Archive for March, 2009

April is poetry month!

March 31, 2009

I just discovered that April is National Poetry Month in Canada and the United States. Great timing for me, a lover of haiku, as in April I will be journeying to the birthplace of Basho, the 17th c. Japanese poet known as the “saint of haiku.”

Here are two spring haiku by Basho (and a photo I took at Vancouver’s English Bay this morning):



many things

they bring to mind —

cherry blossoms!


patter patter

petals of of tiny flowers drop

a waterfall of sound


Check out GottaBook blog for a new poem every day in April by various authors who write for children.

Influential writers meme

March 9, 2009

I was recently tagged by Juliet at Crafty Green Poet to list 25 writers who have influenced me. I always have trouble with the word “meme,” so I’m going to assume that others might too and define it. My dictionary says a meme is “an element of culture that is passed from one individual to another by non-genetic means (eg. imitation).” In the context of the Internet, “meme” has come to refer to almost anything (a file, joke, hoax, challenge, etc) that is passed on from person to person (often through blogs).

So, my passed on task (kind of makes me think of the Olympic Torch, which is currently making its way through our area, passing from person to person and group to group, in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics here in Vancouver) is to list 25 authors who have influenced me in some way (influential does not necessarily mean favourite, though in some cases it may be both). I have to start with the authors who had the biggest impact on me when I was about 11-13 years old, since it was their books that inspired me to become a writer and nurtured my growing interest in the world and its possibilities.

influential_authors1. Lucy Maud Montgomery (her novels, set on Canada’s Prince Edward Island, inspired me to write and affirmed my love of nature — I wanted to write about my part of the country the way she wrote about hers) 

2. C.S. Lewis (The Narnia Chronicles, my first intro to fantasy, were a big influence when I was a kid newly hooked on reading and writing — I didn’t like the didactic style when I re-read them later, but it didn’t bother me – or went over my head- when I read them as a kid)

3. Ray Bradbury (his short story “All Summer in a Day” had a big impact when I read it in grade 7 — showed the power of a short story and also the possibilities within the science fiction genere)

4. Madeline L’Engle (I loved the way her novels “The Young Unicorns” and “Ring of Endless Light” brough a feeling of magic into the everyday world)

5. Phyllis A. Whitney (her series of mysteries for kids, which were set in different countries, nurtured my interest in other countries and cultures, and introduced me to issues such as Apartheid)

6. Christie Harris (her novel, “Secret in the Stlalakum Wild,” was the first I read that was set on Canada’s west coast and in which the fantasy was based on westcoast First Nations’ mythology — affirming that my own personal interests and home could be a legitimate topic/setting about which to write)

7. Ruth Nichols (another of the few Canadian authors for kids that I came across when I was a kid. I found her fantasy novel “The Marrow of the World”  riveting and reread it to study how it was written, finding the fresh and contemporary style a bit of a revelation compared to the old-fashioned styles of many of the other novels I’d read at the time)

Now, to go through the rest of the list a bit faster:

8. Keats and Wordsworth (opened up a love of poetry when I was in university)

9. D. H. Lawrence (for the natural imagery and metaphorical language in his novels –especially “The Rainbow”)

10. Jane Austen (for the characters, language and humour in her novels — the glimpse they afforded into an aspect of early 19th C. English life nurtured my interest in the past and the history of everyday life)

11. Frank Herbert and Anne McCaffrey (while I think Herbert’s writing is the better of the two, both authors created vividly imagined science fiction worlds –Dune and Pern– which inspired me to want to create an alternative world of my own — although this is something I haven’t actually done yet)

12. Ursula Le Guin (for thought-provoking novels of speculative fiction, such as “The Dispossessed,” “The Left Hand of Darkness,” and “The Eye of the Heron,” which use an imagined future world to explore questions and themes relevant to today) 

13. Annie Dillard (for nature writing about her home place)

14. Joseph Campbell (for his ideas about cultures, religions and ways of understanding the world)

15. John Livingston and Neil Evernden (for nonficiton writing that challenged my thinking regarding human perceptions and relationships to non-human nature)

16. Elizabeth Dodson Gray (for her articulation of connections between women and nature)

17. Emily Carr (for her personally engaging autobiographical writing  and its reflection of her love of art and the wild westcoast forests)

18. Barbara Kingsolver (for the way in which an awareness of the natural world enriches her novels — especially “Prodigal Summer”)

19. Lorna Crozier (for the natural imagery in her poetry, which both informs and reflects the human experiences in the poems)

20. Basho (for his timeless and resonating haiku, which continues to inspire and challenge me)

21-25. Any BC CWILL authors (members of the BC Children’s Writers and Illustrators organization have been a wonderful support, example, and inspiration to me since I joined with the publication of my first novel in 2002)

Well, this list has been a bit of a journey into my forgotten intellectual past (probably more than anyone bargained for). Interesting how science fiction figures prominently on it, yet I haven’t written any science fiction (I like the term “speculative fiction” better) — although my very first piece of published creative writing (not including the poem which appeared in the local paper when I was 12) was a science fiction poem in the anthology “Tesseracts6” (1997).

Anyway, if you’re still with me, as part of the meme, I’m supposed to tag 25 more people to take up the task of listing writers who influenced them, but I think I’ll just throw the torch into the air and let anyone who’s inspired catch it. Any CWILLers out there who want to take it up? (post your link in the comments)

Guess who’s the mystery guest

March 2, 2009


To find out what this is about, check out author kc dyer’s blog and Darby Speaks, the blog of her new time-travelling character.