Tag Archives: Sideways

“Heather Haley-Poet.” How did that happen?


Certainly I didn’t plan to become a poet. I didn’t grow up thinking, when I grow up I’m going to be a poet. But in essence, it is who I am. I wasn’t exposed to literature. My father read Popular Mechanics and my mother, True Confessions. Though, being an Irish queen of blarney, Corona could spin a mean yarn.

I didn’t get a degree. I dropped out of university and ran away to join the punk rock circus; sang, wrote songs and poetry which I performed in coffee houses and nightclubs. When I returned to Canada, in a fluky way, published my first collection, Sideways, with Anvil Press. Three Blocks West of Wonderland came out with Ekstasis Editions in 2009 so I’m not exactly prolific, though never cease writing. In a haphazard way, I’m becoming “widely anthologized;” Verse Map of Vancouver (Anvil),  Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry (Mother Tongue Publishing), Alive at the Center (Ooligan Press), FORCE Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia (Mother Tongue Publishing), The Wild Weathers; a gathering of love poems (Caitlin Press), The SpokenWord WorkBook (Banff Centre Press), Where the Nights are Twice as Long: Love Letters of Canadian Poets (Goose Lane Editions), The Other 23 1/2 Hours, What Your MFA Didn’t Teach You (Wolsak & Wynn), and the forthcoming Simon Fraser University’s Lunch Poems Anthology. Is my approach irresponsible or irreverent? Due to a bad attitude perhaps and Sideways might be entirely appropriate.

I’ve worked in many genres; journalism/reviewer, non-fiction/blog, prose/novel and written several screenplays.  I always go back to poetry. Or, come back to poetry.

Recently I completed a rough draft of my latest manuscript, Detective Work. Why? It’s in me, verse. And I have no idea how it got there.


Fed a germ.
Old dog.
Spooned flies out of yogurt.
Dislodged ants from the toaster.
Entered words.
Fought for blackberries.
Free stuff.

Doctored bites.
Signed language.
Collected greens,
Heritage tomatoes.
Meme parlanced.
Registered my feelings.

Last house on Husband Rd.
Prolific bamboo décor.
You can sit in a resin chair
Forever, white ones
Especially war strong.
Too late in the week now
To do anything nice.

Or, nicely.
Too late in our life spans
For anything,
Though he’s still trying
To Xerox his ass,
Moon earth.


One Life

Mine. Woo hoo. Well, my life is as significant as anyone’s and “in extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives. ” This has been a long time coming. I’ve shunned blogging for several years now the way I resisted sushi and the return of flared jeans, probably for the same reason I wouldn’t join the Girl Scouts though both my sisters were gungo-ho to do so. I’m suspicious of anything so popular. Blogging is beyond popular though, it’s phenomenonal.

This particular piece of the planet I occupy is extraordinary. I am gazing out my window past fir and alder treetops, past sailboats, tugboats and barges on Burrard Inlet at the city of Vancouver. I first came to Bowen Island in British Columbia’s Howe Sound in 1993 with my ex-husband. Part of the white exodus I suppose, I had returned to Canada after the Rodney King riots and twelve years in Los Angeles. I had survived an annus horribilus and was seeking sanctuary. My mother had died after a long ordeal, my marriage and our recording studio business were both disintegrating. I don’t think I was cognizant of my need for recovery. I was still in the middle of tumult. I was restless, not ready to retire as I protested, but in reality, trying to flee an abusive relationship and an awful situation. Or two.

I missed it though and came back to Bowen to live with my son and mein leiber, Josef, in 2003. Junior is thriving here and we just bought a house, so we’re not going anywhere for a while. Based on a recent national study of communities with a population of less than 50,000 people, Bowen Island was identified as having the fourth largest number of professional artists in Canada. In that sense, I fit right in. At times I find myself irritated though with a kind of chauvinism particular to the island, or perhaps to all islands. I was going to say xenophobia but that might be too strong a word. However there are some island folk who constantly whine about how everything is changing. They seem to think Howe Sound is a moat. Or wish it was. The word “paradise” gets bandied about a lot too. My reaction is to remind people that every place has an underbelly, even the “Happy Isle.” I’m a poop disturber, what can I say. Another thing that bugs me from time to time are the Pollyannas, self-righteous do-gooders and neo hippies that are always pressuring people to volunteer or donate. Hey, I’m barely keeping it together over here, doing the best I can and they forget that islanders are often independent, even isolationist, non-conformist and strong individuals, thinkers. Strong-willed and stubborn too so it’s not surprising islanders often don’t agree. There will be a wide range of views and opinions on any issue, which may explain why it seems to take so long for things to get done around here. I do love it though. I walk around trying to devour the air because it smells so good it has a distinct taste . Bracing. The place is fantastic really, populated with a lot of unique and brilliant individuals. I have a veritable suite of island poems in my forthcoming book, Window Seat.

The other reason I’ve resisted is a lack of confidence. I couldn’t imagine writing an entry each day, a good entry. 2007 has been a tough year too, though not as horrendous as 1992. Loved ones dying suddenly, career frustrations and set backs and I’ve been worn out, just now coming out of a serious bout of depression. So getting this far is a good sign. My gumption is returning, along with some faith in my abilities.

I want to share my poetry and some memories. My life. One life. I’ve started the arduous process of archiving all my old photos and other media, including cassette tapes and video. There is a conference coming up in the spring that has been spurring me on though I’ve got to get more scanning done! I always joke that I need an elf. Or two. Or three. I think Santa should share his labour pool or take a look at my list. I’ve been a good girl. Really!


North America’s first international scholarly conference on punk to be held at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, on April 24-26, 2008.


Should be interesting. The first time I went to Experience Music Project in Seattle I was taken aback, seeing flyers, some of which I had collected, on display under glass. Hard not to feel like a dinosaur sometimes but I defiantly align myself with the “I-am-Old-School-and-proud-of -it” crowd.

The main challenges are a dearth of time and the myriad distractions around here. I have my office, my lair, fortunately. In front of my face, there is email, Facebook and now Second Life. I could get sucked into SL too–it’s fascinating–but I won’t. I can’t! In the real world, there are my canine companions, my kid, my spouse and all their needs that are so much simpler to address than my own.

So onward and upward. I will post a poem next, then an archival photograph accompanied by a blurb. It feels like a good start.