Eighth annual BrainStorm poetry contest
Enter the storm and speak your mind:
NISA’s eighth annual BrainStorm poetry contest opens Jan. 4, 2010
The Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA) is pleased to announce its eighth annual BrainStorm Poetry Contest, which runs from Jan. 4 to March 19, 2010 and is open to poets worldwide.
The annual contest is an effective way for NISA to showcase the work of its readers and other mental health consumers. This year, NISA hopes to receive more submissions from poets outside North America, in order to raise awareness and to educate the public on the realities of mental health in different geographic regions. Subject matter is entirely open and needn’t focus on one’s struggle with mental health; however, the BrainStorm contest is open exclusively to consumers and survivors of mental health services.
The contest is intended as a fundraiser for NISA’s literary magazine, Open Minds Quarterly, as well as a way of supporting consumers and survivors of mental health services by awarding prizes to the top three winners. Learn more about contest regulations and download entry forms here. Inquiries may be directed to Dinah Laprairie at
or +1-705-675-9193 ext. 8286.
Fed. of BC Writers monthly E-newsletter
February 18, 2010
• FED NEWS
• WORK OPPORTUNITIES
• CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Welcome New Members:
May 13, 2010
FED OF BC WRITERS AGM 2010
6:30pm to 10:00pm
Alliance for Arts & Culture boardroom
938 Howe Street, Vancouver
Speaker: Lorraine Murphy, Social Media Maven ~ “Social Media Marketing for Writing”
Board elections, new constitution, state of the union
Door prizes, refreshments, member book sales, connecting with the writing community
SAGE HILL WRITING EXPERIENCE
The Sage Hill Writing Experience is a renowned summer residential writing program that draws students from across Canada, offering learning opportunities for writers at varying stages of development in a unique environment in the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley. Spring and summer programs provide writers with outstanding professional development opportunities at several levels in fiction, poetry and other creative writing disciplines.
Term: One year, with the likelihood of renewal; 20 hours weekly in Saskatoon office plus flexible hours on-site during the programs. Salary negotiable; benefits included.
For details, see our website: www.sagehillwriting.ca
THE PROFESSIONAL WRITERS ASSOC. OF CANADA NEW WRITING AWARDS
Open to PWAC members and non-members.
Awards will be given for feature-length stories (over 1,200 words) and shorter pieces.
Entries must have been published in a paying Canadian print or web media outlet in 2009. The first prize in each category has a $500 value, including a free PWAC membership for a year (if eligible).
Entry requirements are available at www.pwac.ca/eventsandresources/pwacawards <http://www.pwac.ca/eventsandresources/pwacawards> .
EMERGING FROM THE SHADOWS POETRY CONTEST
Open to Canadian poets who have never won first prize in a poetry contest
Poems may be on any theme in any style, maximum 36 lines (counting stanza spaces). Poems may be previously published but may not have won any previous contest prizes. Blind judging: no author id anywhere on same page of poem; include a cover page with name, address, phone number, and email, along with poem title(s). Prizes: 1st – $25 and 1-year membership to Ontario Poetry Society; 2nd – 1 year membership; 3rd – $10; 12 honorable mentions. All prize winners will also recieve a Fancy Certificate. Cost: $5 for up to 3 poems, additional poems $2 each. Mail entries and payment to: The Ontario Poetry Society, 31 Marisa Court, Thornhill ON, L4J 6H9. Include SASE for winners list.
SHORT STORY CONTEST AND POETRY CONTEST
The contest is open to everyone, but eligible San Luis NightWriters will be entered in a drawing for a scholarship to the 2010 Central Coast Writers’ Conference. Entries must be based on the theme: Trust/Betrayal. Prizes: 1st – $75, 2nd – $50 (for both short story and poetry). Entry fee: $10 for first story/poem, $5 for each additional entry. Email SLOnightwritersevents@yahoo.com for more information.
THE VICTORIA WRITERS SOCIETY 9TH ANNUAL WRITING COMPETITION
Submit your best poetry, fiction or creative non-fiction. The contest is open to all residents of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. entry fee is $15 per entry.
first prize of $100, second prize of $50 and two Honourable Mention prizes of a $30 Munro’s gift certificate in each category.
For more information go to victoriawriterssociety@gmailcom.
SUBTERRAIN LUSH TRIUMPHANT LITERARY AWARDS
Submit fiction of up to 3000 words, creative non-fiction of up to 4000 words, or suites of up to 5 poems. Cost: $25 (includes subscription). Prize: $750 in each category, plus paid publication.
THE BURNABY WRITERS’ SOCIETY
Open to all BC residents, explores the many meanings of “Water”. Prizes of $200, $100 and $50, as well as honourable mentions, will be awarded for the best one-page submissions of either prose or poetry, interpreting the theme of water in any way you wish. Work can be in any form or genre, as long as it is complete on one page. The entry fee is $5.00 per entry, or 3 entries for $10.00. Winners will be invited to participate in a public reading, in fall 2010. For complete guidelines go to the website, www.bws.bc.ca or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
looking for submissions for Spring 2010
The Montreal-based online literary magazine, www.carte-blanche.org is looking for fiction, non-fiction and graphic fiction writers, poets, translators, and photographers from across the country and around the world.We publish high-quality, cutting edge and good old fashioned great writing from both emerging and established writers. New for this year, carte blanche has been invited to participate in the 2010 Journey Prize.
Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Translations, Graphic Fiction, Photography
www.carte-blanche.org/submissions.html for complete submission guidelines
OTHER TONGUES: MIXED-RACE WOMEN SPEAK OUT
Co-editors Adebe D.A. and Andrea Thompson are seeking submissions for an anthology of writing by and about mixed-race women of Black/white heritage, publication in Fall 2010.
More info and Guidelines at: www.adebe.wordpress.com www.andreathompson.ca
February 18 – April 8
THURSDAYS 6:30 – 9:30 pm
POETRY: WORKING IN A SERIES
For those who want to explore the long poem, poetic series, or sequence. Whether achieved by digression, accretion, or constellation, the series is a way toward a book of poetry that is an organic whole. Price: $240. Location: Kootenay School of the Arts, Nelson Campus, 606 Victoria St., Nelson.
February 26, 9 am – 4 pm
AN ALL-DAY WORKSHOP WITH PAUL NELSON
The process of training your ear to capture the chaotic energy of the moment is sometimes called Organic Poetry, where composition is an occasion of experience or experiment in consciousness. Cost: $60. Payment & Reservations: Wordstorm Society of the Arts, 1560 Arbutus Drive, Nanoose Bay, V9P 9C8. Location: TBA in Nanaimo or Parksville.
Vancouver – Langara College
March 2 (on campus) Remainder of course onlineWebsite
NOVEL OPENINGS: CRAFTING A BETTER BEGINNING
This online mentorship course aims to provide emerging writers with the guidance they seek to get those all-important first chapters into shape for submission to agents and publishers. Over eight weeks students will work independently with instructor, author June Hutton (Underground), and with each other, providing valuable feedback on the key elements of their work. contact Kathryn Ellis 604-323-5979 or email@example.com
March 6 – April 10
SATURDAYS 10 am – 1 pm
CRITIQUING YOUR WORK: FICTION AND CREATIVE NON-FICTION WITH RITA MOIR
Fed member Rita Moir will hold six consecutive critiquing sessions. Writers will do assignments, as well as critiquing their creative non-fiction and fiction manuscripts in progress. Scene setting, character, and dialogue. Bring a lunch! Price: $180. Location: Kootenay School of the Arts, Nelson Campus, 606 Victoria Street, Nelson.
THE SURREY WRITERS SCHOOL
presents the following half-day spring workshops – $45 each.
Sat. Mar 27 – Guildford Library, 15105 – 105 Avenue
10:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Writing a Memoir: How to Get Going
1:30 – 4:30 p.m. p.m. Blogging for Writers
Sat. May 15 – Semiahmoo Library, 1815 – 152nd Street
10:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. Hero’s Journey
1:30 – 4:30 p.m. Story: Art & Craft
Saturday, April 17 – Semiahmoo Library, 1815 – 152nd Street
10:15 – 11:30 p.m. free presentation: Databases for Writers
For further information and registation details
check the website www.surreywritersschool.com or call 604.535-1601
May 28 & 29
WRITE ON, VANCOUVER
A mini-conference for fiction writers, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America, Greater Vancouver Chapter
Special guest keynote speaker: Laura Resnick. Workshops, industry panel, editor appointments. For registration information & bookings, contact Sally Collins, SallyCollins@shaw.ca.
May 28 – June 1
SUMMER FICTION WRITING SEMINAR IN SOZOPOL (BULGARIA)
Intensive daily workshops, roundtable discussions, readings, and lectures by faculty and fellows. Fiction writers from English-speaking countries are invited to apply; ten applicants will be selected for participation and funding.
April 10, 1 p.m.
THE BALLAD OF KNUCKLES McGRAW
Readings, entertainment, door prizes and refreshments – all with a cowboy theme –
mark the launch of Surrey author, storyteller and creative writing instructor
Lois Peterson’s second novel for children (Orca Book Publishers).
Newton Library, 13795-70 Avenue, Surrey.
The launch will be followed by a free writing/storytelling workshop for children ages 6-11
(2:30-4 p.m.). For more information check www.loispeterson.net.
Sunday, February 21, 8 pm
THE BIG ROCK SHOWDOWN
Hosted and co-produced by storyteller and improviser Dave Morris, the Big Rock SHOWDOWN will feature performers from all artistic pursuits: stand-up comedians, musicians, actors, poets, storytellers, dancers, M.C.s, and improvisers, in a cabaret-style performer competition. The audience decides the winner of the $100 cash prize. Tickets: $10 ($7 for students). Location: Victoria Event Centre, 1415 Broad Street, Victoria.
reachAbility, a Canadian nonprofit association that fights for equality of rights for all Canadians with disabilities, is asking for submissions for a book to be published this year. The goal of the book is to raise awareness of the need for equality, break down barriers, and offer strategies and solutions for inclusion.
The submissions are first-hand accounts of employment experiences, and can be submitted in a variety of formats. Topics can include (but are not limited to) how your disability affected your getting a job, feelings of acceptance or exclusion from staff and management, and barriers encountered at work. Submission deadline is March 15, 2010.
See “The First Person Project,” February 5, 2010, at www.blogs.usask.ca/dss.
Susan J. Katz won fourth prize and $250 for “The Bowpicker”, a narrative in which two visits to a seabird-watching festival, three decades apart, reveal the differences between youthful romance and long-married love. The judges said, “The poet majors on what she actually saw at the Annual Seabird Festival and what she expected to see. The joy of reading these verses does not just rely on that contrast, however, but on the unusual yet amazing subject matter which is so deftly and unobtrusively introduced into the natural flow of the poem.”
First Prize, $2,000: Rita McGregor, Baby Girl
Third Prize, $500: Tony Peyser, What I Did in the 20th Century
For a complete review of the winners and their poems, go to:
Welcome address to freshman at Boston Conservatory, given by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of music division at Boston Conservatory.
“One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn’t be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother’s remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school—she said, “you’re WASTING your SAT scores.” On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they LOVED music, they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren’t really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the “arts and entertainment” section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it’s the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.
The first people to understand how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you; the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.
One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940, sent across Germany in a cattle car and imprisoned in a concentration camp.
He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose. There were three other musicians in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist, and Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for four thousand prisoners and guards in the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.
Given what we have since learned about life in the concentration camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture—why would anyone bother with music? And yet—from the camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn’t just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, “I am alive, and my life has meaning.”
In September 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. That morning I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn’t this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.
And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day.
At least in my neighborhood, we didn’t shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn’t play cards to pass the time, we didn’t watch TV, we didn’t shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, that same day, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang “We Shall Overcome”. Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.
From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.
Some of you may know Samuel Barber’s heartwrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don’t know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn’t know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what’s really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.
I bet that you have never been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but I bet you there was some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings—people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there’s some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn’t good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can’t talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn’t happen that way. The Greeks: Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.
I’ll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in Fargo, ND, about 4 years ago.
I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland’s Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland’s, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.
Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier—even in his 70’s, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.
When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.
What he told us was this: “During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team’s planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute chords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?”
Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. This concert in Fargo was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.
What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year’s freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:
“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.
You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used Chevies. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.
Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the concentration camp and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”
About this entry
You’re currently reading “Inspirational Speech,” an entry on Piano Tree