Howl Ashes

One of the things I enjoyed about Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam   & Capturing Fire was not being the only queer in the room – in particular the only out queer guy. In most of the readings, spoken-word shows I went to for years I was the only one, apart from some queer women who would show up. So I found it rather ironic that when I was on HOWL this past week to talk about the queer poetry scene in TO I was once again the only gay guy on the show 🙂

Valentino pulled us together to talk some about our experience at Capturing Fire, as well as our participation in the TO lgbt poetry scene. The show include Cathy Petch, Tanya Neumeyer, Barbara Erochina & myself, as the token gay guy.


Johnny off the spot

Cathy Petch was up first with Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam news – on the Pride North Stage June 28. She read a terrific new piece ‘two little boxes/ short coffins of gender/let us lay you in one.’ She has so much coming up there can’t be an event she isn’t going to be at plus she’s putting together Hot Damn! season two. I’ve a listen:


casting out the devil

After her was Tanya Neumeyer talking about her new chap book ‘What Breaks Me Open’ (which I bought a copy of) & her summer workshops. ‘I’m so gay … when I have children they will be called queer spawn.’ The segue from Tanya to her partner Barbara Erochina was no surpise 🙂 Barbara read a perfectly chosen, edited on the spot, section from her Wrestling Girls … ‘I imagine my rib cage torn open like a gate to let Jesus in.’ Both with so much happening this summer you better to their web pages to check it out.

When I got to the mic I addressed Val’s question about reading queer material before hetero audiences. There wasn’t enough time for me to explain why I was leaving TO during pride week (the Loyalist workshop changed it’s dates to the end of June – I wasn’t avoiding Pride.) I did get to do a super fast read of Born to be Blown.


where’s the fire?

Valentino runs a great show at HOWL, asks challenging questions and apologizes like it’s an addiction 🙂 If you missed the show you can stream the show: from the player at the bottom of the page, or download it to iTunes, and listen to it whenever you like. Enjoy!


the other piece I had in case there was time:


he smells of coal

I know its a conditioner

an after shower lotion

to keep his skin from drying

into ashy patches

he smells of coal

but has never been in a mine

has probably never burned coal

the smell takes me back

to my childhood

growing up in a coal town

sorting a freshly delivered load

in the basement bin

picking though for rocks

that would pop in the furnace

scare my mother

when we moved out of that house

to one with oil heating

I never missed the smell of coal

until I met him

a tar dark skinned man

who held me with a cautious tenderness

he’d come from a country

were men of his sort

were stoned in the street

where women who loved women

could be raped with impunity

here he was still unsure

he didn’t quite believe he was safe

he couldn’t free himself

of the fear he grew up with

I cannot free myself

from the smell of coal

I grew up with the same fears

as he did

so when we meet

we taste the ashes of our pasts


June 21-26 – attending – Rosemary Aubert’s Workshop: The Novelist’s Selfie – Loyalist – Belleville

( I’ve registered already 🙂 I’m doing two presentations )


register now while there is room at the table

page 23 for details next page down for registration info

June 26, Friday, 10:00 pm – feature – Pride 2015 Erotic Cabaret – Glad Day Bookstore, 598a Yonge St., Toronto


June 27, Saturday – 9:00-  Feature along with Alissa Vox Raw, Neil Traynor:  Hot Summer Nights at Hirut, Hirut Restaurant, 2050 Danforth Ave., Toronto


September 3-6 – attending – Fan Expo


( I’ve registered already 🙂 )

October 18, Sunday – feature: Cabaret Noir: Inner Child Sacrifice


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