About the memoirs:
Fade to Light by Jessica Evans
In this memoir, Jessica tells the story of leaving her family to move away from a closed religious society that refers to itself as “The Truth.” The church gave her a rulebook for life that separated members of the Truth from the rest of society. Remaining inside the community was Good. Being outside the community—in Satan’s World—was Bad. The Truth keeps close records of all its members who are in Good standing.
Jessica left that community via what the church calls a “fade.” Fading means a person moves frequently until no congregation is tracking their records. But finding her own way outside the religion left her with no rulebook. Only what was taught in the Truth—don’t trust Satan’s World.
Out on her own she adopted one identity after another, seeking stability. First as an obsessive rock climber, committed spouse, then a yoga teacher, and a busy businessperson. The book follows her travels and adventures through all these identities until it’s clear what was needed most—to learn unconditional love. This love is very different from the love experienced in the Truth. As a child, love was experienced only if Good behaviour was maintained. Behaviour that was required to keep her family and her membership in The Truth. Eventually, she learned a different way of being herself. Jessica’s writing style is candid; you’ll feel like she’s telling you her story firsthand. To purchase book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1777666341
To learn more about Jess: jessica-evans.ca.
To purchase book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1777666341
Back the Way We Came by The Memory Keepers - Micki Findlay
Vancouver Island author, Micki Findlay, likes to refer to herself as an 'artrepeneur', as she loves dipping her toes into a sea of creative ventures. Writing is both her passion and her lifeline. Micki is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jazz House Publications, Van Isle Poetry Collective, Black Press Media, various magazines, and several anthologies including Back The Way We Came by ‘The Memory Keepers’. Her poem, Autumn Affair is soon to be published with Quillkeepers Press. She is currently working on her own candidly raw, memoir-based book titled, You Can’t Always See The Bruises.
Micki writes her life stories to help other women recognize their own self-worth, find hope through difficult circumstances, and realize they are not alone in their struggles. She also writes to heal herself. She has fought her way out of many years of clinical depression with the help, love and support of people who believed in her when she could not believe in herself.
In the new anthology, Back The Way We Came, The Memory Keepers touch on uniquely personal yet emotionally relatable themes – love, the joy and loss of deep friendship; coping with dementia; toxic relationships; menopause and late-life dating exploits. Some venture into more off-beat territory – surviving three months in a US jail; exploitation in a spiritual cult; corruption and rural life in West Africa and the hedonistic 1980s London drug scene. Others untangle intricate webs of family dynamics; physical, sexual and psychological abuse; grief for the death of a daughter; teenage pregnancy; working with terminally ill children and the loss of newborn grandchildren.
A must-read for anyone who has ever longed to be heard and understood, Back The Way We Came will inspire you to dig deep, unveil your stories and shine your light. Contributing Authors: Carol Prior, Chassie Stone, Delia L Seville, Juliet Coe, Lindsay 'Lou' Tunstall, Micki Findlay, Nicola Field, Peta Heskell, Sarah Lionheart, Stephanie Peart and Suzi Bamblett. These authors all live in Britain except for Micki Findlay who lives in Canada. They are all former students of Memoir Writing Ink who connected online during the pandemic.
To learn more about Micki: www.mickifindlay.com
To purchase book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Back-Way-We-Came-Fearless/dp/1800945647
Act 3 Media Interview about Back The Way We Came: https://youtu.be/GynrkaMoNaI?feature=shared
Feature Poet: Ed Varney
Local poet and visual artist, Ed Varney, has been writing poetry and making art since he was a teenager. He has an MA in English and has been a printer and publisher, editor, critic, curator, arts animator, and visual artist as well as a poet. His work has appeared in 18 books and chapbooks, in numerous periodicals, and his visual art has been exhibited internationally.
Varney says, ”My best work far transcends my very ordinary skills because it comes from an authentic act of imagination reached only by continual practice. I toss my worst work into the circular file. The trick is to be able to distinguish between the two.”
For this reading, he will be playing with the language of poetry, reading from new and experimental work in various formats. Varney states “Poetry is a special form of writing which speaks to the universal person in the most precise, concise, and incisive way -- but rarely reaches a universal audience.”
His subjects include nature, astronomy, contemporary culture, meditations, and eternal truths.
Events & Exhibitions
Feature Poet: Diana Kolpak
When forced to choose one descriptor to sum up what she does, Diana Kolpak calls herself a story-teller - with the proviso that the story that wants to be told must dictate the best form of its telling...and this explains why her creative output includes fiction, poetry, plays, theatrical clowning, music, and photography.
Her most recent theatrical work is BLUE, an interactive solo clown musical for adults that is a deep dive into the ocean of love, guided by former-mermaid-turned-lounge-singer Sally Siren.
Published writing includes Starfall - a children's book that chronicles a clown's magical quest to bring sunshine and starlight back to the world; the play Bedtime Stories - a provocative feminist retelling of four fairy tales; postry in several online magazines, and photos in the latest volume of Wordstorms's Counterflow.
Born and raised in Southern Alberta, Diana moved to the Comox Valley last year after living in Toronto since 1985, where she ran her own independent theatre company, Whetstone Productions. She has directed and helped develop over a dozen original shows that have been performed across Canada. She also teaches clown and creativity workshops.
Diana is always on the lookout for collaborators and co-conspirators who want to create work that merges artistic disciplines in unexpected ways, is slyly socially relevant and is also full of heart. If that concept makes your heart sing, please get in touch. www.dianakolpak.ca
Harold Macy was born on the prairie, caught between the stubble and the endless sky. The mountains and the forest beckoned and he moved to the coast. It has been his everlasting pleasure to live forty years in the rural community of Merville, on Vancouver Island, a tectonic splinter off the left shoulder of a restless continent, where he is surrounded by old hippies, fundamentalist Christians, faded cowgirls, broken old loggers, gimpy rednecks and urban refugees with their new plaid shirts and attitudes - all great sources of character and story. He studied writing with the UBC Mentorship Program, Victoria (BC) School of Writing, Sage Hills (SK) and North Island College.
His first book was The Four Story Forest: As Grow The Trees So Too The Heart (2011). The historical novel San Josef was published by Tidewater Press in 2019, and his latest work, All The Bears Sing was published by Harbour Publishing in 2022.
His work has appeared in PRISM International, Malahat Review, Orion, Eye & I, The Broken City, Rhubarb, and others. He was awarded Honourable Mention in the 2015 and 2016 Islands Short Fiction Contest. His story ‘Unclipped’ won the 2013 NIC 3-hour Fiction Contest. He was an invited author at the Fanny Bay Fat Oyster Reading Series in 2016. He is presently working on a short story collection ‘Stranglers, Water Thieves, Wide-mouth Pumpkins and the Sweet-talking Angels in the White Trailer.
To learn more visit: haroldmacy.ca
Feature Poet: Dan Kirk
Dan Kirk has been writing and presenting poems and doing storytelling for more than 20 years. One of his favourite gigs was for a full house at Fanny Bay Community Hall with folksinger David Freeman. He also enjoyed a reading at Joe's Garage in tandem with a jazz combo and a few other poets. Dan has been the featured poet at events in Port Alberni, Qualicum, Courtenay and been one of the featured readers at 15 Minutes of Infamy in Nanaimo and Elevate the Arts in Courtenay. He has also read at the Courtenay Library, Muir Gallery in Courtenay, and Coast Collective and Planet Earth Poetry in Victoria.
Running for a number of years, Dan founded a monthly poetry event at Red Tree Specialty Coffee in TinTown in Courtenay with featured poets that included Ilya Tourtidis, bill bissett, Pam Galloway, John Donlan, Cornelia Hoogland, and Matt Rader among others. Along with Ed Varney and Adelia McWilliam, Dan put on two Cascadia Poetry Festivals in Cumberland and MC’d a third.
Along with Ed Varney, Dan published Drift - Poems and Poets from the Comox Valley that came out of all of their encounters with the poets in the Comox Valley over the last 25 years or so. Published in 2020 the first edition sold out quickly. Poetry lovers in the Valley are hopeful there will be a second edition.
For extended periods Dan has engaged in a practice of daily reading and writing, in the tradition of poet William Stafford, and derives much pleasure in hearing the fruits of this labour read aloud. Otherwise, he sees the poet as fulfilling a valued community function that brings into the form of poetry, the content of our lives.
Years ago, some friends made him a leather notebook cover that he refills with stock notebooks and almost all his writing is made manifest within this cover. The poems for this reading will spend time in the questions we all consider and images we often encounter when we pay close attention.
Feature Poet: Janet Bartier
Janet Bartier was born in Prince Rupert, raised in the Okanagan Valley and now lives with her partner in Campbell River BC on the historical and unceded territory of the Laich-Kwil-Tach Peoples. Janet has an ATCL in piano and a BA in Liberal Studies, but is most honoured to be called Mom.
A piano teacher since a young teen, she has also written for the educational market, and has more recently published poems in Canadian literary magazines including Prairie Fire, Arc Poetry, and EVENT.
As a student in Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio, Janet has poetry forthcoming in the Writer’s Studio anthology Emerge 2023, and is working on a book of poems that seek to examine connections and form new connections—in particular, family connections—using surprising shapes and colours. You can find Janet on Twitter @JanetBartier.
Join Air Above Mountains and Unseen Sight from the Comox Valley on their first stop in a series of valley wide experimental listening sessions. Expect an evening of improvisations in sonic ambience and textures.
Air Above Mountains are an instrumental trio who use free improvisation to create immersive, outward bound, and cinematic music.
Cultivating a sonic vocabulary over the past eight years, AAM’s atmospheric sound shifts prismatically through meditative and unsettling passages.
Unseen Sight is an experimental music duo from West Courtenay. Blending sonic qualities, traditional and unusual, acoustic and electronic into fantastic aural environments. The results are strange, and often unexpected, even to the performers themselves.
Senyuè is a queer Chinese Canadian performer, producer, facilitator and expressive arts therapist with a major in Pacific and Asian studies with a focus on China. They have lived in both China and Canada and currently reside on the unceded traditional territories of the K’omoks Nation, colonially known as Cumberland, BC. Their musical work surrounds their Chinese Canadian family legacy, ancestors, history and identity as well as speaking hard truths about racism in Canada. Through movement, storytelling, and folk song, their expression paints a story through colonial history to our current day from a decolonized lens. It encourages community members to learn, be self-reflective, and invites the question of how we would like to move forward. We can’t move forward without first acknowledging where we have come from even if it's hard to do so.
To learn more about Senyuè @senyue.artist on IG/FB or visit www.senyueartist.com
Scott Hamilton is a 54-year-old Canadian writer, artist and self-published author who spent most of the formative years of his youth on a remote off-grid homestead in Northern British Columbia. He has been writing since childhood and published his first book of poetry titled Last of the Marlboro Men in 2022. He is currently working on a second poetry book titled Where the Wild Things Roam, centred on environmental and climate change, and various animal species that are increasingly endangered as a result. He is also currently working on a sci-fi post-apocalyptic novella based on a future of human survival amidst total climate collapse.
Aside from writing, Scott is a keen outdoor enthusiast who has a deep passion for the environment. He enjoys staying active and keeping fit through running, mountain biking, and paddle boarding. He raised his four adult children in the Comox Valley, where he currently resides with his partner Carmen and their two dogs, Maddie and Teeter.
Scott’s experiences as a father and living off the land inspired much of his first book of poetry, which explores themes of human nature, family, and redefining a patriarchal society. He plans to continue writing and publishing and hopes to encourage others to reach their own creative goals.
Lawrence J. W. Cooper is the poet laureate of the Comox Valley. He has published five books of poetry. His latest book, The Tourist, is a poetic novel about an aging poet struggling with his feelings about being a tourist in Los Cabo, Mexico. He questions the meaning and purpose of his work and his life.
Cooper is a retired educational psychologist and counsellor. He has published a book on borderline personality disorder and two workbook style teaching booklets on combining spiritual practices with sound psychological self-therapy strategies. After some personal struggles he is now living a life that he truly loves to live with his dear wife Dorothea on Baynes Sound in beautiful Fanny Bay, where the sea meets the mountains and the mountains meet the sky.
A relative new-comer to the valley, Scott Lawrance has been a denizen of the Salish Sea his whole life, having dropped roots in Vancouver, Robert’s Creek, Gibson’s, Saltspring Island, Oak Bay, and Cortes Island. He was one of the team who brought Raincoast Chronicles into the world, and was co-editor of two poetry magazines, Circular Causation and Raven.
Over the years, he has published seven books of poetry, including two collaborations with his friend from elementary school, artist and jazz drummer, Gregg Simpson. His most recent book, Playg Daze explores, through a range of styles and voices, the threshold experience of the Covid pandemic. He is now working on a follow-up volume that gestures toward what comes to birth following that transitional moment. Lawrance is part of the GTEC Reader Collective (Green Technology Education Center) and many of his recent writings appear there.
Like many other poets, his day jobs have been varied, including tree-planting, carpentry, teaching from elementary school to post-secondary, counselling, psychotherapy, and counsellor education. Currently, he facilitates wilderness rites of passage and serves on the advisory council of the Wilderness Guides Council, while continuing to encourage his children and grandchildren to get into as much of the good kind of trouble as they can.
Clown meets the blues by way of 30’s Berlin cabaret with a little detour through Las Vegas in blue, an interactive solo musical written and performed by Diana Kolpak, at Artful : The Gallery on February 11th, 2023.
blue is a sassy, sophisticated, poignant and rollicking fusion of theatre, cabaret, clown, fortune-telling and music. Former mermaid turned lounge singer Sally Siren is your guide on this odyssey, singing her heart out while accompanying herself on her fabulous toy piano. The audience charts its own course, choosing a playlist from 16 original songs. Sometimes beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious - but always presented with pizzazz - Sally’s musical numbers reveal love in all its passionate complexity.
A recent transplant to the Comox Valley, Diana Kolpak is a performer, director and writer who spent over 25 years honing her theatrical clowning skills in Toronto and was the first-ever Canadian invited to perform at clowning - an international festival of women clowns in Vienna.
blue has been performed at the Toronto Festival of Clowns, The Dark Crop Festival (Cambridge, ON), In The Soil festival (Ste. Catherines, ON), The Textile Museum of Canada and on a pirate ship in Toronto Harbour. The show is intended for adults, with some audience participation & mature content. Running time: 60 minutes.
written, performed & composed by Diana Kolpak
directed by David Benjamin Tomlinson
Saturday, February 11, 2023, 7 & 9 pm
$20 adult $18 seniors/students
Purchase tickets online at: https://whetstone-productions.yapsody.com or click:
Louis Stevenson was born in a heat wave in Whitehorse, Yukon. His mother was a Cree woman from Alberta, with Metis roots. His father was born in Moosejaw, to English parents, and served in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Stevenson doesn’t remember learning to read, but was an avid reader and loved literature from an early age. He spent his childhood on Air Force bases across Canada and always had a love for poetry. He was influenced heavily by folk music from the 1960s and in particular, Buffy St. Marie. Stevenson studied under Barry McKinnon while in Prince George, Robin Skelton while in Victoria, and finished his degree in Creative Writing and Journalism while attending Vancouver Island University.
Stevenson spent the best part of seven years in China from 2005 to 2012 teaching English. He has been heavily influenced by the 'I Ching' and loves reading translations of Chinese poetry from the Tang Dynasty.
Stevenson has worked as a Forest Service Officer, a letter carrier, a tree planter, an English teacher in China and Mexico, a logger, a security officer, an Officer of the Australian Commonwealth Government, a circus roustabout, a printer, an outreach worker for a couple of different First Nation organizations, and has spent time as a bass player for a jazz trio and a Zydeco band.
He is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.
Adelia MacWilliam is co-founder of the Cascadia Poetics Lab and a longtime Subud-Canada member who splits her time between Cumberland, BC and Galley Bay, Desolation Sound.
She was the black sheep of her family, and over the years the noir-ness of this element has faded and been replaced with country noir. Adelia believes that if you cast your mythic imagination across a piece of land that you love, everything will out.
When she began to write about her family’s tenure on Salt Spring Island (since 1905), the land that had been familiar (the root word being famelier from mid-14th Century French, meaning intimate, very friendly, on a familiar footing) seemed very unfamiliar. What was her families footing on this land? What was her footing as a poet regarding the fraught history of this coast? Her poems are a requiem in which the dead have a voice.
Adelia’s chapbook, Details of the Passage: Poems From an Island will be available for sale at the reading, which will be followed by an Open Mic 7-9pm, Dec 5th.
Paul E. Nelson
Artful : The Gallery welcomes poet and interviewer Paul E. Nelson as the feature poet to kick off our poetry Open Mic on Sunday, August 28th at 7 pm. Nelson is one of the co-founders, and current director, of the Cascadia Poetics LAB and the Cascadia Poetry Festival. As a professional journalist, Nelson has created over 600 hours of interview programming with legendary poets (yes, Allen Ginsberg is on the list!) and whole systems activists.
A long list of published works includes the recent Haibun de la Serna (2022), American Prophets (2018), American Sentences (2015 & 2021), Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia (2020). Winner of the 2014 Robin Blaser Award from the Capilano Review, Nelson is engaged in a 20-year bioregional cultural investigation of Cascadia, and lives in Rainier Beach, in the Cascadia bioregion’s Cedar River watershed.
The Cascadia Poetics LAB hosts the annual Poetry Postcard Fest and registration for 2023 opens on September 1, 2022. Visit https://paulenelson.com to learn more about our featured poet.
Paul E. Nelson writes an American Sentence everyday. Bring yours to share!
Two Island authors have productively used Covid to bring their memoirs to press. Adele Irving and Sheila Norgate have both taken years (and years!) to bring their efforts to completion, and luckily for us, neither of them gave up.
Irving’s Splat! starts in 1995 when her ‘perfect’ life went splat! in her face. As she points out sometimes you are the bug, sometimes you are the windshield. 30 years later, writing her story has allowed Irving to examine how she was able to pick herself up and keep going. It’s an engaging read, like getting a deliciously long letter from an old friend that you’ve lost contact with and catching up in one fell swoop. It’s the perfect read for a beachy afternoon or weekend when binging is possible. Reading Splat! I laughed out loud, I cried, I chastised, and I celebrated with Adele from start to finish.
This book is a powerful reminder that most of us have struggles (especially under the covers of ‘perfect’ lives!) in our lives, and that secrecy is the enemy of healing and growth. This story of family inspires and entertains with the truth of one woman’s life, and the magic of patterns and synchronicities to guide and affirm.
In 2021 Splat! received honourable mentions in the New York Book Festival, Paris Book Festival, New England Book Festival and Southern California Book Festival in the personal memoir category.
Norgate’s memoir has been writing itself for at least 25 years. After many abandoned attempts to commit the thing to paper, a spate of confessional one-woman performances, and a half a dozen writers’ retreats, one of which involved an overnight greyhound bus ride to Saskatoon, Norgate has finally wrestled her self-reflective ducks into a row long enough to produce If You Are Reading This.
The book is a collection of short essays, some as short as one page, covering a wide swath of territory. Making appearances are childhood trauma, World War II, the lesbian night owl (world famous oxymoron), God, false teeth, feminism, lady painters, Santa Claus, and a funny bone that has stood the test of both time and trouble.
Norgate’s early accolades are saying: “stupendous, a beautifully crafted life story…”, devastating and witty…smooth like Noel Coward” and “a breathtaking accomplishment”.
Two different stories, two different worldviews, two talented women courageously and vulnerably sharing their life stories for our entertainment, for our edification, and to inspire our own self-examination.
American icon Anne Lamott has plenty to say about encouraging women to write their stories and has famously prodded with her pithy wisdom, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Monday, August 22, 7:00 pm at Artful : The Gallery, Irving and Norgate will each read selected segments of their books and be available for what promises to be a delightfully engaging and inspiring Q&A.
By donation at the door ($10 suggested) with cash sales of both memoirs available that evening, personally signed by the authors.