Photo: Some literary awards received by our member, Cal Whitehead, who passed away in May 2017. Photo: Irene Plett.
Robert Ramsay Robert is an award-winning writer and photographer, who has kindly taken photos at many club award ceremonies. In 2017, he published his first novel, Restoring the Dream. Before that, he published numerous articles and short fiction in various magazines and anthologies. He has won several prizes in our club’s literary contests for his prose, which flows beautifully and often has a delightfully comedic quality. Robert is also a skilled organist, and shares his love of photography, trains, and music on his entertaining YouTube channel. We miss Robert at our club meetings, while he attends a local photography club to develop that aspect of his art. Thank you, Robert!
Willie Mackenzie Willie is a Celtic songwriter who performed "Fraser Valley Rose" and other delightful ballads at our June 2017 club meeting. He is a regular at Semiahmoo Arts' Zero to 360 literary open mic. Willie first performed at our club parties in 1993, when his songs appeared as poetry in "The Wordsmith," a series of club chapbooks. He performed at the launch of "Coastlines II," the club’s 1993 anthology, when W.P. Kinsella was the featured speaker. In 2015, he published “Songs of a Ross-shire Son: Scots-Canadian Folk Songs” (76 pages, spiral-bound, 8.5" x 11"). The collection includes two songs he wrote and performed for club members who were getting married: “Big Bird of Love” and “Cupid’s Fever.” To purchase, email williesdenATgmail.com.One song that beautifully describes our local community is shared below:
The Drifter / Sunny White Rock City I used to be a drifter like the wind that blows away. Then one day I rambled by Semiahmoo Bay. I heard the waters whisper: “Stranger, come on home.” The South wind cried, “It’s over, man -- you never more will roam.”
What a place to land in, what a place to be: Sunny White Rock City, down by the Southern Sea, Where the promenade is friendly, with folks like you and me, And the world meets on the sidewalks in peace and harmony.
See, we all come down from somewhere, chasing destiny, Hoping we land easy, wherever that may be. So when those waters whispered, and the South wind called my name, I knew I had to answer or go back the way I came.
If you should be a stranger, and you hail from lands afar, Then head down the sidewalk to Jack and Laine’s bar. Come join the singing circle and drink a Guinness down. You’ll be right at home and welcome with the Irish downtown.
So if you’re a drifter, like the wind that blows away, Some day you may ramble by Semiahmoo Bay. Perhaps you’ll pause and ponder, and hear the south wind call. Then, like me, you’ll wonder at the beauty of it all.
Thirty years I’ve lingered, I’ve seen the seasons turn, Canoed upon the waters, and watched the sunsets burn. And so I end my story of a drifter who came home To sunny White Rock city, never more to roam. Never more a drifter, never more to roam.
Willie Mackenzie performs "Fraser Valley Rose" at our June 2017 meeting.
In Memoriam: Cal Whitehead One of our dear members, Cal Whitehead, passed away on May 18, 2017, at age 91. A lovely tribute was written in the Peace Arch News, where his remaining bucket list item of having haiku printed in the newspaper was fulfilled.
Cal started writing creatively in his 80s, after retiring from teaching English to newcomers to Canada. He met Fay, his wife of over 50 years, when both worked for the CBC writing promotional material in Toronto. Fay is Cal's editor and regularly performs public readings of his work at Zero to 360, Semiahmoo Arts' monthly literary open mic in White Rock. Fay's May 11, 2017 reading, Cal Whitehead rides the rails, an excerpt from his story, "The Theatre Bug," is published on our YouTube channel.
Cal’s first story, "Cuthbert," was published by the magazine Lester’s Army (excerpt available here). Cal went on to self-publish two delightful memoirs, peppered with occasional haikus: Winging it in Mexico and Central America, 2016 (92 pages, spiral-bound, 5.5” x 8.5”); and Back to the Earth: Nostalgic glimpses of a city couple doing country things, 2013 (57 pages, same format). They are available by calling 604-541-5446 ($15 each, or two for $25).
Enjoy some samples from the memoirs: One day my boss, the Director of Citizenship for Ontario, pulled me out of class and explained his need for an ESL (English as a Second Language) school in Hamilton. Would I go there and start one? I found it a challenge I couldn’t resist. That evening I explained the new development to Fay. I said, “Why don’t we get married and move to Hamilton?” She said, “Okay, what took you so long?” Six days later, not believing in long engagements, we were married by a judge in the Family and Juvenile Court in Hamilton. It was a brief ceremony and he ended by saying that he didn’t want to see us there again. Well, he didn’t. That was nearly half a century ago and both the school I started, and Fay’s and my marriage are still going strong. (p. 1, “The Log House,” Back to the Earth)
Life is a sandwich enclosed between birth and death you are the filling (p. 44, Back to the Earth)
When we first saw Antonia she was wearing only a brassiere. Her legs were long and slender and her two large round eyes twinkled with mischief. I should mention at this point that Antonia was a pet spider monkey and the brassiere was loosely wound around her head. A young woman yelled, “Hey, that’s my bra. I left it on the clothesline.” Antonia was a member in good standing of an American family who owned a farm in the jungle area of Guatemala. (p. 49, “Antonia,” Winging It in Mexico and Central America) Ida Freer Our long-standing membership secretary, author Ida Freer, shared this lovely poem before she left for a taste of Island living in 2016. We miss you, Ida! Happy writing!
MOVING Surrounded by boxes I ponder my fate, Did I really want to leave or should I wait? The constant decisions; to keep or to toss, Either way, it feels like a loss.
New adventures await me My life will be free So much to arrange It all feels so strange.
After decades as resident, I’m leaving my home No explanations needed, there’s nothing to condone I’m more than mere possessions that flash, The things gathered ’round me are more than just trash.
Onwards or upwards or some inspiring verse Keeps my heart from despair and my lips from a curse. New horizons prevent getting old, At least that's what I’ve been told.
This complicated life makes me long for a tent To pick up and go and never pay rent No one to notify, no one to tell Do I really want the bills to follow me as well?
This empty house is only a space That now seems to barely show a trace Of the time that was spent with those I hold dear The memories will accompany me, of that I have no fear.