Friday 30 May 2014

4Q Interview with Christian Brun - World Traveller, Poet, Artist,and a super nice guy!

Christian Brun is the Executive Director of the Maritime Fisherman’s Union. He has travelled extensively throughout the world, lived in Mozambique, Africa. He lives in Shediac, NB. He is an exceptional artist and author of several books of poetry. A man of many talents (pardon the cliché but it fits). His website is below.

4Q: Before we talk about your writing and painting, tell us about your desire to travel as much as you have and how did you end up in Africa?

CB: Travels fuel my great curiosity. I have a never ending almost obsessive need to generate new information through observation. I can only go so far with a book and with local travel and have discovered the great wealth of geographical displacement. The movement and grace of difference through people, contact, communication, architecture, food, weather and nature have provided an energy that is hard to describe. While the pizzazz might have somewhat phased with age, I yet feel like an adolescent going through puberty when I leave the country. When I am in a foreign area, I prefer walking, so I can slowly grasp the nuances and the beauty. In 1994, in France, I walked from Spain (San Sebastian) to Biarritz for example. My own little “Randonnée de compostelle” of sorts. After that experience, I understood how travels were not only exploration of sight, touch, sound and smell, but were also experienced from within: all of these new found observations were having a profound effect on my thoughts and perceptions of life. A relatively short travel experience had changed who I was almost immediately; imagine if this was to happen for a longer period…

A few years later, I was confused about what I wanted to do with my life, quite frankly. I was completing my articling with a small Law Firm in Ottawa and was disappointed as to the realities of the practice. Pushing paper was not very fulfilling. Just as I was to pass my bar exams, I was offered a job. I had applied with many Canadian NGOs a year previous as I had a great interest in more long-term travels – so I could get immersed into culture and language.
Mozambique was a perfect opportunity: 1- the project was about civil disarmament and turning weapons into art, 2- Maputo, the Capital where I would be working, was a coastal town, 3- Portuguese was the language spoken, a Latin language, therefore accessible through French basics, another cousin Latin language, and finally, 4- the field of international development seemed much more real and substance oriented than what I had survived in the urban legal world. I took a week to think about it, confirmed and was off a month later in November of 1997.  

4Q: You have three books of poetry published at present. What is it about poetry that that you enjoy and what inspires you.

CB: I like to say things in a snapshot. I like to also play with words. Mostly, I am in love with the metaphor, always have been. The metaphor lets you be true to yourself and not always reveal absolutely all of who you are. I have learned earlier in life that one must protect oneself to be free. Life is not all roses and blue skies and there are some people and circumstances that can hurt and damage. I have always been myself, I believe, with others, but often, I only share what I feel I should. I have created an invisible filter coming in and going out. That is why poetry is so powerful. It enables you to divulge who you are, but not completely.

I am inspired by nothing and everything. I have written about the most mundane act of human stupidity (the fact that one needs to go to the washroom once in a while, hopefully throughout his/her whole life - lol). I have also written of the most typically exciting and cliché moments of love, despair and drama. I have found that some of the blandest past photography can become incredibly strong 30 years later – have a look at Dennis Hopper’s photos as an example. Therefore, the mundane of today could very well enlighten the future. I was also amazed in my twenties at how French poets like Rimbaud, Prévert, Apolinaire and Éluard could speak of everyday events and make them so interesting… or how Verlaine, Beaudelaire and Neruda could make the cheese disappear when thinking of love, death and depression.

What finally really clicked the switch was when I began reading our own Acadian literature, how real it was and how it was part of our conflicted collective soul. In some ways, our Acadian identity was somewhat like I was: for many years, it could not, and preferred not to reveal all of what it was. Poetry in l’Acadie, is a code and an extremely important one at that.  

I am getting off subject aren’t I? Back to your next question. 

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

CB: Well… hmmm… I will share one that has shaped who I am. I had built a very badly strewn tree house near our home in Cormier-Village with leftover wood, planks, tar paper and rusted nails. I remember sitting there in the doorway looking at the water flowing in a nearby brook and the nature that surrounded me. It was the first time I really had a different perspective of the world, I guess, from a different height in something I had built with my bare two hands. Moral of the story is that my creation had enabled a new perspective of the same things I looked at everyday… I realized much later that the creative process was synonymous to youth and renewal.

 4Q: You have many fine paintings to your credit. How did you get into painting and where can your work be seen other than your website?

CB: The visual arts came naturally as a complement to writing… I am mostly visual in my concepts, but more literary in my communication… so I decided to use both as a survival guide to procrastination! When I find one creative process less motivating, I refer to the other… and they both meet rather often. For example, I am attempting to write a text for every painting I have produced (good or bad – lol). I’m hoping this will be a lifelong project.  

I have one exhibition per year at Galerie 12 in the Aberdeen Cultural Centre in downtown Moncton. This keeps my blood flowing...


Thank you Christian for sharing your thoughts with us. We look forward to more of your creativity in the future. Christian’s website is
*An interesting note: Christian's sister Nathalie is the cover model for the novel Dark Side of a Promise.
Next week I will be telling you a bit about myself; who I am, what are my passions, who is my family and why I write.
I lived in an orphanage for the first ten months of my life......


Friday 23 May 2014

Guest writer Lockie Young. The Lone Shepard.

This is Lockie Young's third visit to the Scribbler. You will be hearing more from this talented writer as he wraps up the sequel to his YA novel, Ryan's Legend. Watch for it at Morning Rain Publishing. His website is posted below.
The Lone Shepard
A long, long time ago in a far away land there lived a young shepherd boy named Ewan. Now Ewan was a good boy, who lived with his grandparents in the hills just east of the Stone Wood. He tended his sheep and was very diligent, as there were many wolves in the hills. The wolves lived in the Stone Wood, which was rumored to be haunted. The wolves would venture into the hills and kill the sheep, if not for the very brave boy who protected them. Now you may ask, how can a mere boy defend against a pack of wolves? The answer may astound you. You see even though Ewan was just a boy, he had in his possession a very strange weapon indeed. It had saved his life many times, and the lives of the flock he protected.

One day, one of the sheep wandered away from the hill, where the flock was grazing. Ewan, who kept a very keen eye on his precious flock, noticed the number of sheep was down by one, and as he gazed off in the distance, toward the meadow that gently sloped toward the Stone Wood, he saw his quarry.  He noticed the faintest of white disappear into the haunted forest. Gathering all his courage, Ewan rushed to save the poor woolly creature from a certain death, should the animal venture too deep into the place where only Devils and Trolls dared to go.

At the edge of the great forest, Ewan stopped to gather his breath, and his courage, before venturing forth into the unknown, for neither he nor any of his kin had ever set foot into the Stone Wood. Oh he knew full well the possible consequences of such a foolhardy quest, for it was told and retold many times around the open fire pits late at night, when the shadows were long and fear was ripe. No one ever returned from that unholy place.

Ewan gulped down his fear, and tramped it deep into his soul, as he ventured into the dark, dank foliage. The leaves were so thick; the sunlight did not penetrate such gloom. There was even a bitter stench, that left its acid mark on the poor shepherd’s tongue. With eyes big and round as saucers the brave little boy headed further into the wood. All at once, off to his left, he heard the scared bleating of a sheep. He followed the sound and soon he saw the poor trapped animal. It had wandered into a bramble so thick, it could neither go forward nor backward. It was so scared, and so pitiful, that the boy ran instinctually to its rescue. Without a thought for his own safety, Ewan carefully and skillfully removed the thorny sticks and twigs that stuck fast to the thick woolen coat. Soon he had freed the desperate young sheep from its trap and in shepherd fashion, slung the young lamp around his shoulders, and carried on his trek out of the forest. Before too long he saw sunlight shinning through the leaves and knew he had finally, once again, reached the edge of the Stone Wood. With jubilant heart the young boy ran the rest of the way, and once well into the meadow, he set his rescued lamb back down to earth. But before he let the creature go, he noticed a rather stout stick sticking out of the thick wool. He wiggled and pulled the stick free, and upon closer inspection, he saw that it was a very strange looking stick indeed. It wasn’t exactly crocked as it was curved. The wood was rock hard and hollow. What a fine whistle this stick will make he thought, as he stashed his prize into the pocket of his frock.

The sun rose high in the noon day sky, and the hill side was quiet, as the lazy sheep grazed on the rich grasses there. Ewan took the strange curved stick from his pocket and began to look at it more closely. He blew into one end and a low tone emitted from the other end and he knew at once it was as he expected. The stick was indeed hollow. He decided to try and make a hole in the strange, almost polished wood, so he took out his knife and began doing just that. His sturdy blade easily cut into the wood, and after each hole he made, he would try his whistle. Soon he discovered that he could make musical notes, and he decided his whistle was not a whistle at all, but was turning into a beautiful flute. As he played he noticed the sheep laying down as if to bed, and the more he played the quieter it got until the only sound was the magical notes from the flute. Soon everything around him was fast asleep. Even the birds were nestled in the trees with their heads tucked neatly under wing.

It was then, on a hill side long, long ago that a young shepherd knew he had an enchanted flute. Oh this was indeed a glorious day, for the young boy realized that he could also use his magical flute as weapon against the many animals that threatened his flock. He would never have to worry again if his sturdy staff would be enough against the hungry snarls of the wolf pack. He would never again fear anything, as long as he could play his magical flute.

Ewan played his flute for hours, practicing different songs, and different tones. And the gentle breezes carried the magical tunes past the meadow and into the town. It carried the tunes into the Stone Forest and beyond, into the city, and long before the sun set that day, not a soul was awake, but for one lonely shepherd, one brave and very lonely shepherd.

Thanks for the story Lockie.You can keep up with Lockie at

Next week, join me for the monthly 4Q Interview when we have 4 questions for Christian Brun, a poet, artist and seasoned traveler. An interesting guy!

Friday 16 May 2014

Guest writer Susan Toy - 50 Ways to Lose Your Liver

Susan Toy is an author and publisher that lives in Bequia, a tiny island in the Caribbean. She is a tremendous supporter of her fellow writers as well as an exceptional story teller. Her award winning short story below was originally published in The White Wall Review #33. You can read more about Susan and her novel - Island in the Clouds - at

50 Ways to Lose Your Liver

The night Grandma died was a liver night, and we were all so engrossed in getting the damn meal finished and over with that, when it actually happened, we didn’t believe at first that Grandma had really left the table – in the permanent sense. 
 Grandma was a lifelong professional hypochondriac. I believe that, as a young girl, she may have aspired to become a doctor; so constantly proclaiming sickness at least got her into the company of doctors. 
And she knew her medicine! This was long before anyone could look up symptoms online, imagining they were dying from any variety of serious 
ailments. We were so used to Grandma’s constant histrionics over her health, always self-diagnosing she was about to pass away…at any moment now…that when it finally did happen, how were we to know she was actually up and dying – for real?  
 A few years before, when Grandpa—God rest his hen-pecked soul—died, my mother felt obliged to move the four of us—her, Dad, my younger sister, and me—into her parents’ much-larger house. Our older siblings, a sister and brother, had already moved away from home, so they were spared those years of “living with Grandma.” They still came to visit, for family dinners, birthdays, holidays, all occasions, but they didn’t have to suffer, day-to-day, listening to Grandma’s complaints about her bones, her gall bladder, her acid indigestion, her eyes, her sick headaches… My younger sister, Sally, and I would place bets with each other as to which would be the malady du jour when joining Grandma every morning at the breakfast table.
 “Oh, Gotta,” she’d greet us. (She was Belgian and still spoke an accented-English sprinkled with Flemish, even after nearly sixty years of living in Canada.) “Oh, Gotta, kinder. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. It was the vater galla.” 
Sally would turn to me and whisper, “Pay up!” 
We never did find out exactly what the problem was with Grandma’s vater galla, or even which part of her body she was referring to, but that seemed to be the most common physical complaint she suffered from. So it was a no-brainer on my sister’s part that she usually won the bet; Sally always picked vater galla. 
Grandma insisted on kissing us both before we went to school, as though that day would definitely be her last on earth. “Say goodbye to me now,” she would moan, a tear in her eye. “I might die before you come home this afternoon.” She’d spent a lifetime expecting her own demise, and as it still hadn’t happened, Sally and I would leave the house, pretty sure we’d be seeing Grandma again at the end of the school day. 
Our brother was the only one who effectively put an end to her bidding him goodbye in the same manner. “Don’t worry, Grandma,” he laughed. “I just bought a new dark suit. If you do die, I have something nice to wear to your funeral.” As the only male heir, who could also escape to his downtown apartment, he got away with being disrespectful.
Mom suffered her remaining parent silently, although Sally and I could see it was wearing thin most of the time. She had been genuinely ill much of her own life, had had several operations, and a brush with cancer. But none of that ever came close to any of Grandma’s imagined problems – at least as far as Grandma was concerned. 
Dad worked in an office on weekdays. Whenever he was home, he’d hide behind the newspaper, rustling its pages every once in a while, clearing his throat, denoting that, while he could hear Grandma’s complaints, he wasn’t going to pay her any attention, no sir!
So Sally, at six-years-old, and me, being ten at the time, the two youngest of the family, were still under the impression we had to at least listen to our eldest member, sympathizing with all her aches and pains.
Besides, she was so happy having an audience that she actually paid us in cold, hard cash. We quickly calculated that, for just a little bit of commiseration on our part, we would eventually become rich!
Now Mom, and Grandma, were of generations that grew up believing eating liver once a week was necessary for everyone, not only for growing children. That was a time when liver was the main guaranteed source of iron in a diet. Sally and I didn’t know enough to realize we were probably already taking in enough of the mineral from what was added to milk and boxed cereals. If we’d had any idea that was the case, we might have made more of a protest against our predictable Wednesday night meal of liver, mashed potatoes, and salad. Dad would eat anything, so there was never any point in asking for his support in our efforts to ban liver from the dinner table.

And the liver itself might not have been so bad, had Mom known how to cook it properly. She didn’t. It always had the consistency of cheap shoe leather and the taste of…well, that was the problem – it didn’t taste like anything at all that Sally and I could recognize. Since those days, I’ve heard liver referred to as a “toilet sponge,” which goes a long way to explaining that indescribable flavour. 
We tried, on those dreaded Wednesday-liver-nights, to: claim we weren’t hungry; that we were too sick to eat; had already filled up on after-school snacks; or were thinking of joining a new religion that forbad the eating of liver. But excuses never worked. Mom would give us “that look,” point at our chairs and, without a single word, force us to sit and partake – quietly!
One evening, searching for a laugh, I clutched my abdomen and cried out, “I think I’m getting liver disease!” 
But all that garnered was a slap across the back of my head, and Mother’s snarl of, “Quit fooling around and eat!” 
Sally, her body jiggling the entire time while I suffered, tried so hard not to visibly react. At six, she had already managed to master a near-perfect poker face. 
I devised a method of eating the foul meat that worked for me. Cutting off the tiniest piece possible, I’d completely coat it in mashed potatoes, then stick my fork into the white ball and shove the whole mess as far back into my mouth as I could, way past the taste buds, swallowing immediately so I didn’t need to chew.

That was okay, until Mom caught on and decided to change the vegetable portion on our plates to frozen mixed peas and carrots.
Sally had her own avoidance technique. She ate everything else on her plate first, then quickly gobbled up all the liver at once, washing it down at the end with a full glass of milk. In great satisfaction, she’d turn to me, flash a liver-eating-grin and, holding her palms up and out, would mouth “Finished,” while I still struggled with swallowing the rest of mine. But, then, being the younger of the two, she always got a much smaller portion than I did, anyway, which wasn’t fair at all.
But, thanks to my ingenious sister, after the night Grandma died, we never had to eat liver again.

Grandma was often in the habit, during dinner, of placing her cutlery on the plate and sitting back, patting her chest with one hand, while saying to no one in 
particular, “Oh, Gotta!” Now that could have meant “Oh, Gotta, the food is good,” or “Oh, Gotta, my indigestion is acting up,” or “Oh, Gotta, the vater galla.” That evening though, I seem to remember her saying, “Oh, Gotta, it’s the liver,” before her head fell to one side, her eyes still open. We all kept eating.
Mom looked over at Grandma first. “Ma, what’s the matter?” She reached out and put a hand on Grandma’s arm, which made Grandma slump over immediately, her face falling forward to rest in the plate of unfinished liver on the table in front of her. 
Slapping a hand across my mouth, I stifled an involuntary laugh. Mom began screaming, which started Sally crying, and Dad tried to calm everyone down. I pushed my own plate away and jumped up from the chair, not sure what to do next. 
Dad checked for a pulse and, yep, sure enough, Grandma had kicked the bucket. All those years of expecting it would happen at any moment, then when it did so—and suddenly, as predicted—we hadn’t had enough time to properly say goodbye. 
Dad phoned for an ambulance. Mom, after pulling a used tissue out of her sweater sleeve, tried to spit-clean the grease and food residue from her mother’s face. Sally was still sitting at the table, next to our now-deceased Grandma, crying. 
“Joanie, look after your sister, will you?” Mom said, while silent tears streamed down her own face.
I helped Sally up from her chair and led her into the living room. “Let’s go upstairs,” I whispered. 

But she shook her head in a defiant No! sitting down on the couch where she had an unobstructed view of the dining room, and of Mom and Grandma.

Within ten minutes we heard the siren. Dad opened the front door and ushered the paramedics into the dining room where they quickly confirmed that Grandma was indeed dead. They set out the stretcher and loaded her body on it, covering her face with a sheet. As they lifted, and were about to carry the woman out of her own house for the very last time, Sally jumped up from the couch and cried out, “Mommy killed Grandma! It was the liver!” 
The attendants exchanged a look and rested Grandma back on the floor again. The older of the two said to my parents, “We need to call the police. If there’s any suggestion of wrong-doing in a death, the police need to investigate.” He radioed dispatch and requested police assistance as Mom and Dad flashed each other worried glances.
In the meantime, Dad attempted to console Sally, who was wailing by that time. Mom stood beside the dining room table, silent in her grief, but also glaring in disbelief at her youngest baby who had fingered her for the murder of her own mother.
Once the police arrived, they quickly straightened out the facts of what had happened. 
Dad tried smoothing things over. “Out of the mouths of babes… heh, heh,” he nervously declared.
The policewoman said, “I’m sorry, sir, but there will likely need to be an inquest. That is, unless the cause of death can immediately be determined by a doctor.
 We’ll accompany you to the hospital, ma’am.” She held a hand out to guide Mom towards the front door, but waited while Mom took her coat out of the front hall closet, and grabbed her purse, along with Grandma’s, from the kitchen table.
“I’ll call you when we get to the hospital,” Mom said to Dad, walking out the front door, accompanied by the policewoman, and following behind the paramedics who carried Grandma on the stretcher.
In the end, it was decided that Mom’s cooked liver hadn’t killed Grandma after all; Grandma’s heart had just finally given out. Sally and I claimed her heart probably couldn’t take any more of those weekly feedings of liver, and we were surprised the rest of us hadn’t succumbed to heart attacks long before that night. 
We knew enough, though, not to say anything of the like out loud to our mother; after that night, it was understood – the entire subject of liver was forbidden in our family. 
The following week, once Grandma’s funeral service and burial were over and done with (our brother looking very handsome in his new suit, by the way), Sally and I were overjoyed to discover that pork chops would replace liver on the Wednesday menu from that night forward. 
We smiled across the table at each other that first night as Mom placed the plates in front of us. I gave Sally a two-thumbs-up, just above the edge of the table, and out of Mom and Dad’s sight.
Sally winked at me while mouthing the words Pay up! before tucking into her food.

Please join me next week when  one of my regular guests, Lockie Young, shares another of his entertaining short stories, always a treat.

I am publishing a series of short stories which will be dedicated to my three wonderful grandchildren.

SHORTS Vol.1 is for the oldest, Matthieu Isaac Young.

Available at