Monthly Archives: July 2016

BWS 13.07.16: Eight Tips, with Rachna Contractor

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Rachna Contractor is Associate Editor – Reviews for Plenitude Magazine, and has written about literature, art and culture for Xtra and Kala Magazine as well. She earned her BA in Art History from the University of Toronto. After a decade of working in communications, Rachna has moved to the culinary arts sector.

Rachna gave the guest talk – and co-hosted, and co-edited this blog! – at our July 2016 event (Queer Night!), and here provides eight tips for writing a thorough book review.

Eight Tips for Writing a Thorough Book Review

1) Use accessible language and keep it succinct: 700–1,000 words isn’t a lot with all that needs to be covered. Stay away from academic or conversational language.

2) Structure your review well:

a. The first paragraph should be an introduction of the book including the author’s name and title in the first two lines;
b. Ensure the review flows well by presenting information in an organized manner, separating points by paragraph;
c. Conclude with your general impression of the book.

3) Talk about the characters: do they read well, are they well developed, are they relatable, likeable, do you believe in them and their stories?

4) Talk about the use of language, grammar, and punctuation–especially if the way they are employed stands out.

5) What is your opinion of the book? How does it make you feel? Include this throughout: by the end of the review, the reader should have a general impression of how the reviewer feels about the book.

6) Sometimes it’s hard to be critical of a work because you want to support it. We want all of our published stories to do well, but it’s okay to not like a book and critique it. It’s also okay to see how it may be valuable, if not to you then to the literary world and the community.

7) Stick to the work at hand. Don’t include what others are saying about the book.

8) Read a lot of books. I don’t read book reviews but I stay abreast of what’s happening in the literary community.

Check back after our September event for more tips from our next guest speaker. See you again soon at full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto!

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BWS 13.07.16: It’s Tonight!

WEDNESDAY, JULY 13, 2016 – 6:30pm

It’s Queer Night again at Brockton Writers Series (though we’re always a little queer!). Featuring readers:

Gwen Benaway
Kumasi Jay Gwynne
Matthew R. Loney
Yaya Yao

and special guest speaker

Rachna Contractor

AT

full of beans Coffee House & Roastery

1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and treats are available for sale. Please note that while the venue is wheelchair accessible, washroom facilities are not.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

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And to the Canada Council for the Arts for travel funding!

GUEST SPEAKER

Rachna Contractor

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Rachna Contractor is Associate Editor – Reviews for Plenitude Magazine, and has written about literature, art and culture for Xtra and Kala Magazine as well. She earned her BA in Art History from the University of Toronto. After a decade of working in communications, Rachna has moved to the culinary arts sector. 

READERS

Gwen Benaway HeadshotGwen Benaway is of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. Her first collection of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, was published in 2013, and her second, Passage, is forthcoming from Kegedonce Press in Fall 2016. As an emerging Two-Spirited poet, she has been described as the spiritual love child of Thompson Highway and Truman Capote. In 2015, she was the recipient of the inaugural Speaker’s Award for a Young Author from the Speaker of the House for the Ontario Legislative. Her work has been published and anthologized internationally.

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The Lonely is Kumasi Jay Gwynne‘s first fiction manuscript, and it’s largely about men interacting with other men. New York State born, Kumasi was raised in Toronto where he currently resides. He has spent time living in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary and Chicago.

Matthew R .Loney Author PhotoMatthew R. Loney is the author of That Savage Water (Exile Editions, 2014), a collection of backpacker-themed short fiction. He was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction Award and his work has appeared in a range of North American publications, including installments Three and Four of the Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology Series and the short fiction anthology, Everything Is So Political. He lives in Toronto.

Yaya-photo 2Yaya Yao is an educator, writer, and editor born and raised in Little Portugal. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Flesh, Tongue, and a resource book for teachers, The Educator’s Equity Companion Guide. Yaya lives with her family in Sapporo, Japan, where she teaches middle school.

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BWS 13.07.16: Matthew R. Loney

Matthew R .Loney Author Photo

Matthew R. Loney is the author of That Savage Water (Exile Editions, 2014), a collection of backpacker-themed short fiction. He was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction Award and his work has appeared in a range of North American publications, including installments Three and Four of the Carter V. Cooper Short Fiction Anthology series and the short fiction anthology, Everything Is So Political. He lives in IMG_2585Toronto. 

Matt stopped by the blog ahead of his July 13 appearance and provided the guest post below, guest edited by Rachna Contractor, Reviews Editor at
Plenitude Magazine, who is co-presenting BWS Queer Night 2016!

Collaged Reflections on the Month of June 2016

– A glorious June: I go outside to sunbathe on the blanket I lifted from Turkish Airlines the summer I spent a month in Istanbul.

– “Pride Flag Flies On Parliament Hill For The First Time”

– Photo caption, Wall Street Journal: “A Palestinian boy riding a bike during sunset at Al Khalde mosque, Gaza Strip, on the eve of Ramadan, which starts June 6, 2016.”

– I had mistaken the old man for a vagrant, had judged his apparent shabbiness: “Did you guys hear about Florida?” he calls to us as he wobbles by on his bicycle. “Horrible, that stuff.” “A tragedy,” we exchange. “You boys have a safe day.” Sunday morning, we are headed to the beach.

– That same summer, I stopped over in Tel Aviv. Their Pride had just finished; the Israeli military push into the Gaza Strip had restarted. When one afternoon, as it had each prior, the air-raid sirens lifted and fell across the city, I gathered this same airline blanket from the sand and ran to take shelter. Rockets incoming.

– The pound sterling nosedives to 31-year lows.

– “They took shelter in a bathroom stall with other club-goers, which the shooter later entered.”

– I consider whether Empire crumbles or just falls dormant.

– Rereading his email, I respond to a friend working for the United Nations in South Sudan. I investigate the strange feeling his stories give me, the tragedies of faraway places, of shared terror. Over there, there are child soldiers. There are mining and oil-field playgrounds of international interest. There are mass graves and reports of forced cannibalism. His email boils down to a phrase: “I don’t understand the hatred.”

– My phone vibrates: “Turkey blames Daesh for Istanbul airport blast that killed 41”

– Is my smartphone just a megaphone for Empire?

– “Apparently using his smartphone, Omar Mateen searched on Facebook for ‘Pulse Orlando’ and ‘shooting’ during his three-hour early morning attack…”

– My partner finally blocks his Evangelical sister on Facebook. He won’t repent; he cannot. We are not an abomination.

– How do you suntan in a warzone?

– “He pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.”

– Is my smartphone just a megaphone for Caliphate?

– I met my partner on Facebook.

– Fear and hatred. The confluence is elementary: I fear therefore I hate.

– We were helpless in our hotel room; the Iron Dome celebrated its interception in the blue sky outside. The thunderous explosions rattled the glass in their panes.

– What is it that wants to kill me? Who wants me dead? Where does my vote weigh in the tipping point between surrender and resistance?

– “The Union Jack and Rainbow Flag at half-mast as Redditch remembers victims of Orlando slaughter”

– The Roman Empire fell. The Ottoman Empire fell.

– “The Union Jack hoisted on one of the 28 flagpoles outside the European Commission building might as well have been flying at half-staff….”

– “A prominent Italian historian has claimed that the Roman Empire collapsed because a ‘contagion of homosexuality and effeminacy’ made it easy pickings for barbarian hordes.”

– The sight of two men kissing angered him. Barbarian.

– “I was kissing my boyfriend goodbye when I heard the first shots…”

– In Europe, the police sirens sound different.

– “A Man With ‘Arsenal’ Arrested Near L.A. Pride Festival”

– In South Sudan, there are no sirens.

– The precipitate of hate is courage: #twomenkissing

– “There are no significant festivals in South Sudan during the month of June” the tourist board would say if it existed.

– A crescent moon lifts behind the rainbow-colored CN Tower.

– “Turkish police fire tear gas in Istanbul to disperse Gay Pride activists”

– Nearly each morning this month, one might say religiously, the straight couple in the condo across from ours fucks, unabashed, in full view.

Matthew R. Loney visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Gwen Benaway, Kumasi Jay Gwynne, Yaya Yao and a special guest talk by Rachna Contractor!

Plenitude

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BWS 13.07.16: Yaya Yao

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Yaya Yao is an educator, writer, and editor born and raised in Little Portugal who launched her first poetry collection Flesh, Tongue last week. She is also the author of a resource book for teachers, The Educator’s Equity Companion Guide. Yaya lives with her family in Sapporo, Japan, where she teaches middle school.

“This has been my dream since my aunt gave me an Anne of Green Gables diary,” Yaya Yao said from the stage at Beit Zatoun in Mirvish Village, admitting to reading all the Anne books then starting to write “angsty poems” about arguments with parents, crushes and other hallmarks of teenage years before she moved on to “trying to figure out what’s going on in this world”.

Yaya countered her freqflesh tonge cover yaya yaouent jokes with affecting poems from her debut collection, published by Mawenzi House, including the particularly moving “For My High School Sweetheart”, an elegy for not just a person but Yaya’s gentrifying childhood neighbourhood – Bathurst & Dundas, in Toronto – that beautifully evokes young women writing poems to each other and “learning to inhale at midnight” in Alexandra Park. Other highlights included several poems focusing on language, and on a common experience for children of immigrants: the almost mandatory “roots visit” to the country of parents’ origin. She prefaced “Moving Time” with remarks on expressing oneself differently depending on the language one is using, and followed up with poems from a series called “Cantonese Lessons”, complete with a hearty call and response section, from which this attendee walked away with a better grasp of how to swear in a new language.

If you happened to miss this memorable launch, you’re in luck: Brockton Writers Series is proud to welcome Yaya and her introspective, clever, sincere yet irreverent poems next Wednesday, July 13. Don’t miss her this time!

Yaya Yao visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 – full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (6:30pm, PWYC) – along with Gwen Benaway, Kumasi Jay Gwynne, Matthew R. Loney and a special guest talk by Rachna Contractor of Plenitude Magazine, co-presenter of this year’s BWS Queer Night!

Plenitude

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