If This Fumbled Kiss Ever Ends,
I’m Going to Write Her a Poem

I know, it’s a pretty long title for a book of super short poems. I began writing senryu back in 2006 when fellow-poet Michael Gravel started up Daily Haiku and I thought the form would be fun to play with.

It took a couple of years, but I ended up with about 50 decent poems and figured I’d send them out into the world as a chapbook. My friend Greig Rasmussen, with whom I collaborated on an art book project with SNAP at the time, was kind enough to give it a read and went ten steps further by arranging the poems in a thematic arc. Inspired, I kept writing and editing and arranging them, year after year, thinking I could make a bigger, better book.

Then three years ago, I rediscovered drawing – after thirty-odd years away from it. I know I learn best through a real world project, and the senryu chapbook felt like a far less daunting task than illustrating a children’s book (my ultimate aim).

Starting in high school, my favorite drawing tools were Bic pen and fine line Sharpie. So when I returned to drawing in 2020, I went straight to the beautifully precise Micron pens they have these days.

Well, I figured, if I can learn that, why not the classical line-art tools as well? So I took a stab at dip pen and ink brush. After months of practice, I saw clearly how steep the learning curve was. If I didn’t train my drawing hand four hours a day for two years, just for this one tool, my images were going to look like crap.

By then, I had discovered digital drawing tools, the ridiculously customizable apps, pens and pads. Everything I could do with real-world drawing tools, I could do with this. And waaay more. I hadn’t done much with graphic software in a decade and was shocked at both the hardware and software advances. In this realm, digital had caught up with analog – and surpassed it.

Anyway, I decided early on that if I didn’t draw every line myself, the pictures wouldn’t have much value. Style-wise, I’d already done a couple Fumbled Kiss drawings on 17” art paper with dip pen. For consistency (and to keep up my skills) I decided not to draw anything digitally that I couldn’t do manually. In technical terms, that meant no pen stabilization or any other robo-helping.

While all this was going on, trying to draw a decent picture for the book in under a week, the poetry writing and arranging continued. And just when I thought I was done, my editor, Marg Gilks, threw a huge wrench in the works by pointing out some of my 5-7-5s were in fact 5-8-6s and worse.

Everything came together early this year: one hundred poems that I would not be embarrassed to show my fellow poets. And twenty pictures that may not be high art, but that let me learn how to make images again – and have a heck of a lot of fun doing it.

This Fumbled Kiss

Well, I can finally say that my senryu book is completed. And I have a launch date of September 1st, 2023!

Here are all the grisly details:

If This Fumbled Kiss Ever Ends, I’m Going to Write Her a Poem
by G.C. McRae
100 Senryu, 20 original pen and ink illustrations
98 pages
ISBN: 978-1777635107

In Edmonton, it will be available at Glass Bookshop on the south side and Audreys and Daisy Chain downtown.

The book is now available for preorder on Amazon.

Stay tuned for info about art prints!

New Biz links

Lately I’ve been posting new designs once or twice a week. And yes, I’m still writing, still working on new books. In fact, I’m just waiting on delivery of my illustrated senryu book proof. More on that soon.

Here are a few new links for my graphics-related stuff. I’ve added these to my About page.
Facebook – Info about my new designs
Instagram – Same, with lots of samples
RedBubble – the bulk of my new products
Society6 – a subset of new products

New Biz

I’ve started a new graphic arts business. My first shop opens today on Society6. It feels weird starting a commercial art business after the last three years devoted to learning fine art. But why not do both? So I took six weeks off to make some wild images specifically for phones and laptops.

Check it out here: Society6/gcmcrae/designs

Happy Progress

Well, I know I’ve been talking about this senryu book for some time. It has seen some serious work over the years. But at last, I can confidently say it’s done. I went back to it after my post here last summer, added quite a few more poems and pictures and spent a lot of brain time on the arrangement of them. As it goes off to my editor this week, it now stands at 100 poems and twenty drawings.

For somebody that has been writing verse for over fifty years, it strikes me as bizarre that a) this is my first book of poetry and b) that I chose the most concentrated form of wordplay I could find for it. I was never known for verbosity but this is ridiculous. Seventeen syllables is not a lot of real estate in which to build a structure worth visiting by guests. To do it 100 times takes a certain kind of crazy. And yet, here we are.

My little illustrated book of poems will be out this spring.

A bit of an update

It’s spring-getting-on-summer – one of the busiest times of year for anyone on a farm. Critters are being born and have to be cared for (and played with), the ground has to be prepared for planting. And this being another plague year, we can finally visit our friends and sit outside without masks on. Tough to do when it’s 30 below and you’re snowed in.

Of course, this is when my website has to go kaflooee – just when time is precious. So here’s a new one (as you can see). In style, I’ve gone even simpler than the last iteration. Hope it passes inspection.

Yeah, yeah, I haven’t published anything recently. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been hard at work on new stuff.

My senryu book is finally finished. I delayed it all this time for one simple reason: I knew I could make it better. A couple of new drawings and half a dozen new poems later, it’s done. Stay tuned for a publication date.

In other news, I’m still chugging away writing new fairy tales, though I haven’t forgotten about getting more Kana out into the world. Lots of good stories in the works, anyway.

And, as you can see above, my art education continues apace. Illustrating my own fairy tales doesn’t seem such a far off prospect anymore.


My senryu book is evolving into something pretty cool. I started out the year doing my work the traditional way, that is, on paper with a crow quill pen and a bottle of black ink. I completed two 11×17″ drawings this way and thought I was on a roll. But when I got to the third, I had such trouble drawing exactly what I wanted, I spent six frustrating weeks trying and trying again. Ugh. I eventually put my pen and ink aside and began to do the piece digitally. And boom, I was done it in a week. I’ve posted a tease of the offending piece above.

The way things are going, my little senryu book should be done and out in the world before spring 2021. I’m dying to get back to my fairy tales. I have four new ones and still sitting in the wings, the new Kana. As soon as these illustrations are complete, and I’m back to writing full time, I plan to embark on illustration tests in the style of the best fairy tale illustrators. Once I’m confident in the style, I’ll start work on my original Seven Tales and publish illustrated versions of each story.

There should be about twenty senryu images like this when I’m done. It takes me between two and six days to draw one of these things. That’s about four or five hours of drawing every day. I love doing it. It’s difficult and satisfying in a very different way than writing. Plus, I get to finish a project in a few days instead of a few months.

A Quick Update

Fans of Kana and the Red Pilot will be happy to know I’ve finished writing the sequel – and it’s a doozy.  More freaky aliens. More hilarity. The title for the book is Kana and the Skyjacker. In a few short words, the book is about Kana and Davis finding one of those little mini-spaceships and getting to tear around the countryside in it.

Now that the second Kana book is done, I have turned my attention back to fairy tales. I have three that I’m currently polishing for a new collection. Two of them are old ones that I’ve spiffed up and one is brand new. My plan is to write four more over the next year so that I end up with Seven More Tales.

I’m also plugging away at illustrating my little senryu book. (You can see an early version of one of the images above.) I have three large pictures done so far, with one left to do. Then I’ll be doing several small ones to scatter throughout the book. Once that’s done, I’ll be turning my hand to illustrating a picture book. Lots of work for the new year!



Free Pizza

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain

It has been a very long road completing this book. It was my first novel. Like it was yesterday, I remember leaving the post office after sending it off to a publisher for the first time, my whole body wracked with emotion. My baby was leaving and going off into the world alone! This heavily rewritten version of that book is for that guy, all those years ago, on his lunch hour, returning to work to blubber over his peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I’m sure glad I never gave up this little novel!

Free Pizza is out now!

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