Monthly Archives: April 2013

BWS 08.05.13: Elizabeth Ruth

Launching Matadora a mere two weeks ago, Elizabeth Ruth told the jam-packed Gladstone Hotel ballroom that like all good books about bullfighting, her third novel isn’t about bullfighting at all. “It’s about ambition and love,” she said of the story of Luna, a young servant woman in 1930s Spain who chases a dream of breaking the gender barrier and getting into the ring.

Matadora is a departure from Elizabeth’s previous books — both the First Novel Award-, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize-, and Toronto Book Award-nominated Ten Good Seconds of Silence (2001) and Smoke (the 2007 Waterloo Region One Book, One Community selection), were set in Ontario — and the novel took six years to complete, not counting two years of research, trips to Spain and  Mexico, or all the Ernest Hemingway she re-read.

Hemingway? Now we have to ask her about the bullfighting. But as it turns out, Quill & Quire beat us to the punch.

The book’s off to hot start, with a rave review in Now from Susan G. Cole and an interview May 15 at Toronto Reference Library… but this time, BWS can say that we’ve got her first! And if you’re still not as excited as we are about the long-anticipated Matadora…? Just watch this book trailer.

You see? You’re excited.

And it isn’t about the bullfight.

Elizabeth Ruth visits the Brockton Writers Series May 8, 2013 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (7pm, PWYC) – along with Andy Sinclair, Mahlikah Awe:ri, and Moez Surani.

Watch this space for more with each of our readers in the month leading up to the event!



Filed under Writers & Performers

BWS 08.05.13: Malikah Awe:ri

This week, in advance of her performance at the next BWS, we invited Mahlikah to give a us a little teaser and to say a few words about her work. Enjoy!

I wrote “Serpent’s Skin” as an ode to healing and the reclamation of the femininity; its strength, passion, endurance, fire. And the power of transformation, self-idenity… “Loving the skin you are in,” and not allowing society to define who you are and how you flow. My favourite line from the poem is: “How do I love thee/Let me count the ways/By lovin’ myself first/For a trillion, zillion dayz/Crawlin’ on my belly/Makin’ trails of my Herstory; my Herstory/U can’t box me! You can’t box me! Oh nooo!/”

In this video of a live performance of “Serpent’s Skin” filmed in March 2011 at Trane Studios, I am accompanied by the Acoustic Soul Tuesdays Band, and Jef Kearns is featured on flute. “Serpent’s Skin” is the title track from the 2011 AngelHeartRiverwalker Project EP. Produced at Notlam Studio. Musical Composition for this track was by Isaac Llacuachaqui.

For more info about Mahlikah Awe:ri, a drum talk poetic rapologist of  African-American/Mohawk (Kahnawá:ke) & Mi’kmaw (Bear River) heritage with Nova Scotian roots who is also the front woman for popular Toronto hip hop band Red Slam, check out her Sonicbids EPK, where you can find more poems, photos and great press reviews. You can also book her for shows.

Mahlikah Awe:ri visits the Brockton Writers Series May 8, 2013 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (7pm, PWYC) – along with  Andy Sinclair, Elizabeth Ruth and Moez Surani.

Watch this space for more with each of our readers in the month leading up to the event!


Filed under Writers & Performers

BWS 08.05.13: Andy Sinclair

Andy Sinclair photoThis summer, Andy Sinclair’s new story “Daytime Fun” will appear in the eighth issue of Dragnet, the two-year-old, Toronto-based online magazine that specializes in fiction under 1,000 words. Andy is no stranger to the ultra-short story; “Daytime Fun” marks his third appearance in Dragnet alone. I had a chance recently to talk to Andy about his first, “I Know How to Get Free Shit,” which you can (and should!) read in the inaugural issue, here, (Page 26).

BWS: A lot of new writers are advised to start out by sending stories way under a publication’s word limit. Was “I Know How to Get Free Shit” your first published story?

Andy: No. Back in 2004 and 2005 I published some stories in fab magazine’s literary issues and did a reading at Fly one night. I met George K. Ilsley there — the author of Random Acts of Hatred, which is an amazing sexy and truthful and daring short story collection. We talked about the story I’d read, (“Crossed Lines”), and it was helpful that this author seemed to be engaged in my writing.

BWS: And what happened next?

Andy: I kept at it sporadically and I was in the literary section of a shop called Mags & Fags in Ottawa when I came across a magazine called The Moose & Pussy. I remember on the cover there was a grainy black and white image of a hairy dude in an old lumberjack vest that was quite compelling. I liked the frankness of the content. They accepted some of my stories and when Jeremy Hanson-Finger (who had been on the editorial team at The Moose & Pussy) and his crew started up Dragnet they contacted me as a potential contributor.

BWS: When I asked you for an excerpt to share with the Brockton Writers Series blog, you suggested “I Know How to Get Free Shit.” What makes this story different from others you’ve published?

Andy: This story was different for me because the setting came first. I was walking around downtown Edmonton on a blistery winter night and I got inspired and went back to my hotel room and wrote out a first draft quickly.

BWS: What does usually come first, when you sit down to write a story?

Andy: A feeling! Or a phrase that captures a feeling. Sometimes a sentence repeating itself in my head turns out to be the last line of the story.

BWS: Do you feel a special connection to, or reason for writing, “short-short” or “flash” fiction?

Andy: I do. It just seems to be a format that allows for an attempt at keeping the kernel of a feeling throughout. A short story can be very pure with a strong tone unfettered by too many details. I know there is a longstanding sentiment that it is just a developmental step on the way to writing a  novel but I think that is changing. A short story delivers a different gift than a novel.

BWS: I can’t help but ask, as a fellow short story writer, what you make of the question, Are you working on anything longer? Like a novel? And worse: I want to ask you that very question. Are you committed solely to the short story? Do you do longer work as well? And what are you working on these days?

Andy: I am not committed by ideology to the short story but it seems to be the most natural way to share for me. I have been reading some philosophy texts and having some wonderful jnana yoga discussions and I would like to write about that discovery process.  I have pages and pages of notes that I always think I will use but I find a first draft usually happens quickly without a lot of cross-referencing, so most of the notes are getting old! This year I have been working on becoming a yoga teacher at The Yoga Sanctuary. If all goes well I will be certified May 5th so the reading on May 8th will be part of a celebratory week. I attended a yoga and writing workshop run by Sarah Selecky and Ronit Jinich a few years ago and that was very helpful in showing me how to create creative spaces.

BWS: Looking forward to celebrating with you, Andy, thanks for taking the time.

Andy Sinclair visits the Brockton Writers Series May 8, 2013 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (7pm, PWYC) – along with Mahlikah Awe:ri, Elizabeth Ruth and Moez Surani.

Watch this space for more with each of our readers in the month leading up to the event!


Filed under Writers & Performers

Brockton Writers Series 08.05.13

Spring’s finally arrived! Emerge from hibernation and enjoy readings by:

Andy Sinclair, Mahlikah Awe:ri, Elizabeth Ruth and Moez Surani!

Wednesday, May 8, 6:30-8:30pm

full of beans Coffee House & Roastery – 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto

Networking begins at 6:30 with special guest Michael Schellenberg, Literature Officer at the Ontario Arts Council, who will be taking your questions about provincial granting programs.

Readings at 7:00.

PWYC (suggested $3-$5). Q&A. Books and treats available for sale.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.



Andy Sinclair has contributed to various publications including fab, Dragnet, The United Church Observer and The Globe and Mail. He won The  Moose & Pussy‘s Short Story Contest in 2011 and has taught creative writing at Five Oaks Retreat Centre. He is also a flight attendant and a yoga instructor-in-training.

Mahlikah Awe:ri is a Toronto-based drum talk poetic rapologist of Afro-Native heritage/Mohawk (Kahnawá:ke) & Mi’kmaw (Bear River), with Nova Scotian roots. She is a founding member of Red Slam Collective, a live hip hop-fusion band of diverse indigenous artists, and Coordinator for their 4 Direction urban arts-based projects across Ontario. She is an OAC Aboriginal Artist in the Schools, and Manager of Training & Resource Development for Daniels Centre of Learning, Regent Park. In 2011 she released the EP Serpent’s Skin, and is currently published in two literary anthologies.

Elizabeth Ruth is the author of the newly-published novel, Matadora. Her first novel, Ten Good Seconds of Silence, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the in Canada Best First Novel Award, and the Toronto Book Award, and her second, Smoke, was a One Book, One Community selection. Elizabeth is also the editor of the anthology, Bent On Writing, and the author of a forthcoming novella for adults with low literacy, entitled Love You To Death. For more info, please visit

Moez Surani‘s writing has been published across Canada and abroad and has won a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, the Kingston Literary Award and The Antigonish Review’s poetry prize. He has published two poetry collections, Reticent Bodies and Floating Life.

Watch this space for more on each of these four writers in the month leading up to the event!

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