"Make Good Art"


If ever you feel inadequate as a writer or you're trying to stay true to yourself, then I recommend talking to a good friend or searching the internet for motivational videos and/or music. The writer Neil Gaiman delievered an inspirational speech in 2012 to university graduates. Writers and fellow artists, lend your ears to this video:

Are Books a Thing of the Past?



Yes, they are--but that's what's so great about them! Books are from the past, and since everyone is born at one point in time and dies at another, who better to teach us about what we aren't around to see than books?

Books have been around for about five thousand years and in many different forms. They were in the form of portable clay tablets that were used by Mesopotamians; Egyptians used papyrus scrolls; then parchment was the preferred material used for bookmaking all over Europe.

People use books everyday. Books are our teachers, our entertainers. They are the key to the past and a window into the minds of others. Books contain stories and knowledge. And "knowledge is power" (Sir Francis Bacon).

Books can speak to individuals and help them cope with their problems or simply show them that they are not alone. They can bring people together who share the same loves and interests by drawing them out of themselves to become part of a community, whether it's in a local capacity (like a book club) or, globally (in the publishing world). But the one thing books always do is inspire.

Books are also our guides to life's obstacles and curve-balls. Jesse Lee Bennett said, "Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life." Not only are they educators, they reveal many of life's wonders. Books reveal the mystical stories behind the stars, the greatness of Abraham Lincoln and Socrates. Books show us the strangeness of Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales and reveal the
the world's scientific discoveries like Marie Curie's work with radioactivity. Books let us experience the blazing hot sands of the Sahara desert and the majestic beauty of the Amazon forest. But the best part about books is that they let our imaginations run rampant.

Although I am more of a brick-and-mortar type of person when it comes to books, I like e-books because they allow even more people the chance to read because so many now have electronic devices and don't always fancy carrying a brick-like book on their back or shoulder.

I read Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird and in it, the characters say that mockingbirds don't do anything except sing melodious notes. Her book made me think about books in general and that it would be sad if books ever became extinct because they do nothing but enlighten us and help us pass the time. If books ever disappeared... then it would be like shooting a mockingbird.

Check out more of my posts on http://redwolfsroom.blogspot.ca/

The Power of a Story


childrendaruvar.jpgIn one of my classes in cegep, we had to make a portfolio of whatever medium we were interested in and we had to present it to the class. I wrote several short stories and for my presentation, I read one of them. It was Friday and our last class of the day so my classmates were tired and somewhat anxious to go home, but when I read my story, (I had turned out the lights so people would relax), no one interrupted or were on their phones trying not to be seen. They were all listening. Afterwards, there was a Q&A period and several of the students said that they enjoyed my presentation immensely because it reminded them of when they were in elementary school and listened to their teacher read a story. They felt nostagic because they are always preoccupied with social media and everyone is so busy. They enjoyed being able to relax and imagine again.

In the following video, Susan Cooley talks about stories helping youths find themselves and how much stories and writng have helped her in her own life.

Let your imagination run rampant.

Part of Our Heritage


Today, we remember all who have fought in war and who are currently fighting. I have included some intersting facts about the author of "In Flanders Fields", John McCrae:

"On December 8, 1915, Punch magazine published a poem commemorating the dead of World War I. "In Flanders Fields" was written by John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario, after his experiences in the trench warfare around Ypres, Belgium.


McCrae published other poems before the war in McGill University's University Magazine. "In Flanders Fields" is one of a collection of poems published posthumously in 1919 as In Flanders Fields and Other Poems.

He was educated at the University of Toronto and in 1900 was appointed fellow in pathology at McGill University in Montréal. He later became a physician at the Alexandra Hospital and assistant physician at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montréal."



Lest we forget poppy.jpg

The Early Romantics



Reading the works of the Early Romantics, (Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge), brings me closer to nature and helps me feel peace. However, I believe that in order for one to fully comprehend their words, one must feel them. One must find a place away from the sounds of people and traffic. Quiet the mind, listen to the chirping birds, rustling leaves and breathe in the wind that has blown for eternity. Only then can one read and feel nature's meaning. It may take some travel, but it is well worth the trouble.

In honor of the Early Romantics, I wrote a short poem about the constant struggle between city and country:

Forgetting Romantics

Dare I dream of yesterdays?

Trees wholly ablaze

And Man's burdens falling away,

As the silence, save that of a stream,

Refreshes mind, body, soul of today.

But they round up the unknowing mules,

Encompassing within rigid rules

To erase memories of winds so cool;

Yet clear is the baaing of sheep,

The graduated fools.

How the curtains shut and remain,

Making our souls writher in their chains

And our minds wander among barren plains.

Aging flesh hanging, falling away,

As we, tortured rebels, become insane.

The Roads in Life



For several years, I kept a hand-out my secondary two teacher gave out. It was Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken". We had analyzed it in class and I decided to keep it, without knowing why:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Growing up, I frequented two places daily: home and school. People's reactions to my behaviour and my interests always made me feel like I was not normal. I preferred being alone to being with people I didn't like and that made me weird. The stories I wrote which were full of emotions were also considered weird. People spoke over me and tried to force their opinions onto me. I didn't have any support; I was alone.

Five years later, I was in cegep and started my first job in a boutique. As I became acquainted with the staff, I found that my manager, although he was a photographer as opposed to a writer, shared my interests and I, at last, had found one solid connection in life. After reading two of my poems, he said, "It is a harduous path [following your heart] because only the bravest choose these paths. But it is yours..."

Two years later, I was listening to the soundtrack from one of my favourite television shows, Quantum Leap. The show features a man who is able to leap into other people's bodies throughout time and, in order to leap out again, has to fix things in the people's lives to change history for the better. The show demonstrates that leaping can be lonely and one of the songs on the soundtrack, "Fate's Wide Wheel", features loneliness as its main theme:

Fate's Wide Wheel

As I travel in space and time, I want to stay, I want to go.
You see my face but it's not mine, what you can't see, you'll never know.
How can we meet if I'm not there? Our hearts may touch. Our bodies close.
But time divides what we might share and sends a soul where no one goes.
I'm just a traveler upon the sea, of time, of life, of Fate's Wide Wheel.
Just a traveler in this mystery. The me I am is all that's real to me.

We all begin this life alone. We live, we love all through the years.
Yet deep inside we long for home. But it receeds, obscured by tears.
I cry to Time; it falls past me. The door of Fate remains asleep.
But in my soul, this hope burns free... Oh please let there be one final leap.
I'm just a traveler upon the sea of time, of life, of Fate's Wide Wheel.
Just a traveler in this mystery. The me I am is all that's real to me.

Finally, everything connected in my mind when I heard "But time divides what we might share and sends a soul where no one goes". I understood why I had kept Frost's poem and that it wasn't bad that people thought I was weird. It is my identity. I am a writer: a traveller through time via words and stories. And so, I consciously and willingly follow this road and it "has made all the difference".


There is a cemetery at the edge of the village.

Carpathian Mountains,
field of sunflowers.

By the river Maros, Kisjenö.
Gilded icon guards white-washed farm house.
Mud-brick fireplace. Stone benches.
Spinning wheel, bed, table, and chairs.

Accordion with violin,
cimbalom, the zither.

Great-grandmother Victoria wears a párta diadem,
woven of gold and silk and crystal glass beads.
Embroidered linen blouse, cashmere skirt.
Calla lilies and white roses bridal bouquet.

Three sons and one daughter.

Grandmother Mariska
has no memory of her mother.
Not to know her mother's hands.

Green gooseberry of a thorny shrub.
Tree trunks limed against the codling moth.
Peach tree and pear. Cackling hens, geese.
Close to the house, stables.

Great-grandfather György deserting his wife.
The year was 1897. Victoria farmed out
her daughter. Kept her three sons at home.

Faded homespun, knee-high boots.
Four years of grade school. A servant girl at nine.

Tallow candles and oil burning lamps.
On the oak table, bean soup with dumplings.
Maize bread baked in outdoor clay oven.

Palascinta filled with ground walnuts and sugar.
Served with warm apricot marmalade.

Ilona Martonfi is the author of three poetry books,
Blue Poppy, (Coracle Press, 2009.) Black Grass,
(Broken Rules Press, 2012). The Snow Kimono,
(Inanna Publications, 2015).

Image courtesy of Wikicommons.

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How many dispossessed?

"Enemies of the people"

for many long years

labour camps in the Ural taiga

white sun, white sky


"You have 15 minutes!"

pack a bag, sepia photographs.

Grandfather's sister, Lia,

brother Yaakov, deported

accused of being a kulak

owner of lands

in Sudilkov village

windowless cattle cars

for one thousand versts around:

Where to? For how long?

Wolf carcasses

earth dugouts and huts

ragged, lice-ridden.

Logging timber

rye bread rations

thin, watery soup

barbed wire of the camp.

But how long can a song last?

Smuggled out with prison letters

sphagnum, bog cranberry

steppe wildflowers

buried beyond the river.

Ilona Martonfi is the author of three poetry books, Blue Poppy, (Coracle Press, 2009.) Black Grass, (Broken Rules Press, 2012). The Snow Kimono, (Inanna Publications, 2015).


In honour of trees
leave a blank page

at the site on behalf of Inuit.
This is for you
aligning holes between rocks
in likeness of a person
its extended arms

a flock of ravens
leave Inukshuk stone carving

almond­shaped openings
in honour of Cpl. Cirillo
sacred katajjaq --
throat singing
other side of the hill
ominously reply
issue ultimatums
as parliament returns
day after shooting
direction markers
constructed as memorial

a soldier's final journey
along Highway of Heroes:
keep people silent
still frame taken from video
hearse procession.
That dividing line,
humbleness to that man
burden only he can carry
cross-shaped cairn

keeps vigil over the land
not the caw of a seagull
I heard no sound.

(Nunatsiaq News: Staff with Inuit, Tapiriit Kanatami, laid a card and an Inukshuk carving at the granite cenotaph National War Memorial in Ottawa in honour of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was killed there October 22 2014).

Photo courtesy of ITK.

Ilona Martonfi is the author of three poetry books, Blue Poppy, (Coracle Press, 2009.) Black Grass, (Broken Rules Press, 2012). The Snow Kimono, (Inanna Publications, 2015).

Book review: NEW TAB by Guillaume Morissette


Guillaume dodges the sophomore slump with his latest, New Tab, a semi-autobiographical take on underbelly city life and crippling self-doubt, two ideas that vary in magnitude. Montreal, as depicted by Gui, is lawless and completely dissimilar to our classical understanding of this picturesque town enhanced by our most famous literary exports. Imagine instead a much rougher appearance, and your favorite neighborhood looted by millenials. Wi-Fi signals are stolen with cash on stowaway. A young man's vision of desire is taken from him. Poor life choices lead to possible bereavement.

A network of relationships is at the core of this 'event'. As is Thomas' view on art for the sake of art. His self-awareness is not only a fundamental issue but also a hilarious plot device that conjures the best of the author's ability to alleviate and make sense of sadness.

The characters are intentionally homogenous to highlight Thomas' character. Shannon is especially well written. Her humorous quips in light of other more pressing issues are proof that Facebook chat is fast becoming a literary pastiche.

This is Guillaume's first full-length novel published through Véhicule Press. Guillaume's brand potential has almost overshadowed his overall end product, which raises important questions about the nature and the structure of Quebec's literary landscape. But his work far surpasses that, and its target audience is all consuming and ever expanding. Guillaume's anxiety is very much enjoyable as a second hand experience. If you happen to live in the Montreal area, you should try and hear him read a portion of New Tab while the getting is good.

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