Archives for the month of: October, 2012

2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

I enjoyed being totally immersed in the colloquium at the Gladstone. The toughest part was getting there (or for me, anywhere) that early in the day. TTC didn’t let me down. Left home at 9 – where I accidentally met up with Mike Bryant for the trek there. Arrived by 9:40.  A good house of attentive listeners for the event added to my immersion. Although the event organizers did jam in as many rows as possible – meaning it was set for people with no legs but I made my space and stuck to it.

The Rapunzel Trap

Things started promptly at 10 a.m. with Robert Runte : “Canadian Speculative Fiction in the 21st Century” – a fascinating overview of the history of Canadian SciFi and the ways in which it differs from the US and even British genres. He observed that thanks to current global marketing and consumption ‘cultural’ identity is become less important. His time ran out and it was clear he had a lot more to say. Particularly about how marketing dept. trumps editorial input.

With a pause merely for introductions he was followed by Helen Marshall “‘The Book is Dead; Long Live the Book!’: Some Thoughts on the Coming of eBooks” – which I expected to be how ePub is changing the market but instead what how eBook have effected the form and content of writing. She had a great historical quote/complaint about the use of paper being a passing fad as only parchment had lasting value. Due to the need for flowability – poetry doesn’t make the transition to e readily. Alas ee cummings.

this year’s cast offs on Queen W

After a short break things resumed with Robert Shearman (Guest of Honour): “Writing, And Attempts to Justify It” – a great keynote talk – well organized and very funny – he suspects writer’s block can sometimes be getting caught up in the fact that the words we write now aren’t the same as the ones we’d use if we wrote half-an-hour later & those later words would be so much better . His writing partially sprung being a stutterer – having to find alternatives to words he couldn’t say with ones he could.  His approach is to write weird things that become normal.

A welcome lunch break that took me to a nearby Starbucks – to get out of the hotel and into the damp cool of the afternoon. It was time for caffeine to get me through the rest of the day.

The afternoon kicked off with Peter Watts: “Hive Minds, Mind Hives”. The instinct to survive may not know the difference between metamorphosis and suicide – in order to become posthuman we may need to develop an awareness to the nerve network level – or something like that – but at the nerve net work level there is no awareness. I loved his presentation, slides and even the scientific syntax that he used. I’m sure I understood every word on a subconscious neural level – so my subjective awareness got to enjoy some of the sweet SpecFic nerds who were digging his every word.

Next up was  Karin  Lowachee: “Ender’s End? The Modern Reality of Children in War” Another solid, and this time, for me, very understandable presentation – she started with a slide show of child soldiers – some fussing over getting the music but it was much more compelling without the music. She talked about finding the science of science fiction much for attentive to details and realism than the psychology of the characters. As a result most people think of SciFi as space opera, a la Star Wars – not as something with emotional complexities. She did delve into Ender’s Game but her conclusions apply to any well written book.

The day ended with Scott Bakker: “Less Human than Human: The Cyborg Fantasy versus the Neuroscientific Real” I was expecting a medical/engineering approach to how a Borg would work but instead it was a fascinating talk about transhumanism and the singularity. Much like Peter Watts’s presentation I found this fascinating as opposed to instructive. I’m not sure how it will apply to what I write but I’m glad my subconscious was immersed. By this point in the day I wasn’t even trying to absorb that much and the tech heavy syntax was putting me to sleep. Though once again my subjective awareness got to enjoy some of the sweet SpecFic nerds who were digging his every word. I was just a meat bag following my ancient evolutionary programming.

Sandra Kasturi was an excellent host who kept things moving well. The Gladstone was an excellent space for the day. The room was well lit, the chairs were not designed for long sitting – washrooms within easy reach – the men’s room looked good but that urine smell sure didn’t make me want to try the deli there.

writing sample

writing sample

in which I fulfill my dream of a reality show:

Life of An Unknown Poet

I was handing my credit card

to the Winners clerk

when my camera crew got into shoving match

with her camera crew

I didn’t see how out of hand things were

till I watched a podcast of

The Making of The Life of An Unknown Poet

by the crew following my camera crew

my head camera man was asked

‘how did the poet feel

when he was accosted’

he pointed his camera at me

as I walked out of the store

I looked back

glad I was still the one on camera

I was tempted to go back

but didn’t want to interrupt

the entertainment food chain

I had my own life to lead

and what he thought I thought

about the shoving match

wasn’t all that vital to me

the world knew how shallow I was

for a poet

except for this show

I remained unknown

even after six seasons

my books sales hadn’t increased

I wasn’t getting reviews

and this pissed me off

in fact my viewers

would like to see me pissing too

but I had to draw the line somewhere

they could watch me flush

but couldn’t see me take a leak

I have some pride

later there was a news report

of the shoving match

someone was injured

not one of my crew or my crew’s crew

it struck me how futile it was

that no matter what one did

someone was bound to suffer

that even allowing my personal angst

to be the fodder of millions

it didn’t stop the circle of suffering

the camera crew applauded me

as I wrote those lines about suffering

which made it all worth while once again

I can go living giving all to my life

even if there is no bump in book sales

or any chance of sex

unless that camera man

from the clerk’s camera crew is available

he looked kind of hot

in the podcast of the shoving match

needs a shave

his bloody nose gave this unknown poet

a spark of known reality

shadow shakey escape shadow

@TorPoet

@TorPoet

 

 

costume choice 1

Week 7 of make-a-scene brings me one week closer to the end of the workshop and closer to our graduation  Red Nose District show. What has somewhat dismayed me is the attrition rate for the class – we started with 11 gung-ho people and so far three have dropped out – I suppose some people have money to burn.

In past workshops I know some people aren’t ready for the amount work that is actually involved – for a writing workshop they don’t expect they’ll have to not only produce work for the class but also read and comment on the work of up to another dozen people – that is if they want the most out of the class. I recall one where a member only showed up when his pieces where to be looked at & he rarely had anything to say about one else’s. What’s the point?

 

costume choice 2

The past few weeks of Scene we have been workshopping the pieces for the show. This, for me, has been very productive. Some had a concept but nothing more and so a piece was built by doing it – by getting on stage and acting through possibilities – as opposed to sitting around and merely talking about what one could do – this pushed things into new shapes and sometimes new directions. Often finding an ending is the crux of things.

I’m more of a discovery writer – so this process suits me, though the piece I brought to the table, as it were, was pretty complete already – I was able to reduce it, focus it and find ways of bringing it to life on stage – I didn’t resist suggestions or defend what I had already intended to do with it – going with the flow works. Besides my own piece I’ll be appearing in a couple of the other scenes.

 

costume choice 3

What am I doing? You’ll have to come out to see it but I does involve an inflatable.

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

October 15, Thursday – performing – Red Nose District

October 21, Sunday – attending – Plasticine Poetry

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

no cananowrimo logo yet

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

 

a little writing sample

a rant from 2007:

 

Taking it Personal

 

I try not to take the personals personally

what they want

is a little sliver of perfection to control

to hold in an unalterable limbo

out you go the moment there is

a disagreement over anything

betrayal takes hold bitterness sets in

so that they become

even more precise in what they want

 

as those parameters get smaller

the pool of possibility gets shallower

they aren’t looking for anyone shallow

you must be complex

have a sense of humor a job

go to a gym twice a week

or at least have a big dick

that magic wand

can wave away the deeply needed

personal attributes they are seeking

 

I know when they are talking long term

they mean only as long

as you are obedient

as long as you fulfill certain

fantasy requirements

until someone with more money

or a bigger dick comes along

 

I’ve meet someone

who are none of the things they are looking for

I wonder if they read the ad they wrote

wonder if they know what they want

because even when I am

exactly what they are looking for

I’m not

 

I try not to take the personals personally

and so far have succeeded

never met the wrong guy that way

never met the right guy that way

not looking for perfection

certainly opens the field

though I don’t waste my time

with those looking for perfection

I know they are only seeking

the safety of the impossible

with a bigger dick

pretty lowe?

Electricians have infested my house as the wiring is finally being upgraded from mortar and pestle (or some such configuration) to what I presume will be state of the art. This mean, amongst other things, no power for several hours a day, until the work is complete. The plan is to have it done within two weeks, so there’ll be no interruption for NaNo in November.

The other thing about the re-wiring is moving stuff, lots and lots of dusty of stuff – bookcases overloaded with books that have to moved to make baseboard access possible. Forcing a long needed purge of books to the Trinity College book sale (I hope) and probably some long neglected dust bunnies to be sent packing as well. Perhaps that missing sock will surface.

how lowe can you go

But now to the topic at hand. NaNo preparations: my plot came to me a few years ago after a visit to my Cape Breton home. I visited several local historical museums. I loved the details about lives that I was mainly unaware of – the large black community for one – not only in Sydney but in the mining towns as well. Miners were imported from the Bahamas etc. I think of this as lost history.

Plus the number of other immigrants who worked those harsh jobs underground, at the steel plant etc. Photos of their fraternal organizations, church picnics, sports teams and schools.

12-14 hour shifts

So many fascinating details about families, wives, husbands, relatives, music and daily lives. All so heteronormative I wondered if there were gays in those days. Gay history isn’t lost but hidden, unrecognized or unacknowledged.  I realize there really wasn’t a language at some levels of society for otherness. That lead me to thinking of what life might be like for men with such feelings yet with no way to describe them even as they acted on them.

the lunch room

My research into sexual mores of the time lead me to conclude that often leisure time, education and money play a big part in awareness and judgment. People who work 12-14 hour grueling shifts don’t have the energy to care who sleeps with who.

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

October 15, Thursday – performing – Red Nose District

October 21, Sunday – attending – Plasticine Poetry

October 28, Saturday – attending 2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

November 01/30: everyday – participating – NaNoWriMo

soon to read 2012

a little writing sample

here’s a piece from 2007:

Aphrodisiac

I know you’re sore

after that gal you’d been hitting on

walked out on you

after three drinks

I heard you moan to your pals

how the last two chicks you dated

dumped you via text message

one of them still won’t return your calls

that they turn into such selfish bitches

when they know they can get

what they want from you

but just because I’m a clean old queer

doesn’t mean I have any interest

in your macho macho meat

the fact that you’re straight

ain’t my aphrodisiac

I agree it’s too bad

every woman you’ve known

thinks you are some sort of egotistic jerk

who only thinks of himself

when all you want to do is please them in bed

then roll over to fall asleep

I suppose it’s unreasonable

that you show up on time every time

you say you’re going to pick them up after work

yeah I guess those bitches are just lazy

unfair and expect way too much

when all all you want to do

spend a few hours watching TV all weekend

I can see how that is pretty mean

but the fact that you’re straight

just ain’t my aphrodisiac

you may think I’m one of those

predatory homos you are sure

are always lurking around

that I’m hungry for any straight guy

to come along and fall

into my eager mouth

well honey

you are living in a dream world

the fact that I checked out our jeans

was because I was wondering where you got them

so why don’t you go back to your buds

because you aren’t getting anything here

‘cause if them nasty hos

you always end up with

aren’t interested I’m certainly not

the fact that you’re straight

just ain’t my aphrodisiac, mac

paper backspace writer

The October BuDa was a chilling event. With horror poems from wicked host Lizzie Violet, vampire fiction from Monica S Kuebler, to my chainsaw patricide all the bases were cover plus a hot set from L’rock to take some of that eerie chill off before sending people out in the cool of the evening.

After fine open stagers I was up first with my Go Bump set. I find that when I don’t stick to what people have come to expect of me – out-there-queer, sexual, funny they aren’t sure how to react. So my darkish set met with a luke-warm response – without punchlines or tender endings, audiences aren’t satisfied. I did sell some chapette books & made enough to cover my basic costs. The set was recorded by Myke Mazzei for a future cd.

christmas shopping before halloween

Second set feature was Monica S Kuebler who read a choice section from her online serial novel Bleeder. A seasoned spoken-word performer she picked the right scene from Chapter 6, one the right length to hold our interest. ‘blood crusted tank-top and bird’s nest hair’ quickly sketched in the heroine – ‘gristly clean-up in aisle twelve’ offered a bit humour in what was a very tense as the heroine realizes ‘this was a blood farm and she was the prey.’

gutter (g)love

Music feature was Laura L’Rock who did a great set of radio friendly rock – a nice change from the Mitchellesque folkies who often hit non-electric stages. The catchy songs were built on strong melodies, lyrics and sweet, yet rocking, acoustic backing supplied by Nik Beat & well, to be honest, I didn’t catch the other guitarist’s name. “I feel you choke me through the telephone line.”

writing sample

writing sample

a piece that almost made it into Go Bump

Give Me A Little Sign

a bluejay feather dances over snow

the first full moon of the new year

a silent wrap of smoke

forms the letters of a name

whose name   mine   yours

our hopes for the future

a dangling curtain moving at dawn

a pale   handless shape

peers out into the fog

before the fire burns pure ashes

to scatter sooty on the snow

for the next fitful omen

a bus pulling up at the right moment

an old friend alive

where you least expected to see them

the number nine keeps popping up

how many times before it has meaning

like that bluejay feather

it has to have a meaning

a good moment to do something

but I don’t know where to begin

play the lottery  submit that manuscript

make that phone call I’ve been putting off

should I act blindly

or bide my time for a better opportunity

a voice in an empty room

a phone call that goes unanswered

was that wrong number the right one

where are my lucky shoes

what do the stars have to say

entrails of run over squirrel tell me

it isn’t wise to dash across a busy street

grounds in the bottom of my Tim’s cup

tell me it’s time they cleaned that damn machine

that look in your eyes tells me

it’s time to drop my guard

will our clothes piled on the floor

the fold of pants legs and t-shirts

twined accidentally in the dark

be a sign of more than pleasure to be had

is there a message in the goosebumps on your back

in the fevered breath on my thigh

can I let a kiss be a kiss

not the next fitful omen

@TorPoet

@TorPoet

Napa ’04

I was gifted my first digital camera several years when I won a trip for four to Napa Valley – one of the people I took with me gave me the camera. It became a constant companion for a few years, always in my shoulder bag, just in case. Plus a must have for what travel I did. But it had limitations – hard to turn off flash, couldn’t get closer than 3 feet & stay in focus, and useless for night shots. Video had 10 second limit & no sound. So I pretty much stopped using it expect for special occasions.

golden gate ’04

Then I signed on to WordPress to raise my online profile. One of the hints for increasing an audience was to have pictures on your blog, so I dug the camera out and starting taking pictures again. But the focus limits bugged me. Once I got my income tax return this year I splurged on a new camera. More bells and whistles, sound for video etc. Plus a 12X lens, a memory card that’ll hold thousands of pictures.

At first I was taking pictures of anything – flowers, architectural details, amusing signs, sleeping cats and the sky. But I have friends who do similar things, and much better too, so I did some thinking. For travels some of those things are fine but even then my picture of a field of flowers in Cape Breton could be by anyone. Memories for me and a bit of color for my blog about the east coast.

(g)love in the shadow

I wanted to limit my range a bit as well or I’d be spending all my time taking pictures of people’s gardens, broken windows and abandoned furniture. Something that has always spoke to me is random shoes, pieces of clothing – there’s a story in how and why that one shoe is there on the street. What pleased me is that when I started in on my ‘cast-offs’ gallery, more often than not, there would be another and another and hence a focus was born.

going to the hop

I may not have a great eye, technique or bother with composition but I do have fun. I’m more an observer – reportage as opposed to an explorer or revealer. It’s up to the viewer to slip beneath the surface if a picture speaks to them. What I see and what you see looking at the same moment are often very different things.

sample

an older piece – sort of seasonal -

The Fright

here’s comes the fright

that belongs to lovers

that covers the sight front

we put on to keep others

from getting too close to the truth

if they know my deepest secret fears

they’ll use them

dismiss me dismay me measure me

who is this they

what is this hidden treasure

under cover of might maybe not now

under the radar

not even a blip beat

heart sneaks down and around

wanting to be caught taught a lesson

wanting to be fearless

creeping away instead

why is it we choose to reveal ourselves

only to the one we fear to lose the most

as if this revelation will become a glue

that can keep the fright

from pulling us apart

feeling no gain

wishing there was another way

to say what doesn’t make sense

except in the beat of the moment of suspense

between trust and fear of truth

push me closer to the think again buster

I’m not the one you want

I’m merely the one you need

and the bedroom isn’t a threat

but a motion of grace

a station of the come across

does that make sense build fences

or are you like me

another of the dearly parted

ready to depart from chances to changes

from dinnerware to underwear

losing sight of the fright

devising ways to make me sorry

don’t make me put down my ideals

just to reach something in you

so you feel safe enough

to put down your questionable attitude

your heart isn’t a noose isn’t bad news

someone might see me naked

catch sight of the short coming

the longing clinging shame

this fright is the same the world round

staggering subjected to the next opportunity

the expectation that  some sort of salvation

can only come through

the transcendent shattering of self

by shooting the biggest load

into the warmest trusting affectionate

accepting person

who will look you in the eyes in the morning

tell you everything is all right

they forgive you

for wanting more than enough

for not getting everything in a single gulp

knowing that they measured your treasure

and found it haunting

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers