In the year 2020

Thank you to everyone for your support and encouragement throughout this immensely difficult year.

In 2021 let us continue to care for each other including strangers and the planet.

A poet’s office

Often this year I’ve thought of my former life as a nurse and the contrasts between front line workers and the rest of us who are safe at home in our offices. I have family and friends who continue to work on the front lines. I’ve had friends who’ve been ill from covid (including a forty-two year old girlfriend). It would have been unimaginable for most of us to preconceive of the events of 2020 (though perhaps this is true of most years with varying circumstances). It would also have been unimaginable to think that my writing work would continue in a steady flow in the time of a pandemic, but somehow poetry always operates under the radar, crisis or no crisis.

On March 5, 2020 parasitenpresse in Cologne received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts under the Frankfurter Book Fair initiative for the publication of Wavelengths of Your Song in German translation. Wellenlängen deines Liedes was released in late August. Translator Knut Birkholz and I worked closely together on the poems for many months. We were actually meeting in person at the precise moment we received the email that the publication would become a reality. I was invited to attend the European Literary Festival in Cologne in September and the Frankfurt Book Fair in October (though I was unable to attend either event).

I’ve also been invited to read my poetry from Wellenlängen in both English and German at an event in honour of Paul Celan. The other participants will all be literary scholars and my poetry will conclude the hour long event. It will be the first time I’ll read my poetry in German translation out loud to an audience.

An American composer is writing numerous choral pieces and songs based on poems in Wavelengths of Your Song.

Cover designed by David Drummond.
I took this cover photo on Grand Manan Island.

On March 10, 2020 McGill-Queen’s University Press wrote that Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete had been accepted for publication in June 2021. A few days later we went into the pandemic lockdown.

Cover designed by David Drummond

Thyme clings, high / and away from the grazing and scents / the air.

Island life carries on while a beautiful woman lies in a coma surrounded by friends and lovers.

Island reality is interconnected with live-retrieved memories in which a nurse follows a violent patient into the northern Canadian bush, a migrant mother faces her new job as the village butcher, an Ojibway man is forced to walk a dangerous route home alone, teenagers loot the local dump to build their mother’s wheelchair, and an electrician watches a woman play a grand piano on a ballfield.

A (re)creation of the surreality and altered time within deep states of grieving, Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete juxtaposes sorrow with fragmentary unapologetic joy. Eleonore Schönmaier forges compelling symphonic resonances between European musical encounters and a northern working-class childhood. By centring her experiential empathy on a history of racism and poverty, she guides us into better ways of being. Intimate reflections are contrasted with geopolitical and environmental concerns as Schönmaier’s fierce intelligence focuses on what is most essential in our lives.

The arc of this collection offers a rejuvenating meditation on the meaning of loss and love, highlighted by the lyric beauty of the writing.


Greek composer Michalis Paraskakis is weaving selected poems from the forthcoming collection into the music-theatre multimedia work Field Guide for one piano, two pianists, electronics and video.


On February 27th the League of Canadian Poets commissioned me to write an article which I submitted on March 24th. “Why is Saint John’s Head in My Petri Dish” was published in late April for National Poetry Month.

On March 28th I submitted a poetry video I had been asked to create for periodicities : a journal of poetry and poetics. (In the autumn I taught myself to create additional poetry films which you’ll find at the bottom of this post).

On June 10, I wrote the poem “Blur” which was published in September in the chapbook The Time After edited by Miriam Dunn (League of Canadian Poets).

“Music,” “Tongues,” “and “So Much Remains Invisible” were published in Poetry Pause (League of Canadian Poets.)

I also had poems published in Arc Poetry Magazine, Fiddlehead Magazine, Grain Magazine and Stand Magazine (UK).

My poems were included in the anthologies Sweetwater: Poems for the Watersheds edited by Yvonne Blomer and published by Caitlin Press, and in Voicing Suicide edited by Daniel Scott and published by Ekstasis Editions. Poems are also forthcoming in two additional anthologies in 2021 in Canada and the United States.

On December 19th the Literature House in Stuttgart featured Wellenlängen deines Liedes as part of their Comet Calendar. In the video Mirjam Dienst presents a beautiful reading of four of the poems starting at 2.39.

Dust Blown Side of the Journey was a finalist in the published poetry category of the Eyelands Book Awards, an international literary competition.

Cover designed by David Drummond

May we continue to create and may art continue to sustain us during these darkest days of the year though each day now brings us forwards into more light.

2 thoughts on “In the year 2020

  1. Dear Eleonore,

    although 2020 is not a year of great joy for you it is a very successful year and I am happy about because you deserve it because of your beautiful poetry.

    Congratulations are order here! Well done

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