Ben Nuttall-Smith's Discovered in a Scream - In Search of the Healing Garden (Rutherford Press 2017) is a memoir of surviving the debilitating guilt of childhood sexual abuse during the London Blitz. The story is true. Only names and places have been changed to permit publication as a novel. The central character named Paddie is Nuttall-Smith.

He writes:

"One Saturday evening, Paddie and his wife treated themselves to dinner and a movie. The Prince of Tides starred Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo, a trauma patient, and Barbara Streisand as his psychiatrist.

"When three armed convicts break into the Wingo home, violently rape Tom's mother and his twin sister, Savannah, and a particularly sadistic con anally rapes young Tom, Paddie suffered such a vivid flashback to being repeatedly raped by an uncle in London during the blitz, that he froze in his seat and cried audibly.

"After the movie, when everyone else had left the theatre, Paddie was finally able to pull himself together and join his wife in the lobby. Without a word, the couple walked to the car and, as was customary, Paddie got behind the wheel. Within minutes, he had to pull over because he could no longer see to drive.

"'I was the boy in the movie,' Paddie whispered. 'I was the boy in the movie.'"

Following this episode, and a subsequent gun incident during "a student prank" on December 6th 1990, the first anniversary of the massacre at L'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Ben Nuttall-Smith suffered an attack of severe PTSD and the subsequent end of his 33-year teaching career. His marriage disintegrated and Ben moved to a 'Handyman's Delight' on the Sunshine Coast. As part of the healing process, he began writing. He burned stacks and stacks of bitter scribbles while saving many of the better parts.

Fifteen years of writing and rewriting and two expensive edits later, Ben self-published his memoir as The Chameleon Sings (Trafford 2005 and Revised 2007). The book was then published as Secrets Kept/Secrets Told (Libros Libertad 2012). Libros held the rights to this and an Historical Novel - Blood, Feathers and Holy Men (Libros Libertad 2010) until 2017. Following legal release from both contracts, both books were re-edited and republished by Rutherford Press of Qualicum Beach as Discovered in a Scream (Rutherford Press 2019) and Mad God of the Toltecs (Rutherford Press 2017).

In Secrets Kept/Secrets Told, the protagonist travels to French Canada where he encounters bullying. At 17, he joins the Navy. Later he is nearly killed during a program to give literacy to blacks in the Southern U.S.

"Desperate to find acceptance and love," writes psychiatrist and reviewer William Hay, "he seeks the spirituality of a Catholic teaching order and discovers the joys of teaching music and drama. After thirteen years of mixed joy and frustration, he leaves the order and marries...

"For all those who have known the horrors of residential schools, persecution for difference, the shame of abuse, stigma and injustice, or who just want to read a wonderful biographical novel of an extraordinary man in extraordinary times, I would urge you to read Discovered in a Scream."

Mad God of the Toltecs (Rutherford Press 2017), Ben Nuttall-Smith's historical novel, blends Irish, Norse and the pre-Columbian mythology of indigenous peoples of the Americas. Shipwrecked in the Hebrides in the tenth century, an Irish priest and several young monks are enslaved by Norse traders, manage to cross the Atlantic, via Iceland, and descend North America's plains to the steamy jungles of Mexico. Having served as a Brother in a Roman Catholic teaching order from 1956 to 1978, Nuttall-Smith fashioned his truth-seeking heroes on Christian clerics who encounter the majesty of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered god of the Olmecs and Toltecs.

Four of Ben's other books published by Rutherford Press include Flying With White Eagle (Rutherford Press 2016). Illustrated by the author with pen and ink sketches, this biography relates Ayliffe "Pat" Carey's experiences - as homesteader, logger and bush pilot - provide an exceptional insight into pioneer life on Canada?s West Coast in the first decades of the twentieth century.

While logging his homestead island in B.C.'s Fraser Valley, Pat developed a passion for flying, overcoming countless barriers and setbacks, including crash landings, repairs and alterations to his aircraft.

He speaks matter-of-factly, without heroics, about flying missions over mountains and glaciers, often in dangerous weather conditions and with unsafe cargo. He recalls details vividly - taking us with him on his amazing journeys.

Crescent Beach Reflections (Rutherford Press 2017) contains 91 pages of Ben's poetry and paintings. Topics vary from Home and Nature, Travel, Vancouver East Side, Memories and a sprinkling of Spirituality.

Henry Hamster Esquire (Rutherford Press 2018) is an illustrated children's book in large format. Henry is snatched from his cage by Ginger, the family cat. Henry gets away, then is rescued by Jeremy, the neighbour's pit bull terrier, but Henry runs into a rat named Reginald Repulsive and a grass snake that eats mice! The story ends happily when Henry is found by his master, Billy, in the garden shed.

Ben's sixth book with Rutherford is Margot: Love in the Golden Years (Rutherford April 2019). These 99 pages of poetry, love letters, paintings and photographs celebrate the life of Ben's partner who died in their home in Crescent Beach January 16th of the same year. Once again, Ben wrote to heal from his tragic loss.
--
Ben Nuttall-Smith taught Music, Theatre, Art, and Language until he retired in 1991. Past President of the Federation of British Columbia Writers, and a member of the Canadian Writers' Union, he has been an executive member of the Canadian Authors' Association, and an Editorial Board member for the Canadian Poetry Association quarterly magazine Poemata.

Ben Nuttall-Smith's poems and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and online publications including All That Uneasy Spring ed. Patrick Lane; Quills Canadian Poetry Magazine; Poemata Canadian Poetry Association; Lucidity Journal of Verse, Bear House Publishing, Houston Texas; Cyclamens and Swords on line poetry magazine.

Ben was the winner of The Surrey Board of Trade Special Achievement Award 2011 for work as a writer and for service to the writing community. He was also awarded an Honorary Life Membership by the Federation of British Columbia Writers, May 2013, "in recognition of extraordinary service and dedication to the ideal of Writers Helping Writers."

*

Not schmaltzy, instead profound, senior romance could be a new literary genre. As boomers continue to grow and blossom in their seventies and eighties like perennials, we can expect to see more books like Ben Nuttall-Smith's heartfelt Margot: Love in the Golden Years (Rutherford $26.40).

"After a lifetime of being lost," Ben Nuttall-Smith found Margot Thomson (1938-2019) for the final sixteen years of her life. She taught him to believe himself as a writer and "to see other points-of-view and to treasure people as they are."

To honour his mentor, guide, lover and partner, Nuttall-Smith -- who has produced five previous books during his partnership with Thomson -- has combined their various writings and examples of her artwork for a permanent literary headstone.

Four months after she died at Crescent Beach, Nuttall-Smith's tribute to her influence on him echoes that of Leonard Cohen telling his Greek island lover Marianne, as she was dying, not to worry because he would soon be coming after her.

With Thomson's influence, he writes, "I believed once more in innocence, forgiveness and all that?s whole and good." Their parting is but an interim stage because "I wait to join you in that other place/beyond all time/when I at last am called."

This is not a sad book. It is celebratory. It suggests seniors' romances can be even more fulfilling than intrepid youthful liaisons because mutual explorations of two wise people can lead to enhanced appreciations of life in all its various permutations.

Born in Regina and raised in Victoria, Thomson was a therapist and activist who excelled in glassworks as well as painting. A brief personal essay reflects on her "deep interest in evoking, through my art, both the beauty and the horrors of life as it unfolds in the present."

Margot: Love in the Golden Years is an attempt to share what it can feel like to be part of an undying love, to be fueled and inspired by a deeply respectful partnership. Perhaps a line from Nuttall-Smith's opening poem captures the book's uplifting perspective

"The opposite to love is not hate/But selfishness."

- by Alan Twigg

++++

Margot: Love in the Golden Years (Rutherford $26.40) by Ben Nuttall-Smith
2020

As boomers continue to grow and blossom in their seventies like perennials, we can expect to see more books like Ben Nuttall-Smith?s heartfelt Margot: Love in the Golden Years (Rutherford $26.40).

?After a lifetime of being lost,? Ben Nuttall-Smith found Margot Thomson (1938-2019) for the final sixteen years of her life. She taught him to believe in himself as a writer and ?to see other points-of-view and to treasure people as they are.?

To honour his mentor, guide, lover and partner, Nuttall-Smith?who produced five previous books during his partnership with Thomson?has combined their various writings and examples of her artwork for a permanent literary headstone.

Four months after she died at Crescent Beach, Nuttall-Smith?s tribute to her influence on him echoes that of Leonard Cohen telling his Greek island lover Marianne, as she was dying, not to worry because he would soon be following her.

With Thomson?s influence, he writes, ?I believed once more in innocence, forgiveness and all that?s whole and good?? Their parting is but an interim stage because ?I wait to join you in that other place / beyond all time / when I at last am called.?

This is not a sad book. It is celebratory. It suggests seniors? romances can be even more fulfilling than intrepid youthful liaisons because mutual explorations of two wise people can lead to enhanced appreciations of life in all its various permutations.

Born in Regina and raised in Victoria, Thomson was a therapist and activist who excelled in glassworks as well as painting. A brief personal essay reflects on her ?deep interest in evoking, through my art, both the beauty and the horrors of life as it unfolds in the present.?

Margot: Love in the Golden Years is an attempt to share what it can feel like to be part of an undying love, to be fueled and inspired by a deeply respectful partnership. Perhaps a line from Nuttall-Smith?s opening poem captures the book?s uplifting perspective
?The opposite to love is not hate / But selfishness.? 978-1-988739-39-7

+++

BOOKS:

A Moment in Eternity (Silver Bow, 2013). Poetry. $18, 978-1-927616-02-4

Postcards (Silver Bow, 2013). Poetry. $18, 978-1-927616-03-1

Flying with White Eagle (Self-published 2015) $14.95 978-0-9865938-9-5. Republished by Rutherford Press, 2017

Discovered in a Scream: In Search of the Healing Garden (Rutherford Press 2017)

Mad God of the Toltecs (Rutherford Press, 2017)

Crescent Beach Reflections - Poetry & Paintings (Rutheford Press 2017)

Margo: Love in the Golden Years (Rutherford Press 2019) $26.40 978-1-988739-39-7

[BCBW 2020] "Mexico"