Vivien Lougheed

I lived with my Romanian/Polish grandparents for the first eight years of my life on a farm in Northern Saskatchewan. Everything I did from getting stuck in the mud to wringing the rooster’s neck was to my grandparents’ liking. When I was five we moved to Winnipeg so I could live with my mother, and go to a city school and learn English. I liked the English part but wasn’t too sure about my mother. She worked all day and went dancing at night. But Grandma made me rice pudding for lunch and Grandpa bought me a bicycle so I could explore the city.

After my grandparents left me and returned to the farm, my home life wasn’t to my liking so at age 16 I hit the road and eventually found the Rocky Mountains where I fell in love — with rock and ice and wilderness. I settled in Prince George in 1970 where I spent a long time raising kids and finishing my education, which I had abandoned as a kid. I became a laboratory technologist with a specialty in Chemistry. Every spare day or week or month I had to myself, I traveled or hiked or canoed and photographed everything I saw.

My first husband, wanting a different life style than me traded me in for a younger, quieter version and drove off in his truck camper. A few years later, I met John, a local writer and part time college professor. We teamed up; I fed him material to write about and he forced me to write. He also encouraged me to explore the exotic places I had dreamed about as a child. I went willingly and sent my stories back to Canada. After doing an edit and adding a few fictions, John had them published in the local newspaper.

He also encouraged me to write Central America by Chickenbus, which we self-published. It was a cut-and-paste, photocopied chapbook that the Vancouver Sun enthusiastically promoted. Within five years the third edition had grown into a 500-page tome that was sold internationally. Since then, I have published a dozen guidebooks, mostly with an American firm, plus a travel story about my illegal trip through Tibet and a traveler’s history of Bolivia. The books have been a highway to hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, all of which have been edited by John.

At present, I have a local story sitting on a publisher’s desk, just begging to be accepted. While I wait, I am working on the obligatory Canadian novel, traveling and selling as many magazine stories and photos as possible. I would like to master the art of writing fiction — maybe to the level of Alice Munroe.

Living in the Prince George area with its low population density is for the most part, to my liking. The area is central to numerous mountain ranges; mountains that are still inundated with grizzlies and caribou and moose.

But living in a sparsely populated area is also a challenge for me because there isn’t the schmoozing going on that there is in bigger cities, where writers help writers, where writers are enthused about the art and spend hours over a beer discussing the craft.

When I do get the chance to talk shop with out of town guests, I go to the Achillion Restaurant where I get authentic Greek food that is always consistent in portion and flavor, where my favorite wine is always on the table when I arrive and where I can sit for hours without being offered my bill and an open exit door.

So that’s my marriage to Prince George. If my short biography has enticed you at all, please go to my blog, and read a few of my adventures, make a comment, enjoy the photos and tell your friends. Be warned though that if you post a miserable comment, I’ll tip your canoe whenever you paddle past.

Published in: on January 24, 2010 at 5:42 pm  Comments (6)  

Rob Budde

Rob Budde teaches Creative Writing and Postcolonial Literature at the University of Northern BC and has taught previously at the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba. He has published seven books (four poetry—Catch as Catch, traffick, Finding Ft. George, and declining america, two novels—Misshapen and The Dying Poem, and short fiction–Flicker). In 2002, Rob facilitated a collection of interviews (In Muddy Water: Conversations with 11 Poets). He has been a finalist for the John Hirsch Award for Most Promising Manitoba Writer and the McNally-Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year. In 1995, Budde completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Calgary. Finding Ft. George is a collection of poems about Rob’s growing relationship with Prince George and Northern BC. He is currently working on a science fiction novel called The Overcode and a book of poems about a character named “Poem” called Poem’s Poems. Rob lives in Prince George with his partner, Debbie Keahey and four children: Robin, Erin, Quinlan, and Anya.  

Rob posts community art & culture events at the culture mill ( and his poetry at writingwaynorth (

 Poem’s Poem of Love

Not saying the word reliably, historically

like weather or the knots

in thinking around

emotional language, tangled

in this bright mid-day moment (of reading)

and the medium

and a pronoun . . .

And “you” is never easy—

a striated sign of things

to come and counter

to the sense of sentence, its ease

and assurance—so the word

“with” becomes still uneasier and

I walk into the sunlit room,

poem in hand, a proximity,

molecular and climatic,

twined and tugging tight

half listening to the news

of storms forming

over the warming oceans . . .

A deligitimized ground, standing

there, as if through a semblance

of scientific instrumentation, who

is who’s target is the question and

the water line wavers in the

refracted calculations–you look up your altitude

in an archaic book of symbols,

you look up and tell me we need

to flee . . .

Love is resistant to anti-

biotics, bodies react to themselves

and become something else; later

we hear 21st century love retreated from the coasts,

subsided in the mountains, subsisted

on salmon and berries . . .

We read “red” in the remaining

records, and “faith”—but these

codes fail, these letters fall still, cars by the side

of the highway house

sparrows and squirrels,

a reorganized polis . . .

And I’d like to think

of us, by the side of the derelict

highway, bereft and happy,

a fistful of yarrow and a wooden cup of tea

but the future tense may

not be love’s love sprung

from the old language

1.    Please describe your writing/ art?

I write our of questions and the writing becomes an act of discovery. I like moving between styles and modes. I don’t want to pinned down as a certain type of writer. Everything I do in writing, and outside it, is to promote creativity in everything we do. Without poetry I would die.

2.    what is the writing/ artistic accomplishment you are most proud of to date?

The artistic / writing success of my students gives me the most joy.

3.    what are a couple of your (specific) writing/ artistic goals you have yet to accomplish?

I am stuck on my cyberpunk novel (though it is not a true cyberpunk because it is utopian rather than dystopic) and would really like to take a run at finishing that.

4.    what do you love most about northern BC and why?

Northern BC offers a place to be creative that is unencumbered by many of the aesthetic pressures that I found in Winnipeg and Calgary (and see when I visit Vancouver). It has a supportive community and a ‘rawness’ that contributes to original artwork and writing.

5.    what are the biggest challenges about living in northern BC?

Many of the trappings of ‘success’ in writing involves publishing contracts and grants, and those are harder to get up here because we are out-of-sight-out-of-mind. We find ways though.

6.    are there are other northern BC (or surrounding area) writers and/or artists who have inspired you?  (if so, why?)

Ken Belford has been my mentor since 2003.

7.     in 50 words or less, please describe your home (i.e. actual home, town or territory).

I live on King Dr. off Tabor near the river and near Moore’s Meadow in Prince George in the middle of a beleaguered but rich subalpine boreal forest.

8.     what’s your favourite restaurant / cafe in the north? (where is it?) Why is it your favourite?

Cimo Mediterranean Grill is on Victoria Ave and Wayne Kitchen there does local and fresh really well.
9.     what is your favourite wild creature (animal, bird or bug) that lives in north?  Why?

Devil’s club, Oplopanax horridus, Hoolhghulh. Because it is a boss plant.

10.   Has living in northern BC informed, affected or influenced your writing or art?  If so, please let us know a bit about how.

Politically, being here has infused my writing in all sorts of ways; urban / rural issues, regionalism, ecocriticism, class, and the particulars of the place (topography, animals, plants, etc) have all entered my writing. But not always. Much of writing is still about other books.

11.   what is your favourite place in the north? (town, hangout or wild place)

Last July went to Haida Gwaii and climbed Tow Hill.

Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 8:43 pm  Comments (4)