October Recap

In October TOpoet.ca  had many days with over 60 hits. India tops the list with Canada at the top of the hit list, 2nd place is USA, with India regaining 3rd. Increases seen from Mauritius & Kenya coming on strong. The blog now has 359 followers (up from 298 at the start of the year). 246 Tumblr followers. Steady increase is best. Finally down to the end of Coal Dusters one more short chapter to wrap things up in November 🙂 It’ll come in at just under 138,000 words.

My Twitter account was suspended without warning or explanation other than I had broken their rules but they refused to tell me which ones: hate speech? spamming? using copyright materials? When I pressed for an answer I was told not to bother them & that they would not reply again to my requests for explanations. So my twitter following is down to 0. It was a time waster & did nothing to enhance my productivity.

The only event, so far, in November is the Hot Damn! show on November 7 at Buddies in Bad Times. Season 5 winner Wes Ryan will be the feature. I’m giving NaNoWriMo a rest this year. Though I managed good work last year it had become a chore rather than a challenge. I may focus on organizing Picture Perfect which I hope to start blogging in 2020. Not sure what Tuesdays will bring – maybe another photo blog similar to Sunday’s.

Other blog days will remain the same. Pictures may become even more random than they are now 🙂 Friday will see lps covers & such that I’ve come across on my walks. People throw away the oddest things :-). Taking pictures is more practical, for me, than taking objects. 

TV pleasures include American Horror Story; 1984 – so far one of the best arcs of the series. Past seasons have felt stretched out by plot tangents. This one has been tight, taught & bloody good fun. The new season of Castle Rock has started & the Misery/Salem’s Lot mash up is off to a good start. Hopefully Space won’t screw up the running times as badly as they did last season. I also hope they broadcast it same time same day, instead of moving it around without notice.

Currently I’m reading: I Am Providence – a biography of HP Lovecraft by S. T. Joshi – fascinating not only for  his life but for the literary context of the time – letters-to-the-editor often became like twitter wars – with strangers taking potshots at each via the anonymity of these letters. Also a critical study by David Kalat of Toho’s Godzilla movies putting them into a cultural context. As well as the final piece in the Works of John Addington Symonds – his biography of Michelangelo.

Rant In A Tea Cup

the weather report isn’t good

no matter how nice 

the meteorologist says it is

it’s a lie 

a spin

to keep me from worrying 

about how bad it really is

no matter how perfect the days looks

it is bad

getting worse

each day less air to breath

more burning rays to avoid

 

the spin doesn’t fool me

more days when 

you can’t let seniors out till after dark

can’t let children play in the park

 

the prognoses isn’t promising

umbrellas aren‘t enough 

parkas aren’t enough

there is no protecting ourselves 

from this air we breath

from the constant crumble of the real world

 

the weather isn’t good

no matter what

America’s next top politician says

there is no roll back for the ecology

next top politician is like 

America’s next top model

they are only spokespersons

to give that hopeful spin

that change is going to come

sure it will 

but it isn’t going to a change for the better

not a change for the ordinary folk

unless that change

means big bucks for someone

the climate doesn’t have 

the right corporate sponsor

it needs a better spokesperson

 

the sunny day is a fraud

a taste of emptiness fills my mouth

when I breath what remains of our air

wondering which microscopic mote

is the one that gives me cancer

as it turns my skin to lumpy melanoma 

drooping sagging leather

rain snow sunshine highs lows

with chill uv factors

smog alerts

economic forecast grim

auto sectors need a bail out 

oil is raking in billions of profits

why not let oil bail out auto

not the highs and lows we want to see

 

so many clouds 

in the fog wrapping

around our brains 

our willingness stifled 

by the powerlessness imposed 

by powerless people in control of

spokesmodels

for hidden puppeteers

who we never will know 

because everyone is on someone 

else’s weather radar map

no one is free

no one can leave the house

without first checking 

to see what the weather is like 

the sky isn’t telling us the truth

no one is 

so take your umbrella

because a smile

isn’t enough protection any more 

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

On My Kindle 01

Last week I wrote about childhood sets of books. This week I’m looking complete sets on my Kindle. One of the cool things about Amazon for Kindle are the number of collections complete works by authors whose works can be impossible find in bookstores or even libraries. Different ebook companies have brought together set of mostly out of public domaine books at ridiculously low prices.

For example the set  “Slavery: Not Forgiven, Never Forgotten” – which for about $2 US includes:

Narrative of Frederick Douglass

12 Years a Slave

The Underground Railroad

Up From Slavery

Willie Lynch Letter

Confessions of Nat Turner

Narrative of Sojourner Truth

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

History of Mary Prince

Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom

Thirty Years a Slave

Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green

The Life of Olaudah Equiano

Behind The Scenes

Harriet: The Moses of Her People

Father Henson’s Story of His Own Life

50 Years in Chains

Twenty-Two Years a Slave and Forty Years a Freeman

Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb

Narrative of William W. Brown, a Fugitive Slave

Story of Mattie J. Jackson

A Slave Girl’s Story

From the Darkness Cometh the Light

Narrative of the Life of Moses Grandy

Narrative of Joanna

Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Who Escaped in a 3×2 Feet Box

Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley

Buried Alive (Behind Prison Walls) For a Quarter of a Century

Sketches of the Life of Joseph Mountain 

Oroonoko

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Heroic Slave

Slavery’s Pleasant Homes

Our Nig

Clotelle

Marrow of Tradition

Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

A Fool’s Errand

Bricks Without Straw

Imperium in Imperio

The Hindered Hand

The History of Abolition of African Slave-Trade

History of American Abolitionism

Pictures of Slavery in Church and State

Life, Last Words and Dying Speech of Stephen Smith Who Was Executed for Burglary

Report on Charge of Aiding and Abetting in the Rescue of a Fugitive Slave

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

Duty of Disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act

Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Gettysburg Address

XIII Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1865)

Civil Rights Act of 1866

XIV Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868)

Reconstruction Acts (1867-1868)

Whew! This is a university syllabus that probably no university book store or even research library could supply. 

Many of these sets are to broaden my knowledge of some writers who are known for their big hits; others are by authors of queer interest whose works I knew vaguely or of whom I have never heard of before until reading about them in my endless readings. One set is the Works of John Addington Symonds. I knew of him through mentions of his interactions with Walt Whitman. His books on Ancient Greek culture are sometimes citied in histories of queer writing. So I figure when I first got my Kindle to read some of those works. Interesting essays about travel in & history of Italy, but thank God writing style has changed. 

The Complete Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (+ 130 Poe short stories); Mary Shelly: The Ultimate Collection; The Complete Works of Bram Stoker. Who read what Mary Shelly wrote other than Frankenstein? Stoker wrote more than Dracula? Reading their other works one sees the why those works have faded. Mary was more or less an accidental writer & reading he rather work it’s easy to see why some suspect her husband played a role in her big hit for the plotting & characterizations. She was not really a fabulist. Bram became an almost tradition writer of his time & none of his other plots were as ‘startling’ as Dracula. 

Lovecraft is a boyhood favorite of mine. His plots are rich, his writing style now strikes me as overly florid & it is creamy influenced by the Shelly & Stoker – but he does avoid, the most part, the need for some sort of romantic subplot. My bedroom on the east coast had slated ceilings so his story about the room with odd angles in the ceiling & walls always appealed to me. Those angles lead to another dimension. I have the bio ‘I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft’ on my e.bookshelf short list.

It’s not all gloom doom or educational on the Kindle thanks to Stephen Leacock: Humour Books collection; Mark Twain: 51 Classic Works. Both of these are authors I loved in my teens. Leacock still makes me laugh out loud. Twain can go on but he had a grasp of the foibles of human nature I love. His short pieces are fun & the longer books reflect their times. Both a writers of the local experience – Americana, Canadiana full of innocence that still speaks of today. Who isn’t intimidated if not anxious dealing with banks; has the plight of blacks in the USA progressed from the fears of the runway slaves in Twain?

Book Bound

in one of those boys’ books

tom swift hardy brothers

can’t remember which one 

there were mysterious lights 

on the cliff

or were they from a strange shape 

in the ocean

hovering by the moon 

something distant and indistinct

but threatening

 

tough guys

were skulking around town 

something held in coat pockets

that might be a gun

a magnetic pulsator

that would incapacitate  

one or all of our heroes

who would come to

tied up somewhere

worry about their girlfriend

they always had girlfriends 

who were peripheral 

to the story 

but clearly in place

so we young readers

would not get a whiff 

of anything more unsavoury

that those unshaved goons

with foreign accents

who slouched around the ranch

the railway yards

to do no good

 

the boys always had girlfriends

so no one would get the idea

that they weren’t the ideal role model

ripe with normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

how to make the star capacitor

turn the hydrogen to oxygen 

so they could breathe again

float to the surface

drive off

fly off

with the adoring faces of their girlfriends

soft and worshipful

 

red-haired teens 

with freckle faces

none of them shaving yet

jumping into their roadsters

worrying about their kidnapped fathers

deciphering cryptograms

punching each other joyfully 

in the arm

as each hurdle was accomplished

as each bruise cleared up

always ready to face 

the next opportunity

never doubting what they could do

never questioning 

how they really were

what did this all mean

why couldn’t they go

a few weeks without smugglers

Martian terrorists lurking around

to make make it difficult for everyone

 

they never had to face peer pressure

other than the football team

a team that never got drunk after a big game

boys who where boys

becoming real men

growing up slowly

always gaining parental 

acceptance and approval

amazing their pals

yet not letting it go to their heads

square jawed 

rugged 

individualist who only disobeyed 

to make things better

grew up with out self doubt

normal heterosexual 

pubescent tension

that let them figure out 

how to cut those ropes

but how not to escape

what was written for them

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

every Tuesday 2019

September

17 – Shaw Festival – Sex (Mae West)

22 – Stratford Festival – Little Shop Of Horrors

Tuesday 24 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

https://www.facebook.com/events/504067323723768/

October

15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

November

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

December

The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA

January

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

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 andBbad Times Theatre

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

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

https://wp.me/p1RtxU-uJ

H. P. Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft is a master of both purple prose & terrifying visions. I remember reading him in my late teens & being drawn in totally to the out-of-kilter world he created (or was he merely describing an alternate reality that wasn’t fiction at all?) On my Kindle I now have his complete fiction: short stories, novels & even some poetry.

He took me to a disturbed Maine seaside long before Stephen King moved in 🙂 I was impressed by his writing style, though now I find it a bit florid, and was even more impressed by his decision to dispense with the happy ending. There is no escape from the tentacles in his Cthulhu Mythos.

His invented language, strange rituals & decaying churches enthralled me. One of my favourite short stories has the escapee struggle from captivity to find themselves in front of a mirror & being terrified by the monstrous creature they see. My other favourite is the room with weird angled corners that drives people mad. The Dunwich Horror is perfection (& the movie isn’t too bad either).

Re-reading many of these stories as an adult, on my Kindle, I am both transported & a little bored. How many decaying churches, or deep underground caverns full of malignant artifacts do I need to read about anyway. He has spawned an industry, though, of novels, short stories that are still being written to explore & expand his worlds. 

I was inspired by his use of language, his story telling and the ability to create & sustain a complex & compelling mythos so rich that some believe it is not fiction. I approach my Village Stories with some of this in mind – though I didn’t go for supernaturally scary but for a more emotionally culturally-scary mood.

Delete Delete Delete

I went for a walk

took my camera

to see the world as an observer

not a passer-by

I took shots of

stray shoes stray cats

a frozen smile

dirty gutters budding trees

windows that needed washing

people that needed washing

teens smoking

locked doors

cars too close to the curb

a small dribble of blood

bicycles that rotted all winter

posters pasted on closed shop windows

spray tags on mail boxes

an empty threat

cut flowers at a corner store

empty park benches

the distance between the aches

clumps of soggy newspaper

the mouth of a cave

hands holding empty air

three cellphones

a dog killing a rat

a birthday cake

a broken object that beeped faintly

green teeth

a missed opportunity

a wrong turn

a gathering of indifferent hoodies

an orange chain link fence

the last of the great ones

discarded bloody bandages

a farewell to arms

a Tim’s cup trapped in subway escalator

a dead fly in a camera shop window

a reason to go on

undergarments in a storm drain

an absent ache

dead batteries

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

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

https://www.facebook.com/TorontoGratitudeRoundup/

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

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

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

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

 

Colloquium in the Round

This year’s Toronto SpecFic Colloquium was held at The ROUND in Kensington Market. Fending off being haunted, hunted by Walmart & other big box invaders this was the ideal setting for first presenter Wendy Gay Pearson’s: Unnatural Histories and Haunted Cities. She talked about how readers have to intuit the author’s intent as we put our own meaning into it at the same time. Keeping the ghost in its historic context is a challenge. The presentation was rather academic but avoided, what I call blinding academic syntax usage, so that anyone without a linguist degree could understand what was said. Next was Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Undisclosed Desires: V.C. Andrews and H. P. Lovecraft – a hefty title for a great presentation which didn’t really require a deep knowledge of either of the authors. Again we were reminded that the reader brings their own context to a novel which was why Andrews appealed more to teenage girls than boys.

carcar out of historical context

After a break was Christopher Golden, Guest of Honour: in a Q&A with Christopher Golden interviewed by Mark Askwith – Asked about one of his novels he said, in effect: ‘an idea starts, gets written but the idea is not enough – how to make it bigger – by adding disparate elements – what couldn’t happen? Try that first.’ The Q&A covered a wide range of issues – how history depends on the context of the the viewer, how gender & sexuality weighting slants history (most history books are hetero-male-normative). A great discussion.

carseatcar seats out of automotive context

After the lunch break things continued with Peter Watts: Faith and the Fitness Landscape: he talked about the functional utility of God: believers in something are healthier, live longer etc. A funny rapid fire presentation full of acute insights: ‘our sense of morality isn’t rational’, ‘we don’t like people who do the right things, but those who do what is normal.’

snowmansnowman coping with reality context

The last presenter I stayed for was Madeline Ashby: she talked about her experiences as a fanfic writer and the nature of that community – ‘the edge is in the people who don’t do it for the money.’ She also spoke about how the Internet has ended shame – once an online nude picture of you could end a career – now it is so common place no one cares. But I thought try telling that to the teenagers who have killed themselves as result of said pictures.

Throughout all the presenters the theme of unnatural histories was explored in various ways – often the conclusion was history is in the mind of the beholder – maybe I heard this as a thread as I’ve been writing so much about personal identity as also being something we are powerless over – who we are is in the eye of the beholder.

snow03pippi without context

The Round was an excellent venue, nice lunch specials. Sandra Kasturi hosted and did a great job keeping things running on time. Best of all I won a raffle prize of a big bag of books (Oh how I wish they had been ebooks on a thumb drive I could just drop in my pocket). Next Colloquium is March 7, 2015.

samples

Recent political event in Arizona came up a few times – people amazed the the NFL stepped up – during a lull I wrote this piece:

Arizona

in this defeated

for now

Arizona religious freedom act

there was no burden of proof

gay was in the eye of the beholder

the only recourse

for the innocent heterosexual

perceived as gay

was to pull out a gun

stand your ground and shoot

the beholder in self defence

because the only thing worse

than being who you are

is being perceived

as something you are not

bookstexts without context