Category Archives: Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 13.07.22: Joelle Barron

Joelle Barron is a poet who lives on the Traditional Territory of the Anishinaabeg of Treaty 3 and the Métis people (Fort Frances, ON). Their first poetry collection, Ritual Lights, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. In 2019, Barron was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. 

I’ve written a lot of poetry about tragedy, grief, and injustice, and the ability to write about those things has kept me alive. At this point in my life, I’m interested in learning what it means to write about joy, love, and pleasure. I’ve been working on a book of poems about queer love and how it was often purposely hidden away throughout history. I’ve also been writing poems about love as it manifests in my own life, as someone who is queer and autistic, and just generally has a lot of feelings. This is one such poem.  

CHANGELINGS 

Fixed Hierophant, you don’t have to ask; obedience 

is already leaving my body, entering yours  

/

like smoke. You point to the mountain, its peak  

shedding trapped cloud like shards of cotton, mutable  

/

godstuff. I see clearly your ability to become. Pull me 

to you, untangle slick frogs from my hair who made  

/

a home there when I stood with one foot in the next  

world. I know you because you are coated with that same  

/

dust, and when I mirror you, I am still myself,  

this particular kind of human. Your knife makes  

/

its subtle rip through delicate strings of life and the meat  

that bears them; you know how it really is to be the body 

/

and the blood. Fatal misunderstandings of our childhood 

religion have led us here, made us holy in ways 

/

undreamed of. Like how you are both the river  

and the low branch bisecting it, so I can wade into you.  

/

I can hold on.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 13.07.22: Sheilah Madonna Salvador

Sheilah Madonna Mortel Salvador is a writer and spoken word artist whose work focuses on cultural pride, healing, and self-love. Born in the Philippines, she is grateful and honoured to currently be living in Toronto, the place in the water where the trees are standing. Her work has been featured in the Minerva and the Town Crier-Puritan literary magazines, as well as FeelWays: A Scarborough Anthology. She is currently doing her Master’s at OISE in Adult Education and is working on a book about her family history and the Massacre of Manila.

Listen to Sheilah speak in the podcast Write in the Neighbourhood, episode 1.4: Scarborough with Feel Ways, in connection to the anthology of the same name, to which she contributed.

https://writeintheneighbourhood.libsyn.com/scarborough-with-feel-ways-0?fbclid=IwAR1km_-ukN2hvabpOPef30a5S1xknv14VRwetzH14BqQEwBpxOUPuwWbTW4

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 13.07.22: Wayne Ng

Wayne Ng was born in downtown Toronto to Chinese immigrants who fed him a steady diet of bitter melons and kung fu movies. He is still a Torontonian at heart, learning to skate at Nathan Phillips Square and receiving his undergraduate degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally Ryerson University). He remains a die-hard Leafs, Jays, and Raptors fan. Ng moved to Ottawa to attend Carleton University, graduating with an MSW, and now works as a social worker with the Ottawa Catholic School Board. He lives to write, travel, eat, and play – preferably all at the same time. He is an award-winning author and travel writer who continues to push his boundaries from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Author of Letters from JohnnyThe Family Code (2023), and Finding the Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu. Connect with Wayne at WayneNgWrites.com.

Hello Brockton Writers Series fans and participants. I’m so pleased to be part of this and am really looking forward to connecting with readers and writers, and talking about my latest novel, Letters From Johnny. Watch the Book Trailer for Letters From Johnny.

(Q&A reproduced with permission from LiterASAIN 2022)

Letters From Johnny and Finding the Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu are two very different books. Your third book, The Family Code, also sounds unlike your previous works. How did you approach each piece of writing? 

This sounds like a cliché, but every project has been an emotional itch needing to be scratched. Writing had never been something that required external validation. It has always been self-affirming. As I reflect on the genesis of my novels, I’d say each served a purpose in my growth as a person and as a writer spiritually, personally and professionally. Each work is wildly divergent from one other but they reflect a continuous journey of discovery that I’ve been on. Let’s break this down:

FINDING THE WAY: A NOVEL OF LAO TZU. Awe and curiosity. That’s what I felt when I read about the legendary Lao Tzu who, nearing death, was stopped by a border guard who recognized the venerable philosopher. The guard refused to let him pass until Lao let him record his life story. What would drive him to such an end? Other than a philosophical take-down with Confucius in the royal court, there’s not much we can authenticate, so I had a blank slate. I was intrigued with the notion of a figure of epic proportions wandering off to die. Yet as I researched his philosophy and reflected on his influence, I saw how much of it informed my own upbringing. Lao sees our thirst for sanity and simplicity as a quest that transcends culture and time. And he evokes the natural rhythms and energy around us as a force to be reckoned with, respected and balanced. Imagine Yoda discovering the Force and you’ll get what I mean.

This stayed with me as I wrote the book and re-discovered Taoism. I also wanted people to better appreciate eastern history. That much of the world has an appalling lack of knowledge and understanding of it, is short-sighted and Euro-centric, like almost all historical fiction in the west. 

LETTERS FROM JOHNNY, winner of the Best Crime Novella at the 2022 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence, is a work of fiction that channelled the scrappy kid I once was. It turned out to be fun and unexpectedly therapeutic. This was a classic example of pantsing—writing by the seat of your pants intuitively. I didn’t mean for it to turn out that way. It almost feels like it wrote itself, like a primal scream from a previous life. But once I got going, the words poured out and waves of nostalgia engulfed me. It helped that, for decades, I’d been working with and hanging around children personally and professionally, so capturing their voices and mentality came easily. Bonus points that I could turn my poor grammar and erratic sentencing into useful dramatic devices. Double bonus points that I am currently working on its sequel, the second book in a trilogy, where Johnny is now a teenager writing to Bruce Lee instead of Dave Keon. 

It will become a patrilineal saga about repressed Asian male rage and silence, where emotionally remote parenting, overachievement, and invisibility can be psychologically crippling to them and those around them. I hadn’t anticipated this direction when I began LFJ. But I couldn’t talk about family without describing the emotional detachment and the repression of deeper intimacy I grew up with. As actor Jon Cho said on the podcast, They call us Bruce,  every Asian man has at one point, walked around with a balled up fist in his pocket, ready to explode. Turns out this is central to the typecasting of Asian males but has not been explored or fully realized in literature.

I see Johnny as one of my contributions to mainstream our work, to universalize our experiences, and to broaden our community so that we’re part of something beyond a margin. To me, these stories are essential to making us more visible and to combating anti-Asian hatred. 

The Family Code (coming spring 2023), which was shortlisted for the 2021 Guernica Prize, is an intense tale of the troubled and chaotic life of a young, single mom dogged by the brutality of past traumas, unhealed wounds, and a code of silence that she must break in order to be free. This novel is not like anything I’ve ever written, or even read before. But it’s the reality of many of the brave lives who have touched me as a social worker for over 30 years. I really wanted to honour, authenticate, represent and respect their experiences.

Authenticity is really important for me as I interviewed over thirty people including: parents, a deputy chief of police, a truck driver, a family lawyer, a child welfare worker, and other community professionals. 

That means I didn’t hold back so the story is unabashedly in your face, edgy, and real. This is the first novel I’ve completed where the protagonist isn’t Asian and male because I wanted to create something very close to me without reinforcing the idea that I was only a racialized writer, who only wrote stories of racialized people. I fundamentally try to write about the human experience.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 13.07.22 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by:

Wayne Ng

Joelle Barron

Elizabeth Vaah

Sheilah Salvador

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted on the Brockton Writers Series YouTube channel! Please log in at 6:30.

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

 If you’d like to donate, please do so here.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

 —

GUEST SPEAKER

“Which Creative Writing Program and Why?: One Writer’s Perspective on MFAs, Continuing Education Certificates, and Private Workshops

Anna Lee-Popham is an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph, and a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University and University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Education Creative Writing Certificate, where she received the Janice Colbert Poetry Award. Anna co-hosts the Emerging Writers Reading Series.

READERS

Wayne Ng was born in downtown Toronto to Chinese immigrants who fed him a steady diet of bitter melons and kung fu movies. Ng works as a school social worker in Ottawa but lives to write, travel, eat, and play – preferably all at the same time. He is an award-winning author and travel writer who continues to push his boundaries from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Author of Letters from Johnny, The Family Code (2023), and Finding the Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu

Joelle Barron is a poet who lives on the Traditional Territory of the Anishinaabeg of Treaty 3 and the Métis people (Fort Frances, ON). Their first poetry collection, Ritual Lights, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. In 2019, Barron was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. 

Elizabeth Allua Vaah, author of Maame, grew up in Bakanta, Western Ghana and moved to Canada in 2010. Allua calls herself a Maternal Health Migrant. She is co-founder of a Maternal Health advocacy group, an advocate of girl-child education and a strong environmentalist. She lives in Brampton with her family.

Sheilah Madonna Mortel Salvador is a writer and spoken word artist whose work focuses on cultural pride, healing, and self-love. Born in the Philippines, she is grateful and honoured to currently be living in Toronto, the place in the water where the trees are standing. Her work has been featured in the Minerva and the Town Crier-Puritan literary magazines, as well as FeelWays: A Scarborough Anthology. She is currently doing her Master’s at OISE in Adult Education and is working on a book about her family history and the Massacre of Manila.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 11.05.22 report: “Social Media 101 for Authors” with Caroline from ECW Press

Caroline from ECW Press is a marketing manager, graphic designer, and photographer. She currently works at ECW Press in Toronto.

Social media can definitely be daunting for all of us (even me!), but it can be a great tool for connecting your work with a much larger audience. It has made our worlds much bigger than most of us had ever imagined— in an instant, you can click “post” and your writing is sent to people millions of miles away. With so many outlets, it can be hard to know where to start and what to do. It takes a while to adjust to any new environment but, rest assured, you’ll get your sea legs soon.

An Overview of the Most Popular Social Media Platforms

Let’s start by going over the main social media platforms, what they’re typically used for, and how you might use them as writer. This talk is about day-to-day posting on social media so I’m going to skip talking about Instagram Lives, IGTVs, and Facebook Lives but if you’re into doing talks or long-form videos, those are great for you to look into.

First up, there’s Twitter. Twitter is a great platform for writers because it’s primarily text-based. You can also share photos and videos, but those 280-character-or-less Tweets are the bread and butter of the website. As a writer, you might use Twitter for two things: sharing short jokes/thoughts/commentary or promoting your work and events. If you’re a poet, maybe you’ll tweet out a couple lines of poetry. If you’re writing a novel, you can chime in when you see people talking about something related to the subject matter. Twitter is about connecting with other people in a massive conversation about timely topics. Some of our best performing tweets have been ones that commented on worldwide events (like the time a bunch of social media networks went down at once). And Twitter has a reputation as a news-sharing website so if you have updates (such as event updates or media coverage of your writing), this is a great place to share them.

Next there’s Instagram. Instagram used to be primarily a photo-sharing app but now it’s also begun promoting short videos as well, Instagram Reels. Instagram is a lot more polished than Twitter because posts are easily visible on your profile for much longer so people usually put more thought into them before posting. When you see people say that social media only shows people on their best day, they’re talking about Instagram. As a writer, this is a great place to connect with your readers because the book community is huge here (a.k.a. bookstagram). If you’re a poet, images of poems are also really popular here — Rupi Kaur’s work first took off on Instagram. If you need a way to turn quotes from your work into pretty graphics, Canva is a free, easy-to-use website for beginner designers.

TikTok is the newest of the popular social media platforms and it’s entirely video based. It really took off during the pandemic— which is when Instagram revealed their rival update, Instagram Reels. As of March 2022, TikTok videos can be a maximum of 10 minutes long but most of the popular videos on the app are shorter, from 15 seconds to 1 minute long. They’re often set to music or sound clips from popular movies, tv shows, or other videos. Tok is a super creative platform so you’ll want to spend a while watching videos before you try making your own. As a writer, this is a good place to connect with fellow writers and with readers who are looking for book recommendations using the hashtags #BookTok and #AuthorsOfTikTok.

On Facebook you can post longer passages of text, photos, or videos, but the website has been weaning in popularity, especially with the younger crowd. It’s still a good place to set up event pages so you can have all your event info in one place and you can share the event with others, update them if any of the details change, and get a sense of how many people are coming.

LinkedIn is mostly a business networking site for people looking to get jobs and connect with others in their industry for work-related opportunities. Unless your writing is related to that sort of subject, you can skip this one, at least when it comes to book promotion.

Tips, Advice, and ECW Press’s Approach to Social Media

Now that you have an overview of the main platforms and how they’re used from a writer’s point of view, I’m going to give you some tips that I put to use when I’m doing ECW Press’s social media.

How Often Should You Post? What Should You Post?

My biggest piece of advice is that you should use social media for fun, not just for self promotion. At ECW, I knew that we didn’t have the privilege of being followed just because of our name, like Penguin Random House is. I needed to give people a good reason to follow us so I started being funnier on Twitter and offering people jokes about books, publishing, and our co-workers. Sometimes I gather photos of Ben Affleck and compare his outfits to our different book covers. Sometimes I post memes based on whatever’s popular at the moment (last year it was Squid Game). It has worked really well— people are engaging with our posts more than ever— and now when I have information to share about our books, events, and authors, our audience is more inclined to listen to us. And— this is pretty important— our posts are more likely to be seen by our followers because they’ve interacted with our previous posts. Social media websites use algorithms that determine what posts they prioritize showing each person on the website. If you interact with a lot of book-related Instagram posts, it will start to show you more.

For all of these reasons, you don’t want to be posting constant self-promotion. Think about the content you enjoy seeing and what it brings to your day. Try to offer the same to your followers. Getting personal is always what gets the most engagement— show people the person behind the writing. Show them a photo of your writing desk, tell them a funny behind-the-scenes story about a character or piece you worked on, talk about the other writers whose work you love. The goal is to connect with other people— not just by clicking “connect,” but by being truly relatable. If you approach social media with the goal of creating interesting content and talking to other people in the writing community, you’ll have a lot more success than if you go into it only with the goal of showing off your own work. If you give people a reason to want to get to know you, you’ll be giving them a reason to read your writing.

With all of that said, only take on the amount of apps you can handle. If you’re awful at taking photos, then just skip Instagram and focus on Twitter. If you love making videos, try TikTok and Instagram. It’s great if you’re able to use them all but don’t put so much pressure on yourself that it feels like work. It should ultimately be fun and another creative outlet for you to enjoy.

Hashtags

There’s often a lot of confusion for those new to social media about how hashtags work but it’s very simple! On Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook, putting a # before a phrase or word creates a hashtag. Make sure you don’t accidentally break the hashtag by using punctuation or spaces. When you click on that hashtag or search for it in the search bar, it will show you all of the posts that use that hashtag. If you see a trending hashtag (like #BookLook, where people do their makeup to match a book cover) and you’d like to participate, add the hashtag to your post so people can find it.

Think of it as keyword that makes searching for information easier. They’re also used to let the algorithm (especially on Instagram and TikTok) know what your post is about and whether to recommend it to others. If you watch a lot of videos with the hashtag #TimotheeChalamet, Instagram will start recommending you more videos that use this hashtag. I know this from experience.

You don’t want to just turn random phrases into hashtags (like #HavingAGreatDayTodayYay) because no one else is using them so they won’t help you. You also want to avoid using too many super vague hashtags (like #summer or #books) because there are so many

posts associated with such general hashtags that your post is likely to get lost among the rest. A good way to find hashtags to look for big accounts with a similar focus to yours and see what hashtags they’ve used on their posts.

Remember, hashtags aren’t just for fun, they have a use: searchability and increasing views on your posts. Keep that in mind when you use them!

Accessibility

Finally, I just want to give a few notes on accessibility so you can make your posts enjoyable to as big an audience as possible. Firstly, if you’re ever doing a video, either use auto-captioning or type out what you’ve said. It’s super easy to implement this and it helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing. It also helps people who can’t turn their sound on at the moment, for whatever reason. There’s really no downside to doing this!

And if you are posting photos anywhere, there is usually an option to add Alt Text (a.k.a. Alternative Text). You can read more about it online and find guidelines on best practices, but basically Alt Text is meant to describe an image to someone who can’t see it. It is not the same as a caption, which is used to complement an image. Alt Text is played out loud to people who use screen readers when browsing social media and it is also displayed if the image fails to load. Be specific and brief when writing Alt Text, and I really recommend reading a quick article to get an idea of how to best write it.

Social media is whatever you make of it so don’t be afraid to experiment with different platforms and types of posts. You’ll eventually get the hang of things! This is, hopefully, a good starting point so you can figure out where social media fits into your life as a writer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

BWS 11:05:22: In case you missed it!

Click here to see the recorded live stream of our May 11th event featuring Khashayar “Kess” Mohammdi, Gavin Barrett, H. Nigel Thomas, Victoria Mbabazi and guest speaker Caroline from ECW Press who gave us tips with “Social Media 101 for Authors.”

Stay tuned for our next event on Wednesday, July 13th at 6:30pm!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 11.05.22: Victoria Mbabazi

Victoria Mbabazi’s work can be found in several literary magazines including Rejection Letters, Minola Review and No Contact Mag. Their chapbook “chapbook” is available with Anstruther Press and their chapbook “FLIP” is forthcoming this spring with Knife Fork Books. They’re currently living in Brooklyn, New York.

Lately, I’ve noticed a big theme in my poems is home. I’m a big fan and a student of astrology and I’ve been studying the houses more. I decided to write zodiac house poems and I realized through writing them that the common thread is the urge to tear them down. I moved from my hometown to New York this year and this series reflects my urge to destroy my foundations to build one that I feel comfortable standing on. I am a Pisces and they rule the 12th house. This is the first poem I wrote in this series of poems.

THE SIREN FROM THE TWELFTH HOUSE

truthfully I can only tell you what’s missing

if love is oxygen it’s done nothing but die here

it’s yet to acclimate to my home’s density

but truth can exist without intimacy

I’ll try it out I won’t lie if you can guess

what I’m feeling in a round of charades

or hangman the rope tied around my neck

and I know I shouldn’t make this a game

but how else are you supposed to know

I’m someone worth losing I’ve decided

on Russian roulette you go first new rules

aim straight all the ammunition boomerangs

and when you shoot hope that bullet

doesn’t come back to haunt you I’m sorry

I know it’s hard to have fun while drowning

but it’s not my fault you decided to follow a siren

into the ocean I’m sorry—when you pulled the trigger

the impact muffled no one heard the gun go off

fire is timid underwater but I know you felt it

I know you’re going to tell me it didn’t hurt you’re spilling

out misery tints the water red it’s my turn but we’re

out of bullets and even if we weren’t I can’t see

clearly your heart keeps getting between us

Victoria Mbabazi visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Khashayar “Kess” Mohammdi, Gavin Barrett, and H. Nigel Thomas . Our guest speaker Caroline from ECW Press will help us with “Social Media 101 for Authors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 11.05.22: H. Nigel Thomas

H. Nigel Thomas is a retired professor of  USA literature and an award-winning author of thirteen books: six novels, three collections of short fiction, two collections of poems, and two academic books. His latest books are the novel Easily Fooled (Guernica Editions, 2021) and a collection of poems, The Voyage (Mawenzi House, 2021).

Ahead of his appearance on our virtual stage on May 11, H. Nigel shares two videos with us, in one, he reads his poetry, in the other, he talks about his writing.

H. Nigel Thomas visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Khashayar “Kess” Mohammdi, Gavin Barrett, and Victoria Mbabazi. Our guest speaker Caroline from ECW Press will help us with “Social Media 101 for Authors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 11.05.22: Gavin Barrett

Gavin Barrett is the author of Understan (Mawenzi House, 2020), a CBC Books recommendation. His work appears in Ranjit Hoskoté’s anthology of 14 Indian poets Reasons for Belonging (Viking Penguin, 2001) and in many other reputed publications. He curates the Tartan Turban Secret Readings for IBPOC writers.

This twenty-fifth is a twenty-sixth

On the 25th of April, 1996, my daughter April was born in Tsan Yuk Hospital, Hong Kong. After she had finally made her entrance — she took her time shall we say — the applauding nurses and doctor left. Leah, my wife, slept. April was quiet. 

In that pure, still moment, I wrote a poem on a blank page in a hospital post-natal handbook. Sadly, the poem was lost as we crossed oceans and continents on our move to Canada. 

More poems were written for April to make up for it. And poems were even written about that one short lost poem, like this one, which appears in my collection Understan (Mawenzi House, 2020).

Fifteen Aprils

You turned,

swimming.

Broke from the water

with your hair wet

your feet together

entered light and day, 

you arrived

well timed

near midnight

a judge gave

your perfect dive

a ten.

You began loud

sang on the scale,

conducted me with your toes

caused an aspiration

of tired joy 

and woke a poem

spoken

written on a sheet

of hospital paper

and finally lost into

air.

This was yesterday, fifteen Aprils ago.

Though Understan is a collection of poems by an émigré poet, dealing with landscapes both global and internal, a great deal of the poetry in the book is domestic. What is life or poetry without those you love? Love infuriates and inspires. 

The longest poem in the book — 10 pages — is an unfinished poem called 10,000 Thoughts on Love. The book also contains several poems about my mother, a professor of literature and a force of nature — a one-woman warrior for justice. My grandmother appears in her last days. The very last poem in the book is titled My father, the sailor in his 80s. My brothers are there, and many friends float in and out of many poems. My girls Faith and April appear often, and my wife, of course — in a sense, the entire book is an epithalamion in a way, a poem on marriage. 

But that poem for April isn’t in the book. It’s not uncommon for a poet to think in terms of “chasing a poem”. In my case, it was no metaphor. I hunted that poem I wrote for April in that hospital room of her birth “down the nights and down the days and down the arches of the years”. The poem was my equal as a wanderer and my superior as a recluse. It kept itself hidden from me. 

Then, a couple of years ago, my wife discovered the escapee, hidden in a box of baby memorabilia.

And so, today, I choose to share with the Brockton Writers Series an image of my daughter’s original birth day poem.

Gavin Barrett visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Khashayar “Kess” Mohammdi, H. Nigel Thomas, and Victoria Mbabazi. Our guest speaker Caroline from ECW Press will help us with “Social Media 101 for Authors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Brockton Writers Series 11.05.22: Khashayar “Kess” Mohammadi

Khashayar “Kess” Mohammadi (He/They) is a queer, Iranian born, Toronto-based Poet, Writer and Translator.

I like to pair books with albums based on the feelings they give me, I let the synaesthesia carry me towards the album I’ll settle on. For this list I’ve picked nine of the books that have been the most pivotal to my personal exploration of poetry and how I write-these are books that I’ve read over and over and through different readings, have extracted something special. Because of my extended time spent with them, I’ve become quite attached to the albums I’ve paired with them as well, and now I’ll take you through them one by one, with some explanation for each.

Letters in a Bruised Cosmos by Liz Howard and Weyes Blood’s “Titanic Rising”

I’ve always admired Liz Howard’s work, and their intricate interweaving of the granular with the titanic and divine. The soft aching in their poetry always evokes the image of an animal, bleeding upon a bed of snow. Their writing feels like a holy sacrifice, that in due process, they ache so perhaps the reader doesn’t have to. Their poetry is selfless and there’s nothing more selfless than the cosmos itself, with its little terrestrial microcosm: Nature. their explorations of nature in all its violent glory, the explorations of the universe and all its cultural insignia: the choice is quick and simple! Just put on the second track “Andromeda” to experience its lush sonic wall of lavish, extravagant, and cosmically colorful instrumentals. Pick Up Liz Howard’s Book and start the album at the same time, you won’t be disappointed.

Mihyar the Damascene and Ahmed Malek & Flako’s “Electronic Tapes”

I don’t think anyone will ever replace Adonis in my heart. I was never the same after being acquainted with Mihyar. My poetry made such a huge leap forward after realizing what self-possessed West-Asian poetry can contribute to contemporary poetry. I’ve paired his book with The phenomenal restoration that Habibi Funk put together from Ahmed Malek’s Electronic tapes, further edited by Flako. I love how each track has its own moodscapes, the same way that Mihyar enters and exits entire worlds each page.

ekke by Klara Du Plessis and Esperanza Spalding’s “12 little Spells”

I’ve always been fascinated by poetry that moves comfortably across languages. This pairing is more based on the coherence and the parallel compartmentalizations. The album and the book mirror each other so beautifully in style and even in their organization.

Washes Prays by Noor Naga and Lianne La Havas’s “Blood”

Washes Prays is my favorite book written on Islamic desire. I love how Noor Naga explores so much traditional Islam, while as a devout Muslim, being incredibly incisive and critical of its oppressive qualities. When I read “Washes Prays” I feel like I wanna hear some nice mellifluous singing. Lianne La Havas it is.

Book of Frank by CA Conrad and Limp Wrist’s “Facades”

When I think CA Conrad, I think queer, I think Punk, I think anti establishment. I can’t think of anyone more unapologetically punk than CA Conrad, and I can’t think of a better, more queer punk album than Facades, with little hints of electronic music mixed in here and there.

Paul Celan’s “Breathturn to Timestead” and Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony no.3 performed by Beth Gibbons and the Polish National Radio Orchestra

Celan’s poetry made me unlock secrets to the cosmos. I find every single word he puts on the page to be lachrymose and tear inducing, so I’ve picked the single strongest tear-jerking record I know: Beth Gibbons. She lends her heavenly voice to the single most heart wrenching rendition of Gorecki’s symphony no. 3 you will ever hear.

Trish Salah’s “Lyric Sexology Vol. 1” and Anthony And the Johnsons’ “I am a bird now”

Perhaps the most literal of the pairings, my all time favorite writing on trans identity and its vicissitudes, paired with my all time fave album by a trans musician. Trish Salah is a true gem and I’ve loved all their writing, but this book is something else, and with Anohni’s voice weeping in your ears, Salah’s poetry takes on a heavenly hue.

Larissa Lai’s “Iron Goddess of Mercy” and Oneohthrix Point Never’s “R Plus Seven”

Iron Goddess of Mercy is brimming with landscapes-it’s urban, it’s urgent, it’s immediate and pleading. A single page in and I already know it needs to be paired with something electronic. I need something that is simultaneously so vast that it fits a universe inside, and so small that its consumable. R Plus Seven is the single most intriguing pairing I can find with Larissa lai’s Breakneck speed of moving through earth. It’s mantling and dismantling, it’s parking lots, it’s streetlights tracers.

Canisia Lubrin’s The Dyzgraphxst and Kamasi Washington’s “The Epic”

This is perhaps a bit too literal. I’ve paired the most “Epic” and “All Encompassing” book of poetry I know, and have paired it with the most epic album. I cannot get enough of either, the book and the album both give you as much as you give them. The more effort you put into exploring them, the more rewarding the experience. They don’t pander, they don’t mess around, they are opaque, but brimming with clarity (let’s not conflate clarity with transparency- Lubrin is clear, but not transparent).

Khashayar “Kess” Mohammdi visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Gavin Barrett, H. Nigel Thomas, and Victoria Mbabazi. Our guest speaker Caroline from ECW Press will help us with “Social Media 101 for Authors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized