Monthly Archives: July 2017

BWS 12.07.17: It’s Tonight!

WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2017 – 6:30pm

For our 2017 edition of Queer Night (though we’re always a little queer!),
Brockton Writers Series is proud to present readings by:

Terence A. Go
jes sachse
Ron Schafrick
Kai Cheng Thom

and special guest speaker

S. Bear Bergman

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.

ACCESSIBILITY INFO
The venue, including its bathroom, is fully accessible, and we are delighted to introduce Richard Belzile, who will be interpreting the event in American Sign Language! 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

“Five Things You Should Know Before You Do Anything About Your Children’s Book Idea”

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Award-winning writer, educator and storyteller S. Bear Bergman is the author of six books as well as the founder of Flamingo Rampant, a children’s press focused on feminist, LGBTQ-positive, racially-diverse children’s books, and writer of the advice column Ask Bear for Bitch Magazine. His most recent book for grownups, Blood, Marriage, Wine, & Glitter, made several Best Of lists and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Bear is a much-loved speaker and storyteller at universities and festivals alike, because his signature blend of wit and warmth brings all the people to the yard (regardless of their sex designation, gender identity, or gender expression) (which he would like to remind you are not the same thing).

READERS

IMG_20170524_212558Terence A. Go has been dating-app free for two months and counting. A first-gen, Indonesian-Canadian spoken word artist, he has read at various venues across the city; most recently, he has featured at Naked Heart – An LGBTQ Festival of Words (2016) and Poetic Justice: A Proud Reading Series (2015, 2016) at Glad Day, and Fleurus 2 at Hart House (2013). Terence’s work has been published in Misunderstandings Magazine and Zhush Redux (2012)and he has released several collections, UNgh (2007) among them. He has facilitated OUTwrites since 2003.

JES SACHSE HEADSHOT 1 for web

Presently living in Toronto, jes sachse is an artist, writer and performer whose work addresses the negotiations of bodies moving in public/private space and the work of their care. Their work and writing has appeared in NOW Magazine, The Peak, CV2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, Mobilizing Metaphor: Art, Culture and Disability Activism in Canada, and the 40th Anniversary Edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Ron SchafrickRon Schafrick’s short fiction has appeared in The Journey Prize Stories 27, Best Gay Stories 2015, The New Quarterly, The Antigonish Review, Asia Literary Review, Plenitude, and elsewhere. His collection of stories, Interpreters, was published by Oberon Press in 2013.

headshotKai Cheng Thom is a writer, performing artist, and social worker based in Toronto and Montreal, unceded Indigenous territories. Her first novel, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir (Metonymy Press), is a Lambda Literary Award Nominee for 2017. Her debut poetry collection, a place called No Homeland (Arsenal Pulp Press), is a also a 2017 finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBTQ Writers.

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BWS 12.07.17: jes sachse

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Photo by Vivek Shraya

Presently living in Toronto, jes sachse is an artist, writer and performer whose work addresses the negotiations of bodies moving in public/private space and the work of their care. Their work and writing has appeared in NOW MagazineThe PeakCV2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical WritingMobilizing Metaphor: Art, Culture and Disability Activism in Canada, and the 40th Anniversary Edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves.

jes joined us for an interview ahead of their appearance on Wednesday!

BWS: You’re appearing at Brockton Writers Series as a poet, but you work in all kinds of other media, too. Tell us about your current projects in dance and in visual arts.

jes: First of all, I was so thrilled to receive an invitation to read at the Brockton Writer’s Series, joined by this amazing line up of writers.

Presently, I have two solo large scale sculptural installation shows up, both cutely (and accessibly!) across Lansdowne Ave. from each other, in my neighbourhood of Parkdale, and just north of.

At Xpace Cultural Centre, in the Project Room, you will locate Freedom Tube Lost in X Space, for which I am deeply grateful to critical writer Vince Rozario for penning such a superbly poetic curatorial essay to accompany the piece’s current imagining (which you can read here), on until July 18th.

Down the street, at The Public Studio, viewable from the Lansdowne bus as it stops at Seaforth, is the window gallery diptych found, which is part of a larger series I’m currently producing called Signs, which employs large, commercially made aluminum signage with personal messages, on view until early August. I see the diptych in sculpture as this object/ive opportunity to destruct the myth of dichotomy, so obsessively turned to in colonial Western society and the English language, to make a moment for the truer notion of conversation; ‘two things can be true at once’.

Alongside all this assemblage & metal making, I have been in residence since April of this year as one of eight emerging choreographers at Dancemakers, through an inaugural program called the Peer Learning Network, where I will be sweating it out in their old industrial, floor to ceiling windowed studios a la Flash Dance until our group showcase for friends & family at the end of August.

BWS: How does what you do in non-written media intersect with what you do in your poetry?

jes: I must confess that poetry and dance are both timid points of return. We all have languages that speak to us. The first that spoke to me as a kid was poetry. Many of the themes and motifs evaded perhaps, but the way Being Alive was told in poems landed. Later, I would understand why.

In that way I feel as though I have never not been a poet. Though perhaps a shitty one at first. But who doesn’t love a good rhyming couplet when they’re ten?

I think what I understood early on in life was that poetry was to tell the truth. And this soothed me, growing up in a small farming town in a silent house occupied by my father’s European postwar trauma. The truth became a thing I did alone but for the halcyon fields of waist high brome grass. It was idyllic space for the quiet of my gender fluidity.

I was a dancer then too, studying at the dance school my mother taught at. Though relating to my body in front of a mirror and not a field would become more wrought than the rusted metal tracks of the abandoned train where I often played.

It is both exciting and terrifying to build in these mediums again, as a visible artist in performance & sculpture, as they are places I haven’t stopped building but have nurtured in private realms, like letters to lovers & alleyway body traces toward home.

I think a choreographer and a poet and a sculptor are not so different things. In each case there is a stage, a page, or a pause; & the audience-approach a mutable, shifting efficacy.

BWS: How can your poetry influence what you do in dance or in visual art?

jes: We’re at an interesting time of cultural production and process, undeniably influenced by the hyper-democratic space of the Internet. Archive is far elusory to the current carrying of words than our sites of conversation. This has influenced deeply how I act as both artist-maker and poet. We are al/so curators.

I am a bit more afraid of poetry than dance, in the absence of the visual, and the places of its hiding. So many winters. So many dive bars writing alone to ease an ache. It’s starting to spill out though. You’ll see traces in the gentle maroon typography lining the south wall at Xpace. & in the metered metal sign diptychs. It’s an inevitability I suppose, when you’re finally able to put some of your suffering back in the ground. You begin to remember how to speak the way you first did. And that time travel is scary.

One thing that quietly broke my heart was the overheard discussion of the maybe 2010 notion that poetry was over. Ah, what a silly moment in time… I’m looking forward to being a poet again.

BWS: What can we expect on July 12?

jes: You can expect a new chapbook! & a very shy jes. I’ve called the collection of new works ‘in kind’, as it reflects the rather humbling journey of working through intergenerational trauma and suffering with/alongside queer community, and my deep gratitude for friendship and writers brave enough to share their gifts of naming pain.

BWS: We’re looking forward to it, jes, thanks!

jes sachse visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 (Queer Night!) in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Terence A. Go, Ron Schafrick, Kai Cheng Thom and a special guest talk, “Five Things You Should Know Before You Do Anything About Your Children’s Book Idea”, by S. Bear Bergman!

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BWS 12.07.17: Kai Cheng Thom

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Kai Cheng Thom is a writer, performing artist, and social worker based in Toronto and Montreal, unceded Indigenous territories. Her first novel, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir (Metonymy Press), is a Lambda Literary Award Nominee for 2017. Her debut poetry collection, a place called No Homeland (Arsenal Pulp Press), is a also a 2017 finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBTQ Writers.

Ahead of her July 12 visit to Brockton Writers Series, Kai dropped by the
blog with the guest post below!

Letter to A Young Trans Woman Writer: An Unsolicited Survival Guide

Dearest you, essential you, incredible you,

Try not to be a writer. Try your very best. Keep the stories deep inside. It’s safer that way. (So said every jealous has-been queen to an ambitious, talented young waif.) People will tell you that you have the potential to be exceptional, amazing, an inspiration to millions, and I do not doubt that this is true. I am telling you that you also have the potential to be ordinary, contented, to inspire no one and belong only to yourself. You are more than what they see in you. You are more than what they can take from you. Remember this always.

Try not to be a writer. Keep the stories deep inside, until they ache and swell inside you like a starving, distended belly. Run to the woods and earn your living selling herbal medications to rich white women. Run to the mountains and earn your living as a maker of artisanal dyes. Run to the cities and become an investment banker, buy yourself an antique hotel to live in, and spend your weekends rolling around on a king-size bed of cash.

Keep the stories inside your body, till your bones grind and your muscles wheeze beneath their weight. Till your fingers quake and your heart skips time and your skin cracks and oozes blood from the effort of holding them in.

Then, if you still have to – if there is no choice – write.

The stories you give birth to will draw eyes, many eyes, hungry for the light of your voice. A forest of eyes and ears and hands, always reaching for whatever part of you they can see and hear and touch. Some will belong to trans girls like you. Many will belong to women and men who know nothing about your life except that it moves or entertains or titillates them.

They will want to use you for Great Purposes of their own design. They will ask you to speak on behalf of the entire universe of trans girls, and they will cast the blame your way when you get it wrong. (And yes, my darling, wise beyond your years though you are, you will get it wrong.)

They will use your body as weapon and shield in wars that have nothing to do with you. They will cast you as exotic spice in their documentaries, and hold you in their palms as a token of their open-mindedness. They will dress you up like a doll and play with you a like a favorite pet and they will throw you aside like a broken toy when they are done. Usually, you will not be paid.

Some will want to love you. Some will want to eat you. Most will not know the difference, and probably, neither will you.

Do you understand now, darling? In the words of a great witch past, you were never meant to survive. Your stories were the thread with which you wove your line to life, and now they are the rope you will hang by. Your stories are a galaxy of life-giving stars, and the brighter you shine, the easier it is for the hunters to find you. In the words of another witch, they will raise you up to tear you down.

When your first book is born, you will feel like dying. Giving birth always feels this way.  You will lie awake and wonder: Was this what I dreamed about?

And yet you must write. And you must survive. These are things I understand. So then, survive:

Read books written by your sisters and elders – trans women past and present – like your life depends on it. It does. Make an altar out of cardboard boxes covered with cloth at the foot of your bed. On it, keep dried flowers and a picture of your family (even if they tried to kill you) and plastic statues of the gods whose names you’ve long forgotten. Keep a sachet of amethyst and rosemary beneath your pillow. Pray for money, for good fortune, for long life. Yes, you deserve them.

On full moons, burn a candle for the dead. On new moons, burn a candle for the living.

Learn to keep some secrets for yourself. The forest of eyes and ears and hands will tell you that you owe every inch of your life to others to scrutinize and criticize and pore over. You don’t. Learn to say no to requests that sound like flattery but feel like consumption. Learn to say no to offers that sound like love but feel like being swallowed.

Practice spending time during which you do nothing useful to others: Write nothing. Say nothing. Do nothing. Those who still love you during these times are the ones who will love you forever. Keep them close to your heart and treat them kindly. Leave the rest.

And remember: You are more than what they can take from you. You were never meant to survive. They will raise you up to tear you down. You are a galaxy of life-giving stars, but you are also more than that. You are the great darkness of the universe. You are the silence between the songs. You are enough. You were enough before being published, you were enough before you dreamed of writing, you were enough before you began.

Love,

A Young Trans Woman Writer

Kai Cheng Thom visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 (Queer Night!) in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Terence A. Go, jes sachse, Ron Schafrick and a special guest talk, “Five Things You Should Know Before You Do Anything About Your Children’s Book Idea”, by S. Bear Bergman!

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