Monthly Archives: August 2018

BWS 12.09.18: Clementine Morrigan

clementinemorrigan

Clementine Morrigan is the author of You Can’t Own the Fucking Stars, The Size of a Bird, and Rupture. They write the zine Fucking Magic and have authored dozens of other zines, articles, and essays. She is a working witch and practitioner of trauma magic. See clementinemorrigan.com for more information.

In anticipation of her September 12 appearance at our event, Clementine shares an excerpt from her new book, You Can’t Own the Fucking Stars.

Asking For It

Booze and the way that I consumed it brought me places and made me someone. Not the kind of places you would want to go to or the kind of person you would want to be. Drinking brought me to alleyways, sidewalks, barrooms, stranger’s apartments, snowbanks, park benches and bushes in a park. Drinking turned me into a kind of person who was read a certain way: as a drunk, a slut, a crazy person, a bitch, a girl who nobody cared about, a girl you could get away with doing anything to, a girl who was asking for it.

I was a horrible drunk, an obnoxious drunk, an ugly drunk, a loud drunk. I was a mean drunk, a slutty drunk, a pathetic drunk. I got kicked out of bars, thrown face first off a streetcar, punched in the face, sexually assaulted, GHB’d. I got a knife pressed up to my stomach, a condom taken off without permission, a bag of ice on my head.

Booze was an oblivion that called me endlessly. It created a world of chaos, a world where the only point of reference was a bottle. I felt perpetually unsafe to the point where feeling unsafe felt natural. It was my way of being. I was assaulted regularly and in the back of my mind I blamed myself because I was the one with the big mouth, the one asleep on the park bench, the one making a scene. I was ‘asking for it’. And I got it in plenty.

Booze and the way that I consumed it created a reality for me and those around me. There are narratives about girls like me, what we are, what we deserve, what happens to us. It is an accepted ‘truth’ that girls who put themselves in such dangerous situations are at least partially responsible for the bad things that then happen to them. This was a ‘truth’ written on my body and although it made me angry it was a truth that I also believed.

I rebelled against it by drinking more and by telling myself that I didn’t care. Violence was a language that I came to know quite well. I was crazy. I acted fucking crazy. And my craziness made me a target and simultaneously protected me. I told myself that this was a way of being that I needed and loved and that I chose freely. I told myself that this oblivion was the only thing keeping me alive and that the violence was an unpleasant side effect. An unfortunate but inevitable consequence to my chosen and beloved lifestyle.

Sometimes it slipped through the cracks of my denial that I was an alcoholic but I could not face the powerlessness of my addiction because my consumption was the only thing that gave me any power. I had control over something. I had control over the fact that I could always have more.

Now, booze and the ways I consumed it bring me to different places and make me a different person. My recovery brings me to church basements, community centres and coffee shops. My recovery makes me into the kind of person that people say things to like ‘good for you’.

Those who aren’t alcoholics themselves and who don’t know me from before say things like ‘are you sure you’re really an alcoholic?’ And ‘I’m sure you’ll be able to drink again in the future’ because they have no idea about the way that I drank and where it took me. They cannot even begin to conceive of what my reality used to look like. Other sober alcoholics don’t say things like that because they know.

I am eternally grateful for my sobriety and I know that without it I would still be experiencing violence on a regular basis. Yet this does not mean that I believe I was responsible for the violence that happened to me or deserving of it. Regardless of how fucked up I was acting, no one has the right to do the things that have been done to me. no one has the right to drag me down the stairs, pull a knife on me, grab my ass while I am asleep, put GHB in my drink, throw me off a streetcar, punch me in the face, touch my breasts without consent, pull my shirt down, throw me into a wall, smash my face with a weighted object. No one has the right to do that shit to anyone, drunk or not, addict or not. Drunks are still human beings. There is no such thing as ‘asking for it’.

While in active alcoholism I remember how strange any attempt at living a normal life felt. I remember the fear I felt that anyone might recognize me while I was sober and trying to act normal from one of my consistent drunken rampages. And now that I am in recovery it happens still, people recognize me from before. They remember the fucked up girl with unfocused eyes screaming and getting kicked off the salvation army van. They look at me now, acting normal, speaking clearly and they cannot believe that it is the same person.

But it is. That was me. So is this.

 

Clementine Morrigan, visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Mehri Yalfani, Maia Caron, Emily Sanford , and guest speaker Bardia Sinaee who will present, “How to Read a Poem.”

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BWS 12.09.18: Maia Caron

Maia_C

Maia Caron is the Métis author of Song of Batoche, a historical novel that was #11 on CBC’s 95 must-read books of 2017 and CBC’s 12 historical novels to read, summer 2018.

Born and raised in the mountains of British Columbia, Maia has had short stories and essays in The Dalhousie ReviewThe Nashwaak Review, the Women Awakening series, and Skeptic MagazineSong of Batoche is her first novel and was chosen by Raven Reads as their spring 2018 Read for Reconciliation. Maia lives in Toronto and is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario.

Ahead of her September 12th appearance, Maia  tells us how she learned to write dialogue for the dead.

 

If you’re drawn to write historical fiction, you’re probably the type who enjoys minding other peoples’ business. You’re irresistibly drawn to the lost inner thoughts of those who lived and breathed on this earth long before you were born. And you’re comfortable with the idea that historical fiction is basically writing dialogue for the dead.

I was recently asked by someone on Goodreads if I could provide some insight into the research I did for Song of Batoche, my historical novel about the Métis North-West Resistance of 1885. It’s a question I’ve been asked many times, a question that I think also asks, in subtext: “What is true in this historical novel and what isn’t?”

To write Song of Batoche, I immersed myself in seven years of research. I still had research books open while working with my editor and copy editor, days before the book was going to print for advance reading copies. Why the obsession over detail when I was writing “a story?”

Early on in my research, I heard the voices of the Métis women of Batoche, some of them my own ancestors. Yet I couldn’t write a novel about the Métis North-West Resistance without including Louis Riel’s point of view. Riel is central to the Métis narrative and one of the most controversial figures in Canadian history. This put a whole lot of pressure on me to get him “right” but ultimately, Louis Riel was the most rewarding part of researching and writing Song of Batoche.

In historical texts, Riel is either demonized or sanctified. Exactly the kind of stereotypes that writers wish to avoid when fictionalizing a historical figure. The Riel whose dialogue I would write was surely not the one-dimensional traitor formed in the minds of Canadians from high school history classes taught by settlers. And not the one-dimensional hero revered as a saint by the Métis.

I read the many books about him and poured over his prodigious writings. Who was this complex man, variously described as insane, a religious zealot, a visionary, and a politically brilliant leader? It was only in curious lines in Riel’s diary or poems (such as this one that he wrote in 1866), that gave me a glimpse of his secret inner life:

I hear funeral dirges inside me.

Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, articulated her own process in writing historical fiction:

“I track the historical record so I can report the outer world faithfully – but my chief concern is with the interior drama of my characters’ lives. From history, I know what they do, but I can’t with any certainty know what they think or feel.”

The historical novelist takes notes from all of these dry historical records and, as Mantel writes, “breaks through the false wall” to connect to the hidden story.

This is an arduous process, not for the faint of heart (or eyes—all that reading!) and it’s why my next book is a psychological thriller. Come hear me read from my new work on September 12th!

 

Maia Caron visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Mehri Yalfani, Clementine Morrigan, Emily Sanford , and guest speaker Bardia Sinaee who will present, “How to Read a Poem.”

 

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BWS 12.09.18: Mehri Yalfani

Mehri

Mehri Yalfani was born in Hamadan, Iran. She graduated from Tehran University with a master degree in electrical engineering. Mehri has been living in Toronto since 1987. Her works are three collections of short stories and a novel in English and seven novels and three collections of short stories in Farsi. Many of Mehri Yalfani’s works have appeared in English and Farsi journals. Her novel, “A Palace in Paradise” is going to be published in 2019 by Inanna Publication.

Ahead of her appearance on September 12, Mehri shares an excerpt from her novel, A Palace in Paradise.

 

The books sitting in Nozar’s trunk were dear to Sara. She had spent money and time on them, enjoyed reading them, and had learned from them. She was proud of having them, considered them valuable assets, like she would a dear friend. They were something that she could count on, that gave her pleasure, joy, happiness, and they had filled the dreary days and nights when Nozar was in prison. They were her prestige, her dignity, an integral part of her life. She had shared them with Nozar, her friends, and even with people she didn’t know well, but who had read the same books—the very same books she was now going to throw away, disappearing them from her life.

Sara was quiet. It seemed to her that a film was playing in front of her, and everything looked unreal.

From the bottom step, she could see only a small part of the alley. Nozar closed the trunk of the car quietly and walked toward her. She stood up, her hands in her pockets, let Nozar hug her, kiss her forehead and lips, but she was remote. He cupped her face with his hands, looked at her in the eyes, and said, “Don’t worry. Many people are doing the same. Everybody is throwing away the books that might cause them problems. Farahzad’s and Varamin’s ditches, and even those of Shahre Ray and the roads out of Tehran, are all full of books people are throwing away. I won’t go far. I’ll be back soon.”

“I’d better come with you,” Sara said, releasing herself from Nozar’s arms with a sudden jerk. She looked at her dress and continued, “I’ll change in a minute, wear my black chador, and accompany you. With me, it will look less suspicious.”

“Don’t even think about it,” Nozar said firmly. Sara had already started climbing the steps toward the second floor. Nozar held her arm gently and continued, “Nothing will happen. I promise.”

Sara did not resist. She breathed deeply, as if she wanted to release a burden from her chest, and said, “You’re right. Many people have done the same. Last night Bahram and Kami took a few garbage bags of books out and threw them into Farahzad’s ditches. They said there were thousands of books in the highway ditches and in some other areas in the city. Those might have belonged to people who didn’t have a car to drive further out of the city. You see…” A lump in her throat and tears in her eyes prevented her from saying more.

“You see,” repeated Nozar confidently, but she could read the unspoken words in his eyes. He continued, “You’re right to be sorry to lose the books. I feel the same, but we have no choice except to get rid of them.”

 

Mehri Yalfani visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Maia Caron, Clementine Morrigan, Emily Sanford , and guest speaker Bardia Sinaee who will present, “How to Read a Poem.”

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Brockton Writers Series 12.09.18

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by

Mehri Yalfani
Maia Caron
Clementine Morrigan
Emily Sanford

with special guest speaker

Bardia Sinaee

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

“How to Read a Poem.”

SINAEE

Bardia Sinaee was born in Tehran, Iran, and lives in Toronto. His poems have appeared in magazines across Canada and in several editions of Best Canadian Poetry in English. He is the assistant editor at the Literary Review of Canada and an MFA student at Guelph-Humber.

 

READERS

Mehri

Mehri Yalfani was born in Hamadan, Iran. She graduated from Tehran University with a master degree in electrical engineering. Mehri has been living in Toronto since 1987.Her works are three collections of short stories and a novel in English and seven novels and three collections of short stories in Farsi. Many of Mehri Yalfani’s works have appeared in English and Farsi journal. Her novel, “A Palace in Paradise” is going to be published in 2019 by Inanna Publication.

 

 

 

 

Maia_C

 

Maia Caron is the Métis author of Song of Batoche, a historical novel that was #11 on CBC’s 95 must-read books of 2017 and CBC’s 12 historical novels to read, summer 2018.

Born and raised in the mountains of British Columbia, Maia has had short stories and essays in The Dalhousie Review, The Nashwaak Review, the Women Awakening series, and Skeptic MagazineSong of Batoche is her first novel and was chosen by Raven Reads as their spring 2018 Read for Reconciliation. Maia lives in Toronto and is a member of the Métis Nation of Ontario.

 

 

clementinemorrigan

Clementine Morrigan is the author of You Can’t Own the Fucking Stars, The Size of a Bird, and Rupture. They write the zine Fucking Magic and have authored dozens of other zines, articles, and essays. She is a working witch and practitioner of trauma magic. See clementinemorrigan.com for more information.

 

 

Emily_Sanford

Emily Sanford was born in Nova Scotia and holds an MA in Literature and Performance from Guelph. She is the winner of the 2016 Eden Mills Writers’ Festival Literary Award for Poetry, the 2018 Janice Colbert Award, and was listed in The 10 Best Poems of 2016, by Vancouver Poetry House. Her work appears in Canthius, Grain Magazine, Minola Review, newpoetry.ca, Plenitude Magazine and the recently released Applebeard Editions anthology of flash fiction, Release Any Words Stuck Inside of You. Emily is the Creative Writing Program Administrator at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and co-hosts the Brockton Writers Series.

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