Story Starter January 2018 – Vivian Tserotas

Our January Story Starter showcases artwork by Vivian Tserotas, a textile and glass artist who is co-owner of the Art Gallery of Lambeth.

To enter, write a short piece (100 words maximum) inspired by the art pictured here. It can be any form of writing (poetry, prose, dialogue, haiku, etc.) as long as it is original, in English, and based on the featured artwork. Submit your entry in the comment section below.

There is no restriction of age, location (subject to local laws), or cost associated with entering the contest. You have until midnight on January 31, 2018 to submit your story. Check the full entry rules and format here.

Finalists and winners will be determined by judges selected by the OWC and will be announced Spring 2018.

We look forward to reading your Story Starters.

About The Artist  

Vivian Tserotas has been working as a full time artist since completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts and her Bachelor of Education degrees. She has also been teaching for the Thames Valley District School Board and created a textile arts program, which she taught at Fanshawe College.  Seven years ago, she started and became the co-owner of the Art Gallery of Lambeth where she continues to teach her craft and is the head curator and the educational arts programmer.    

Although her studies involved contemporary sculpture installation, and painting, today she is primarily known as a textile artist and most recently a glass artist.

Her work continues to evolve as she enjoys pushing the limits of her medium and combining various materials to create unique pieces of art. The challenge of the unknown and the process of problem solving is what intrigues Vivian to create and also why she never duplicates her work.  Vivian’s artwork can be distinguished by her signature use of vibrant colours, and the illuminating energy flowing from her stiches into whimsical swirls. These same elements are also recognized in her fused glass creations.  Vivian’s work is spontaneous and full of life allowing the viewer to experience her passion, enthusiasm and her laborious love for her art form. 

Want to check out past contest entries? Click here.

Feeling inspired? Paste in your 100-word original entry below!

** Please note, there is a delay between comment submission and approval, so please submit an entry one time only. Thank you. **

  • Spring Cleaning

    The crows who meet in the tree
    always know when it will snow,
    but in spring they grab branches
    and caw, “Duc in altum! Go into the deep!”

    It’s spring! Inspired, I go deep inside,
    pull out the radix, bitter root of pride,
    radish that lures with spicy redness,
    and it feels radical to get to the root that way.
    The crows, like ancient Church fathers
    in their black robes, would be pleased
    that I know it’s the right thing to do.

    It’s spring! I dance with new lightness
    and strength, until next spring
    when I must do it again.

  • I walk beside the winding river; a place I have come to often.It is here, that the people of my
    tribe have looked upon with reverence.
    The cold, deep waters are home to many fish; which have fed my tribe for many moons.
    But upon this cold morning, as the last remnants of frost cling to the river bank, my eyes seek out a lone crow.
    Carefully, I follow him, my silent moccasins treading in reverence.

  • I’ve never found a crow feather, in all our walks through Earl Row. Not once. But there are always lots of feathers around… goose, seagull, even blue jay! But never a crow feather. Not one!

    “Why do you think that is?” I wonder aloud.

    You grin, “Why do you think that is?”

    And truthfully, I am at a loss. I shake my head; “I haven’t the faintest idea.”
    You walk ahead, hands clasped behind your back, leaves crunching under your feet; no longer considering my question.

    And for some reason, it’s all I can think about at the moment.

  • Joyce George-Knight January 3, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Energy, powerful as a raging fire encircling the world, holds God’s messages. Wise and frustrated eagle takes notice as it hovers before the sun. “My spiritual messages from God go unnoticed. What can I do?”

    Radiant Sun replies, “Raging fires, volcano eruptions, and other disasters make me fear that evil is winning. ”

    “The earth’s solar plexus seeks peace, trying to calm the intense dissension confusing and blinding earthlings. They can’t distinguish between the anger and spiritual energy.”

    Eagle offers, “We’re united with the Trinity. Together we’ll cover the earth until earthlings awaken to our messages of love, peace and sharing.”

  • I looked skyward , gazing at the Supermoon in awe. It was as if I could just reach out and touch it. I was reminded of my elders fables of the moon and green cheese.

    My smile turned to a gasp as the spectacular osprey glided in front of the moon’s face. Folklore taught me that an osprey hunting at night was the sign of enemy intruders.

    I broke into a gallop as I ran to the safety of my cabin.

  • I submitted a second version of this story …could you delete the above and use the second version. I am never sure if the message is delivered. Thank you.

  • A Northern Manitoba Morning

    I scratched a hole in the frost-covered window. Suspended like an eerie gossamer curtain, an ice-mist stretched across the frozen landscape. Chimney smoke rose in thin straight lines.
    I knew it was a more-than-minus-thirty-degree morning.
    You learn to estimate the temperature by how the snow sounds under your boots.
    On such days, teachers did not allow pupils to play outside where exposed skin became frostbitten within minutes. Despite the numerous absentees, and the admonition: “Please play quietly”, indoor recesses seemed crowded and noisy.
    Only the occasional raven call breaks the silence.

  • The ruined city was my domain. From my night aerie high above the bowl of life I watched the last thin wisps of meagre cooking fires rise towards the brilliant stars. The soft lights of habitation flickered in and out.

    It had been many years since the war in the sky. The street lights — ancient staffs, heads now bowed and hanging by threads — no longer illuminated the black shadows. Now great birds wheeled over the bowl of the city by day, and returned at night to nest in the hollows left by their toppled crowns.

  • The rusty sky burned, showering down raw fire that stripped the trees. The heat touched her skin, but nothing was left of her that could feel it. Here, in the collapse, she remained. She endured.

    Fine. She could be patient. It wouldn’t be long now.

    A single bird circled overhead and dipped his wings in salute. She squinted upwards, but didn’t bother to shade her eyes from the ruin of sun. What would be the point?

    Had she earned this? Had she done well? The bird screamed at her, and she smiled.

    The world could finish burning. She’d wait.

  • Illuminated
    shadows to light, you and I
    like a moth to flames

  • Scarf on a sweaty face,



    burning leaves
    and livelihoods.

    This radio forecasting tragedy.
    No return.


    through the swirls of smoke,

    high above the treetops
    spirals a hawk,
    searching for a place to land.

    Maybe, I will find one too.

  • Looking up through the naked branches I could see a vulture fly across the early moon searching for carrion. The sparkling water below danced in a light breeze revealing the body of a dead squirrel floating aimlessly on the surface.

    Swooping down he grabbed it in his claws and carried it to the dry land where he feasted on the rotting carcass. It was a prize for the vulture fulfilling his purpose. But the claws in our society satisfy a different appetite for greed and privation upon the most vulnerable among us.


    Again, and again the raven came to her in a dream
    Though the haze of passionate purple and vibrant green
    She shuddered each time he perched on her window sill
    His eyes were as black as coal; lit the fire in her soul
    Even as they sent shivers down her spine
    “Pray, Raven, what do thee seek of one as forlorn as me?’
    But the raven Just flew away towards the halo of the moon
    She fell in love with him, there was nothing else she could do
    For the raven offered sweet dreams in darkness for the lonely few

  • These spindles I know,
    and this turquoise, haloed now,
    in this Van Gogh glow.


    I’m one with the swirling mist in the woods
    and my stormy moods
    I try so hard to dry my eyes
    While shadows of the moon flounder across the skies
    You promised you’d keep me safe and warm
    Especially if my wings ever got torn
    Now you’re but a raven picking at my brain,
    Causing me pain
    I tried to paint a portrait of you and me tonight
    to make things right
    But all that emerged from my soulful endeavour
    was a solitary raven silhouetted against a pale moon;
    …And a kaleidoscope of chaotic colours reflecting this darkness inside

  • Jeanned'Arc Labelle January 15, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Night At The Pond

    Reddish hues blended day into the lure of its setting sun.
    High, silhouetted branches reached wide lacing the horizon. They shadowed a quiet march of lady bugs, skirting the pond.
    Qwi, broke that silence with one blow of his trumpet.
    “Twoop twoo to”, pitched clear, across the meadow.
    Within a heartbeat, echoes thick with danger reverberate from above. Magnificent squawked, with eagle adroitness. Each slow wing swoop, carried him closer.
    “Twoop Twoo to”, rang again, and again. Everyone halted, crouched deep into the damp ground.
    Qwi stood very still, his back tight, against the dogwood.

  • hot red sky veils night
    river golden bubbles rise
    dark crow shadows plunge

  • “We have a problem, Jim…”

    Crows don’t have a knee to take.
    Rise above the burning hate
    And fly to freedom.

    (written on Martin Luther King Day, 2018)

  • When it is the time, it was told, she will come in the form of a bird. She will devour your body and carry your soul in her talons to the next place. Your energy will be loosed to the earth again. It will help feed and shelter other life, in the air they inhale, and the food they eat, and the earth that they burrow into.

    Cal remembered this tale, now. He no longer felt the pain he had before. The sky that was blue appeared red. He blinked. The shape of a bird was silhouetted against the sun.

  • Maslow
    built a hierarchy
    with self-actualization at the top
    And homeostasis at the bottom. Basic needs.
    Breathing, Eating, Drinking, Sex, Sleeping, Excretion.
    Anything else is more than this First Nation can manage right now.

    Raven raises the alarm from a bare black branch.

    Crumbling in dark poverty, a cluster of tentative structures stand vigil.
    Dirty diapers and saturated pizza boxes wash up onshore,
    trash lapping against a past
    where sad-eyed ancestors linger in the mist.

    Raven, curious coroner, glides down to investigate
    gold thread of a girl’s coat on weather-ruined memorial.
    Research in Maslow’s frozen basement.

  • In the sky a lone crow flew over as the early morning sun danced and sparkled on the water.
    Frank held up a dynamite stick and lit the end with a match. He flung it as fast and as far as he could. He did this three more times. The seconds ticked by ever so slowly, but then, suddenly, almost simultaneous geysers of water spewed into the air with ear-splitting bangs. Just as quickly the atmosphere filled with silence. In the sky a lone crow flew over as the early morning sun danced and sparkled on the water.


    Your laughter rings through the air
    My blood flows as I lose myself in the echoes
    Bewitched, another unsuspecting male
    oblivious to the secrets hidden behind your multicoloured veil
    The truth dawned when the stake was driven through my heart
    This old vampire can’t feast tonight
    And my strength is waning on this foggy night
    I hear a raven’s screech; I look towards the skies –
    He flies close beside you, ye witch with the hazel eyes!
    These are my last breaths,
    but I’ll find you when I’m awakened by the sacred crows
    Yorkshire Moors, I’ll hear again your echoes

  • Remembering DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

    The moon rises,
    An unbroken loaf of bread
    In a wine red sky
    Forming a backdrop
    To trees that may be dead.

    Or merely resting,
    Waiting for the breath of life
    To transform all that it touches.

    Carried by circles of music,
    Life will be the gift of a dreamer,
    One who does not fear the eagle,
    A child protected by the moon.

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