Getting In NaNo Shape

Spent the past couple of days getting in shape for NaNo – sitting and typing for longer periods of time – it’s one thing to check email, music sites etc but another to write for long lengths of time – so I’ve been working on short stories – writing four pages in the morning as fast as I can – then proofing that later in the day & adding more to expand so that I end up with five to six pages – about 2000 words by the time I’m done –

This is the writing rhythm I want to maintain for NaNo – once I hit their 50,000 I may slacken off a bit if I think my story nearing its end – last year I hit the magic number by November 25 – what a relief that was – I could finally do something else with my day –


The best part of last year was when the characters and story took over – letting me know what was coming next – I was able to let go of what outline I had and change direction for what proved to be a much more interesting story line – I found I was writing fast and more when I let go –

This year I’m starting pretty much where I left off last year – there are things to fill in but I’ll leave that till I get to the end or if i find myself short of word count – I have plot threads to continue, some to wrap up and a family history to explore – some of these elements may end up edited into the first part when I get it all done –


As I did last year I’ll be posting my daily word count on Facebook – plus the NaNo site – their word count counter adds it up automatically plus tell me how many words a day I need to do to get to 50,000.

I had a couple of NaNo buddies last year but it doesn’t like they’ve signed on again for this year – so if anyone wants to add me look for TOpoet –


the NaNo Express

or NaNoWriMo as it is called by people with time to spare or National Novel Writing Month by people who are willing to go the whole hog. The Express starts November 1 and careens at top speed to November 30 – it’s goal to get writers to pump out 50,000 words in those 30 days.

First off this is no longer National but International – damn Americans aren’t willing to admit the scale of things – hardly surprising when weather reports from, say Detroit, have the weather ending at the border.redsign

I jumped on board last year for the first time having heard about it in the last week of October at a writing workshop. I thought ‘I could do this.’ Luckily I came up with a very simple concept that kept presenting me with new plot, character and action every day and left me with enough material that demanded I finish it this year.

Over the past week I’ve gone over that first draft in detail. I did pull parts of it out for the writer’s workshop at Loyalist this past summer where the feed back was overwhelmingly positive.

product placement?
product placement?

How my premise bloomed was to by making a list of twenty-five possible things or circumstances in which my character could be impacted or impact others. I started with one of them and it lead to more and more. I think I only used about 4 or 5 of the possibilities on my list and some them when I needed to keep things going.

I pounded out about 60,000 words by the end of November 2010 – the world at my tingling fingertips. I knew as I was writing that I wasn’t going to keeping everything once I started to edit – I even had a few half-scenes that I realized weren’t pushing the story but I did keep them for the word count – after all I did write them in the time frame.

dead end table
dead end table

As I did last year I’ll be posting my daily 2011 and cumulative word count on Facebook.

Plasticine Turns 5

Got out to Plasticine Poetry (October 16, 2011) to help celebrate their 5th anniversary. Congratulations to Michael & his host Cathy (Charlie in 2021) for being so dedicated. Having run &/or hosted more than a couple of reading series myself, I know the hard work that goes into it – the sweat waiting for people to arrive is the icing on the cake – speaking of which thanks for the anniversary cake – great poetry and eating your cake too – who could ask for more?


Plasticine has wisely moved their stage to a more central point in the room and away from the piano – poetry in the round – which gave us improved sight lines for more of the room. Unwise was to put the few open-stagers on at the end of the show – by the time they hit the stage over half the room had departed.

Charlie Petch, in a kick-ass pair of boots, didn’t seemed all that exhausted from competing in the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, but was happy to participate in a show where score cards weren’t being held aloft.


The first set started off with Plasticine’s organizer Michael Fraser – he read romantic new pieces, tributes to his youthful inspiration: James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and some from his book which he was going to offer for a special anniversary price but left the copies at home. He was followed (I think) by Natalie Zina Walschots, whom I have never heard before. She did a great engaging set of comic fan-gal material that transcended its origins with pieces that worked even without knowing the supervillians to whom she paid tribute.


She was followed by David Silverberg, also looking remarkably fresh from the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word – which he helped organize here in Toronto. As always he did a strong set of accessible yet cerebral material, some comic, some commentary. Plus a great audience participation – we gave nouns, verbs etc that substituted for nouns verbs etc in a well-loved piece of poetry.

After the break the second set started with James Dewar – another poet I’ve heard many times before and always enjoy. Relaxed and tender – he makes heterosexuality almost seem like a good thing. The final feature was Margaret Christakos – another poet I’ve never heard before. I found her an engaging reader. The material lifted well from the page but some of the connections were in the tangental shifts in the way words on the page bounced off of each other with echos that got lost, for me, as I tried to follow the drifting images.

If it’s fair to judge a series by the quality of it open-stagers Plasticine shines with short turns by RC Weslowski (here for the Festive), Adam Abbas (a feature at next month’s  Plasticine), Liz Howard  & Christian with a flame-thrower ode to the Art Bar.

writing sample
writing sample

I also hit the open stage with two new pieces. Here’s one of them:

Only Three Units Left

a grudge match

women with baby buggies

jostle to get by

each other

the patio

the man with his two sweet little dogs

the dog bark

the babies cry

the women

glare    dart their baby carriages

at each other  bitch   bitch

get out of the way bitch


fingers start to itch

welcome to murder city

new condos going up

thousands of units available

store clerk watches

teenagers shove each other

in front of the magazines

the pop cooler

teens mutter

get your fuckin’ eyes off me bitch

bitch bitch

prick prick prick

is it a crime to be a teenager


well in fact it is

here in murder city

shots or backfires

smell of burning

bbq or arson

something   someone

falls from a balcony

screech of car ties

blood  ketchup  paint on the street


all the same

here in murder city

don’t walk at night

behind a woman

even if you just

leave the subway at the same time

don’t walk behind her

she could turn scream  shoot you

get away with it


here in murder city

condos go up

poverty increases

throats cut   babies battered

cameras everywhere

to catch each drip

reporters to ask

did it feel sacred

were you scared scarred


here in murder city

chokes from the ally

gasps for help or sexual pleasure

who can tell

yeah fuck yeah fuck

ouch yeah ouch

yeah crime is sex

here in murder city

only three units left


Jackie Toast

The Beautiful and the Damned (BuDa) Jackie Burroughs’ Toast (not roast) at Zelda’s was yet another packed house for this new series. As one of the organizers I have to admit we are doing something right to pack them in with Canadian Festival of Spoken Word ( also packing them in on the same night.

DM Moore hosted a great show with strong open-stage performances by Marcy Rogers, and David Bateman.  Philip Cairns did a sweet, high-glitter, featurette with some of his affectionate poems about Jackie. First feature Sandy Day launched her book ‘Chatterbox  Poems.’ Having read the book I was curious to see how she would present her work. The book is structured with a prose piece then a poem – often the prose commenting on the poem to follow, which I quite enjoyed but wondered how the poetry would breath without the prose.


Sandy gave a strong if slightly nervous reading on her work. For her first time before an audience she did very well. The material was strong but, as I did with the book, I found the prose passages more emotionally grounded.

I did my featurette in the second set – mostly material from ‘Walk Through’ (a chap books of pieces inspired by Jackie) with one piece ‘Shitman’ that I had written with Jackie in mind. It brought down the house, while the ‘Walk Through’ pieces I choose got some laughs and even a few tears. Plus I sold some chapbooks.


Rex Baunset closed the show with a rollicking, high-energy set of fierce gay-folk-punk songs. This man and an acoustic guitar blew the roof off. I’ve heard Rex several time now and each time he gets better. His new songs were funny and hard-hitting at the same time. Someone get this man a record contract.

Being part of the BuDa team my opinions may not be totally impartial but such is life.



he had a shitty attitude

everyone knew that

even passing in the the street

strangers knew he had a shitty attitude

and he didn’t give a shit

if they didn’t like his shitty attitude

they could eat shit and die

for all he cared

for all they cared he was dead


he knew that

by the way they glanced so quickly

looking a way in dismay

acting as if he wasn’t even there

as if they could see though shit

they didn’t know jack shit

that much he knew

and so he didn’t care

if they shit in their shoes when he was near them


he chuckled

shitman would be his super hero name

is it a bird

is a plane

no it’s shitman

and they would crap their pants


that would fix all those mucky muck politicians

if he went to a big important speech

stood in front of them

as they spouted their bullshit to the nation

and glanced down at him

and shit their pants

right there on stage


he could see the look on the face of

the president

the prime minister

the queen

as they found themselves in front of the world

all those cameras microphones reporters

unable to hold it in another minute

that panic as sphincter muscles relaxed

and they crapped their pants

as the smell was recognized


what a laugh that would be

as everyone pretended there was no shit

acted as if the mucky muck had not

just dumped a load in his pants

right their in front of everyone

as he waddled off stage

with that shit my pants walk

crap oozing down into his shoes


yea for shitman

that would be so sweet