On Writing

Poem 107 – Gulls 2 & Review

Gulls 2

the gulls are back
drawing up dawn
with their claw-screams

their piercing lyrics hysterically joyful

Merp. Another typo yesterday. Had an extra ‘to’ that wasn’t necessary. Did you see it? My editorial skills are clearly not to par these last few days. All good. We learn.

This just in…

Thank you soooo very much to poet and friend Peter Hrastovec for sharing the following thoughts on ‘Thimbles’. It truly is overwhelming to receive such heartfelt responses to one’s work. I am floating on love air!

“If you have not read anything by Vanessa Shields, her latest work, Thimbles, is a fitting introduction to the work of this gifted Canadian poet. It is truly a love letter to her Nonna, a woman who overcame personal tragedy and enormous grief to build a new life in a new country. This is a tribute to a life well-lived, a journey of discovery and enlightenment, a legacy that is etched in the hearts of those who survive and who, like the author, are encouraged to live up to the expectations of this no-nonsense matriarch who had lessons for all.

In this chronicle of love and loss, there are the usual but significant milestones—marriage, childbirth, work, celebrations with family. The events are personal—they look and feel a little different than what may be expected in other life stories, what each of us may experience in our own families. What is remarkable here are not the events themselves but the depth of feeling that is described with soulful grace by this poet. Devotion is a two-way street and the journey shared has a lasting influence on the participants.

It was hard to pick a favorite among the poems that comprise this thematically fluid collection. But for me, the “wow” moment is encapsulated in these stirring words addressing critical illness and a sense of the foreboding:

i decide
to reach
into your body
with my love
carry your soul
to the safety
of my heart
the heart
you taught to be
even as it
fails to save you

I urge you to take this trip with Vanessa Shields and celebrate Poetry Month. Thimbles (a publication of Palimpsest Press) honors the privilege of loving and being loved, of being needed and being in need. It preserves a legacy with beauty and dignity. Life is, after all, a delicate balancing act. And sometimes, we hang by a thread.”

To purchase a book of poetry by Peter, CLICK HERE!


This is Charis Cotter. She writes middle-grade books, mostly ghost stories, from her dream-come-true humble home at the edge of Western Bay in Newfoundland. Charis and I talk and write together nearly every day. No kidding! We have been writing partners for over five years, after meeting at a conference to be on a panel together, and falling madly in love. Charis inspires me deeply, and her writing discipline, skills and passion continue to teach me how to be a better writer.

I am soooo excited that Charis is the host of my upcoming book launch! She will be tuning in from the foggy shores of Newfoundland! Charis is the author of over 12 books, many of which are *award winners* – which we joke about but really are just thrilled to celebrate. Charis’ latest book, The Dollhouse, which isn’t even out yet (!), has made its first giant sale in the education field in the United States; and The Ghost Road, published in 2019, recently won the 2020 Bruneau Family Award for Children’s/Young Adult Literature (Newfoundland and Labrador Book Awards).

To find out more about Charis and order ALL OF HER BOOKS (!), please visit her website HERE.

To register for our Zoom book launch, please visit HERE.

2 thoughts on “Poem 107 – Gulls 2 & Review

  1. wow, that Charis person sounds groovy… does she have a boyfriend? maybe you can mention that she’s single and looking…

    seriously, thanks for that lovely intro Vanessa!

    and what your friend Peter said about thimbles… WOW!!! you got no worries girl. this book is goin places…


    On Sat, 17 Apr 2021 at 10:48, VANESSA SHIELDS, writer wrote:

    > Vanessa Shields posted: ” Gulls 2 the gulls are backdrawing up dawnwith > their claw-screams their piercing lyrics hysterically joyful Merp. Another > typo yesterday. Had an extra ‘to’ that wasn’t necessary. Did you see it? My > editorial skills are clearly not to par ” >


  2. Hi Vanessa, You describe gulls wonderfully! Their “ claw screams” is such great descriptive Language! Here , close to the water, I often hear them, especially if there are Small fish . I also hear the geese, and wish I knew their language. I think Aboriginal people are much more connected with nature than we will ever be. Maybe that’s why they are so respectful of land and water. Sadly, greed is so destructive Keep writing, your pen “ waits for your hand”

    Sent from my iPad



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