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TELLING TALES Sweet Assorted:
121 Takes from a Tin Box
By Jim Christy
Published by Anvil Press
SC $20.00

Sweet Assorted, the latest book from Stirling-area writer and artist Jim Christy, reads very much as the title suggests. It is a random collection of memories amassed over the past 40 years, represented by memorabilia collected in a tin biscuit box.

The artifacts are as varied and singular as the stories they tell – an airplane boarding pass, a postcard, a newspaper clipping, a photograph. Some of the items are very personal, such as Christy’s scribbling in a notebook on the activity in his Vancouver neighbourhood in the 1980s (Take 14), and others have a broader context, such as the newspaper article about the man who spent most of his life in bed (Take 10). By and large, however, all of the stories are interesting in one way or another, partly because Christy has lived an adventurous life, but more significantly because he is an expert storyteller with a rich ability to weave a tale and give it a personal connection.

However, Sweet Assorted also appeals to the reader because , in a way, we all have a tin box of collected memories from our lives. It may be a scrapbook, or a trunk in the attic, or a shoebox in the closet, but the concept is universal, even if we don’t all have something as rare as a liquor rationing card from Greenland (Take 16).

And like a tin box of biscuits, Sweet Assorted is not meant to be gobbled up from start to finish, or top to bottom, but is best enjoyed in small samples, picked randomly, savoured and then returned to the cupboard until the next craving.

-John Hopkins

Writer Spotlight:

Chris Faiers

Marmora writer Chris Faiers has established himself as one of the foremost practitioners of English language haiku since first being introduced to the form in 1967.

In 1987 Faiers was the inaugural recipient of the Milton Acorn People’s Poet Award and more recently he began coordinating the annual Purdy Country Literary Festival in 2007. He is a founding member of Haiku Canada and the Canadian Poetry Association and an honourary life member of the Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance.

He has had 18 collections printed, the most recent being ZenRiver: Poems & Haibun by Hidden Brook Press in 2008. Eel Pie Island Dharma: A hippie memoir/haibun first self-published by Faiers in 1990, has been recently republished by Hidden Brook Press and was relaunched, alongside Jim Christy’s Sweet Assorted, at the Marmora Inn in late January.

Enthusiasts can follow Faiers poetry and activities through his blog Riffs and Ripples from ZenRiver Gardens.

Debbie McLean

Take This Heart (CD)

In 2011 at an open mic at Trenton’s Classic Country Music Reunion, onlookers were mesmerized by the sounds of Debbie McLean. She has since been entertaining listeners with a voice reminiscent of Tammy Wynette or Lorrie Morgan while sweetening the sound with her pure, authentic and refreshing voice.

While Country and Gospel music are deep rooted in McLean’s heart, she grew up listening to and was influenced by many styles of music. Like many other young girls Debbie dreamed of recording a CD but felt she would not have the opportunity. Last year her dream became reality. With the help of Rick Hodgson from Starlink Sound in Brighton "Take This Heart” was recorded and released in December. This latest addition to the music world made it possible for Debbie to work with numerous other locally talented musicians.

"Take This Heart” consists of two original songs written by Brett McNaueal. You can hear Debbie’s music on some of the local radio stations.

"I have been very blessed and so thankful to work and perform with some of Canada’s finest musicians and I have learned so much from each of them,” McLean said recently.

For Show Dates visit www.debbiemclean.ca

-Sheena Rowney

Sheena Rowney works at Sam The Record Man in Belleville and will be writing regularly on the Hastings County music scene. Sam’s is a strong supporter of local music and promotes the artists featured here.


By Alex Hamilton-Brown

milkweed winter husks
iced together
milkweed winter birds
frozen to a stalk of steel
white tails turned up
beaks pointing petrified
to the sky

a blistering wind blows blindly
over icebound fields
shaking a milkweed bird
it frees a downy seed
from a rigid corpse
and floats it
to a frigid tomb

impervious to winter’s keep
it waits the warming
hand of spring
to be another milkweed bird
and fly again

Published in Verse Afire, the journal of The Ontario Poetry Society, 2012

As an award-winning documentary filmmaker, Alex Hamilton-Brown has produced for CBC Television, the U.S. Discovery Channel, U.K. Television and the National Film Board of Canada. Now living in Bancroft, he devotes much of his time to writing. His poetry has been published in various anthologies, and a short Christmas story was recently published in the Ottawa Citizen.

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