NaPoWriMo update

Hi, hi!  So you may have noticed I haven’t been posting poems every day.  I am still participating in NaPoWriMo.  However, I have decided I would like to keep some of my poems for potential publication outside the blogosphere.  So some NaPo poems will show up here and some will be saved to be savoured in other publications.

That said, I am not on task with NaPoWriMo.  At this moment, I am up to ten of eighteen poems.  We’ll see how the rest of the month goes.

Thank you for reading and hanging with me.

NaPoWriMo #3

bright hum, light song
bubbles popping to the soothing
of my soul
skin immersed in a sweaty bath
body turns
ride the waves
hours slip down the drain
tomorrow will come
tomorrow’s calling for rain
tomorrow’s a day closer
to you in my bed.

© 2017 by Robin A. Sams

NaPoWriMo #2

like a shell shut tight at the bottom of the sea
brushing sea grasses and weeds
they bend to her      and bend away   away
for though she is soft
though she opens wide when the waters are warm
her shell is dull      and quiet as the deep
—it terrifies
have you ever heard a shell scream?

she isn’t a shell
but a woman         she has always been quiet
always the world   percolating in her brain
shifting           creating realities
questioning this one
and someone asks to see inside
she tries    but the words she easily traces
in the sand at the bottom of the sea
take an eternity
to make sound out loud
there is little patience in this world for silence
because the brain fills in the gaps
where a handhold should.

© 2017 by Robin A. Sams

NaPoWriMo #1

Hello, my blog readers.  It has been months since I’ve blogged.  I have written very little for months.  Life is too big for words sometimes.  It’s a funny thing.  Sometimes life is so big, and I need the words pouring across pages.  Other times, life is so big, and the words are sparse.

However, inspired by a friend and a boyfriend, I have decided to take part in NaPoWriMo again this year.  (I didn’t do it last year, as I was focusing on a novel I have yet to complete.)  I want to get back into the habit of writing regularly, and this seemed like a great opportunity to do it.

So here is my first poem for the month, following NaPoWriMo’s early bird prompt of a haibun:

you turn the knobs, and hot water cascades down your arm.  a first shower.  together.  we strip quick and get in, dancing around who will be under the showerhead.  making up after breaking up on this strange night.  your arms circle me with warmth from within

without was so cold
shivers scavenged my body
this night manifold.

© 2017 by Robin A. Sams

On dealbreakers and the election

The US election has come to pass.  I am heartbroken.  Sad, angry, afraid.  I am not alone.

And there are white people who voted for Trump saying they voted for him because of his policies on the economy, immigration, foreign relations, etc.

Here’s a story.  A true story.  During one of the previous elections, I was considering voting for the Green party candidates.  I agreed with a lot of their proposed policies.  However, I then read that the candidate was Catholic and that affected their stance on abortion (in a way that limited abortion).  For me, a threat to a woman’s bodily autonomy is a dealbreaker.  So I didn’t vote Green party.

The fact that Trump’s racism, misogyny, and other bigoted policies/ideas/beliefs were not dealbreakers for a significant percentage of white people is disturbing.  (I am only speaking to the motivations of white American voters here.  I am a white woman.  I will not speak to the motivations of POC who voted for Trump.)

For too long, white people have insisted that racism no longer exists, or that they don’t see race, just people.  Well, guess what?  I see you.

The world sees you.

And I hope with every last ounce of what Americans are supposed to consider great about America (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.) that you pick up a big mirror and look.  Look at yourselves.  Hard.

We see you.

In a way, it’s good.  The racism and other bigotries are all out in the open now.  No more couching them in the language of “colour-blindness” or hey-you-can-marry-now-why-are-you-still-complaining.  No more microaggressions and subtle discriminations.

This post is not simply to guilt-trip the white people who voted for Trump.  I recognize that I, as a white woman, must accept some portion of blame, even though I voted for Hillary.

I should have been louder about supporting Hillary and about why I did.  (I have voted for third-party candidates in the past.  This time, however, I saw the clear danger Trump and Pence presented and knew I had to vote for Hillary, because she could win.  The US’s two-party system is flawed and frustrating.  However, there were too many lives at stake this time.)

I should have worked harder at expressing my fears and exposing the ridiculousness of letting a man with zero experience and a ton of arrogance, bigotry, and a lack of caring into the highest office of power in the United States.

Yes, there are some people I never would have convinced.  Some people are like a wall™ you can never get through, or even over, to their hearts.

Now the work of all of us is much harder.  It is coming together to protect those most vulnerable, most in danger from the out-in-the-open racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia, and ableism.  It is being louder than hate.

Yes, a part of me wants to wash my hands of America.  I have that privilege.  I live in Canada.  I can choose not to visit the States so long as Trump is in office.  I can even seek Canadian citizenship.

There is also a part of me that can’t turn my back on the mess.  I have friends and family in the States.  I am too invested in my ideals of equality/equity and freedom.  People will be harmed in Trump’s America.  I will not ignore that.

What will we do now?  Do it now.



Well, I’ve lapsed in my blogging again.  It’s summer.  I’ve also been occupied by personal stresses and the impending US election (yes, I’ve sent in my voter registration).

I did want to do a post, however, to let you all know about two great anthologies published in June in which I am excited to have work.

The first anthology is a Prince tribute published by Yellow Chair Review.  It’s called A Prince Tribute …only wanted one time to see you laughing and can be purchased here. My poem “Now you are gone” found a home there among sexy, sweet, sad, and beautiful poems draped in purple.

The second anthology is called Unrequited:  An Anthology of Love Poems About Inanimate Objects and is edited by Kelly Ann Jacobson.  It can be purchased here or here. My poem “Singer” found good company in this anthology that features poems to food, appliances, backyard decor, nature, and more.

As I am not sure how frequent my blogs will be for the next little while, if you want to keep up with me you can catch me on Twitter.  I post things about writing, politics, food, and personal stuff on there.

Enjoy your July!

All Vegans

Around the time I wrote my last blog post, I was reminded in a vlog by YouTuber Lilly Singh of something important:  promote what you love.  (I had also forgotten that Lilly Singh had already done a video similar to the one I envisioned:  Things People Say to Vegetarians)

So this blog post is a post to promote vegan things and people I love.


Farm Sanctuary has three shelters at either end of the continental United States (two in California and one in New York) that house escaped and/or rescued farmed animals.  (One of the dreams high up on my list of dreams is to spend a week or so at one of their shelters in the company of the animals.)  Not only do they directly help farmed animals through sanctuary work, but they also lobby for legislative changes to help farmed animals and provide educational materials through their web site.  They also post videos of the animals in their shelters.  My favourite is Pigs and Pumpkins.

Vancouver Animal Defense League is a more local animal rights activism group.  They hold anti-fur protests and are working to ban shark finning in Canada.  They can appear more in-your-face with their beliefs, because they are out in the public actively protesting and working to change things for animals.

Favourite vegan food recipe sites:

Oh She Glows

Vegangela (this web site is giving me a database error; in case it’s not temporary, you can also check her out on Facebook)

Post Punk Kitchen

Favourite vegan cookbooks (you’ll recognize some of these author names from the web sites above):

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero  (I love this book; it is my go-to cupcake recipe book)

The How It All Vegan series by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (a reference to the Evil Dead franchise; how can you not love it?)

The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes To Glow From The Inside Out by Angela Liddon

The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur:  Over 140 Simply Delicious Recipes That Treat the Eyes and Taste Buds by Kelly Peloza

The Everything Vegan Cookbook by Jolinda Hackett and Lorena Novak Bull (the Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Quinoa makes this book)

Favourite specialty vegan foods (these tend to be more expensive than I can afford on a regular basis, so they get relegated to the specialty category):

Dandie’s Marshmallows

Daiya cheese alternatives

Tofurky roast feast (our Thanksgiving/Christmas staple)

Cocoa Camino coconut dark chocolate bars (I can actually get these for a great price at the local Green Store)

I may be forgetting some things/people, but those are my favourites at the moment.  ❤


Not All Vegans

This past week was a bit of a tough week on Facebook for me with anti-vegan sentiments being thrown onto my timeline.

It took me a few days to cool down the anger, as I realized I was taking the sentiments (a screen-captured tweet and a video) personally.

The video, which I saw posted by multiple people on my timeline, was called If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans.  I felt angry before I watched it and even had ideas for a response video (If Vegans Acted Like Meat Eaters).

Vegan 1, in an apron and holding a plate of plain tofu, smiling:  “Tofu.  It’s what’s for dinner.”

Vegan 2; a burly person in a stereotypical Southern USian rancher gear (complete with cowboy hat, big and shiny belt buckle, and accent):  What’s this?  I don’t eat no vulture food.  Where’s the seitan?  Where’s the beans?

Vegan 3:  If God had wanted us to eat animals, S/He wouldn’t have made vegetables taste so good.

In the end, I decided that was my anger talking.  It would solve nothing and would potentially trade making fun of one group for another.  (Yes, I am posting my ideas for the video here, as I found them humourous–despite the fact that vegans are supposed to lack humour.  See stereotype below.)

I did eventually watch the video in question.  I found it to be an annoying, eye-rolling video (with multiple scenes of men awkwardly holding onto pieces of meat), but most of my anger had burned out by then.

It all does bring up a point that vegan stereotypes abound.

The standard vegan stereotype tends to go something along the lines of:  militant, angry, unreasonable, self-righteous, ugly/unhealthy, humourless, hippie- or yuppie-type who constantly posts graphic videos of  the horrors of animal agriculture and criticizes everyone else’s food choices.

I get it.  Some vegans are some of those things.  Some vegans may even be all of those things (barring “ugly,” which is subjective).  And when those of us who aren’t those things speak up about it, we’re sometimes told to stop being #NotAllVegans about it.

Yes, I was told that in a discussion stemming from a meme comparing being vegan in this world to being an oppressed group of people.  We vegans aren’t oppressed. (#NotAllVegans is an interestingly problematic statement in itself.  It is a variant on the NotAllMen hashtag.  Given that men are part of a systematically oppressive group, swapping men with vegans has the implication that vegans are also a systematically oppressive group.  We’re not.  However, the statement did have the effect of silencing me in that discussion.)

We vegans aren’t oppressed.  There aren’t laws saying we can’t eat tofu or gather together for vegan potlucks or have booths at local festivals to hand out pro-vegan pamphlets.

I can see how some vegans might see things that way, though.  In the Western world, we live in a culture that sees meat-eating/omnivourous eating as the default.  It is extremely easy (and fast) to get meals laden with animal products.  In many areas, it is difficult to order vegan meals out at a restaurant or to purchase vegan products like tempeh or vegan cheese at the local grocery store.

As far as restaurants go, things are changing.  Vegetarian meals are generally easy to find at restaurants.  Vegan meals, not so much.

I live in the Pacific Northwest, where I can buy tofu and a range of other vegan products at the local grocery stores.  I can find restaurants that serve vegan foods (sometimes even places that serve only vegan foods).  However, most of the restaurants in my town don’t serve vegan meals.  (I might be able to find an appetizer here or there but not whole meals.)

When I travel back to the States to visit my family, the difference is striking.

I remember one trip where we stopped in at a Wal-mart on the way to my parents’ house from the airport.  (We had flown in late, and all the restaurants were closed.  So I sucked it up, got creative, and said I could make some sort of dinner out of fare from the nearby Wal-mart.)  They had shelf spaces for tofu in the cold section with signs saying the tofu  was kept in the back (is tofu a big theft item?) and please ask an associate for assistance. So I asked.  The guy had no idea what I was talking about.  “Tofu.  They’re white cubes.”  Finally, he got it and went to the back to get me one.  And now I have a story about how they didn’t even know what tofu is!

The restaurants in that area are generally in the range from buffet to steakhouse (or steakhouse buffet) to specialty restaurants with very few restaurants serving vegan meals.  I can usually cobble together several helpings of salad from the salad bar at the buffet-style restaurants.  I might have more luck at specialty restaurants.  One Middle Eastern restaurant in the area had delicious vegan options.  I also managed to score some vegetable sushi at a Chinese buffet restaurant.  However, the majority of foods are geared toward omnivourous eaters.

Our culture in general pushes omnivourous eating to the fore.  The dairy, egg, and meat industries push ads to make their products out to be healthy, fresh, and hip.  They sponsor community events and sometimes even have mascots come out to said events to teach kids about their industry (leaving out the uncomfortable, graphic, and nonetheless true cruelties involved in industrialized animal agriculture).

Darn near daily, someone on my social media (and no doubt many other people’s social media) will post some pro-meat meme (often involving bacon) or image or screen-captured tweet or ad or something.

So, yeah.  Being vegan can be difficult.  Being vegan can be lonely.  It can be hard to find other vegans when the world around you is persistently chanting “Meat!  Meat!  Meat!”

I can understand why some vegans are defensive in their views.  Yes, even to the point of general obnoxiousness.  To the point of self-righteousness.  It’s a defense against a culture that lauds meat-eating and assumes meat-eating as the norm.

It is why I take silly anti-vegan videos personally.

And, yes, not all vegans are willing to listen to your arguments about why veganism is no better than meat-eating.  Not all vegans are willing to back down from your assertion that meat is healthy/delicious/environmentally sustainable.  Conversely, not all vegans want to deal with the confrontation.  Not all vegans want to criticize your food choices, because your choices are your choices (even if your food didn’t have a choice, the more confrontational vegan might add).  Not all vegans will be offended by your anti-vegan jokes.

So, yes.  Not all vegans.  And not all meat-eaters, too.



Poetry in Transit

This month I’m excited to report that my poetry is now on local buses!  My poems “bus ride,” which originally appeared in text lit magazine in March 2015, and “Recognize” were accepted for Nanaimo’s Poetry in Transit program.  The program was started by Nanaimo’s first poet laureate Naomi Beth Wakan.


The unveiling for the program was held at the Nanaimo Harbourfront library last Saturday, where I and a number of the other Poetry in Transit poets read our work.  There was also a bus parked outside displaying some of the selected poems.


A few days before the unveiling, my daughter spotted my poem “Recognize” on the bus.  A few minutes later, I saw that my other poem was just above our heads on the bus.

Since then, I’ve enjoyed seeing the variety of poetry on the bus.

I thought it was interesting when I first heard about the Poetry in Transit program being launched, there was a comment made that implied that us local poets don’t bus.  I don’t have a vehicle and don’t drive, so bussing (and occasionally carpooling) and walking are the ways I get around this town.  I know the bus.

Now the bus can know a piece of me in my poetry.

What’s going on, March?

Once again, I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging regularly.  I do tweet regularly, so if you are eager to keep up with me, you can check out my Twitter account here.

This month, I participated in a collaborative novel project through the Collaborative Writing Challenge. Last August, I signed up to write a chapter for the newest project, a fantasy novel titled Wych Born.  I was quite excited at the time, as I was already working on my own fantasy novel and doing a collaborative project sounded interesting.  We the writers got to vote on the starter chapters (and, later, cover art).

In this case, a western-style chapter won, throwing the novel into a fantasy western story.  I admittedly had some apprehension after this, as I am not a fan of most westerns.  The weeks went by.  I lost track of the chapter summaries, as I was more focused on my novel and on my offline life.  Then my turn to write came up earlier this month.

I got caught up on the chapter summaries and notes.  I still was uncertain about this story.  In the end, I decided to take the challenge and wrote the chapter.  The way this challenge works, multiple people write a particular chapter.  The story coordinator then decides which chapter fits the story best or moves it in the right direction.

I decided to view the chapter as a challenge.  Could I write something in a genre in which I have little interest?

The answer is yes.

And, to my surprise and amusement, the story coordinator loved my chapter (with some edits so it flowed better with the rest of the story).  My Chapter 25 will appear in the finished Wytch Born novel.

Take-away from this experience:  challenge yourself to write outside your comfort zone.  You might be pleasantly surprised.

As March is drawing to a close, I’ve been thinking about NaPoWriMo.  For the past three years, I’ve taken part in that daily poetry-writing challenge.  This year, however, I have decided not to take part.  I still have a good deal of work to do on my novel, and I want to focus on it.

I’m sure poems will still sneak into my days, though.