Dear Briarpatch

A break-up/love poem

The following poem was pieced together from snippets of letters to the editor over Briarpatch’s 40-year history. Each line is a direct, unedited quote from a Briarpatch reader, with the voices of dozens of readers represented in the whole poem.

Hello from Yellowknife (north of 60)

Greetings and solidarity from this little island in the middle of the North Atlantic

I am an old age pensioner with income supplement, residing on my father’s original homestead and have a small mixed farm

I am 21 years old, and I work 3 jobs and go to school
I have passed my 82nd birthday
Am over 80
I am 85 years old
I’m 86.

I hear that you had a very restful and relaxing holiday recently in some Caribbean resort
I trust it didn’t bother your conscience too much.

I am working my way through the February 1995 issue, and have a minute or two before my ‘fav’ show, This Hour has 22 Minutes, comes on.

J’ai récemment entendu parler de votre revue (magazine) et il m’interesse beaucoup
I read in Spanish and French too
I’m mostly a hermit and hardly see anyone
I had a part in the 1945 liberation of Holland
Describe me as a business man
I have a reg. 8-5 job – damn.
I have devoted the last 10 years of my criminal justice work to public education
I’m out of light bulbs – and they nixed my drivers licence a long time ago
I’ve been obsessed with finishing the first draft of a novel
I tend to take things one at a time
I love happy endings.

I’ve been feeling rather nauseous lately
I have been sidelined with cancer for some months, but just had the great news that the tumor has shrunk 2/3 so am back in action, thanks to prayer first, and other aids secondly
Guess I’m lucky to be alive and healthy but I’m tired!
I’m running out of steam!

All my credit cards were stolen when I fell asleep in the park walking home from the hospital. I did not renew them. It’s about 1 mile and the bus goes only down and up – not across from the hospital.

I’m a widow now
I’m on a small widow’s pension
I’m a widow now
Sorry, I repeated.

My bank acct is limited
but I would like to give what I can afford
I am low-income
but I hope to keep up my subscription to Briarpatch
I wish I could afford more
Eyesight and income failing
What I am able to give is but a pittance of the necessary
I do feel guilty that I’ve sent so very little help.

I should be taken out and whipped for being so remiss in not maintaining
communication with you

Shame on me for not responding earlier! I have been so busy…
I know I know I procrastinate

I’m afraid it’s a case of putting some things off too long while we focus on the demands of “modern day” living, which seems to consume too much attention

You did or said nothing wrong. I just have little time to read you.

I intended to pay – just ran a little short of cash – it’s hard trying to start a new career, even if it is as a professional – in the 80s

Since moving back to Winnipeg last August to go back to college, my partner, baby and I have been living off meagre savings and a disappointingly low student loan

At my age, I am only subscribing a year at a time, but I am enclosing a donation to help keep up the good work

We, Florence and I, send you a hundred bucks to keep on keeping on

We sold some cattle a few weeks ago, and didn’t receive too bad a price for them
So thought we would pass some of our good fortune on
I do hope that I can do better next year.
I’m renewing because Briarpatch is an institution, but I don’t really enjoy it
I’m afraid around here there isn’t much interest in reading Briarpatch
While I appreciate the concerns expressed in Briarpatch, I must admit there are times that I wonder why I keep investing money in its publication
In general, the articles are extreme left wing. The points many journalists hammer home is wanting things their own way, bettering a few at the expense of many

Glenn did a good job on the article except – horror of horrors – he referred to us as social democrats instead of socialists

Some of my friends in Ontario saw and called me “a hard-core activist who appeared in a famous leftist prairie magazine”

I hope you will forgive me for saying so, but I just don’t think your analysis has depth No Marx perhaps?

It is the most appallingly bad piece of writing that I have seen in some time
A piece of cowardly journalism I never thought I would see in Briarpatch

Perhaps this was a throw-away donation piece, hastily written in between your trips to the Volvo dealer for new car warranty service, and trips to China to check on your business ventures
Not only does it contain an inexcusable number of factual errors, it also crushes any hint of thoughtful analysis under a rant of crude and petty personal insults

I hope that the quality of analysis from the left becomes keener and less pejorative

Hope breeds hope

Even though I’ve been rather sarcastic in my response to you, I nevertheless do want to thank you for your article. It prompted me to respond, at least.

You have empowered me to continue to pursue my writing career
Regards to your staff at Briarpatch for thought-provoking journalism
Still think it’s the best mag in Canada
Good luck to the joint effort of the 2 young ladies at the helm
More power to your elbow
Thanks.

Anyway, my program’s on
Enough babble
I have run off at the mouth for long enough
You probably need to get back to that damn computer, don’t you?
How about restoring my interest and confidence?

Sincerely,
Briarpatch Readers

ps. Please move into the 1990s and put Briarpatch on line, set up a web site and get yourself a private E-mail address.
pps. I’ll be in Regina around July 20 for a few days… Would it be possible to meet someone from Briarpatch for a drink?

Shayna Stock is an activist, writer, poet, and community builder.

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