Chew My Bacca

Glad Day Books’ Naked Heart literary festival had so many events I needed a clone to take in all the ones I wanted to get to – three events at the same time – that calls for some sort of Skype, right? Maybe next year someone can be talked into doing recordings for podcasts.

On Saturday I took in IN:VERSE – Poetry & Tea: at DAVIDsTEA. I got there a little after 3 pm & the house as already packed – though it turns out some were just there to get a cup of tea. But it was a standing room event. I managed to wedge myself into table with good sight lines. I was eager to hear a line up of writers all, but one, of whom I had never heard. The host, whose name I never did find out, ran a tight ship, though a few of the readers had bios nearly as long as their sets – in future skip bios that are already in the guide, guys – that’ll give readers more time.

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Robert Steckling started the event with a short short story about the isolation of downtown apartment living: ‘eyes uninterrupted that seemed to look at nothing,’ ‘his breakfast was a taxi home,’ ‘stay with me as long as you don’t talk.’ Next up was Ralph Hamilton with emotionally resonant poems about loss: ‘I stepped in the dark just to breath his air,’ ‘duelling peeing over an open commode,’ ‘a voice called like a warm summer rain.’

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Then Lucas Crawford, a Cape Bretoner transplanted to Vancouver did an excellent piece about Rita MacNeil ‘you asked to have your ashes put into a tea pot, two if necessary, ‘a sea of capsized bass notes,’ ‘gravitas of a fat women who longs for the microphone,’ ‘a kilt is a portal to a new dimension.’ As a Cape Bretoner myself this set resonated with me. Lucas was followed by Keith Ribian (sp?) with his poetic looks at Frida Kahlo & Derek Jarman: ‘it’s all in the bite,’ ‘anything to return to old virginity’ ‘at the Museum of Modern Art I am deluged by stupidity.’ ‘the stated altitudes of sex.’mirror03

Jordaan Mason ‘having a body is weird,’ ‘I draw a map on my body of each of the times I said no, ‘I want to yell your name until we are surrounded by wild animals.’ Eric Wright: transplanted from Montreal with several short sexy imagist pieces: ‘a kiss never planted,’ ‘dead pan forged,’ ‘seeping in your ear & foaming around your sheets.’

Debra Anderson read first from her novel Code White: ‘we are racing against night & the meds,’ ‘some sort of promise passed between us.’ Then a piece about The Slow Dance ‘she looked like a watered down Joan Jett, ‘none of the people I held in my arms tonight were you.’

Cathy Petch closed the show: no one asks what volunteers rehiring from, ‘the feeling that my skin was drag.’ After some rousing haiku & saw playing she ended with her Ode To Chewbacca that came from her ‘star warring heart’ with a plea for him ‘to chew her bacca.’

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Each of the readers brought strong points of view, along with divergent literary approaches and performance styles for a very rich hour of queer vision, talent & dare I say it, community.

samples

Identity

you aren’t you

she shouted pointing at me

I don’t know who you are

you aren’t you

he’s you

she went on

pointing to a heavy set black man

who smiled and waved at me

 

great, I thought,

I’ll finally know what it feels

like to have a thick black cock

 

how long did you think

you could get away with it

she stepped closer

pretending to be yourself

some one you clearly are not

 

thanks, I got a word in edge wise,

now that I can stop being me

I can be who I really am

 

that’s not how it works

she glared at me

you can’t just become anyone else

because you aren’t you

 

what about me

the black guy came over

to shake my hand

pleased to meet me

 

he’s not you

she pushed us apart

neither of you are each other either

you are both not

who you are

can’t you get it through your heads

she was nearly screaming

 

but I’ve always wanted to a white dude

the black guy said

if I’m him

I’m not this big black guy anymore

 

no no no the woman was scornful

it’s not that simple

stop thinking you are who you think you are

because you aren’t you

he’s you

identity is in the eye of the beholder

don’t you get it

she was exasperated

as if we were children

how can I make it any simpler

you can’t change what you are

 

well, I tried

I’m not you, for starters

are you you

 

of course I am, she snapped

but trust me I know you aren’t you

he is you

and don’t you forget it

okay okay I get the picture

I tried to calm her down

it felt good not to be me

to let go of all that identity crap

I was finally free

I looked at the self

I was just introduced to

let’s get out of here

I said

it’s time we learned how to

play with myself

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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‘the texture of a body’

It’s always great to see & hear poets I don’t know, poets I’ve never met before even socially. So I was eager to get out to Brock Hessel’s Deep Impact at Glad Day Books. Brock out together this evening for two poets visiting from Ohio. Elly Rasile and Nick Kostas Kratsas by creating a fun frame work around the summer blockbuster Deep Impact – which was projected onto the ceiling. I’m not sure how I would have felt with the giant face of Morgan Freeman looming over me as I performed.

Up first was Sara June Woods with some letter and list poems. The letters were to inanimate objects: i.e. Dear Drapes. Funny, tender and full of images: ‘fire words that could keep us warm and kill us all at once,’ ‘a room of dead wasps I have to put into drawers,’ ‘sure he has a cute head wound .’ Her list poem What Being A Girl Is Like told us it was like ‘burning down the tallest bank in your home town & helping people escape.’

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dead?

Next was Emily Izsak with surreal pieces about relationships & family: ‘we build pornographic snow sculptures,’ ‘ cactus rebels host string quartets,’ ‘cat call clavicles,’ ‘watch out for potholes when you skateboard down McLeod’s lane.’ She was followed by Oliver Cusimano whose pieces were even more surreal, rather Dada in fact with his experiments in form – using limited, selected source vocabulary & also letter play so that letters in words in each piece also spelt out the name of bars, flowers etc. The results were a bit jumbled but the images were startling & abstract: ‘no longer could our views hold stones,’ ‘a finger to the corner of the bedside view,’ ‘when rain was syntax,’ ‘blue handle waving death’ & my favourite ‘addiction seeks translation by isolation.’

bluechair

baby blues

After a break Jordaan Mason presented a set of sweetly romantic, funny & emotionally resonant queer pieces. ‘we walked in circles until we were swans,’ ‘I want us to climb separate trees then look at each other,’ ‘can I pull this colour off?/ Can I pull this colour off my skin,’ ‘the texture of a body near my body,’ ‘we exchanged clothes instead of kisses.’

woodhorse

horse reconstructed

Elly Rasile lead the out of towner charge with a set of emotive, wry and open-hearted poems about relationships, expectations & sex: ‘a sweater sleeve trail leading to a box of my ex’s stuff,’ ‘he didn’t get hard because he was thinking about what to do with his eyes,’ ‘I only sound convincing when I say I might phone.’

Nick Kostas Kratsas wrapped the night with a emotionally accessible set of pieces – one about being a middle child: ‘avoid eye contact and roll with the punches.’ His writing is filled with clear, if slightly off kilter images: ‘heard hum of an expression’ ‘wet pallet to the white noise,’ ‘skin burnt to gold,’ loved: ‘bedroom eyes reduced my field of vision.’

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toy for emotions

A great night & the astroids that survived the deep impact spun down the Glad Day stairs and back into the reluctant night streets of Toronto.

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Tuesday

He gives me a call

a peace offering

an invitation

an offer

to nail my left hand

to the floor

but he has no camera

he calls

on days

when his memory

is fading

the echo of the moon

in an old well

he speaks

French threats

innuendos

of vague violence

I cannot resist

I cannot confront

direct violence

I have a fear of pain

pain as a fear of his echo

facts to face

I am afraid

of enjoying the nail

of relishing each thud of the hammer

I remember

the bite of his teeth

even when I cannot

recall the feeling

of his lips

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