My Bodacious Blog

Sultans of String and Crystal Shawanda Collaborate on New Single Close to Her Heart, “The Rez” 

Press Release

Artist: Sultans of String feat. Crystal Shawanda
Title: The Rez
Release date: July 14, 2023

Listen to The Rez here:
Full album pre-order:

“The Rez” is a collaboration between 2x JUNO Award-winning blues and country music artist Crystal Shawanda and 3x JUNO nominated, 6x CFMA winning Sultans of String. Crystal is an Ojibwe Potawatomi Indigenous singer, born in Wiikwemkoong First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, is also decorated with multiple Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards, Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, a CCMA, a Canadian Radio Music Award, and too many JUNO nominations to list.

“I started singing as soon as I could make noise,” says Crystal. “I grew up in a house where everybody listened to all styles of music – and from an early age, I could see that for my family, music was like therapy. So depending on what mood they were in, that’s the song they would listen to. My dad taught me to play guitar, and after he taught me everything he knew, he suggested I take lessons. He always tried to let me know how important it was to be able to play an instrument for myself.”

Initially signed to RCA in 2007, she hit her stride as a country singer and songwriter when she scored a top 20 hit with her song “You Can Let Go” and subsequently tallied sales of over 50,000 copies of her debut album Dawn of a New Day and subsequently debuted in the Billboard Top 20. 

Fast forward 16 years, and even though Crystal now lives in Nashville, with many albums and awards under her belt, she still keeps her ‘Rez’ roots close to her heart.

“I wrote The Rez with Ed Hill and Shay Smith, and it came out of the stories I had shared with them when they asked me what it was like growing up on a reservation,” Crystal explains, “After which they said ‘that sounds like a song,’ and from there it came together pretty quick!”

“I’m very proud of my roots, proud to be a ‘Rez kid,’ she continues. “I grew up around intergenerational trauma, but that’s not all I remember. I can’t speak for everyone’s experience, but in mine, I remember my beautiful family that surrounded me with love and showed me that laughter, like music, can be medicine. I remember my community, so resilient and strong. We have all been through so much, but we’re still here. My roots, ‘The Rez,’ is very much a part of who I am as an artist and person.”

“The Rez” is the fourth single off the upcoming Sultans of String album entitled Walking Through the Fire (Sept 22, 2023 release), the most ambitious and important project of their career, a CD and concert of collaborations with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists across Turtle Island.

Studios were used throughout Ontario to record this track. Crystals vocals were recorded with Grammy and JUNO Award-winning John ‘Beetle’ Bailey at Orange Lounge Recording Studio in Toronto. Sultans of String bed tracks were recorded at Jukasa Studios, an Indigenous-owned world-class recording facility on another reservation, Six Nations of the Grand River, south of Hamilton, Ontario.

Recently asked in an interview if she goes back to Manitoulin, she answered, “Definitely for inspiration. I go to Manitoulin Island to rejuvenate my soul. When I’m there, it’s being around my family, my community, and even just the land. It’s the island, the water, the land. When I’m there, I feel inspired.”

Like the song says:

It’s my blood, it’s my tears,
Everyone I love is here,
Yeah, I know in my heart I was blessed,
To grow up on the Rez.

Please click here to learn more, including how we include cultural safeguards in our work on this project:

Crystal Shawanda:


Sultans of String:



2013 Ontario Tour

Sep 28 – Markham             Flato Markham Theatre
Sep 29 – Stratford              Stratford Symphony
Sep 30 – St Catharines      Niagara Symphony
Oct 1 – St Catharines         Niagara Symphony
Oct 2 – St Catharines         FirstOntario PAC Education Show
Oct 3 – Brantford               Brantford Symphony
Oct 4 – Lindsay                  Flato Academy Theatre
Oct 10 – Sudbury               Café Heritage
Oct 11 – North Bay            Capital Centre
Oct 12 – Timmins               Timmins Museum, O’Gorman HS 
Oct 13 – Geraldton             Geraldton Concert Series
Oct 14 – Thunder Bay        Sleeping Giant Folk Music Society
Oct 15 – Dryden                 Dryden Entertainment Series
Oct 16 – Sioux Lookout      Sioux Hudson Entertainment Series
Oct 17 – Red Lake             Red Lake Entertainment Series
Oct 18 – Kenora                 Lake of the Woods Concert Group
Oct 19 – Fort Frances        Tour de Fort Entertainment Series
Oct 22 – Burlington            Burlington PAC
Oct 23 – Burlington            Burlington PAC Education Show

Nov 12 – Walkerton            Victoria Jubilee Hall


Jan 19 – Ottawa                Centerpointe Theatre
Jan 23 – Kingston              Kingston Grand Theatre
Jan 25 – Brampton             Rose Theatre
Jan 29 – Guelph                River Run Centre Education show
Jan 30 – Guelph                River Run Centre Education show
Feb 1 – Guelph                  River Run Centre


For more information, please contact:

Eric Alper
Publicist  I  Music Commentator  I  Shameless Idealist

“Isolation” by Christine Bode 



A poem by ©Christine Bode 2022

Lying in bed late at night, I try not to let my thoughts
Get as dark as a black hole in space
Swirling down, down the cosmic funnel
Of infinity, never to land in a sun-drenched meadow
In June 1987, where I awake among the wildflowers
A warm breeze blowing through my hair
And start all over again as a beautiful, confident
Hourglass-shaped, size 14 blonde girl
With a dream to produce rock music videos

Sometimes being alone with my thoughts
is like being trapped in a float tank
in the middle of a panic attack
screaming inside my head for someone to
lift the lid and let me out
But no one comes, and though
I claw at the roof until my fingernails bleed
I cannot get out of the prison
Of my thoughts and circumstances

CBT teaches us that we can change our thoughts
And as a result, we can change our emotions
So I tell myself I won’t think about how I feel
A hungry, caged tiger in forced isolation,
Deprived of freedom, love, movement
And endless possibilities, ready to rip the
Throat out of whoever opens the door
With my fangs and
Just keep running

No, I will think of Bukowski
Sitting at his Olympia, drunk on wine,
Smoking, his face an ugly minefield of acne,
Typing out his daily thoughts about
The mundanity and absurdity of his crazy life,
Droll, sometimes witty, often content with being insane,
While his cat rubs up against his legs, thinking,
“Some people never go crazy.
What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

No, I will think about how much worse
My life would have been if I had been born
A woman in the 16th century
Treated like chattel, forced by my father
To marry who he chose, even if I didn’t know him
Not allowed to learn, read or speak my mind
And how the odds of my dying in childbirth or
From tuberculosis would be at least five to one
And if I rebelled, I could be burnt at the stake

Suddenly, I feel calmer about my pretty cage,
Succumb to the Zopiclone sandman,
Turn off the light and try to get comfortable
Lying on my left side, my arm under my pillow,
Right arm cradling another and let
My clenched jaw loosen as I eventually
Drift off to sleep
Hoping I’ll find the sun-drenched meadow in June 1987
And that Dusty will be waiting for me


Read more poetry by Christine Bode in Eden Refugee and Eden Redefined.

Eden Redefined is available on:

Amazon (Paperback) CDN $9.99:

Amazon (Kindle) CDN $2.99:

Eden Refugee is available on:

Amazon (Paperback) CDN $11.99:

Amazon (Kindle) CDN $3.99:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez 

Literature Book Review

Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude
Author:  Gabriel García Márquez
Publisher: HarperPerennial Classics
Released: 1998
Pages: 458
ASIN: 0-06-074045-0
Stars: 4.0

I have meant to read One Hundred Years of Solitude for what feels like 100 years, and I have spent what feels like 100 years in solitude. It took me over two months to read it. To be fair, I read many other things at the same time, and this epic tragedy following the Buendía family’s insane lives requires that you pay close attention. The imaginary town of Macondo, Colombia, where the story is set, is painted with rich colours, perceptible smells, and palpable textures, all of which achieve a sensory effect. Its inhabitants are as quirky as a baby with a pig’s tail. However, I found that, although I enjoyed the story very much, I prefer a story with dialogue, and I found the exceedingly long sentences and paragraphs challenging. Despite my bookmark, I found myself having to re-read large portions I had read the night before because I couldn’t figure out where I’d left off.

I love magical realism (Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia was incredible!), and I love that the genre was essentially invented by the author of this book. This is truly an epic tale, “blending the everyday and the miraculous,” full of wit and wisdom, love and cruelty, but it also possesses its fair share of tedium, as human life does. But I prefer stories that take me far from the monotony of everyday life. Even with the genealogical chart at the front of the book, I found it difficult to keep track of one Aureliano from another and one José Arcadio from another. I could never remember what each one looked like, and I couldn’t help hearing the narrator’s voice from Jane the Virgin (Anthony Mendez) in my head as I read the book.

What I do remember is that each male member of the Buendía family was written as if they were buffoons. The women of this book are its heart and soul, although they are often difficult to like. In fact, I’ve never read a book in which so many characters were unlikeable. I guess I liked Pilar Ternera the best. I’m sure García Márquez wrote them this way to show us how ridiculous we humans are.

I liked the last two chapters the most as they wrapped up the entire saga beautifully, and it was delightful to witness the short-lived happiness of Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano (of the parchments) because so few of the characters ever experienced joy.

When I read the “Afterword” at the end of the book (and I have no idea who wrote it because I looked everywhere and I cannot see the author’s name), it helped considerably to know that García Márquez was inspired by his childhood visits with his grandparents at their home in Aracataca, Colombia. García Márquez explained that the tone he used in One Hundred Years of Solitude was based on how his grandmother spoke as she told him supernatural and fantastical stories—with a “brick face.” This is a beneficial thing to know before you read the book. That and children do indeed inherit their parents’ madness.

I look forward to watching the television miniseries that is currently in development and expected to come to Netflix next year. I’m sure it will help me better grasp the remarkable and, hopefully, more delightful big picture.

Tom DiCillo Announces “Lock Him Up” Single and Video Release 

Press Release

Los Angeles, CA – Wednesday, June 14, 2023—Musician and Award-winning Independent Film icon Tom DiCillo has announced the release of his brand new single and video, “Lock Him Up.”

“There is a creep of idiocity infecting this country,” DiCillo states. “The only way to change things is to get involved. This song got me involved.”

The song and video reflect DiCillo’s unique blend of drama, satire, and comedy, which have infused his films, from Living In Oblivion to Delirious. The song is a driving Alt-Rocker, with a joyous, gospel sing-along chorus that lifts it into a new, foot-stomping, provocative original.

DiCillo wrote, performed, and recorded the song, playing all the instruments himself.

There is a slightly surreal Pop Art quality to the video, which DiCillo wrote, shot, directed, and edited. With its animated graphics and high-contrast color, the video evokes both Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol.

Watch the video on YouTube at today.


Pre-save the single on Spotify at

Tom DiCillo website:

Tom DiCillo Facebook:

Tom DiCillo Instagram:

Sultans of String and Digging Roots “Take off the Crown” with New Single 

Press Release

Artist: Sultans of String feat. Raven Kanatakta of Digging Roots
Title: Take Off The Crown
Release date: June 2, 2023

Pre-save Take Off The Crown:


Full album pre-order:

‘Take Off The Crown’ is a collaboration between Raven Kanatakta of 2x JUNO Award-winning Digging Roots and 3x JUNO nominated, 6x CFMA-winning Sultans of String, with bed tracks recorded at Jukasa Studios, an Indigenous-owned world-class recording facility on the Six Nations reserve south of Hamilton, Ontario. It is the fourth single off the upcoming Sultans album entitled Walking Through the Fire (September 22, 2023 release), a CD and concert of collaborations with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit artists across Turtle Island.

The lyrics are penned by Raven Kanatakta Polson-Lahache and ShoShona Kish, and the music was created with Sultans of String.

Smudge burning in the morning 
Makes a healing cloud
News blackout on the lost ones 
100,000 souls singing loud

Says Raven: “The song was written primarily for the children that have been found. We have these stories in our communities about all the lost ones, that lost generation, that stolen generation. And for me, when they started finding more of the children, it brought all those stories that I grew up with to life again. I looked at what the source was. The source is colonialism, and colonialism is directly tied to the Crown.”

The country of Canada and the ethics of Canada, and the laws of Canada are all intertwined. But the history of this country has been manipulated to create a romantic version of early settlers.

Raven continues: “The Crown is a direct picture of colonialism and genocide in Canada. So many people are suffering from oppression, and the effects of oppression that directly comes from the Crown. That directly comes from Canada. That directly comes from the churches that were operating the residential schools. That comes from the RCMP that was created [to push Indigenous people onto reserves]. That comes from all of these systems and this thought-out plan and process to take over a people, to take over a land base.”

A theme that has come up throughout the creation of this project, Walking Through the Fire, is the need for the full truth of Residential Schools and the Indigenous experience to be told long before Reconciliation can possibly take place.

“People are now telling their stories where they were electrocuted as kids, with electric chairs in the basements of these residential schools or churches…being cattle prodded, being starved and being raped. There’s so much murder to all of this that it’s just unthinkable,” says Raven, “and I think this is one of the reasons why we actually need to have a conversation because I, for myself, in the first generation that didn’t have to attend residential schools, nor my wife, ShoShona, we raised our own kids exactly how we wanted to. Nobody told us how to do that, and it’s a first; that’s crazy.

Sultans of String violinist Chris McKhool, who was recently awarded the Dr. Duke Redbird Lifetime Achievement Award, is working to amplify these truths through these collaborations in the spirit of the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action, and Final Report that asks that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people work together as an opportunity to show a path forward. “There is a lot of history of our country that has been ignored, distorted, twisted to suit colonialist goals of destroying a people,” says McKhool.

How many more little bodies will be found…

Bind hearts and minds; take action now

“I think we’re at a perfect time right now to bring out the truth,” Raven continues, “Just by more and more little babies being found, it kind of strikes a nerve in people to smarten up and to get to the point of, let’s find the truth here together. We have to move beyond ally-ship, and we have to move into relationships of being co-conspirators, get down into the dirt and start working together and start moving forward. Because if we just talk about surface content, nothing will ever get done. So that’s what ‘Take Off The Crown’ is – that we’re all equals here, and we all need to communicate as equals. The land here has always been our teacher and our guide in that way. And I think that we have to come back to some of those fundamental truths and practices that have been happening here since time immemorial.”

And about what it means to become a co-conspirator: “You have to get dirty in order to create, in order to heal, in order to make magic.” Says Raven, “And I think just as you and I were working on this song in the middle of a pandemic, we traded ideas, musical gifts, knowledge, conversation, and that turned into this song. We need music; we need dance; we need ceremony because it’s a medicine that binds the mind and the heart. We need that not just in Canada or Turtle Island but all over the world right now.

“We actually need Canadians to step up and take that first move. It’s my job to live my life in the best way that I know how, and when it comes to this song ‘Take Off The Crown,’ it was collaborating with you, Chris.”

We would like to acknowledge funding support from non-Indigenous funding streams of the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Please click here to learn more, including how we include cultural safeguards in our work on this project:

Digging Roots: Visit for tour dates.

Sultans of String: Visit for tour dates


MAY 12 – Marble Arts Centre, Tweed ON
MAY 13 – Bancroft Village Playhouse, Bancroft ON
MAY 14 – Bryan Jones Theatre, Lakefield College, Lakefield ON 
MAY 26 – Brockville Arts Centre, Brockville ON 
JUN 08 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Burlington Performing Arts Centre
JUN 3 – Acoustic Harvest Fundraiser, Toronto ON
JUN 8 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Burlington PAC
JUN 15 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Princess Original Cinema, Waterloo ON
JUN 16 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – The Westdale – Hamilton Arts Week
JUN 17 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – Luminato Festival
JUN 20 – Feature Film: The Refuge Project – FirstOntario PAC, St Catharines ON
JUN 24 – Mississauga World Music Festival 
JUN 24 – Old Church Theatre, Trenton ON
JUN 27 – Wasaga Beach Gazebo, Wasaga Beach ON
JUL 15 – Home County Festival, London ON
JUL 29 – Hillside Festival, Guelph ON

Digging Roots bio:


Winner of the 2023 JUNO Award for Contemporary Indigenous Group of the Year

Nominated for 3 Canadian Folk Music Awards

Digging Roots breathe life into songs from their land, Turtle Island, to raise their voices in solidarity with a global chorus of Indigenous artists, activists, and change-makers. For over a decade, two-time JUNO Award winners Digging Roots have traveled the world with a joyful message of resistance, celebrating Anishinaabe and Onkwehón:we traditions of round dance and interconnectedness. As Roots Music Canada says, the band is “…badass, empowering, and hopeful all at the same time.”

Digging Roots takes you on a journey through tall grass, sweet waters, and unconditional love in a joyous and powerful celebration on their 4th album Zhawenim (2022). Led by the electrifying current of husband-and-wife team ShoShona Kish and Raven Kanatakta, the 6-piece band responds to a majestic and spiritual call from ShoShona’s earthy vocals and Raven’s exhilarating guitar mastery through a fusion of blues, soul, and rock ’n’ roll. For long-time fans or new audiences, their constantly evolving live show opens a space, wherever they may be in the world, for healing, compassion, unconditional love, and Baamaadziwin (the good life). Constantly interweaving between drum culture and guitar dialects, Raven and ShoShona were raised in cultural families that have continued to resist oppression and colonialism.

More than a band, Digging Roots have taken their place at the frontline of the fight for equity and representation in the arts, with involvement in industry advocacy and organization to empower arts communities worldwide. ShoShona is the founder of the International Indigenous Music Summit and the music label Ishkōdé Records.

Raven, who studied at Berklee College of Music, “grew up in a small Anishinabe Rez called Winneway in north-western Quebec. It’s formally called Long Point First Nation. It’s where my grandfather and father taught me to hunt, trap, and fish. I also spent my summers on my mother’s Mohawk Rez of Kahnàwa:ke.” ShoShona’s “family is from Batchewana and a part of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge.”

Visit for tour dates.

Sultans of String bio:


Bandleader Chris McKhool (Makhoul in Lebanon) has an Egyptian-born mother who happened to play piano, teach classical theory, and feed her young son as much Middle Eastern cuisine as she did music lessons. From there, the powerful violinist developed a taste for multi-genre string sounds and found a like-minded crew of all-world enthusiasts. When McKhool first heard founding guitarist Kevin Laliberté’s rumba rhythm, their musical synergy created Sultans of String’s signature sound – the intimate and playful relationship between violin and guitar. From this rich foundation, the dynamic duo grew, featuring such amazing musical friends as in-the-pocket bass master Drew Birston and the jaw-dropping beats of percussionist Chendy Leon.

Their live resume is similarly stellar. Equally at home in a concert hall, folk and jazz club, or festival setting, the Sultans have gigged at JUNOfest, the legendary club Birdland in New York, Celtic Connections Festival (Glasgow), and London’s Trafalgar Square. They have sold out Koerner Hall three times (Toronto’s Carnegie Hall) and performed with the Annapolis, Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton Symphony Orchestras. They have played live on CBC’s Canada Live, BBC Radio, BBC TV, Irish National Radio, and the syndicated World Café, Woodsongs, and SiriusXM in Washington. Sultans of String’s musicianship and versatility are also showcased in collaborations with such diverse luminaries as Paddy Moloney & The Chieftains, Sweet Honey in The Rock, Richard Bona, Alex Cuba, Ruben Blades, Yasmin Levy, Benoit Bourque, Béla Fleck, Crystal Shawanda & Ken Whiteley.

Yukon’s Fawn Fritzen Performing Live in Kingston on June 1, 2023 

Kingston Music

Media contact:
Irene Carroll
i.see associates

Yukon’s Fawn Fritzen Performing LIVE
KINGSTON, ON – Chalmers United Church – McCallum Hall
212 Barrie Street, Kingston
Thursday, June 1, 7:00 p.m.

Excited to hit the touring road post-pandemic, three strong women, plus a pianist born on International Women’s Day, will grace some of Ontario’s as well as a Montreal stage for the long-awaited release tour of Fawn Fritzen’s How to Say Sorry and Other Lessons. This musical tour de force fuses the singer-songwriter’s truth bombs with the harmonic richness of jazz. Co-written with Fawn’s life partner, JUNO award-winning pianist and composer David Restivo, the album explores themes of failure and feminism while musically ranging through swing, funk, gospel, and even a touch of reggae. Fawn and David are joined by fellow JUNO-nominated artists, bassist Lauren Falls and drummer Valérie Lacombe.

About Fawn Fritzen

Fawn Fritzen is a multilingual Yukon singer and songwriter who has lived and performed all over the country, including all three of Canada’s northern territories. She embodies Canada’s diversity with her mixed cultural roots of Chinese, French, and German, singing in her three ancestral languages as well as English.

Tim Tamashiro (former host of CBC Radio’s national jazz program Tonic) named Fawn “one of Canada’s top swingers,” and in 2014, Fawn won the Julian Award of Excellence for Emerging Jazz Artists.

A Board member of Jazz Yukon and a mentor for their “Cafe des voix” program for emerging jazz singers, Fawn also serves as a mentor for Yukon Women in Music (YWIM). She is a passionate educator, delivering workshops on learning styles, growth mindset, creativity, and neurodiversity.

About David Restivo

Touted as “simply one of the most exceptional jazz pianists of his generation” (Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal), BC-based David Restivo is a JUNO award-winning pianist and composer. Well-known for his work with Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, the Mike Murley Quintet, and legendary songwriter Mark Jordan, David has performed and recorded with renowned artists Mel Tormé, Kenny Wheeler, and David Clayton-Thomas, to name a few. Deriving inspiration from a wide range of musical and non-musical sources, including John Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Genesis, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and J.S. Bach, David is a dedicated music educator for over 20 years, including serving on the music faculty at the University of Toronto.

About Lauren Falls

JUNO-nominated and Toronto-based Lauren Falls is a highly sought-after bassist, bandleader, and composer, having made her mark in the New York and Toronto jazz scenes for over a decade. Having toured North America and Europe extensively, Lauren has performed at the Kennedy Center, The Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival (Washington, DC), Ottawa International Jazz Festival, and Toronto Jazz Festival, to name a few. With a Master’s Degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a bachelor’s Degree from Humber College, Lauren is currently on the faculty at The University of Toronto. 

About Valérie Lacombe

JUNO-nominated and Montreal-based jazz drummer Valérie Lacombe is one of the country’s most important emerging voices in straight-ahead jazz. As co-founder of the Saint-Henri Jazz Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping jazz alive in Saint-Henri, Valerie has toured throughout Canada, performed at SXSW, and all of Canada’s International Jazz Festivals including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Festi Jazz Mont-Tremblant and reputable jazz venues such as Hermann’s (Victoria), Frankie’s (Vancouver), Yardbird Suite (Edmonton) and Upstairs and Diese Onze (both, Montreal).

WHAT:             Fawn Fritzen, “How To Say Sorry and Other Lessons”
WHERE:           Chalmers United Church – McCallum Hall | 212 Barrie Street, Kingston
WHEN:             Thursday, June 1, 7:00 p.m.
COST:              $20

Ticket to Chalmers United Church – Kingston | Fawn Fritzen (

Fawn Fritzen Music | Whitehorse YT | Facebook

“I Saw the Sun Today”:

Blooming Verses: Poems about Life and Wisdom by Kwasi Gyeabour 

Poetry Book Review

Title: Blooming Verses: Poems about Life and Wisdom
Author:  Kwasi Gyeabour
Publisher: Independent
Released: April 22, 2023
Pages: 119
Stars: 5.0

I have been struggling with depression recently because of a chronic pain battle with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, not to mention financial instability due to the cost of living. Constantly trying new meds and weaning off others, I’ve felt like I was losing my mind. So to read splendid words like these, full of light, hope, beauty, and wisdom, in the face of adversity, I feel gratitude. I feel my strength and resilience resurfacing, and even better, I am encouraged to write more heart-based, soulful poetry to help inspire others the way Kwasi Gyeabour has inspired me.

First, the cover is eye-catching and gorgeous! Perfection. The book’s interior is painted with wisdom, heart, love, and sage advice, and there is not one throwaway verse here. This is an exquisite collection of poetry that everyone should own and re-read often! There is a reason this book is the #1 New Release in African Poetry on Amazon. This poet is the human I aspire to become.

These gifts are among my favourites in Blooming Verses: Poems about Life and Wisdom: “Home,” “Wisdom of the Senses,” “Viva La Revolution,” “Stay Weird,” “The Way,” “The Tree of Life,” “Anthology of Wisdom,” “The Assignment,” “Power Over Self,” “Unraveling the Labyrinth,” “The Pain in Your Rise,” “The Shining,” “Nature’s Example,” “Value You,” “The Truth and the Life,” and “Reckless Captains.”

So, if you require reassurance that divine, positive, spiritually evolved souls are inhabiting our planet, buy this book and read it. If you yearn for connection so you feel less alone, buy this book, and read it. If you need to be reminded of the love of humanity, buy this book, and read it. For it will rain on the drought in your garden, slake the thirst of your stalk, and emblazon your bulb to bloom.

A Sister in Heaven by Andrea Freedman 

Children’s Book Review

Title: A Sister in Heaven
Author:  Andrea Freedman
Publisher: Independent
Released: July 26, 2022
Pages: 16
Stars: 4.0

As someone who lost her sister and best friend, to ovarian cancer, at the age of 48, I genuinely appreciate the love, thoughtfulness, and compassion that went into creating this children’s book that speaks to how we can choose to deal with grief.

Andrea Freedman has written a beautiful, uplifting poem in A Sister in Heaven to help young people ages five to ten, deal with the passing of their sibling. If you believe in Heaven, and many parents would encourage their children to believe, this book will undoubtedly help to ease the pain of your loss. It reminds us that our loved ones would not want us to mourn them for a long time, although, in my experience, the grief never truly disappears. It changes us profoundly. But one thing is certain, the love between sisters never goes away.

Andrea says, “After losing my sister about a year and a half ago, I began to think about all the kids in the world who have had to face the death of a loved one, especially a sibling. I wrote this story with the hope of possibly helping even one grieving child out there make sense of a loss and feel just a little less sad.” She has succeeded with her intention.

Although the book is described on Amazon Kindle as “a work of fiction about two sisters, one of whom has passed away,” I would call this book an inspirational poem. However, I am a poet, and that’s how I often see the world.
The standard picture book page count is 32, so this one is short at 16 pages. However, they are 16 colourful pages with lovely digital art by Jim Campbell. In my humble opinion, there are images within the book that could have been chosen for a more striking cover.

A Sister in Heaven can be purchased at the following locations:
In-store only:
Book City, 1430 Yonge St., at Yonge and St. Clair Ave. in Toronto
In-store and online:
Joseph’s Inspirational, #39-2721 Markham Rd., Toronto
Forster’s Book Garden, 266 Queen St. S., Bolton, Ontario
Israel’s Book and Gift Store, 441 Clark Ave., Thornhill, Ontario
E-book version on Amazon Kindle:
Purchases can also be made through the author directly at

Reveal Yourself: The Best Version of You Is Looking Right through Your Eyes by Matthew Lawrence... 

Poetry Book Review

Title: Reveal Yourself: The Best Version of You Is Looking Right through Your Eyes
Author:  Matthew Lawrence Scigousky
Publisher: Independent
Released: October 29, 2022
Pages: 119
Stars: 4.0

Reveal Yourself: The Best Version of You Is Looking Right through Your Eyes is motivational prose poetry (enjambment) from author, speaker, and motivator Matthew Lawrence Scigousky. The book’s themes encompass struggle, adversity, self-doubt, resilience, fortitude, strength, faith, hope, love, acceptance, and forgiveness. While I have never heard Scigousky speak, his prose is often beautiful and positive, much like affirmations. Still, I have read his messages many times before by a hundred other spiritual and motivational authors. Other than his delivering his messages through poetry, I could not see what makes this man unique and sets him apart from other motivational and inspirational writers because there’s nothing of his experience in this work.

So, I looked him up online and discovered that when he was six months old, he had both legs in a cast and was misdiagnosed with MS when a spinal tumor was the real issue. Matthew underwent multiple surgeries on his left leg and spine before he was ten and was left with a permanently deformed left leg. He became a competitive ski racer in middle school and learned to adapt and compete in wrestling in high school and track in college. He graduated from university and became a professional, award-winning sales rep in medical device sales. None of this information was in this book (or at least the Kindle version I read), and it should be. It allows the reader to understand how much Scigousky has overcome through his personal regime and positive outlook on life.

I am an editor, and a poet (whose work is very different) who found Scigousky’s use of enjambment, grammar errors, misspelled words, lack of apostrophes where needed, and missed words threw off the flow of his words so that I had to re-read many poems more than once. In addition, his overuse of the word imprint and awkward lines like this one in “Magnetize”: “Positive attractiveness’s magnetic scent is irresistible” and “Hemispherical belief finds orbit?” in “Shine,” made me think of him as a New Age science teacher. Perhaps different line spacing might have helped the rhythm of the verse, but an audiobook version of the book read by the author most certainly would. I think Scigousky must be a lovely, learned man, and I heard his words and beliefs through these poems but not his heart or experience.

I appreciated the author’s quotes between the poems. I enjoyed “Coordinated Direction,” “Unstoppable,” “Rapture of the Heart,” “Changing Hearts & Minds,” “All These Moments,” “Attract What You Feel,” “Discover what you don’t know,” “Latent Powers Within,” “Sometimes The Challenge Chooses You…” and “Substance of the Heart.”

Font styles, sizes, and italics change without rhyme or reason, as well as the poems’ title cases. The work would benefit from a professional edit. However, I highlighted many lines within the author’s prose to remind me of what I need or want to remember. I’m not sorry that I purchased this book because I was looking for something positive to read, and I found it.

While I hold myself accountable for almost everything in my life, I do not believe that everything in life is under our control, nor that most humans can assert their will and control the energy that affects our lives. It’s a massive universe. In fact, we have far less control than what Scigousky believes, no matter how we choose to look at the world. The one theme he missed here is surrender, as there is much in life we must surrender to in order to achieve the life we want and let go of the need to control so that we can be happy. However, Scigousky has written a book he can be proud of and that readers will undoubtedly benefit from.

New Reviews for Eden Redefined by Christine Bode 

April is National Poetry Month, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share some recent reviews for my latest book of poetry, Eden Redefined. I’m finally receiving reviews from those who have taken the time to read my book and leave me five-star reviews on Amazon. I must say, it feels good.

For just a moment last week, Eden Redefined reached the Top 100 in the Kindle Store for Canadian Poetry and Contemporary Poetry, coming in at #62 and #67, respectively. To see my book in the same group as poetry by Leonard Cohen and Mary Oliver was a rush! I hope to see it reach even higher in the future, and I can with your help. So if you purchased a copy of Eden Redefined and haven’t yet left a review on Amazon, please do, as it means the world to me, and it could help my book become a best seller.

New Reviews for Eden Redefined

“If you’re looking for a book that tackles life’s most complex emotions and experiences with raw honesty, then Eden Redefined by Christine Bode is the book for you.” ~ Brett G.

“We all have our dark times as life is an unsolvable riddle for most. This collection is down to earth, and I feel anyone can relate to the ups and downs life offers up to us all. We all need to be grateful for what we do have and be kind to others, such as the author, because we all face demons, but together we can lift each other’s spirits.” ~ Patrick McKenna

“The book had a mixture of compassion, humour, and intimacy.” ~ Brock7

“If you’re wondering whether this poetry collection is worth reading, please give me a moment to shout from the rooftops, YES!

This isn’t just a book of poetry; it’s an experience.

Somewhere between laughter and crying while reading this, my heart broke and mended and was fortified by the message within these pages. Christine has an extraordinary way with words and paints vivid pictures in your mind. I couldn’t put the book down.” ~ Whitney Aumack

“Christine Bode has eloquently put herself out there for all the world to see in this raw, emotional collection of poems and prose. We need more people like her, who are not afraid to be human, showing our weaknesses. As I read the poetry, I could see Christine learning life lessons that have helped her to become the strong, independent woman she is today. Congratulations on a job well done!” ~ Lynn Rae

Here are some terrific poetry collections that I’ve read recently:

EROica by William F. DeVault

To Daughter a Devil by Mary Megan Moore

Multifarious Dimensions of Meh by Eric Montgomery

Confessions Under Cratered Moons: Poetry of Cosmic Chaos by Whitney Aumack

Please share the best poetry you’ve read recently with me in the comments. I’m always looking for exciting new work.

Happy National Poetry Month!

Narcissistic Mothers: How to Identify Her Manipulative Behaviours and Finally Discover Your Inner... 

Nonfiction Book Review

Title: Narcissistic Mothers: How to Identify Her Manipulative Behaviours and Finally Discover Your Inner Peace
Author:  Lilia Johnes
Publisher: Independent
Released: February 17, 2023
Pages: 134
Stars: 4.0

Lilia Johnes has written a genuinely honest, poignant, and impactful book Narcissistic Mothers: How to Identify Her Manipulative Behaviours and Finally Discover Your Inner Peace, that not only defines and describes narcissistic personality disorder and narcissism itself but also what having a mother with that disorder did to her and could be doing to others.

The book is well-written and contains colour photographs, but I think the cover could have been more eye-catching. It includes a brief glossary of terms, references for articles on the internet (but no books), and image references.

I decided to read this book because my niece and nephew, who are twins, and the children of my deceased sister, found themselves at 15 years old with a narcissistic stepmother. This woman’s impact on their lives, and our family’s life, has been significant. So I wanted to understand as much as possible about this woman.

One of the most beneficial sections of this book for me was Chapter 3: The “F” Word—Forgive. Her insight here is remarkable: “… hardest thing to forgive is an apology that was never heard.” Forgiveness is complex and challenging but starts with self-forgiveness and alleviating negative self-talk. Johnes also discusses setting boundaries and asks us to deal with the possibility that we may never achieve love and affection from our narcissistic parent. Finally, she talks about quiet confidence, how to identify and develop it, how to handle confrontations, and explains the nature of trauma bonds.

Throughout the book, she speaks with knowledge, understanding, and compassion. As someone who had difficulty with boundaries and codependency in my youth, 20s, and 30s, I found this book to be not only on point but a constructive review of how to be the best, most confident person we can be without feeding the egos of those who feel they are more important. The most important thing we can do is concentrate on our healing and disengage from the negative dialogue between us when confronting a narcissistic person. It takes time to develop techniques to do so.

I have an overactive immune system in my late 50s, so I can tell you that holding on to trauma, fear, and anxiety about your relationships, will only do you harm because living in a state of flight or fight for an extended period takes its toll on your body as well as your mind. I have allowed my trauma to keep me from trusting men in romantic relationships, and I have been single my entire life. While I have some regrets about that, I have learned how to be quietly confident and to be my own best friend. Life is too short to be engaged in relationships that do not enhance your life. But healing cannot occur if healthy people do not adequately support us. Finding the right therapist for us may take some time, but it is time well spent. As the author states, those we love deserve a full and uncompromised version of us.

This book will be helpful if you have a narcissistic mother or are in a relationship with a narcissist. I will be passing it on to my niece.

“The Closest Soul to God” by Christine Bode 


Today, on National Pet Day, I think of all my dogs: Benji, the chocolate Spoodle; Geldof, the black and white Jack Russell Terrier/Springer Spaniel cross; Scully, my first blonde Goldendoodle; and Eloise, the blonde Goldendoodle who lives with me now.

This poem was written about Scully when I was going through the most difficult time of my life. The gratitude I have for her and all of my pets is eternal. They are the closest souls to God I’ll ever know.

The Closest Soul to God

A poem by ©Christine Bode, 2014

It’s the last month of my sister’s life,
and I know it.
Tonight, I cried so hard I couldn’t see, and
I couldn’t breathe.
I cried until the tears streamed down my face and
I choked on my snot.
I cried until the grief in my chest threatened to
inflate me to the most enormous mass of human pain in the
history of the Universe while I begged and pleaded
with God
to send someone to just hold me—
but no one came.
No one was ever there in the early part of the morning,
and no one was there late at night.
No man ever put his arms around me, even once,
in the last six months and told me he’d be there for me
if I needed him because my sister is dying.
Not one single man among all the men I’ve ever known in
my entire life.

The only being who was there for me every single day of
these twenty-five months of torture is my dog, and she
has borne the weight of my grief, loneliness, and woe,
without complaint or fail or falter.
She lies beside me every night and lets me touch her
and listen to her breathing until I can fall asleep,
giving me the strength I need to face the next day.
She proves that the purpose of every dog in the world is
to teach human beings about the value, strength, and power
of unconditional love.
So, the next time you’re about to say to me
(or anyone else) that she’s just a dog,
think again,
because she is not just a dog.
She is the closest soul to God I’ll ever know.

Read more poetry by Christine Bode in her latest collection, Eden Redefined.

Eden Redefined is available on:

Amazon (Paperback) CDN $9.99:

Amazon (Kindle) CDN $2.99:

“Diamonds” by Christine Bode 



A poem by ©Christine Bode, 2023
(for my parents, Marilyn and Jurgen Bode, for their 60th wedding anniversary – April 6, 2023)

Wish I could give you diamonds
Another winter in Arizona
A worry-free retirement
Or a stellar trip to Roma

Wish I could pay for premium healthcare
Put luxury groceries on your table
Give you the Easter that you want
But unfortunately, I’m not able

Sixty years of wedlock is no small feat
Enduring more pain than most can beat
You couldn’t have known in 1963
The state of your union was a fait accompli

Wish I could give you diamonds
for your sixtieth anniversary
Or make a deal with doctors
To take your place in surgery

Wish I could resurrect Karen
So our family would be whole again
But that’s obviously not a part
Of your Creator’s divine plan

The love you share with each other
Saw you through good times and bad
And you never once complained
About what you didn’t have

Wish I could give you diamonds
Smoked oysters and their pearls
Sunshine and warmth every day
Victory flags to unfurl

Wish I could be the best of you
Throughout the thick and thin
But I’m afraid the mould was broken
By the plenitude of my sins

Your devotion sparkles like sunlight
On the river where you used to live
Your example of strength and resilience
Is not something I’ll relive

Wish I could give you diamonds
Frankincense and myrrh
And lavish you with the life
You most assuredly deserve

Wish I could give you everything
You don’t already have
But I know you’d have a hard time
Thinking of something else to add

You taught me very well
There’s only so much we can do
So I give you gratitude and love
From a heart that’s always true

Sultans of String Win 2 Canadian Folk Music Awards: Global Roots Album of the Year and Producer... 

Press Release

April 4, 2023

Toronto-based Sultans of String continues to lead the global music world with two wins on Sunday night at the Canadian Folk Music Awards: Global Roots Album of the Year for their album Sanctuary and Producer of the Year (John “Beetle” Bailey and Chris McKhool) for the same album. 

Keeping within the band’s dedication to the global music scene, this multi-award-winning, 3x Juno-nominated, and Billboard-charting band creates “energetic and exciting music from a band with talent to burn!” (Maverick, UK). For more than a decade, Sultans of String have thrilled audiences with their genre-hopping passport of Celtic reels, Flamenco, Django-jazz, Arabic, Cuban, and South Asian rhythms. The group celebrates musical fusion and human creativity with warmth and virtuosity, with world rhythms that excite audiences to their feet! 

NY Times and Billboard-charting world music supergroup Sultans of String released their highly anticipated eighth album, Sanctuary, on November 5, 2021. It spotlighted a brand-new focus track, “Ariengue Arianga,” featuring the four core Sultans, as well as incredibly talented and inspiring special guests Donné Roberts and Yukiko Tsutsui.

Sanctuary is the second instalment in their Refuge Project. The first, simply entitled Refuge, was heralded as “a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album.” (Ken Micallef–Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat) and won many awards, including Producer of the Year at the 2021 Canadian Folk Music Awards for bandleader and violinist Chris McKhool.

“We thought ‘Ariengue Arianga would be the perfect focus track for the album,” says McKhool, “because it is a song that brings this incredible community of musicians together with one voice. Ariengue is an expression in Malagasy, the language of Madagascar, which means, ‘I am wishing you happiness,’ and being able to be together, creating this sound together in the same space again, certainly filled our hearts with joy!”

Donné Roberts wrote the song and plays electric guitar on the track, with lyrics that span decades. He started writing the first verse in 1984 and then finalized it in his new home of Toronto years later.

“I moved to Moscow when I was a small boy, seven years old. My father worked at the Madagascar embassy there. They opened a relationship back then, the Soviet Union and Madagascar. I was inspired by the music all around me and the experience of being displaced at a very young age. I returned to Moscow again later in life at a time when there were no computers around us. There was no internet at that time, so it was a time when you could be inspired by different sounds and never hear them again. I returned to Madagascar when I was nineteen years old.”

By the time Donné returned to Madagascar at the age of nineteen, a lot of things had changed. “Things were completely different! The image I had of my home country was pretty different from reality. So, I kept writing this song about wishing someone happiness. It is about separation, for someone has to go somewhere else, wishing them the best of luck on a long way, and a feeling of hope. Who knows, maybe we will meet again.”

Donné finally found his way to Canada’s largest city. “Toronto has a lot of talent, and variety of music—completely different kinds of music, from Japanese to South Asian to Middle Eastern to Russian, Greek, jazz, blues, Brazilian, Cuban, and the thing that fascinated and amazes me is that it is done very well! I go to see bands play, and wow, what great musicians! There is some kind of magical language with music—it doesn’t have any borders or barriers. It is at the level of feeling.”

Joining Donné on this track is Yukiko Tsutsui, who found her way from Japan to Canada, studying and working in BC before moving to Toronto. “Singing Ariengue with Donné is so much fun. Every time we play that song live, people get so excited, singing and clapping along,” says Tsutsui. “The fact that it is in Malagasy is not a barrier; the music is so uplifting and makes people so happy. It is amazing to sing that song with Donné. I feel really blessed.”

“We need this uplifting music, especially this year, and this version is such a gift for people from all over the world to get to sing together and play together. It is so moving. The music has no borders. Everything, the instruments, drums, we can feel the rhythm and the melodies. We feel good, and we feel love; that is the amazing thing about getting together to play music, feeling the strong emotional bond between players and audiences, and we are sharing a beautiful moment, and that is a very big part of the meaning for me, that people from all over the world can get together and share the music and the moment and love together.”

This ambitious, diverse, inclusive, and passionately political album puts the band face-to-face with a VIP roster of global ‘ambassadors,’ some of whom are recent immigrants and refugees to Canada, as well as important Indigenous voices. All are masters of world music that communicate with each other through the global language of music.

Addressing the struggles of life on Mother Earth has always inspired Toronto-based quintet, Sultans of String. On Sanctuary, Sultans of String bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on eleven songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples—their stories, their songs, their persistence, and their humanity.

Joined by an international cast, some of whom are recent immigrants to North America, the celebrated quartet immerses themselves in the plight of the international refugee on Refuge and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.

Bandleader Chris McKhool explains, “The larger Refuge Project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to Canada. We are bringing in special guests that are newcomers to this land, as well as global talents that have been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here and bring their extraordinary talents with them, in this case, music. Each one of us has a remarkable story to tell, and we are excited to share the beauty of these collaborations with you.”

Sanctuary features seven new tracks with stellar performances by Tara and Ahmed Moneka, refugees from Iraq, Amchok Gompo, a refugee from Tibet, Syrian refugee Leen Hamo, Donné Roberts from Madagascar with partner Yukiko Tsutsui from Japan, Algeria’s Fethi Nadjem, Colombian refugee Juan Carlos Medrano, Iran’s Padideh Ahrarnejad, Nyckelharpa player Saskia Tomkins, tabla player Ravi Naimpally from India, string ensemble Gundem Yayli Grubu from Istanbul, and more.

It also includes three stunning new versions of songs off Refuge. These include an astonishingly gorgeous orchestral version of “The Power of the Land” featuring Indigenous performers Duke Redbird and Twin Flames, Turkish mega-pop star Suat Suna singing “Hurricane,” and flamenco dancer and singer Tamar Ilana singing a version of “Asi Soy” that will rip your heart out.

“The true inspiration behind this album is the incredible artists we get to collaborate with,” says McKhool. “We learn so much from these diverse voices, and each one of them is so personally inspiring. As Ahmed Moneka, an artist and refugee from Iraq, says, ‘Love is the main reason for a great future,’ and we are so privileged to be able to collaborate with so many incredible voices on this project.

And to feel the love.” 

APR 14 – First Presbyterian Church (Young Audience), Lincoln, NE
APR 15 – First Presbyterian Church, Lincoln, NE
MAY 12 – Marble Arts Centre, Tweed ON
MAY 13 – Bancroft Village Playhouse, Bancroft ON
MAY 14 – Bryan Jones Theatre, Lakefield College, Lakefield, ON
MAY 26 – Brockville Arts Centre, Brockville, ON
JUN 24 – Mississauga World Music Festival
JUN 24 – Old Church Theatre, Trenton ON
JUN 27 – Wasaga Beach Gazebo, Wasaga Beach ON


EROica by William F. DeVault 

Poetry Book Review

Title: EROica
Author:  William F. DeVault
Publisher: Venetian Spider Press
Released: February 14, 2023
Pages: 112
ISBN-13: 9781734946994
Stars: 5.0

The US National Beat Poet Laureate Emeritus, William F. DeVault, previously hailed as the Romantic Poet of the Internet, released a new book of poetry, EROica, primarily inspired by his muse, Mariya Andriichuk. I had no idea what I was setting myself up for when I chose to read it.

EROica, an ode of tribute to DeVault’s longtime friend and muse, is so spectacular that I feel I should give up writing poetry because there’s no way mine could ever be half as compelling. Reading it gutted me like a trout, grateful that death came quickly and easily. Although the cover is erotic and conveys a BDSM message, the poetry is more sensual than graphically sexy.

From “we begin at the end” to “in the sphere of Venus,” DeVault’s love for his muse is evident in every line, in every rhyme, and every time he professes his appreciation for her tresses, her lips and her eyes, he left me languid in a puddle of sighs.

I have never read the work of a Beat Poet Laureate unless you count Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti, but no amount of spaghetti could ever satisfy me the way DeVault’s poetic lyricism fills my belly to the groin and makes mine yearn for such a love as his for his Kyiv Venus.

In “The 1st heroic crown of Mariya,” DeVault carries on with the last line of each verse and makes it the first of the following poem, holding his reverence for her like a totem, mesmerizing us with a perfect dream of everything about her he holds in esteem. Finally, in the fifteenth verse, “The Diadem,” he compiles the first lines of the previous fourteen and beguiles us with the fate of his curse; we’re immersed until our heart bursts.

I had never heard of the word amomancy and had to look it up. If you’re wondering, “Amomancy is the supernatural art of changing people through poetry or eloquence.” This man coined the term and is obviously a master of the art.

My favourite poems are “sensible horizon,” “A Prayer for Life and Love,” ”life is a gallery of art,” 46 minute villanelle: the futility of truth” (perfection), “the tenor clears his throat,” “epic/the mock battlefield,” and “Plato’s cave.”

As a passionate romantic, I understand the torture of this man’s existence, the sting of unrequited love, and the loneliness of a monastic existence. As such, I have deep empathy, utter admiration, and gratitude for what he is willing to share on these pages. DeVault is a poet whose work I shall further seek, and I am blessed for having found it.