Black Cat by Rainer Maria Rilke

For Halloween and in the spirit of the novel I’m currently writing,  here is a poem I admire by Rilke.  It’s called BLACK CAT.  The line that reverberates in my imagination is:  ‘She seems to hide any looks that have ever fallen into her.’


A ghost, though invisible, still is like a place
your sight can knock on, echoing; but here
within this thick black pelt, your strongest gaze
will be absorbed and utterly disappear:

just as a raving madman, when nothing else
can ease him, charges into his dark night
howling, pounds on the padded wall, and feels
the rage being taken in and pacified.

She seems to hide all looks that have ever fallen
into her, so that, like an audience,
she can look them over, menacing and sullen,
and curl to sleep with them. But all at once

as if awakened, she turns her face to yours;
and with a shock, you see yourself, tiny,
inside the golden amber of her eyeballs
suspended, like a prehistoric fly.

Rainer Maria Rilke

“All of us can see ourselves in Leveille’s characters. These are stories that speak to the complicated bonds we have with siblings and parents, who they were and who they are now and how we learn the truth of what we took for granted before.” The Daily Gleanor

Rohinton Mistry’s Novel Banned

I’m a huge fan of author Rohinton Mistry’s writing and was dismayed to recieve the following  Press Release:


The Writers’ Union of Canada is expressing its strong concern over the decision of the University of Mumbai to remove a Canadian novel from its course of study, bowing to pressure from a right-wing political group that publicly burned the book. The novel, Such a Long Journey by Canadian author Rohinton Mistry, was removed following angry objections from the ultra-nationalist political party known as Shiv Sena over a character in the novel who criticizes that organization.

Such a Long Journey was originally published in 1991. It won the Governor General’s Award for literary fiction in Canada and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in the UK. It has been studied, without protest, in schools and universities around the world for nearly twenty years.

 “It is unacceptable for an institution of higher learning such as the University of Mumbai to practice censorship of this nature,” said Alan Cumyn, Chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada. “This award-winning Canadian novel deals in a fictional, naturalistic way with life in India. Freedom of expression must be a cornerstone of any democracy, especially the world’s largest. We call upon the university to reinstate the book.”

Canadian schools are not immune to similar challenges. The Harry Potter series has been often challenged by religious groups for its portrayal of witchcraft. In 2006 the highly regarded children’s book, Three Wishes, by author Deborah Ellis was pulled from school library shelves by the Toronto District School Board following an objection from the Canadian Jewish Congress, which deemed the author’s interviews with Palestinian children to be offensive. More recently Anne Laurel Carter’s award-winning The Shepherd’s Granddaughter was also challenged and subjected to a formal review by the Toronto District School Board.

“We have stood behind books like Three Wishes and The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, and we stand by Rohinton Mistry in this case,” Cumyn went on. “Literature offers us a way to look at ourselves, to hear voices from around the world. And Rohinton Mistry said it best himself: ‘… burning and banning books will not feed one hungry soul, will not house one homeless person, will not provide gainful employment to anyone (unless one counts those hired to light bonfires), not in Mumbai, not in Maharashtra, not anywhere, not ever.’”

The Writers’ Union of Canada is the country’s national organization representing 2,000 professional authors across the country. Founded in 1973, the Union is dedicated to fostering writing in Canada and protecting freedom of speech, as well as promoting the rights, freedoms, and economic wellbeing of all writers.  For more information, please visit

 “Leveille’s message…none of us escapes pain and human connection is our healing balm.” -The Globe and Mail

Who do you write like?

Congratulations to Mary Fulton who won a $25.00 gift certificate to Chapters/Indigo/Coles in the draw for my fall newsletter that went out today.  Everyone who subscribes is eligible.  Mary is coming to the retreat at the end of the month and I’m looking forward to hearing her poetry.  For those of you who aren’t subscribers, here’s something I talked about in this issue that you might find interesting:


Check out this great web site “I Write Like” passed on by author, Linda Hall, in Fredericton. Just cut and paste a chunk of your own writing into the window, click “Analyze” and it will tell you who you write like. It analyzes your word choice and writing style and compares them to those of famous writers.


I inserted an exerpt from LET THE SHADOWS FALL BEHIND YOU: 

“Do you regret falling in love?  I mean, really falling in love.”  Tish’s expression was open and honest, washed clean of the pretence that came with their initial awkwardness together, born of the need to appear carefree and happy after all these years, and not a failure, never that, heaven forbid, no matter what the cost.  Brannagh envied Tish’s quick child-like flow of hot tears.  She had always been able to boil over at the drop of a hat, spilling everything out in an illogical mish-mash, then basking in a clean glow afterwards.   “It’s kind of like jumping off a cliff, isn’t it?”  Tish ventured, eyes shining.  “Without looking down.”

Brannagh’s ability to express her emotions was something else entirely.  She had learned, from living in the house on Argyle, to compartmentalize everything.   Her feelings were relegated to the distant third floor, behind closed doors, and thumps, and bumps, and meandering shadow-filled halls.

Brannagh attempted to smile, then gave up.  She reached into the top cupboard for the tin of tea bags.  “No, I don’t regret falling in love.”   She dropped two teabags into the pot, and filled it with hot water.  “What I regret,” she finished coldly, “is not falling out.”

According to “I WRITE LIKE,” I write like Charles Dickens.  


“Leveille has the ability to write convincingly and with precise delicate strokes that reveal nuance and shadings of character that are very satisfying.” – The New Brunswick Reader

Writers’ Union of Canada Competition

The Writers’ Union of Canada short prose competition is an excellent way to sharpen your skills if you aren’t yet published.  I entered many times and appreciated the excellent feedback and encouragement whenever I placed.  I have since judged and it is a pleasure to read the upcoming talent and recognize the names of new writers who go onto the literary success. Here are the details: 


18th Annual Short Prose Competition

for Developing Writers

$2,500 PRIZE

 The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to announce that submissions are being accepted until November 10, 2010 for the 18TH ANNUAL SHORT PROSE COMPETITION FOR DEVELOPING WRITERS. The winning entry will be the best Canadian work of 2,500 words in the English language, fiction or nonfiction, written by an unpublished author.


$2,500 for the winning entry and the entries of the winner and finalists will be submitted to three Canadian magazines.  


Writers Tarek Fatah, K.V. Johansen, and Sharon Pollock will serve as the jury.  


This competition is open to all Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who have not had a book published by a commercial or university press in any genre and who do not currently have a contract with a book publisher. Original and unpublished (English language) fiction or nonfiction.  


  • ·                         Entries should be typed, double-spaced, in a clear twelve point font, and the pages numbered on 8.5 x 11 paper, not stapled.
  • ·                         Submissions will be accepted by hardcopy only.
  • ·                         Include a separate cover letter with title of story, full name, address, phone number, e-mail address, word count, and number of pages of entry.
  • ·                         Please type the name of entrant and the title of entry on each numbered page. This is not a blind competition.
  • ·                         Make cheque or money order payable to The Writers’ Union of Canada. Multiple entries can be submitted together and fees can be added and paid with one cheque or money order, $25 per submission.
  • ·                         Entries must be postmarked by November 10, 2010 to be eligible. Results will be announced in February 2011.
  • ·                         Mail entries to: WFC Competition, The Writers’ Union of Canada, 90 Richmond Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, ON M5C 1P1.

Results will be posted at Manuscripts will not be returned.

 “Leveille uses rural New Brunswick to explore characters who, in the midst of emotional change, find emotional memory tugging at their sleeves.” -Atlantic Books Today

Answering the Call: Writers’ Retreat

Answering the Call VII: Releasing the Writer Within


WHERE: The Villa Madonna in Renforth, New Brunswick (just outside of Saint John)
WHEN: October 22, 23 and 24, 2010

October 22, 2010:
5 p.m. Registration in foyer.
6 p.m. Opening Address: Answering the Call by Kathy-Diane Leveille
6 to 9 p.m. Meet and Greet Social

October 23, 2010: Full writing day.
6 to 9 p.m. Optional critique group

October 24, 2010:
11:00 a.m. Closing and wrap up.
1:00 p.m. Heading home after lunch and out by mid-afternoon.

FEE: $168.00 which includes room and board.

During past retreats participants have enjoyed getting away from the interruptions of everyday life to dig into a body of creative work or dream up a new one. Why not join us this time around? If you have a piece of writing that you’ve been longing to tackle, our retreat is the best place to do it. There are no scheduled workshops, no meals to cook, no obligations to fulfil; in short, no excuses not to write. Start turning your dreams into reality, and make new friendships along the way.