Not an Island Winter 2021-22
Welcome to Winter
Within our first anthology, we have a sampler of genres from our talented members. The deadline for the Spring edition will be Tuesday, February 15th for your poetry, fiction, nonfiction and scripts. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a safe and healthy holiday. Wishing you the best that the world has to offer. Enjoy!
Cindy Labonté-Smith, President, SCWES. December 2021
On Walks I'm Feral
by Atma Frans
On the news: stocks fall,
ads promise eternal youth,
black coffins pile up.
Stores are stacked again with rice,
gloves, masks and toilet paper.
Things fall away first,
my Mum says, like in the war.
Then family. Friends.
Two a.m., trees creak and moan.
Case counts and fears double.
On my phone, Luna
newborn. Her eyes hold a peace
I can't remember.
In the yard, kids gun water
and scream like trains shooting steam.
We hug air instead
of friends and adult daughters.
Only our eyes meet.
I lean into my husband,
starved for touch. I drown in him.
We dine on the deck.
Cold and mosquitoes bite us.
This used to be fun.
On a bench, a man, head down.
In his praying hands a phone.
On walks I'm feral,
ruffled at a whiff of breath,
afraid of others.
A woman stands waist-deep in
the ocean. She hugs herself.
Horses of the Black Madonna
by Atma Frans
Catherine and I became fast friends
at a women’s retreat held in a Swiss valley.
There the horses were broad-chested and tall—
an ancient pedigree bred by the Benedict monks.
On the last day, we walked the camino,
sun on our shoulders. Stomachs full.
Taste of toothpaste and garlic. Wind in our dresses.
Whirls of dandelion seeds tickled our legs.
In her greying hair, Catherine wore a chain of daisies.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me past a pilgrim.
We hopped on the sand, laughing.
The path turned and we saw the horses,
pelts brushed to an ebony shine.
They cantered alongside us. Hooves bit
into the meadow. Leg muscles rippled.
Later, in the cathedral, we met a monk.
His hands tucked in his sleeves, he stood guard
next to a small statue, the Black Madonna.
His lips held back a silent joy,
kept it from spilling into the dark chapel.
Catherine’s pancreas blew her body apart.
I walk out. The spring grass glints with dew.
The apple tree has burst into bloom—as if overnight,
while I wasn’t watching, asleep to the world.
A bee zigzags across dandelions, searches delight.
Wind shakes the blossoms, loosens pale petals.
They scatter across my wild garden like ashes.
by Atma Frans
We clamber across seaweed
crevices packed with mussels.
Gleam of blue on the black scales.
My daughter’s hand in mine, we step down
over slimy algae on to the beach.
The cove is empty, but for a woman,
crooked back bent.
Her wooden fork grates the shoreline.
When we pass, she straightens,
examines a piece of sea glass.
Among the flickering waves,
a round shape,
head of a seal.
Years ago, new to this country,
we visited the Vancouver Aquarium,
cavernous rooms lit by displays
of giant turtles, sharp-nosed sharks and an octopus,
its tentacles curling from the cracked rock.
In a wall-size exhibit, tall ribbons of seaweed
swayed. A harbour seal,
fore flippers folded against speckled hide,
shot up to the blue light,
floated down, and stilled
for a second, whiskered snout
inches away from me. Joy.
First glimpse of the Canadian wild.
a piece of glass,
pirated for pleasure
from the sea,
held up to the sun.
Now, this captivity seems cruel.
Yet, when the seal dives,
hind flippers folded together
above the waves
I picture its sleek body beneath,
gliding through the forest of swaying kelp,
blades translucent in an artificial sun,
my own hand on the glass,
longing to touch
this wondrous beast.
My Daughter Has Become a Foreign Country
by Atma Frans
My tongue wraps around strange words,
language of snow and rocky slopes.
The body lumbers, feet unaccustomed
to pebbles rolling underneath.
My hundred names for love scatter
in the cracks. Here,
memories of marshmallows above a fire pit
don’t count as currency.
At an obsidian lake, I catch my breath,
In its shine, I don’t recognize my own reflection—
No longer mother, I remember woman.
About the Author
In her writing, Atma Frans searches for the voice beneath her personas: woman, mother, trauma survivor, architect, queer, poet. Her work has been published in Obsessed with Pipework, The New Quarterly, Arc Poetry Magazine, Chiron Review, Understorey Magazine, and (forthcoming) The Dalhousie Review among others. Originally from Belgium, she now lives in Gibsons, BC, Canada.
by Annie Frazier Henry
There were those that had seen the tide go out this far before. Back in the days of old, we could walk from one side of this little inlet to the island on the other.
This time, there was to be a special feast and we wore our cedar aprons, and hats, decorated with abalone we had collected. We carried our baskets, which we had made, and walked across the muddy isle of the isthmus, and gathered clams, oysters, seaweed and other delicacies from the bed of the bare ocean floor.
We had just enough time to gather berries on the island before the current changed. We knew the rhythm of the water. We walked back to our village, crossing over to the other side. The tide was slowly starting to roll in through the channel, licking our toes and feet. We walked briskly and carried our full baskets. We had an abundance of shellfish for the potlatch feast.
Our village was built exactly on the high tideline. There, on the edge, where the water caressed the land was our home. When we reached the shore on the other side, the men were tying up their canoes with thickly woven cedar twine.
The ancient site had hand-carved totem poles of killer whales with eagles on the top, placed on either side of the big house. Worn, wooden planks surrounded the cedar lodge, which was built up high, supported by cedar log pilings. The logs were smooth and stripped of their bark. The strong old trees were buried deep into the marshy mud. We made our baskets, hats, clothing, and many other things by weaving the stripped bark, after it had been soaked. The village could withstand any surge, and the canoes would rise and fall with the changing water. This night the water filled the entire inlet. The village looked as if it were floating. Tonight was the full moon, and tonight, she had chosen to be born. She was named Ts’o’kala after her grandfather, the Grand Chief. The ceremony of her birth would celebrate the sacred marriage of the full moon and the tide. Few had the honour to be born within this precious moment of time.
When the young Mother’s water broke, her warrior husband paddled his canoe into the night. Alone in prayer and song, he paddled to the birthing lodge, where his young wife was in labor. His song soothed her. His head was adorned in eagle feathers, and his face painted with red berry dye and white clay, for purity of fatherhood. He paddled in the still silhouette of the moon, leaving only a shimmering ripple in the water. He paddled over to the side of the small lodge where his true love lay. She could look out on the moon over the water. She could see her young warrior from her bed. As her beloved grew close, she could hear his breath as he sang for her. The soft sound of his paddles pulled through the water. The Elder women took care, and gently washed and wrapped the newborn.
They handed her the baby girl. The young father looked on. The feast and dancing and drumming would be tomorrow, and many would come celebrate and pay respect and bring gifts. The Clans and Tribes would come by canoe. They would journey from up and down the coast, and some were even now, crossing the great passage. But tonight was a time of silent prayer, and peace and song.
~ For in the old days, there were those that had seen the tide go out this far before…
About the Author
Annie Frazier Henry, through her company, Full Regalia Productions, has produced both dramatic films and documentary programs. Annie executive produced and wrote Don’t Call Me Tonto. Henry’s documentary, Spirit of the Game, is a celebration of First Nation’s sports and recently received a Leo Award, and the ‘MILAGRO’ Award for Best Indigenous Film at the Santa Fe International Film Festival. Other titles include Singing Our Stories; Legends sxwexwxwiy’am; The Story of Siwash Rock, To Return aedaaq: The John Walkus Story; Totem Talk, an animated/live action, and the acclaimed Ladies of the Inlet.
Annie received the honour of Aboriginal Producer, Writer and Director of the 21st Century – presented at the Aboriginal Visions & Voices Symposium (2000). Her films try to reflect the importance of tradition within today’s way of life. She is constantly exploring new ways of making the old stories relevant to a modern generation.
by Heather Conn
KABOOM! A low, authoritative shot — from a rocket launcher? — reverberated through the darkness in the distance. A single roar. KABOOM. Another one. A bomb? About five blasts of rapid fire followed.
“What was that?” I asked my then-boyfriend Michael (not his real name).
“Oh, shit,” is all he said.
The salvo sounded close, yet far enough away that we didn’t need to run for safety. With incongruous beauty, an ocean of shimmering stars splashed above us. Water lapped quietly against the sides of our rented deluxe wooden houseboat, the S. Shabash. Besides the short, bass burst of weaponry and quick gunfire response, only crickets disturbed the stillness.
We were supposed to be relaxing on the outer bow deck while floating on stunning Dal Lake in Srinagar, capital of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s contentious northwest state that borders Pakistan. After a week of trekking through downpours in remote northern mountains, fording swift, glacier-fed rivers, trudging through mud, and trying to find footholds on perilously steep slopes, this was meant to be our carefree reprieve in near-noiseless peace.
Michael and I had arrived in the area on India’s Independence Day, Aug. 15, 1990 — not an auspicious time, even in this pre-ISIS world, to be in a divided area that viewed foreigners as possibly hateful enemies. Populated by a Muslim majority and Hindu minority, this region was home then to two main rival guerrilla factions that fought over India’s occupation of Kashmir: the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen. Each group wanted to define its own political space as homeland. Despite potential danger and Michael’s concerns, I had been curious to experience this former summer retreat for India’s Moghul rulers, now full of houseboats. (I found the origin of the houseboats ingenious: under the previous Raj period of British rule, Kashmir’s leader had not allowed the Brits to own land in his region. To circumvent that, they had built floating homes.)
As far as we knew, Michael and I were among only a handful of tourists in the immediate region. Unknowingly, we had arrived past evening curfew, imposed from six p.m. to six a.m. Although we were told later that rebels had recently killed four German tourists, my months in India had taught me not to believe all such stories. One tale, that the tourist centre in Leh, Ladakh had burned to the ground, had already proven untrue.
The next day, Michael and I found out that we had, indeed, heard rocket launchers. This marked their first-ever use in this area in the ongoing conflict, according to our Kashmiri houseboat owner and host, a friend of Michael’s. The Islamist militant group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, which wanted Kashmir to merge with Pakistan and separate from India, had targeted the nearby Broadway Hotel in Srinagar, where the Indian military stayed. Frightened local soldiers were vowing they wouldn’t fight the militants and were retreating onto houseboats, he said. Morale in the Indian army was low. The army’s Sikhs said they wouldn’t fight against the militants, he told us, and local police were expressing anti-government sentiment.
We learned that no international journalists or the Red Cross were allowed into the region. All mail was opened and censored. A full-page appeal in the local press called for international attention to the alleged rapes, looting, torturing, and indiscriminate killing committed by the Indian army. How much was truth and how much propaganda? I felt torn. I was not there as a journalist, yet found myself thinking like one since my training had never left. I did not know which sources to believe. We were there only for several days, not enough time to apprise myself of all of the facts. Besides, I wasn’t die hard enough to risk my life for a story and sorely needed to rest.
The local police were retreating into a hotel, fearful of the rockets. The Liberation Front was refusing aid from Pakistan, choosing to run its own separate operation. There were verbal reports that more than a hundred militant groups were operating in the area. Between 1989 and 1999, more than 35,000 people, about nine a day, died in this Muslim-dominated region. Al Jazeera has reported that an estimated 200,000 Hindus fled the Kashmiri region after an anti-India rebellion blew up in 1989.
Michael thought that the militants should call in the international press as witnesses, then declare Kashmir a peace zone. He and I spent hours talking politics, life choices, and social structures. He believed in the need for laws and external control rather than relying on individual conscience. Philosophically, I felt more attuned to the latter. India had gained independence from Britain in August 1947. Back then, India’s prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had wanted the United Nations to monitor Kashmir, which lay partitioned between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. Kashmir’s Hindu Maharajah decided to side with India, Pakistan invaded, and the border between the two countries has been in dispute ever since. Following the partition, Mahatma Gandhi had wanted to release the region’s future to fate, a perspective Michael considered naïve.
It felt odd to luxuriate in a place where my privilege stood so removed from the locals’ dangers and daily lives. The Kashmiris were desperate for tourist income. I rationalized that at least we were financially helping one family. The houseboat owner told us that Mick Jagger and then-wife Jerry Hall had allegedly stayed and argued on this same houseboat years before. He said that Hall got in a huff because she thought that Jagger was wasting too much time getting stoned.
Our vessel had a carved walnut ceiling and walls, embroidered crewel curtains, and teak furniture. What a contrast to the wind-whipped, draft-riddled tent fly we had huddled under to attempt sleep during our trek. Now I wallowed gleefully in the hot shower, a rarity in my backpacker travels. We indulged in hot food — saffron rice, curried vegetables, and saffron tea — served at a table with plates and cups refilled. Oh, the joys of clean hair and skin after enduring days of mud and armpits that smelled like cat pee.
My body still ached from our week’s hike on precipitous, unmarked shepherds’ paths in the mountains of Kashmir Valley to the east. We had planned to venture from the village of Panikar to Gulol Gali pass at about 4,450 metres but several washouts had forced us to change our route. Monsoon-like rains had left our clothes and socks drenched, our hands raw and numb. Sheep. Clouds. Mud. More mud. In the remote village shops we had initially entered for provisions, it had unnerved me to see framed photos of the repressive Ayatollah Khomeini. I could only imagine what the shopkeepers must have thought of finding a western woman like me, sinful and corrupting in Khomeini’s eyes, in their store.
At one river crossing, Michael had tried to convince me to jump from a wet rock over rapids to the other side. Some Indian soldiers, the Assam Rifles, who were then sharing a trail with us, leaped over and extended a hand to help guide me over. Thinking of my injured knee and right ankle, weakened from a sprain during a trek years earlier, I balked. A vision of myself slipping off a rock and falling backwards into the rapids, carried downriver like a flipped turtle with my heavy backpack, overruled any desire to jump. I had already slid and tumbled more than twelve metres on a slippery patch of snow on this trek, left with shaky legs and scrapes after smashing into a large cluster of rocks.
Undeterred, Michael had kept leaping back and forth over the river, as if doing beginner warm-up exercises.
“Are you going to stand there all day?” he called across to me. My refusal to leap without hesitation had seemed to feed his contempt. To Michael, a professional climber and guide who worked summers in the area and had climbed numerous 8,000-metre-plus peaks, including Everest, this challenging trek was like an easy amble through an urban park. However, when a few of the military men chose to wade across the river in their black army boots, I figured that what was good enough for them would work for me. As Michael looked on, I forded across, boots and all, and got to the other side just fine.
Our final day of the trek had been August 14, Pakistan Independence Day, which, ironically, precedes India’s Independence Day by twenty-four hours. After that, Michael and I had ended up in a fixed-fare cab on the Beacon Highway headed for Srinagar, passing green valleys and swathes of barley fields, tall corn, and simple square houses of stone and brick. We had discussed the merits and drawbacks of going to Srinagar; my eagerness to stay on a houseboat and Michael’s desire to see his friends there won out.
An Indian army truck convoy had lumbered along the road ahead and behind us. Several times, soldiers waved us down to search our vehicle, which I recall vaguely as a battered sedan. Once, they used a metal detector while looking in the trunk and under the hood, but never asked Michael or me for identification. As we drove along, Michael told me about winter survival courses he had given in the Canadian Rockies to members of Britain’s Special Air Service. He mocked their lack of outdoor prowess and their inability to fend for themselves against the elements.
As we had continued past farms and sprawling fields, some Indian army soldiers stood at bridges with rifles slung over their shoulders while others loitered with what looked like submachine guns next to a small wall of shoulder-height sandbags. (No gun freak, I paid little attention to their weapons. Michael said that the militants liked Kalashnikovs, Russian-made submachine guns like the AK-47 assault rifle.) None of the armed young men grimaced, looked threatening or overly military, unlike the many uniformed and heavily armed soldiers I had seen in Burma and Latin America. These guys seemed more like bored boys at recess. As Michael and I rode along in the back seat of the cab, we saw a few gutted buildings and villages full of boarded-up shops but otherwise, the scene felt more like a high-school play about war, limited to scanty props. When we first arrived in Nehru Park in Srinagar, we chatted in English with friendly soldiers standing guard in the twilight. We saw no traffic. A few boys fished, using thin sticks as rods, while kingfishers, with brilliant green and blue feathers gleaming in strips of sun, darted over calm water.
Once aboard the S. Shabash, I soon learned that the owner’s tall, twenty-three-year-old son lusted after western women and wanted to get married. He seemed like a teen trapped in a man’s body. Previous female middle-aged guests had supposedly seduced him in early-morning hours or after a late-night massage. Following me around like a forlorn puppy, he tried to corner me several times by the bedroom with a peck on the lips and a smothering embrace, repeatedly offering me a massage. I refused. Although an adult, he couldn’t read, which alarmed me. Despite his sexual harassment, the writing instructor in me wished that I could somehow give him the power of literacy. Later, I found out that his father had asked Michael to bring him “a dirty book” next time he visited.
Outside, the dry ridge of mountains left striking reflections on the lake’s soft blue surface. Kingfishers landed in the water with a loud plop, only to flutter off and perch nearby, bobbing and twitching their feathers and ruffling orange chests. Ragged-looking eagles flew low overhead, coming to rest on rooftops, seemingly as common as sparrows. We learned that some of the lake’s houseboats had been moved to keep them away from the militants’ crossfire.
The next night, Michael and I could hear a loud solo male voice filling the air: the call of the mosque. When I went for tea in the house behind the houseboat, I was the only woman of eight people in the room. Most of the females I had seen that day wore black, in purdah, and looked somber and dour. The men stayed indoors, smoking hookahs, talking politics, and drinking tea while the women remained separate, outside. Some of the women smiled graciously at me, as if in silent collusion. I wished that I could have conversed with them but they seemed cloistered and distant. Unlike the men, few of them spoke English.
* * *
Today, more than three decades later, the two parallel realities of tourism and apparent terrorism continue in Kashmir. At a surface level, a Trip Advisor web page beckons “Explore Kashmir” with scenic mountain shots. A September 2021 headline in The Hindu asks: “What better than Kashmir if you can’t go to Europe?” The accompanying article reports that during the pandemic, Kashmir has become India’s most sought-after 2021 destination, resulting in “a major bump in business for luxury hotels and golf courses.”
Yet, only two months later, a local Muslim grocery shop worker and police officer were shot dead in Kashmir by suspected rebels in early November 2021, according to Al Jazeera. The previous month, the same news outlet reported five dead in targeted attacks: a prominent Hindu chemist, a Hindu street vendor, Muslim taxi driver, a Hindu teacher, a Sikh teacher.
Conflict has intensified in the region since August 2019, when the Indian government ended the limited autonomy of the area and split it into two federally run union territories. Following this, a security lockdown was imposed for months, which resulted in the arrest and jailing of hundreds of Kashmiri activists, leaders, lawyers, and youths, says Al Jazeera.
It saddens me that religious rivalry and political violence continue in Kashmir, locals are still suffering, and some media outlets choose to downplay the risks for the sake of profit. Nowadays, even without the pandemic, I would never consider traveling there. A current Government of Canada web page offers this warning, accented with a large exclamation mark encircled in red: “Avoid all travel to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir due to the unpredictable security situation. There is a threat of terrorism, militancy, civil unrest and kidnapping.” That’s one caution my sixty-something self will believe and respect.
About the Author
Heather Conn’s nonfiction has appeared in at least a half-dozen anthologies including Harbour Publishing’s Raincoast Chronicles 22 and Emails from India (Seraphim Editions, 2013). She has written for more than 50 publications, including The Vancouver Sun, Edmonton Journal, and Globe and Mail.
Heather is the author of two nonfiction history books and two picture books of fiction, including Six Stinky Feet and a Sasquatch (Peppermint Toast Publishing, 2019). Her memoir No Letter in Your Pocket will be published by Guernica Editions in 2023.
As a freelance editor and former communications manager, Heather has edited dozens of books (for traditional publishers and self-published authors), a BC-wide magazine, employee newsletter, and an array of corporate materials. As a writing coach and instructor, she has taught at numerous venues, including Selkirk College and Capilano University. She will be offering the online course Writing from Pain to Power in 2022 through Kings University College in Halifax.
Heather has a master of fine arts degree in creative nonfiction from Goucher College in Baltimore. Find out more at heatherconn.com. She is also a trained SoulCollage® facilitator. See sunshinecoastsoulcollage.ca.
Mah’s Book Discusses Impact of Chinese Culture on Her Life
by Arthur Lightbourn
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Rancho Santa Fe Review, pp. 16-17, May 10, 2001. Dr. Adeline Yen Mah’s books are available on Amazon, including those written after Watching the Tree, which are A Thousand Pieces of Gold (2002), China: Land of Dragons and Emperors (2009), and Chinese Cinderella: The Mystery of the Song Dynasty Painting (2009).
For years, Dr. Adeline Yen Mah used to put people to sleep in Anaheim and get well paid for it.
Today, her mission is to wake people up, all over the world, for somewhat less pay, but she feels greater satisfaction.
Mah, in 1994, gave up a thriving and lucrative 26-year practice in anesthesiology to devote herself full-time to writing.
Her first book, Falling Leaves, her autobiography, sold more than a million copies and made the New York Times best-seller list. In it, she related a childhood of abuse that started when she was branded the “bad luck” child when her mother died two weeks after her birth. The story traced a life of abuse that climaxed in 1990 when her stepmother disinherited her.
The impact of the disinheritance was compounded by the fact her deceased father had amassed a fortune of more than $30 million.
Her second book, Chinese Cinderella, told the same story again, but this time to children 10 to 16. And her third book, Watching the Tree, tells of what she personally has learned over the years about her Chinese roots, China’s history and culture and how the western world might also benefit from such knowledge. “After all,” she says by way of explaining her credentials, “I was ‘Made in China’.”
Mah quietly told of how she began to write.
First, she said, her disinheritance prompted attorney friends to urge her to sue - and she said she was quite tempted because she was “absolutely outraged” by what had happened to her, until her Aunt Baba counseled her to consider what she really wanted. “What I really wanted,” she concluded, “was justice.”
She found that in writing about her experience - first to her brother, who never responded to her letters — and then to anyone who would read what she had written — and then to anyone who would read what she had written — “and that, at first, was only my husband.”
After several unsuccessful attempts to interest a publisher, she enlisted the aid of her friend and “very intellectual” Boston attorney, Ike Williams, who convinced editor Susan Watt of Penguin books in London, England, to take a chance. At best, Mah remembers the editor thought they would be lucky to sell 3,000 copies.
Falling Leaves was published in England in 1997 and in the U.S. a year later.
In her book, Watching the Tree, Mah tells how she was exposed to and influenced by various aspects of her culture, history, and language — not to mention the wisdom and advice she got from the two major influences in her, her grandfather, Ye Ye, and her Aunt Baba — all packed into a compact 243-page volume.
Here are some tidbits:
After graduating from medical school at Oxford, and considering herself a “westernized intellectual” who “had nothing but contempt for ancient Chinese books on divination”, she re-discovered her grandfather’s copy of the I Ching, and from it gained the guidance she needed to break off a destructive relationship.
From British poet Philip Larkin, who had been her patient, she learned that the Tao Te Ching might indeed be “the greatest book ever written.”
She learned in time that Confucius for over 2,000 years had the greatest influence, both good and bad, of any individual on Chinese thought: good, in his doctrine of common sense: bad in that his emphasis on family values deteriorated into “selfishness and lack of social consciousness.”
Confucius was also a misogynist. As a result, she reports, women were treated as second-class citizens not encouraged to read or write because Confucius taught that “only uneducated women were virtuous.”
Again, on the good side of the ledger, the Chinese respect for the elderly is a value that the west could afford to adopt.
She writes about the Chinese love and respect for words. Her grandfather recalled when large red receptacles were placed at street corners for the collection of paper covered with writing of any sort, to be collected by students studying for the civil service, and burned respectfully in a special shrine in the Temple of Confucius.
And respect for education: “In many Chinese minds, an educated person, no matter how poor, still commands more respect than one who is rich and ignorant.”
On a less philosophic note, she talks about the Chinese relationship to food, prompted by Taoism, Buddhism, scarcity and poverty which resulted in a diet of little if any meat, plenty of tofu (bean curd), vegetables and rice. Plus, plenty of tea. As a Chinese proverb states: “Let food be medicine.”
For a happy life, she concludes, the four ingredients are: health, congenial relationships, gainful employment, and appreciation of life’s blessings. And the “true spice” of it all, she finds, “is the journey towards achievement.”
For more words of wisdom, you’ll have to read this and her other books. You can check her out on the Web at: www.adelineyenmah.com
About the Author
Arthur Francis Lightbourn has a BA in English with Honours from St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia (1956). He worked as a reporter for the Halifax Chronicle Herald and the Toronto Star.
As a freelancer in California, he wrote features, and personality profiles for newspapers. His awards include several first place San Diego Press Club awards, National First Place IFPA Award (2002) for Original Writing about the first American military officer to enter a Nazi concentration camp to liberate its prisoners.
Lightbourn wrote the biography of Vita Simpson, a Sechelt resident, who turned 100 on March 21, 2021. Our Vita is available at the Sechelt Public Library.