#Boyfriend

Even with the Jays game there was a good turn out for the Naked Heart – Howling Against Assimilation  panel. It was held at the City Park Library – the brainchild of Jeff Kirby. It is housed in what was once a huge deserted storage room off the stairwell to the parking garages at City Park. This a brilliant repurposing of space in the co-op. Everything in the space: furniture, books, even the computers have been donated by the community it serves.

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entrance to City Park Library

Kirby moderated the panel & opened it up with a discussion of a larger assimilation issue – why has queer lit gone from edgy erotic sex to middle-of-the-road romance over the past decades. I don’t think any of us panellists were prepared for a discussion of contemporary queer literature mind you.

My take was that with gay marriage came a move to play down queer sexuality in favour of traditional heteronormative values. Those queers who have sex outside of relationships are sluts & are not presenting a positive image to the heteronormative world – slut shamming. I saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement with me. Peter Kingstone speculated that some of it has to do with the HIV crisis as well.

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stairs to parking garage & City Park Library

Peter talked about his various video projects that explore giving voice to various often dismissed people. Part of his ‘assimilation’ & resistance to it springs from his experiences as a sex trade worker, which he regards as ‘ordinary’ but often created a gulf of judgement when he presents creative aspects of himself outside of that context.

Catherine Hernandez talked about the balance of being true to one’s inner spirit & the need to fulfill grant stipulations – to put food on the able without being compromised creatively. Articulate & creative she finds the energy for that balance can be distracting but the projects she is working on are clearly challenge she likes to face.

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stairwell mirror selfie

Kaleigh Trace talked her mobility issues – of body sovereignty – how ablists would rather see her as thwarted & unfulfilled by her physical condition as opposed to seeing her as a intact & happy in her own skin woman.

Toward the end of the panel the nature of body sovereignty took stage. Catherine remarked on the trope of the wise person also being the damaged person – they may be ‘fill in the bank’ but they re wise to make up for it. It made me wonder what the reaction would be to, say, a blind asshole?

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Peter, Catherine & myself read from our work a piece the reflected in some way the nature of refusing to be assimilated. I trucked out Boyfriend which I’ve posted below. An excellent panel which certainly made up for the Jays losing 🙂

sample

Boyfriend

I’m so excited

I have a new boy friend

he’s barely fifteen

 

years younger than me

 

did that pause catch you off guard

were you sure I was going to say

he was only fifteen years old

was it hard enough to think of a man

having a boyfriend at all

then add to it the shudder that it was

an innocent emotionally underdeveloped

fifteen year old child

 

though I can remember me at fifteen

jacking off to visions of rock star cock

Jimi Hendrix Bruce Springsteen

that I wished there in my bed

 

telling you too much am I

get used to it

I’ve heard enough straight poets go on

sparing no intimate details

about blissful raspberry nipples

moist peach fuzzed mounds

 

so I’ll talk about man on man action

even if it makes some of you restless

a bit bored     a bit threatened

girl on girl would make you more comfortable

 

I usually try to make the nestling

of men’s bodies into each other

sound sort of sweet and tender

pulling myself away

from the gasp   grasp of sweat    pubic hair

 

so I’m excited

about my new boyfriend

though I hate boyfriend

boy carries that too young taint

man friend isn’t close

lover is more complex than it is at this point

bed buddy     yeah I like that

I have a new bed buddy

he’s nearly fifteen

 

years younger than me

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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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First Person Pleasure

Glad Day Book’s Naked Heart is an ambitious new literary festival. Organized around the participation of over 100 lgbtqf’s performers – yes, that is getting more & more unwieldy as more sub-communities insist on inclusivity – ‘f’ is for ‘fluid’ – I’m sure we’ll be adding ‘c’ eventually for cis-queers. Anyway events are bing held in the down core at the bookstore, cafes, bars & Buddies.

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I got out to First Person Pleasure: Non-Fiction Sex Writing at Glad Day. Moderated by Jon Pressick the panel looked at writing non-fiction (as opposed to non-friction) sex. They addressed many issues from anonymity, form, transgressiveness & why. The ‘why’ was, for them, a way of gaining personal insight by writing about their experiences – a way also of putting themselves back into it.

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Katie Sly spoke about the writing process as a way of reversing camera angles – when she’s having sex it can be like watching it happen to her, when she writes about it she experiences it more fully, when you read about it you watch it happen to her. I liked her piece ‘piss play is everything I imagined it would be’ – which elevated w.s. to a nearly sacred experience of intimacy.

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Mike Miksche sees his reporting as a way to open a window into worlds that people are afraid to go in to. He strives to write about in a way that isn’t sensationalizing the subject but also doesn’t appear to be anti-sex either if his experiences haven;’t been pleasant. He is frustrated at time that the level of frankness he works on is often seen as ‘smut’ and not at literature. Another panelist remarked that there’s nothing wrong with smut.

stairs

Star spoke from a trans perspective, & as a former sex worker. Star’s writing began as a way of examining past trauma. As things were processed there was a inner demand to allow these realizations go public so could help others deal with the same issues. Star felt as much as it was a need to understand the self there was no attempt at being apologetic or even blaming. This is how it is. I survived it so can you.

Jon talked about the one issue that I saw a subtext to the event – that sex writing has to be somehow radical & way out there – a series he had written was dissed by readers for being too tame. It made me wonder if there’s no interest in the ordinary sex lives of people & how they deal with the same issues of acceptance. Most of the sex stuff I’ve written certainly comes from the ordinary perspective but there are some who find it too out there.

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The Future of Sex

he kisses like he means it

like he needs it

as much as I do

there is no rush to get naked

but there is a need to

we mean to be bare with each other

the compulsion of the flesh

a subtext for our concerns

about each other’s activities

his work

family at xmas

driving conditions

my writing

our notions of love

not that we are talking

about being in love with each other

but what love means to people

I’d say to men

but it doesn’t really vary

from gender to gender

he’s seeing someone he likes

I’m living with the same man

for over thirty years

is this enough for either of us

or is this need for enough

a reflection of a cultural social paradigm

that says we have to seek a mate

for life

to make our lives fulfilled and satisfying

that we need to settle down

we’ll have someone

to look after us when we get too old

to look after ourselves

so we won’t end up lonely bitter old piles of bones

stranded in a corner of a geriatrics ward

with only our memories of great sex

to keep us warm

too feeble to appeal to anyone

to even reach for a dildo

because honey there ain’t no handbook

on gay geriatric sex

I’m pretty sure the will to live

is tied into the will to get it off

but because age is so disgusting

only dildos will be willing to do the job

he rolls to face me

erections touching

says lets worry about the future of sex

after the sex of the moment

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo
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