‘a soundless meat cleaver’


Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam gave Queen W an exciting taste of its upcoming 6th season with Cass Myers’ raw yet polished feature performance at an open stage show as part of the vital Bricks & Glitter  Festival. The event was at the cozy Beaver – close to Dufferin on Queen W. By the time the show started the packed house had people spilling out into the street.

Robert Molloy hosted the show with contagious enthusiasm and kept things moving along while allowing many of the open stagers time to do two (!) pieces. The poets covered a wide range of rage, relationship fun and/or horror (sometimes one can’t tell the difference), political anger & even a few sweetly sexy pieces. 

Random lines from those open stagers: if Doug Ford heard you play the piano would he change his mind – whispers turn into wishing wells – harness hope without harm – I don’t remember starting this fund for white-girl feminists – this is my conversation yet it somehow revolves around you – my sexuality is a case of death more painful than a tumour – you want me to talk in my accent – her tone tells me queerness + transgender doesn’t add up – I cry myself a wishing well – a beach is lonely most of the time – his lips hooked into a smile – google spits back ‘still intact’ – that everything is okay is the biggest lie we told each other – your silence calls to me from the floorboards – there are no accidental suicides – it was the summer I had words for the rage I felt 

After a brief break for everyone to get a libation and catch their breath before feature Cass Myers, a national spoken word poetry slam champion, hit the stage with a powerful paper set – all of the pieces were recent & still being worked on but came across polished.The pieces covered race, relationships, political frustration & finding emotion stability. The writing was fresh, inventive, inviting & drew the listeners to examine their own needs. 

Random lines: the sun’s rubber stamp – in the summer the most faceable parts of me are whitest parts – in the summer we can’t pass – Lake Baptiste ungenders me – our edge the only scenery – what is a boarder but a map folded along estuaries – boudoir in a white man’s gaze – body chronic crumple crackle – fibonacci fiddleheads – self-portrait as an oyster – survival of the numbest – the fraternal twins of lust & grief – pain is a soundless meat cleaver – the gasoline of truth on their velvet.

Hot Damn! It’s A Queer Slam kicks off it Sixth Season Sept 24 at Buddies in Bad Times.

I did my Hot Damn! duty with a brief outline of the amazing growth of the series and its connection to Capturing Fire. A moment of calm that didn’t show things down at all. I did the requisite 2 (!) pieces on of which was:

Hidden Heart

all I am hiding

are my emotions

really

no I don’t have anything

in my hands

up my sleeve 

I didn’t put anything

where you couldn’t find it

everything is out in the open

what good would it do

to hide your shoes 

so you can’t leave

hide your underwear

so you can’t dressed

hide the towels so

you can only dry off 

between the sheets

with me

me

who has nothing to hide

 

except my feelings

or rather my lack of them

though you claim

my claim of lack of feelings

is actually hiding something

because my door is so open to you

because I have made a place

for you my life

you even have your own tooth brush here

it is out in the open too

 

see nothing is hidden

really

except how I feel

which I can’t reveal

until you open up

to tell me what you have hidden

in your heart

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

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

Ancient Evolutionary Programming

2012 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

I enjoyed being totally immersed in the SpecFic Colloquium at the Gladstone. The toughest part was getting there (or for me, anywhere) that early in the day. For once the TTC didn’t let me down. Left home at 9 – where I accidentally met up with Mike Bryant for the trek there. Arrived by 9:40.  A good house of attentive listeners for the event added to my immersion. Although the event organizers did jam in as many rows as possible – meaning it was set for people with no legs but I made my space and stuck to it.

The Rapunzel Trap

Things started promptly at 10 a.m. with Robert Runte : “Canadian Speculative Fiction in the 21st Century” – a fascinating overview of the history of Canadian SciFi and the ways in which it differs from the US and even British genres. He observed that thanks to current global marketing and consumption ‘cultural’ identity is become less important. His time ran out and it was clear he had a lot more to say. Particularly about how marketing dept. trumps editorial input.

With a pause merely for introductions he was followed by Helen Marshall “‘The Book is Dead; Long Live the Book!’: Some Thoughts on the Coming of eBooks” – which I expected to be how ePub is changing the market but instead what how eBook have effected the form and content of writing. She had a great historical quote/complaint about the use of paper being a passing fad as only parchment had lasting value. Due to the need for flowability – poetry doesn’t make the transition to e readily. Alas ee cummings.

this year’s cast offs on Queen W

After a short break things resumed with Robert Shearman (Guest of Honour): “Writing, And Attempts to Justify It” – a great keynote talk – well organized and very funny – he suspects writer’s block can sometimes be getting caught up in the fact that the words we write now aren’t the same as the ones we’d use if we wrote half-an-hour later & those later words would be so much better . His writing partially sprung from being a stutterer – having to find alternatives to words he couldn’t say with ones he could.  His approach is to write weird things that become normal.

A welcome lunch break that took me to a nearby Starbucks – to get out of the hotel and into the damp cool of the afternoon. It was time for caffeine to get me through the rest of the day.

The afternoon kicked off with Peter Watts: “Hive Minds, Mind Hives”. The instinct to survive may not know the difference between metamorphosis and suicide – in order to become posthuman we may need to develop an awareness to the nerve network level – or something like that – but at the nerve net work level there is no awareness. I loved his presentation, slides and even the scientific syntax that he used. I’m sure I understood every word on a subconscious neural level – so my subjective awareness got to enjoy some of the sweet SpecFic nerds who were digging his every word.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DmH3NxnUvM

Next up was  Karin  Lowachee: “Ender’s End? The Modern Reality of Children in War” Another solid, and this time, for me, very understandable presentation – she started with a slide show of child soldiers – some fussing over getting the music for it but it was much more compelling without the music. She talked about finding the science of science fiction much more attentive to details and realism than the psychology of the characters. As a result most people think of SciFi as space opera, a la Star Wars – not as something with emotional complexities. She did delve into Ender’s Game but her conclusions apply to any well written book.

The day ended with Scott Bakker: “Less Human than Human: The Cyborg Fantasy versus the Neuroscientific Real” I was expecting a medical/engineering approach to how a Borg would work but instead it was a fascinating talk about transhumanism and the singularity. Much like Peter Watts’s presentation I found this fascinating as opposed to instructive. I’m not sure how it will apply to what I write but I’m glad my subconscious was immersed. By this point in the day I wasn’t even trying to absorb that much and the tech heavy syntax was putting me to sleep. Though once again my subjective awareness got to enjoy some of the sweet SpecFic nerds who were digging his every word. I was just a meat bag following my ancient evolutionary programming.

Sandra Kasturi was an excellent host who kept things moving well. The Gladstone was an excellent space for the day. The room was well lit, the chairs were not designed for long sitting – washrooms within easy reach – the men’s room looked good but that urine smell sure didn’t make me want to try the deli there.

writing sample
writing sample

in which I fulfill my dream of a reality show:

Life of An Unknown Poet

I was handing my credit card

to the Winners clerk

when my camera crew got into shoving match

with her camera crew

I didn’t see how out of hand things were

till I watched a podcast of

The Making of The Life of An Unknown Poet

by the crew following my camera crew

my head camera man was asked

‘how did the poet feel

when he was accosted’

he pointed his camera at me

as I walked out of the store

I looked back

glad I was still the one on camera

I was tempted to go back

but didn’t want to interrupt

the entertainment food chain

I had my own life to lead

and what he thought I thought

about the shoving match

wasn’t all that vital to me

the world knew how shallow I was

for a poet

except for this show

I remained unknown

even after six seasons

my books sales hadn’t increased

I wasn’t getting reviews

and this pissed me off

in fact my viewers

would like to see me pissing too

but I had to draw the line somewhere

they could watch me flush

but couldn’t see me take a leak

I have some pride

later there was a news report

of the shoving match

someone was injured

not one of my crew or my crew’s crew

it struck me how futile it was

that no matter what one did

someone was bound to suffer

that even allowing my personal angst

to be the fodder of millions

it didn’t stop the circle of suffering

the camera crew applauded me

as I wrote those lines about suffering

which made it all worth while once again

I can go living giving all to my life

even if there is no bump in book sales

or any chance of sex

unless that camera man

from the clerk’s camera crew is available

he looked kind of hot

in the podcast of the shoving match

needs a shave

his bloody nose gave this unknown poet

a spark of known reality

shadow shaky escape shadow

Stretching for the #NaNoWriMo Dash

Making the initial little steps in getting in NaNo shape – first by doing short writing sprints in the morning – ten min max – spewing out snippets of scenes that may show up as part of the my NaNo novel start – one of the secrets to NaNo success for me has been not to worry about writing a finished work – there’s always next year to finish it 🙂 focusing on word count lets me shut down part of the editorial brain to just get the quantity out there – out of quantity comes quality. So I’m doing improv with my characters to get used to them and how they talk & act –

never know where the steps we take will lead us

Speaking of improv I took the first of the Make-a-Scene classes Wednesday night at The Centre of Gravity Circus Training Studios. We meet up at The Side Show Cafe at 7:30. There are 11 of us in the class plus Allan Turner our our fearless leader. He explained the intent of the workshop – 4 weeks of improv & theory; then 4 weeks of rehearsals leading up to a show (t.b.a).

Unlike the writing workshops I’ve taken, this one has an even mix of men and women. Some bring experience, some open minds and willingness – the first 30 min are spent in the Cafe chatting & getting acquainted – I had an excellent butter tart (for energy) – but found the music a bit too loud for conversation.

At 8 we went up to Studio G – via the outside fire escape – essentially a large, high-ceiling space with a mirror. Some low benches to sit on. Allan talked about the theory of play and where ideas come from. We did several group improv games – all physical with one that involved some language: the rant choir – each of us was assigned a random topic to talk/rant about when pointed to by Allan as conductor – hand signals for more intensity, quiet – one at a time or three or four at the same time.

My random topic was avant-garde fashion – about which I said “I was walking along Queen West the other day and came across a Lady GaGa pop-up store. She is selling as high fashion surgical bandages – I was able to buy this knee brace ( I was actually wearing one) allowing me to be cutting edge stylish and injured at the same time.” I had more but that’s all I got called on to say.

porch futurism

Having both sides of the brain activated by this workshop will get me in top form for the NaNoWriMo dash in November.

[September 2020 – The Centre of Gravity is no longer at this location at Gerrard/Greenwood, same for Side Show Cafe]

writing sample
writing sample

one of my morning NaNo stretches [plot points revealed before now]

Jim and Birk stood at the rear of the men. MacKlusky was pounding on the front door of the company store. Two other men had gone around to the back to make sure Seldon [the store’s manager] didn’t slip away.

“He ain’ going anywhere.” Birk muttered. “Too much stuff inside. He’d never step away from a profit.”

“Open up Seldon. Man, we know you’re in there.” MacKlusky shouted. “We don’t want to harm you. We know it ain’ your fault wha’s goin’ on [miners are on  strike] but we have families to feed too you know.”

A window on the second floor opened. It was to the left of the front door. A woman’s head stuck out. “Dan’l t’ain’ here.”

It was his wife.

“He’s gone up to the big office. He was sent fer at supper time. He ain here.”

“Then let us in mussus.” MacKlusky stepped back. “We means no harm to you and yours.”

“I canna let you in. It’d be the end of me. He dinna want this to happen. But he’s got no choice He’s sorry he ever let his brother talk him inta runnin’ the cump store. Swore it was easy money. But it isn’t. It isn’t. We has to pay for everything just like you do. Even if it don’ get bought and goes bad we still has to pay for it.”

Birk had never heard Mrs. Seldon talk for so long.

you're no frond of mine so get out of here
you’re no frond of mine, so get out of here