Author Archives: Daniel Perry

About Daniel Perry

Daniel Perry's short stories have appeared in more than 20 Canadian print and online literary magazines and anthologies including Exile Literary Quarterly, The Dalhousie Review, The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Little Fiction, The Nashwaak Review and The Lion and the Aardvark. He grew up in Glencoe, Ontario, has an MA in Comparative Literature, and has lived in Toronto since 2006.

BWS 12.07.17: Ron Schafrick

Ron Schafrick

Ron 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.

Ron drops by the blog today ahead of his July 12 appearance at Brockton Writers Series, with this guest post about his favourite short stories. Thanks, Ron!

Favourite Short Stories

I teach an introductory fiction course, and like many such courses the focus is on short fiction. Recently, at the start of this summer semester, after my usual enthusiastic welcome, one of my students asked me a question after class that part of me has always secretly hoped to be asked: “What’s your favourite short story?”

On the one hand, it’s a bit of an unusual question, naïve and ingenuous, not something any discerning reader would ever ask. After all, of the innumerable short stories out there, how can one possibly pick out just one favourite? And yet, you do hear people speak of their favourite novels (it’s often used as a choice of prompt in case you forget your password on certain websites), or even favourite movies in spite of their own similarly countless options.

But when the question actually came I was a bit flummoxed in my answer. A couple of titles immediately popped into my head, and when I walked away I began to ponder the question a bit more: What are those stories that have made the greatest and most lasting impression on me, both as a reader and a writer of short fiction? Which stories do I turn to again and again for both instruction and inspiration?

In response to my student’s question, the story that immediately rose up from my subconscious was Mavis Gallant’s “Across the Bridge.” Gallant is one of my favourite writers and has had a huge influence on my own writing. I love the sheer confidence of her prose and the exactitude of each word. Some people describe her fiction as a bit cold, but that’s exactly what I love about her. I love, too, how the political and historical are also seamlessly woven into her work. In this story, set in Paris in the 1950s, a young woman is supposed to get married to one man but at the last minute decides she’s actually in love with another. I first read this story twenty years ago, and the last few words—“And, yes, it made me happy”—left me breathless when I first read them. Without giving anything away, it’s a very ironic ending, and yet what better words could there be to end any story? Other Gallant stories that vie for top spot include “Potter”, “The Remission”, “Voices Lost in Snow”, and “The Chosen Husband”, just to name a few.

The other story that also immediately came to mind was Yukio Mishima’s “Death in Midsummer”. Like Gallant’s “Across the Bridge,” I also first read this story about twenty years ago and it left a big mark on me. Set in Japan in the 1960s, it’s about a woman who loses two of her three children, as well as her sister-in-law, while vacationing at a seaside resort. Told from the mother’s perspective, the story that unfolds is a deeply internal one and closely examines the numerous subtle conflicts that arise out of this tragedy: the strain that’s now placed on her marriage, her in-laws’ subsequent perception of her, her own relationship with the surviving boy. It’s one of those stories in which very little happens, and yet everything happens—something I tend to do in my own fiction.

Along a similar vein is Raymond Carver’s “So Much Water So Close to Home.” Back in the ’90s I was a big fan of Carver. He made a big impact on me, and I think this story is one of his finest. When Claire’s husband returns from a fishing trip, she learns that he and his friends had discovered the murdered body of a young woman washed up onto the shore of a river. The men decide that instead of turning right around to find a phone booth to contact police, they tie the floating naked body to a tree and continue to spend the rest of their weekend camping, fishing, and drinking. Like Mishima’s story, the rest of the piece looks at the fallout from this event. Claire can’t help but see her husband differently now, as a man indifferent to violence inflicted upon women, as a man possibly capable of violence himself. She withdraws from her husband and starts to identify with the victim. Told in the first-person present tense, it’s a very compelling and internal story, haunting without a ghost ever materializing. And of course, there is Carver’s voice, which is not only very beguiling but has also influenced my own writing style.

Like a lot of people, I’m a big fan of Lorrie Moore, and her story “Agnes of Iowa” is one of my favourites. One of the things that draw me to Moore’s fiction is her ability to be both funny and sad at the same time, and in this story a South African poet is invited to give a reading at the university where Agnes is a professor. Agnes, whose marriage is starting to wane, is initially alarmed that the English department has invited an apartheid-era white Afrikaner to give a reading; yet when he arrives she finds him both attractive and sympathetic. Stylistically, there’s a lot going on in this story that I really like: the occasional and humorous intrusions of the protagonist’s thoughts into the narrative, almost like non sequiturs and which are represented by the use of the italics; her humorous yet percipient choice of similes and metaphors; and her ability to gently poke fun at her protagonist, making her all the more human, recognizable, and real. I have found myself mimicking her voice in some of my own fiction on more than one occasion. Other Lorrie Moore favourites include: “Dance in America” and “Places to Look for Your Mind.”

Vladimir Nabokov’s “Signs and Symbols” is another favourite of mine, and what makes this piece particularly powerful is Nabokov’s ability to tell a story that is at once both highly affecting and yet completely self-conscious of itself as artifice without being heavy-handed about it—and that too is something I sometimes like to play with in my own work.

John Cheever’s “Reunion” is the first story I teach every semester and, I’ve started to realize, it’s also become a favourite of mine. It’s a very short and simple story (I’ve got it practically memorized!), and it’s also a very perfect story, too. I begin with that story because it’s got all those typical “elements of fiction” that I teach—exposition, rising action, climax, resolution, irony, foreshadowing, etc. And of course it’s beautifully written.

Of course, this list only just scratches the surface when it comes to favourites and influences; for a slightly more expanded list, please visit my website. And let me know: what are your own favourites? What are the short stories that have had a big impact on you?

Ron Schafrick 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, 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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Brockton Writers Series 12.07.17

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 webjes sachse is at the forefront of a renewal of disability art, justice and culture in Canada. Presently living in Toronto, jes is an artist, writer and performer whose work focuses on disability culture in ways that refuse to reduce or bracket out the messy complexities of difference.  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.

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.

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BWS 10.05.17: What the Tarot Wants to Say to Writers, with Hoa Nguyen

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 LastRed 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. 

Hoa gave the talk “What the Tarot Wants to Say to Writers” at our May 10 event, and below, brings it to life by interviewing her deck! An adept of the tarot for twenty years, and an internationally renowned leader of poetry workshops, this summer Hoa will conduct a workshop on Poetry and Divination for Poet’s House on June 24 with the poet Timothy Liu; they will also lead a longer version of this workshop for a Pelee Island Weekend Book House Escape retreat from September 8 – 10, 2017.

What the Tarot Wants to Say to Writers: Some Simple Advice

The tarot is an ancient symbolic system of archetypical significance and narrative structures. Rich in images, numeric resonance, and correspondences to other systems of divination (Kabbalah, astrology, and the I Ching), the Tarot can be used as a guide and source for inspiration.

How can one do this? I decided to ask the cards themselves. The deck I use is the Mythic Deck as illustrated by Tricia Newell and bought for me in San Francisco 1995 by my partner the poet/scholar Dale Smith.

Hoa Nguyen: Hello old friend. I want to thank you for letting me interview you for this essay. As you know, I’m a poet and student of your pattern system. I love your story-rich images and how they point to nodes of experience. They are like rooms I can enter and embellish with personal perceptions, perceptions that lead to further perceptions and insight.

I’d like to ask you two questions about how we can approach you with our creative questions. For the first question I’d like to draw two cards into a shape like that of the “crossing cards” at the center of the Celtic cross spread.

Can you say something about how the cards speak to the creative process?

Tarot1

Tarot: The central figure shown here is the writer expressed as the King of Wands—someone who represents innovation, creative passion, and courage. Like the beginning of spring (the star sign Aries), the writer must wield the fiery wand of creativity and burst with confidence and power.

But this creative power and life-vision needs to be directed with committed unity. The Lovers card calls for that devotion by asking us to choose to unite with bliss, to choose the writer’s life as a committed path. This might seem to be a choice of opposites—how can one choose be a creative writer and also make a living? But the Lovers card tells us that this binary is false. The writer must claim this path, otherwise the wish is suppressed and the creative person settles for less.

Together the cards say that the creative process needs the writer fully engaged in the creation of a stable alchemy. It asks that the writer make choices without haste for the opportunity to engage in a kind of soul work with great energy and love.

Hoa: What are three ways using the Tarot can benefit one’s writing?

TTarot2arot: (1) Balance, naturally. Sometimes writers use one side of their brains too much. The wise, creative mind is a balanced, dynamic mix of energies. A writer must at times work with research and logic—and at other times, the writer must wait, trust intuition, follow the uncanny or the synchronistic, and work with the watery realm of visions.

The work of the writer is to be decisive, to understand the vision of the work, and to proceed with honesty and detachment.

We depict the central seed of the writer’s mind as the wise eye of the “vesica piscis—the interlocking circles of yin and yang. This balance gives birth to perfect creation.

 

Tarot3(2) Sometimes you need seven swords; you just do. Here the investigative mind operates under the influence of reflective, intuitive consideration—the moon in Aquarius.

Writers must use the skills of guile, tact, diplomacy, and wit when approaching the creative act. This might mean using dream-work energy and listening to the sages as they instruct through the unconscious—to follow hunches and intuitive hits.

Sometimes writers are expert procrastinators and need to “trick” themselves into bringing their creative self into the public world or to get the writing onto the page. This card brings to mind the questions we like to ask writers:

  • Can you surprise yourself with new strategies for writing?
  • How can you pierce through old ideas?
  • Can you encourage yourself to be canny and find ways around your avoidance by tricking yourself into writing?

 

Tarot4

(3) This is what we think of as the emblem for a writer: a person who does the work and deals with the daily tasks. Here this energy is figured as Aristaeus, son of Apollo (the Greek god of art) and conductor of the “useful arts”. Thus the writer is like a keeper of bees: they must bring care to the conduct of the everyday and the humility and simplicity in that: self-care, reading, paying bills, keeping up the garden, performing acts of service, and so on. A writer claims their creative life through the cumulative efforts of endurance, duration, and right actions.

 

 

 

Check back in July for more tips from our next Brockton Writers Series guest speaker–-and before that, see you at our next event–Queer Night!–July 12, 2017, 6:30pm, at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto!

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BWS 10.05.17: Ayesha Chatterjee

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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.

Ayesha’s next book is titled Bottles and Bones–“bottles” marking the cues many of the included poems take from the world of perfumery, and “bones” for her mother, who passed away two years ago and also features in the collection. You can sneak a peek at the new poems at the links below ahead of Ayesha’s May 10 appearance!

Three Poems (The Rusty Toque) 

“Rose Absolute” (Autumn Sky Poetry Daily)

“Past Makes Way” (The Missing Slate)

Ayesha Chatterjee 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 Mary Lou Dickinson, Catherine Hernandez, Ian Keteku and a special guest talk, “From Tarot to Creativity”, by Hoa Nguyen!

 

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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.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

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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BWS 08.03.17: Breaking with Form, with Teva Harrison

harrison_teva_portrait-c-david-p-leonard

Teva Harrison is an artist, writer and cartoonist. She is the author of the bestselling, critically-acclaimed hybrid graphic memoir, In-Between Dayspublished by House of Anansi Press. The book was a national bestseller, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and named a best book of the year by The Globe and Mail, The National Post, CBC, iBooks, KOBO, The Walrus and Quill & Quire. Numerous health organizations have invited her to speak publicly on behalf of the metastatic cancer community. She lives in Toronto.

Teva adapted the guest post below from her March 11 talk at Brockton Writers Series, entitled “Breaking the Constraints of Form: There Are Many Ways to Tell a Story”. Thanks, Teva!

Breaking with Form

I draw and paint. That’s the primary form my work has taken in the past, but I had an idea that required a different form. Rather than try to shoehorn my idea into big narrative paintings, I listened to the idea and allowed it to take the form that best suited it: a book.

So, I’d like to challenge you to do the same.

Do you usually write short stories, but an idea just won’t take form? Maybe it’s actually a poem, and rather than build it up, you need to pare it down.

Or are words both too much and not enough for a feeling you hope to convey? This can be exactly where pictures can say more than words alone. Pictures add a visceral quality, and we react to images differently than words. This can be a useful tool for a creator.

These questions can lead us to break form, to step outside of our comfort zone, to reach and stretch and find the form that will, with the most truth we can muster, tell a story that only we can tell.

How do you think of yourself? Are you a poet? A novelist? A journalist? Have you ever had an idea that you couldn’t wrestle into shape? Have you ever considered going back to that idea and asking it, what are you? What are you trying to be?

It might be that your poem is really a short story, that your essay is really a poem, or that your short story is the fifth chapter of a novel. It might be that you’re actually writing a play and you need audio to allow your idea to reach its potential. To answer these questions, you have to trust and listen to the work, to allow form to follow function, not the other way around.

I mean, I’m an artist who found herself writing a book because once begun, that was the only form that made sense, and I had to nurture it into being. I had to let go of what I thought I was (an artist) in the interest of being true to the idea and the form it needed to take shape.

So I invite you to open your heart to other forms of writing, to invite in visual collaboration if drawing isn’t a thing you do, to allow your ideas to dictate form to you, whether it’s letting illustrations into your margins or up-ending your entire practice.

Even if the experimentation doesn’t make the final cut, even if it comes out precious and you have to cut it, that paring down will make your final piece more clear, incisive, delicious. Most of writing is invisible, so is most of drawing. But it’s the foundation that lifts a few choice words or images up and into the reader’s reach.

Check back in May for more tips from our next Brockton Writers Series guest speaker–-and before that, see you at our next event: May 10, 2017, 6:30pm,  at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto!

 

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BWS 08.03.17: It’s Tonight!

WEDNESDAY, MAR. 8, 2017 – 6:30pm

In honour of International Women’s Day, Brockton Writers Series presents:

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm
Manasi Nene
Casey Plett
Giovanna Riccio

and special guest speaker

Teva Harrison

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

“Breaking the Constraints of Form: There Are
Many Ways to Tell a Story”

harrison_teva_portrait-c-david-p-leonard

Teva Harrison is an artist, writer and cartoonist. She is the author of the bestselling, critically-acclaimed hybrid graphic memoir, In-Between Days, published by House of Anansi Press. The book was a national bestseller, shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and named a best book of the year by The Globe and Mail, The National Post, CBC, iBooks, KOBO, The Walrus and Quill & Quire. Numerous health organizations have invited her to speak publicly on behalf of the metastatic cancer community. She lives in Toronto.

READERS

img_0054Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm is Anishinaabek from the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation, Saugeen Ojibway Nation, in Ontario. Kateri is an internationally acclaimed writer, spoken word poet, Indigenous arts activist, publisher and communications consultant. She and her sons live in their community at Neyaashiinigmiing on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibway Nation. Kateri has two collections of poetry, a collection of short stories, and two CDs of spoken word poetry. Her CD “A Constellation of Bones” was nominated for an Aboriginal Music Award. She is the founder and Managing Editor of award-winning publisher Kegedonce Press, which publishes and promotes some of the most beautiful, challenging, celebrated Indigenous literature in the world. Kateri’s first collection of short stories, The Stone Collection was recently shortlisted for a Sarton Literary Award.

259408_10200167724741825_2025039434_oManasi Nene is a writer and performance poet from Pune, India. She founded the Pune Poetry Slam at 17, and it has emerged as one of the leading literary communities and spaces in the country. Her work deals with sexuality, power politics, anxiety and what it is to be a young adult today. Halfway through a degree in Literary and Cultural Studies, she is currently in Toronto on an exchange program. Hopefully, you’ll be reading more of her work soon.

casey-plett-headshot-1-1500pxCasey Plett wrote the short story collection A Safe Girl To Love and is the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction & Fantasy From Transgender Writers. She lives in Windsor, Ontario.

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Giovanna Riccio is a graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied Philosophy and English Literature. Her poems and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines, journals and anthologies. Her work has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Slovenian, French and Romanian. She is the author of Vittorio (Lyricalmyrical Press, 2010) and Strong Bread (Quattro Books, 2011).  An Italian anthology that includes translations of her poems will be published in Italy this year. Giovanna co-organized the Toronto reading series, Not So Nice Italian Girls, for three years and is now part of the team that organizes  Shab-e She’r, Toronto’s most diverse monthly reading series.

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