Archives for the month of: September, 2012

official poster for October 11 readings




I feature with some new scary tales at the Damned’s October Day Of The Dead show – this will be set of dark & mainly non-sexual pieces just to prove that I don’t need sex to scare the pants off you. Pieces feature chainsaws, patricide, eerie pie shops, strange omens, bite marks and the colour of your eyes


or Putting Together a Spoken-Word Feature

after the rain

After doing and seeing many features at various venues – at cafes where it was two-for-one expresso night (the sound of grinding and steaming add nothing to hearing or doing a set), to outdoors where it was ‘let’s put the spoken-word tent next to the drum workshop tent’ , to perfect theatre setting – I’ve come to some conclusions as to what make a set work beyond the obvious of being able to hear the performer.

One thing is flow. I’ve seen too many features where the pieces were an unrelated jumble – not that the set has be all related pieces but I like some sense of connection that takes me along with the performer. So as a result my features have been much more thematically structured. When I decide on a theme picking the pieces becomes easier – all pieces about sex, about relationships, about crazed people, about growing up – my Go Bump set will be all scary stuff.

I only left for a minute

Another thing is pacing. Have you ever got a cd that started out with some great stuff then turned to mush. I always love a cd that starts strong and ends strong, even if there is some mush in between. With my sets I start with a piece I love & make sure I have a great piece to end. I know if the opening piece is too strong there is no where to go from there – more of same only weakens not strengthens things. I pace the humour, the serious, the short and the long. Early pieces aren’t as sexually direct as later ones.

Also being organized is crucial. When I was using paper I’d print out a fresh copy of the set, in a font large enough to be read, (learned from one reader who had to hold his pages so close to his face only his eyebrows were occasionally seen – his font was tiny to save paper), and in the order I was going to read it (for the Kindle I bump the font size up to 24 and convert to PDF). I find when readers are shuffling through loose leaf pages, jumping from notebook, to printed text I lose interest as they lose focus on what they want  to read next.

I like performers who don’t feel the need to explain, or over-explain every piece. I say little allowing the pieces to speak for themselves, this lets the hearer to get what they get without me pre-directing their understanding.

fresh off the vine

I also enjoy a little animation on the part of the performer – not that they have to act out every line but I want a sense that they enjoy being there, presenting their work to us. Listening to Dylan Thomas I can tell he relishes the words he is saying.

When I have my set line up together I run though it several times to makes sure its paced right, that it has flow, and that it has going to fit into time limits.  Now that I’ve been using my Kindle to read on stage I no longer worry about big white pages blocking site lines :-)

Finally: turn your cellphone off, wear comfortable shoes, avoid noisy jewelry.

Sept 05/Oct 24: Wednesdays – participating – Make-a-Scene

October 05/7: attending: Toronto Gratitude

October 11, Thursday – Go Bump feature at The Beautiful and The Damned

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

writing sample

writing sample

here’s one of the pieces I considered for Go Bump but cut in favor of something less comic:

Love Spell

I cut my finger nails on Valentine’s Day

the day was mere coincidence

it’s not as if I saw anything symbolic

that cutting the nails

on that day would be a sign

I was letting my defenses down

making myself vulnerable

more approachable

my nails are never long enough

that anyone is in any danger

besides who notices men’s fingernails

who gets that close to the hand

our eyes are drawn to the the eyes

the hair   the smile   beards

but rarely to man’s fingernails

unless we’re looking for special service

once I cut my nails I had this flash

bury them under a crossroads oak tree

turn the casual into magic

build an expectation on this body sacrifice

to please the fates

I’m not sure I’d know an oak if I saw one

the street lights at the corner

probably don’t qualify as oak

the intersection is a crossroads of sorts

but the sidewalk is too hard to dig

so I head home with my fingernails

in a tiny red silk bag

left over from some stupid gift

and flush them down the toilet

where all my dreams of romance end up anyway



paint it black

Plasticine Poetry always offers us a line up of excellent poets. This month was no exception. After a stirling set of open-stagers the first feature Nyla Matuk gave a set that opened with Don Draper’s ‘silk pocket square standing at attention’ and ended with ‘hyacinth like a limp handkerchief.’ Her works are tightly structured, filled with precise images (‘shark sharp waters rings Alcatraz’) and literary references (‘the hyacinth girl’). Language so layered one misses lines absorbing what one has just heard. Poetry that may work better on the page, where one can stop to mull and move on, but lovely to hear.

Next up was Lisa Young. Her work is loose, casual, emotionally compelling and funny ‘if you’re nice people think you’re stupid.’ Conversational phrases would be touched with poetic imagery ‘this is all there is … the taste of the new moon.’ A strong use of nature images ran through her pieces without losing sight of people in those landscapes. Loved ‘as if you keep your head low enough/you can avoid whatever comes.’

tweety and friend

Anya Douglas started the second set. Her often untitled pieces were spare and precise ‘you stayed like snow/like tire tracks.’ I enjoyed her pieces about Russia – watching TV in a house that didn’t have plumbing – about her family’s early days in Canada. She has an emotionally direct way of talking about relationships ‘it’s not love I’m feeling/if it is/it’s not going to last.’

I’ve heard these three writers before and enjoy them more with each hearing.

stray socks

Final feature was James Deahl. His history in the poetry scene is extensive. It was fun to hear his recollections of sharing an apartment with Milton Acorn. The pieces he presented were filled with nature – images (‘the wind like a silk scarf slips through the trees’) and the need to protect what we have . Loved: ‘the moon braves the razor of darkness.’ He presented tender pieces about his various wives with direct clear images that left me wanting more ‘her hands/ like water seeking their own level.’

Cathy Petch kept the show moving with patience, humour and glamour plus she is crazy for my ass, for some reason.

Sept 5/Oct 24: Wednesdays – participating – Make-a-Scene

October 5/7: attending: Toronto Gratitude

October 11, Thursday – Go Bump feature The Beautiful and The Damned

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

a little writing sample

a little writing sample

this is a new, and barely edited, response to a recent news story about eco-worship:

On Yer Bike

according to concerned parents

recycling is a tool of saran

to reuse repurpose is an insidious evil

that values nature more than the comfort of people

that to worry about the ecology puts jobs at risk

makes it hard for a god fearing catholic

to earn a proper living

to feel guilt free

when they discard their coffee cups

wherever they fucking want to

it’s a free world after all

and they don’t want their children’s minds

to be sullied with the need to not waste

our dwindling planetary resources

after all human survival is in God’s hands

let’s take it back from the lawmakers

who are out to protect minorities

whose dubious sexuality

is condemned by the scripture anyway

anyone who recycles is not only a tool of satan

but an abomination unto the face of the Lord

only faggots carry travel mugs

only queers care about traffic signs

that impair the biblical right

to drive as fast as you want

get those devil bicycles off streets

after all it says in the bible

Jesus drove the money lenders from the temple

even if doesn’t mention brand

of the car he was driving

it doesn’t say

he told those money lenders to get on their bikes

to spare the air

Jesus wants to save your soul

not the planet


nice hat

nice hat

The September edition of The Beautiful and The Damned filled the house once again. Great features, great open stagers, DM Moore was a sublime host with great trivia questions, what more could one ask for? I was happy to take up my spot as beverage handler to greet people as they came panting (not pantless) up into the Glad Day third floor space

The first feature was the 2008 Governor General’s Award winner Jacob Sheier. he read from his book, some from his next book & some new pieces. Much of his work has a warm family rambling story telling sensibility, much like Allen Ginsberg. Amusing, tender and insightful. ‘… you just can’t want to die/ you have to live it …’ ‘… the way age comes on like autumn/overnight …’ His occupy wall street pieces were sharp and comic – ‘I took cover under a Starbucks awning’ ‘I’m not going down there/I’m sick of activists’

before coffee

Next up was David Bateman, one of the Damned founders. His material was engaging, funny and took us into the mess that many lives can become: ‘it wasn’t as if I had cheated on him with someone he didn’t know or hadn’t already cheated on me with.’ Often his lines played with well known (at least to me) phrases ‘fortune cookies and man’s eyes’ ‘pity is no a whore’s best friend.’

after coffee

Jessica Speziale wrapped up the night with a strong set of songs. Her warm alto is inviting and her songs are emotional, romanic without resorting to those big ‘Got Talent’ moments. A refreshing sense of Joan Armatrading/Tracy Chapman underscores her writing and guitar playing.

A great range of open stages from Marica Rogers to Alex Butler. I hit the mic during the second set with a couple of new pieces & one that may end up as part of my Go Bump set.

more pics here

Sept 5/Oct 24: Wednesdays – participating – Make-a-Scene

September 16, Sunday – attending: Plasticine Poetry

October 5/7: attending: Toronto Gratitude

October 11, Thursday – Go Bump feature The Beautiful and The Damned

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

writing sample

writing sample

This Man’s Pride

of all my accomplishments

the one of which I am most proud

is being the corrosive element

that frayed the fiber of morality

I’m thrilled to be the insidious vermin

that has gnawed away the righteous

firmament of family values

I am that predatory queer

who makes it unsafe for your young sons

to be seen in public in anything tighter

than a hazmat suit

I am more of a threat than your drunken Uncle

he likes his little nieces to sit on his lap

if he interferes with them

it is their fault for being vixen slut women

they were just asking for it

whereas the male of the species

is defenseless at any age

from any glance from a homosexual

so yes I’m proud

to be an outright affront to their masculinity

and God fearing superiority

to be such a threat to that bastion of machismo

by merely sitting somewhere drinking a coffee

and glancing up

as a father fusses over a baby

crying in a carriage

to think ‘nice butt dad’



Making the initial little steps in getting in NaNo shape – first by doing short writing sprints in the morning – ten min max – spewing out snippets of scenes that may show up as part of the my NaNo novel start – one of the secrets to NaNo success for me has been not to worry about writing a finished work – there’s always next year to finish it :-) focusing on word count lets me shut down part of the editorial brain to just get the quantity out there – out of quantity comes quality. So I’m doing improv with my characters to get used to them and how they talk & act -

never know where the steps we take will lead us

Speaking of improv I took the first of the Make-a-Scene classes Wednesday night at The Centre of Gravity Circus Training Studios. We meet up at The Side Show Cafe at 7:30. There are 11 of us in the class plus Allan Turner our our fearless leader. He explained the intent of the workshop – 4 weeks of improv & theory; then 4 weeks of rehearsals leading up to a show (t.b.a).

Unlike the writing workshops I’ve taken this one has an even mix of men and women. Some bring experience, some open minds and willingness – the first 30 min are spent in the Cafe chatting & getting acquainted – I had an excellent butter tart (for energy) – but found the music a bit too loud for conversation.

At 8 we went up to Studio G – via the outside fire escape – essentially a large, high-ceiling space with a mirror. Some low benches to sit on. Allan talked about the theory of play and where ideas come from. We did several group improv games – all physical with one that involved some language: the rant choir – each of us was assigned a random topic to talk/rant about when pointed to by Allan as conductor – hand signals for more intensity, quiet – one at a time or three or four at the same time.

My random topic was avant-garde fashion – about which I said “I was walking along Queen West the other day and came across a Lady GaGa pop-up store. She is selling as high fashion surgical bandages – I was able to buy this knee brace (which I was wearing) allowing me to be cutting edge stylish and injured at the same time.” I had more but that’s all I got called on to say.

porch futurism

Having both sides of the brain activated by this workshop will get me in top form for the NaNoWriMo dash in November.

Sept 5/Oct 24: Wednesdays – participating – Make-a-Scene

September 11, Tuesday – attending: Hedda Gabler

September 13, Thursday – attending: The Beautiful and the Damned

September 16, Sunday – attending: Plasticine Poetry

October 11, Thursday – Go Bump feature The Beautiful and The Damned

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

writing sample

writing sample

one of my morning NaNo stretches [plot points revealed before now]

Jim and Birk stood at the rear of the men. MacKlusky was pounding on the front door of the company store. Two other men had gone around to the back to make sure Seldon [the store’s manager] didn’t slip away.

“He ain’ going anywhere.” Birk muttered. “Too much stuff inside. He’d never step away from a profit.”

“Open up Seldon. Man, we know you’re in there.” MacKlusky shouted. “We don’t want to harm you. We know it ain’ your fault wha’s goin’ on [miners are on  strike] but we have families to feed too you know.”

A window on the second floor opened. It was to the left of the front door. A woman’s head stuck out. “Dan’l t’ain’ here.”

It was his wife.

“He’s gone up to the big office. He was sent fer at supper time. He ain here.”

“Then let us in mussus.” MacKlusky stepped back. “We means no harm to you and yours.”

“I canna let you in. It’d be the end of me. He dinna want this to happen. But he’s got no choice He’s sorry he ever let his brother talk him inta runnin’ the cump store. Swore it was easy money. But it isn’t. It isn’t. We has to pay for everything just like you do. Even if it don’ get bought and goes bad we still has to pay for it.”

Birk had never heard Mrs. Seldon talk for so long.

you're no frond of mine so get out of here

you’re no frond of mine so get out of here

field of unopened dreams at fan Expo

Back to school changes even the lives of those with no kids, or need to go back to school themselves. I live in a hub of schools – at least 6 within walking distance of my place. The start of term means more police cars driving up and down our alley way, fresh tags on our garage door and clumps of smoking teens by the little store that only opens for the school term.


Most years I sign up for some sort of fall workshop – past years have been the UofT poetry master class, Jacob Scheier’s writing about loss at Ryerson, Spoken Word with Andrea Thompson at OCAD – this year I twigged (thanks to Lizzie Violet) to an Allan Turner workshop: Make-a-Scene – it looks to have a zombie clown base so my spoken-word might become spooken-word in time for my Go Bump set in October. Best part is that The Centre of Gravity Circus Training Studios is a ten minute walk from my place – another neighborhood school to add the the list.

Sept 5/Oct 24: Wednesdays – participating – Make-a-Scene

September 11, Tuesday – attending: Hedda Gabler

September 13, Thursday – attending: The Beautiful and the Damned

Gore Vidal

September 16, Sunday – attending: Plasticine Poetry

October 5/7: attending: Toronto Gratitude

October 11, Thursday – Go Bump feature The Beautiful and The Damned

day of the dead, eh?

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

a little writing sample

another of the Montaigne prompt pieces:

Of the Arms of the Parthians 66

we had sand

they had rocks

we got bigger rocks

they got sticks

we got tree trunks

they got nets

we got brick walls

they got clear plastic shields

we got radioactive particle dispersers

they got hot woman

we got french ticklers

they got hand guns

we had hand grenades

they took no prisoners

we made no bargains

they had hidden snipers

we had secret agendas

they televised our every move

we learned to moonwalk

they had night vision goggles

we had X-ray specs

they killed on sight

we dressed to kill

they had satellite surveillance

we leaked their every cellphone call

they got mirrored armor

we used mirror balls and dj’s

they got bass and drum

we went tribal on their sorry asses


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