Hope for Grise Fjord

PROMPT:  For this writing, I gave a list of prompts that had to do with returning to the Earth and I believe it was the word hope that stuck with Julie to create this moving and powerful piece about her recent travels to Nunavut.


Hope for Grise Fjord – by Julie Bean

It was over sixty years ago when the government determined greater human presence was required in the North.  Motivation driven by claims for sovereign territory, and territory meant a resident community.  In their wisdom, one Inuit was the same as another.  An Inuk knew how to hunt,  build shelter, make warm clothes to protect against the elements and, as a result, the government relocated many from northern Quebec to Grise Fjord in the High Arctic.  A savage place; a harsh land, shrouded with mist swirling over glaciers, and minimal sun to bring light beyond a few hours each day.  Hunting over this landscape was unknown, mammals were different, birds were less, the sea roiling and angry.


Go On

photo copyMagazine captions, titles etc can be great prompts for writing.  At our last class before summer I put out a random bunch of pictures, titles, captions, words from magazines.

These words inspired the writing below: a little messy, expect more, stories, go on, take what you… of poetry, stories scoundrels, trailblazers and conspires to assist you.


Press Pound to Skip

PROMPT:  Use the repeating line of there are / there is… (what are the things that are in your life?)

Press Pound to Skip by Nathalie Vachon

There are crocuses in my back yard, a clump of purple that keeps grabbing my attention, stopping me in my tracks.  There are flowers that shouldn’t bloom yet; the one I bought two years ago whose name I have forgotten is already showing pink buds.  There are leaves that need raking.  There are thoughts in my head that need to be put to rest.

There are worries; a basement of filing cabinets with sterile walls and florescent bulbs that hum in the background of my life.

There are shoulders that have a hard time falling, releasing, resolving.  There are messages on the answering machine that I have not answered.  Press 1 to listen.  Press 7 to erase.  Press pound to skip.  I skip over so much and there are emotions piling up.  Seems I can’t feel them fully, can’t face them straight on so I press pound to skip…


Ignore No Vision (after Maya Angelou)

PROMPT:  Using two lines of a poem written by Maya Angelou to Oprah Winfrey for her 50th birthday (Ignore no vision… and increase your spirit), each writer was to create two lines of inspiration and encouragement to create a group poem.  We picked numbers randomly to decide the order and here is the final poem:

Ignore No Vision – by Sabrina, Catherine, Carol, Alice, Vanessa, Maryaleen and Nathalie

Ignore no vision which comes to enlarge your range
And increase your spirit

Fearlessly, be your own champion
And tend fiercely to your sweet and tender dream shoots

Allow softness to grow your heart open
Accept tininess, accept flaw as the beginnings of power

Where is She Today

PROMPT:  This prompt came from the group scanning a set of books and picking out titles or phrases that jumped out. The phrases that Sabrina wrote from: ‘a tourist in your own town’ and ‘where is home’.

Where is She Today – by Sabrina Dias

Where is she today?  Sometimes as she walks up her street of nine years, this thought pops into her head: “Does this feel like my home?” Or she asks herself “Have I really lived her this long? So why am I still asking myself if this feels like my home?”  She finds this very bizarre. She is happy, she is content; life is very good for her. Neither she nor her husband is jobless, nor are they suffering from any terrible illnesses. They have no children so life is relatively calm and uncomplicated. But where is home then?



PROMPT:  Write about teeth!

Teeth – by Sarah Batten

I have not been to a dentist in years.  I won’t say how long.  I ask myself why.  I have come to the conclusion that I do not go because of the dentist I was forced to go to as a child.  He was brutal.  That is the only word that springs to mind.  I felt as though I was abused by him.  I guess I was, but perhaps not in the usual way.  He was so rough; his hands were not the least bit gentle.

Dr. Dmitri and his assistants would stand over me breathing out their strong, bitter, coffee breaths.  “Hoooooow are yooooouuu todaaaaay Sarah?”  Before I could answer I experienced a sea of hands coming at me and grabbing inside my small mouth.




We had the fantastic opportunity to do a little one night / two day get-away with some of the women from the Writing Workshop (thanks to our lovely host Lisa and her family home out in the country).  What a fantastic place to hold a writing workshop and what an inspired and inspiring journeys everyone took with the writing.  Clearly I was struck by the need for more space and silence.  Here is one of the pieces I wrote from that weekend:

Space - by Nathalie Vachon

Give me a view, please
A field divided into sections
Grass to start
Dirt awaiting possibility
Another row of green
A farmhouse in the distance
Give me space
A sky that ends in nowhere
A cloud that trails behind, long behind the others

Give me a farmhouse in the distance
Let it belong to the Smith’s or the Schaeffer’s
Let me follow the braided rows in the fields
Let them take me to a girl in pigtails
To me, standing on the edge of Lake Superior
Or filling up a canteen with icy water from a mountain spring
Let there be space between this car that passes
And the next

Love Walked In

PROMPT:  write using the line “Love Walked In”

Love Walked In – by Catherine Dine

Lately love has not walked in, I simply realized it was always there.

Love seemed invisible for a while, lost amid the children’s toys, the critical decisions, the trade offs and compromises. Love took a back seat to efficiency, economy, and purpose. It suffered under the yolk of children’s problems, lack of support, lack of access to true knowing. Love was forgotten in the headlong pursuit of getting it right while getting it all terribly wrong.


Combing Through Song Titles

PROMPT:  Song titles are succinct word gems and can give such wonderful starting points for poems and writings…  During the Creative Writing Workshop we combed through CDs (of artists such as Tom Waits, Pink Martini, Feist to name a few) for inspiring, intriguing and captivating song titles…  everyone chose one and we wrote from there.  Here is one of the pieces from that evening!

Home I’ll Never Be (after Tom Waits)
By: Vanessa Ramsey

Sitting at the dark brown antique dining table
In my family’s kitchen
My chair
Facing the white-washed walls with a purposeful clock
And a calendar
As if the date and time were of the utmost importance
My father to the right and my brother to the left
Facing each other as if they were always onto a secret that I didn’t yet know
The regal chair
The papa bear’s chair
Glued to the floor with weights and chains, pulling it down

A Gift

PROMPT: bring in a gift that was given to you.  Write about the gift not only from the perspective of what it is… but also what it is not.   This piece was written that night (in the Creative Writing Workshop) and is such a beautiful tribute to friendship:

Red is Best (after Kathy Stinson) – by Evelyn Barsby

It is a deep red translucent cube with metallic swirls that floats about on stilts, above the rest of the world. It is a most precious treasure.

This was not a thoughtless gift. You know me so well. This is my favourite colour after all. “When I see beautiful reds, it reminds me of you”. Red is Best, like the children’s story I had read to my daughter at bedtime. It is a symbol of our closeness. It is meant to be for trinkets, but I keep nothing inside as it reminds me of our great friendship. That is the real treasure.

I see it every day on my shelf. It holds all the great times we shared inside. It is a memory treasure box. Open it and out pops a skate on the Rideau Canal with us taking turns wearing that crazy fur hat. Open it again and we’re having coffee at the Starbucks around the corner. So many memories….. sad ones too, like when you moved away and when you told me about your childhood.