Archives for the month of: June, 2013
the power of attaction

the power of attaction

My ‘how to’ presentation Wednesday went over very well. Odd how many prose writers didn’t see giving a reading as a promotional tool – they figure just show up & get it over with. We all want our words to speak for themselves – but that’s not the always the case. When we can speak for our words well the more likely it is people will want to hear more.

my power spot

my power spot

Had my material workshopped Thursday – it was well responded to & all are eager to see it finished, which is gratifying. Some of the ‘information’ issues are dealt with in later sections of the novel.

view from my room

view from my room

Here’s the section Rosemary will see for our one-on-one Friday.

The sun was rising over the steaming mounds of slag coal. The mound never got any smaller no matter how much was carted away. Coal was already being loaded into a rail car to be transported to the dock.

They went into the change room and lowered their work clothes from the overhead hangers.

“Birk!” Red Mac, the shift foreman, called to him.

“Yeah.” Birk grabbed for his brass counter.

“Birk,” the foreman nodded for him to come over to the small office. “This is Clancy Sinclair. He’ll be your rake man.”

“Manny was picking up okay.” Birk squinted at Clancy.

Clancy looked to be a head taller than him, a lot wider in the shoulders with blond almost brown hair.

“Not my say so,” Red Mac shrugged. “Orders from above. Manny’s moving on to the scuttle yard.”

“Fuk,” Birk spat. He had hoped to get that position. Scuttle yard was where the coal was loaded into the rail cars. It was as hard at being under in the mines but it was above ground. All the miners longed to work above ground.
“I know you wanted it but yer too good. Yer a lucky chap Clancy. Birk McDonnell is one the best we got.”

“Yeah sure. Sticking me with this skinny rat. He must just disappear down there.”

“Whose yer father?” Birk asked.

“Scott Sinclair.”

“The Bras D’Or Sinclair’s?” Birk said.

“Nah, Stellerton.”

“Main lander?” Birk said.

“What of it?” Clancy replied.

Birk grabbed Clancy’s left hand, Clancy pulled it away.

“What you up to?”

“Just checking to is how tough your hands is. Skin’s too soft this job.”

“Least we’ll know when my hair ‘s clean. You black as coal already.” he sniffed the air. “You sure you washed ‘for you came here?”

“Mac you stick me with puddin’ boy here and I won’t make enough to pay for a pint let alone our tic at the pluck me.”

“Soft! Least I’m full size.” Clancy stood as tall as he could. “Not some half-sized hairy mine monkey.”

“Who you callin’ a monkey, you soft arse.” Birk launched himself at Clancy and landed two sold punches in quick succession. One to the side of his head and the other to his stomach.

Clancy staggered back and was ready to punch back when Red Mac pushed stepped between them.

“Nuf of this. You want beat the dust out of each other do it out of my yard.”

“Then stick this soft arse with someone else ‘cause only one of us is coming back up and you know it’s me.”

“Both of you will come back. Listen and listen good Birk McDonnell. You have sisters who need what you put on the table. Next time to want to take a swing at someone keep that in mind, ‘cause the next time you take a swing like that you’re out of here. You understand that.”

Birk snatched his lunch pail and jammed it under his arm.

“And you Clancy. You’re new here. You gotta learn to mind your tongue. This isn’ a place to run off at the mouth with guys you don’t know. Some here wouldn’t be as gentle wid ya as Birk here was.”

“No one calls me soft.”

“Really.” Red Mac pulled himself up to his full height – a head taller than Clancy, two heads taller than Birk. “Only a soft arse would let himself get riled up so easy. And that goes for the two of you. Birk you take him down to the face with you. I’ll be down soon enough to make sure you’re acting like men and not school kids. Understand.”

“Yes sir.” Birk glared at Clancy. “Follow me.”

“I’m not taking orders from him. You’re not paying enough for that.”

“You want to work or not. I git plenty looking for work here me son. Plenty. You can go back to …”

“Christ! I’ll give it a try.” Clancy cut Red Mac off.

“Come along then,” Birk grunted and added under his breath, “soft arse.”

“What you say?” Clancy snapped back.

“I said come along we got a long way to go. Level Ten.”

They got into the cage with a dozen other miners. Adjusted their head lamps as it rattled down the shaft. The shift car pushed the men back and forth. Each time Clancy was forced up against Birk roughly shoved him away.

The smell of earth got stronger as the cage descended. Earth and coal. The dampness increased. AS the cage passed some levels Birk could hear water dripping, or blasts as new seams were opened. The levels tentacle out from the elevator shaft. Some for a few hundred years, others went for miles. Some, like the one on Level 10 went under the ocean. He was still sometimes afraid his pick would punch right through to the was sea bed above.

Total blackness quickly enveloped the men but not all of them turned on their lamps. It was better to let the eyes adapt to the dark as quickly as possible. Birk could find his way to the face he was working on without light.

“Stick close now or yer arse is going get hard faster’n than you want it.” Birk said when they got off the cage. He took a deep breath. “Better take a breath while you can. That’s the last of the fresh air you’ll get till we’re ready to head up.”
“Get moving.” Clancy give Birk a slight shove.

Knowing his way Birk moved quickly over the uneven surface to the crease where he was working. He could hear Clancy stumbling behind him. that’d teach the big mouth who was the big man.

“Watch yer head here.” He muttered as they came to the final turn. He ducked down and then up avoiding the staving joist that was holding the ceiling.

“Oof.”

“Y’d think y’d never been in the dark before.” Birk chuckled as he heard Clancy bump the rafter.

“Never so deep.” Clancy was trying to catch his breath.

“Better get used to it quick like, as yer going t’be spending most yer awake time in the dark, just like your sleep time. Day light’ll not be your pal again.” He stored his lunch can behind the upright paling that helped to support the weight of the ceiling.

“Thanks.”

Birk stopped and Clancy stumbled into him.

“Watch it.” Birk pushed him back. “Tight nuf in here ya know. Here’s yer rake. You know how to handle one.”
“Christ yeh. I rake, pile and when pile is big nuf we shovel in into the cart, when the cart is full we get it to the line to dump it into the shuttle.”

“Trick is to keep up wid me boy.”

Birk tied his face rag around his mouth and nose, tuned his headlamp on and starting hammering with his pick axe at his crease. As the shards and chunks of coal loosened he pushed them behind him for Clancy to rake away.

After a few minutes his shoulder muscles loosened and his mind stopped thinking about anything except what he was doing, how fast he was doing it. Steadily he deepened the vein as he followed it along. He could feel the change in vibration in his pick as hit different types of rock, sulfur, granite, different strata of the vein, even different harness of the coal itself. He had no sense of time but of quantity. Once he felt he had dislodged enough coal to fill the hopper he wriggled out to help Clancy push the cart to the main line. Before they dumped into the shuttle he relived himself on the coal.

Clancy was about to do the same. Birk took Clancy’s free hand and peered at in the light of his headlamp. The skin on the hand was rubbed raw, bleeding along the thumb.

“Just as I thought soft. Piss on it.”
“What?” Clancy tired to pull away.

“Yeh it’ll help toughen the skin faster. Took me a week before m’hands could take it.” He watched as Clancy rubbed his hands in his own urine.

“Christ feels okay.”

“Don’ think I forget what ye called me up there but don’t want you to slow me down any either. You un’stand.”

“Yeh.”

“So think ya can keep up wid me by?” Birk muttered.

“Nothing to it.” Clancy wheezed.

All they could really see of each other in the dim light of their head lamps was their eyes. Their face coverings were coated with black dust.

“I’ve been keepin’ a bit slow. Two more of these and we take a wee break for eatin.” He began to shove the cart back to where they were working.

“Oof.” Clancy bump hard into the low rafter.

“Listen an learn. Not goin to warn you every time m’boy.”

“I’m not yer b’y.” Clancy snarled. “Keep goin’ ya damned monkey.”

orange you glad

orange you glad

parking plot

parking plot

‘How To Give A Reading’

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.

First off: turn your cellphone off, wear comfortable shoes, avoid noisy jewelry. Cold drinks can effect the throat & make projecting more difficult – even if you have a mic you have to be heard. Holding anything in front of your mouth makes you hard to hear.

A glass of wine or a beer to loosen up is fine – more than that can lead to the need to go potty more than you might want – remember you want to meet people not be ducking into the can very five minutes. Fans following you to the washroom is just creepy.

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 & save the planet). Plus his mouth was covered.

Reading from your published book might seem a natural thing but if the font is too small for you to read from it may be too small for me to bother buying to read – have a copy of the book to show, and use something easy for you to read from. For the Kindle I bump the font size up to 24 and convert to PDF)

Have things the order you are going to read it. When readers are shuffling through loose leaf pages, jumping from notebook, to a printed text or flipping around their book(s) to find the passage(s) they planned to read I lose interest as they lose focus on what they want to read next. It makes me wonder if their  book is as disorganized as they are.

I like reader 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 get what they get without me pre-directing their understanding. If your section(s) take longer to set up with back story than they do to read pick something simpler.

An action scene with two characters – one location if possible – too many of either loses the reader. Conversation you can follow of the page. without ‘tags,’ may need more ‘tags’ when presented aloud unless you can do other voices well.

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. I try to keep in mind my audience – what I’d read at Erotic Writers is not the same as what I’d read for, say, Crime Writers Of Canada.

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 humor, the serious, the short and the long. Early pieces aren’t as sexually direct as later ones.

Try to end with incomplete action: i.e. ‘A shot rang out’ not ‘A shot rang out and missed them.’

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 :-)

plotting machines

plotting machines

wall plot

wall plot

romantic sunset meeting

romantic sunset meeting

Day One of the workshop winding down. Due to campus construction we’ve been assigned a new room – much brighter & with windows to the corridor – but with bad acoustics – how can anyone teach in such a room – so we’re straining for every word & telling people to speak up – some people that is – not everyone brings my experience of shouting over bar tenders to the workshop setting.

June 23, 2013

June 23, 2013

There’s eleven of us in the class – mostly ‘old’ hands who have taken workshops with Rosemary previously, some of us more that a couple of times. Most with some writing experience as well, some published, some getting back to writing again.

Today we mainly look at how to avoid passive protagonists – wondering why the villain usually more interesting that the hero. A passable lunch at Tim Ho’s – the only way to make a grilled cheese panini okay is to douse it with tabasco sauce – processed cheese slices ugh.

he was here a minute ago

he was here a minute ago

In the afternoon we did the first look at class members writing – two of the ‘old’ hands were the first up – hard to avoid I guess but a good way to let the newbies be less fearful when their turn comes up & also to hear just what gets said about the work.

There’s one other guy in the class – typical balance for these sort of things – rarely have I been at a writing workshop that was mostly men. As in past years I have too much to say – such is life. It’s shaping up to be another productive week.

last year’s Loyalist blog posts: #WorkshoppingKiller Dappled By SunGetting the ‘L’ Out Of Loyalist

throne dappled by sunlight

throne dappled by sunlight

Got over to Make A Racket at the Red Rocket. I’ve been aiming to check out this new reading series & had a great time. Host Sandra Cardinal offered up an eclectic mix of non-fiction, spoken word, music, drama & story telling. As it was the 200th anniversary of Laura Secord Sandra opened the show with a look her research into Laura’s life.

side by side

side by side

First feature Teri Degler read and discussed a section of her book Divine Feminine Fire. This section dealt with the ‘Transmutation of Desire.’ Like myself, she’s found it odd that so many people believe that spirituality is meant to transcended sexuality rather than a way to experience it on deeper creative level.

Next up was a quick set of great open stagers me, Vanessa McGowan (her dad never learned how to laugh), Adam Abbas (tackling limericks to good effect & actually cracked a smile), & Joshua newly moved here from Montreal (multi-generation pieces, one about newly born niece, the other partly about how is grandparents met).

a Cathy Petch étude

a Cathy Petch étude

After the break Cathy Petch hit the stage. I’ve seen & reviewed Cathy many times but she is always a compelling performer. From her Mike Tyson piece -where we sympathize with him then are dismayed by his inability to escape the violence of his life – to her fan crush on Chewbacca – to a recent death ‘On the way to your memorial I discarded pieces of the wall you hit instead of me,’ I was not disappointed.

trashy cuddle buddies

trashy cuddle buddies

Next up was Teneile Warren a Jamaican playwright/poet – a strong set with some solid poetry  about the ‘cold war of adolescence’ and a short story of her coming out – cultures may be different but the fear of coming out remains the same – fearful at first & then how much do you tell once the basic truth is out there. Dancing with guys while eyeing the other girls dancing with guys – sort of the reverse of my high-school experience of dancing with some girl while watching the guys dance.

The night wrapped with Sage Tyrtle a ‘true’ storyteller with a great tale of growing up in California with her Dad, who meets a woman at T.M. who looks like a wicked step-mother – a wry, touching & laugh-out-loud funny story about the face verses the behind the doors reality of getting caught up in the Beach Boys extended families. Makes the Kardashians look like Quakers.

A great show, on hiatus for the summer. Kudos to Red Rocket for making itself a go-to destination in the east end with regular nights of comedy, live music and spoken words.

my legs are cold

my legs are cold
loyalist sunset 2008

loyalist sunset 2008

Getting my bags packed for Loyalist. How many tee shirts? If only teleportation for luggage was possible I’d travel more. Picked a couple of sections of the Priest’s Niece to take for workshopping. I had considered one of my weird tales as they requite no backstory to understand.

dive into it

dive into it

Each year the food options on campus have shrunk as they remodel the cafeteria area – last year we were reduced to Tim Ho’s till 11 a.m. then Subway from 11 till 3 p.m. This year its only Tim’s but it’ll be open till 3. I’m hoping this year it will be a full service Tim’s. Last year, I think, they had usual line of donuts & bagels & wraps but not much else – & even those ran out as it appeared stocks weren’t replenish during the week. Once the cheddar bagels were gone by Tuesday there was no more.

nice hat

nice hat

Going off campus for lunch is a pain – we have a two hour break but that time usually used to get ready for workshopping in the afternoon. Nearest off-campus dining is another Tim’s – joy. other spots are twenty minutes away – so adding travel time etc. there’s an hour down the drain.

Here’s one of the pieces I’m taking for workshopping from my 2012 nano:

(Set in Cape Breton coal mining town – mid 1920’s)

Even though the chill of spring was over Lillian shivered under the heavy woolen cover. It wasn’t even a blanket as far as she was concerned. It kept the heat in but she felt cold. The sheet between her and the wool wasn’t thick enough to keep the coarse fiber from chafing her feet.  The cover was like everything in her uncle’s house. Coarse. Homemade. She tried to picture the parishioner who had made this and brought it as gift to her uncle. It was meant to be a rug. Under it she tugged her mother’s shawl tighter around her shoulders. It smelled of comfort, of the life she had left behind to come here to this clumsy backwater coal mining town.

Lillian pushed the stiff cover off her and swung her feet to the floor. They recoiled from the cold. She should have left the rug where it was but pulling it over her in the night was the only way she could think of to keep warm. Her uncle had offered one of the quilts but she had refused. The tattered rag patterned comforters looked even more home made than the rug.

Lillian put on her slippers and wrapped her dressing gown around her. The dark blue silk was embroidered with small pink flowers along the hem with larger ones on the pockets and lapels. It was one of the few things her uncle had let her keep when she arrived. He felt her Boston clothes were too good, too indulgent for someone living his house. He didn’t want anything to be a distraction for his parishioners.

“Such gaudy goods are a sign of a lack of faith. The Lord wants us plain when we stand before him not gussied up like a peacock.” He had said as he went through her trunk shoving all her pretty clothes aside and picking the ones he deemed suitable. “They’ll be in the attic till you are fit to leave us. Your father thinks he’s made a man of himself but he never knew the meaning of decorum.”

Her tears only made him impatient with her. Now here she was dressing in rough, colorless, shapeless pinafores, coarse linen shifts that gave her no shape. She wondered if he was more concerned with her being a temptation to him than a lure of Satan to his parishioners.

Her room didn’t even have a mirror. She hadn’t seen her face clearly since she arrived three months ago. There were no mirrors in the priest’s house and certainly none in the small church.

She splashed cold water on her face. Her hands were red and chafed from the housework she was now responsible for. Learning here what her uncle said her father and mother had failed to teach her. How to be a woman who could serve others, not a wonton who only served her own pleasures.

She sat at her dressing table to brush her hair. More than her clothes she missed her cosmetics – the lotions and creams she could use to keep her hands, soft, to keep her hair radiant. All she had been allowed some Castile rose soap. She stared at the space on the wall where a mirror had once been. She knew that by the discolored, and water-mottled rose wallpaper around a clean rectangle of red roses.

She tugged the brush through her hair trying to be gentle with the knots that always crept into it overnight. She resisted the temptation to pull harder, not wanting to break it off in clumps. She longed for a long, hot bath but that wasn’t possible in this house. Too much work to heat enough water for a bath.

One snag pulled painfully at her scalp. She began to cry. This was unbearable. All she had wanted to do was get married. At twenty-two it was time for her to get married yet her father was always on the guard for young men who wanted his money, wanted her for his money. At the same time her mother was wary of men who might not respect her as a woman. Men who would corrupt her with their unwholesome demands.

When she had met David Henderson two summers ago, she felt she had found someone to please them both. Older than her by five years, David came from an equally prosperous family. He was modest. The two of them had signed temperance cards. They had never been together unchaperoned expect when they walked to church together.

Yet when he asked her father for her hand in marriage her father had said no. He forbade her to ever see that ‘Henderson man’ again. When she pressed him for an explanation her father told her she was only to obey. At church the next week she was told that David had been sent to England by his family. They too felt this would be an unwise match. She later learned the the problem was that David’s mother was Jewish.

That was when James Dunham came into her life. A dashing and very rich man in his thirties who charmed both her mother and father. James had no family in Boston and was there to establish himself in banking. A man her parents trusted and whom she was allowed to be alone with to go to the theatre.

Only he didn’t take her to the theater every time. He would make a great show of it to her parents and then whisk her back to his rooms at the Lennox Hotel. There they would dine in private. He was eager to show her what ‘unwholesome demands’ meant on two occasions. On the second her father arrived at the door unannounced. The hotel manager thought it wise to alert her father as to what was happening.

This is what she had come to from the bright promise of Boston. Her father about to become a senator and here she was exiled in shame to Cape Breton. At least she didn’t end up in a home for wayward girls. Even though she had miscarried she was deemed unfit to be seen as member of the family in Boston society.

Her father’s brother, Uncle Pat, whom she was now to refer to as Father Patrick, had agreed to take her in. He needed a housekeep, or so his letter said. Housekeep! All she had here was an occasional kitchen helper. She was sorry she hadn’t died when she lost the baby.

“Lillian. Lillian are you about.”

“Yes Uncle Pat. I will be down momentarily.” She gave up with her hair. Without a mirror or the proper pomades there was no point in trying maintain it.

She shrugged her smock on over her head and tied a dark blue rag around her hair to keep it off her face.

In the kitchen she was relieved to see that her uncle had cut wood for her. Most mornings he left that work to her. He had even started a fire in the stove. He sat at the small pine table on the one chair in the room.

“Thank you Father Pat for getting the fire going.” She had learned quickly that her uncle expected gratitude for every thing he did around the house.

“It is my pleasure to be of service.”

She pumped water into the kettle and set it on the stove.

“Tea will be ready shortly.” she told him. “Would you like the Ceylon or the English?”

“The Ceylon I think. Yes, it’s definitely a morning for the Ceylon.”

Lillian put the iron skillet on the stove and greased it lightly. It was quickly warm enough for the one egg and one piece of bacon that her uncle ate every morning with one thick piece of bread. She was to prepare his before she could eat anything. She wasn’t allow the bacon.

Her uncle had come to Cape Breton several years ago after two years in a monastery. There he enjoyed an austere life of silence free of concern about, what he now called, objects. Yet he found the solitude taxing and dedicated that he was more suited to being of service with humanity in a more direct way.

The kettle whistled and she poured the water into the tea pot. She was allowed to have a cup of tea with him though. He felt eating in the morning together would be unseemly. Too much like what properly married catholics would do.

She served him his breakfast.

“Now you remember that today is when the union men are coming to speak with me.”
“Yes Unc … I mean Father Pat. I baked two pies last night.”

“Apple and rhubarb.”
“Yes as you asked. I also made some of the chicken soup you like.”

“Not too meaty I hope.”

“No.”

“Good. We want them to know the Lord is bountiful but also that we aren’t foolish with his bounty.” He wiped the last of the egg yolk up with a crust of the bread.

“This is very good bread, Lillian. You have learned very quickly. I’ll never forget that first loaf.” He laughed as she blushed. “I’m still using it as a door stop at the church.”

“God finds a use for everything.” She forced a laugh. It was all she could do not to run from the room to cry.

heal me

heal me

it was a windy day

it was a windy day

Here’s a new piece – the image ‘the gate of the kiss’ – came from a Robin Blaser poem. I let it lead on a word chase as variations of it played in my mind. The lilacs compliments of  Walt Whitman. As I wrote I saw the tongue as the actual gate that opens to us and for us – opens us to mystery when it is the right kiss, or slams shut on us when it is forced open. Sex is often seen as the gate way to Hell, the same-sex kiss opens that gate even wider according to some – here I see the kiss as opening to a river of opportunity, liberation.

the same windy day

the same windy day

The Gate of the Kiss

I have waited for this gate to open

to open again

to let me in or out

to let me

I have waited for the kiss

to open me

to let me in or out

the mastery mystery

the kissed gate   the gated kiss

the waited down moment

down the gate   to the river

the river of the kiss

the sanctified moments

the wonderment befuddlement

the accusation of the kiss

the slap of the gate

on your ass as you leave me

unkissed

the lilacs along the fence

the drift of mist around them

wet in heavy rain  heads drooping

dripping petals

at the gate of this kiss

this river of missed opportunities

of lost causes we sail upon

the monument of the bed

we surrender to the amnesia of orgasm

what were you thinking

what were you hearing

did you trip on this as the kiss of opportunity

at the gate way to hell

or the blessing of river

giver or taker

second to none

I have waited for the kiss

to open me

to let me in or out

I wait no longer

back yard branch office

back yard branch office

spoon battery

spoon battery

Recently someone asked me what I was listening to on my iPod. I hesitated to answer because whatever it was they would jump to conclusions about me based on the music I was listening to – if I said The Beatles – I was living the past; if I said Lady Gaga – I was a real fag; if I said Coltrane – I was elitist pretentious; if I said – Chopin – I was was beyond comprehension.

pull yourself together

pull yourself together

There are some musicians or composers, who are always on my iPod. I think I have at least 10 days of listening without repeat on tap at any given time. Once a play list gets heard it gets replaced. Each play list, in general, is a mix of pop, jazz, classical.

spoon battery

spoon battery

Nearly always on one play list or the other is: The Beatles, The Stones, Van Morrison, Jacques Brel, Sinatra, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Chopin, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Mozart. Frequently: The Animals, Procol Harum, Lou Reed, McCoy Tyner, Gabor Szabo, Bach, Dvorak. There’s one play list of Latino/French,/World Music music that often includes Otto, Osibisa, Santana, Boyo Boys, Piaf, Pizzicato Five.

When I was asked what I was listening, I replied: “Guess.” Because what they thought I was listening would tell me what they thought of me. They said Arcade Fire (am I a hipster?) when the truth was Killdozer.

sad plant

sad plant

Damned’s final show a Glad Day was a bitter-sweet night. When Zelda’s was destroyed by fire Glad stepped up to offer us a great new home to keep the series going. Ideal in many ways – in the downtown core & with a great space. We started off strong there with full house but gradually the attendance dropped but not the quality of our features – turns out many people found the flights of stairs too much – even more felt the space lacked amenities, mainly a real bar and food. Damned listened and found itself a new home – Q Space at College/Bathurst.

yule remains

yule remains

Hosted by DM Moore, the final show was a fitting farewell & thank you to Glad Day. First feature Elizabeth Ruth read from her new book Matadora. The story of a female bullfighter was one she felt compelled to research then write. Unconsciously, I think, she took a matador stance to read – one hand behind her back & the other holding her book almost like an espada. The sections she read were evocative and direct ‘frail stalks of sunflowers creaking underfoot;’ ‘teased his fingers along each of the carved letters’ & also called up the spirit of Lorca ‘a lamp shone through a blue silk shade turning her body into a bruise.’ Soon to be on my Kindle (once I clear off some of 50 other books on it now)

crappy Ikea planter

crappy Ikea planters

Due to illness our second feature couldn’t make to the show so DM opted to have the second spot filled by the open stagers; DM started us off with a fine rendering of Every time I Say Goodbye (she needs to sing more often); Marcy Rogers did another great monologue from Lesbians Who Wear Lipstick the Middle ages ‘I don’t need a dick, man, I play guitar!’ I followed with a new piece ‘The Gate of the Kiss’ & some old pieces from my Go Bump set. Philip Cairns read two pieces – one about the Hell of call-centre life & another about the Hell of dating life: ‘why do I keep falling for pretty boys who don’t want me.’ After Philip, Cate McKim took a rare step on to the open stage for a superb rending of After The Gold Rush (she needs to sing more often); the set closed with Lizzie Violet who first warmed us up with summer memories ‘melting Popsicle dripping on grass stained jeans’ then cooled us down with Thirteen Nails in The Coffin.’ See her pics of the show: BuDa pics.

no tan line

no tan line

Final feature Tania Joy entertained with great songs form her ep ‘I’ll be Around.’ She has a comfortable stage presence, warm delivery & voice – which some in the audience found reminiscent of Joan Armatrading. Her songs were emotional, uplifting and direct with touches of gospel, old school country and folk.

I'm all for Olympic wrestling

I’m all for Olympic wrestling

topoet.tumblr.com

trash for the cure

trash for the cure

At Cabaret Noir we celebrated Cate McKim’s (Morecowbell) birthday. Cate’s blog is one of the ones that inspired me to keep on bloggin’. Not that I would have stopped, but her reviews of local arts, exhibits, live theatre & cd’s launches, showed me there was a place for that sort of grass roots stuff. There are enough blogs reviewing books, movies, TV etc. – but, as far as I could tell, no one was writing about local readings.

People read reviews to decide what they want to see or read so who wants reviews of what are essentially one time events? The participants for starters, & people who have missed the event. So I took up the challenge & have been enjoying that structure.

let me in

let me in

Another blog that has been an inspiration for me is Wide Awake But Dreaming. Cassidy blogs nearly daily about the travails of writing. Often funny & always insightful – Cassidy’s book ‘Her Demonic Majesty’ is a great read, too.

two seats no waiting

two seats no waiting

Here’s one of the pieces I read at Noir.

Black

I was sitting there

after my quick hit at the open mic

putting my crumpled pages away

when the feature sat at my table

‘nice stuff

but you don’t wear enough black

for anyone to take you seriously

as a deep spoken word artist

I’m telling you this for your own good

because you got what it takes

you have to take that next step

‘til you commit to the black

no one will take you seriously’

I clutched my coat

blundered into the rain

well    unfortunately    it wasn’t raining

my feet went fast as they could past

indifferent people

who didn’t sense me crumble inside

as I made my escape to the subway

home quivering    fearful

I stumbled up the stairs

fumbled open the door to my tiny attic room

threw myself on my little bed

sobbing and shuddering with shame

what was I going to do

was it time to conform

with the nonconformists

if I really want

to taste the vibrant sting of success

that laced their sets

not wanting to give in

yet yearning for the satisfying comfort

full and total acceptance would bring

I cried myself to sleep

the very next day

I searched through vintage clothing stores

in Kensington    Queen east and west

shoved seniors aside at Value Village

tripped them at Goodwill

‘that mottled black brackish

turtle neck is mine gramma’

then I decided to go one step beyond

and hit the tanning salons

I’d show them

not only would I wear the brightest black

I’d become black

that would do the trick

then I could throw down

harsh slam verses about

empty purses

violating nurses mysteriously

and finally be taken seriously

me May 2013

me May 2013

not getting into my drawers

not getting into my drawers

Lizzie Violet’s June Noir officially kicked off summer with a night of sizzling poets, musicians, & burlesque to a packed and eager audience. First feature Ellie Anderson stepped out from behind her guitar with a warm set of poems. She openly shares her struggles with fame, body image & sexuality without letting politics or anger get in the way. At times playful: ‘I would find June in the middle of winter’ -  at times ironic ‘I would sell my integrity at half price to those who can raise me to the right hight’ – at times heartbreaking ‘on the day I met you it snowed – I didn’t know till then how could love could be.’

not sleeping together

not sleeping together

Next up was Blue Venus – traffic delays didn’t faze them. Andrea, with guitarist Jessica Stuart, did a fine summery set of original work. Their sound is refreshing without losing emotional impact. A jazzy bounce supports each piece. Andrea’s warm vocal and fine violin playing give Venus a distinct sound. Jessica adds a frisky guitar style that would fit into Paris jazz spots in the 30’s.

Final, official features, Frenchie Fatale did a simmering turn to When You Got It, Flaunt It. She’s got it and knows how to flaunt it in fine burlesque style – ending with a some traditional tassel twirling – like all good burlesque she left us wanting more.

not even sitting together

not even sitting together

After the features we were treated to an extended open stage hosted by Blanche (David Bateman) to celebrate Kate’s (morecowbell) birthday. I did a couple of pieces but sadly had to leave by 10:30 so I missed the final performers.

on stage Noir June 2013

on stage Noir June 2013

http://topoet.tumblr.com

http://topoet.tumblr.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers