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“Correspondence” in Queen’s Quarterly

A huge treat yesterday: the latest Queen’s Quarterly arrived, with my article “Correspondence.” It’s a gorgeous magazine on silky paper, beautifully laid out and illustrated, with stellar writing. Very proud to be included. They sent two extra copies that will go to England, to the family of the penpal the essay is about. Barbara died in 1966; she’d just turned sixteen. I hope it brings her siblings joy to see her remembered and honoured, and loved. 

Speaking of honoured: A workshop I took recently from the Creative Nonfiction Collective, that dealt with writing about nature, urged us to learn the actual names of plants and animals. “To name them is to honour them,” we were told. I know the names of few plants and trees, a few more animals. But for example, I just looked up “sparrows of Ontario,” and found out there are 26 different species, most of them invasive. There’s a shallow pan filled with water on my deck bannister so I can watch all the different sparrows come to bathe and drink. Not to mention the cardinal, who spent quite a bit of time today splashing about, ruffling and diving and fluttering. He’s so red, and yet his face is so very black. After his bath, the sparrows return to drink. 

Yesterday I watched Nature on PBS about butterflies, marvelling again in the natural miracles of our world – the process of egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, one of the most glorious creatures alive – how not to weep at the marvel of it all? One species, the stunning Painted Lady, travels thousands of miles, from the Sahara to the Arctic Circle and back – much further than the Monarch. 

Thinking of the intricacy and delicacy of our natural world, it’s hard not to dwell on the vicious destruction going on, the smashing of everything not just in Ukraine, but all over the world – the rain forest in Brazil, the ancient forests of British Columbia … And feel again for David Suzuki, our Canadian Cassandra, who’s been begging us for decades to pay attention and stop.

Tonight, the last home class of term, a group of writers like family. Yesterday to the Y that’s gradually feeling like normal — had my first sauna in two years, with a passel of naked ladies without masks. Heaven. On the way to the streetcar I passed this fellow. A modern kind of expert. Certified!



4 Responses to ““Correspondence” in Queen’s Quarterly”

  1. alandmillen says:

    That photo of the stack of letters resonated with me. I've got a similar "treasure trove" but nothing to match the emotional depth of your essay "Correspondence". Queen's Quarterly … well done indeed.

  2. beth says:

    Thank you, Alan. As the article says, I carried her letters with me for decades before pulling them out to write about her. Treasure.

  3. theresa says:

    I love the illustration, Beth. So intriguing. And look forward to reading the essay at some point too!

  4. beth says:

    I'll send it to you, Theresa. Should have done that before!

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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