Emily Doolittle’s Conversation, a setting for soprano and ensemble of Eleonore Schönmaier’s haunting poem of the same name will be debuted on February 21 in Scotland as part of Music Planet’s programming with the St Andrews New Music Ensemble.  “Schönmaier’s poem explores what Doolittle describes as a ‘slightly uncanny sympathy between humans and grey seals’. Humans are musical creatures. Sounds are so important to how we communicate and how we create that we are naturally drawn to the sounds other animals make, especially when we perceive those sounds as music. Marine mammals are especially musical — underwater, visibility is poor, but sound travels far. Grey seals are particularly captivating because their voiceboxes are the closest to ours of any other animal.”  Emily Doolittle’s Conversation was commissioned by Bede Williams with funds from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

For a taster of what’s to come you can listen to another Doolittle work also based on a Schönmaier poem “Migration.”







For Eric Radford


our fathers worked together under-

ground while you on the surface

gracefully chiseled the ice

the only boy figure skater


in town bullies taunted

you with their hockey

sticks. all of us children

of goldminers, and you


decorated with multiple

metals now win gold: Olympic

girl in your hands the first time

you threw her she landed


perfectly. scared of

heights she trusts you to

twirl her above your head.

soulmates. your hidden self


shared with the world. fear

is a sound in the inner

ear but has no refuge

there. courage is your world









Vallum Poem of the Week: “What Gets Blown In” by Eleonore Schönmaier

Vallum: Contemporary Poetry

Schonmaier author photo

What Gets Blown In

The cricket that lands
on his thigh. In the house

there have been no flowers
for weeks, yet a red petal

floats in the bath that he
draws for her. A large bee

finds the strawberry
spoon in the kitchen sink.

Unnoticed, a mosquito
drones in the bedroom

at night. And on the breakfast
table a tiny white feather.

Eleonore Schönmaier’s most recent books are Dust Blown Side of the Journey (2017) and Wavelengths of Your Song (2013) both from McGill-Queen’s University Press. Her poetry has been set to music by Canadian, Dutch, Scottish, American and Greek composers. Her poetry has also been performed in concert by The New European Ensemble. She has won the Alfred G. Bailey Prize, the Earle Birney Prize, and has been twice shortlisted for the Bridport prize (UK). Her poetry has been published in The Best Canadian Poetry, and has also been translated…

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Nine poems


Nine of my poems were selected for the Canadian National Poetry Registry (covering seven different constituencies). George Elliot Clark, Parliamentary Poet Laureate writes “My hope is that Canadians will look up a constituency and discover poets whose work will gain additional relevance via their verses about a place—or places—therein. I also hope to inform parliamentarians about how poets have viewed—or view—a riding and acquaint them with the poets who have lived in or visited their electoral districts.”

New Brunswick Southwest

Three poems set on Grand Manan:

“Libretto.”  Wavelengths of Your Song McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013

Saxifraga.”  Wavelengths of Your Song McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013

“Wild.” Wavelengths of Your Song McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013


Nova Scotia Halifax

Poem about the crash of Swissair Flight 111 and the effect of this on a Nova Scotia village

“What We Don’t Think of Packing.” Treading Fast Rivers Carleton University Press, 1999


Nova Scotia South Shore-St. Margarets

Poem set in Kejimkujik National Park 

“Journey.” Wavelengths of Your Song McGill-Queens University Press, 2013


Nova Scotia Dartmouth-Cole Harbour

“Medieval Thoughts.” Treading Fast Rivers Carleton University Press, 1999


Ontario Kenora

“Copper Thunderbird.” Treading Fast Rivers Carelton University Press, 1999


Northwest Territories

 “Paradise Evacuated.” Dust Blown Side of the Journey. McGill-Queens University Press, 2017


Vancouver Centre

“Vancouver.” Wavelengths of Your Song. McGill-Queen’s University Press 2013



Branches over Ripples


“Eleonore has gone back out onto the lake, this time in her kayak. Truly no other friend of mine has canoeing more in her blood. She’s practised it since her childhood in Northern Ontario, and isn’t just a fair-weather paddler; she also likes the challenge and exhilaration of being on lakes during rains, mists and surging waves. No wonder images of water run through so much of her new poetry collection, which is also filled with music and musicians, so the title Wavelengths of Your Song fits perfectly. I’ve read some of the poems two or three times, but it just dawned on me, after canoeing with its author, that you could re-experience the book with the act of canoeing constantly in mind, and wonder how rhythms and lines might’ve been influenced by the dips, strokes, manouverings and driftings, all the movements of both energy and relaxation, in canoeing around a lake again and again.”

 From Brian Bartlett’s newly released Branches over Ripples (Gaspereau Press)

Branches over Ripples.jpg

“Over two years, author and amateur naturalist Brian Bartlett sat down beside various bodies of water (bays, rivers, streams, lakes, waterfalls) to record his impressions, capturing both sensuous details of natural phenomena and reflections on his life and reading. Making a virtue of leisurely digression, Bartlett’s experiment in plein-air writing wanders beyond everyday personal journal-keeping into a meditation on the rich connections between the seemingly disparate experiences of our days, and on the enduring value of indulging our curiosity.”

“Brian Bartlett has published seven collections of poetry (including The Watchmakers Table and Wanting the Day: Selected Poems) and two books of prose (Ringing Here & There: A Nature Calendar and All Manner of Tackle: Living with Poetry). His writing has won numerous prizes, including the Atlantic Poetry Prize, The Malahat Reviews Long Poem Prize and the Acorn-Plantos Award for Peoples Poetry. Bartlett lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he teaches at Saint Marys University.”


long cool and quenching


Today’s Book of Poetry has reviewed Dust Blown Side of the Journey:   “Schönmaier is a perfect mix of Nelson Ball’s wonder and brevity along with the breadth and wisdom, experience and vision of a Lorna Crozier or a Sharon Olds.  That is some fine company and Schönmaier is right at home…monstrously good…Reading Dust Blown Side of the Journey is like that first long cool and quenching gulp of fresh spring water after a long hike.”