Greetings, I’m Helen Gowans, I gratefully live, work and play on the ancestral, unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples - the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) First Nations.

Firstly, I usually say “retired physiotherapist” because being a physiotherapist was a large part of my adult life. As a youth, I read a book called “Karen” and decided that I wanted to work in rehabilitation. I found it a very satisfying career. But what gives me the greatest happiness is being the mother of two amazing adults, Carleen and Adam and having Adam’s partner and wonderfully creative, Lauren, in my life.

Now about writing, I started taking community creative writing courses about 15 years ago mostly to try to capture experiences that I wanted to remember in words. From there, I took weekend courses at Simon Fraser University here in Vancouver and that’s what really got me going! Fiona Tinwei LamEvelyn Lau and Rob Taylor were the instructors who did much more than instruct. I owe each of them a debt of gratitude. Poets Corner used to meet at Massy Books and it was there with trembling knees and vocal cords I did my first public reading. Thanks to them. And to the many poets and listeners (not necessarily separate groups!) whose support gave and continues to give me courage.

My writing practice is not as disciplined as it may become but I do write weekly with Shut Up and Write at Historic Joy Kogawa House, now on site and on Zoom. I attempt to write most days but often am thinking poetry in my mind. Then it explodes and I write ceaselessly! In 2020 while in Puerto Rico, I received an email that I had won the 2020 Pandora’s Collective Award for the poem Mackenzie Stone and then was short-listed for a poem, Crete, for the Magpie Award. Absolutely thrilling! A piece I wrote for a family vacation stories anthology called A Gelato a Day Keeps the Tantrums Away, published by Guernica Editions is now out and is available at major bookstores. I wrote a piece for another anthology, Don't Tell: Family Secrets (Demeter Press) which will be available January 2023.

My first two chapbooks have poems about travels I've taken. The graphics on a small table I bought inspired the exploration of the seven deadly sins. The most recent is a collection of poems relating to love! I grew up in Northern Manitoba, the land of the Swampy Cree covered by Treaty 5 and lived the first three years of my life in Brochet, an Adhesion to Treaty 5. You will find some references to my time there as a child.

My favourite poet is Nelson Ball, who died a couple of years ago and in whose memory there is now an award. My favourite poem might be “Out, Out––“ by Robert Frost. A sentimental favourite is E. Pauline Johnson from my childhood imagining another Canada and singing one of her songs while canoeing. 

That’s all for now; let me know what you’d like to see on my site.

Thanks for coming.