The landscape of my childhood is now a UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Site.  The nearly 30,000 square kilometers in the heart of Canada’s boreal forest is designated as having “outstanding universal value to all of humanity.”

“There are few great forests left in the world. And even fewer where indigenous people have been taking care of the land for thousands of years. But such a rare place exists…In Ojibwe we call it Pimachiowin Aki (Pim–MATCH–cho–win Ahh–KEY) or “the land that gives life.” Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) Elders teach us that the land provides fresh water, healthy food and clean air for many people near and far.”




At the water’s edge

is an empty canoe

open to the pouring


in of starlight:

it’s inconceivable to bail

the light out


once it has been

(however briefly)



From Wavelengths of Your Song (McGill-Queen’s University Press)





To defend poetry

Schonmaier sand.jpg


“To defend poetry means to defend a fundamental gift of human nature, that is, our capacity to experience the world’s wonder, to uncover divinity in the cosmos and in another human being, in a lizard, in chestnut leaves, to experience astonishment and to stop still in that astonishment for an extended moment or two. The human race won’t perish if this capacity withers—but it will be weaker, worse off, different from what it was throughout those millennia when every civilization placed poetry, in whatever form, at the heart of all human endeavor.”

—Adam Zagajewski


Photograph by Eleonore Schönmaier



Schonmaier Lost.jpg



They ski through the northern boreal

forest, over frozen


lake after frozen lake

until finally where the ice cracks


like gun shots beneath

their skis, and their eye lashes


are thick with white frost, the man

slows and says to his ten


year old daughter, “If my heart

stops beating right now


what will you do?”

She says, “I’ll continue


forward.” “No,” he says, “you’ll

follow our tracks safely


back.”  And years later

after his pulse


has stilled she again finds

the way


to the deep safe cold

of this heart warmed place.


from Wavelengths of Your Song (McGill-Queen’s University Press)


Photograph by Eleonore Schönmaier

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day


Postcard Image Designed by Megan Fildes


Poem in Your Pocket Day is an annual initiative organized by the Academy of American Poets to celebrate National Poetry Month.  The League of Canadian Poets is very excited to be have joined this initiative…adding some of our favourite Canadian poems and poets to the mix!”


Eleonore Schönmaier’s “Migrations” is part of this years Poem in Your Pocket brochure plus the League of Canadian Poets has created a postcard version.


Ways to Celebrate

It’s easy to carry a poem, share a poem, or start your own Poem in Your Pocket Day event. Visit the Academy’s website for a full history of the program and other materials. Here are some ideas of how you might get involved:

  • Start a “poems for pockets” giveaway in your school or workplace
  • Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Memorize a poem
  • Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite lines of poetry
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post lines from your favorite poem on your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr
  • Send a poem to a friend


Schonmaier Rzewski.jpg

Bobby Mitchell and Frederic Rzewski (2012).  Photo by Eleonore Schönmaier.





winter months

of insomnia


Frederic inks

three nocturnes

hoping sleep will


reach him like a gift

dropped through

the mail slot


like a feather

fallen from a

blue wing, like the


memory of the sunset

slipping through

the late evening blinds


like the midnight

train where the two single

men, the couple,


the family with children

all have their

eyes shut, a few soft


snores and Frederic

with his head

against the window


also falls away

from the world

as he hurtles


toward a destination

whose address he

often fails to find


From Dust Blown Side of the Journey (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017)

“[Frederic Rzewski] has, for decades, been making thought-provoking, heart-wrenching music about issues that dominate the headlines today: the perils of incarceration, the tension between the government and the governed, the struggle for gay rights, the decimation of the industrial working class…Mr. Rzewski practices the progressive ideas he preaches, making his scores available online and encouraging, rather than blocking, the dissemination of his recordings on YouTube. He remains, he says, a revolutionary optimist. Asked if it’s possible actually to affect politics through music, Mr. Rzewski answered, “Probably not,” before adding, with a wry smile: “But you have to write as if you could. You can’t be sure. You might.”—Zachary Woolfe 




National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry month in Canada and the USA and the Poem in Your Pocket Day brochure is already available online and includes poems by W.S. Merwin, Louise Glück, Joy Harjo, Juan Felipe Herrera, Kim Fahner, Greg Santos, Eleonore Schönmaier, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Shakespeare and Walt Whitman among many others. I also love the fact that the brochure includes instructions for how to create a folded swan.


Schonmaier swans.jpg

“Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and on social media using the hashtag #pocketpoem.”


“Poem in Your Pocket Day was initiated in April 2002 by the Office of the Mayor in New York City, in partnership with the city’s Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to participate. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.”


Schonmaier conversation 2.jpg

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.”


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…

View original post 57 more words

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






“Our fate rests on human traits that haven’t yet been defined in scientific terms, such as common sense, kindness, rational thought, and creativity.” —Jaron Lanier (from Dawn of the New Everything:  A Journey through Virtual Reality)