Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

voices in the wilderness May 9, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:42 pm
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During the Canadian election, I was approached by a representative of CanWest to submit blogs for their Election Issues coverage on  Two of my blogs were submitted, and both were selected.  I considered it a serious honour to be invited to participate and to lend my words to those of other Canadians discussing issues on their minds.  Since my blog address was published, presumeably exposure in this national forum would increase blog traffic and I would be able to enjoy the prestige of having my words in such a professional milieu. is a May 2 reprint of is a April 25 reprint of

Having permitted them to reprint my words, I was surprised to notice at the bottom of my reprinted piece (c) Postmedia News.  Huh?   Nowhere in our correspondence did they ask for nor did I give them copyright.  I gave them reprint permission.  Interesting, isn’t it?  If some text book or magazine wants to reprint it, will they be paying Postmedia News or will they be coming to me, the author and legitimate copyright holder of the work?  What would it cost me to fight it? 

There is an issue among professional writers with respect to news agencies using nonprofessional, unpaid writers who work for the glory of seeing their byline.  It’s pretty cool, but an unpaid byline doesn’t put bread on the table of anyone’s family, except perhaps the publisher who’s enjoying the free labour.  On the other hand, how does one earn a professional reputation except through giving some words away?  It’s a bit of a tightrope, to be sure.

According to the  site stats, although there was a bit of a spike on April 26 and 27th, there was no increase in traffic after the May 2 article was posted on which suggests that the exposure didn’t generate the potential blog traffic. None the less, it was entertaining reading the comments from readers who would not normally have been exposed to my blog, and it was a thrill to see my words in a national forum.  Perhaps there will be some name recognition in the future.   I’m not really counting on it, though.  We Canadian artistes know that with too much free  exposure you can freeze to death, after all.


young voices April 27, 2011

Filed under: Commentary — Shawn L. Bird @ 8:52 am
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I’m feeling hopeful that things are changing.

The Powers That Be don’t try to attract the youth vote, because they say youth don’t vote. I’m a little confused about that, because I voted when I was a youth, as did my friends.  My students all seem very excited about the possibility of voting as they leave high school. So what happens? What makes them drop out of the voting process?
On Facebook right now there is a status floating around that goes, “Out of 23.6 million electors in the last election, only 5.2 million voted for Harper’s Conservatives. That’s 22% of eligible voters, and 16.2% of the total population. There are 5.65 million Canadians aged 18-29. In the past, this age group has voted so little that politicians don’t bother with them. If all of Canada’s youth voted, they would rock the whole political system!”
I didn’t check the facts before I reposted it, but I like the message. The youth have power, if they choose to use it.

Somewhere else I heard, “You wouldn’t let your grandparents choose your music, why do you let them choose your government?”  😉  I like that one, too.  It appeals to that rebellious streak in me.

I decided to conduct a little poll on Facebook. Most of my Facebook friends are former or current students, so I asked,  “Are you voting in the federal election?” Over 84% of respondants said either yes or that they would if they could.  That’s a positive situation that doesn’t seem to echo what the government believes.  Of course, my highly scientific poll was a rather small sample (13 total) so perhaps it is meaningless.  I choose to believe it shows that within my circle of influence, at least, young people want to have a voice.

We all need to contribute to the exercise of democracy.

Over the years I think I have voted for every party from Reform to Green. I tend to study the candidates and choose the one that seems most intelligent and well spoken, as opposed to the one who is most likely to have his/her party form the government. My husband doesn’t think this is very strategic, but I try to believe in the power of my one vote.

Voting is an exercise in hope. We trust that we will have a government that listens to us and makes wise decisions. Most of the time, we’re pretty lucky, compared to most places in the world. I like to think that’s because we’re watchful. Young people on the other side of the world are dying these days to get the right to have the government of their choice.  I hope our young people take advantage of their franchise, and don’t let their grandparents make the decisions without their contribution.


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