Monthly Archives: April 2017

BWS 10.05.17: Catherine Hernandez

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Catherine Hernadez is an award-winning writer and performer whose first novel, Scarborough, was just published by Arsenal Pulp Press. She is a twice-published playwright and the author of the Flamingo Rampant Press children’s book M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book.  Her plays, The Femme Playlist and I Cannot Lie to the Stars that Made Me will be published by Playwrights Canada Press in spring 2018. Twitter: @theloudlady.

Ahead of Catherine’s May 10 appearance at Brockton Writers Series, check out the sizzling trailer for her new novel, Scarborough!

Catherine Hernandez visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Ayesha Chatterjee, Mary Lou Dickinson, Ian Keteku and a special guest talk, “From Tarot to Creativity”, by Hoa Nguyen!

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BWS 10.05.17: Mary Lou Dickinson

Mary Lou Dickinson

Mary Lou Dickinson grew up in northern Quebec and arrived in Toronto via Montreal and Michigan. Inanna Publications published her short stories, One Day It Happens (2007), and her novels, Ile d’Or (2010) and Would I Lie To You (2014). A mystery, The White Ribbon Man, will be published in early 2018.

Mary Lou shared a sample from an unpublished memoir ahead of her May 10 visit to Brockton Writers Series. Enjoy!

Excerpt from a chapter titled “Graveyard Shift”

When the end of term at university came, I went north from Montreal to work in the mining town where I had grown up. My first summer job was in a hardware store on the main street where I learned to make keys and to find the hooks, nails and screws, the paints and brushes, the paraphernalia that people shopped for. I learned what everything was in both French and English. I felt useful and even of some consequence. Even more aware that I had entered a different, almost adult, world was my experience at Golden Manitou Mine in the following summers where I worked in the assay lab doing swing shifts to fill in for regular workers on vacation. The mine was twenty miles from town and on the graveyard shift, the bus driver picked me up on the highway near our house and dropped me off on desolate mine property at close to midnight along with all the men who worked underground.

On the first day, I was introduced to Alice, an older woman who would train me. She spoke no English so my facility in French improved quickly. Before the end of the summer, I had started to dream in French most of the time.

On two of the shifts, I often worked with women other than Alice who spoke openly about their lives. They were not much older than me, but they were either involved with boyfriends or married and their conversation was quite lurid, replete with the kinds of jokes and descriptions that most people imagine happen only in men’s locker rooms. I soon learned that women  could also be  crude in their discourse, telling their own off colour jokes, competing over the length of their partners’ penises, using  words like ‘cock’ to  describe them.

“You ought to see it,” one woman was fond of saying in quite a loud voice. “Must be 7 or 8 inches. Never saw anything like it before.”

They exuded pride, a significant sniff with head thrown back, if they could give a measurement larger than the colleague who had just spoken.

At first I was not sure what they were talking about, but I was not going to let anyone know that. Or I did know really, but had never experienced what they were describing and did not have a clear idea of what such a cock would look or feel like, not like the little dinkies I saw in the younger boys like my brother, running to the bathroom trying to hide their private parts. I knew my mother would be horrified. She had tried to tell me about sex around the time I got my period, but was so embarrassed she accepted when I said I already knew about it. If any of her children uttered a swear word, she responded that she had not even heard that word until she was twenty one, as if that marker of adulthood allowed such blasphemy to be spoken. If one was tattling on a sibling for using a word, it was spelled out. So, for instance, one of us might have said, “ I heard so and so say Father Uncle Cousin King,” only to have our mother mull this over as if there were some mystery she could not quite unravel. And when she did, there would be her customary shocked expression and a lecture about the language we ought not to use.

At the assay lab, I also learned some useful things about mining from testing the samples and even knew the value of what was being dug out under the surface.  In the days and evenings, I always worked with others, probably because there was more work to do then. On the graveyard shift, from midnight to eight in the morning, I was alone. And I was aware that anyone could break into the small building across from the mill on this isolated mine property and attack me. It took a while to stop jumping nervously when I heard any sound. But the only man who ever came to the door that I locked from the inside during those long nights knocked first with a sound that I soon learned to recognize. He always arrived at the same times, twice during each shift. As soon as I opened the door, he greeted me.

Bonjour,” he usually said before handing over small brown paper bags that contained the samples I was to process.

As soon as he left, I weighed out tiny quantities from each bag on an old scale with a pan on one side and the weights to be adjusted on the other and put them into separate beakers. There were precise amounts required, as well as certain acids to test for lead, zinc and copper. On one shift, I  broke a bottle of hydrochloric acid and watched in horror as some of the liquid landed on my jeans and they disintegrated from the knees down. Although my legs turned yellow, fortunately the jeans protected me from deep burns so when I was finished with the tests, I could phone the results to the man at the mill at the same time as I did on every other night.  Pb Con. And on down the list.

The gold and other minerals were discovered in the area long before any shafts were sunk. When finally the mines opened, it became a full-fledged gold rush town with all the attributes of the frontier apparent − heavy drinking, prostitution, gambling, playing the stock market. As a child, I was oblivious. What I saw in the town seemed natural, no more than local colour. And I think that was how I saw my experience working at the mine as well. Although throughout my life, when I have told people about life in a mining town, they have responded as if there were something quite unusual about it.

Mary Lou Dickinson visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Ayesha Chatterjee, Catherine Hernandez, Ian Keteku and a special guest talk, “From Tarot to Creativity”, by Hoa Nguyen!

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BWS 10.05.17: Ian Keteku

ian press 1

Photo by Sebastian Vassof

Ian Ketekupoet, musician, filmmaker–is national slam champion and the 2010 World Poetry Slam champion. He defines his work as “critical oratory”, inspiring messages of peace, action and wayward thought. He has written for numerous news and poetry publications. His latest album Love and Lumumba is an exploration of the quiet blaze which makes us human.

Ahead of his May 10 visit to Brockton Writers Series, the many-talented Ian shared some of his multi-disciplinary artwork with us. Enjoy!

The Language of Poetry

Trying to convince students that poetry exists everywhere, that we engage it all the time, is not always easy. It helps to think of poetry not just as a literary form of expression, but the effect it has on human beings. I believe there is poetry in everything. However, not everything is in poetry.

It is a language which speaks to certain aspects of our existence. Our brains, hearts, bodies react differently to other artistic genres, as they do with all art. A ballad of heartache tastes different than one expressed in a painting, both poetic. A dance of rage feels different than a wall of graffiti expressing the same emotion, both poetic.

I have become fascinated with the inherent poetry in film, animation, music and dance. Over the years, I have experimented with integrating art forms. Here are some of these experiments.  A melange of artistic languages communicating with each other and with those experiencing it.

1. Mateya

This photo was taken a few years ago. The young lady is much taller now. I take pictures once it a while, it is more of a fun pastime than anything. When I first started taking photos I would just point and shoot. I did not think much about framing, context, colour, subject, symmetry. In every photo I think there are a number of poetic goose eggs. Small treasures which complement the narrative and natural metaphor of the scene.

Mateya

2. Proxima Centauri

Poetry has this wonderful way of telling the truth through beautiful lies. Sometimes imagining a fantastical existence is the most real something can be.

3. For You

Recently I have exclusively been taking photos with film cameras. I know, a very hipster thing to do. It is my belief, however, that there is something poetic about having to wait to see the fruits of a vision. There is a heavy tactility, a depth in pictures produced in film. Not better or worse than digital, just a different language. Sometimes nothing comes of it, sometimes a moment can tell a story where words cannot. This very hipster photo was taken in New York.

For You

4. Bee

Doodling for me is meditative, quiet and soothing. Perhaps something in the repetition of the fingers, the creation of curves. I am far from a doodling savant but it is also a language I find poetry in hearing.

bee

5. Fuzz

fuzz

6. Right Side Up

Animation is one of those art forms which requires a great deal of repetition – with slight variation to tell a story. Animation is one of those art forms in which characters are able to have and transform in ways incongruous with our reality. Right Side Up was a project where music, voice, text and animation undid themselves simultaneously.

7. Kay

As artists we come across stories by the boat load. Anything can be written about or be the muse for the artist’s next dream. But the sadness of the world is in need of respite. By feeling the pain, swimming around it we are learning more about it. By acknowledging it is there and investigating its demeanor we can hopefully find peace or soft lament in the process. In searching the languages of expression in pain, the result can be both lethargic and beckoning.

8. Bolo Episode 3

Artists coming from minority groups can have waves of intent knocking against their vision. Must they acknowledge their body politic? Must their work be in defence or promotion of it? Can it also be creative? What if it does not concern me? I have only the answers I have conjured for myself.

The poem and video speaks to our particular use of language, its affects and ramifications. It is the third episode of a five-part animated series. Bolo The Dictator’s Son explores the life of Bolo, a 10-year-old boy and son of an African leader. A fish out of water, Bolo must navigate the nuances of living in North America after he is forced to leave the comfort of the African country where he once lived.

The series explores issues of race, politics and cultural identity. Animated by British based artist James White.

9. The Door

Companies, NGOs and the advertisement business are noticing the benefit of producing work which integrates the various languages of art. Adding poetry to complement visuals can add a layer of direction towards an intended message. I am always down for a collaboration when the message is of hope and change.

It is one thing to be fascinated by the amalgamation of artistic expressions, it is another to use it towards a purpose. When various art forms are speaking with, over and under each other, the result can be a catalyst towards actual change.

10. Global Citizen

Ian Keteku visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Ayesha Chatterjee, Mary Lou Dickinson, Catherine Hernandez and a special guest talk, “From Tarot to Creativity”, by Hoa Nguyen!

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Brockton Writers Series 10.05.17

WEDNESDAY, MAY 10, 2017 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents:

Ayesha Chatterjee
Mary Lou Dickinson
Catherine Hernandez
Ian Keteku

and special guest speaker

Hoa Nguyen

AT

Glad Day Bookshop

499 Church St., Toronto

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books and refreshments are available for sale.

The venue, including its bathroom, is fully accessible. Please refrain from wearing scents.

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

“From Tarot to Creativity”

Hoa at AWP.jpg

Hoa Nguyen was born in the Mekong Delta, raised in the Washington, D.C. area, and currently makes her home in Toronto. Her poetry collections include As Long As Trees Last Red Juice, Poems 1998-2008, and Violet Energy Ingots from Wave Books. She teaches poetics at Ryerson University, for Miami University’s low residency MFA program, for the Milton Avery School for Fine Arts at Bard College, and in a long-running, private workshop. 

READERS

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Ayesha Chatterjee‘s poetry has appeared in journals across the globe as well as on the official website of Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke. Her first collection, The Clarity of Distance, was published in 2011 by Bayeux Arts.  She is President of the League of Canadian Poets.

Mary Lou DickinsonMary Lou Dickinson grew up in northern Quebec and arrived in Toronto via Montreal and Michigan. Inanna Publications published her short stories, One Day It Happens (2007), and her novels, Ile d’Or (2010) and Would I Lie To You (2014). A mystery, The White Ribbon Man, will be published in early 2018.

10494898_10152272232135866_3891456299537266858_oCatherine Hernadez is an award-winning writer and performer whose first novel, Scarborough, was just published by Arsenal Pulp Press. She is a twice-published playwright and the author of the Flamingo Rampant Press children’s book M is for Mustache: A Pride ABC Book.  Her plays, The Femme Playlist and I Cannot Lie to the Stars that Made Me will be published by Playwrights Canada Press in spring 2018. Twitter: @theloudlady.

ian press 1Ian Keteku poet, musician. filmmaker, is national slam champion and the 2010 World Poetry Slam champion. He defines his work as “critical oratory,” inspiring messages of peace, action and wayward thought. He has written for numerous news and poetry publications. His latest album, Love and Lumumba, is an exploration of the quiet blaze which makes us human.

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