Liam Shaw and his Postcard Press subscription email magazine

Liam Shaw is a writer, photographer, stand up comedian and former Edmontonian  living in Ireland. Here’s a couple of selections from his Postcard Press and a short story. If you want more of the Postcard Press stuff email him at:  <>


Hello. Welcome to Postcard Press International, currently based in Galway, Ireland.
I have worked for Graham Ogilvie and Conrad Black.
Inspired by many of my heroes who started Magnum or any other such agency I have started my own. This is is it.
My goal, aside from the complete and utter annihilation of Rupert Murdoch (or the opportunity to meet him face to face and ask him why he needs to ruin everything), is to see stuff and take pictures and play football. Also, I’d like to learn to play cricket. It seems important.
I get easily sidetracked. I am fluffy like a dandelion gone to seed or a heavy-weight after losing a lot of weight. I float like a bumblebee and sting like a moth.
If you like my stuff I’ll keep on posting. I am making a retreat from facebook and other such things. I am working on having a website of my very own to post to. In the meantime I will send out this old-fashioned style mass/spam email to any and all who happen to be in my address book. Anyone who wants out please feel free to email back with fuck off in the subject line. Or be polite. Either way is fine. I’ve been reading Roddy Doyle again and he has such an eloquent way with the word fuck. I love it.
Updates are likely to be sporadic and may be ill-thought out.
I hope you like it.

President and lifetime member,
Liam J. Shaw, n.q.
aka. Liam Leroux

1. Zatoichi the blind photographer (obviously it’s just me with my eyes shut.)
2. Some swans
3. A bird or two, of some kind





Last night I saw the late showing of the Road. A film adaptation of the book by Cormac McCarthy.
Opposite the ticket counter at the Eye cinema there is a bulletin board with reviews and interviews and other press about the films on current release.
An interview with Viggo Mortensen was titled, ‘One for the Road.’
I walked back to the counter and before I could stop myself I asked for….
I cannot repeat this. I am too ashamed.
The film itself is not as terrible as the headline. It is good. Not amazing. Not as good as the director’s previous effort, the Proposition, but good.
It is standard zombie apocalypse fare but intended to be realistic and serious.
The thing is, I simply cannot take the idea of mass cannibalism seriously. I mean, certainly people behave gruesomely towards one another in times of disaster as all previous and current events of mass destruction will attest to but mass cannibalism just doesn’t ring true.
Nevertheless, this is the scenario so the father and son are on a quest to find a safe place to live free of cannibals.
Along the way they encounter continuous danger and hardship and occasional moments of niceness and hope. Like a piano still in tune. Or a wonderfully unsubtle product placement for Coca-Cola brand cola.
And, of course, because this movie is so American it causes me physical discomfort, the relationship between the father and son includes the gun. The central theme of the movie, near as I can tell is, besides faith in each other, we must always have faith in the gun.
I think if you are on the road against a horde of psychotic cannibals you would want a gun. That’s probably true. But how, in America, do you end up with one handgun and only two bullets. Could they not have found at least a rifle somewhere? Handguns are hideously inaccurate at distance making one of the scenes very unlikely and….
oh nevermind, I don’t know anything about guns. I can’t maintain an extended rant about guns.
The Road is good. The music is great. The kid is annoying. American children usually are. Allowing prejudices to surface in a film review seems unprofessional. Molly Parker is hot even when she is worn out looking and covered in apocalypse dust.
There is no photo to accompany this. They made me leave my camera bag behind the ticket counter during the show.

Postcard Press International
crawling across the globe like a rash


The Day My Ex-Girlfriend Decided to Leave Me
by Liam J. Shaw, n.q.

The day my ex-girlfriend decided to leave me was a normal day. A regular, normal day like any other.
It would take her another two or three weeks to tell me. The reason she gave me at the time? I’ll come to that in due course but it was more than that from the start.
I know she didn’t like my drinking or smoking habits but she smoked tobacco and we met over pints of beer so I wasn’t too bothered by this. She also told me she was an alien from the planet Zoltar using a human body to infiltrate society and study human consciousness so…

Of course I believe in aliens, or extra-terrestrial life. I just don’t believe they would bother visiting us. We are primitive and boring and could not possibly have anything anywhere on the planet to interest a visitor from outer-space. Our weapon technology is absurd. Space lasers! Ha! Fucking Ha! The Americans named the airport in their capital city after the joker that came up with that plan. Holy shit! I love them but, well, you know…

Anyways, there were some previous heavy drinking moments that set the bar pretty high but the event on the day in question was my Coupe de Stanley as it were. I sang Karaoke Kylie Minogue at Rosario’s Bar and Grill. They take karaoke very seriously there. I really had no idea. I am 6’3″ (or 191 cm) and weighed just under 14 stone. (After she left me I dropped to 11. This frightened me considerably at the time but I am feeling much better now, thanks for asking.)
For two or three weeks there is silence between us. Not perpetual actual silence of course but only no conversations. Stuff like, “Do we have any milk?” or “Are you watching this?” I assumed it was nothing more serious than the karaoke incident. Because sometimes a man has to be a man, take the first step and apologise even if he doesn’t know what is wrong but can deduce what is wrong through careful and deliberate examination of the previous weeks and make a best educated guess and thus solve the problem. Sometimes. But not this time. I will never apologise for this night, to anyone, ever. I was in fine form. I don’t drink like that anymore but every old pro hangs up their gloves eventually.
The night of the conversation I cooked her spaghetti bolognese. I like to cook and so I often do. It wasn’t an especially special thing but I did light candles and chop fresh parsley and coriander for garnish.
“We need to talk…” she said as I sat down at the table, with plates on place-mats and cutlery organised correctly and candles gently flickering.

This is the worst combination of words in the English language.

When she said “we” she meant “I” as in her. No discussion. No alternatives. She was a fascist, like Thatcher. “THE LADY IS NOT FOR TURNING!” etc. Maybe that’s why I loved her so, I really don’t know.

“Six weeks ago at the Corb Lund show you looked me right in the eye and told me you have no soul. We can’t be together anymore.”

I remember that night. I was trying to watch the band and she was babbling about one of her out of body experiences. Never date a mystic fascist. They are more confused than most. It wasn’t the time or place for discussions on infinite space. And my soul, if I have one, is intrinsically bound together with my organic nature and does not escape the confines of my mind. In my imagination the furthest reaches of the universe are only a periscope view away but in real life I am here on this earth just like her. I love to distinguish between the real and the imaginary. I’m good at it.
I think the night I gave her the proof she wanted, was looking for ever since we started, was the cold November night at Rosario’s Bar and Grill. She loved her karaoke. I’m not a big fan myself but every once in a while I will get up and do a death metal growl version of a popular chart hit just to ruin the night for everyone else and drag them down to my level.
Her favourite was the Janis Joplin version of the Kris Kristofferson classic, Me and Bobby McGee. I hate that song.
So I signed my name on the sheet and wrote down the numerical code for Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head and even planned to play it with a straight bat. I wanted to have one of those beautiful cinematic moments where, as you sing for the whole room you can’t tear your eyes away from the woman you love and everyone can see you are meant for each other like a famous storybook or a painting, to hang for all time in the collective museum of our minds.
So there I stood, in front of the room, not too drunk to stand up but way too drunk to know better. I wore a cheap, ill-fitting suit jacket from a charity shop to cover my slouched and stooping posture and began to sing with only a couple members of the audience paying attention, my girlfriend not being one of them.
A good karaoke singer needs a rudimentary knowledge of the song. You do read the words on the screen but to really sing well you must know the rhythm and the timing of the thing. Rosario’s does competitive Karaoke. They could compete in Tokyo. They ran Saturday night like a live version of the X-Factor where everyone gets to be Simon Cowell and Will Gates.
The problem is, I really only know the chorus and the la la la la bit. I didn’t realise there is more to the song than that. Whole verses of lyrics for Kylie to sing and dance to and when they appeared on the screen I panicked. I didn’t know what to do so I did what I do best, I tore it apart.

“Who the fuck wrote this shit! Where did all these extra words come from? What are all you people staring at me for!? I didn’t write any of this crap. Jesus Christ! This is terrible!!! oh, here’s the good bit again….la la la! la la la la la! la la la! la la la la la! I just can’t get you out of my head…” etc. all the way to the end.
I sat down at the table in triumph. She wouldn’t speak to me and no one else could bear to look at my majesty. So I grabbed my coat and stumbled out the door to do the drunken shuffle home. To attache a physical pain to the mental trauma which was soon to come I slipped and fell on the ice in the middle of the road. Falls like this can KILL old people. Instead it only barely crippled me. I crawled into the snow bank at the side of the road and lay there, quivering, until I could stand again. It was before hypothermia set in. I got home, took a shower and crawled into bed shivering and spinning in time. Only time, not space. I was certain of this as I grabbed the sides of the bed until my knuckles were white and desperately clung on until morning.
We did not have sex that night. In fact we would never have sex again though I had no inclination as to the severity of the situation at the time. I woke up with a normal hangover and she had already gone to work. It is never the best time to have the discussion slash argument while the hangover gnomes are still on the clock. They get more and more industrious as you get older. Mining the backs of your eyeballs for longer, searching deeper and deeper for whatever it is they need to keep driving the pickaxes and hammers. When they pack up tools and go home, that’s when you want to talk about it.
But she didn’t and I wasn’t backing down on this one. I hadn’t come home covered in my own sick or lost my keys and after exhausting a book of matches as an alternative set tried to break into her truck for a place to sleep. I hadn’t even drunkenly hit on her sister as her family looked on in horrified fascination at an out of town wedding.
All I did was an awesome version of a catchy pop hit and do it better than she could ever have managed.
So in the end I learned absolutely nothing. I am a total fucking douchebag when I am drunk. And the earth is always spinning, whether I care to stand up or not.

Obituary Writer

Poet P.K. Page dies, aged 93

Canadian Writer P.K. Page

Renowned Canadian poet, novelist, artist and librettist,  P. K. Page has died aged 93 at her home in Oak Bay, British Columbia.

Just two days ago I’d stopped by the Cadboro Bay Book Store and asked Amber what was new in the store and she pointed out a new chapbook Cullen by P.K. Page, published by Outlaw Editions. I bought a copy and after heading out realized I was passing by the street P.K. lived on so I turned back and drove up the street thinking that if I saw someone at the window or other signs of activity I’d stop by and ask her to sign the book. The house was quiet and dark though so I drove on.

I remember a few years ago during a photo session the conversation turned to aging and facing the end of one’s life and she said (as I remember it) that she was not afraid of dying, what terrified her was not having the chance to finish all the creative ideas she had.


Photography Website Writer

Field Notes – Sandra Shields and David Campion


Partners in life and work,  writer Sandra Shields and photographer David Campion work together on long term projects, chronicling subjects they find both important and interesting. They now have a site dedicated to their work, The stories here have appeared in a number of places, magazines such as Geist, online at The Tyee and in books such as Where Fire Speaks, published by  Arsenal Pulp Press.  They’ve looked at, and explained, life with a disability, a tribe in Africa facing wholesale lifestyle changes and the Calgary Stampede.

I’ve always thought that documentarians were the poets of the journalism world, under appreciated and under paid,  but they get closer to the core of a subject than anyone else and these two certainly prove that.

These are the two opening paragraphs from Sandra Shields essay in Valley To The Sea:

‘JEN SLEPT IN HER CAR outside the Deroche Hall for a few nights the spring she met Rope. She was seventeen and had just gotten a rose tattooed above her right breast and didn’t want her dad to find out. Her parents lived across the field from the Deroche Hall in a house they built when they got pregnant with Jen, next to a trailer court named in honour of Jen’s great-grandfather Joe Kelly, who had once been chief of the Lakahahmen Indian Band.

Rope was twenty-five and lived in his own trailer in Joe Kelly Estates. He was a white kid who grew up on welfare in Surrey. He moved out to Deroche when he got a job in a sawmill near Mission. When he learned Jen was sleeping in her car, he said she could stay with him for a while. They had met a few days earlier on a double date and had gone to a movie that none of them liked, and in the back seat on the drive home Rope fell asleep and spilled beer all over Jen. They became buddies but didn’t want to date each other. He slept on the couch and gave her his bed. ‘

Those two paragraphs draw you in and tell you more than you thought possible in such a short burst of writing.

David’s photographs both complement Sandra’s writing and tell their own version of the story.


This is the full uncropped version of the photograph at top.  Photograph © David Campion


©David Campion

See much more of their work on their field notes site. You can also look at some of  David’s fine art work at

British Columbia Canadian Interview Writer

Tim Bowling – Interview

LP: Your childhood, salmon fishing and a certain part of the lower mainland where you grew up play an integral role in most of your writing. Can you fill us in on that background?

TB: Re; my background: I was born in Vancouver and immediately taken under the Fraser (via the Deas Tunnel) to Ladner – a salmon-like little journey appropriate for someone who’d grow up to be so involved with that magical species. I had an idyllic childhood at the mouth of North America’s wildest river, a Huck Finn childhood of raftings and roamings, except, unlike Huck, I had loving and supportive parents! What can I say? I was very fortunate; children weren’t then supervised every second of the day, my family worked in the salmon fishery, and so I spent a lot of time on my own in the
outdoors. Everything I write comes out of the sense of awe I drank in daily
as a boy.

LP: When you finished high school you went away to university, got your degree, and then came back to the fishing industry for a fair number of years. Where and when did the urge to write begin?

TB: Re: the urge to write: It was always there. In grade one, I remember answering that infamous question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “A writer.” Why? Who knows?

LP: Did you leave fishing simply because it was a dying industry or did the writing take over as your primary focus?

TB: As much as I appreciated the work of salmon fishing, I was never entirely at ease in the culture. In fact, I was only an appendage to it, as my older brother, Rick, rented the boats and made the decisions. I got my hands wet and bloody, right enough, but the stresses were mostly his. All through the 80s, I was focussed on the apprentice work of the poet and novelist (ie, reading a lot and writing a lot, most of the latter material being bad, of course)

LP: You now live in Edmonton. How did you end up there?

TB: Long story. To be brief, I moved to be with the woman who is now my wife. Funny thing is, I have very deep roots in Edmonton – my great-grandparents moved here from Ontario in 1905 and my father was born here in 1923. I’m only now beginning to explore these roots in my work.

LP: Is it a challenge to maintain your ties, creatively, to the west coast while living on the prairies?

TB: No challenge at all. But perhaps that’s because I visit the coast at least twice a year (for several weeks at a time) to see my family. In any case, Edmonton, like my hometown, has a river running through it. That helps.

LP: You have written poems and a novel set in Alberta but, if anything your Alberta focus seems more on the Badlands area rather than Edmonton. Why, what appeals about an area that is so different from your west coast home?

TB: The badlands reminded me very much of the west coast circa 1970 because of all the darkness and silence (the title of my poetry collection that contains several badlands poems). I’d sit on the porch at night in the Red Deer River Valley and feel that I was standing on the deck of a Fraser River gillnetter – the same sense of mystery and awe, the same exhilarating closeness to the source of things. But I should point out that Edmonton is becoming more of a focus. I’m currently writing a full-length collection of prose and poetry that investigates my family’s pioneering role as Edmonton

LP: Even when you do write about Edmonton, and I’m thinking here of the poem A Cup Of Coffee In Solitude which starts with the line –January in Edmonton – later you write -A car passes on the muffled road, spawning salmon slow. Do you think that earlier life will always infuse your work?

TB: Yes. as Flannery O’Connor said, “Who ever’s been through childhood has enough material for several lifetimes.”

LP: Your last book, the memoir The Lost Coast talks about growing up in Ladner on the Fraser River, your family and fishing. Your two novels Downriver Drift and The Paperboy’s Winter are set in that area and deal with the land/riverscape, families and fishing. Most novelists do mine their own lives but are careful to point out that the stories are fiction, only loosely based on real life. You sort of undermine that in the memoir by telling the real life stories that parts of the novels are based on. Any thoughts on that?

TB: Hmm, I wasn’t aware that most writers are careful to make the point re: fiction vs autobiography. It’s an odd thing to worry about. Good writing is good writing. Besides, as anyone who’s ever written a memoir will tell you, memory plays a lot of tricks with reality. Even when I’m writing straight out of my own life, I’m fictionalizing much of the time. The key point, of course, is that the writer must transmute lived experience into meaningful art.

LP. In the acknowledgments for your novel Downriver Drift one of the people you thank is writer Jack Hodgins. Hodgins is noted for the depiction of Vancouver Island life, or at least a certain Vancouver Island life, in his novels. Did you ever talk about the details and the sense of place in writing?

TB: Jack Hodgins actually edited Downriver Drift. And what a gift that was for a beginning novelist! Jack is a superb editor, sensitive to every little nuance of prose style and critical in the most encouraging way. I don’t recall that we talked much about the sense of place, likely because it’s not something either of us would really consider – we just write out
of the worlds we came from, without doubt, without apology. Most of our editing discussions were more technical.

LP: You have two new books of poetry out this fall. Nightwood Editions is publishing The Book Collector and Other Poems. What can you tell us about this book?

TB: Many of the poems in The Book Collector were written when I lived in Gibsons from 2004-2006, so there’s a Sunshine Coast flavour to many of the poems. Briefly, the book contains nearly 40 poems touching on a wide range of subjects, from books and art to soccer and salmon. I hope the metaphors are memorable; I put a lot of faith in them.

LP; Your other book of poetry coming out is from Gaspereau Press, the magnificently titled Refrain For Rental Boat #4. It is a 12 page , limited edition book priced at $160. Gaspereau is noted for their beautiful regular editions so I’m assuming this will be something quite special. What’s the story behind this book?

TB: Refrain for Rental Boat #4 was removed from my 2006 book, FATHOM, because the editor and I didn’t think that it fit tonally with the other poems. Then I read the poem after publication, at one of Gaspereau’s annual parties in Kentville, NS, and Andrew Steeves, who liked it a lot, wondered why it hadn’t been included in FATHOM. After I told him, he said he’d like to do the poem as a limited edition. There’s only been four copies finished to this point, three of which I have. 45 copies will be made in total, and I believe the cost is $100.

LP: Earlier this year you were one of the winners of the Guggenheim Prize, the only Canadian winner. It’s certainly an honour to win and the prize money attached would be welcome too. This was your first attempt at the Guggenheim, did you have any expectations of being chosen for the award?

TB: No serious expectations, but I never apply for things if I don’t think I have a chance. And the Guggenheim is an award whose criteria seemed a good fit for me, in that the Foundation wants to fund those with a solid publishing record who seem likely to continue publishing.

LP: You are a prolific writer, have published books of poetry, novels, a memoir and edited a book of interviews with poets. You won a number of awards for that writing as well and yet you seem to fly under the radar as far as the press goes. It’s difficult to find interviews with you or even articles about you. It was surprising that even for the Guggenheim, it appears only the National Post did a stand alone interview with you. Is that a deliberate strategy on your part? Do you avoid media coverage? If not why do you think you get overlooked.

TB: I don’t exactly avoid the media, but I certainly don’t seek them out either. Newspapers, TV, magazines (even, gasp, websites) rarely pay for a writer’s time, and, given my busy domestic and writing schedule, I can’t afford to work for nothing. Usually, though, I’ll do interviews when I have a new book out. All things considered, I’m a pretty amenable type.

LP: In The Lost Coast you make the point that you don’t live in the past, that you type on a computer, communicate with your editors over the internet but a certain yearning for the past and maybe even some anger at losing that past seems to be part of your writing. Do you think so?

TB: Absolutely. But I’m not stupid about the past either. Of course there’s no Golden Age. On the other hand, there’s almost no fishing industry anymore, the growth of the farmed fish business moves along in happy tandem with the growth of neo-conservative conformity, and every year moves me closer towards death – yearning and anger seem reasonable enough.

LP. What’s your next project?

TB: I’ve just finished a new non-fiction ms. which is entirely different from THE LOST COAST. In fact, the whole story takes place in Edmonton, mostly in a library, and deals with my interest in a little-known American poet named Weldon Kees who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955. I’m also doing preliminary research for a new novel set on the Fraser River and in the American South in the mid and late nineteenth century.

LP: When you were working as a fisherman, you were also writing poetry, correct? Was your writing something that ever came up with other fishermen and if so, what was the reaction?

TB: No, my writing never came up, mostly because I never brought it up. But then, I wouldn’t want to talk about poetry with most graduate students in English Literature either! In fact, my salmon fishing poems, all my poems set on the Fraser, have gone over very well with Ladner folks.

LP: In our memoir you indicate your dissatisfaction with the school system so I’m assuming your kids are home schooled? How does that affect your writing, what special allowances do you have to make to your writing schedule?

TB: Yes, my kids are home schooled. Not only do I think school is one of the great brainwashers into North American culture and capitalism (a culture not entirely repellent, of course, but one that could be resisted a bit more seriously), I just don’t want not to see my children for six hours a day, five days a week. I mean, I really enjoy them. I’m selfish that way. On average, I suppose I write two hours a day and parent the rest. This is a tricky schedule when I get deep into a book, but hell, children are more important than books.