In 2005, Linda Rogers flew to Cardiff in May to accept the 5000 British pound winner's cheque for the Cardiff International Poetry Competition sponsored by The Welsh Academy and announced by Gwyneth Lewis, Wales' new National Poet. Her winning poem 'He Saw the Pale' is about the 2004 tsunami tragedy. One of Victoria's most integral literary personalities and its Poet Laureate for 2009-2011, Linda Rogers is the past President of the Federation of B.C. Writers (1990) and The League of Canadian Poets (1997). She was the host of Shaw Cable's TV programme about books and writers, Bookshelf, and regularly contributes reviews for the CBC, and national periodicals, including The Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, B.C. Bookworld and Quill & Quire. There is a critical study on her work, Linda Rogers: Essays On Her Work (Guernica Editions, 2003).

Linda Rogers' Say My Name: The Memoirs of Charlie Louie (2000) is based on the life of a young Cowichan man who took his own life. It's written in the fictional voice of her dear family friend Charlie Louie who she met in 1972. When his parents died, Rogers wanted to adopt him but couldn't. "I was heart-broken," she said, "but I respected the fact that I was not allowed to adopt Charlie because I was not First Nations." Of the title Say My Name, Rogers said, "I was going to the post office one day and everyone was talking about someone being run over by the train. I asked an RCMP officer what was up and he said, 'Oh, it was just an Indian kid.' I remember decking him with my purse and calling him an asshole. Aboriginal kids are invisible, they're treated like scum."

After being invited to the Festa Iberamericana in Holguin, Cuba, with her partner Rick van Kruegel, a musician, Linda Rogers wrote her novel Friday Water (2003). The title Friday Water refers to the one day of the week when water was turned on. "I thought how much Cuba, so feminine, so beautiful, so resourceful is like a woman with cancer," Roger says. "My woman with breast cancer is a ballerina. We loved the dancing in Havana. The Cuban ballerinas have the technique of the Russians, the lyricism of the British, the posture of the Spanish and the energy of the Americans. All those qualities are necessary when facing a huge physical and psychological challenge."

Linda Rogers' epistolary novel, The Empress Letters (Cormorant, 2007; republished: Ekstasis 2015), takes the form of letters written by a dying woman to the daughter she is en route to China to find. Her publisher Marc Cote writes, "The letters explain to that daughter, Precious, the circumstances of her birth - which go to some length to explain the situation in which Precious is now stuck, as she has been possibly kidnapped in China by a family at war with her father's. The letters also describe the life into which her mother, Poppy von Stronheim Mandeville was born. The daughter of a member of the Austrian aristocracy and a California fruit farmer, Poppy lives the first part of her life in New York, where her mother accidentally shoots her father. From there, with a new stepfather, the family moves to San Francisco, and then to Victoria. Poppy grows up on Beach Drive in Oak Bay; she is taught art by Emily Carr. She attends the dance party at the Dunsmuirs when the Prince of Wales comes to visit. She becomes pregnant - whether with the son of her nanny or the Chinese houseman - gives birth to Precious and leaves Victoria to live in London among the bright young things - the Duchess of York and Tallulah Bankhead, among others. She marries a man who turns out to be homosexual - "lavender marriages" they were called - and returns home to Victoria, whereupon she discovers that her trust funds, her mother's fortune, and her father's estate are depleted and the family is now living off the proceeds of opium smuggling and rum running."

In Linda Rogers' sequel to The Empress Letters, the tragedy-prone lead character of Precious in The Third Day Book (Cormorant $20) is married and raising a deaf daughter in Victoria. When she discovers she is again pregnant, bittersweet memories of her time in Hong Kong with her Chinese father and stepmother begin to stir, reminding her of the fragility of the present. Having outlasted a funding crisis, Ekstasis Editions, the 32-year-old literary press in Victoria run by Richard Olafson, took over publication of the trilogy after Rogers claimed her second volume had received only a minimal print run. This prompted Olafson to jump into the breech, redesigning covers for the trilogy, re-editing all three books and making them all available in 2014-2015. Volume two was renamed Tempo Rubato.

"Yo! Wik'sas? Hello! How Are You" (Exile $19.95) is her collaborative kids' book in English and Kwak'wala based on the paintings of Kwakwaka'wakw artist Chief Rande Cook. It takes form of a conversation between Siri (an enigmatic creator) and Rande's two real-life kids, Isla and Ethan, who wonder about friendship, the future of the planet and what besides coffee motivates Dads. Cook's work is a natural environment. When Linda Rogers suggested a book, he replied, "Good, go right ahead." The story is followed by some guidance for conversations to be led by teachers or parents. There is also a short glossary to introduce a few Kwak'wala words, the most important of which is Gilakas'la, thank you!

[Barbara Pedrick photo]

Crow Jazz: short stories
by Linda Rogers
(Mother Tongue $23.95)

Review by John Moore

It's official, marijuana is legal in Canada, but as long as Linda Rogers is writing, who needs it?

You can stop burning money in the bong. Her new collection of stories, Crow Jazz, is a one-time purchase that will always be fresh and available on your shelf.

Rogers lets us re-experience and face our anxious dreams and nightmares vicariously, from the terrified safety of the bleachers, and feel braver as we leave the circus tent into the familiar, yet somehow changed, world outside.

Previously, as a poet, Linda Rogers has worked the high wire; tumbling weightlessly through the surreal spot-lit popcorn-scented air of the mind's Big Top.

Like the girl on the Flying Trapeze, just when she's done so many imagistic flips and verbal mid-air summersaults and you're sure she's about to plunge into the sawdust and elephant shit below, with an acrobat's timing she arcs back onto the tiny platform, posing with a cocked hip and one hand raised, spangled tights flashing, making it look so easy.

Anyone who seriously writes poetry knows It ain't easy—as the late Long John Baldry used to sing—and when a poet turns to prose, it gets harder.

These days, as far as I can tell, prose narrative implies a continuity that encourages formulaic writing to the point that it became the gold standard of journalism until the illiterati of social media blogged traditional reportage into the Retirement Village lockdown. Luckily, writers like Joyce, Celine, Cendrars, Kerouac and Burroughs were well ahead of the game, so Linda Rogers' strange dreamlike stories in Crow Jazz don’t catch us completely off-balance.

To be clear, Crow Jazz is not a collection of prose poems. The Prose Poem was a misbegotten mutant that combined the worst traits of poetry and prose. Occasional sightings are still published, but it's a welcome candidate for the list of Recent Extinctions.

Instead Crow Jazz is a collection of stories written by a poet, with a poet's sense of economy, condensation and the multiple implications and possibilities of language.

Unlike most contemporary short stories, in Crow Jazz a lot happens in a brief time...

While digging in her garden, an old lady passes on seeds of wisdom to a young girl, then lies down in the grave she's been digging.

A gaggle of half-wild girls, raised by parents who didn’t get haircuts and become stock-brokers when the Sixties ended in 1979, takes hilarious revenge on sluggish, thuggish neighbourhood boys.

A man's living room window, in which he may or may not have been displaying his body, is mysteriously shattered, possibly but not definitely by a bullet, which leads to scenes with the police that could’ve been written by Harold Pinter.

And so it goes.

Stories in Crow Jazz take place in what are sometimes called liminal spaces, though the term is a misnomer that actually refers to a moment in time when an individual unexpectedly experiences a mundane familiar place in an intensely new way, as a setting configured for some unpredictable drama. It's like when you walk into Costco and feel that you've just entered a huge alien spacecraft full of signs and signals that are familiar but invested with totally new significance.

Liminal moments are inevitably accompanied by a touch of paranoia resulting from novel perceptions and uncertainty about how to react, which Rogers delineates with a poet's eye for telling detail.

Crow Jazz affirms that this liminal space/time dislocation experience is not necessarily a psychological state peculiar to people who give personal names to their bongs.

With or without psychoactive chemical assistance, we all experience these random revelatory moments and fraught social encounters, which we usually discount and dismiss because they threaten to disrupt our preferred state of comfortably numb entitled boredom.


John Moore of Garibaldi Highlands has turned his back on fruitless literary spadework in favour of gardening legal crops.




REPAIRING THE HIVE (Ekstasis 2020) $25.95 978-1-77171-303-0
CROW JAZZ: Short Stories (Mother Tongue, 2018) $23.95 978-1-896949-65-9
THE THIRD DAY BOOK, Cormorant Books, 2010
THE EMPRESS LETTERS, (Cormorant Books, 2007; republished: Ekstasis 2015)
FRIDAY WATER, Cormorant Books, 2003
SAY MY NAME: The Memoirs of Charlie Louie, Ekstasis Press 2000


George Fetherling and His Work (Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2005).
DROPPED THREADS 2, Random House, 2003.
Al Purdy: essays on his work, Guernica Editions 2002.
bill bissett: essays o his work, Guernica Editions, 2002.
P.K. PAGE: essays on her work, Guernica Editions, 2001.
THE BROAD CANVAS: Portraits of Women Artists, Sono Nis 1999.


WORM SANDWICH: Poems for Children, Sono Nis, 1987
THE MAGIC FLUTE, Porcupine's Quill, 1988
BROWN BAG BLUES, Studio 123, 1990
Co-authored with Rande Cook:Yo! Wik'sas? Hello! How Are You? An Illustrated Conversation with the Invisible Girl Siri (Exile 2019) $19.95 978-1550968286


MUSCLE MEMORY, Ekstasis Editions, 2010
THE BURSTING TEST, Guernica Editions, 2002
HARD CANDY, Sono Nis, 1994
LOVE IN THE RAINFOREST: Selected Poems, Exile, 1995
HEAVEN CAKE, Sono Nis, 1997
THE SANING, Sono Nis, 1999


BREAKING THE SURFACE: Five Canadian Poets Introduce New Voices, Sono Nis, 2000



Cardiff International Poetry Competition, First Prize (Wales)

Cardiff Poetry Prize (Wales)

Petra Kenney Award (U.K.)

The Milton Acorn People's Poetry Prize for The Saning
Bridport Poetry Prize (UK), second prize
Shaunt Basmajian Award, Canadian Poetry Association

Literary Network's Top Choice in Canada Award for The Saning
Victoria Arts Council Poetry Prize

Priz d'Anglais, Centre European Pour la Promotion des Artes et Lettres
Victoria Arts Leader of the Year
Acorn Rukeyser Award
Cardiff Poetry Prize (Wales), third prize
People's Poem Award

National Poetry Prize
Reuben Rose Poetry Prize (Israel) - 2nd

People's Poem Award
Stephen Leacock Poetry Prize, 2nd
Saltwater Festival Poetry Prize
Hawthorne Poetry Prize, BC Cultural Services Awards


Reuben Rose Poetry Prize (Israel), 1st, 1995
Dorothy Livesay, BC Book Prize, 1995
Stephen Leacock Poetry Prize 1995, 4th
Stephen Leacock Poetry Prize 1994, 1st
Governor General's Confederation Medal for Poetry & Performance, 1993
Bumbershoot, Seattle Arts Council Poetry Prize, 1988
BC Writer's Poetry, Federation of BC Writers, 1988

[LITHIS / BCBW 2019] [Barbara Pedrick photo] "Poetry" "First Nations" "Fiction" "Cuba"