All posts by Heather Haley

“Skookum Raven” Book Trailer Trick

Book Design: Derek von Essen

In case you missed it, we’ve cranked out a book trailer for Skookum Raven. Please take a look. Please share.

There are some rough and wild birds around Howe Sound — West Coast avians like the sharp-shinned hawk, the northern harrier, and the whiskey-jack. Heather Haley, an accomplished mapper of human migration, pair-bonding and predation, takes these feathered frenemies as her starting point in this assured third collection, Skookum Raven. Like her foremothers and contemporaries Gwendolyn MacEwen, Susan Musgrave and Karen Solie, Haley writes sophisticated free lyrics of a witchy feminist kind — but adds some proletarian ferocity with her bus-station grandpas and sketches of iffy guys like Ed the Fence. These are astute, austere poems which sometimes take flight into optimistic beauty — this book is “pockmarked with luck.”

“Tart, taut and terse, Haley’s honed poems of lust and loss, wrath and remorse are imbued with hard-won insight and subversive wit.  Her wry x-ray eye cuts to the quick in an array of deftly drawn portraits that will make you grin with recognition.  Haley is a master of assonance, consonance and dissonance, intermingled with flashes of a distilled lyricism”.  – Fiona Tinwei Lam

Skookum Raven is a text for the tricksters within. With spondaic pow-bams of language, these lyrics harness neologistic energies to evoke punchy lust, back alley bravado, and coastal croonings on sex, the wild, music and time.” -Catherine Owen

“Heather Haley’s Skookum Raven honours the west coast with brilliant side-eye observations couched in words drawn from a wide palette, from Chinook trade language to Pussy Riot. She brings us on a stroll through the village, showing the underbelly of every house and garden, then deeper into domestic disharmonies and unease in relatedness, writing sharply from a woman’s point of view. If any reader has become lulled with the beauties of west coast living, she will shake you into more fulsome awareness of the “hard blessings” shared. “No lotus-eaters we…”-Joanne Arnott

“Haley has the gift of writing to suit her subject in all its raddled variety, from wired and jarring to lyrical and tragic.”-Vancouver Sun

Available for purchase online via PayPal at www.ekstasiseditions.com

Contact Ekstasis for details or to arrange appearances, events or media opportunities. For further information: Richard Olafson or Carol Sokoloff          Phone: (250) 385-3378    email: ekstasis@islandnet.com

ROUGH DRAFT, ROUGH TIME

Image: KAth Boake

Poetry. That’s all I got. I’m thankful for the escape writing provides and still, do seize the day. My psyche must favour the inherent irony of “good as dead”. I’ve used it in Houla in Skookum Raven. I’m considering replacing “hooks” with “talons.”  More work to do, thank gawd, not that I believe in god.

AS GOOD AS DEAD

Unless the court directs otherwise
The parties are named
Sweet edified spouse,
Salty street-wise co-respondent;

Coolish if not cool,
If “cool” is still cool to be.
Still, all three parties wince
At infelicities, clumsy speech.

She is a galaxy viewer,
Especially at night,
Scarce as a hinny,
Or a bedmaker.

Each morning dammit,
Before leaving the apartment.
An atypical good habit
Which surely makes no difference.

A longtime waiver of claims,
Acquiescent you might say,
And lately, a sniffler.
Something in the air?

Upthrust, untagged,
Missives lost in the ether,
Petitions kiboshed,
Appeals squashed,

Letters sonnetized,
She hangs her sentiments
As if a body in the limbs
Of a leafless tree, the gibbet.

Gallows humour intact,
The only thing left to do
Is remove his hooks,
Godsent or not.

 

At a Crossroads

Photo: Bob Hanham

Torn. Partly because I feel like an outsider after being out of the CanLit loop for six years as I ran a business-I had been planning to apply to a local university’s creative writing program but now having serious doubts. My son thinks it’s a waste of money. The tuition is thousands of dollars I do not have. Attendance would help facilitate the production of a new book but perhaps I can find some other less expensive program. Can’t even join or start a writers group thanks to the pandemic.

And then there’s the matter of genre; should I tackle another novel or stick to verse? It is my forte.  Perhaps I should determine to do it all. *sigh* Do I sound confused? I never should have run away and joined the punk rock circus! Back in the day I had accrued two years of community college credits intending to apply to UBC to study literature when I fell in with the Subhumans, the Dishrags and DOA. Oh well, at least I gained subject matter.

And now I am a variable. Perhaps we all are during these plague days. Though aspects of my life suck at the moment, the muse has stuck around. First draft:

NOBILITY EXTRACTED FROM THE VIRTUAL

Via language, despite methodized
Connections, monetized clicks.
Influence down to a science.
Resist Google. Manipulation.

Toast Twitter, or at least,
Notifications Off.
How many Likes will it take
To get through puberty?

Pass the imagination please.
So full of information,
Content,
I could retch.

What’s so great about virtuality
After all? Language betrays it,
Stabalizes,
The way language steadies
You. Me. Us.

So theremalize me dear, for
I am a variable without you.
Be my rompish beacon,
My poetic vane.

Language will ennoble.
Language will
Extract the nobility
Within us all.

SKOOKUM RAVEN Has Landed!

She persists. Due to a reversal of fortune six years ago I had to leave my island home and return to the city. I started a business which left little time for poetry; reading or composing. Despite that and with herculean effort I’ve managed to produce a third volume of verse and today announce the launch of Skookum Raven. I am able to take joy in witnessing manuscript transformed into book, forged in the crucible of coronavirus. I am still a page baby, a re-emerging page baby. Poet.

I won’t discuss poetics-leave it to the rigour of critics-or defend the form but certainly the right to employ my voice, to claim a quality of life, as life invariably ebbs. There ain’t nobody that can sing like me. I know my purpose and it’s my way of staring down the abyss.

Many thanks to my publisher Ekstasis Editions, to friends and family for their love and encouragement. Here comes the show biz:

There are some rough and wild birds around Howe Sound — West Coast avians like the sharp-shinned hawk, the northern harrier, and the whiskey-jack. Heather Haley, an accomplished mapper of human migration, pair-bonding and predation, takes these feathered frenemies as her starting point in this assured third collection, Skookum Raven. Like her foremothers and contemporaries Gwendolyn MacEwen, Susan Musgrave and Karen Solie, Haley writes sophisticated free lyrics of a witchy feminist kind — but adds some proletarian ferocity with her bus-station grandpas and sketches of iffy guys like Ed the Fence. These are astute, austere poems which sometimes take flight into optimistic beauty — this book is “pockmarked with luck.”

Skookum Raven is a text for the tricksters within. With spondaic pow-bams of language, these lyrics harness neologistic energies to evoke punchy lust, back alley bravado, and coastal croonings on sex, the wild, music and time.” -Catherine Owen

“Tart, taut and terse, Haley’s honed poems of lust and loss, wrath and remorse are imbued with hard-won insight and subversive wit. Her wry x-ray eye cuts to the quick in an array of deftly drawn portraits that will make you grin with recognition. Haley is a master of assonance, consonance and dissonance, intermingled with flashes of a distilled lyricism”. – Fiona Tinwei Lam

“Heather Haley’s Skookum Raven honours the west coast with brilliant side-eye observations couched in words drawn from a wide palette, from Chinook trade language to Pussy Riot. She brings us on a stroll through the village, showing the underbelly of every house and garden, then deeper into domestic disharmonies and unease in relatedness, writing sharply from a woman’s point of view. If any reader has become lulled with the beauties of west coast living, she will shake you into more fulsome awareness of the “hard blessings” shared. “No lotus-eaters we…”-Joanne Arnott

“Haley has the gift of writing to suit her subject in all its raddled variety, from wired and jarring to lyrical and tragic.”-Vancouver Sun

For a preview check out the Skookum Raven book trailer.

If you’d like a copy please visit Ekstasis Editions’ website. Also, contact Ekstasis for details or to arrange appearances, events or media opportunities. For further information: Richard Olafson or Carol Sokoloff    Phone: (250) 385-3378    email: ekstasis@islandnet.com

 

SEA SONGS

Rough night but not as rough as the night before. Is anything in life more vexing than matters of the heart? Took some melatonin which might have helped provide a slightly better-quality sleep. Certainly I am weary. Aren’t we all? Finally cried watching a poignant and fascinating Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher, about Craig Foster, a South African filmmaker who burned out, took a year off to dive into the cold Atlantic each day, sans wet suit to commune with the colossal kelp forest and a vast array of aquatic creatures. Such a lovely antidote to reality and quite the lesson in marine biology.

I forget that I live by the ocean though I can smell it on some days and almost see English Bay from my East Van balcony. Then, randomly I came upon the Wallace Stevens poem, The Idea of Order at Key West.

The sea is calling! As is song.

THE IDEA OF ORDER AT KEY WEST

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.
The water never formed to mind or voice,
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,
That was not ours although we understood,
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

The sea was not a mask. No more was she.
The song and water were not medleyed sound
Even if what she sang was what she heard,
Since what she sang was uttered word by word.
It may be that in all her phrases stirred
The grinding water and the gasping wind;
But it was she and not the sea we heard.

For she was the maker of the song she sang.
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing.
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew
It was the spirit that we sought and knew
That we should ask this often as she sang.

If it was only the dark voice of the sea
That rose, or even colored by many waves;
If it was only the outer voice of sky
And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled,
However clear, it would have been deep air,
The heaving speech of air, a summer sound
Repeated in a summer without end
And sound alone. But it was more than that,
More even than her voice, and ours, among
The meaningless plungings of water and the wind,
Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped
On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres
Of sky and sea.
It was her voice that made
The sky acutest at its vanishing.
She measured to the hour its solitude.
She was the single artificer of the world
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea,
Whatever self it had, became the self
That was her song, for she was the maker. Then we,
As we beheld her striding there alone,
Knew that there never was a world for her
Except the one she sang and, singing, made.

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know,
Why, when the singing ended and we turned
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights,
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there,
As the night descended, tilting in the air,
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea,
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles,
Arranging, deepening, enchanting

BIG SMOKE CREATION

 

Verse. It’s all I’m able to write lately and it’s saving my ass, my sanity, as annus horribilis 2020 barrels on, though I can identify with poet Alice Oswald in the New Yorker article, Streaming Device. “…she defined her art as a form of dissidence. ‘I think it’s often assumed that the role of poetry is to comfort,’ she wrote, ‘but for me, poetry is the great unsettler. It questions the established order of the mind. It is radical, by which I don’t mean that it is either leftwing or rightwing, but that it works at the roots of thinking.’ I know I depend on poetry to incite.

BIG SMOKE CREATION

As un-germinating or misproducing
As the city may be,
I dazzle myself,
Compose in a tweedy, eyeletted coat,

Follow insectian leads;
Gut-slide à la caterpillar,
Dig earwig-deep into a yellow rose,
Bee-imbibe hummingbird nectar.

By day I am girded
By a kaleidoscope of plumage,
By night bathe in coconut milk
In a most nonepicurean way.

With the power to prepave the future,
I eschew crapulence,
Pantomime to the blind
Despite my tiny apartment window.

 

HOPE thanks to Dickinson

Image by Rick McGrath

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

 

COMING SOON! “Skookum Raven”

There are some rough and wild birds around Howe Sound — West Coast avians like the sharp-shinned hawk, the northern harrier, and the whiskey-jack. Heather Haley, an accomplished mapper of human migration, pair-bonding and predation, takes these feathered frenemies as her starting point in this assured third collection, Skookum Raven. Like her foremothers and contemporaries Gwendolyn MacEwen, Susan Musgrave and Karen Solie, Haley writes sophisticated free lyrics of a witchy feminist kind — but adds some proletarian ferocity with her bus-station grandpas and sketches of iffy guys like Ed the Fence. These are astute, austere poems which at times take flight into optimistic beauty — this book is “pockmarked with luck.”

“Tart, taut and terse, Haley’s honed poems of lust and loss, wrath and remorse are imbued with hard-won insight and subversive wit.  Her wry x-ray eye cuts to the quick in an array of deftly drawn portraits that will make you grin with recognition.  Haley masterfully interweaves assonance, consonance and dissonance with flashes of a distilled lyricism.”  – Fiona Tinwei Lam

 Skookum Raven is a text for the tricksters within. With spondaic pow-bams of language, these lyrics harness neologistic energies to evoke punchy lust, back alley bravado, and coastal croonings on sex, the wild, music and time.-Catherine Owen

Heather Haley’s Skookum Raven honours the west coast with brilliant side-eye observations couched in words drawn from a wide palette, from Chinook trade language to Pussy Riot. She brings us on a stroll through the village, showing the underbelly of every house and garden, then deeper into domestic disharmonies and unease in relatedness, writing sharply from a woman’s point of view. If any reader has become lulled with the beauties of west coast living, she will shake you into more fulsome awareness of the “hard blessings” shared. “No lotus-eaters we…”-Joanne Arnott

Praise for Heather Haley:

“The modern poet must deal with our technological/consumer-driven/corporate reality and attempt to find a small space of peace in this world. In Three Blocks West of Wonderland, Heather Haley explores the beauty of nature through a grounded lens without ever ignoring the implications of consumerism and corporatization. These narrative-driven lyrical poems are emotionally raw and go down like a shot of whiskey.” -Daniel Zomparelli

“Haley has the gift of writing to suit her subject in all its raddled variety, from wired and jarring to lyrical and tragic.”-Vancouver Sun

 

 

 

WHITE BITCH

I simply cannot blog lately, compose prose. Oh well, no doubt the world will survive without another opinion. Verse it must be!

 

 

WHITE BITCH

Adored, coveted,
In certain quarters
Though snappy at times.
Biddable, at times.

Clairvoyant
Moon wailer,
Paws somehow armed
With a torch for the abyss.

Relentlessly peculiar,
Renowned for her ability to
Hunt, track, know, recover
And guide. Booked to transport

My sullied soul to the underworld
My bitch will indulge me
In our inside dope,
Guard against the induced coma

For my bitch knows
My wishes, follows
My instructions
So loyal and faithful is she.

Please,
Feed my bitch
A morsel of my corpse
As I depart.

My dog star. My white shepherd.
Alert, eager, fearless. Unlike me.
Dual natured. Exactly like me.
Are we the same critter?

Wait!
You’re not my white bitch,
You’re my white dog,
Bitch!

 

PANDEMIC HEALTH FOOD

Equals comfort food? A missive from my bubble to yours my pretties. Getting a little writing done, one silver lining of being shut in.

This is how my mind works; I’ve been wondering how the pandemic is affecting crime. How do burglars break in when so many people are working from home? I did some research and as suspected, those rates are generally down while domestic violence has spiked.

Also, have food on the brain; procuring it is more challenging of course, while trying to eat well. It’s tempting to over-indulge so I limit my purchases of sweets and junk food.

“Be kind, be calm, be safe.”

PANDEMIC HEALTH FOOD

Mumblecore semi-actors,
Gluten free master cleansers,
Gym goths and health rats
Of serious quinoa cred

Prefer kale chips,
Tofu marshmallows,
Twenty dollar tacos,
Good bugs by the billions

For their guts,
Fake beef, celery juice,
Low carb slow food,
Deep health the high prize.

Supermarkets equal minefields
So, take out, pick up, delivery or
Food truck pilgrimages.
Patios with barriers possibly

But picnics are the best.
Ah! All that ventilation.
Fresh air equals salvation
Minus the long queues.