Poetry, Theirs and Ours

Poetry that travels like lightning to electrify your very soul

As jubilados (Spanish for retirees) we’re fans of Leonard Cohen who wrote: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”


Mariposa: poetry in a single word. Better than butterfly?

A paradise for butterflies, Costa Rica has 1,200 individual species, ten percent of the world’s mariposa population. Throughout the country butterflies are a kaleidoscope of colour, petal wings nectaring in blossoms.

A butterfly’s life cycle is a natural source of poetic inspiration—egg to imago (adult) in forty-eight weeks, imago to death sometimes a mere three days. “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly,” wrote an anonymous poet. Since April is Poetry Month, we have paired photos of the delicate beauty of butterflies with the lyrical imagery of poets. After all, as Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.”

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Robert Service at his desk

Discovering the literature and poetry of a country we’re visiting: for me this is one of the greatest pleasures of travel. And what a thrill when it happens in your own country like it did in the Yukon this summer. Read more

Gloria's mother

The last time we visited our mothers was in April. The long, Saskatchewan winter stalled out for the week we were there. Flocks of geese v’d through the clear-blue living skies, clouds as scant as the patches of snow on the prairie fields below. A natural world invisible to my mom, who sadly, last year at the age of ninety, become permanently blind.
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Cherry blossoms in Japan

More than three decades ago when we lived in Calgary, Magellan and I thought we’d go to Japan in the spring for the sakura (桜), the Japanese word for cherry blossoms derived from saku , which means to bloom. I even studied Japanese in anticipation. For some reason that I don’t recall, we didn’t go. How foolish we were to even think we had to travel that far for hanami—viewing cherry blossoms—you only need to go as far west as Vancouver, which now has its own Sakura Festival every April. Since April is also National Poetry Month, we’ve curated a collection of our favourite sakura haikus, adding Spice’s own attempt as well.

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Today, St Patrick’s Day, is our daughter Lynn’s birthday. Not wanting to embarrass her with some sappy tribute, we’re turning the words over to one of my favourite poets, Linda Pastan.

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In his book NZ Frenzy, Scott Cook starts off his discussion of Paturau (Pah-too-rau) Beach with these words: “Oh my god, no way, oh wow, I’ll be damned.”

He says it took him seven summers of travelling to New Zealand’s South Island before he made it to Paturau. We’re almost as tardy—it’s taken us four years to showcase this “sweet as” beach, slang in New Zealand for “as good as it gets.”

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