Kensington Poetry Market

There’s nothing like performing for a full house – in particular a full house for a poetry reading – in an art gallery not a bar – on a bright Sunday afternoon. Who knew people still enjoyed poetry without libations 🙂 This was The Secret Handshake Gallery, Poetry Reading Series with bill bissett sitting at the top of stairs warmly greeting the poetry fans.

I was on the bill with three other poets – none of whom I was familiar with so I didn’t know what to expect & they each gave us the unexpected. First up was Carol Malyon who opened her set with a charming children story about grandmothers. She also read some unexpected east end Toronto poems. One named checked street car stop  how we often ‘think short turns are metaphors for our lives.’ ‘compound words in cupboards – pork & beans’ ‘each day she feels herself slide a littler closer’ ‘at dawn they move apart.’

She was followed by Naomi Faufer who did a set of angel/cosmic imagistic poems. ‘air hold the invisible buoyant’ ‘music temper by insistent whispers’ ‘we can dance eon silver spoons’ ‘darkness wore her invisible cloak’. She finished her set with and unexpected interpretive dance to, I think, Kate Bush song.

Next up was David McCue with some times funny pieces that rattled the foundations of corporate greed, conformity & indifference. ‘free thought can be contagious’ ‘parched deprivation of the spirit’ ‘an inflated sense of self worth that could fill party balloons’ ‘oppressive toxicity of avarice’ ‘life preserver of convention’ ‘relentless bully of life’

I closed the show with with set that I sensed connected with the audiences in unexpected ways. First I corrected my misnaming on the poster – how hard is it to get people to understand TOpoet.ca is the name I’ve been writing, blogging, publishing & performing as for the last several years – at least I don’t have to worry about pronouns too. My set went well from the first piece, then the Terra Cotta pieces shook people – saying the names of the victims is always a challenge but stumbling over them make the piece resonate even more. The 227 Rules pieces were fun, funny. Ending with Jesus on toast was the right decision.

You Never Know Where He’ll Pop Up Next

you saw the face of Christ

in a piece of toast

you don’t own a toaster

 

why was it only the face

was the slice of bread

too small 

to hold His entire body

was the holy toaster

limited to specific body parts 

 

was it the result of

ancient aliens

who after they built the pyramids 

designed a toaster

specifically to replicate

the face of Christ in toast

a face that seems rather caucasian

for an ancient alien

 

beside you aren’t the first 

to have seen the face of Christ

where it doesn’t belong

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

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

Secret Set Building 2

Set building is progressing easily for my Secret feature. I stopped selecting pieces when I got to over 2000 words. I did a light edit as I chose them, then another when reading them out loud. At this point I’m merely interested in the sound & flow of each individual piece, though in the back of my mind is what the sequence of the pieces will be.

 

The next step was to print them out for a more hands-on edit. Editing on screen is one thing, having a hard-copy is more intense & productive. Once again I read the pieces aloud, cutting lines that don’t add to clarity, or make things too clear 🙂 I generally remove things that sound good but aren’t really a part of the piece. I also listen for verbal stumbling points.

 

This read is my first chance to get a sense of how long the reading will be. I’m also looking at the flow of the entire set – is there a theme that I wasn’t aware of? I decide which piece will open & which will close the set. I will keep it in two distinct sections though – the 2008 material will be kept together, then the fresher Rules of Monks.

I will not be going into explanations of which Rule prompted the various pieces. The pieces are not explorations or comments on the Rules themselves but a sort of lens though which I’ve filtered my thoughts. In this read through I also decide which pieces to cut so the set doesn’t seem endless to me as I perform it 🙂 Of course listeners always want more.

this is a piece that may end up in the set 

Snapped & Slapped

some people

are just asking for a slap

you know what I mean

so I snapped & slapped 

it was so fast

I hardly felt it

but it worked

it shut them up

for a few scant moments of bliss

of silence

there wasn’t even an echo

of the slap

my hand hardly felt it all

you know what I mean

if it doesn’t hurt me

it surely didn’t hurt them

other than a bit of humiliation

in front of the others

I know to be slapped

is a social thing

if we were alone

I doubt if a slap would have happened

but with an audience

what else could I do

boundaries have to be established

so I slapped

I would do it again

only harder the next time

you know what I mean

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

January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

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

Secret Set Building 

Early this year I got the flyer for this month’s Secret Handshake Poetry Reading Series – even though, once again, I was incorrectly named, I decided to go ahead & altered the flyer with correct billing – which is why I’m in the pink 🙂 Things like this make the issue of misgendering very real to me.

It’s been some years since I’ve done a feature (& at the last I had similar name issues.) One host told me TOpoet.ca was too self-promoting! I’ve never seen this list of performers: readings by X, X, X etc. All readings are self-promotion, so fuck right off you sanctimonious dick head. If I sound like a diva, don’t act surprised 🙂

Now that the diva’s out of the way – I’ve started set building for the show. I’ve gone through the last couple of months of pieces prompted by the Rules For Monks. So there will be several very fresh pieces in the set. Some of these were also influenced by my stay in Sydney – my ho town, I mean, home town in Cape Breton. In particular the nature of the culturally instilled masculinity/femininity that children never question but struggle with fulfilling. Pieces that haven’t seen been featured on the blog yet.

 

Part of the set will be out of the 2008 archives that I’ve been shifting through to include in my Monday posts. The archaeological dig of the massive pile of piece that has been getting deeper & bigger & left to ferment. As I don’t write as often as I once did it was time to actually look at what I forgotten – once I get through the typos it I have to scour my memory to figure out ‘what the hell was I getting at.’ It is rewarding. Once 2008 is done I may go back to 1998 🙂

As usual the most demanding decision will be what to wear 🙂

this may show up in the set:

What To Wear

does this fit

does it look good on me

do I look sane in it

does it turn you on

do I look educated in this

does it suit the occasion

will it get me laid

can it open doors for me

will it need to be ironed

can I wear it in public

will it turn heads

does it make me look old

look desperate

does it come in other colours

maybe a size larger

does it make up for my lack of style

do I have the guts to wear it

does it wear me

will it last longer than a glance

is it why you want me

am I anything without it

can it be replaced

can it replace me

excuse me 

while I slip into something 

more comfortable

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

January
Thursday January 23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – featuring ‘Yes The Poet’ https://www.facebook.com/events/577900226377507/ 

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

The Shrine of Saint Elizabeth

David Bateman, always a fun & generous host (digging deep into his own book collection for trivia question prizes) put together a great line up of features for the April show at the Secret Handshake Gallery – at last I can say I did a feature in Kensington Market. It was a bright warm afternoon that gave me the opportunity to play dogem with strollers, cars, people on various devices, and photographers while enjoying a great bagel from NuBagel.

blueframe

blue frames

First up was Lizzie Violet https://lizzieviolet.wordpress.com who cooled us down with some of her eerie pieces about zombies, gypsies & serial killers. ‘well worn cards of the future … choosing your lover of today,’ ‘trails of entrails,’ ‘how did I fall from grace into a chaotic blood vortex.’ Blood Vortex – a latte I’d order. Lizzie’s pics of the event: https://www.facebook.com/lizzie.violet.1/media_set?set=a.10155490776165725&type=3&l=356ec5fa21

redchairs

snow bound chairs

Next up was Philip Cairns with his animated, invested and glittering verse. His pieces abound with diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. ‘a closet full of art and no buyers,’ ‘powder blue jag crashing into a red brick wall,’ ‘ashes to ashes dust bin to dust bin.’ At The Shrine of Saint Elizabeth we found ourselves resonantly om-ing ‘Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth Taylor.’

After the break Dan Curtis Thompson did a section from “Consonance: A Stand Up Dramedy.” Although I’ve heard this piece before it remains fresh, emotional true and involving. ‘all I needed was a girl who likes the same video games as me to believe it’s real love.’ It’s always good to see a musician who doesn’t spend ten minutes tuning up. Check out his story telling series  Mountains and Molehills!

reddanger

danger ahead

I closed the show with my Born To Be Blown blast. It was a fun, energetic set of pieces to perform, pieces I’ve blogging about here on Wednesday this past month so look’em up. Heads were nodding to the rock, shoulders where jiving to the disco beat and by the end everyone wanted to ‘get head out on the highway.’

samples

a piece that didn’t make the final cut for the Born To Be Blown set:

 

Saint Jim

 

Pere Lachaise

section six section seize

‘seize the moment in section six

you have to seize the moment

saiser l’instant’

Jim starts a new song

‘you have to seize the moment

in section six’

I can hear him shout

through stage fog strobe lights

teeny bopper girls rush the stage

police push them away

as he taunts flaunts teases pleases

scowler prowler

hurt lost shouting shaman

 

like those silly teeny boppers

I lust after that idol

I wonder what they saw

that day in Miami

if he did flash the iconic cock

 

I make my way though a light rain

everything is a line in a Saint Jim song

‘making my way

through cemetery rain’

I know he‘s here somewhere

I see mystic marks sprayed

mementos of worship

‘the blue bus stops near here’

the rain stops

and I am there

 

no monument

only a flat grey space

with a tombstone

his name wrong

James isn’t Jim

beneath my feet his bones

unless they’ve been stolen

relics in sacred altars

for those who think

 

they can petition this saint

a bunch of faded flowers

some used condom lizard skins

‘lizard skins drying in the sun

show we have seized the moment’

 

I hear birds

then dozens of people

hiss of cameras

posers smile lean over the tombstone

stoke his name then gone

 

left alone

I seize my moment

unzip

flash my cock

the only gesture of his I can duplicate

construction

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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

thanks

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