Summer of Love Poetry I

Over the summer months I’ve read powerful poetry collections by writers I’ve meet through Hot Damn! and Capturing Fire. It’s one thing to hear them perform & another to actually see them as page poets. All of the poets deal with the struggle for identity & acceptance either in their own sense of self or in how others perceive them. Each struggles against culture definitions of normal, being a drunk is normal, being a black cis-male is normal, having a clear gender is normal. In these mini-reviews I’ve maintained cover spelling & capitalizations, & gender pronouns as indicated in the writers’ bios.09redcup03I first heard Vita E at Capturing Fire 2015 & her writing, performance energy & fearless political stance we’re amazing. A fierce, unapologetic trans woman she is unusually fond of sky blue lipstick 🙂 Her first chapbook Dedications captures a sense of her anger, focus & energy. Too much territory gets covered in this book to quote it fairly. About black hair she says “… stronger than the ropes we used to hang from.”

The layout of the poems – all with centre justification, for me, was distracting. It may convey Vita’s rapid fire delivery of the work but forces line breaks that make the flow choppy instead of smooth, that in some cases weakens the power of the work.09redleaves02Another writer I met at Capturing Fire 2015 is Dane Figueroa Edidi. Glamorous is putting it mildly 🙂 wickedly funny, fearless & romantic she has stage presence even when not on stage 🙂 At Fire 2016 I bought her Remains: A Gathering of Bones – a diverse collection of recent work about race, politics, romance & trans life. It is clearly written, emotionally accessible & even has some humour. I enjoyed the use of mix myths, the power of ancestry & the sensual pain of loss. “Sometime through my kiss the revolution has already been won.”09redbed01I first heard kay kassirer when they hit the mic at Hot Damn! The chap book ‘Confessions of a Queer’ brings a playful use of language to strong pieces about gender, sexuality & growing up a ‘postcard borderline kid.’ The writing is fresh, imaginative & inviting. ‘you asked me when I knew I was trans … like my gender is something I picked up in a thrift shop.’ 09redflags04Angelique Palmer’s The Chambermaid’s Style Guide is one of the funniest, touching & relatable collections I’ve read about recovery. She pulls no punches, is unsparing about the risks, humiliations & losses she experienced as a result of being a drunk; about the difficulties of dealing with past trauma sober – how do you forgive your rapist? ‘When suicide was still an option/I drank a lot.’

Part 2 next Friday 🙂 Search these writers out – you might find your worldview enriched in unexpected ways.

Vita E

Dane Figueroa Edidi

kay kassirer

Angelique Palmer

coming next week:

Slipform: Moon Salt

venus selenite:

Francisco-Luis White


Merrily Roll Along

it didn’t feel right to stay

a personal appearance

is long enough

say hello to everyone

give a few choice words

then get out of there

that’s my policy

be there long enough

to make the right impression be noticed

then get out of there

before people get too bored

always be the one they want more of

not the one the’ve had enough of


so I never say much

just enough to show I’m aware

silence is the birth of wisdom

I can do that

give them something to talk about

when I’m not there

I like to get the ball rolling

then get out of the way

if things go well

I get the praise the respect

if they go wrong

no one holds me at fault

in fact

they apologize

for not fulfilling expectations

of themselves

not of me

I’m never there long enough

once I get the praise

I’m out of there

getting another ball rolling

somewhere elsesoon02



cover170x170-1on going 🙂 when new podcast are posted:  Deliciously iTunes

October  6 – Thursday Toronto, 7:30 pm, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.hotoct

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo


December – Thursday Dec 1st – Toronto, 8 pm, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St.divine


Early 2017:

my first local feature in over a year: location date TBA

it came in

April season 3 FINALS – Friday April 15th Buddies in Bad Times – early show – 7pm startgames

June 2-4: attending: Capturing Fire 2017 –


check out these poets from Capturing Fire 2015:


Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington – sweet,eh?

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‘the edge of mending’

There’s nothing Hot Damn! hotter than a man who wears a bowtie like Johnny Trinh – add talent, humour, sharp cultural insights & this is the complete package. I’ve first heard Johnny last year at Hot Damn – where he presented his ‘feature’ face – then I caught him at the Capturing Fire slam in DC & saw his combat face as he went toe-to-toe with fierce competitors. I’m a fan (not a stalker.)

Thus Hot Damn! launched its second season at the Supermarket with his powerful set, vibrant slammers & amazing open mic-ers – when a open mic includes the likes of Shane L Koyczan & Will Lliw you know the series is built to blast.


let me in!

Opening the show with the musical saw Charlie Petch kept the momentum going, crowing about the success of Hot Damners at Capturing Fire this past summer. Their porn ‘stash became a boob ‘stash quickly thanks to the heat of the crowd. The first open stagers set the mood: Emily (last name lost) with a sharp political piece: all my dreams are pipe dream but not Alaskan; you wash my mouth out till all that was left was your language; I was up next with Pie & Sermon On the Mount (two separate pieces though that would be a great title for a piece ‘Pie on the Mount’).

First round of slammers started with Kay Kassirer as sacrifice: ‘gay marriage is legal so the fight is over, right?’ Slammers Georgia Wilder, Vanessa McGowan &, Shawna Dimitry were on point with body image, gender issues & secrets: ‘the next thing I remember is three days later … I told no one for seventeen years,’ ‘in the place I am buried I am thin …. all I have is my words & they are as deep as my skin,’ ‘you’ve been spilling out for years … throwing yourself away by spoonfuls … misery loves over analysis.’


cum shot

Johnny Trinh’s set was stunning. Some slammers don’t step out of that slam style to feature but Johnny presents a whole new persona. Two of his pieces incorporated sound – the first a sound collage he interacted with – repeated fragments ‘the edge of mending is breaking,’ ‘you cannot edit my heart’ expanded the nature of poetry. ‘our breath is our own personal soundtrack,’ ‘power is a performance of control,’ ‘star spangled idolatry,’ ‘having nothing is being nothing.’ His final piece, to a guitar & cello background, was about race & sexual attraction ‘I’ve been taught to love your skin.’ He repeats the phrase ‘I do good job for you’ in a ripe Asian accent that at first comes across as comic but as it gets repeated we are forced to consider the power of that stereotype & why we find it comic. Emotionally resonant, creatively adventurous & inspiring.

After a break to tip the bartender 🙂 & buy chapbooks, the open stage wound up with Shane L Koyczan: ‘we’re not scrabble squares to rearrange’ ‘beauty is designed to sell yourself back to yourself’ & the Will Lliw: his imagery slips so smoothly & quickly it becomes impossible for me listen & trap a line at the same time.


cold ears to hear you with

Once again Kay Kassirer was sacrificed to start the final slam round ‘I am not a girl’ ‘gender is not a diagnosis.’ The slam order is reversed for this final round & the poets ramp up their attack: ‘straight causes so much bruising I don’t want to be part of it,’ ‘I’m straight because I never have to explain myself,’ ‘lips for double chocolate dipped,’ ‘a snatch all natural & sugar free,’ ‘double double like the spell of Shakespeare’s witches,’ ‘reverbs of her terror cross borders,’ ‘lose the light in their eyes & leave us,’ ‘being tolerated is not as easy at it looks’ ‘the female badge of perfection – you’re so thin.’

Vanessa McGowan wins the night in a tough race, so she’ll be in the running for the trip to Capturing Fire next year. Hot Damn! hits Hamilton next & returns to Toronto November 18 at the Supermarket. Cathy Petch closed the show with ‘the night we penetrated Gene Wilder’s nephew we lived the American dream.’


Sermon on the Mount

when I was a child

I remember the excitement of the day

Jesus was installed

arms open to greet you

1959 Aug Forest Haven_03

my Dad was a sales manager

for Memorial Gardens

a cross Canada chain of cemeteries

I think he retired sometime in the mid-80’s

I grew up under that shadow

me – the grave-digger’s son

not that he dug graves

that shadow didn’t bother me

I was an odd child already

the occult added another layer of weird


the cemetery was divided into grottos

separated by low hedges

bronze plaques instead of tombstones

was the trademark Memorial Gardens look

that and the white marble

religious statues for each of the grottos

DaVinci’s Last Supper in the Gethsemane

greeting people

was Christ

arms out spread

for the Sermon on the Mount


for a first few years

while things were being put into green shape

the Gardens were my playground

I remember the excitement of the day

Jesus was installed

the garden workers pushing Him


arms open to greet you

arms that would never close

to hold you


I was drawn to his eyes

he had comma pupils

scarily unreal eyes

that told me nothing


I longed for His embrace

but at that time

I was too young to understand


it wasn’t for spiritual contact

but a carnal love

I had no language for


when I had a language

I still longed for men

who could never enfold me

men who’s eyes

told me nothing

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