Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ninth born.

"I love these new poems and find the writing irresistibly energetic and imaginative. It's a beautiful, bountiful piece of work." -Barry Dempster

Wretched Beast
by Shelley A. Leedahl

ISBN 978-1-894543-71-2

The latest poetry collection by multi-genre writer Shelley A. Leedahl is a visceral and imagistic sojourn documenting a poet’s walk through prairie woodlands and forests (“moose tracks on the moose tracks”), urban Canadian streets and foreign country lanes, and across significant life transitions.

The poems in Wretched Beast bridge signpost personalities, destinations, intense phases of self-imposed solitude, and sometimes raw experiences , leaving a never-before map in their emotional wake. Ripe with birds and garter snakes, with awe for the unlikely (“skates slung over shoulders in the old way”), with whimsy, praise, and with poems unafraid to ring in the minor key, Leedahl meticulously delivers her passionate art of walking, of listening inward and out, and of rising when it is no small thing.

Leedahl frequently presents her work and leads writing workshops across Canada. She was born and raised in SK, recently lived in Edmonton, and is currently based in Wilson Creek on BC’s Sunshine Coast.

Contact her at to have a signed copy mailed to your address. ($25, includes shipping\handling)   Books can also be ordered directly from the publisher:
Book launch and tour details are forthcoming. Please stay tuned.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Saskatchewan retreat house (for writers, visual artists, and other creators).

Making art.
Sometimes it requires solitude.
And listening to the quiet voice that's your own.

Imagine an extended retreat with inspiration drawn from walking
through woodland trails, interacting with gentle wildlife,
and circumnavigating a quiet prairie lake.

Enjoy the luxury of time and space ... for your art, and for yourself.

Literary writer Shelley A. Leedahl is offering her home in the scenic village of Middle Lake, Saskatchewan (1.5 hours NE of Saskatoon) for creative or contemplative retreats. Individual or two-person residencies preferred, and two month minimum requested. Dog companions welcome.

The two bedroom plus study, perfectly private house with large garden and two-car garage is on the village edge. The home floods with light. The broad western sky provides a dramatic backdrop to your creative work. A postcard ten-minute walk through the woods leads to the quiet lakeshore. Birds and nature are abundant.

Retreat rate is $800\month (single) or $1200\month (double),
wirelss internet and utilities included. 
Better rates negotiable for longer retreats. 

Your view (woods just to the left of image).

Dining room with window toward the sunset.

House is furnished and includes upright grand piano.

Lucien Lake.

One corner of the large private garden.

Please contact Shelley A. Leedahl
or 604-989-4959 for more information
or to reserve your private retreat now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Son: A Thanksgiving Photo Essay in Three Parts \ Part Three

Pender Hill: the top.

The tradition of adding a stone to the cairn.

Or beginning a new one, as it were.

Pender Harbour spreads out below.

Son: "We better go check the crab trap."

Shelley: "But it's so peaceful here."
Garden Bay.

Shelley: "I'm going to miss you like crazy."
(In Gibsons Landing, moments before boarding the ferry at Langdale."

Son: A Thanksgiving Photo Essay in Three Parts \ Part Two

Greg: "It's so much better to get in a boat and out to the deep water."

Son: "This feels like a big one!"

Son: "There's a sunstar on top of the trap!"

Son: "That's a big sucker."

Hauling the trap in for another check.
Son: "Yep, it's a male, and not a bad size."

Son: "Mom, take a picture of me."
Greg: "Not a bad haul."
Son: "This big boy gets his own pail."

Son: "We need more saltwater in those containers."

Greg: "There's nothing like dungeness crab."

Greg: "This is going to be delicious, and I'll dance to that!"

Logan: "I can eat another one. Can you?"
Crab: "We're gonna need a bigger plate!"

The fine art of eating crab.

Greg: "Pass me the cracker, please."

Shelley: "This has been a fantastic day."

Son: A Thanksgiving Photo Essay in Three Parts \ Part One

Mother to son text: "I c u."

Son: "That's me standing at the bow."

Son: "We have to cross this creek."

Son: "Let's go a little further."

Mother: "Can you believe this is where I live?"
Son: "This is the best garage sale ever."
(note ... purchased two crab traps for $10
and crabbed all weekend).
Greg: "We'll just repair this net and throw the traps off the Davis Bay wharf."

Greg: "Give it a good chuck."

Logan: "First catch of the day."

Cliff Gilker Park.

                     ``Oh, what a beautiful morning.``

             in Cliff Gilker park  (about 7 minutes from home)

Sunshine Coast Police Blotter (no joke!)

One of the highlights of every Friday is receiving the local newspaper, the Coast Reporter. Below are a few items from the Weekly Police Report.

On October 5, a resident in the 900 block of Gower Point Road reported a suspicious incident after witnessing a small ball of fire descend rapidly from the sky and land in her hedges. Police attended and found the remains of a paper lantern, which is believed to have become airborne once the candle inside had warmed the air inside. Due to recent rains, the hedge did not catch fire. It is unknown where the lantern came from.

Overnight on Oct. 10, a thief gained entry into two unlocked vehicles in the 1200 block of Grandview Road. The vehicle was rifled through, but nothing was stolen. [Shell`s note: no theft = no thief]

Overnight on Oct. 10, a thief gained entry into an unlocked vehicle in the 1200 blck of Sunnyside Road and rifled through the contents and stole a watermelon. The thief appears to have had a knife as slices of watermelon were found on the driveway.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book News Galore.

G . o.  o.  d.    n.  e.  w.  s.  

F i r s t l y: My next book of poetry, Wretched Beast, will be released very soon! BuschekBooks in Ottawa is working on the finishing touches, and I will announce a release date and begin lining up readings for this title -- fourth book of poetry -- immediately.

Taylor Leedahl is responsible for the cover image, and I'm elated with it.

Aside from more formal venues, I am hoping to read in salon-style settings, especially in private homes. Everyone's comfortable, the setting's informal, and wine (or at least some very tasty tea) is a-flowing.

If you have an interest in having me read to a group of your friends, family, your book club or other parties in the Sunshine Coast area, please contact me via

Schools, libraries, and other hosts may invite me to present through the Writers Union of Canada or the Canada Council. Depending upon where you live, provincial funding may also be available. Private funding? That works, too.

As always, with any of my books I'd stand on my head while blowing bubbles or throw my back out doing cartwheels if it would sell a book. Want one? If you would like a signed copy for yourself, your family or a friend, or someone you require an original gift for, just ask! I'll be happy to send one.

The list price is $17.95. With postage and handling, it will be $22 per book. Order one and you'll be my best friend forever. Order two and my heart may not take it. Order three and I'll be certain I've died.

Sample poems:

Trivialities (Designing a Future)

Like fingers tracing the roadmap of my palm
as I drive. The little things.
We both like war movies, say, or tramping
through woods in the rain. It doesn't matter
a whit if our shoes soak through, sleeves and jeans
laminating chilled limbs. We'll admit
that we both still climb trees
and sometimes pray. You'll show me the talismans
in your pocket. God, I'm starving
for all these things I never fathomed
I would require. Lover, whomever you are now
or will be, know that we need not speak.
Truly, it's better this way. I'm a far shore
from romantic; what I desire now
is to communicate merely with eyes. It will be easy
and just like this: two people in bed
on regular white sheets; ceiling is all
the theatre we'll wish for. Your right hand
fielding my left, the way the elderly hold hands,
the way one instinctively takes the blind
and navigates across the perils
of an everyday street. Jesus, we'll be so happy
we'll hardly breathe.

A White-tailed Deer Stood Statuesque in the Curve

of the Winding Lane

The last thing your lips touched:
my skin
and a coffee mug, Stephen's
blue-green pottery
I purchased in trade, and oh,
I am not sentimental
but admit, I paused before washing it.

all afternoon through these icing-white rooms
in my Wal-Mart dressing gown
and sweatsocks.

See what you've got yourself into?

Just me
and the leonine contour of my dog
beneath a commotion of bedclothes. This morning
we lurched across the field
I'm considering now. Snow-waves.
Aubergine light.

What a short poem you and I made
of yesterday's hike:
… the dog stitching the woods together,
something about delicate animal tracks
stamped into the tinted snow.

I am all basic nouns and drifts
in the shapes of beasts.

Last night, a small party with writers
and trivia games. No one knew much
about the Blue Jays
or 1970s Nobel prize winners.

Each time I looked
you were brewing coffee
and your eyes appeared sad.

And how still
the ribs of this house today, relearning
the meteorology of absence
at the water-stained table
and in my hand-me-down bed
(where you've cracked your shins
and so often slept poorly).

Now here's a surprise:
I have eaten the leftovers
from the gathering. Yes, even the chocolate,
and I am sick but not sorry.

When will I see you again?

I discovered your grey socks
and one pair of jockey underwear
entwined with a towel
in my dryer.

Tell me you need them.
Insist they are irreplaceable.

My hands back in dishwater;
this is the way
to get on with it.

Does a coffee mug have a memory?
Is the blue cobalt or smoke?

Hours from here, you are.


And in this landing’s fist of winter light,
months from then — months, now, from you—
I return to Valletta, a late afternoon
glass of beer in a darkening plaza
after walking the stone lanes
for hours; the wooden casements, decay and housedresses
like museum pieces in the windows. Children
singing hymns behind closed doors. You and I
may have shared a pastry. Surprise me,
I might have said. Then our game of adjectives.
Your Valletta: dove-throated, intimate,
breathing, imperturbable, heavy-stoned. And mine:
spirited, paint-peeled, valid, preserved, lyrical.
So many places where one’s life can stop.
And does. The sea’s fantastical turquoise.
The harbour’s little boats, cute as confections.
I loved how you spoke to the men playing bacci,
and the meridian light
splitting your face in an almost-empty café.
The yellow buses passed, and we walked.
Teenage girls fed Maltese into cell-phones.
I was thirsty and I was outside myself.
We followed the road which followed the sea wall — bombed
and rebuilt — and boys made a capricious game
of diving. We walked. We were dying
and you were beautiful. In the plaza
purses and linens and beach towels.
Rabbit and swordfish on every menu.
You may have said something I should have recorded;
everything not archived disappears.
I believed no one else would ever love me.
We walked. We were always walking.
How often we got lost on that pilgrimage,
yet the sun held up
until we were almost home.

(Note to readers: Valletta is the capital of the country of Malta.)

July 21, 2008: Ruth Becomes a Widow and I Share Excerpts
From My Day

Ah ... I wanted to say goodnight.
I wanted to say it's hard sometimes, like tonight,
even the mourners next door having more fun
than me. There was absolutely nothing wrong
with this day. Birds amused me
as another afternoon became evening.
I sat in my garden at the end of the row of lettuce
I can't eat fast enough, and watched purple martins
razor overhead, or stand next to each other
on the power line, slightly impatient,
like high school graduates in their gowns.
It's getting to be a long time.
Even the wind titillates. It had its way
with my green sundress, long dry
since I wore it this morning
over my swimsuit. No one else on the beach
except Alphonse, raking the sand with a tractor.
An entire lake, smooth as music,
to myself. (Later, in the post office,
Alphonse's wife says he wants to know
if I'll be swimming at the same hour tomorrow).
I lost count of the times
the dog leaped from his back door roost
to come to me, his paws on my knees,
so we could hug each other.
But there is Galway Kinnell's newest book
waiting on the landing, and with it, a CD.
I've been holding off on listening.
I've been a long time waking. I am a six mile run
down a country road, glad of the appaloosa
who ran the fenceline with me. Dear Lovely,
I have finally stopped trying to drown.

S e c o n d l y:  My essay "Tits" appears in the arresting new anthology below, recently released by Wolsak & Wynn. Some big names in this one, folks, including Mark Kingwell, Sharon Butala, Lorna Crozier, Myrna Kostash, Stephen Heighton, Eveyln Lau, and my neighbour over in Roberts Creek, Andreas Schroeder.

Edited by Luanne Armstrong and Zoë Landale, this is a thoughtful and engaging introduction to the diverse world of Canadian creative non-fiction. Armstrong and Landale have put together a thorough survey of the growing body of Canadian creative non-fiction, covering the areas of memoir, personal essay, cultural journalism, lyric essay and nature or place essays.

Taken as a whole, this book reveals a map of Canadian creative non-fiction, the complex interplay between narrative and fact, between truth and memory, between construction and imagination.

List of Authors: Timothy J. Anderson, Luanne Armstrong, Kate Braid, Sharon Butala, Silver Donald Cameron, Lorna Crozier, Marjorie Doyle, MAC Farrant, Patrick Friesen, Susan Glickman, Wayne Grady, Genni Gunn, Steven Heighton, Melody Hessing, Matt Hughes, Edith Iglauer, Adam Jeffries Schwartz, Deanna Kawatski, Mark Kingwell, Myrna Kostash, Zoë Landale, Evelyn Lau, Shelley Leedahl, Charles Montgomery, Sarah Murphy, Lorri Neilsen Glenn, Susan Olding, Stephen Osborne, Molly Peacock,Harold Rhenisch, Jill Robinson, Andreas Schreoder, Jane Silcott, Joan Skogan, Madeline Sonik, Fiona Tinwei Lam and Ayelet Tsyabari.

Slice me some truth: An anthology of Canadian creative non-fiction
Edited by Luanne Armstrong and Zoë Landale
6 x 9 Paperback
350 pp. $29

Buy or order at your favourite bookstore, or here:

***If you are in or near Vancouver, please come to the launch. I'll be there to read with other contributors:

When: Wednesday November 9, 2011, 7 PM.
Where: Peter Kaye R,  lower level of the Vancouver Central Library at 350 W. Georgia Street

Opening Excerpt from "Tits":



This is my last night with them. We go back a long way.

Funny how some women have names for theirs. They call them The Girls, The Twins, or something equally cute and endearing. Not me. Except for those milky months when they nourished my babies, I've mostly hated and hidden them. Reviled and reprehended.

When mine rose onto the scene -- particularly memorable, perhaps, because it was the summer between grades five and six and I was among the earliest in my crowd to develop -- I moseyed down to the Saan store with my mother and became the indifferent new owner of a white, stretchy, 28 AA trainer bra with a barely-there daisy flower design. I slipped my arms into the straps and manoeuvred the front-to-back twist, but something was amiss.

Fourteen-year-old let's-call-him David Moostoos, who would later give me my first French kiss during a Truth or Dare session, enlightened me: Hey, Shell … theshoulder straps are adjustable. Ah. Red-faced but securely rigged, I was free then to return to playing dodge ball and kick-the-can with the neighbourhood kids without my mother's fear of showing anything. Part bandage, part bondage, part badge. My first bra.

It is a strange thing to fathom that in less than eleven hours I will never look the same again. The decision to have a reduction mammoplasty has been arduous and comes only after several years of contemplation.

Fact: I am a long distance runner (non-competitive, but still). Running an average of 50k a week with D cups has quite literally been a bloody chore: the straps of my running bras quarry into my collarbones, or the sides and bottoms of my breasts. I am grooved and scarred in these places. I am scarred, period.

Fact: I am disproportionate: my hip/bust ratio confirms it, the mirror screams it, photographs clinch it, and besides, the doctor told me so. This means a free operation. This means I will be able to wear blouses and sweaters I've never before dared to don. This is a passport to buying bras other than those that come in white and beige, offer Firm Support, and sport hefty price tags. It means I might be able to wear a bathing suit with an-air-of-something-that-resembles- confidence, and I may even dredge up the nerve to go braless (from time to time, when I'm alone, and have had at least two glasses of wine). It means less stress on my back, shoulders and neck. It may very well mean the world.

Fact: today I read that this is the plastic surgery which provides patients with the greatest satisfaction.

Fact: I'm still not sure I should be doing this. If something can go wrong, odds are it will go wrong with me. Asymmetry? Dead nipples? Worse? There's still time to pull out.

T h i r d l y: Another new book!
The Sunshine Coast must be bringing me exceptional luck, for I've just learned that DC Books (Montreal) has accepted my new short story collection, Listen, Honey, for publication in spring 2012!
I couldn't be happier about having this well-established press bring out this new collection of contemporary stories. 
"This is an entertaining, thoughtful and downright sexy book that will appeal to both brand new and seasoned readers of Canlit. It will capture readers who enjoy finely-crafted contemporary Canadian stories that resonate with emotion, reject sentimentality, and are impossible to predict. People will see themselves—or someone they could easily become—in these eclectic stories.

If one is the kind of person who laughs during sex or gets the untimely giggles at funerals, he or she will relate to these stories. If one is the type who cries in bed—or at funerals — bingo, he or she will also relate."

Want to read an excerpt? E-mail me: