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Read about a recent review of my book Hyaena Season in Image Journal’s Good Letters blog by author, anthologist and long-time Image contributor, Peggy Rosenthal.

I recently posted my video about Poetry as Prayer, from the Logos Project, as well as the full article, and watch here for my upcoming Poetry as Prayer retreats.

What a time we had! La Romita Poetry Writing Retreat in Italy – Summer 2017

A community of poets and painters, great food and creative expression! And lots of laughter! What a time we had! You can check out my Facebook page for pics and blog posts by Sheila, one of the retreatants! Another retreatant, Tonya, wrote this about her experience:

Being at La Romita, in the hills of olive groves, within the deep history of Umbria and the story of the once-Capuchin monastery itself, was enchanting. I’d worked briefly with Richard Osler once and knew he would bring big energy and a head and heart full of poetry. He did that and more. The more is in his uncanny ability to enable people to find their own poetry. He invites, supports and nourishes the opening of inner channels of communication with the people we’ve been missing in ourselves, who all have so much to say. Richard gives poetry and while we received it and worked hard to learn to hear it, we also had an incredibly good time.

Read all about it!

hyaena-season-coverMy new collection of poems, Hyaena Season, launched last Fall! More than ten readings in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver, New Westminster, Victoria and Calgary. And sold lots of books!

The poems in Hyaena Season touch on the intimacies of a wide range of human experience from the killing grounds of Rwanda and DR Congo, to settings more familiar here in Canada.

Hope to do some more readings in the upcoming months! Here are details on past readings! Launches and readings during the past year. Thanks to all those who came out to hear me read!

You’ll find a complete list of my works here.

Here’s a short piece on what this site is all about.

If you’re wondering where my page of readings has gone, it’s just moved – from the home page to its own place inside the site. You can always reach it from the main menu under “Richard Reading”.

Writing on Fire – Another Poem by Vittori Colonna

A drawing by Michelangelo around 1540 of his close friend Vittoria Colonna. Photo credit: Wikipedia

# 103

I’m afraid the knot in which for years
my soul has been bound up now rules: I write
from habit, not because I am on fire.
I’m afraid the knot is tightly tied,
and by myself: I’m proud
and therefore dull. I think
my days are useful
when in fact I waste them.
Come, then, flame of love:
sear me from within
again. Make me make my song
from silence and hoarse cries.
God listens only for my heart.
He cares nothing for my style.

Vittoria Colonna from Vittoria Colonna – Selections from the Rime Spirituali, trans: Jan Zwicky, The Porcupine Press, 2014

Oh, what I hope for! And what happens! Hoped I would post lots of poetry blogs during my 16 day residency in Tuscany! So happy that didn’t happen. Instead, discovered lots of my own poems. I say discovered because none of them had an expected outcome. All I did was face the terrifying blank page, literally, and the poems did the rest!

Now, here I am on a flight to Munich from Pisa, Italy, and I so pleased to write another blog on a poem of Vittoria Colonna (1492-1547). What a surprise Colonna has been for me especially here in Italy. Here, where she had a deep connection with Michelangelo. Was she the love of his life? Many believe so.

What a treasure, the slight book of ten bilingual poems of Colonna translated by the quietly-powerful Canadian poet, musician and philosopher Jan Zwicky. Zwicky calls her translations, versions that she hopes captures the essence of the poems if not their 16th Century style.

How spare yet complex the ten poems Zwicky translated into her versions. In a previous post I celebrated poem #56 from the Rime Spirituali. Its startling, challenging, declarations: Yet/ death is what makes space for love and in the fire of being, suffering/ is turned to light.

Poem # 103 is no less challenging. But I feel so known by the poem especially its writer’s despair over a certain kind of what I call dead-on-arrival writing! Her take on it: Read More »

The Bigness of Small Poems – #39 in a Series – Five Disorienting Wisdom Poems!

Sculptural Relief of Italian poet Trilussa, the pseudonym for Carlo Alberto Salustri (1871-1950)


I saw a bee settle on a rose petal.
It sipped, and off it flew.
All in all, happiness, too,
is something little.

Trilussa (aka Carlo Alberto Salustri 1871-1950), ed. Geoffrey Brock, trans. John Dowd from FSG Book of 20th Century Italian Poetry, FSG, 2012

Discovered to my shock I never posted this a few days ago when I wrote it and snow was everywhere. Today thew snow is gone!!!

How disorienting to be reading about bees and flowers while everywhere I look, here on a Tuscan hilltop near Peccoli, is blanketed in snow! How pleased I am, snow or no snow, to discover Trilussa, the anagramatic pseudonym for a well-known poet from Rome, Carlo Alberto Salustri. To discover his epigrammatic small poems which so well suit my on-going series on the bigness of small poems! His poems built on images, then the thinking, the intellectual leap to the wisdom-reveal. That bigness.

I was so happy to be surprised by Trilussa’s poem Happiness. That happiness can be small not big. How much I wonder, am I influenced by a bias of the importance of bigness in my life. Am I more programmed to see happiness in big moments, big events like falling in love or winning some poetry prize! But not in the joy from a bee sipping from a flower. Yet how big is that! A huge part of the cycle of life, bees making life fruitful. Without them, an environmental crisis.

Read More »

Vittoria Colonna – Renaissance Poet – Death is What Makes Room for Love

A dawing by Michelangelo around 1540 of his dear friend Vittoria Colonna. Photo credit: Wikipedia

# 56

We are blind. The ancient fear of death
assails us often, for we do not carry on our backs
the great and solid wings of hope.
Nor do we build our houses on that rock,
but dig in sand
and call our losses cruel. Yet death
is what makes room for love.
May I not hoard the mortal beauty
that surrounds me. May I learn to see instead
how, in the fire of being, suffering
is turned to light.

Vittorio Colonna, trans. Jan Zwicky, from Vittoria Colonna – Selections from the Rime Spirituali, The Porcupine’s Quill, 2014

Here I sit on a Tuscan hilltop in a snow storm! The Tuscany I see outside my window, not the Tuscany on most tourist postcards! Yet, the beauty in front of me is undeniable. And also undeniable on a cold day is the warmth I receive, appropriately, from the poetry of  the most-widely recognized Italian woman poet of her time, Vittoria Colonna.

On its own without any context for the poem nor its author this poem is a wonderful example of a poetic spiritual meditation on death, loss and suffering. All part of our human experience! But is made especially poignant for me by this line: Yet death/ is what makes room for love. How this poem through this line and others turns my easy and discouraged thinking upside down. Dark here is turned to light. Hardships into grace. Despair into hope:

………………May I learn to see instead
how, in the fire of being, suffering
is turned to light.

This poem and her others are the main reason to make note of Vittorio Colonna (1492-1547) but here are two more reasons to take note of this poet who so celebrates love and spirit so ardently as her translator, celebrated Canadian poet Jan Zwicky describes Colonna’s poetry:

First, Colonna, was a way-making woman poet in her own lifetime, especially through her signature collection of 103 meditative religious poems, the Rime Spirituali. This ground-breaking work along with her earlier book of love poems made her the most widely-recognized woman poet in Renaissance Italy but also opened the door at that time for other contemporary women poets to publish their own poetry.

Second, she was a close intimate of Michelangelo. And a number of his celebrated sonnets and madrigals are addressed to her! (Yes, among all his other artistic accomplishments he was a well-regarded poet.) And since it is known that Colonna presented a gift manuscript of Rime Spirituali to Michelangelo around 1540 it is possible, as suggested by Jan Zwicky in her forward to her versions of the Rime Spirituali, to imagine them written for and presented to Michelangelo. And Zwicky is clear how important Colonna was in Michelangelo’s life: it appears that she was the last, and perhaps, the greatest love of his life.


The Bigness of Small Poems – #38 in a Series – Jane Hirschfield’s Poem, Late Prayer

American Poet and Essayist Jane Hirschfield

Late Prayer

Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally
Including rabbit and hawk.
Look: in the iron bucket,
A single nail, a single ruby –
All the heavens and hells.
They rattle in the heart and make one sound.

Jane Hirschfield from Lives of the Heart, Harper Collins, 1997

I have long liked, yet have been disturbed, also, by this poem of Jane Hirschfield’s. Like many of her poems which feel more like engimas, it resists my easy understanding. And I have been troubled with its title, Late Prayer, as I struggle with its contentions. How could this be a prayer, late or early?

My biggest surprise begins with its first-word-first-line abstraction that seems so removed from the end of its proper sentence. That’s where she cold cocks me. As planned, I imagine. Her declaration:

Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally
Including rabbit and hawk.

It’s the conjunction of tenderness with hawk that confounds me. The striking image evoked when hawk and rabbit are mentioned together, an image of a hawk killing a rabbit. How does a hawk with its lethal ferocity become a use chosen from tenderness? And how is this a prayer?

I asked that question here in Tuscany at dinner where I am part of the In Situ artist’s and writer’s residency with six others, And a young man, writer and graphic artist, responded without hesitation that the act of killing by the hawk to feed itself and its young is in itself an act of tenderness for life. True. The same tenderness that fed me chicken and vegetables this evening.

As I listened to the young man I understood my reaction to the poem is the poem’s point. One is impossible without the other but I do not like living in the consciousness of this!

I have a lot easier time with the contrasting images in the poem’s next proper sentence:

Look: in the iron bucket,
A single nail, a single ruby –
All the heavens and hells.

Because I am not complicit in these contrasts, the duality of crude nail and beautiful ruby, these heavens and hells, I rest easier with them. But when I add rabbit and hawk it gets messy; and the last line, a lot closer to the bone. They [the heavens and hells] rattle in the heart and make one sound. Yes, the sound of the anguished cry in my heart knowing one act of tenderness is also an act of terror. A hawk and rabbit.

These aren’t new understandings. But Hirschfield puts me in the vice of this duality and turns it until I hurt:

Tenderness does not choose its own uses.
It goes out to everything equally
Including rabbit and hawk.

And how is this a prayer, late or otherwise? I assume late refers to a prayer, late in the sense she was in her forties when she wrote this. She had a lot more experience then of life’s opposing dualities. If I imagine prayer as some do – a listening to God, to the Beloved, to a Higher Power, to the Creator – this seems like a call, a prayer to wake up.  A call for fierce acceptance of the yes and no that underlies this world I live in. This is no simple asking to change it or make it better. It is a prayer of hard-earned acceptance of a world with all its heavens and hells.

I hesitate responding with a new poem of my own in response to a poem by a poet as fine as Hirschfield but it’s how I started to have a conversation with it. It took me to an utterly unexpected place as so many of my poems do.

I am here in Tuscany with Christian artists and writers but even then, my last line surprised me. I do feel a mysterious, Divine presence in the making of my own poems and feel it often in the poems of others. And I do lead Poetry-as-Prayer retreats but I am not used to such explicitly religious expression in my own poems!

Late Prayer
After Reading
 Hirschfield’s Poem,
Late Prayer

Who will understand me
if I say no
prayer is late or early.

Late in the Tuscan daylight
the rain, the same
as it was this morning,
its falling full of its own uses. 

Late or early, these failures I collect,
full of their own uses. Beloved,

have mercy.

When an Angry Poet Prays Past Anger – The Bigness of Small Poems – #37 in a Series – Danez Smith


American poet Danez Smith wearing on his back a poem by Angel Naifs

little prayer

Let ruin end here

let him find honey
where there once was a slaughter

let him enter the lion's cage
& find a field of lilacs

and let this be the healing
& if not  let it be

Danez Smith from Don’t Call Us Dead, Graywolf Press, 2017

A searing new voice in American poetry, Danez Smith is one of a pack of young American poets riding in from the fringes, writing a poetry of resistance, celebration of difference and of horrifying lament. Lament that comes from lives born far from Western culture’s comfortable center.

Like smelling salts, this startling and disturbing poetry crys wake up, wake up. And his cries join others, those of Ocean Vuong, sam sax and Jamal May, to name a few.

Smith’s little poem from his latest collection, Don’t Call Us Dead, a finalist for the prestigious National Book Award in 2017, strikes me as an outlier. A poem different in tone and intensity from many in his book. It’s what made it standout for me. The tone, is it exhaustion I hear in the the poem’s opening plea: let ruin end here? The bigness of such a small word: ruin.

American poet Danez Smith reading Dear White America on U Tube

So much in this huge small poem. A biblical plea for the lion to lie down with the lamb. For places of conflict and war to become places of sweetness, beauty and healing.

But unlike some of the pleading voices in the bible and, in particular, in the Psalms, there is no querulous demanding tone. It’s a a quiet request and, for me, ends with shocking acceptance. and if not   let it be.

Part of me wants to yell back: are you kidding? Let it be: in Syria? Myanmar? Sudan? Eastern Congo? A school in Florida? A church in Florida? A mosque in Quebec? Are you kidding?

But no, he’s not kidding. He can’t change the world’s violence but he can try and change its impact on his heart. His response. He can want it. Work for it. And then accept what is.

This prayer does not have the tone nor the cry calling out a racist America in his poem, Dear White America. Nor the rage in the poem You’re Dead America. These acid cries:

tomorrow, i’ll have hope.

tomorrow i can shift the wreckage

& find a seed.

i don’t know what will grow

i’ve lost my faith in this garden

the bees are dying

the water poisons whole cities

but my honeyed kin

those brown folks who make

up the nation of my heart

only allegiance I stand for

realer than any god

for them i bury whatever

this country thought it was.

These his necessary outcries. There in its own way a prayer against God.But prayer,  this huge little prayer, so big in its quiet, seems to be a way of staying sane (let it be) when the horrors refuse to change. He asks it be his way. I ask let it be my way, too.

Two Valentine’s Day Treats – With a Difference! Poems by Rhonda Ganz and Carol Ann Duffy

Canadian Poet from Vancouver Island, Rhonda Ganz


Mention in passing, Cleopatra,
a bath in asses’ milk,
and my lover’s off
to the all-night grocery for gallon jugs.
A pot on every burner,
and a bowl in the microwave, too.

Get in , he says
when the tub is six inches whiter.
And I do.

And what I feel is whole
milk, my lover back and forth,
and I’m in a county of cows and alabaster
where bliss is creating Kneecap Mountain, climbing Breast Plateau
rising Shoulder hill. The whole room smells like melted sugar.

I cup my hands
in warm milk
raise then to my lover,

and my lover
bows his head to drink.

Rhonda Ganz from Frequent, Small Loads of Laundry, Mother tongue Publishing, 2017

What a pleasure when poet friends of mine find a home for their poems in a collection. A place where they are corralled, and I can read them at leisure, some of them old friends, heard read out at poetry retreats or readings. On my desk now, a perfect collection for Valentine’s Day,
Rhonda Ganz’s book, Frequent, small loads of laundry.

Read More »

And Still He Sings – A Celebration of Patrick Lane and his New Novel, Deep River Night, Released Today

Canadian Author Patrick Lane (1939 – )

The Beauty

This too, the beauty
of the antelope in snow.
Is it enough to say we will
imagine this and nothing more?

Who understands that, failing,
falters at the song.
But still we sing.
That is beauty.

But it is not an answer
any more than the antelope
most slender of beasts
most beautiful

will tell us why they go
going nowhere
and going there
perfectly in the snow.

Patrick Lane from The Collected Poems
of Patrick Lane
, Harbour Publishing, 2011

Today, a chill day, here. Here in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island where chill isn’t bone crushing or breath-taking. But here, where, if the forecast is true, it will snow in the next few days and the snow will fill open flowers of snow drop and crocus. That sort of chill. Flowers made more beautiful by the cold. The cold made more terrible by the flowers.

I am thinking of cold and flowers and Patrick Lane’s new book, Deep River Night. It was released today. His second novel. Cold and beauty. The opposites Lane knows well and even though I am now only part way into his new book I know those tensions will play out perfectly. Beauty and whatever its opposite is will play out and I will have to face both beauty and its shadow by the time I finish the book.

Patrick Lane’s Latest Novel, Released February 13th, 2018

Canadian author of twenty five books of poetry, his novels and a memoir, Lane’s writing career now spans almost sixty years. And he is no stranger to these blog pages. I have featured him many times here.

I chose his poem The Beauty to introduce this blog post. With a focus on these lines: But still we sing./ That is beauty. It sums up so much of Lane’s life. The singing of our stories, a beauty in and of itself even when the stories contain so much grief and sorrow. The paradox that propels Lane on, book after book.

This, no book review. This, more a tribute to a fine writer and more, a fine man. A good man. Fine and good do not mean they are without their opposites or their shadows. Now in his 18th year of recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol, Lane has been no stranger to dark and shadow but he has faced them in his writing and in his life.

This transmutation. This alchemy. When a man or woman go down into the darkness and come back out alive, and I don’t been just physically, they bring a dark gold back out with them. And that gold holds a blessing for anyone near enough to touch it. To hear it. Here, in the words Lane sings. Like these words at the end of an essay  he wrote for The Globe and Mail in 2000 a few weeks out of a treatment center:

It’s Christmas. There’s a tree and many lights and people singing. Some of us will make it, some of us won’t, but we sing our hearts out anyway. We sing as hard as we can.

If Lane has a signature image I think it is this one: no matter who we are, what we have been, we must sing out our life. For Lane, I think, singing, especially, the metaphor, is his code word for staying alive. And for him his singing has been his writing and no matter how tough his poems, his stories, his writing has been his way to stay sane and whole in spite of his brokenness.

Lane shared words from his Globe article at a university convocation ceremony three years ago. And he used the image of singing again as he ended his frank address:

Today you receive your degrees. It is a moment of immense change for each of you, a moment to be proud of, for your families to be proud of. But today is merely an hour. I ask that you never be afraid for a time may come when you will have to sing your hearts out, and when that happens I want you to sing as hard as you can.

Through his writing, Lane keeps his song alive and the songs of others. In his poem The Beauty, Lane says: And still we sing; in his poem Small Elegy for New York he says: The silence of the dead is what we own. It’s why we sing. And later in the poem he adds: The dead sing too in the wreckage and the fires. We must listen to their song./ The burden is our lives. And in his poem The Sooke Potholes he says: Sometimes a song is all we have. That’s why he keeps singing it.

Now, his novel, more of that song. His song of living up on the North Thompson where his latest novel takes place over a harrowing two days. And more of the songs of others: the dead, the oppressed, the oppressors, the survivors, the addicted. The harsh beauty in this. So he won’t forget. So we won’t forget.

This poem below has long been a favorite of mine. And it too holds at its heart the image of singing. And more, an image of light. The two images so impactful.

God Walks Burning Through Me

When I sleep the birds come to the garden
With their gifts of seeds. Out of ice
last year’s leaves of grass lift into night.
All my songs have been one song.
The palm of my hand and the sole of my foot
remember everything I have forgotten.
The old lantern by the pond has always been there.
Now is the time to light it.

Patrick Lane from The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane, Harbour Publishing, 2011

In the poem Lane says: All my songs have been one song. Yes, songs of saying I am here. I have been here. And he also says: The old lantern by the pond has always been there./ Now is the time to light it. What I hear in these images is, it’s never too late. Keep singing, your joys, your misfortunes. And the lantern that has waited for years is there, is yours, to light. Don’t go quiet, don’t go dark.

Now back to the novel. I am a quarter of the way through!

All Things Shall Be Made Good – The Good Words of Poet Lachlin MacKinnon –

Scottish-born poet Lachlin MacKinnon (1956 – )

The Psalmist

When I look up
my soul is water, it
trembles beneath your breath
as the skin of a mountain pool
shakes below whistled cloud.

Where there is music
let each voice praise you,
clashing cymbals
unleash their roaring
whisper, the strings sing

at one with braided voices
of boys and girls, and let the harpist
bow her sweet
neck to the sweet burden
of an air plucked from air,

the trumpeter bray
what you have promised,
that you will move among us
to bind each wound,
that all things shall be made good.

Lachlan MacKinnon (1956 - ) from Dove, Faber & Faber, 2017

I am enjoying a fruitful time of poetry-site surfing. Finding new poets who catch my poetic ear. Now, Lachlin MacKinnon, born in Scotland and now based in Ely, England, joins Meg Day and Francesca Bell as exciting new-to-me voices discovered on- line. Author of five poetry collections and a well-known literary journalist in England, MacKinnon is said to have been deeply influenced by American poets including Robert Lowell and W.C. Williams. (See below for his tribute poem to Williams, WCW.)

What a praise poem MacKinnon crafts in The Psalmist. What a psalm of praise!  There is something light and lilting about this piece. Something authentically uplifting. Yet somehow, at its end, filled, for me, with a trembling, a questioning, vulnerability.

the trumpeter bray
what you have promised,
that you will move among us
to bind each wound,
that all things shall be made good.

How the line: what you have promised strikes a blow to my heart! And makes the praise in this poem even more real. Because I know that for so many it is not a slam dunk that God does move among us, that he will bind each wound and that all things will be made good, at least not here on planet earth. The implied faith in this stanza is arresting. But also the vulnerability I hear under its lines. An implied slight questioning in the voice: you will, won’t you do as you promised, you will make all things good?

Read More »

New News! Announcing a “En Plein Aire” Ten Day Poetry Retreat in Italy, October 4 to 14th, 2018

An Evening Poetry Reading at La Romita.



The Second Recovering Words
Generative Poetry Retreat
La Romita School of Art
Terni, Umbria, Italy

10 Days in Residence

October 4th to Oct. 14th, 2018

La Romita


After the poetry-packed wonder of the 2017 Recovering Words poetry retreat at La Romita, what a pleasure it is to introduce Poetry En Plein Air –  the 2018 La Romita Recovering Words poetry retreat! It seems impossible it was only seven months ago that nine of us spent ten days exploring outer landscapes in Umbria through daily out trips and inner and outer landscapes through the poems we wrote almost every day.  And now, it is only eight months before the next retreat. Please consider joining me for this unique writing and travel adventure! To see a summary of last year’s retreat please click here.

Plein Air Poetry – Umbria, La Romita Poetry Retreat 2017!

One of the unexpected delights of last year’s retreat was the discovery of writing-in-place, or what painters call en plein air, at many of the extraordinary places we visited on an almost-daily basis. Following the example of the painters from La Romita, the poets opened their notebooks and with the help of  hand-outs – selected poems with commentary –  began to write first drafts in an open-air museum, small town churches and courtyards and a two thousand year-old archeological site.

In 2018 Poetry En Plain Air will take advantage of our experience last year and make the in-place writing experience a structured part of the retreat.  In addition, there will quieter days of writing on-site inside the welcoming grounds of La Romita. But no matter where you write your first drafts or revisions, in this ten-day poetry writing retreat you will be inspired in structured writing sessions, through the poems of master poets and other creative prompts, to write unexpected poems that stretch you as a writer. And what better place to be stretched than Italy – its sights, sounds, smells and tastes which are on full view here at the La Romita website.

Lunch in Assisi

And what better place, provoked as you will be by Umbria’s beauty and history in numerous out trips, to be further surprised by the mystery at the heart of poetry; the way, as Canadian poet Susan Musgrave says: Poems always seem to know more than I do and to be wiser than I am, as far as I can see. That’s also what’s magical about writing. Where do these things come from?  I remember so clearly the surprised look on so many faces last year during the La Romita retreat as poems were read that were as much a surprise to the writer as to the listeners! The gift of poetry.


Open to writers of all levels of experience this retreat will take care to maintain a constructive balance between facilitated writing sessions, lots of quiet times for writing and our out trips to some of the remarkable places where we will write en plein air near and far-near from La Romita including Assisi, Perugia, Spoleto and some of the many towns that dot the hilltops of Umbria, each with their own special features and histories.


To help prepare you for the poetry retreat you will receive a four to six page introduction in early September 2018 with poems and thoughts on poetics which will include a pre-retreat writing  adventure/assignment to be completed and brought with you to the retreat. The poem that comes from this will be at the core of how we introduce ourselves at the beginning of our time together.


There is something special that happens when a poet/retreatant lives in a community of other poets for ten days. Yes, life-long friendships can develop, but even more, a synergy can occur as poems are written together, shared and revised that leads to the retreatant going home with a sheaf of new poems quite unlike any others they have written before. And poems that are keepers!

La Romita Poetry 2017 – Nancy in situ at Carsulae writing her poem!


La Romita School of Art, located in the hills overlooking Terni, Umbria, sixty miles north of Rome and a three hour drive from Florence.


For Double Occupancy including, room, all meals at La Romita and out trips:  $2500.00 U.S. Single Supplement $200.00 U.S. To see if you qualify for further discounts please contact Richard Osler at

A non-refundable deposit of US$500.00 is required to register. However, the deposit is refundable if the retreat’s minimum of eight participants is not met by May 1st, 2018. Final balance, non-refundable, will be due August 15th, 2018.


Richard Osler

Richard Osler (66) is an experienced poetry writing facilitator and workshop leader who leads more than one hundred writing retreats and workshops a year in the U.S. and Canada. His poems have been published in the U.S. and Canada. His chapbook, Where the Water Lives, was published by Leaf Press in 2012 and his full-length collection, Hyaena Season, was published by Quattro Books, Toronto in the Fall of 2016. His website, which includes his poetry blog published  about forty times a year, can be seen at


To register please contact Tracy at or 1 202 337 3120


Being at La Romita, in the hills of olive groves, within the deep history of Umbria and the story of the once-Capuchin monastery itself, was enchanting. I’d worked briefly with Richard Osler once and knew he would bring big energy and a head and heart full of poetry. He did that and more. The more is in his uncanny ability to enable people to find their own poetry. He invites, supports and nourishes the opening of inner channels of communication with the people we’ve been missing in ourselves, who all have so much to say. Richard gives poetry and while we received it and worked hard to learn to hear it, we also had an incredibly good time.

– Tonya L., Calgary, July 2017

I first met Richard when he began coming here to the Gulf Coast, near Surfside, Texas about 8 years ago to lead an annual weekend poetry retreat. He’s a gifted facilitator who somehow manages to pull wonderful poems even from those who don’t write often. I was excited when I heard that he had been invited to Italy in 2017 to lead a poetry retreat, and immediately signed up!  La Romita is a wonderful venue in the hills of Umbria, near the center of “the boot”. It is sacred space, having once served as a Capuchin monastery. And if you’ve ever written poetry, you know that just by writing, you’ve entered sacred space. So, our whole Italian adventure was “sacred”. Richard has the gift of hospitality and community making. Time and time again, I’ve watched him pull complete strangers in, and make them feel at home with each other. It happened again in Italy. Strangers came together, bonded, wrote together, then shared poetry and stories for 10 days. We lived together, saw wonderful little hilltop hamlets, played in the sunflowers like children, experienced the flavors of Italy, toyed with the language, laughed, and feasted together. I’ll forever be grateful for our Italian experience.

– Sheila C., Lake Jackson, Texas, August 2017




Bell, Day and Klobah – Poets to Read – And Here, Three of Their Poems – Writing the Body Erotic

American Poet Francesca Bell


the man remembers your body,
remembers to love you again,
flicks you like a switch
that has waited, ready
in the room’s shadows.
Loneliness rises from each
reclaimed centimeter
of your skin. You are so
eager you are humiliated,
rushing forth like a hound
loosed in woods, your cry
like joy or keening, a baying
that bursts out of you, months
of waiting become sound. After,
the man sleeps, peaceful, but you
are a door he’s opened, a path
grown over now beaten
back down. You feel his life,
which will end before yours,
slide slowly away into the dark.

Francesca Bell from BODY,, March 2015

For readers of American lit mags Bell’s name is no secret. Her poems have appeared in many of them including  North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, River Styx, and Rattle. Better still she has been nominated eight times for the Pushcart Prize (best poems of American small presses and magazines). And she won the 2014 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle. Her first full-length collection comes out in 2019 from Red Hen Press.

And it’s in Rattle where I discovered her a week ago. Her poem was chosen for the Rattle weekly Poets Respond feature based on a news event from the previous event. To read that poem please click here. The imaginative power of that poem based on a news story of last year’s horrific Las Vegas shooting showed me a poet of unusual range and nuance. I had never heard of her before so went searching. What I found was a poet who writes with a particular lyric ferocity.

I bookmarked Bell and in particular her poem attached above. An erotic poem but one with dark notes, the dark notes of duende. I thought I might feature it one day.
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