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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Glitter Reflections at #CapFire18

Friday I opted to do nothing – no tourist jaunts to conserve my energy for the Fire start later in the day. After hitting the DuPont club I went over to Ted’s Bulletin on 14th for their big breakfast. After a 10 to 15 minute wait for a table turned into 25 I left – clearly Friday is not a good day for someone wanting a single booth. Busboys & Poets was near by so I had a great burger there.

Rested at hotel. Selected the right shirt for the show. Left around 4:30 to give myself time to get lost finding the venue. Metro was simple enough as I get used to it. I got off at Chinatown/Gallery & even found the right direction on 7th. The maps all made Woolly Mammoth appear to close to 6th & D corner – where in fact it was nearly on the corner for 7th. A bit of walking in circles & I found it 🙂

Got my copy of the Stoked Words anthology. Lots of restaurants to choose from as this was centre of the theatre district. Chicken caesar & back to Woolly. Lots of familiar faces & the same old story. People starting conversations while looking over your shoulder for someone more compelling to talk to. I didn’t even bother trying to respond tho ‘how are you’ knowing full well they wouldn’t stay long enough to hear my response.

One poet asked what pronoun I preferred – which I think is great – but they were offended when I said ‘it.’ Rather than engage they rushed off to hug & chat with fiends who where less ‘challenging.’ It was great to see the Toronto crew though Charlie – in the demanding role of Slam Coordinator; D’Scribe in the demanding role of themself 🙂

The book launch was a true lesson in diversity, voice, style and world-view. With nearly 30 poets – or was it more, I lost count – I felt washed, baptized, sanctified & blessed. I also was reminded that the deeper the suffering the greater the authenticity. I don’t suffer enough, in my writing, to be considered authentic.

 

By the time all the poets had read I was exhausted to the point where I couldn’t hear anymore. Not that I was deaf but I wasn’t able to absorb any more poetry. I made my weary way back to the Fairfax. slipped more than my shoes. Checked my email. Laid down & fell asleep instantly. My sleep was deep and authentic.

on of my pieces in the anthology – not quite as it appears there as I tweaked it while waiting to perform 🙂

Oogie Inferno

if you’re thinkin’ I’m too cool to boogie

boy oh boy have I got news for you

I love the sweaty potential of the dance floor

the solid mass of men mobile  shifting

eagerly crammed     crowded by the bass line

the righteous revival fever of a contralto

everybody here tonight must boogie

let me tell ya’ I was no exception to the rule

the heat was on (burnin’),

rising to the top, huh!

eyes closed    hands open

 

shirtless strutters in sweat soaked satin shorts

muscles      bloated bellies

a guy spinning in circles in his wheelchair

no one cares

as flesh wound around   pulled by the driving

boogie oogie oogie

 

an endless moment of contact high

thigh to thigh contact

the heat was on, rising to the top

where the keyboard was underfoot

put your feet to the beat

peak after peak of solid state sweat

turn this beat around

no voice heard that wasn’t amplified

no time to waste

let’s get this show on the road

listen to the music and let our bodies flow

yowsa yowsa yowsa      dance dance dance

shame shame shame

we were shimmering glittering

ready to take on the future

beep beep toot toot

 

I love the moment of stepping into the mass

the sooner I begin the longer I’ve got to groove

listen to the music and let bodies move

make a space for myself

get approving once overs

then not care who’s lookin’

but when my spark got hot

I heard somebody say

Burn baby burnin’ the house down

gonna boogie oogie oogie

till you just can’t boogie no more

 

I love the blur as I am transported

out the body    out of the mind

satisfaction (uhu hu hu) in the chain reaction

released from all sense of self

except for the one caught       immersed

push push in the bush bush

lost for hours

boogie oogie oogie

 

taking a breather wet glistening

asked what are you on

having my answer of nothing disbelieved

as if the music and testosterone

aren’t enough for me to

burn that cocksucker down

because have I got news for you

this could be the last dance

everybody here tonight must

boogie oogie oogie

Hot Damn’s Pine Needle Eyes

My Hot Damn! experience this month began with a workshop at Glad Day Books lead by D’Scribe that lead us through a fun prompt then on to various practical aspects of performing. There were some simple voice- warmups; talk about the use of volume, speed & hand gesture – ending every piece with a middle finger isn’t a good idea 🙂 There was time for some of us to try some of these techniques on one of our own pieces.

The Hot Damn! slam at Buddies was an enthusiastic, intimate. After after acknowledging the land and the debt of settlers to the original people of Turtle Island Charlie launched into the Hot Damn! anthem ‘Over The Rainbow’ on music saw. They talked about Soaring Eagle’s Camp in Toronto that is calling attention to indigenous people & justice.

After donning our selection for the moustache party Charlie gave us an exclusive sneak peek at their new piece “Daughter Of Geppetto” to debut at the Emergency Performance Festival #22 in Peterborough March 22/23/24. ‘when I was just a talking log’-  Chopin’s Nocturne 9 #2 clearly played a big part in teaching that log to talk.

Open stagers and slammers hit the stage. I presented Terra Cotta (below) & Pleasure Shame (see my blog post of the same name) “I circle around your square like a tourist” “smelling the difference between rice & books” “lie of the moments as I write the story you want to hear” “two weeks with the company of your empty bed” “I unplugged your alarm clock” “drive the side streets of my heart beats” “dancing beneath the cosmos following the moon home” “when I was born those bodies were found” “thirty pounds of my life on my back” “I will love you though I never met you” “they live in the garden of a house that is a home”

D’Scribe did a energizing set that was often a barely controlled rant – spilling over with fearless & emotionally resonant pieces were about oppression of indigenous people, addictions & it ended with a fun piece about oral sex. “you can hear the break of all our hearts at once” “we are more than the pain they throw us” “silence rarely changes anything” “the news never tells us the full story” “pine needles eyes with a hint of hazel” “I kept drinking to find an answer” “still breathing but dead inside” “my biggest regret is not being good enough”

A rare tie for for first place sends two slammers to the season finale on April 6 at Buddies In Bad Times. The winner of that slam gets swell prizes including a trip to Washing DC for Capturing Fire in June. One of the features will be the amazing Witch Prophet. 

Terra Cotta

he insisted

on terra cotta flower pots

not pots

planters

you know the kind big enough

for a …

oh you’ve heard this story

you know where it’s going

unlike the men

meeting him

they didn’t know where they were going

just that he promised

to take them somewhere

offered –

well I’m not sure what he offered

it’s hard to call that something sex

I guess I’m old fashioned that way

 

terra cotta is better for the plants

for the roots

it breathes properly

allows water to filter through

plastic containers trap the water

traps insects

plastic absorbs heat

the soil doesn’t breathe

 

neither do the men

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‘I Am Not Universal’

The third season finale for the unstoppable Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam filled Buddies to the rafters. That this queer slam circuit would become so quickly establish & vital clearly reflects the power of poetry and the hunger there is for queer performers to have a safe, inviting, encouraging space to share their work. If you think, what the fuck is he going on about – trust me covert & not so convert homophobia is always present – in the local poetry scene.

As always Charlie Petch opened the show with an homage to the people whose stolen land we live on & then with the queer national anthem. No time was wasted before the open stagers (not in performance order) Fira Astrali, Niambi Leigh, D’Scribe, Ossian Maceachern, Shawna Dimitry, & Darcy Alemany (title of this blog post is from one of his pieces) tore up the mic with the first round of pieces:

black girls never win the Bachelor – Trump didn’t invent racism – I want to say best & breast comes out – saying I’m sorry more often than I say I love you – how much am I allowed to love you – I don’t speak the language of my ancestors – the nail is not a fashion statement – Justin: just in time for Time magazine – what right angle explains attraction – straight because I never had  to prove I was straight – a love that doesn’t need to be gendered – you can be attracted to people of who are more than a single gender – sudden onset of requests for threesomes – this mouth keeps you warm at night -nthis mouth starts forest fires on Saturdays – this mouth tries not to remember – Dear Love, don’t find this creepy, but I like to watch you – are you the devil, is that why I worship you – I’m am not universal I am just here –

Next up was Queen Sheba. Can I mention the feature’s fashion sense without coming off as a typical shallow gay man? Whatever, as if I have a reputation to lose, right? She was fly in smart hat, tight red skirt & heels for days. Her pieces were powerful, funny, emotional & directly from the heart. – riding the rainbow – bruises as medals of honour – only as strong as out last execution – no place in a woman’s house is a hiding place, God will give you the gift but you’ll never know what it is until you open it – dive too young to know what a diva is – directly from lips to your curiosity – I cool-side-of-the-pillow love you. She finished with truncated version of her Period piece that was hilarious, explicit & made me grateful I’m male.

After a brief break Charlie launched the second round – her scrubs are dancing too – maybe that’s just my IV lines – I smell like a Wes Craven movie – he has lost most of who he is – our pain is not illegitimate – compassion was a childhood myth – still leaving myself in dreams – this is what a leaving hurricane looks like – lets talk the theology of the margins – better to shut up & pay the bills – one day you’ll be okay – edges of edges you wish you didn’t know – pray your medication protects you from evil – my God is made of the arms of my friends – no one deserves to pray alone –
I look forward to seeing winner D’Scribe  wow them at Capturing Fire in Washington DC this June. Stay tuned for season four of Hot Damn!

 

on Friday I took in Queen Sheba’s writing workshop. One of the exercises was a free-write with a new word introduced every 30 seconds. This is my very incoherent product?

The Caffeinated Dragon

the cup is a vessel

of unstoppable thought

caffeine sets off in its way

my conscious mind

can’t contain the words dancing

irritation on the page

spelling trips over its feet

trying to keep up

with the love of the flow

the place we go off the page

where I scatter

these steps skipping lines

with double dutch infections

the ship of schools

requires attention

I can’t attend to

not that the open window

distracts me

distances me

I know the page

isn’t a glass

yet I see through it to

food for the next

trip trippy world

to the next dance

each a pas de paradox

a menu of random improvisations

that call for bigger letters

sloppier writing

to empty the free flying feet

to the reading of the

window of the mind

under the eaves of distraction

the shudders

shutters

shooters in schools of thought

not caring

not daring

to find more

than the flow

of the caffeinated dragon

snorting the fire dance

sword dance

half-a-chance to catch breath

deep in the mines

not digging

dragging more

thoughts up the stairs

catching the eyes

that dread the dead end

the last drop of coffee

 

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check out these poets from  Capturing Fire 2015 & 2016

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