Barbara Nickel

There’s a Nurse

As many of you know, I launched my third poetry collection, Essential Tremor, on April 24 online. I’m so grateful to Caitlin Press, to co-hosts Stephanie Bolster, Christopher Patton and Rob Taylor, and to you who were among 110 people who showed up from St. John’s to Nashville to Saskatoon to celebrate with me. Thank you!

I wish I could have thanked each person in person. There were other things I wanted to say but there wasn’t time. Before I read the poem “Hospital Room,” I’d planned to thank nurses. The preceding weekend, I’d been in the hospital overnight for surgery to my ankle after a hiking accident. In excruciating pain, I trusted a crew of nurses over an intense twenty-four hours to manage each step by step by step I needed to get from that pain to laughing with one as she wheeled me out to the parking lot with nine screws in my ankle. Hear the word hospital; there’s a nurse holding your barf bag at 3 a.m.

“Hospital Room” opens:

Chill and old. Rain thrashes the window,
almost seems to enter in. No nurses
come and Nicola is snoring…

That was ages ago. I was lonely in that moment. I’m sure the nurses had come and gone and would come again; they were probably just overworked and had been called somewhere else for a time. I thank them, too.

If you’d like to hear me read “Hospital Room” again and other poems from Essential Tremor, I invite you to the following online readings:

This Tuesday, May 25 at 5 p.m. PDT, I’ll be giving a reading with Karen Shenfeld as part of the Art Bar Poetry Series. You can sign up on Facebook, or click here to attend. The reading will include five clips from my “Corona: Sonnets in Situ” video including Yarrow’s Flame the Rooster, an appearance at UBC’s Chan Centre and the beaver surprise in “3 (Spring).”

You can also watch the whole Sonnets in Situ video on this website here.

Friday, May 28 at 7:30 p.m. PDT, I’ll be giving a reading on Zoom as part of Planet Earth Poetry. You can visit their website for details and to sign up for a Zoom link.

As ever, I’m grateful to you all!

Happy May Long!


Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been selected as a finalist for the 2023/2024 Chocolate Lily Book Award. 

Barbara’s poem “Three-in-One,” originally published in Grain Magazine, has recently appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2024  (Biblioasis) edited by Bardia Sinaee.

Check out Barbara’s 45-minute teaching video on Creating Believable Characters for the BC and Yukon Book Prizes’ In Class video library.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla was a finalist for the 2022 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla has been nominated for the 2023 Rocky Mountain Book Award (Alberta Young Readers Choice Award).

The Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards (MYRCA) has nominated Dear Peter, Dear Ulla as a 2023 Northern Lights (Grades 7-9) finalist!

Essential Tremor reviewed in The Vancouver Sun. Read full review here.

Dear Peter, Dear Ulla is reviewed and “Highly Recommended” in CM (Canadian Review of Materials)! Read the full review here.

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