as well as the face-to-face now running. (Why waste terrible weather and lousy roads and by not doing online learning? ;))

This next set of Studio Nouveau workshops would be starting Feb 5th. It would run to April 8th (skipping 2 weeks for VerseFest and Easter) This 8-week workshop is for those who want to make time to explore contemporary classic writers. Exchange of readings, assignments and critiques by email and/or at the FB page. (I have a page set up at:
Included: Four hourlong Skype chats with all participants. One-on-one in-depth critique of two poems (max. 300 lines) of each participant. Comes with a pdf of a chapbook on writing prompts (“Writing Sparks: 50 paths to poems for when you’re feeling damp”).

Each workshop includes a segment of discussing poems and techniques, and exercises and round tabling of participant’s own poems. Close reads of poets Nicole Brossard, David Groulx, Alden Nowlen, Sylvia Legris, Nelson Ball and more. Towards the end of the series, resources for making chapbooks and finding markets.

For $120 come away with new poets to love, new poems made and older poems strengthened and a new set of poets to have met with. Optionally that start of your own chapbook manuscript. Early birds who register before the end of January get a copy of Best Canadian Poetry 2015 free. Registering after they are $14 each. Minimum 6 participants.



Our 2016 poetry faculty within The Banff Centre’s Writing Studio  program. 2016 sees three amazing poets – Karen Solie , Lisa Robertson and Michael Dickman – work intimately with twelve participants on poetry manuscripts. Karen, associate director, poetry, is author of the Griffin Poetry Prize-winning Pigeon. Michael Dickman is the author of The End of the West, Flies and Copper Canyon. He teaches at Princeton and is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, and Lisa Robertson is the author of Magenta Soul Whip and the long poem Cinema of the Present. She is a poet, essayist and translator and her practice also straddles the visual arts.

Spring/Summer 2016 programs Deadlines




BYWORDS.CA SUBMISSION CALL                       

DEADLINE: The 15th of every month for the following month’s issue considers previously unpublished poetry from emerging and established poets for our online monthly magazine. We consider work by current and former residents, students and workers of Ottawa. We also publish poems by contributors to our predecessor, the Bywords Monthly Magazine. FOR SUBMISSION INFORMATION VISIT and click on Guidelines. Amanda Earl, Managing Editor.’s literary events calendar here: with up-to-date info on NCR readings, book signings, writers’ circles, literary festivals, spoken word showcases & slams. Event submissions can be sent to




For those who prefer the ebook version of the Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar, the 2016 version can now be purchased via White Mountain Publications’ website. Here is the update from their newsletter: “CWCC Update: The ebook versions of the 2016 Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar are now available from our website.”



Arc Magazine Contests: see links for details on each contest


  • Sawdust Reading Series: This month’s Sawdust Poem-Off is now open. Submit before February 3rd for the opportunity to feature alongside Sandra Ridley on February 17th at Pour Boy, 7 pm. This month’s judge is Deanna Young. Entry is free. Please send up to 150 lines of poetry in a single .doc attachment to, subject line SUBMISSION. More info:



  • The Goethe Glass: An Anthology of Canadian Fiction About Climate Change. Are you concerned about Climate Change?  The Goethe Glass: An Anthology of Canadian Fiction About Climate Change. Last April, Margaret Atwood gave a very important speech in Barrie in which she said that the greatest crisis facing Canada and the world is climate change. As Margaret Atwood declared, “it is time for writers to respond with all the power of their creativity to the greatest threat of our age, climate change.” I am calling on all Canadian writers to put on their thinking caps, pick up their pens, and contribute to this anthology. The political climate has changed, but the physical climate is still in decline. Deadline: February 15, 2016 Details:


  • The Masters Review Anthology – Judge Amy Hempel $5000 awarded. $20.00 USD Ends on 3/31/2016. Submissions are open from January 15, 2016 to March 31, 2016. This year stories will be selected by author Amy Hempel who will select ten winners from a shortlist of forty. This category is open to ALL EMERGING WRITERS. Anyone who has not yet published a novel at the time of submission. We are looking for today’s top emerging writers. Send us your best! Details and to submit:


  • Dr. William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest Deadline: Monday April 4 2016 Entry fee: $10 per poem Prizes: $1600: $300 first place, $200 second place, $100 third place, 8 honourable mentions of $75, 8 judge’s choice of $50 complimentary anthology, trophy, and award ceremony during the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival. Details: Enquires: Send to David Brydges




 writers festival logo




Saturday, February 6 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM Capital Slam featuring Sabrina Benaim Café Alternatif, 60 University Private, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5. Another season of Capital Slam is coming rapidly to a close and that means that the poets really need to step up their game and hit the stage to grab those much coveted post-season slam spots!


HomeSunday, Feb. 7 3:00 PM RailRoad Reading Series at Pressed, 750 Gladstone, Ottawa. We begin with our open mic and your poems followed by our three excellent poets: Monty Reid, Sneha Madhaven-Reese, Vivian Vavassis More details at


treereadingserieslogoTuesday, Feb. 9, 8:00 pm. Tree Reading Series, Black Squirrel Books, 1073 Bank St. Ottawa, Antonino Mazza + Mary di Michele 6:45p Workshop – gut symmetries like the jeanette winterson novel with elizabeth burns 8:00p Readings – Open Mic and Featured Readers More info:


Saturday, February 13 at 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM CapSlam CIPS Qualifier Café Alternatif 60 University Private, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5   TWELVE poets will throw down to find out WHO will represent Capital Slam at the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championships in Vancouver!


 300px-CanadaPlaceLetterboxedVANCOUVER: Wednesday, February 10, 7 P.M. at the RAILWAY CLUB, 579 Dunsmuir Street, by Seymour Street (604) 681-1625, Colleen Anderson hosts the Vancouver launch of Playground of Lost Toys, Featuring readings by contributors Claude Lalumiere, Alex C. Renwick, dvsduncan, Karen Abrahamson, Linda Demeulemeester. If asked for membership: you’re attending the reading in back room. Free admission. Food and drinks available from the bar.



Small Stones for Week 4 January 22 through 28, 2016

black_stones_and_leaves_stock_photo_170410Still struggling with finding inspiration, making me realize again what a great tool it is to have a source of daily writings to respond with. I admit sometimes wondering why I continue but the practice eventually has its benefits as daily writing becomes a part of every day routine. Or at least, that is my intention.



Small Stones for January 22 through 28, 2016

Jan. 22 2016

Weekly I vow to tidy up my office, sort papers,
file it all, making room for those projects that are active
and the ones still forming in my mind, I promise

Carol’s Desk

my desktop will be clear, pristine, holding only
the one file I’m working on at the moment. And,
to sort through my baskets, downsizing, excavating,

new archaeological digs for the treasure of forgotten poems.
I will spray them, and polish them, put them up for adoption,
submitting or uniting them in a marriage of manuscript.

But each week, in the evenings, after lights out, after bedtime,
the imps and the gremlins tiptoe softly to the study, slyly open
every drawer, and pull it all back out again, creating chaos once more.

Jan. 23 2016

Tojo makes a nest in my workbag

Tojo makes a nest in my workbag

There is a furry demon who lives inside my house.
He’s an excavator, an inquisitor, always got to know
what lurks inside the waste bin, what lies behind a door,
what’s under the green blanket, when he pulls it to the floor.

Paper on the table is a toy for him to dance,
he pulls it one way, then the other, as if in a trance
the movement soothes some torment, relieves boredom,
stuff like that. He’s a demon, that Tojo, my Siamese cat.

Jan. 24 2016

Some days there are no voices
but my own. Sunday and the world is remote
in its cold white, but here, just the cat and I
He with his own pursuits: sleep, eat, chase shadows
while I keep company with white pages, hoping
that words will come from within to populate
the blank screen like a giant eye with its white glare


And the cat discovers his other game, to create
a cat-shaped hole in the face of such white glowering
and he will sit there, blocking menus, hiding icons until

the music starts or voices raise from the speakers
It hurts his ears or wounds his pride, or perhaps his dignified
pose as porcelain cat, and he exits, stage right, tail flourishing.

Jan. 25 2016

the therapist kneads and prods the places
in my back, asking if it hurts, and where it wasn’t,
it surely is as she pokes her fingers deep into the knots
in muscles, stiff and tight from sitting too long
not working on those stretches and extensions

Jan. 26 2016

I plan each morning to spend time at keyboard
immersed in new poems or
fine-tuning the old, carving the crispness
into each line, or carving out the flab
of wording that takes the long way round.

Instead, I bog down early in the Ethernet gab
the flow of spam, phishing, and all those newsletters
I had to sign up for, so interesting did they seem
at the time, but now just another way
to procrastinate and postpone that moment when
another day begins with not much to say.

Jan. 27 2016

Languishing on desk top, a book of days,
and one of writing dangerous things an entire year
become paperweights that bow down the inbasket
its sturdy plastic not quite up to the chore
of supporting files on workshops, files of poems for rewrite,
a calendar, an empty notebook, and all of my intentions.

Jan. 28 2016


Last day of the fourth week of January
another week of Small Stones, each week in its own
figurative cairn, each Stone stacked carefully
on the growing pile of ruminations on
the day-to-day inconsequential, small confessions
of the large intentions that fizzle into little progress
but lit here and there the occasional flash
of self-insight, small breakthroughs to spur the coming months.




Caroling, poem by Carol A. Stephen (SAME NAME Poetry and Prose Series)

Today on Silver Birch Press’ SAME NAME series, my poem, Caroling is the feature.

Silver Birch Press

by Carol A. Stephen

Perhaps I laugh a little louder
when I watch Carol Burnett
traipse down a staircase, shoulders broadened
by green velvet drapes as she mocks Scarlett O’Hara’s antebellum belle.

I might find myself mugging in my mirror,
making moues, tilting head,
ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!
It’s what she said, as she sidled her Swanson flapper
down another flight of stairs.

But I never tie my hair up in bandanas like the 40s,
or slop around in workboots with a bucket
and a mop. And when her show’s over,
and it’s time for Carol to sing,
I can only listen; I can’t carry a tune. Ironic
when the name we share in French means joyous song.

PHOTO: Actress/comedian Carol Burnett.

Carol A. StephenABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Carol A. Stephen
is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative…

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