Category Archives: Writers & Performers

BWS 11.07.18: Chang Liu

Chang

Chang Liu is a freelance translator and an aspiring forest conservationist. Half his genes are Chinese, the other half French. Somehow he also became a student of Thai dance, language and culture, a gay man, a year-round cyclist and a voracious vegan. So much for labels.

The last wild places—not to mention your local park—are fast disappearing under sterile, industrial surfaces. As we fall further under the spell of our self-reflexive technologies, we forget, even disdain, our age-old conversation with the non-human world that anchors us. Many of Chang’s poems address this non-human world: the soil, trees, animals and waters that still call to us and remind us of our ancient kinship with them. His gay poetry, too, inevitably weaves itself back into the non-human world—the grass beneath our love-making.

Chang’s poetry has appeared in the Spring 2018 issue of Sky Island Journal, and in two anthologies, T.O.K. Book 5 and The Dry Wells of India: an Anthology Against Thirst. His first full collection, When it was Naam that I drank, not Water, is seeking a publisher but is downloadable as an e-book from Glad Day Bookshop. He is working on a second collection, Little spirits, Great spirits: a book of non-human poems.

In anticipation of his July 11 reading, here are two poems: one on earth love, one on gay love. At their best, the two are interchangeable.

 

Rainy season

 

it rains like the end of suffering twice, three times a day

or all night

 

our soi floods              noodle carts scatter                trees glow

 

the old teak houses below my building lean closer to oblivion

and the Bodhi trees’ leaves wait and wait for a new Buddha

to sit under their shelter.

 

all I can do is burrow back into my bed that smells

of my Isaan lover and me

 

and turn all my heavy-lidded energy

back to his tamarind skin

 

why go out?

this is the rainy season.

 

it’s day-long naps

kissing between bites of sweet sticky rice and tea

listening to him lilt old-fashioned louk-toung hits from when

he was new to Bangkok and young and hungry,

 

it’s loving, again and again, the roar of the rain drowning out our labours

and pretending we’re safe

 

under one of those rickety bamboo shelters upcountry, stranded

in the flooded rice paddies of your home village

where they wait for you

 

Stay.

My treat, we’ll feast.

what is tomorrow? there is no tomorrow. Only

more moisture—stay! this is the rainy season,

 

the great annual amnesty sweeping

though this sprawling guilt, this madness, this city

 

this is the rainy season, when

twice, three times a day

or all night

 

we surrender our dryness

and remember our past lives as fish

 

when, as soon as

you step out of doors,

rain washes you like a mother

 

Silence in the crab-apple trees

 

Spring was shooting up ecstatic

inside my body and

for weeks on end, their fuchsia blooms exploded too, birthing

constellations.

 

Twin Krishnas,

the two crab-apple trees in front of our house flung

their heady fragrance around

for miles,

 

and bees by the thousands answered

the pheromone flute—countless tiny suns spinning the cosmic dance

of the Nataraj.

 

What year was it they stopped coming?

 

Now, I sit on this bench,

high summer humming inside my body.

True to the contract that was sealed when the ocean of milk was still churning,

black-eyed Susan and swamp milkweed growing forgotten

in this downtown park still sag under the rites

of a scattering of fuzzy ministers. I cannot accept,

 

cannot believe

they are departing this sweet earth, one hive at a time.

 

Who planted this bed

of riotous fecundity? A genius, a master illusionist. All I can do is sit here

before this mass of flowers,

 

and wait for the heavy honey of summer to soothe

my clenched throat,

wait for the lullaby of life making love to itself with half-closed lids

to still my aching chest. And answer

the call of the flute.

 

Chang Liu visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Vanessa McGowan, Arielle Twist, Kiley May, and guest speaker Scott Fraser who will share his thoughts about, “Understanding Acquisitions: What Authors Should Consider When Pitching Their Book.”

 

 

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BWS 11.07.18: Vanessa McGowan

Vanessa

Vanessa McGowan is a Toronto, Canada based spoken word artist & singer/songwriter living with Cerebral Palsy. McGowan’s EP “Alive” was released by Factory Fast Records, New York City in 2014 and her work can be heard as the only poetry, on musical compilations “Americana Retrofit” and “Smoking Gun.” She opened for Buddy Wakefield during his 2014/15 world tour and was the highest ranking Canadian poet to perform in the Finals at The Capturing Fire Slam 2015 in Washington, DC. As a successful solo touring performance poet, Vanessa has featured at venues across North America . She is currently working on her first show, “I Don’t Remember” set for release in October 2018. Publications include Divine Cockeyed Genius (bojit Press, 2012) and I Make People Leak…Sometimes (Armora Press, 2015). McGowan is a proud co-founder of WordSpell, Canada’s only ongoing spoken word series showcasing women and non binary poets.

 

Ahead of her July 11th appearance, Vanessa shares an excerpt from her theatrical production currently in progress, “I Don’t Remember”.

 

Vanessa_child

“We’re hurried into a small dingy room @ The Hospital For Sick Children.

I wanted to wear my pleather pants, but noooo…

Mum reminded me,

“You’ll be sitting for a long time and want to be comfortable and you’ll have to take your pants on and off  and you’re not good at that“

sooo

they sat lonely in my dresser drawer, YEARNING to be worn

In favor of more something “more practical”

crisp cotton baby blue “rugby pants” (aren’t they cute? NO THEY ARE NOT CUTE)

 

With the thick elastic waist, from Bargain Harold’s. I HATE them.

I want jeans with zippers, like my sister.

 

This is my regular appointment. It feels special. I don’t have to go to school.

We wake up early and I get to spend the whole day with my Mum.

Everyone wears brightly coloured scrubs and is happy…like ALL THE TIME

The waiting room perpetually smells like nervous mother and disinfectant.

It’s packed. No one makes eye contact

Every adult has a bag of “Here, take this and sit down” treats at the ready

We’ll be here so long I will start to think time has stopped

 

As usual, the lady who calls out all the names

put us in this room long before the doctors are ready to see me

Mum is missing work. She does not like missing work

So we sit alone. Awkwardly waiting

Mum will tell me again to “walk the way you usually do” for the doctors

She thinks I “change it up” on purpose to “show off” or something

I don’t

My body fills with anticipation

That special feeling is long gone

I know I will be the centre of attention but, not in the fun way.

In the way I know is only for kids like me

 

They will ask me rehearsed questions I know they don’t want the answers to

So I look down at my swinging pasty bare legs and brace myself.

 

They always enter confident, men smiling sweetly, they greet me first

Their voices are consistently just a little bit too high pitched.

The way adults alter the timbre of their voice when trying to calm a child. It does not calm me.

Suddenly the room feels claustrophobic. I’m aware there are too many adult eyes on my body.

I want to put my pants back on.

I feel like a zoo exhibit.

They praise me for being so “high functioning”

They’ve “never seen another case like this before”.

I confuse them with my ability to exist.

I stand there pantsless in a room of adults

It doesn’t feel like a compliment.

There is a scream caught in my throat. I do not show it

I smile and stay silent wishing I could fly out of this room

 

Their too big,  always “sorry they’re cold” hands examine my body.

Weighty fingers press too hard

They talk to each other and my Mum but not me. Never me.

I don’t understand the words they use.

No one will explain

Instead I will concentrate on the Whitney Houston song on repeat in my head

 

There is a machine they think will help my legs

One of the nurses with little yellow hearts on her top and big blue eyes tells me

they are gonna put some electricity through my muscles.

Suddenly the room feels full yet again and

there is a doctor putting electrodes on my legs. (explain electrodes)

 

I hear a click and searing pain shoots through my legs. It disorients me.

I am dizzy and confused that pain like this is actually a thing

I want to curse (I’m not allowed)

I wanna tell them all to leave me alone but I know

I don’t get to do that

because they are trying to make me better, because

maybe there is a cure for this

and they just don’t know it yet.

I’ll try ANYTHING

They say I’ll be like this forever but

they said I wouldn’t be able to walk or point my toes AND I CAN

I’m pretty sure the big secret is

they have no idea what they’re doing

and

There is a  preacher on TV who makes people shake. He says “god can do that!”

and

I don’t understand why they call me a miracle when the preacher guy and the priest at school says

if god cured me THAT would be a miracle

 

I try to smile, I don’t wanna be rude

My mouth makes noises reserved for just these occasions

The embarrassing moments when pain forces my body to betray my brain

It’s always in front of strangers

I want to be tough, I swallow hard. Why is it always like this?

 

They leave this dingy room with pasted on grins

pat me on the head

I will wonder what’s next…”

Vanessa McGowan visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Chang Liu, Arielle Twist, Kiley May, and guest speaker Scott Fraser who will share his thoughts about, “Understanding Acquisitions: What Authors Should Consider When Pitching Their Book.”

 

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Brockton Writers Series 11.07.18

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by

Vanessa McGowan
Chang Liu
Arielle Twist
Kiley May

with special guest speaker

Scott Fraser

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

“Understanding Acquisitions: What Authors Should Consider When Pitching Their Book.”

Scott_Fraser

Scott Fraser has worked in publishing since 2010 and is the acquisitions editor at Lorimer. Prior to joining Lorimer, Scott worked as the acquisitions editor at Dundurn Press, as a freelance editor/consultant, and as a sales rep working with a number of publishers in North America and the UK.

Prior to entering the publishing industry, Scott served for eight years in the Canadian army, a career change which many find curious.

He lives in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood with his partner and their menagerie of misfit mammals. They keys to his heart are dogs and baseball. Talking about either topic is a sure fire way to get Scott’s attention.

 

READERS

Vanessa

Vanessa McGowan is a Toronto, Canada based spoken word artist & singer/songwriter living with Cerebral Palsy. McGowan’s EP “Alive” was released by Factory Fast Records, New York City in 2014 and her work can be heard as the only poetry, on musical compilations “Americana Retrofit” and “Smoking Gun.” She opened for Buddy Wakefield during his 2014/15 world tour and was the highest ranking Canadian poet to perform in the Finals at The Capturing Fire Slam 2015 in Washington, DC. As a successful solo touring performance poet, Vanessa has featured at venues across North America . She is currently working on her first show, “I Don’t Remember” set for release in October 2018. Publications include Divine Cockeyed Genius (bojit Press, 2012) and I Make People Leak…Sometimes (Armora Press, 2015). McGowan is a proud co-founder of WordSpell, Canada’s only ongoing spoken word series showcasing women and non binary poets.

 

Chang

Chang Liu is a freelance translator, an emerging poet and emerging (ie. still jobless) forest conservationist who advocates for a gentler, more natural way of life in the city. He is also a member of the Toronto Thai Dance Troupe.

Born to immigrant parents from China and France, he grew up in the ethnically homogenous countryside south of Ottawa. There, he struggled because of his name, his mixed heritage and, later, his gay orientation. These days, he embraces it all and sees identity as essentially flexible. Who he is now is not who he was, or likely will be.

Chang’s writing has appeared in two anthologies (T.O.K. Book 5 and The Dry Wells of India: an Anthology Against Thirst), and the Spring 2018 online issue of Sky Island Journal. His first collection of poetry is not yet published but available as an e-book here at Glad Day: When it was Naam that I drank, not Water

 

Arielle

Arielle Twist is a writer and sex educator from George Gordon First Nation, Saskatchewan, currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She is a Cree, Two-Spirit, trans femme supernova writing to reclaim and harness ancestral magic and memories.

Within her first year of pursuing writing she has been able to attend Naked Heart the largest LGBTQ literary festival in the world and has attended a residency at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity to focus on her debut collection of poetry. She has work published/forthcoming with Them, Canadian Art, and Prism International.

 

 

Kiley

 

Kiley May is a two spirit trans actor, artist and storyteller. She is a Hotinonshón:ni Mohawk from Six Nations reserve and is settled in Toronto. For now. Kiley is currently studying and training in acting, singing, dancing, and playwriting at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre.

She also enjoys other creative arty things like writing, film, fashion, photography and keeping her selfie game strong. As well as transitioning, which is an art form; her greatest artwork to date.

 

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BWS 09.05.18 report: “Writing a Successful Grant Application,” with Maya Bedward

Maya_bedward

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.

If you are planning on, or in the midst of writing a grant, Maya can help you to make your submission a success. Visit the Ontario Arts Council to see what grants you qualify for and contact Maya for more information.

 

Stay tuned for features on our upcoming writers! 

 

 

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BWS 09.05.18: Karen Lee

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.

 

Karen Lee’s voice has taken her around Japan, to Ukraine, the US and this year, the Motherland! You may just hear notes and bars as she blends sound, melody, and poetry with traces of her native Jamaican-Creole.

To hear a sample of what might be coming our way when Karen’s visits us on May 9th, click here to see her perform Jailer, by Asa, followed by original dub poetry, Housekeeping, with Métis musician, Conlin Delbaere Sawchuk on electric guitar at AGO Friday Nights, Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989, curated by Lillian Allen.

 

Karen Lee 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, Ralph Kolewe, and guest speaker Maya Bedward who will tell us about, “Writing a Successful Grant Application.”

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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

_DSC0602-Edit copy

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

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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BWS 14.03.18 report: How to Mindfully Address Your Inner Critic (so that you can get back to your writing,)” with Farzana Doctor

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Farzana Doctor is the award-winning author of three novels: Stealing Nasreen, Six Metres of Pavement and All Inclusive. She has just finished a fourth called Four Wives. Her claim to fame was that she was Voted Best Author in NOW Magazine’s 2015 Best of Toronto Readers’ Choice Poll, beating Margaret Atwood. She co-founded the Brockton Writers Series and has been its curator and co-host for the last eight years. Click here to learn more.

In her blog that originally appeared in Write, Farzana shares her experiences in addressing her inner critic. I’ve tried it, and it’s working!

 

As I write this article, I’m feeling blocked. I make another cup of tea, vacuum, then check Facebook. I return to my desk, convinced that you, my audience, will think this is a piece of crap.

That’s my inner critic talking. The inner critic insists onperfection. It thinks it’s helping us by shielding us from vulnerability. But mostly it prevents us from getting things done. A lot of people will tell you: “Don’t listen to it! Just ignore it!” But that’s the wrong approach. It takes more energy to ignore, resist and suppress difficult emotions than it does to recognize and deal with them. When we can acknowledge and normalize feelings, it helps them flow.

So here’s a quick and effective exercise to mindfully face the inner critic:

Using pen and paper, draw your inner critic. Don’t over-think this; do it within thirty seconds. It could look like something human or animal, really anything.

Draw a speech or thought bubble. Fill it with the inner critic’s worst fears and criticisms about your work. Mine tends to say catastrophic things like:

“You’ll never write another good novel. You’re all dried up!”

“No one cares about books about people of colour!”

“No one, I repeat, no one, will show up to your launch!”

We’re tempted, at this point, to counter the inner critic’s fears with rationality. Sometimes that works. But what usually ends up happening is that the fear just rebounds. It’s been batted away instead of truly acknowledged. So what works better?

1. The “Agree With It” strategy (adapted from social worker Karen Day).

Here’s how it works:

Agree with the inner critic’s catastrophic statement, and then add on a “carrying on” statement:

“Yes, it may be true that I will never write another good novel AND I will sit at my desk for another twenty minutes.”

“Yes, it may be true that no one cares about people of colour characters, AND I will finish this scene.”

“Yes, it may be true not a single soul will come to my launch, AND I will be brave and handle it.”

It’s important to use the word “AND” before the “carrying on” sentiment, rather than “BUT.” We are agreeing with the inner critic, not challenging it.

2. Another mindfulness approach is the “Stay With It” strategy.

Psychologist Tara Brach writes that “the natural life span of an emotion — the average time it takes for it to move through the nervous system and body — is only a minute and a half.” In other words, if we stay with a feeling for just ninety seconds — not fixing, analyzing, or otherwise interfering with the emotion — it will move rather than continue to block our writing.

There are many ways to do this. Here’s my favourite:

Imagine opening your front door and saying “hello” to the fear (perhaps imagining the fear embodied as your inner critic). Welcome it in your home and ask it to sit with you. You might say, “I see you here, fear. I am with you, fear. We’re just going to sit together, breathing together for a minute or so.”

This process won’t make the fear disappear (that’s not the goal), but will make it less reactive. You’ll no longer need to resist it or suppress it by making another cup of tea, vacuuming the house, or checking Facebook.

By now you’re probably thinking “Yep, she was right, that article was a big waste of my time!” But guess what? I finished it anyway!

Stay tuned for features on our upcoming writers Karen Lee, Kaleigh Trace, Tyler Pennock, Ralph Kolewe, and guest speaker Maya Bedward.  See you at our next event on May 9, 2018, 6:30pm, at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church St., Toronto!

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