Live Drawing with Dancers


IMG_2843Did you do something scary today? I did. I went to Live Drawing with Dancers.

I’ve always wanted to go, but the thought that there would be artists — real artists who can draw — there, and that they might make fun of me, always stopped me.

But today, I decided on three things:

1- I would go.

2- Instead of trying to sketch like everyone else, I would draw stick figures to explore movement.

3- I was going to have fun.

When I  arrived at the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth theatre at 2pm, I saw two dancers – one male and one female – dressed in beautiful costumes, moving in a very graceful choreography. I quietly took a seat and immediately started to draw small kinetic figures.

My first figures were stiff and looked like Chinese characters.  As I loosened up, I drew curved arms, and added little feet.


As my confidence grew,  I added a head to the figures.



I drew the dancer’s tutu as two curved lines on each side of her body.

I started to really enjoy the process.


The dancers changed and came back with black shorts.

As the last hour began, Arts Umbrella instructor Jason Wright said, “Let’s try something loose and goofy.” The session that followed was amazing, as the dancers contorted their body in ways I’ve never seen before, inspiring some of my favorite drawings.



By the end of the session, I had truly found my style and was able to enjoy the process of creating as many stick figures as possible.



So, will I go to the next Live Drawing session? Absolutely. And I will leave my fears at home.


live drawing

the dancer’s shadow

on my page

— Jessica Tremblay


What about you? Is there a thing that scares you that you’ve always wanted to try? What stops you?


The life-changing magic of tidying up


magicA few months ago, after reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I went through my bookshelves and, like the author prescribed, asked myself only one question: does this book make me happy? If not, it went in a suitcase.

At the end of the afternoon, the suitcase was full and there was lots of free space on my shelves for the stuff I really cared about. It was an amazing feeling.

* * *

Recently I was preparing for a trip so I grabbed a suitcase and was surprised to find it full of books. It seems I had neglected the last step of the tidying up process which is to get rid of the stuff right away.

This morning, I hauled the suitcase to my local second-hand bookstore.

As the clerk went through the books, I felt a bit naked. The books revealed a lot about me, my personality, my interests. I felt self-conscious.

Bu then I realized: “This is not who I am, it’s who I was.”

A lot of these books I was selling because I had moved on to other interests or hobbies. The books I cared about were at home. The real me was at home. On my shelf.

 puling an embroiderie thread

out of a book






Haigabun (a haibun accompanied by a haiga) is a technique started by Line Michaud. In here, I try my own version: a haibun followed by a comic.

Haiku Canada 2015 – Haiku and New Technologies

coasts_and_islandsI gave a talk at the Haiku Canada weekend on Sunday May 17 2015 in Victoria, B.C.

The title of my presentation was: Thousand Islands: Publishing Haiku using new technology, from Twitter Haiku to iPad Haiga


Come explore a real archipelago of publishing options for the web, social media, and beyond.  This presentation offers an overview of the most innovative haiku projects available on new platforms, such as blogs, Twitter haiku, iPad haiga, video poems, podcasts, guerrilla haiku, art installations, and other experiments in the public space.  Jessica Tremblay will show you the best of the best in this lightning speed presentation which aims to inspire you to try new technology for your own projects. Don’t be stuck in one place when there are so many islands to explore!

As promised, here are the links to the websites I talked about. Have fun exploring these new technologies and finding new ways to share your haiku!

If you have a haiku blog, website, twitter account, feel free to share the links with us in the comments section.


Twitter Haiku

iPad haiga

  • Alexis Rotella (some ipad art postcards on her homepage but Alexis Rotella shares her work mainly on her private Facebook page and on Twitter)
  • Kris Kondo (AKA Kris Moon) – shares her work mainly on her private Facebook page




Yay Words: tiny haibuns by Aubrie Cox (a blog review)


Aubrie Cox. Yay Words! @ A Blog Review

by Jessica Tremblay, Burnaby, British Columbia

Published in Frogpond, 37:3 (Winter 2014)


Drawing by Aubrie Cox (

During the month of June 2014, I really enjoyed reading the tiny haibun (or “tibun”) that Aubrie Cox published on her blog Yay Words!

Aubrie describes her blog as “[a] celebration of language and the written word (with a little art on the side).” Some poets might know Aubrie from the Doodleku she led on her blog for many months: she would post a drawing and ask poets to write an accompanying poem in the comments. But in June, there was a sudden shift in her blog postings as she started writing very short prose followed by a haiku.



Living Things
I’ve yet to visit since you moved into the mausoleum. Every poem could be my last. Guess I’ve social anxiety even among the dead.

Sunday in the park
butterfly shadow
between the bells[1]

Her haibun reminded me of tanbun, a genre invented by Larry Kimmel, which is a combination of a short prose of 31 or less syllables followed by haiku or tanka. Aubrie replied to my comment on her blog by saying: “A little over a year ago I discovered hint fiction, which is fiction in 25 words or less. After experimenting, I started doing these haibun with prose within those confines.”

Whether her haibun are facts or fiction, they are highly effective in emotionally engaging the reader.

 White Balance
 You arrive at the Star of Hope Mausoleum, only to find it locked in the minutes you sat in the car working up your nerve.

sun showers
she brings hot tea
without asking            [2]

Rabby by Aubrie Cox from Yay Words 2014doodleku03

Drawing by Aubrie Cox (


Aubrie occasionally adds link within the prose or haiku, adding an element of interactivity to the poem.

Signs of Life
Tufts of fox fur litter the end of the drive. You look everywhere for blood before it rains.

green tomatoes
of the human face[3] 

Drawing by Aubrie Cox fox sleeping2014doodleku14

Drawing by Aubrie Cox (

In this poem, the link takes you to an article explaining how the human face evolved as a result of physical violence: the tiny bones becoming more robust as a mean of protection against small impacts such as the impact of human fists.

The titles of Aubrie’s haibun also caught my attention: they are beautiful, poetic, and can stand by themselves, almost like short poems: Sporadic Flu Activity (June 25), 81% of the Moon is Illuminated (June 16), Meteorological Summer (June 2).

Beyond the Limit of Astronomical Twilight

I convince myself fireflies are varying shades of yellow and green like vaseline glass.That my hips don’t hurt when I run.That we’re talking.

cilantro seeds—
all my favorite
B-side songs[4]  

Drawing by Aubrie Cox moon2014doodleku05

Drawing by Aubrie Cox (

Sometimes there is some kind of association between the title and the haibun, but oftentimes there doesn’t seem to be any link between the title and the piece, which adds a touch of surrealism to the haibun. When I asked her where her title ideas came from, Aubrie wrote: “One good place for titles and/or inspiration is’s charts and stats for your area.”

When I looked on the website (which is a local weather app), I did see Sporadic Flu Activity as one of the headlines for my area. Great title for a haibun! What a clever appropriation of weather terms for poetic purposes!

Today is Forecast to Be Nearly the Same Temperature As Yesterday
You rarely write about sound. You explain there are two types of pain. You wonder if there are any other stories left in you.

cool after the rain…
mosquito larvae twist
in on themselves[5]

Drawing of bamboo crane by Aubrie Cox from Yay Words

Drawing by Aubrie Cox (

Here, the image of “mosquito larvae twisting in on themselves” is surprising.  We often read the same image, over and over, in haiku. It is nice to read something new and original in a poem. I said as much in a comment on her blog, and Aubrie replied: “I’ve been trying hard to find something new and fresh, though I’ve definitely caught myself sliding into some old habits here and there.”

Aubrie serves as the haiga editor for the online haikai journal A Hundred Gourds. After graduating from Millikin University with a B.A. in English literature and writing, she completed her M.A. in English creative writing at Ball State University in 2013.

According to the About me section on her website, “Aubrie Cox went to university to write a novel; she came out writing haiku. It’s worked out pretty well so far.” [6]

Considering the tibun on Yay Words! I’d say things have worked out well, too.



[1] Aubrie Cox, “Living Things.” Yay Words!, retrieved June 16, 2014 from

[2] Cox, “White Balance.” Yay Words!, retrieved June 24, 2014 from

[3] Cox, “Signs of Life.” Yay Words!, retrieved June 10, 2014 from

[4] Cox, “Beyond the Limit of Astronomical Twilight.” Yay Words!, retrieved June 5, 2014 from

[5] Cox, “Today is Forecast to Be Nearly the Same Temperature As Yesterday.” Yay Words!, retrieved on June 11 2014 from



Jessica Tremblay is the author of Old Pond Comics published in Frogpond and at In 2013, she was the official cartoonist-in-residence at Haiku North America, Seabeck Haiku Getaway and Haiku Hot Springs. In 2014 she received a Canada Council for the Arts Grant for Professional Writers to continue exploring the new genre of “haiku-comics.”


How cold is Winnipeg, again?


When I visited Winnipeg during the holidays, the temperatures dropped to  -50C/-58F and the news announced that Winnipeg was officially “colder than in the Arctic” on that particular day.

Coming back from dinner, late that night, I got out of the car and tilted my head back to look at the stars. Mouth open, I took a deep breath and immediately started to cough.

“You frostbit your lungs!” said my friend. “You have to breathe slowly through your nose or through a scarf to warm up the air first.”


ice crystals

a picture, at least,

I can take home (JT)

Tree frog

PhotoDuring the Holidays, I purchased a Sequin Creation kit at Dollarama for $2 and I made this shiny frog by pinning hundreds of sequins with needles.  It was easy – there’s a guide printed on the artwork and you just have to pin the right color in the right spot – but it took about 3 hours.  Fortunately, you have lots of free time when you’re on holiday.



after pushing the needle

a dot on my fingertip

The Lucky Mouse – A haibun featuring a haiku by Issa

Comicthe lucky mouse

crosses then goes back…

first ice

 — Kobayashi Issa (translated by David G. Lanoue)

* * *

Tiny mouse… Thin ice… Lucky mouse, indeed!  Did you ever wake up with a sense of dread, a feeling that something was going to go wrong that day? A car accident, a bad news, or something else. You go through the day, full of fear. You drive slowly. You wait for the phone to ring. And nothing happens. You are a lucky mouse, indeed. And tomorrow — guess what — you get to cross again. (Watch out for the mouse trap!)

Lucy the Elephant – painting exhibit

IMG_6309 This painting was done by Lucy, an Asian elephant from the Edmonton zoo. In case you didn’t notice, it’s the imprint of her trunk on the canvas. You could say it’s the equivalent of leaving a lipstick print on a piece of paper.  However, I’m guessing this painting is worth thousands of dollars.


This exhibit of paintings by Lucy the elephant occupied a wall at the Edmonton international airport where I had a stopover on January 1st.

The poster said that elephants in the wild spend all their time  looking for food and being on the lookout for predators. Since food and shelter are provided at the zoo, the animals get bored and need something to occupy their time. Lucy took painting as a hobby and is now famous around the world.


gallery opening night

nobody talks about

the elephant in the room

Happy Holidays

dreamcatcher IMG_6073One week ago, I attended an aboriginal workshop to learn how to make a dreamcatcher.   After I finished weaving the centre (it took about 15 minutes), the teacher tied a rose cedar bark in the centre then wrapped the circle in cedar branches.  To my surprise and delight, we got to decorate the dreamcatcher and turn it into a beautiful holiday wreath.

I’ve always wanted to make a dreamcatcher.  During the workshop, the instructor corrected me when I called it a “dreamweaver”. It did feel like I was weaving a childhood dream.

dreamcatcher      my dream of making one

dreamcatcher IMG_6081Happy Holidays!