Online Boutique Purchases for the End of the World – Carlie Blume

As part of the Red Alder Review Open Mic series – Q&A and poem from Carlie Blume.

(Q&A)

RA: How, since the pandemic began, have you been able to connect or stay connected with the literary and writing communities?

CB: I am fortunate in that my workplace, Breathing Space Creative, gives me access to an online writing community which I am so grateful for. Eight months ago, I moved from the outskirts of Vancouver to a small island, so my ability to stay connected to a face to face community has been limited—but I still come out to Vancouver for the odd event and connect via Twitter and Instagram.

Where do your writing ideas come from? What role do imagination and memory play in your writing? Is there some interaction between the two or does one take precedence over the other?

I get a lot of my ideas when I just let my mind wander. Usually it happens when I go on a long walk or give myself time to sit and read a book or watch an interesting movie. 

I think memory is the basis for imagination—memory is such an odd, murky, fanciful place that enables our imagination to thrive. When we take the time to really sit with our memories and feel them in our senses, whether it’s trying to remember the smell of your childhood home or the way your body felt when you kissed someone for the first time, you are igniting the imagination and paving the way for elaboration and then hopefully writing.

As you think about your current work, are you able to reflect on how your writing practice has evolved over time? How do you generally
think about your approach to process?


The long answer is I wish I could say that my writing practice has made some big strides in terms of evolution over the years but it’s still a bit makeshift at the moment. I think process and practice are really complicated concepts for a lot of writers to embody these days, especially since the pandemic hit. It seems that at any given moment these systems we so painstakingly build for ourselves as writers have the potential to come crashing down the moment our childcare is compromised or our bodies hit new levels of exhaustion. I try my best to come at process with solid intent and a firm goal but the truth is I am a messy human who often struggles to do this. The short answer is I’m working on it.

What happens when words fail?

When words fail me I turn to images, the words of other writers, nature and working with my hands—movies, art, books, walking outdoors, yard work, baking, solitude (if I can get it). Once I do that the words usually come back to me.

What are you reading currently? Are there any recent or forthcoming titles that you’re excited about?

I am currently reading Exposure by Olivia Sudjic, Pure Color by Sheila Heti, The World Beyond Your Head by Matthew B. Crawford and Standing in a River of Time by Jónína Kirton. I’m really looking forward to Chelene Knight’s upcoming novel Junie as well as Ottessa Moshfegh’s Lapvona.

Do you have any new work forthcoming in books, journals, chapbooks, anthologies, etc.?

Nothing at the moment—I’ve been spending most of my time promoting my debut poetry collection, Gigglepuss which came out in April, as well as working on my second collection of poetry.



Online Boutique Purchases for the End of the World

-$500 leather clutch that looks like a greasy brown sandwich bag with the top rolled down

-$285 earrings made from foraged glass (discarded sprite bottle) and farmed pearls, that look like a drowsy craft a small child made

-$150 canvas carryall modeled after one of those ghost-like plastic bags they give you at corner stores with privilege signs, embossed with the words Thank You for Shopping with Us (red Recoletta font)

-$50 silk pandemic mask in bone, embossed with crimson buttons—same color as the rash the WHO warns you to watch for when checking yourself for symptoms

-$262 Swedish clogs made from leather and alder wood to slip in and out of at a moment’s notice, in case one needs to flee to higher ground—complete with fold-out strap that can be used to buckle your foot in (when the fleeing turns into running for your life)

-$498 heavy weight matte cotton sac dress to cover body in an attempt to reclaim female form, while subverting the male gaze

-high-waisted micro mini vegan cactus leather skirt (price upon request) to showcase body in an attempt to reclaim body through choosing not to hide from the male gaze

-$130 silk satchel with a scrunchie for a handle to attach to ponytail (hands must be free) when readying oneself to claw at the man who has been stalking you for five blocks



Carlie Blume was born on the unceded and ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (Vancouver). She is a 2017 graduate of Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio and the author of Gigglepuss (2022). She currently lives on Salt Spring Island, B.C with her husband and two children.

Instagram: @carliejblume

Twitter: @carlie_blume

Saint Lucy – Nancy Holmes

As part of the Red Alder Review Open Mic series – Q&A and poem from Nancy Holmes.

(Q&A)

RA: How, since the pandemic began, have you been able to connect or stay connected with the literary and writing communities?

NH: The first few months, I took a lovely pause and disconnected. I did a lot of writing, thinking, mulling and musing, and finished my new book of poetry. However, after awhile, I missed going to readings, talks, and seeing people in person. Fortunately, I teach at the University of British Columbia so I get a lot of contact with young and emerging writers which is always stimulating and in September 2021 we were back in the classroom in real life. A wonderful legacy of the pandemic was introducing us to new tools like Zoom so we could “bring” writers into our classes and communities easily. I was teaching a course on the Power of Metaphor and writer and therapist Karen Connelly “came” to the class to talk about metaphor and psychology.

Her talk was beautiful, moving and poetic, an experience the students wouldn’t have had otherwise—nor me! Lastly, I was reminded how valuable the public library is. It’s one of the greatest feature of our civilization! I ordered and read so many books while I stayed home. For after all, reading is the best connection one can have with the literary world.

Where do your writing ideas come from? What role do imagination and memory play in your writing? Is there some interaction between the two or does one take precedence over the other?

My poetry often comes from being out in the world, especially nature. I walk, observe and experience and then language seems to want to attach itself to these experiences. For example, who hasn’t seen the moon or a gorgeous flower and been delighted or astonished? These objects or topics may be among the most cliché ones of poetry. Your individual personal experience as you encounter these wonders, though, isn’t cliché. Astonishment and delight always feel new and it’s the feeling of newness that language attaches to, or attempts to. Also every time anyone sees a moon or flower that person is going through something specific in their life, a whole tangle of memory, life events, feelings, thoughts. So the encounter becomes something truly new and unfelt and unseen before in exactly that way. The poet’s challenge is to make the reader feel the uniqueness of that moment. It’s the job of imagination—that great power—to align itself with language in order to generate and activate that once-in-the-universe experience in other people. And possibly refreshing and renewing the reader’s memory or past experience of moon or flower, grief, loss, joy or whatever has been spun out of the poem.

As you think about your current work, are you able to reflect on how your writing practice has evolved over time? How do you generally
think about your approach to process?


I have a long laborious process. It takes me forever to write a poem, often months or years. What I’ve learned over time is to just accept that, to realize the first couple of drafts are never, hardly, ever going to be the final poem. I usually jot lines in a journal or a first draft in long hand, and often do a few drafts of a poem in handwriting, sort of feeling my way into the poem.

It’s like grasping so you need a hand! Anna Quindlen says, “Something written by hand brings a singular human presence that the typewriter or the computer cannot confer.” In this specific quote, she’s talking about reading handwriting, but I think this is true of writing by hand too. In the gestation of a poem—maybe because of that essential individual uniqueness I talked about above, the hand can imprint the individual consciousness into the language. Only when I’m feeling there’s nothing more I can get, I’ll type the poem into the computer. Then I spend more time on it. It’s a long loving process of getting to know my own poem and finding my voice in it.

What happens when words fail?

You try to find a poem. Or you just laugh or cry.

What are you reading currently? Are there any recent or forthcoming titles that you’re excited about?

I have been spending a lot of time reading the new book by my colleague Matt Rader. It’s called Ghosthawk. A wonderful book of poetry. I just finished another book called Essential Tremour by Canadian writer Barbara Nickel who wrote a series of poems about an anchoress. This intrigued me as my new book has a sequence about the medieval anchoress, Julian of Norwich.

Those are the most recent books of poetry on my bedside table. In my car I’m listening to one of the “Great Courses” on Dante’s Divine Comedy which I’ve always found fascinating though I’ve never read any of it except the Inferno in translation. This course is convincing me I need to read the whole thing. I also read a lot of murder mysteries. This fall I started reading my way through the Sue Grafton “Alphabet” mysteries—I’m up to “I”! I also have been immersed in some speculative fiction, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and a new book by a Nigerian writer, Umar Turaki, who is living in Canada now, Such a Beautiful Thing to Behold.

Do you have any new work forthcoming in books, journals, chapbooks, anthologies, etc.?

I have a new book, out just last month—Arborophobia published by The University of Alberta Press. I’m doing a few readings to introduce it to the world and that’s my focus these days!



Saint Lucy
(who carries her eyes in a dish)

May I offer you an eye?
A young woman’s orb
freshly plucked.
The lens a clear lozenge
not yellowed with age.
Inside, a layer
of chocolatey retina
and a filling of gel,
not even a lump
or a floater.
A ball uncataracted,
cleansed of lid and lash.
Its blue iris
anise-flavoured,
I speculate,
to accompany the gush
of ocular salt
on the tongue.

(From Arborophobia by Nancy Holmes, University of Alberta Press, 2022.)



Nancy Holmes has published six collections of poetry, mostly recently Arborophobia (University of Alberta Press, 2022). Nancy’s poems and short stories have been published in Canada, the UK, and Ireland. She is the editor of Open Wide a Wilderness: Canadian Nature Poems and she teaches Creative Writing at The University of British Columbia in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada where she lives. She also collaborates with communities and other artists on eco art projects both locally and internationally. Nancy won the 2017 Malahat Review’s Creative Non-Fiction award. https://www.nancyholmes.ca/

Submissions Open

Red Alder Review is now open to submissions for an upcoming fourth issue!

Writing around PEACE will be the focus. This includes poetry and prose that, in any way, thinks about the notion of peace as biological, psychological, personal, relational, political or societal. Peace in its many forms.

See submission guidelines here.

Deadline: May 5, 2022

Open Mic Series returns

Spring/Summer 2022  – Open Mic Series – Red Alder Review

The Open Mic Series is back! Now welcoming submissions from emerging writers as well as poets and authors with recent/new (2020/2021) or forthcoming (2022) books/chapbooks.

Submissions/queries to: redalderreview@gmail.com.

Please include the following for publication in a single .doc/.docx file:


1. Provide your answers to these questions:

  • How, since the pandemic began, have you been able to connect or stay connected with the literary and writing communities?
  • Where do your writing ideas come from?What role do imagination and memory play in your writing? Is there some interaction between the two or does one take precedence over the other?
  • As you think about your current work, are you able to reflect on how your writing practice has evolved over time? How do you generally think about your approach to process?
  • What happens when words fail?
  • What are you reading currently? Are there any recent or forthcoming titles that you’re excited about?
  • Do you have any new work forthcoming in books, journals, chapbooks, anthologies, etc.?


2. Include one new poem or prose piece/excerpt (< 1000 words)

(if previously published or forthcoming elsewhere, please indicate details/permissions).


3. A brief writer’s bio – include any relevant links and social media handles.

4. Include a video or audio file of yourself reading the piece (as attachment or via Dropbox).

Mid-Winter Haiku – River Shannon

washing the tears
from my cheeks
winter sunshower


River Shannon grew up on the prairies, and now lives with their partner Jessica on the unceded ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Watuth) and Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) Coast Salish peoples (Vancouver, BC. River works as a public interest lawyer and educator for people who have experienced violence from an intimate partner. They have previously received an honourable mention for haiku submitted to the 2019 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Haiku Invitational.

Mid-Winter Haiku – Cynthia Gallaher

sticky candy canes
I pick old calendar pages
off the floor

Credit: Cynthia Gallaher


Cynthia Gallaher, a Chicago-based poet, is author of four poetry collections, many with themes, including Epicurean Ecstasy: More Poems About Food, Drink, Herbs and Spices, and three chapbooks, including Drenched. Her nonfiction/memoir/creativity guide Frugal Poets’ Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren’t a Poet won a National Indie Excellence Award. Her haiku has appeared in Frogpond, Bottle Rockets and other haiku publications.

Mid-Winter Haiku – Darrell Petska

the snowstorm blusters—

deep beneath the covers

lovers tasting spring


Darrell Petska is a retired communications editor, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Journals that have published his poetry include Prune Juice, Modern Haiku, Chrysanthemum, Shamrock Haiku Journal, Failed Haiku–Journal of English SenryuRed Alder Review and others (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Forty-one years a father (nine years a grandfather), and longer as a husband, Darrell lives outside Madison, Wisconsin.