“Red thread, string of beaten stinging nettles, the tiny skull of a shrew.”


Tomorrow evening, at 7 p,m. (PST), I’ll be giving a talk, via Zoom, as a guest of the Canadian Authors Association B.C. Branch. I’m going to talk about the essay, a mode of expression I am drawn to increasingly–I’ve published 5 collections of them and am working on more. Here’s the link for registering if you’d like to attend.

map of bukovyna

In the night, awake in the dark, thinking about essays and how I shape them, how they shape me, I thought of the joy I took making a chapbook of “Museum of the Multitude Village”, the final essay in Blue Portugal & Other Essays, how I sat at the pine table in our dining area in February, 2020, collating the pages, folding them into endpapers of an old map of Bukovyna, sewing the leaves into charcoal covers with red silk thread, pasting on labels John printed on our 19th c Chandler and Price platen press, tucking marbled paper bookmarks into each finished copy, and mailing them out as a gift to friends and family in celebration of my 65th birthday. When I went to Ukraine in autumn of 2019, I felt my world had opened wide. Making the chapbook extended the borders of that world. A month later, we were sheltering in place while everything shut down.


In this world of uncertainty, of shifting ideas of what’s worth doing, what has value, I’ll continue to step out the door with my basket, a few cloth carrier bags tucked inside. Who knows what might be there for the gathering? Red thread, string of beaten stinging nettles, the tiny skull of a shrew. Blue chicory, a story hidden for decades.

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