Everything I said in my Facebook status before the show: “David Bateman more animated than Seth MacFarlane: Philip Cairns more glitter than the red carpet; Lizzie Violet more glam than any after Oscar party; Helen Posno more emotion than any acceptance speech; Duncan Armstrong – well, there’s always a sore loser.” Holds up the following day. Except, unlike the Oscars, there were no losers, sore or others wise, at the Secret Handshake Gallery.
The space is intimate, homey – well, being second floor of a townhouse gives it that homey feel. A poetry salon – with coffee, sandwiches available. Seating a random array of arm chairs, sofas & folding chairs. Always nice to give a reading at spot where people are there just for the reading – not for some bar to sell food & booze.
After getting my videographer in place I opened the show with the bulk of my Brown Betty set – I added two additional pieces and cut one as I was going through the set. Got laughs were expected but the set isn’t all that comic. Bullying isn’t all that funny.
can I get a menu
Next up was Lizzie Violet. Not much to add since my last review of her – but she is always an engaging and warm performer. I enjoy her sharp relationship – non-bitter – poetry & the zombie p.o.v. She read a new piece about her Scottish roots – ancestors who fought with axe and sword – much like the heroine of Corpse Flower.
After a short break things resumed with Philip Cairns. I hear Philip regularly at BuDa but don’t recall hearing a full set of his material. He treated us to reflections on winter ‘today everyone looks like a fur trapper,’ changing relationships ‘someone I once had the hots for but now hate the fact that he needs a shave.’ His pieces about New Orleans & Jewelry Box are image heavy and rich with his pleasure of both. He recognizes that jewelry can be ‘substituting for love.’
Helen Posno closed the show with a series of untitled reflections – ‘if I loved you would the snow be whiter’ – repeated use of water, the sea, sun linked the pieces. I enjoyed the coffee passage: ‘I drink my coffee black – I don’t soften my life’ Ending with ‘underneath this punishing ice spring yawns.’
Host David Bateman kept things lively between sets with give aways and fun trivia questions. I sold some chapbooks, got my set recorded for YouTube and also an audio recording for cd release.
tweety and friend
If you follow me on Facebook you know I’m a music fan – I post there every morning what I happened to be listening to from my collection at that moment. I love a lot of jazz. Here are some of my favorite sax players – performers & in some cases specific cd’s.
First & foremost there is John Coltrane: in 1996 I directed a stage production of Pinter’s The Servant. I wanted house and incidental music that captured the feel of the 60’s – something that would remind me of British TV shows like The Avengers, Danger Man – but with more jazz coolness – I had a double Lp of best of Coltrane – that lead me to the CD of Blue Train – which was perfect for my purposes -
Blue Train lead to my now having nearly the complete discography from his early days with Miles Davis (Kind of Blue & before that), to his demandingly complex free jazz work. Blue Train has to be one of my all time favorites. His catalogue is extensive. His work with Davis is excellent, with Ellington tender. His own group output moves from mellow, investigative – his solos are meditations that travel through the mind -
His other ‘great’ work is A Love Supreme – at under 35 minutes I always play it twice through – plus there is a fine live recording too.
Other sax players I’m into, thanks to Coltrane, include: old guard: Sonny Rollins, Roland Kirk, Coleman Hawkins; new guard: James Carter, Joshua Redman.
Stay tuned for ramblings about other jazz favorites: piano, guitar, flute, big band.
take your sad plant and get out of here
As always PlasPo offered a great, eclectic lineup of readers for its February edition. Bitter cold outside but warm, packed house inside. Once again I got to do the hosting duties – seems Cathy Petch sometimes has a real life
ferris wheel anyone
First up was Damian Rogers – who showed us how ‘the bird of the mind returned to find it’s nest a mess’ but what a lovely mess. How to be happy includes ‘learn how to swing a rolling pin.’ Her pieces were crafted around wry observations ‘if life is a movie I sneak out for smoke breaks between shoots.’ Loved her memory of meeting with Robin Blaser – ‘the light freezes into ice cubes for our cocktails.’
She was followed by Rob Coleman who read from his recent book ‘Little Empires. The man likes his dogs ‘the knives of their lungs,’ ‘dogs breath of thieves.’ His pieces are personal, sometimes funny, often constructed around crisp images and alliterations: ‘a corolla of condemnations’ ‘shell of the new self.’
ready to go-go
After the break Heather Babcock – looking sharp – read some flash-fiction and a section from a story of hers to be in an upcoming Descant. Emotionally demanding pieces about damaged people – a child’s unhappiness with her looks soothed by arcs of ‘red rubies’ that replace her eyebrows. ‘her man’s face was a fist,’ looking for ‘a place in her bones called shelter.’
Final feature was Sheila Stewart – ‘poetry is not giving up each other’ – I’m not a fan of poetry about poetry but lines like the above ‘verbs tensed in pleasure’ can speak to me. ‘The sky lifts making room for my mid-winter steps’ captured February for all of us. Her final piece ‘Sugar’ was a compelling contrast between the sweetness of sugar and the way it is harvested. It made it so clear how removed we are from where our pleasure comes from.
A dynamic slate of open stagers added to a great night, with good food, libations and creativity. Not to mention a host in fine form :-).
BuDa’s Femme Fatale show broke a few hearts, as hoped. A full house was immersed into the smooth word play of first feature Josh Smith – he looks good and presents well – funny, tender, emotional and seductive in Spanish. ‘I can think of sixty-nine ways to confuse you’ – for most of us it only takes one, lol. I identified with ‘we are never ever getting back together.’ And really enjoyed his Gil-Scott Heron riff ‘the evolution will be uploaded.’
am I blue
Second feature Myna Wallin read new work and some pieces from her collection A Thousand Little Pieces – ‘the longing grows longer at night.’ Sometimes bitter, often funny, tender and sensual. Clear images ‘he drinks like a man in a hurry to lose consciousness’ invited us in to modern romance.
blues without a feeling
Music feature was Andrea De Boer aka blueVenus. I remember first hearing blueVenus at the late, great Renaissance Cafe sever years ago and was blown away by her range, her violin playing and songwriting. Andrea loves to perform and we wanted more than we had time to hear. The pieces were mainly from the Grin cd – Assured, playful & even when they were sad they were happy, music. I would have like a bit more violin but I do have the cd to satisfy that need.
Lizzie Violet gave great host & trivia. Open stagers were excellent – for photos check lifewithmorecowbell.
take your sad painting and get out of here
Snowed in over the weekend, I suppose it was Nemo – naming snow storms in Canada seems a little pointless – I did get out to shovel three times, did get to work on Lazarus edits, and resist social media somewhat.
take your sad plant and get out of here
Social media gets more difficult to resist – now that I’m on twitter (@TorPoet) I have a new raft of peeps to keep track of – lots of writers, poets, social commentators & smart mouth opiners. But what I enjoy the most, I have to confess, is porn – i.e. Bravo Delta @bravodelta9 - as inspiring some mornings as any wise quote.
you’re no frond of mine so get out of here
Watched an excellent Korean supernatural thriller R-Point – intense and satisfying in ways that US genre films never quite get – highly recommended.
Seems its actually snowing in February here in Toronto – can we blame global warming? It has been a fairly productive week – tweaked graphics for the Brown Betty show at the end of the month. Picked a couple of new pieces to add to the mix.
Working on this month’s “Bradbury” – found out in January writing a story a week wasn’t going to happen so settled for writing one a month instead. Even writing nearly every day the January creature feature story wasn’t fully finished – I wrote hints of what is needed to finish it off. The February story is in a different genre – queer men making out with a brush of fetish that might make it erotica – nothing like a leg cast to get someone hot, eh?
Lazarus edits moving along slowly though. I need more sunlight, I guess but once I get focused I’ll race through them – I have to decide how realistic I have to make it or if I can let the ‘supernatural’ aspects allow my cursed hero to experience taser differently from the average person? I’ll have to develop the curse’s mythos a bit more to account for that & want to do that without info dumping. If all goes well I be ready to smashwords it by the end of the summer.
empty nest syndrome
crane in the mist
Productive/unproductive week – dues to a research study I got to participate in at Baycrest. Unlike some, I haven’t mastered the ability to work on my laptop when in transit, standing up or sitting down. Door-to-door is well-over an hour each way – if I make the right connections its fine. I take subway to Lawrence, bus across to Bathurst & walk up to Baycrest. The walk lets me get into the only coffee shop in the area – a Second Cup. After that length of time trapped in public transit germ capsules I need a coffee.
This was a two-day study: “Decision-Making in Hippocampal Amnesia” – I’m in the healthy, control group. It was a sweet experience (despite the transit). It’s a relief to do a study where they aren’t sticking electrodes all over one’s head, pushing you into MRI, cat scan, or even taking blood.
tree trapped fog
The bulk of it was me talking about me – hey, I can do that & get paid for it!! We looked at specific events over the last month, over the past year, three years, ten years ago. Then looked to how they might re-occur in a month, one year, three years, ten years. I was to describe them in specific detail for five minutes each.
There were computer tasks and some neuro-psych tests as well. What I really enjoyed was talking about these, especially future ‘wish’ events – trips to Sweden, a visit to the San Francisco Zoo, publishing on Amazon – that sort of thing. Most of my conversations with people are more one sided – they talk I listen. Plus speculating about future events isn’t the way I live my daily life – sure I have day dreams but I rarely develop them in such detail as I did for the study.
different crane same mist
First day of the study was that wonderful foggy day. The fog was even thicker when I got of the bus in the morning and was still there went I was heading home. Do I took some pics. Enjoy.
Doing the study was productive but using all that brain power and all the public transportation drained me so I did little writing or editing so it was also unproductive.
foggy signs of life