A New Voice in the PoemCatcher

Hello, friends.

This autumn, i was privileged to be a guest at Don Perkins’ English 380 class, to talk about my tenure as Poet Laureate, the making of our anthology,  Writing the City:Poets Laureate of Edmonton 2005-13, and of course, the Poem Catcher.

One of the young writers in that class, Amanda LeBlanc, has since sent me a set of poems she wrote, one for each of these pages: Darkness, Prayers, From Afar and Poems.

I was going to post them each onto the respective pages, but when i did that, i missed the way they flow together, the way each has its focus, but they play very well as a whole meditation.

Have a read. I believe you’ll enjoy Ms LeBlanc’s fresh, earthy perspectives. She notes that, when she was writing, weather turned out to be a common thread among the pieces. Hope you enjoy her work at least as much as i have. Amanda, thanks for adding your visions to the web.

All my Relations


Darkness: Gathering Clouds 

It started slowly,

The gathering of clouds.

So gradual at first,

you don’t notice they’re there.

That is, ‘til the temperature drops.

The first snow falls and you look out the window.

It dances in the dark

like the  black thoughts in your mind.

Walking through the night

with the cold seeping through,

you look off the bridge

and wonder:

Will anyone miss me,

if I miss the ice?

One hundred and fifty feet to the water.


Prayer: Spring Thaw 

The light at the end of the tunnel,

that initial spring thaw.

We all peer warily out,

waiting for more snow to fall.


All winter we have waited

for that beautiful little lamb.

We pray it’s not the lion,

who leans on the door jamb.


The sun streams down from heaven,

that helpful, guiding hand.

Showing us we’re not alone,

we’ve help in this grand plan.


From Afar: Change

One thing that I have noticed,

so far away from home,

is that everything has changed,

not one thing stayed the same.


The sounds,            MOOOOOO!

the sights,               Yellow fields for miles.

the smells,              That good, fresh scent of barnyard.

the seasons.            Winter, spring, summer, fall.

Winter seems much colder,

wind howls down long, tall streets.

Springtime just doesn’t smell as sweet,

Sparky’s treasures come to light.

Poems: The Forgotten Season

It is thought we have two seasons,

Winter and Construction.

But we have a forgotten season,

Which really is a shame.


Those 4 months of the year,

The grass is really green!

The river valley’s beautiful,

The air is fresh and clean.


That forgotten season is summer,

everybody loves it.

It’s unfortunate that by June,

We all want the snow to fly.

– Amanda LeBlanc, English 380, University of Alberta, Edmonton, November, 2014




Wresting Place

This poem was originally sent to me back in my first year of Laureatage, by a longtime colleague, Dr. Don Perkins, with whose classes i’ve shared a fair few poetic adventures over the years. I’ve come to appreciate his quick, incisive mind and wry humour.

These thoughtful verses address a very Edmonton controversy, namely, what to do to properly honour those buried in a cemetery down in Rossdale. This cemetery goes back to the days of Edmonton House, when First Nations and European immigrants first worked together in the pursuit of commerce and prosperity – strangely, the graveyard has been “lost” and “rediscovered” time and again since then.

Thanks, Don, for the original, and for this excellent revision.                                   


Wresting Place 

The fight goes on  

over our bones and souls

allowed no peace:

Interred. Outcast.

Forgotten. Buried from

public memory

by public expedience.

Dug up. Disturbed.

Disturbing. Discarded.



In life useful to the trade.

In death granted token sanctuary

under an alien monument

on Native soil.

In the way

of growth

of prosperity

of development

of traffic

Not planned for, planned around and

over, under the crossroads

beside the power station

outside the ball park

beyond consideration.


Inconveniently rediscovered

on a regular basis, proclaimed

a curiosity and surprise

no legacy or heritage–

easier forgotten again;

“remembered” is a nuisance.


And once again recalled,

returned to knowledge

officially memorialized

as the politic thing to do,

with minimum public disruption

and no easy access:


But now harder to forget, to

cover up one more time.

 Don Perkins: 17 July 2013 version