Two Scholarship Offers!

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on May 13, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

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This life that we call our own
Is neither strong nor free;
A flame in the wind of death,
It trembles ceaselessly.

And this all we can do
To use our little light
Before, in the piercing wind,
It flickers into night:

To yield the heat of the flame,
To grudge not, but to give
Whatever we have of strength,
That one more flame may live.

by Dorothea MacKellar

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Alive and Kicking: A YouthWrite 20th-Anniversary Fundraiser

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on May 5, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

It’s beautiful May, a time when my thoughts turn to the naughty madrigal by Thomas Morely:

Now is the Month of Maying

Now is the month of maying,
When merry lads are playing, fa la,
Each with his bonny lass
Upon the greeny grass. Fa la.

The Spring, clad all in gladness,
Doth laugh at Winter’s sadness, fa la,
And to the bagpipe’s sound
The nymphs tread out their ground. Fa la.
Fie then! why sit we musing,
Youth’s sweet delight refusing? Fa la.
Say, dainty nymphs, and speak,
Shall we play at barley-break? Fa la.

Here are the King’s Singers rockin’ it!

In the spirit of May, join us for Alive and Kicking: A YouthWrite 20th-Anniversary Fundraiser, this Friday, May 6th, 7 pm, at the U of A Faculty Club (11435 Saskatchewan Dr NW)!

I’ll be singing with ALL(most)JAZZ!  And I’ll be joined by fabulous people like Marc Ladouceur, Thomas Trofimuk, poet Kathy Fisher, Anna Somerville, Bob Jahrig, Brad Bucknell and Darrell Barr, plus some great special guests.  Come for the music!  Come for the poetry!  Come for the eats and drink!  Come out in support of YouthWrite®, a camp for kids who love to write…just about anything!©

Alive and Kicking


Musings Delirious

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on April 24, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

sebilj-sarajevoI’ve been abroad.

No, not a broad (though some would argue).

But visiting the continent.  You know the one.  Over the pond.

But not northern Europe.  Kind of east or East, though that should only be admitted in a whisper, so I’ve read. I’ve been to the Balkans, though I shouldn’t call them that anymore.  Neither should I refer to these small countries as Yugoslavia.  Some would say I wasn’t really in Europe, at least not all of the time.  In short, I’ve been to Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia Herzogovina and briefly, to Montenegro.  I went to explore these places as research for my novel.  But also research into my family.  It’s a complicated story, my family’s – probably true of anyone’s.  And also of the now divided independent nations that were formerly Yugoslavia.

Independence has come at a cost, as it does. I was deeply moved by the people I met and the streets I walked, including those–concrete structures and human lives–still bearing the scars of the ugliness of the 1990s conflicts.

More on this in another blog or the novel or both.

Today, I am home.  It’s a queer feeling, that of post-travel.  Perhaps I should simply accept that this is jet lag.  But it seems something more.  I feel as if I’ve walked through some of the pages of a Calvino novel and come home to find my own world somewhat askew.  I am, of course, different than the person who left home several weeks ago.  I didn’t do terribly touristy things, and yet I was but a short-stay visitor. As such, as a non-resident, I traversed paths and got lost and tasted delights and climbed ladders into dimensions differing from my own.  What did I learn?

More on this in another blog or the novel or both.

I can say that I have only begun to scratch the surface of understanding anything more about my people, my relatives, my relation to this world, the conflict that shredded so many lives in former Yugoslavia of the 1990s. I see a glimmer through that door, and that one over there, and that next on the left.  Perhaps that’s all we ever get to glimpse.

It is always good to return home, if one is lucky enough to have one, to touch the familiar, understand the language and all the myriad social cues we take so for granted.  I have emerged from several invisible cities (and one minuscule village) delirious.

And that has made all the difference.



Spring??? Well, at least it’s World Poetry Day!

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on March 22, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |















Some music from the wonderful Astrud Gilberto!  It Might as Well be Spring

i am poet

i write hieroglyphics

and Beowulf

Wuthering Heights

and the Gettysburg Address.


i paint on cave walls

on parchment


subways and bridges.


i dance to words

play the lute of metaphor

harpsichord of discord

pipes of social conscience.


i speak to pathfinders

and zealots

peasants and



and i listen to what they say so

i can write it all down


on cave walls



on a little piece of napkin

in a small cafe.


© 1991 Gail Sidonie Sobat

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Tonight at Stony Plain Library – Let’s Colour!

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on March 11, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

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Whether you colour or color, in or outside the lines, please join me tonight @ Stony Plain Public Library for a wonderful evening of words and colours.

For further information or to register, visit: http://www.stonyplainlibrary.org/content/adult-coloring-and-author-reading-january-june




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“O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,/ That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!”*

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on March 3, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

screen-shot-2014-06-15-at-12-09-34-pmI’ve just finished Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. I admire her greatly and have also read No Logo and The Shock Doctrine.  Klein is one of my Canadian heroines, along with Maude Barlow, and my heroes Stephen Lewis and his son (Klein’s husband), Avi Lewis. I think Naomi Klein is an exemplary journalist, superb writer and a soaring intellect.

Reading before bedtime, as I do, the book gave me unsettled dreams. I am deeply troubled at the state of the world, and I don’t mean the stupidity of the current race for Republican candidate for presidency, though that alarms me, too. During insomniac nights, of which there are many, I grieve for this planet and all beings and growing things upon it. Never a doomsdayer, I, nonetheless, find it difficult to fight off a creeping doom. Despite Klein’s cautious optimism, I remain doubtful we have the collective chutzpah–even with the growing Blockadia movement–to pull off the kind of revolution necessary to save our planet. I am afraid of the big extraction players, and my experience of the very rich is that they will do everything to stay very rich.

Maybe it’s that I run a non-profit charitable arts organization for kids, always teetering on the edge of extinction (and a sometimes thankless job so that I would not recommend this as a career change) that informs my melancholy, or that I’ve been a teacher for my entire adult life. I do not have my own children, but I mentor many other children, whether as their teacher or as coordinator of YouthWrite. On dark days, I grieve for them and for all the beauty they will watch expire over the coming decades, not to mention the suffering that will surely follow as the planet temperature rises.

Often in my English classes, I’ve taught Ursula K. Le Guin‘s famous story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” a haunting parable for our times. The safe and affluent lives of the citizens of Omelas are incumbent upon the misery and suffering of one child, who sits in her own filth, a chained animal imprisoned in a dungeon everyone knows about but does not discuss. There exists a collective collusion between all the people of the city: to set the child free or show her any kindness will bring about a complete reversal of their happy, perfect lives, and so they choose to do nothing.  Except, of course, the few who walk away from Omelas.

And I shudder to think how very few of us–perhaps myself included–will walk away from our comfortably numb, but contented, lives: our version of Omelas.

I suppose in being a teacher, a cheerleader for young people, a writer, a part-time activist, through offering a conduit for young voices (and arguably for change), I am “walking” away. But, of course, I could always do more, while paradoxically, I can never do enough. This existential crisis sometimes stops my heart mid-beat. Like so many, I feel so helpless.

Still I continue my work, my writing. I am currently piecing together a dystopic YA novel, set in an overheated world, that may or may not see publication. One can only hope. I keep trying.

As I try to reduce my carbon footprint. Try to regenerate and reinvest in green solutions. Try to have meaningful conversations with young people and, really, anyone who’ll listen to me drone on about the dire warnings from science about global warming. I keep trying.

And that is why, I suppose, I write this blog today. In the face of pessimism and cloudy (not sunny) ways, I try, even as I struggle with the notion that I can change nothing.

For more info and great links, please visit http://thischangeseverything.org/


* William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, III.i.269-270



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Geras (daimon of old age)

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on February 9, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

geras8409it’s true we hate the old

what we all will one day come to

if luckily we live so long

to sport liver spots and parched skin

that belie a life within


it was always the way

from the banished old wives

or those burned at stakes

to the ones we lock up and away

in modern bedlam


we hate them so that we

hire helpers who’ll do the shitty

work we cannot face the feces

the wrecked bodies and

worse the minds


of doctors, rocket scientists

clerks and dentists, mothers, fathers

gone to rot and ruin

in case our brain is next

it’s all in the family


geriatrics do not gentrify

old age is a great leveler

like his good friend death

we can pretend as long as we wish

with creams and surgery


still here comes the old geezer creeping

the old crone cackling

he can’t get it up

she can’t get it on

and old age is not for sissies

© 2016 Gail Sidonie Sobat

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Ta Da! YouthWrite Winter WordPlay Begins (woot woot)

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on January 29, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

Hurrah!  It’s here!  Tonight begins the wonderful weekend of YouthWrite Winter WordPlay to work with our wonderful instructors: Fred Stenson, Angie Abdou and Moe Clark and runs January 29-31 at Edmonton’s Bennett Centre (Daycamp or Overnight residency).

We’re delighted to meet the young writers who are new to us and to welcome our returnees!  Also looking so forward to THE LEETLE SHOW, Inklings, special guests, Vera and the great Bennett Centre staff, and all the lafs and hinjinx!

Don’t forget to pack your onesy and your writing muse and your slippers!

Supers Noel, Charlotte, Nick, Amy and, of course, I will see your beautiful faces in a few short hours!!!!!!!!


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Posted by GailSidonieSobat on January 25, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

Abandon Januaryhello-january


here in blue cold January

toes and fingers numb

still my heart blazes

despite the rigidity of the season

passion flows well enough in my veins

reminding me that Florence would be fine

for lovers such as we


except that we are only

two cold prairie lovers too poor

for anything but fancy

the only exotic climate that between us


so if I put

pomegranate lips persuasively

upon your mouth, your stomach

your Michelangelo thighs


in the morning will we rise

abashedly or boldly

will we love again

will we return

to this blue cold January

numb but warmed by

making at long last love

© 2016 Gail Sidonie Sobat


If you’re between the ages of 11-19, please consider coming to YouthWrite Winter WordPlay to work with our wonderful instructors: Fred Stenson, Angie Abdou and Moe Clark this January 29-31 at Edmonton’s Bennett Centre (Daycamp or Overnight residency).  For further info, contact info@youthwrite.com or call 780-996-4962


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Winter Meditation & YouthWrite Winter WordPlay

Posted by GailSidonieSobat on January 17, 2016 in General Blabbity Blab |

3275414365_1e82880d4c_ostilllife winter


a ball of white fluff

jackrabbit dozing

on my frozen lawn

as the sun sleepily rises

through the chill winter day

I am stunned at nature’s gift

given me this morning

huddled slumbering

safe from city coyote

to be admired from my window

as I sip my coffee

for a moment looking in on Eden


Happy January, all!


If you’re between the ages of 11-19, please consider coming to YouthWrite Winter WordPlay to work with our wonderful instructors: Fred Stenson, Angie Abdou and Moe Clark this January 29-31 at Edmonton’s Bennett Centre (Daycamp or Overnight residency).  For further info, contact info@youthwrite.com or call 780-996-4962


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