Monthly Archives: April 2018

BWS 09.05.18: Ralph Kolewe

RKolewe - 2017-12-25

Ralph Kolewe lives in Toronto, where he shares a house with a cat named Charlotte. He has published two books of poetry, Afterletters (Book*hug 2014) and Inspecting Nostalgia (Talon Books 2017).

 

A few years ago I wrote a sequence of poems relating to the Great Financial Crisis. “A tweet is not direct action” one of those poems said. (There was a time when I was optimistic about the Internet, but that was back in 1995.) More recently I’ve been thinking about W.H. Auden’s  statement that “poetry makes nothing happen,” which isn’t entirely about politics. And I’ve been thinking about those poems we’ve all read (or even written) expressing the great pain and suffering of the poet and/or their people in this less than perfect world. In consequence, too often I find myself feeling like a grumpy old man. This piece (nothing like a manifesto) comes out of all that.

699 words including repetitions but not enough

Repetition is the basic poem because saying it again some things have to be repeated.

Structures of repetition rhythm and rhyme sonnet villanelle and sestina etc pattern and symmetry but the world oh the world isn’t that.

Thought isn’t either. Broken like the world but again and again. Even if you only have one idea like the world.

I’m not the first to say something like this I’m repeating. Trauma and rage pain and grief again and again even if repeated is not a poem even if yours or mine even if I’m writing from a position of privilege which I am even if no one is listening because who listens to a poem even written from a position of privilege or not even if this is not a poem it’s not. I won’t say what a poem is it doesn’t matter I don’t know. But those things and other things may be the occasion of a poem a place to start a poem and start again and again.

And repeat yourself and the world. Maybe every line should always begin and end and.

Also those things villanelle etc are pretty and pretty old-fashioned aren’t they forms should be shiny shouldn’t they shiny new fresh like a pop song wrapped in bright plastic that winds up in the sea belly of a whale like Jonah how old-fashioned though maybe you recognize Jonah living in the postcolonial world as we all do still submerged in the deep European now. The story’s kind of apropos maybe prophet who didn’t want to deliver his message bad idea but make it new Ezra Pound said in the 20th century the perfect fascist 20th century although genocide had been invented some time previous to that also liberty equality fraternity or was it slavery hierarchy patriarchy none of which are a poem but you know that or at least might believe it but really are you sure.

Who says forms should be shiny new etc anyway. Yes yes “it is difficult / to get the news from poems” maybe that’s a good thing I often think so.

Repetition can be a kind of error correction more likely the signal will get through the noise say again say again and again. And some things have to be repeated and again.

And maybe every poem is written from a position of privilege really you had 10 minutes to write a sonnet you could have ended capitalism or at least undermined the neoliberal new world order it’s not that new no.

Sometimes I am such a nihilist such a cynic it’s a luxury artisanal authentic right someone once said I had no right to speak critically of the status quo because I spoke from a position of privilege a beneficiary of the status quo which made me wonder it might be better to say nothing just shut the fuck up you know like Wittgenstein said “what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence” that’s the general idea although Wittgenstein was talking about something else. I’m not sure. A sestina maybe here I don’t write sestinas. And make room for other voices but who’s listening really
who’s listening.

And again like pain and it is real pain also and the root of pain injustice and hate and greed even if repeated is not a poem but again maybe the occasion of a poem. Just saying isn’t a poem so what’s a poem really I don’t know I’m being honest here. I am coming dangerously close and why is it dangerous I know to saying art for art’s sake poem for poem’s sake what a luxury here is a wonderfully decorated tall cake all spun sugar so beautiful right too bad you can’t have a slice.

Also the facts are not a poem and beauty what isn’t a poem either. Writing isn’t doing even tweeting. Neither is reading and will reading matter probably not neither a poem.

I should write this over rewrite it again read it again anyway.

I said at the beginning some things have to be repeated and again no ending that. You can start over maybe and a poem or do something.

 

Ralph Kolewe visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Tyler Pennock, Kaleigh Trace, Karen Lee, and guest speaker Maya Bedward who will tell us about, “Writing a Successful Grant Application.”

 

 

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BWS 09.05.18: Kaleigh Trace

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Photo credit:  HZD photography

 

Kaleigh Trace writes about sex, pee, and the places where they intersect. Her first book, Hot, Wet & Shaking was published in 2015 and won the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award. Her written work can also be found in Shameless MagazineGUTS Feminist Magazine, and Plentitude Magazine. Talk to her about cats and the Women & Song anthologies. Predictably, she loves that.

 

This week, Kaleigh weighs in on some of the things to consider if you are 25(ish) and are planning to publish a memoir about your sex life:

  1. Dating will get weird after you have published a book in which you describe the most intimate details of your body and your bedroom. Be prepared. Perhaps approach Tinder with caution.
  1. Ensure that you are, in fact, as unabashedly unashamed of your genitals, your bodily fluids and your mistakes as you think you are. It is empowering to have made your body your home. The fact that you have learned to laugh at yourself and find pleasure in your existence is a magic trick meant to heal. While trying to share this wisdom with others, make sure you hold on to it for yourself too. Not everyone is going to understand you, and not everyone is going to like you either. So grip both your sense of humour and your sense of self in one palm as you open up your other.
  1. Don’t be too precious about “the truth.” Your story is yours. Remember, memoir starts with ME.
  1. A room of cisgender men in their fifties may not be your audience. If you are a young, cis, queer woman excited about finally learning to orgasm – they just may not relate. So know your audience. And find them. Make sure every femme, queer, freak, misfit, crip and weirdo you once longed to find in books can now find you. Someone, in fact many, will appreciate all your false starts and your brave heart. Search them out.
  1. Mostly – don’t stop. There can be such a fear in being published, in having physical words on paper be forever tied to you. You may the think that the version of yourself you have written is static, inviting you not to change. You may think your words are imperfect, inviting you to cease speaking or writing them. Do not accept these invitations. The world is always inviting femmes, queers, freaks, misfits, crips, weirdos and all marginalized voices to stay silently static, to not grow or continue, to not take up space. Resist this. Push back against fear and don’t doubt your voice. Be sturdy. Don’t stop.

 

Kaleigh Trace visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Tyler Pennock, Ralph Kolewe, Karen Lee, and guest speaker Maya Bedward who will tell us about, “Writing a Successful Grant Application.”

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BWS 09.05.18: Tyler Pennock

Tyler_Pennock

Tyler Pennock of Cree and Metis descent, from Faust Alberta. As an adoptee in a military family, he’s traveled all over Canada and Europe.  These days he prefers to write poetry, theatre, and creative fiction.  He’s a graduate of the creative writing MFA program at Guelph.  When he isn’t writing he’s usually challenging everything …. critically- such as when he’s teaching at  Anishnawbe Health’s Community Health Worker Program.

 

In response to the Government of Ontario’s lack of action on Grassy Narrows, Tyler wrote the following essay for Shameless Magazine:

Aannda’aan/ My Home

Why Land Matters

Take a look down every now and then, to the concrete around you; And look at the cement beneath your feet.  It’s a little odd, isn’t it? Concrete is itself stone; crushed, reformed, mixed in with other larger bodies, and laid down in liquid form.  Then it hardens, holding on to a single property it had (hardness), yet wholly different. It’s funny how even the land upon which most of us stand is displaced, shaken up, and reformed into something it’s not.

This is in a way how we are as people. We too, are often removed from our homelands, shaken up with others and placed down in different form. And the expectation is that perhaps we will harden this way, and never change.

But that is not who we are. We cannot be re-formed into another image of ourselves and kept that way.

In light of this, I ask all of you:  Who are we?

Is it that we are a product of our families, and how we become a confluence of our parents’, siblings’ and Aunties’ expressions, opinions, and beliefs? Perhaps.

Are our identities then a product of our unique experiences? Are we a product of ourselves then? Is the shape of our being pounded into existence by our interactions with the outside world? Really?

When someone is asked who they are, surely there’s enough material out there to point to. There are countless identities that a person can fit into, and the limit of that identity is truly what they feel fits their own perspective. I myself can say I am Aboriginal, Canadian, An Albertan, Queer, Two-Spirit, a Man, An outreach Worker, a Writer, a Teacher, and a Storyteller. All of them are true in that all of them bear some form of truth for me, and my sense of identity. Any person could now write my Bio, and include any one of these titles, touching a small semblance of truth in any one of them. But would that person know everything about me, and know the full sense of my identity? No.

I am far more than label, any statistics Canada categorization, and I am most certainly larger than any box that can be made for me. This is because every event I’ve experienced, every story I’ve ever heard, and every person I’ve ever met is a part of me. They are all parts of me that will never leave. Conversely, every event, person, and story retains a piece of me. These are the footprints that I leave wherever I’ve been.

In this, the land on which I stand also bears some of the memories of my existence. Wherever I’ve been, the context of the world I’ve experienced are a cardinal point in my existence. Where I felt my first kiss is as important to me as the feelings my lips translated for me. The house in which my father and I reconciled is as important to me as the work it took for us to see past our differences. The house I spoke of held my tears, my happiness, and all the anxieties I felt when imagining the man I was about to become. In this, places are sacred to all of us.

Now, if you take such places away from me, a small part of those beautiful memories die. And when you take a piece of memory, the foundation of that memory becomes a little shaky. It is the same as if you take the forest away from a person and replaced it all with concrete. You remove their world, their understanding of place, and you remove part of who they are. We are lost.

This is why I am afraid. I am afraid because there are youth in our country (particularly in the north) who are fighting to keep this vital sense of who they are. The lands on which generations before them lived are changing, being removed, or even being destroyed faster than they can adjust.

I am writing about Youth like those in Grassy Narrows, who stood in front of the Ontario Legislature Toronto on June 2, 2016 to raise awareness around the Mercury poisoning in their river.

I am also writing of the youth in Attawapiskat, who – like those in Grassy Narrows are calling on whomever they can to help them reverse the rise of Suicide attempts and Suicide ideation in their communities.

I am writing about the youth of Iqaluit, whose world was thrown into turmoil by a forced relocation, and the decimation of their culture.

I am also writing of the countless other youth on reserves, and in the North who fight the same battles, but whom Canadians are not yet aware.

I am writing for every Indigenous youth who fights to survive in a world who’s concept of culture looks nothing like the land they – and their ancestors – grew up on.

I am writing for every person who seeks to protect what they have. Their land. The sacred place on which their culture, memories, families, friends, and entire world is meant to thrive.

In this, it’s my hope that all Canadians can pay attention to the lands our youth hold sacred. They are not stones to be crushed, mixed, and reformed into something hard. They are people – and they have the right to thrive in a place they hold in their hearts, a land that holds them and their memories sacred.

 

Tyler Pennock visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Kaleigh Trace, Ralph Kolewe, Karen Lee, and guest speaker Maya Bedward who will tell us about, “Writing a Successful Grant Application.”

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Brockton Writers Series 09.05.18

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by

Tyler Pennock
Kaleigh Trace
Ralph Kolewe
Karen Lee

with special guest speaker

Maya Bedward

Glad Day Bookshop

499 Church Street, 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 is accessible. Please refrain from wearing scents.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

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

 

GUEST SPEAKER

“Writing a Successful Grant Application.”

Maya Headshot

Maya Bedward is a filmmaker, arts educator and community-engaged artist from Toronto, ON. She is also the Information Services Coordinator at the Ontario Arts Council, where she helps artists and arts professionals navigate OAC’s many funding programs.

 

READERS

 

Tyler_Pennock

Tyler Pennock of Cree and Metis descent, from Faust Alberta. As an adoptee in a military family, he’s traveled all over Canada and Europe.  These days he prefers to write poetry, theatre, and creative fiction.  He’s a graduate of the creative writing MFA program at Guelph.  When he isn’t writing he’s usually challenging everything …. critically- such as when he’s teaching at  Anishnawbe Health’s Community Health Worker Program.

 

 

_DSC0602-Edit copy

Kaleigh Trace writes about sex, pee, and the places where they intersect. Her first book, Hot, Wet & Shaking was published in 2015 and won the Evelyn Richardson Non-Fiction Award. Her written work can also be found in Shameless Magazine, GUTS Feminist Magazine, and Plentitude Magazine. Talk to her about cats and the Women & Song anthologies. Predictably, she loves that.

 

 

RKolewe - 2017-12-25

Ralph Kolewe lives in Toronto, where he shares a house with a cat named Charlotte. He has published two books of poetry, Afterletters (Book*hug 2014) and Inspecting Nostalgia (Talon Books 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen_Lee_1

Karen Lee is a Jamaican-Canadian, lyric-driven storyteller, devoted to social justice, reclaiming voice against tyrannies that silence.  With sound / dub / spoken word poetry and vocals, she sings journeys into indigenous memory to heal colonial injury; probe wound, challenge systems that deny African womyn-ness.  As a voiceover artist, vocalist and musician, her credits span live, session, theatre, film, TV, radio, commercials and new media, internationally and locally, including Jamaican-Creole, Japanese and English. Her works, Rewind My Selecta! and Naked are published in Black Girl Talk (Sister Vision Press), 1995 and Side Road Swamp / Side Road Swamp Poesia, Opus 8 No 2, FP Ubertelli, 2017.  For more information click here.

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