Monday 10 July 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Ronda Wicks Eller of Ontario, Canada.




Please welcome Ronda to the Scribbler.

She is an award winning author/poet and we are happy to have her visit this week and tell us about her latest work.

Read on, my friends.





Ronda Wicks Eller was born in Toronto in 1965, raised in Woodstock and now lives near Stratford, Ontario. She is a poet with exposure in Canadian and International forums with six published collections, a collaborative one, and many individual poems in newsletters, journals and anthologies online and in print; two of which were nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. Her works have received recognition through numerous awards. Ronda served for eight years as National Media Coordinator for the Canadian Poetry Association, three years as a Consul for the Canadian Poets' Guild and she was an Associate Member with the League of Canadian Poets in 2008/9. She is currently the Mitchell and Midwestern Region Branch Manager for The Ontario Poetry Society and their Publication Layout Designer, while also being a Member-at-Large on their Executive. In another capacity Ronda is a consulting Editor for the New Generation Beat Poets Canada. She owns SkyWing Press, a poetry micro-press that is currently on hiatus due to her otherwise busy schedule. She does contract editing and is also a novelist. Her first four novels, a historical-mystery-family-romance fiction set in 1855 England is contained in a single manuscript, with the working title “For Adam’s Sake”, and is in the submission phase with publishers now.


Working Title: “Salmagundi – an omnium gatherum” by Ronda Wicks Eller

2023, Poetry Friendly Press, Toronto, ON.

Limited 1st edition – 50 copies, $25 CAD (includes shipping inside Canada), purchase from the author only.



Synopsis: “Salmagundi” is an East Indian word for “tossed salad”, the large assortment of food choices that offer the diner a wide variety of flavours, textures and aromatic bouquets on a plate intended to provide a delightfully well-rounded feast for the senses. It is derived from the root salmagondis, meaning “a hodgepodge or mix of widely disparate things”, while the latin “omnium gatherum” means “great collection”.

          The book “Salmagundi” is just that. It is laid out in sections organized chronologically according to each of my previously published books, with select poems from each, and concludes with a section of ‘Poems New and Old’. There are 52 poems in this section that were either 1) published singly in other media or 2) didn’t make the cut for other books although they were no less worthy. This way the reader can follow approximately forty years of writing development and the use of a variety of sub-genre (rhyme schemes, free verse, minimalist, haiku, senryu, haikai, sufi/rumi style, et al) expressing a broad palate of themes.



The Story behind the Story: Putting Salmagundi together began with a desire to keep early publications alive— ones that have been out of print for decades. It became the largest collection I’ve ever offered (242 pages) owing to a few factors:

1)   I felt some poems from the later books deserved more outreach

2)   poems from early books link to later poems like a chain-work of thought building one on the other, and

3)   by incorporating poems from each book the reader gets a better sense of what each one contains in case they want to get the full version. For example, Hoofprints on the Moon (SkyWing Press 2019) and Ashram of Love (River Bones Press, 2019) are available online as P.O.D. publications. They are always available (until officially retired) but previews are more limited for Ashram than what I’ve given in ‘Salmagundi’ and non-existent for Hoofprints, to protect the 31 pieces of sketch art contained in it.

In my early twenties I had a dear friend and neighbour, Marjorie, who enjoyed listening to me read my poems—she also went as far as to drag me out to meet my first publisher, who was in town launching one of his own books. Through this, I fell into the arms of the C.P.A. and the greater poetic adventures that have followed, but here’s the crux of my story: Marjorie often commented on how I wrote so much like W.B. Yeats and I’d given little mind to it, having only a vague remembrance of his name from high school English classes. At that time I also worried that reading other poets might result in a sort of plagiarism so I avoided it (I have since realized that my own voice comes through regardless). After Marjorie died, in reflecting over her contributions to my life, I finally decided to read some Yeats and my prolific juices began to flood torrentially. She was right about her comparison—I not only used the same imagery and symbolism but I understood his particular use of those devices instinctively. “Salmagundi” includes poems from ‘Whale Songs in the Aurora Borealis’ and “the Lion and the Golden Calf’ with definitive Yeatsian context.

Fast forward to 2012 and an evening when I’m re-watching a DVD of “The Favorite Game” (based on Leonard Cohen’s 1963 novel). I’d been taking comfort in his music after a recent break-up but I’d given little attention to the poetry I knew he wrote. I felt the urge to read about him online and learned that Yeats was a favourite of his too… and then I began reading his poems and song lyrics. I felt a soul connection to him, perhaps he was destined to become another muse for me (?), as my foci easily merged with his. Then, on his birthday in 2015, not knowing the day it was for him, a poem seemed to write itself (no revision required). It is in “Salmagundi” under the title ‘Sweet Refrain’:     Let me be your sweet refrain/ the one that brings you back again./ Let me be the song you sing/ that fills the void in everything/ you left unsung and left unheard/ because you couldn’t find the words./ Let me be your sweet refrain. It became the theme for my book “Hoofprints on the Moon”, also contained in part in “Salmagundi”. It is predominantly Cohenesque in flavour.

Yeats and Cohen reflect through so much of “Salmagundi” it might be difficult to untangle them even from the earliest works like in the “My Harmonic Perfection” section, my earliest chapbook reprinted in its entirety—poems from before I felt any kinship of a kind to either of them.

On the whole, “Salmagundi” really offers my readers a potpourri through which they can savour and meet with me where I’ve been at in each stage of life and its creative expression so far. I invite them to claim their own translation for the lines within as they relate from their own perspectives!





A question before you go Ronda:

Can you tell us about the perfect setting you have, or desire, for your writing? Music or quiet? Coffee or tequila?  Neat or notes everywhere?


Ha! My notes are scattered everywhere from actual pieces of paper and notepads to napkins and paper towels, the inside covers of Sudoku and Crossword Puzzle books, the back of store receipts et al… on whatever I have handy when a catchy line or thought crosses my busy little brain. Most often, if I’m drinking a beverage, it’s coffee or cola and, for music, it’s classical, celtic or other type of elevator music that uplifts the writing flow… except Cohen. When I want to write Cohen he’s usually singing to me in the background. I rarely write in silence. I can’t really say there’s a perfect setting for me because I’m either in a prolific phase where my words spill out anywhere and everywhere or I’ve hit a writer’s block and nothing moves. That said, I often envision myself living in a small cottage in the woods with a little creek or river close by and a small community not too far away. This is a place where I could access the internet at will or sit by the creek to write or sketch.




Thank you for being our guest this week, Ronda. Wishing you continued success with your writing.



Abd a special thank you to our visitors and readers.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinated to learn about her background and approach to writing. Thanks.


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