‘the unzipping of the promise’

Season six of Hot Damn! has seen attendance grow steadily while the courage & numbers of slammers grow as it continues to offer a safe space for lgbtqia creatives to explore & express themselves, plus laugh, cry, sing & dance in harmony.  The newly shorn Robyn Sidhu hosted the show & left things moving smoothly with some handy Dad jokes & pointed political comments. Her family escaped Punjabi state sanctioned genocide to Canada where she now witnesses Canada’s state sanctioned genocide of its native population. 

A fair bit of the work centered around mothers – the guilt of not loving the one who never loved you, the decision not to be one, the struggle for acceptance from the one who loves you. Some addressed the struggle with body image, gender dissonance & even the conflict between biology & hormone replacement. Heartfelt without becoming melodramatic or self-pitying.

The feature Sincerely Shyy gave us a set brimming with ‘black girl magic.’ ‘she is born of the cosmos’ ‘she is an indictment’ ‘I tried to make a home out of you’. I particularly liked her piece: ‘I’m not here for the revolution – I just want to fuck you’ – it was honest, sexy, fun while being politically resonant. Her set was too short 🙂

If you’ve been reading my Hot Damn! reviews you’ll notice this time there are no quotes from the open-stagers or the slammers. One thing the Queer Slam does in regards to photos is let people op out for privacy. I decided to do the same for the performers (except the feature). The show is in a public space but its contents is only for the public that shows up. ‘the unzipping of the promise’ comes from one of the slammers.

The season finale is Friday, April 3, at Buddies in Bad Times theatre.

I did hit the open stage & presented ‘Swim’ (https://wp.me/p1RtxU-4cX) & this revised version of ‘Satisfaction’

Satisfaction 

it went exactly as planned

the only one disappointed

was me

I wanted things to be better

the story of my life

 

the right size is never right enough

a good fit isn’t adequate

the praise adulation 

are mere stop gaps

diversions

from going beyond expectations

 

good enough

feels like settling for less

it isn’t satisfying to measure up

it has to be unforgettable

 

your good enough is fine by me

but that good enough

isn’t worth bothering with

when I am the one not satisfied

by perfection

https://capfireslam.org

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‘told I am too loud’

If Hot Damn’s first 2020 show is any indication the series has successful created a welcome space for the many intensely creative people who don’t choose to conform with cultural constructs of gender, sexuality or race yet have to contend with issues of body image, language Diaspora & employment. If you don’t want your complacency challenged this show is not for you.

some lines from the first round of open stagers & slammers: we all want to get home – it’s my hand on the pen – this is where I get to tell my side of the story – O felt every time I fell in love I’d become someone new – binary craft calculators – when gender & genetics collide it’s a battle – your past will follow in your footsteps -more suitcase than body – if I stop having kids so I stop being beautiful – I don’t know how to say love in my language – afternoons spent in the belly of the beast I didn’t know had consumed me – am I now an artist or a seance – I will not be validating your feelings – you are so brave – I still carry dry petal in my pockets – one days I can’t take care of myself I look after the garden, shame is a limb that isn’t mine – I am named after the blood in my mother’s mouth

Feature Yes The Poet – started their set with a uke cover of the Rolling Stone’s Beast of Burden that gave the song a authenticness I’ve never heard in it before. It became a folkways dustbowl recording from the early 20’s. Yes’s Cuban heritage started the spoken part of set with a heartfelt prayer of thanks (in Spanish) to grandmothers that added another spiritual context to Hot Damn.

some lines from the set: joy is having something to leave behind – some nights my sex us the predator – let me be soft & not a girl at the same time -only seeing their homeland in the background off Becky’s instagram feed – shrink to fit the paper work – I’m told I am too loud by people who aha never been told to be quiet – nobody liked me but because I told jokes they left alone – 

some lines from the second round of open-stagers & slammers: to write a poem you must bust a window – tinted in all the right places – I find myself melting on an angel’s tongue – promise to live you in sickness & in sickness – they grey with the colours dancing inside – not smiling for the first time in my life – I sit & watch the feet as they go by – tricks the eyes of your heart – my gender is a rabbit pulled out of a hat every morning – sex is my disappearing act – relearning of conversation mechanics – don’t think I don’t remember you – a lumberyard of silence – Pluto did it make you feel less empty to be recognized – as if changing a costume would change the body in it – threes no shame in fear – words in a language that doesn’t belong to either of us – my skin comes with a history – pathologizing my no.

Someone asked why I don’t name who performed, other than the feature. One of the things often chanted at slams – it’s the poem not the points. So this is about the poetry not the particular poets. A winner was declared, bug happy prizes were given. A good time as had by all.

I did this piece from my Shanty Tramp set

Old School Walk

guys in high school

knew things about me

that I didn’t know

or rather didn’t fully understand

I was a small blond boy

with very fine hair

I let grow longer

like pop stars of the time

long hair that got me teased

or was that bullied

with name calling

fruit

fairy

gear box

in the days before

faggot or queer were used

I knew they meant

that I wasn’t manly enough

not that I was fem

but I was not like them

nor did I try to be

I never knew

what it was that tipped them off

until one day a guy I knew

suggested I should walk

more like man

walk like a man

I had no awareness then

of how I walked

or how men were supposed to walk

in fact

I had no body awareness

beyond my awareness

of the bodies of the boys

in the locker room

this guy

gave me some lessons

in how to walk like a man

lessons I didn’t understand

it wasn’t as if 

I was deliberately

walking any one way

it was something 

I couldn’t consciously change

the right walk

wasn’t going to cure me of anything

any more than dating girls

having sex with them

cured me of being a fairy

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

January

Sunday –  January 26 – 1:30 – feature: The Secret Handshake Gallery, 170A Baldwin (Kensington Market) – 1:30https://www.facebook.com/events/498405247456842/

March
March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

“crazy does not discriminate”

The shocking, to many, blanket of snow that covered Toronto Thursday didn’t cool the enthusiasm of the audience for the Hot Dam show hosted by Robyn Sidhu at Buddies that night. The crowd was, as always, receptive & at times noisy in response to the performers.

random lines from the open stagers & slammers that started the show. banana marshmallows for The Man With X-Ray Eyes; the candy turned into glue bars; ran faster that nightmares; my mouth unbroken; why am I haunting him; I cycle through the motions; I miss you too much to do the dishes; queer as in – if I die in prison it was not a suicide, queer as in – everything is trying to erase me; my mother asks, why are doctors lying to her; don’t you think I was a good mom.

Feature Wes Ryan gave an amazing performance, at times it was like chatting over coffee with a good friend. The pieces were deeply personal, some dealt with trauma but without melodrama or self pity. The work of a survivor who accepts the cost of lessons. random lines: I watched those pigeons grow, they would run to the edge & stop, those times you made it through without intervention, memory lapses overlapping, I had addictions: powder cocaine, taking the blame; perverts protected by apathy; get nervous when I can’t see the eyes attached to the fingers, rest was a chore I did until I was ready to relapse.

As he performed he complained about the heat (such a porn trope – is it getting hot in here?) removing sports jacket, tie etc then for one of the final poems off with his outer garments to reveal a dress.  “didn’t study dance but learned how to fall with accuracy, the thin line between fight &  flight, crazy does not discriminate.”

After the break there was a fresh, fun, open stage of cold reads of random poems from random books of poetry on the stage. What a great way to expose the audience, & poets, to the work of other poets. From the final round: my mental health is a sitcom, only my anxiety & depression ever fucked me silly, he looks at me a little too long, my mind enters rooms well after my body does, my body is a magic trick like a disappearing home that should have been safe, love is the words to a song that has no translation.

Winners were declared, prizes given out & the show wrapped by 9:30. The next Toronto Hot Damn is January 23, 2020.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

one of the scary pieces I read

The Haunting of Him

it is a parapsychological theory

I learned from ghost hunter shows

which says it is unfinished business

emotional 

hidden treasures 

lost keys

that keeps restless spirits on earth

but we had no unfinished business

so I don’t know why

I’m haunting him

Hot Algorithm Method

Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam launched its sixth season with a show that reflected & amplified the diversity of poets, slam & otherwise, in the LGBTQIA community. Passionate, articulate voices meet & perform on the stage to challenge our personal concepts of LGBTQIA.

The launch was hosted by Robyn Kaur Sidhu, with some off-stage organizing help from Robert Molloy & Heather Beamish. These are the new energy needed to propel this growing series into the the next five years 🙂 Don’t worry Charlie Petch is merely stepping back a little to let others experience grow. Stepping Back, not stepping away 🙂

After a rousing opening by Ogichdaa Kwe – with a pair of greeting songs, the show got started with a great open stage lined up. Lines from the open stagers: I give myself permission to be messy, melting on an angel’s tongue, I slap my own face, so listen to what I say/ before I change my mind, you are what I thought was impossible, your birdcage heart, temporary stitches of reconciliation, she never asked for her hair to be cut

Lines from the first slam round: the laugh track that follows my body around is deafening, algorithms know the name of the wrong man before I meet him, his body looks like security, brunch at exactly 11:03 a.m. every Sunday for the last 3 years, out of the car or out of the brain/ whichever comes first, code – nothing – to hide, lid – open – eyes, I know where my passing privilege lands, my body a war zone of what-ifs, you solidarity is performative

 

Feature Zoey Roy (https://www.facebook.com/therealzoeyroy/) took the stage and invited us into her unflinching worldview. Saskatoon’s loss is definitely Toronto’s gain.  I remember smile, you had your voice all along, we’ve been silence on purpose, your homes & our fears, every fire needs a stone, they tried so hard to bury us/ they know know we were seeds, someone who forgot they once had dreams, a rap-sheet longer than his life, in the mirror I recite a new approach, bravery doesn’t make us any more/ fear doesn’t make us any less, a nice fantasy but a crude reality

after a brief break we were into round 2: my gender got lost not he way to the poetry slam, a go-fund-me for white tears, love can burn brightly between those who are supposed to love, ideas in a book I wasn’t supposed to read, I would rather be a sinner than be unscathed, heart – felt flutter – butterfly, for the first time I am seeing the damage, silent to protect those who hurt me, said it was my fault when it wasn’t –

Scores were tallied, winners announced, prizes given. The real winners, as usual, were the audience. The next Toronto Hot Damn! is November 7, at Buddies in Bad Times.

I read a couple of pieces on the open stage including:

The Company You Keep

the owner of the cafe

had called someone

an inappropriate name

it was a twitter thing

a video 

posted of the 

owner saying 

those offensive things

now no one can go

to the cafe

without being considered guilty

of saying those things themselves

 

now

to be honest

I haven’t heard

what the owner said

I haven’t watched the video

this is all the context I know

and now

I can’t even mention the name

of the cafe

I can’t even admit 

that I’ve been there

in the past

or let it be known

that I regret

that I can’t go to that cafe

ever again

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee at Capturing Fire 2020 – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

‘Quieting the colonial hum’

 

The Hot Damn! season 5 finale filled Buddies in Bad Times to the rafters. The house filled so rapidly that the event actually started on time !! Yes, a spoken word event that started on time 🙂 House music was provided by DJ Sofia Fly, who also supplied great entrance & exit music for the slammers. Not that the energy of the house needed any help 🙂

 

The show opened with Charlie Petch’s land acknowledgment followed a set of songs by Ogichidaa Kwe. The song about the warning heard but not believed resonates in our political climate as we deal with governments who feel warnings are not to be believed without the right corporate backing.

I was one of the lucky poets who participated in Nasra Adem’s Mirror of Tarot workshop the night before at Unit 2 so I was ready to see their feature set. In a flashing of red and gold Nasra’s set was spokenword alternating with songs and a dash of political anger. 

some moments from that set: the sun looks up & catches my glint – I just want to ride my intentions – I quiet the colonial hum around me – how loud men are with their fear – healing only happens when I’m safe enough to call for help – bluest black starlight – if this shit ain’t intersectional it don’t exist – white feminism can suck my dick – you can wipe your tears they aren’t needed here.
After a break Charlie started the slam with the queer national anthem – somewhere over the rainbow. Then the eager slammers hit the stage with pieces that were emotionally powerful, funny, deeply personal & accurate skewering of our dominant culture’s inability to accept diversity on all levels.

moments from round one: a shade of blue trying make bruises jealous, half my identity was stolen from me by the time I was six, I want you to talk to me rather than write it all in your journal, compensation doesn’t undo the truth, he tried to whitewash me with his bedsheets, my bravery doesn’t mean your allyship is unnecessary, down the rabbit hole of trauma, the nights my memory of you is my razor blade, I never studied dance but learned how to fall with precision, it’s safer to play chameleon, either swallow fear of be swallowed by it, fat kids should eat because they are fat, every bite tastes like shame.

Moments from round two: you don’t want me & it cuts to my soul, wrote a note on my phone not to text you, the sound of motherhood knocks a cracked door, when in this city I avoid the subway, I would hold you the way gravity holds the atmosphere, I guess it isn’t about sex anymore, confession is telling how good she tastes, is there a way to be Christian & not be ignorant, being queer is fucking difficult, I used cover girl to cover up the hicks, congratulations! you’re straight, why can’t I be as angry as him.

Over these five years Hot Damn! as become an amazing force for diversity. It has created & maintained a safe space were the gender marginalized members of already marginalized communities can come together to express their loves, frustrations, fears and outright fucking anger without being judged. Oh right, they are judged as part of the slam, but that’s a different matter 🙂

It was a non-stop feast (or perhaps feeding frenzy) of words from the competing poets Sulva, Charly Bird, Dee Durward (QUEIRDO winner! Doe!) Robert Molloy, & Danielle Workman. After scores were tallied: the top three were (it was SO CLOSE) Jayda Marley (3rd 58.5), Fira (58.9) and winner Wes Ryan (59.2). 

 

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‘molten at the core’

Hot Damn! nears the end of its 5th spectacular season of slams and the hunger of the competitors is increasing – who wouldn’t want a trip to Washington DC to participate in Capturing Fire? The cabaret space at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre filled up quickly & the show got started nearly on time 🙂 Charlie Petch opened the show with a land acknowledgement, followed by a Welcome song by Kammy Alexson & friends. Of course Charlie’s sawed ‘Over The Rainbow’ took us into a queer wonderland of music, poetry, and slam blood, sweat & tears.

Lines from the open stagers and Round 1: a voice like wind chimes; a hole in my heart where you made me feel whole; they said my medicine was a fire hazard; a world of solo not soulless; nothing to hold on to but the hook; twist & shout all around penny lane; turning a person into a poem will not bring them back; none of this has cut you open to spill out the way it has me; I want not to miss you; we all felt we deserved it; thoughts like nesting Russian dolls; or do you mean your ally-ship is unnecessary; gotta break down to break through; playing games we didn’t create.

Feature: Inali Barger‘s set, was full of music, warmth and so many languages including sign. ‘I don’t want a translated interpretation of you;  reading your hands; the difference between boredom & passive aggression; some lost boys never get found; some parts of you only exist in private; the smell of place that hasn’t seen light in years; I’ve known so little about safety; soft as ashes but molten at the core. 

After a grief break things got started with more ppen stagers and right into Round Two: ancient fabric celebrates loses; I don’t know where I went wrong; remind me why we need community; ban the politicians; anxiety & I had it pretty good; they party on a tectonic plate; I want love without a lover; not all little girls are little boys all the same; cis-white boys shooting up schools; handshakes enough to feed us all; my dearest nightmare changed to a hallowed dream.

I’ve been to many, many shows and can tell when a performer is going to be on fire after the first two words of a piece and the night’s winner Fira Astrali’s piece about the addictive allure of toxic relationships nearly set off the sprinkler system. 

The final show of this season will be April 5. Mark it on your calendar & get to Buddies early if you want a decent seat.

for the open stage I resurrected an old piece

(line breaks imposed by WordPress):

Lament for Anna Nicole 

in the beginning was the word 

and the word was blond 

a blond who came striding
out of the sweet morning light
assured radiant reaching out
past the flock of photographers
to bring tender mercies to the world
a blond who hid fears frustration
in the twinkling wink of an eye
ready and ripe
to be a distraction for the world

here is the blond
the unattainable firm force of nature
on every tv magazine cover front page
all pondering the ways and wiles
of the soft hearted blond
who will be next
who was the last tail twist
in the trail of broken hearts

we follow 

our noses nailed to her scent
this glowing example
of what the ordinary can rise to
billionaires reality shows
who cares about cancer
when we have the blond
a rare creature of fine design
who can invade dreams
wrap legs around broken hearts

lead us out of loneliness 

by taking on all our loneliness
in a single furtive glance
away from the camera
a single shunning 

of the lime light 

for a moment 

that blesses us all 

the blond reeling and recoiling 

teetering on stilettos 

from the press of press
the lurch of bully boy interviewers
who want to expose 

the gold digger the drug addled bimbo
to show the world that the blond
is no saint 

merely another floozy chunky 

top heavy flabby doll
lucky to be in our sanctifying gaze
the blond gratefully accepts 

each slight 

by each slight she is elevated 

what comes next
what can be sacrificed now
there is no reputation left
the first born has been cut down
the blond has been shuffled off
in a shapeless body bag
leaving the newborn
a wash in a sea of whoʼs your daddy 

our father ?
is this the way the world ends 

not with a bang
but a paternity test

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Prometheus at Hot Damn

Hot Damn! started 2019 with a packed room workshop at Glad Day and a SRO house at Buddies in Bad Times – both driven by feature Regie Cabico. The participants at the workshop wrote & shared some excellent work on the spot – the level of trust among people who had never met before was encouraging, as was the diversity of the participants.

When I got to Buddies to help Charlie set up there were people already clambering to get in 🙂 so the house opened fifteen minutes earlier than usual, I did front of house & it was full enough to start the show a little after 8 (nearly on time for a poetry show). Standing room only by 8:15. Also a full sign-up sheet for slammers – 11 – a Hot Damn! record.

After some opener stagers the first round got underway with a series of politically & emotionally pieces that held nothing back on gender, indigenous, & local political issues. Round two had fewer slammers (lowest scores didn’t get to move forward) and the tone of the pieces became more reflective, personal but equally as direct and powerful.

Lines from the first part of the show: my tongue was not enough’ ‘the swish of sari silk’ ‘I could taste blood’ ‘I fell in love with a crack dealer’ ‘you are the art work of past lives’ ‘our medicine made illegal’ ‘give up your cottages and give us back our land’ ‘what he really should have admitted to you before you married’ ‘I only knew how to see you as a moving disaster’ ‘nobody giving me room to make mistakes in’ ‘betrayal tastes like fennel and sage’ ‘my neighbourhood becomes a trigger warning’ ‘you ask me if I’ll forgive you’ ‘I pray you get your forgiveness but it will never come from me’ ‘I say to them – it’s not your table’ ‘you still here with me like a cloud in my mind’ ‘as if money could regenerate our roots’ ‘I’m not sure how to tell your dad that you’re gay’

Feature Regie Cabico did a strong set drawing from his recent chapbook ‘Sticky Stars & Sheets.’ Funny, deeply personal, very sensual & inspiring. ‘jack-off in the name of leukaemia research’ ‘the warehouses are lit by flames of vodka’ ‘you will not pluck my pancreas like Prometheus’ ‘you hold me like an oar directing my past’ ‘we run like suitcases on wheels’ ‘two lonely Tony’s from West Side Story’ ‘his calf … stretched out before me like Florida’

This is not my first review of Regie though: Spoonful of Beautiful https://wp.me/p1RtxU-d2. We’ve enjoyed each other’s performances in the past so I may not be impartial – but the audience was so enthused so my review isn’t exaggerating his set. 

After a much needed break the show resumed with a few more open stagers & the final round of the slam; ‘I need a place to sit to get perspective’ ‘they’re asking me if I have a gender identity’ ‘never more than genetic coding’ ‘baby shoes take me back to memory like a phantom limb’ ‘too many of us seeking help’ ‘this body is not a temple you are invited to’ ‘my mess you speak to’ ‘oozo ozone’ ‘even my now voice is too heavy to raise’ ‘confuse tenderness with love’ ‘saying gay people should die while getting off on lesbian porn’ ‘it just isn’t about sex anymore’ ‘hidden by ink and time’ ‘the space between fingertips & footsteps.’

Scores were tabulated, prizes were given. Yes, there was a winner, who gets to compete in April for the grand prize: the trip to participate in Capturing Fire (dates tba, soon) but the real winner was the audience. Next Toronto Hot Damn! is March 7. 

(above blog pics are of construction by Buddies)

the piece I wrote at the workshop – rough draft –

Resume

Henry texted me

he was told to stay home

he’s afraid

he’ll lose his job

Henry is one of my lovers

we have been seeing other

every week or so

for over three years

 

I want him to feel

cared for

but I have no solution

for his situation

other than acknowledging his stress

 

I like Henry

but I do not love him

he wants job security

not love

 

it is hard to breathe 

in the workshop

so many perfumes

I’m glad I have no

environment allergies

 

the tenderness of

Henry’s slow kisses

is what I love

 

the tentative tongue start

draws us

into each other’s bodies

 

I love his tongue

but can’t pronounce his last name

Mwawasi

unless it is in front of me

 

in Cape Breton this summer

I will visit

my parents graves

I wasn’t there when they died

they won’t be here

when I die

they will never see my grave

 

Henry texts

he is going to bed

I hope he sleeps well

that he dreams of our kisses

not of rewriting his resume 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

‘the knife of shame’

Things change 🙂 the morning starts out a little overcast, the sidewalks are clear then an hour later one is caught in a winter wonderland of slush. Hot Damn!’s workshop facilitator and feature gets bogged down by the slush of chronic illness & things change. I end up facilitating the workshop: Vulnerability/Strength. It was productive enough, for me, at any rate. Too bad I wasn’t prepared to do more than to listen & write a little.

Charlie Petch was scrambling for a new feature while getting set for an interview before the show itself. Over supper I went though my note books to see if I had suitable pieces besides the two I had uploaded to my Kindle. It had a few things to present. I forgot what I had jotted down to work on later – some going back a few years.

Vanessa McGowan stepped up to feature, so all I had to worry about was being all judgemental for the slam. Even with slushy snow falling there was a decent house for the show at 8. Lots of great open stagers and some dynamic slammers made for a rewarding & cozy night. Plus good conversation with fellow judge Teddy Syrette.

The participants were the epitome of diversity with indigenous, trans, queers across the gender spectrum, coming from as far away as Ecuador (Hola) to share honest, emotionally raw and sometimes very funny material. This is the real power of Hot Damn!’s vision to create a safe space for queers to perform, mostly without judgement. I say mostly because part of a slam is being judged 🙂

Random lines from the open-stagers & slammers: ‘don’t tell your mother’ ‘children need parents who want to be parents’ ‘I practice reparation by topping settlers’ ‘he was masc looking but not masc looking for masc’ ‘my spirit name is isolate for safety’ ‘I want you all over mt skin’ ‘seeking wisdom in dreams’ ‘I am six minutes behind the world’ ‘nothing scares me – not even clowns’ ‘sometimes bullies look just like body guards’ ‘let me tell you where I left these bones’ ‘the attack from within is worse that the wound from without’ ‘I say to them it’s not your table’ ‘the blood I shed won’t tell me what I missed’

Vanessa’s set was emotionally charged, frank, sometime a little ironic humour slipped in – her social commentary is from within situations not from the p.o.v. of an observer. ‘we met beneath the water line’ ‘I still cannot say your name – my mouth is full of water’ ‘removing the knife of shame from throat so you can remove it from yours’ ‘covering up for poverty is exhausting’ ‘they praise me for being highly functioning’ 

Winner were declared, prizes were awarded (for those names: Hot Damn!) Next Hot Damn! is in St. Catherines in December. It returns to Buddies in Bad Time January 10, 2019.

On the open stage I read Cold Spot https://wp.me/p1RtxU-3ci & this old piece – if one considers September 2017 old – I dug out.

My Own Devices 

when I came out

to my friends

I did it by stages

like – I’m no queer

but if ‘hot movie star’

wanted to have sex with me

I’d be willing to explore

but truth to be told

I jerked off 

to a bathing suit picture

of that hot movie star

who

decades later came out

 

when I came out to my friends

as fully queer

some were 

‘You know I’m not that way’

or

some never spoke to me again

or

got drunk with me & explored

 

When I came out to my mother

she said

‘don’t tell your father’

when I came out to my father

he said

‘don’t tell your mother’

 

when I came out

no one said

‘how do you feel’

‘what does it mean to you’

no one said

‘congratulations’

or

‘it’s about fucking time’

no one

at any point

engaged me in conversation

no one ever asked

‘are you seeing someone’

no one said

‘I work with a gay guy

maybe you’d like to meet him’

no one said

‘you must feel incredibly alienated

in this small-town hard-drinking

cis-hetero-red-neck culture’

 

maybe I was too stoic

not wanting to let anyone in

being queer was enough

without presenting

as weepy drama queen

I had to be man enough 

masculine enough

to keep up appearances

so no one would suspect

the emotional uncertainty

I was drowning in

 

I was told

that so & so

who was gay

had hung himself

or 

had stepped in front of semi

on a dark highway

told that by friends 

who never said

‘I hope you don’t do that’

who never said

‘if you feel like that

talk to us’

 

when I came out

I was left to my own devices

and survived

and sometimes

I jerk off 

to the memory 

of that bathing suit picture

of the hot movie star

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

“When A Fem Walks”

Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam kicked off it’s 5th season with international flare with Korean, Middle Eastern, Asian & native poets, singers, & even dancers bringing their creativity to the stage. All are Canadians but our queer roots go deeper than nationality.

Host Charlie Petch’s boundless energy kept the night moving along well after the land acknowledgement & our queer international anthem. The hot button issue of the night was hot buttons 🙂 Hot Damn! now has official Queer Slam Buttons in a range of colours & sizes. You’ll have to come to a show to get one.

Open stagers warmed things up for the first round of the slam. I read a few pieces from my recent chap book. “they were all dead” “don’t turn the light on – I’m less lonely with you here” “being my lover takes more than persistence” “the not-for-profit industrial complex” “lower that critical gaze” “so queer I sweat rainbows & glitter”

From the first slam round: “using binary sex computers” “put a fault line across your body” “years since you left the closet but you still smell of mothballs” “launched too soon & landed too late” “bar shot after shot – you turn into your brother” “talk big act small”

Feature janice jo lee (http://janicejolee.ca) did a resonant set of poems, songs, accompanying herself on a loop station which replaced the cismale boy band of yesterday. Over dubbing herself the songs were complex, compelling & inviting. “when a fem walks down the street – she or he or they are not meat” “if you can’t handle the truth – you can’t handle the revolution” “what’s my gender today.” 

For ‘Crumpled Heart Regrowing” she added a Korean drum to the vocal layering & was join by dancer Sze-Yang Ade-Lam for a remarkable mediation on boundaries & inner strength. Between them they hit the sort emotional notes that shows like So You Think You Can Dance? strive to imitate.

From the last slam round: “morning showers bring afternoon rainbows” “separate the has been from the never was” “I’m going to keep saying my name until it is not forgotten” “when worth is only measured by western standards” “the sound of motherhood is knocking on a cracked door” “why was I born with this ticking clock.”

Winners were declared, prizes were given, photos were taken & season 5 was launched into the stratosphere 🙂 Next Toronto Hot Damn will be at Buddies in Bad Times November 15. 

Spoilers

boy gets girl

dog lives

monster vanquished

boy buys right girl

man repents

eviler spirits arise

escape succeeds

money isn’t enough

love conquers all

she feels compete in marriage

success isn’t everything

he was a she

family is reunited

all is forgiven

things are never the same again

she knows better

he finds a purpose in self sacrifice

boy gets boy

dog learns a lesson

man rescued from loneliness by child

greed is punished

being pretty isn’t fulfilling

he didn’t really want her

the lame horse wins a race

he dies saving others

the truth remains hidden

it was all a dream

there is no escaping

they were ghosts

drugs were a bad choice

bad guy repents

she was a princess all along

the villain was his father

the castle blows up

the space ship blows up

the race is won

marriage means more than career

he is a genius

the plants were evil

Satan is foiled

he walks again

she forgives her rapist

he sees the errors of his ways

his heart is ten times bigger

everyone is dead

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice-cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Bricks to Banksy 

Somehow I lost the notes I took at the Hot Damn! Showcase as part of Unit2’s Bricks & Glitter queer festival 😦 https://www.facebook.com/bricksandglitter/ So what I may quote from the show come entirely from my memory. One thing burned in my memory from the night is the actual getting to the west-end location on Stirling Road. Google was helpful to a degree, it got me in the right direction 🙂 The heat was intense, which wasn’t helped by a text message from a FB wanting to play that night. 

I gave myself time to get lost, which I did but I quickly got back on the right track. I have never been in this area, near Lansdowne. It is a simmering art warehouse district. One was dedicated to a Banksy show, a parking lot was set up as a sit-down outdoor movie theatre. A Museum Of Contemporary Art is being built. The House of Anansi  is nestled beside a craft brewery.

I found Unit2 easily & stepped back into my Cape Breton past. In Sydney friends of mine had gotten a grant to set up a store front children’s theatre for the summer. They made puppets, did show there & in playgrounds. Unit2 had that feeling of repurposed space, not finished or polished, of people working together for change, as opposed to profits. I felt more at home than I expected. In some ways it was like being in a large rec room to watch friends perform.

The showcase was excellent. Charlie Petch opened, as they do the ‘real’ show, with acknowledging the stolen land we are on & then played the Damn! anthem, on the saw. First feature was D’Scribe: ‘I pretended my parents loved me.’ I’ve seen him perform many times now & each time I have been caught up in his vision & struggles.

Charlie did the second set in which they gave us samples of Mel Malarkey, & Daughter Of Geppetto. They also did an amazing grief piece with live multilayered vocals, sound fx that invited the audience in to experience their own feeling of personal grief & loss after the recent Danforth mass shooting. It was a performance that transcended language & took us into pure emotion.

Sadly it was getting too late for me so I left before seeing Truth Is … I wanted to be home by 11 & to bed by midnight. It was a fine show & makes me eager for the start of Hot Damn!’s season 5 this fall at Buddies in Bad Times.

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