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midnight at the candyass cabaret
Stories can-can at the Candy-ass Cabaret...
umbrella shop
More stories duck into the umbrella shop...
and the following young man
The writer wanders and finds and sees...

300dpi lettieri
...finds stories in the streets
Cuban lamp post fragment 300 dpi colour
lit by lonely broken lanterns

bookshop rat
until books scatter the streets' flowering secrets.


I've donated the price of a downtown taxi ride to and I hope you will, too. Project Bookmark gives story fragments back to the places where writers found them. It honours the stories that connect us with each other, and makes the wandering heart unlonely.
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Dear One sugar shack farmer pan evaporator syrup maple hot little window makeshift table fragrant steam outarde geese in the corn stubble three robins the call of an owl long hoots and a gurgling down-note hawk transparent wings soaring circling slow tall reeds how did they survive the winter silver birch arches bowed from the ice storm fire logs moustache dark and sweet paddle compartments poutine Chez Paulo general store old truck maple smoked salmon Frelighsburg miel oeufs green eggs garlic farm mud melted brook bridges oh god how did we ever survive that winter congregations of birds everywhere; small birds, fat birds, large birds all singing singing singing... La Bonne Franquette, said Dear One, is a simple blessing that you could not have planned - it flies where it flies...

general store photo

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This man on stilts walked around the market commenting on the crackers and olives up on shelves too high for others to see them. He played his flute. I'd seen him around the metro stations but avoided him. But today a woman who knew him asked how he was doing.

"How many grandchildren have you now?" she asked him.


Imagine having him for a grandad.

grandad on stilts

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I dreamed I saw Margaret Atwood tucking into a panini on Avenue Mont-Royal, at a sidewalk terrace. She was alone and I resolved to pass without looking at her. It was probably the first panini in decades she'd managed to eat alone in public. It was imperative I look away and keep my mouth shut. I could write a book on what I might say to Margaret Atwood, something like "Dear Bruce Springsteen" only more like "Dear Stately Auk Who Escaped the Great Extinction." I managed to pass by but could not help sidling behind the first lamp post to watch her eat. Unobtrusively, I thought, but she was onto me. "Do you really," she said, "have to do that?"

Margaret AtwoodpaniniAukAuk sweater
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A woman holding a garage sale in the fall foliage of the Eastern Townships sold me some family photos for $2 each. This one's a photo of Alice Rousseau with Rita and Rejeanne Martin (clockwise from top left), of Sherbrooke. Would you say it's around 1940? Look at their homemade clothes and their faces bursting with character. Who would sell old family photos? I don't understand it. All I know is, with my trusty Italian magnifying glass and these photographs, I'm going on a journey beyond my own place and time.

Alice, Rita, Rejeanne
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I was going to Lakefield and my brother Michael sent my daughter a sketch he made of Margaret Laurence's house eight years ago. So when I went there I made another one so Juliette could have a pair. The aerial seems to be holding up pretty good.

Margaret Laurence's house Michael

Margaret Laurence's house Kathleen
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"I'm not really happy with 'scents'," my editor tells me: I've written of scents of seaweed and crab and shells flung by the gulls. Scents, he writes, is a word that has connotations of sweetness and perfume. So what am I going to write instead? What is a word for that sweet stench of briny bladder-wrack mixed with rotted fish, stinking yet lovely enough to ignite all the forlorn longing of the heart? My editor is right - it isn't a scent. It's more like a salty shock you breathe in with all your soul, and it roars and permeates your lungs and overflows them and spills into your blood, all the while salty and fishy and weedy yet horribly lovely and you can't do without it or you'll die. It's a horror and an exhilaration, and it reminds you that you're part of the world's wild and living death.

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Ode to a Snail

How tentative, O snail,
your trembling head a'glisten,
your feelers quiver then touch ground
as, rapt, you listen

As spirals thrice your mail
like rings round glorious Saturn,
my sandal does not please you much;
it fits no pattern

O snail, you turn and go
the very way you entered;
counter-clockwise now, instead,
all slow, all centred

ode to a snail 300 dpi
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                                                  The Golden Circle:
                                        A Reverie for Goldfrapp’s Annabel

                                                     Kathleen Winter

            Clouds scud over whispering maples on Cartier Street where I’ve escaped the house because houses are not wild. Roses accost me from a hedge – stars wink and windows light up as people undress for bed. I’m not ready for sleep – it’s one of those wild nights where being inside drives me crazy – I’m out in the dark, listening to wind whoosh in the summer-big leaves, and singing Sylvia Tyson’s River Road, about running away from home. I sing it again, not caring that a stranger hears, and I’ve always sung this way; in the supermarket, on the bus. I sang myself to sleep the whole time I was growing up, and now my daughters do the same. My mother sang arias through the heating vents while she wrung sheets in our old washer and my dad sang Lemon Tree and Little Boxes and Big Rock Candy Mountain and everything Hank Williams ever wrote. It didn’t occur to me that there were people who did not sing, people for whom music was not constantly running over their tongues like juice from wild brambles.
            As I wrote my novel, Annabel, I listened to songs while I caught the story as it floated, elusive, in images and scraps. I heard Antony and the Johnsons’ Bird Girl over and over until the song became my tears, and I played Josef Hassid’s aching violin recordings. I searched and searched for a name for the hidden girl within the boy born in my story, and I found her name, Annabel, in a song by a musician called Kat Goldman whom I’d heard play as she straddled an upturned bucket at The Free Times Café. “Annabel, Annabel…” she sang, “where did you go?” I hummed the alto part of Gabriel Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine and wove it into the story until it became part of the longing and madness and sorrow and glory I wanted to convey about this boy who was also a girl in a world that refused to allow both genders in the same person. Music was a part of the book’s concept and execution – it was all of the book, really – it was all I could do not to just try and make the book one long song – in fact, I wish everything I wrote could be part of one long song.
            So when I received an email from singer/songwriter Alison Goldfrapp saying my novel had inspired her to write track two, Annabel, on her band’s upcoming album Tales of Us, I wanted to hear her song right away, and she was kind enough to send it in a file for my ears only, before the rest of the world heard her sing it. I listened alone, in my writing studio, where I’d heard Antony and Kat and Josef and Fauré, my musical companions in the novel’s writing stage, and in the haunting atmospherics and pure emotion of Alison Goldfrapp’s Annabel I realized my work had entered a new place – it had become part of all music: it belonged in the communal air, not just in my body, or the writer’s lair, anymore. I’d handed Alison Goldfrapp an egg and she’d held it until it bore an infinitesimal crack, and out of that space escaped the longed-for bird girl in each of us, and the bird girl had her wings and could fly.
            Is it a little strange that my inspiration for Annabel’s name, in the novel, came from Kat Goldman whose name contains the word gold, and now that same Annabel has inspired Alison Goldfrapp whose name also contains the word gold to create this new song, a song that somehow includes all the other music that inspired me? There is something golden about this whole circle of song, something shining, winged and free, and this makes me elated. I know Goldfrapp’s Annabel will be heard by people all over the world who have read or not read my novel. This lends me lightness. Inspiration and story are leaves in this wild night, the very night I write these words, a night of leaves blowing and whispering, wild and green, each leaf a tongue bearing its own song in the wind.

(A note on the accompanying image: I made this collage out of trees and music and atmosphere and wings. It includes images representative or reminiscent of the musicians who inspired and continue to inspire the story of Annabel: Gabriel Fauré, Antony and the Johnsons, Kat Goldman, Josef Hassid, Alison Goldfrapp and others. For me, story emanates from images such as these, and from the music inside them.)

Collage for Goldfrapp's Annabel
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His name is Abdou, the Senegalese man digging the forgotten corner of turf near the Haitian market, and today was the day he and his family invited the neighbourhood to plant strawberries, marigolds, primula and other glories to create a garden. Dear One brought a bucket of horse manure from the townships, and I brought a rose.

Abdou avec les plantes
Many hands make light workKathleen with flowershands of Abdou et JeanOur Lady of the Flowers
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