Category Archives: Writers & Performers

BWS 14.11.18: Rocco de Giacomo

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Toronto writer Rocco de Giacomo is a widely-published poet whose work has appeared in literary journals in Canada, Australia, England, Hong Kong and the US. His collections include Ten Thousand Miles Between Us (Quattro Books) and Every Night of Our Lives (Guernica Editions). The author of numerous poetry chapbooks and full-length collections, his latest, Brace Yourselves – on the representation of the individual as it relates to the Zeitgeist – was published in January 2018, through Quattro Books. Rocco lives in Toronto with his wife, Lisa Keophila, a fabric artist, and his daughters, Ava and Matilda.  

 

To the readers, let me just say that I am happy to be reading at the Brockton Writers Series and honoured to be reading with Priya Ramsingh, Anthony Easton, Glynis Guevara, and Anne Laurel Carter. It is really looking to be a fantastic night. I can hardly wait.

After reviewing the BWS website, it looks like a lot of people are giving advice about writing and getting published. I’ll do the same in regard to poetry, and I will try to keep it short, as there is something I would like to share with you afterwards.

  1. Write poetry every day.
  2. Read poetry every day.
  3. Remember that, no matter what you write, there’s a good chance a thousand other people have written the same thing.
  4. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit.
  5. If you are submitting to literary journals, keep a record of where you’ve submitted and to whom (I use an Excel worksheet) and never let a poem sit a home for more than one submission cycle.
  6. Start grant-writing, if you haven’t already (TAC, OAC, CAC). Not only can the funding help create a space for yourself, but the process of grant-writing forces you to hone and sharpen the themes and ideas you’re using in your manuscript.
  7. Join a writer’s group, attend a writer’s workshop (if you can afford it), enroll in a creative writing program (if you can afford it). All of these will expose you to new ideas, feedback for your own work, and the opportunity to network.
  8. If you have a manuscript ready and are seeking a publisher, for the love of god, schmooze. The world of Canadian poetry is just like any other industry: it’s not what you know or where you have been published, it’s WHO you know. Please use any of the places mentioned in step 7 to network. In addition, attend book launches, literary journal launches and poetry readings.

I hope my advice is useful.

Now, as for that something I would like to share. In 1999, when I was living in Vancouver, I borrowed a CD anthology of poetry from a friend. I listened to it numerous times, and then gave it back. One poem, however, stayed with me over the years, it’s lines pulsing in the back of my head. I would forget, however, the name of the poet and the anthology. From time to time I would scour the internet, and various search engines, using variations of the poem’s title, to no avail. I reached out to my Vancouver friend, who remembered the name of the anthology (My Tongue is a Red Carpet I Only Roll Out for You), but not the specific poet. Even with the new information, nothing turned up on the internet. Until, that is, my last search, about two weeks ago.

The poet’s name is Kenneth Caroll, and the poem is “So What?“. It is still as riveting and relevant today as it was twenty years ago.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

Rocco de Giacomo, visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, starting at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Priya Ramsingh, Anthony Easton, Glynis Guevara, and guest speaker Anne Laurel Carter presents us with tips on“Writing for Younger Readers: Three Essential Strategies.”

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Brockton Writers Series 14.11.18

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by

Rocco de Giacomo
Priya Ramsingh
Anthony Easton
Glynis Guevara

with special guest speaker

Anne Laurel Carter

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 for Younger Readers: Three Essential Strategies.

 

annalaural

Anne Laurel Carter grew up in Don Mills. She’s been a librarian and ESL/ FSL teacher. Her 19 books were inspired by her experiences or interviews of interesting people or by the dreamscape of her imagination. She lives in Toronto and Nova Scotia.

 

READERS

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Toronto writer Rocco de Giacomo is a widely-published poet whose work has appeared in literary journals in Canada, Australia, England, Hong Kong and the US. His collections include Ten Thousand Miles Between Us (Quattro Books) and Every Night of Our Lives (Guernica Editions).

 

 

 

 

Priya

Priya Ramsingh has been making up stories since she learned cursive writing. She began to frequent libraries, immersing herself in literature and decided she wanted to write for a living. Her career took her into the corporate world to craft copy and she freelanced during her off time at a local newspaper. She finally finished Brown Girl in the Room in 2016 (Tightrope Books) after the nagging in her head became too overbearing. So far, the story has hit home with readers from across the continent who call it, ‘all too relatable.’

Her second novel is complete and she currently awaits a publisher’s interest. In the meantime, Priya writes the occasional op-ed for the Toronto Star and is the author of a monthly diversity column for Metroland Media.

 

Anthony

Anthony Easton is a critic, from Edmonton, and now living in Hamilton. They have written about class, gender, and sexuality—including for the Globe and Mail, Pitchfork, the Atlantic Online, Spin, CBC, among many other publications.

 

glynis_guevara photo

Glynis Guevara was born in Barataria, Trinidad, but has lived in Canada for more than twenty years. She attempted to write her first novel at fourteen, and even though it was never completed she never gave up her love for writing. Several years after completing high school, she moved to London, England to study law. She successfully completed a Bachelor of Laws (honours) degree and was admitted to the bar of England and Wales and Trinidad and Tobago. Glynis enrolled as a student at Humber College School for Writers after she was laid off her job at a Toronto hospital; she hasn’t stopped writing since. She was shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary (short fiction) prize in 2012 and the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean Literature. Under the Zaboca Tree (Inanna Publications, 2017) is her debut novel. Her second YA novel, Black Beach was published in September 2018. She currently works as an adult literacy instructor in Toronto.

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BWS 12.09.18 report: “How to Read a Poem,” with Bardia Sinaee

SINAEE

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

At our last event, Bardia distributed copies of “The Throw,” a poem by David O’Meara from Noble Gas, Penny Black to audience members. He took us on a journey of what reading a poem means to him.

 

I should begin with a disclaimer: The best way to read a poem is simply to read it (and/or listen to it). The true subject of this piece is how to read into a poem. If you find that a poem really affects you, and you want to investigate how and why, consider this one starting point.

Poetry, perhaps paradoxically, is the product of both freedom and compression. You can say or do anything in a poem, and yet many of them can fit on a single page. It’s therefore fair to assume that every word, line break, and punctuation mark is deliberate. This is not to say that every authorial decision can be traced to a clear objective, but that in a good poem even the most playful and seemingly spontaneous lines have been subjected to a certain deliberation. One way to read a poem more closely is to look at various aspects of the poem and ask why they are the way they are, given that every other option in the world was available to the poet.

What, if anything, is the poem “about”? Does anything happen in it? Who is speaking and what is their relation to the world and to us?

Even the most abstract poems can’t help but situate themselves the universe, in the world of discourse and things. Examine the speaker’s voice, tone, and language. For example, the speaker might be parroting legalese or invoking a religious address. Are they addressing you the reader, themselves, or nobody in particular. Are they omniscient, intimate, scared, polemical? Are we inside a dream?

Once you’ve got a few observations about what, compare these to your impressions of the poem’s other discernible elements, such as its diction, images, or setting. Are colours present? Weather? How, if at all, do these relate to the mood and emotional register?

How does the poem sound when you read it out loud? Is its shape on the page narrow or expansive? Do these two aspects of the piece complement one another? How do they reflect the voice of the speaker or enact the thematic elements of the poem?

Poets pay attention to the materiality of their work. A poet might use short lines, clipped syntax, and subdued imagery to evoke quietude. She might use small stanzas with extra space between them to encourage careful, introspective reading. When used sparingly, rhyme and metre can propel the piece forward. Alternatively, dissonance, irregular syntax, and the piling on of stressed syllables could be deployed to slow the pace or to evoke frustration and discord.

Again, compare your observations about the poem’s materiality to its subject, tone, and imagery.

When its technical and thematic elements cohere, even the shortest poems can effectively conjure a rich and vivid world. Our favourite poems take us where we don’t want to leave. Reading a poem closely is one way of lingering there a little longer.

 

Stay tuned for information about our next event and features on our upcoming writers! 

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BWS 12.09.18: Emily Sanford

Emily_Sanford

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

Starting Late and Listening to Wisdom

I feel like I’m late to the game. I have always worked in the arts, supporting others in their creative endeavours, but it’s only fairly recently that I started writing and submitting poetry of my own for public consumption. Having my first published poetry out in the world the year I turned forty means I don’t really suit most people’s idea of an “emerging” writer—I have a day job, a wife and kids. I’m on the cusp of needing reading glasses.

Still, it’s never too late to start, right? And as such, I still need all the encouragement that others who are just starting out need. But now I’m old enough to know that even though writing itself is a solitary act (well, more or less—as I’m writing this, my four-year old has his head on my shoulder, waiting patiently for me to explain how marbles, and bubble gum, and bandaids are made), it really works better when you don’t work in isolation. So one of the first tasks I’ve taken upon myself as an “emerging” writer is to pay attention, go to events, hop on social media to find out what’s up (and wow, there’s lots up), introduce myself to established writers whose work inspires me, and listen carefully to any advice they’re willing to give.

So, while I don’t consider myself established or successful enough to be doling out advice for others just yet, I thought it might be valuable to pass along some wisdom from some of the writers whose work I admire:

Elisabeth di Mariaffi – Schedule time to write, and then show up. She warned me to treat it like an important appointment with an industry professional, because it is. Taking yourself seriously by honouring your commitment to writing is really difficult when there are competing forces all battling for your time and attention, but if you want to be a writer, it’s a cold hard fact that you have to actually show up and, well, write. Her latest novel, Hysteria, came out earlier this year.

Farzana Doctor – Confront, acknowledge, and speak to your Fear. Farzana says, “A lot of people will tell you: Don’t listen to it! Just ignore it! but that’s the wrong approach.” She literally suggested saying, “Oh, hello, Fear. I see you there.” And then keep writing. You can even personify your Inner Critic, and tell your Fear about your writing—earlier this year, she asked the folks in the BWS audience to draw a picture of their Inner Critic. This was hilarious and eye-opening to me—and taught me a little bit about what I need to confront when self-doubt is squawking its loudest. If you haven’t read Farzana’s All Inclusive yet, do. You can pick it up in person at Glad Day.

Erin Wunker – Write to a timer and don’t read or edit it until the next day–15 solid minutes of just writing. I love the “no judgement” aspect of this advice—there are critics a-plenty out there, whom we can trust to do their jobs, I’m sure. Non-judgement is so helpful in my own limited practice—I write at lunch time, so shutting the computer and not self-editing in the moment helps with actually getting any writing done at all. Erin also wisely advises to read others and take notes—this can be understood as a simple “do your homework” kind of tip. I’m slowly narrowing my reading lists to reflect my own situatedness with this piece of advice, from “poets” to “Canadian poets” to “Canadian women poets” to “queer Canadian women poets” to “queer Canadian women poets over forty” and the more reading, writing, and work I do to honour those writers, the closer I am to appearing on those lists. Obviously, it’s essential to read widely too, and familiarize yourself with writers whose experiences differ from yours. And supporting (and citing!) other writers is good, supportive work. Notes from a Feminist Killjoy is required reading, folks—it just is.

I’m building up a cache of kind words of encouragement for my dark moments, but “get to it, work through it, and just do it” seems to be a forceful and galvanizing mantra that fights off imposter syndrome just long enough to get some good work done. I value these tips like the golden trade secrets they are.

And in the spirit of sharing, I wish for you a stockpile of encouraging words to keep you writing, from all the writers who keep you reading.

 

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

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BWS 12.09.18: Clementine Morrigan

clementinemorrigan

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

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

Asking For It

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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BWS 12.09.18: Maia Caron

Maia_C

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hear funeral dirges inside me.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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BWS 12.09.18: Mehri Yalfani

Mehri

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Brockton Writers Series 12.09.18

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by

Mehri Yalfani
Maia Caron
Clementine Morrigan
Emily Sanford

with special guest speaker

Bardia Sinaee

Glad Day Bookshop

499 Church Street, Toronto

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

ACCESSIBILITY INFO
The venue is accessible. Please refrain from wearing scents.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

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

 

GUEST SPEAKER

“How to Read a Poem.”

SINAEE

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

 

READERS

Mehri

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

 

 

 

 

Maia_C

 

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

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

 

 

clementinemorrigan

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

 

 

Emily_Sanford

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

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BWS 11.07.18 report: “Understanding Acquisitions: What Authors Should Consider When Pitching Their Book,” with Scott Fraser

Scott_fraser_bws

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. The keys to his heart are dogs and baseball. Talking about either topic is a sure fire way to get Scott’s attention.

At last week’s event, Scott gave us a few pointers on what we should consider when we’re ready to pitch our stories.

 

Reconnaissance

Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted. Read the publisher’s guidelines closely. How do they want material submitted? Are they accepting manuscripts in your genre/category?

Try to find out about the editor. What have they signed? What does the backlist look like? Recent publications?

Sales matter

Help the publisher imagine your book gaining some commercial success. Which successful authors is your work similar to? (Comp titles)

If you’re previously published, show us the numbers! (we’ll look anyway)

If your previous book didn’t sell well, don’t panic. Help us figure out how to fight the track record. Did publisher perform poorly? Maybe a timing issue?

Synopses

The editor has lots of submissions to consider. A concise, well written synopsis can help generate interest. I like one-pagers. Some editors like more. Be prepared to offer more or less on request.

Don’t send disconnected segments. (ie, Chapters 4, 7, and 12)

Nobody knows your book like you do, so sending fragments is likely to confuse people

Attitude

Signing an author is about calculated risk for the publisher. We want to believe in the project and the person.

Be assertive, but positive at all times. Nobody wants to spend 8-12 months working with a jerk.

Don’t take rejection personally. A “no” isn’t a rejection of you as a human being. And it doesn’t mean your work isn’t valuable.

Be gracious. If an editor says “no” but takes the time to give you feedback, it’s a sign that they liked your work but it’s possible their publisher said no or some other factor is in play. Take the long view. Maybe this editor will circle back around to you some day, so don’t burn bridges.

Shameless Self Promotion

If you know cool and influential people, please do name drop.

If you’re good on social media, let me know (I will look you up in any event)

If you’ve got a talented mentor whose work I may know, tell me!

 

Always remember that this is the start of a long-term professional relationship. First impressions matter. Even if the acquiring editor isn’t going to work on manuscript development with you, they’ll still be the strongest in-house supporter of your work.

Stay tuned for features on our upcoming writers! 

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BWS 11.07.18: Kiley May

 

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.

In this excerpt I share my experiences of dating, hooking up and falling in love while living openly and proudly as a trans woman.

This piece was originally performed at Glad Day bookshop as spoken word at the first annual Naked Heart LGBTQ Festival of Words. Naked Heart is the largest LGBTQ literary festival in the world and the most racially diverse literary festival in Ontario.

It was in response to how I was being mistreated as a trans woman while dating. I wanted to encourage trans attracted men to come out of the ”trans admirer” closet and begin to claim us publicly as their women. But more importantly to inspire trans women to raise their standards and to show them that love is possible.

How To Love A Trans Girl

You would be shocked to learn just how many straight guys are secretly into trans girls. I mean really, it’s a lot more than you’d think. But you probably never hear about it, because they don’t and “can’t” talk about it.

I’ve been dating and hooking up as an out and proud trans girl for the last four years. I meet guys the regular way out IRL, but most of my sexcapades have been from meeting guys online. OkCupid, Plenty Of Fish, Badoo, Blendr, Tinder, Whipler, Bumble. Let’s pretend it ends there.

What I’ve learned along the way is that there are countless trans attracted men—men who are sexually and romantically attracted to transgender women. I’m talking about regular dudes who self identify as straight and only ever date and hook up with cisgender women. Mostly. They also quietly and confidentially admire and lust for trans women. And they hook up with us too. All the time. It’s very common, actually. It never ceases to surprise me.

Online it’s easy for these guys to find and connect with trans women and confess their attraction. There are even websites dedicated to it. But these interactions happen on regular dating sites and hookup apps, and they happen on the sly. These admirers and chasers of the T are on the down low. They rarely  if ever talk about it. Except online with trans women or in private with close trusted friends. I imagine pacts to keep secrets are most likely made.

It’s this clandestine culture and underground world that I’ve become privy to. And it’s beyond time for it all to come to the brightly sunlit surface.

Dating and fucking while trans has been an equally exhilarating and disheartening experience. Most guys that are secretly into and cool with trans girls are more than willing to have sex with us. Privately, of course. But most of them wouldn’t be seen dead with a trans girl in public, especially during daylight hours. So when it goes from right swipe to match to meet up, things get flakey and funny.

I prefer to meet a guy for the first time at a cafe or somewhere communal to vibe him out. But instead they just want to slide into my apartment and into me like they slide into DMs. Then bounce. Like I’m some sort of late night drive thru fuck service. That’s shady in itself, but then they rub salt in the wound by requesting to be “discreet” about the whole thing. It usually goes some variation of:

“I respect you babe but let’s keep it discreet”

“That’s cool hun but I like discretion, if you know what I mean haha”

“I’m cool with you being trans and all but can we do it discreetly tho?”

Haha, cool story bro. But nah I’m good.

Even though I’ve been reassured by many people that I’m very feminine and passable (a problematic privilege I’ll discuss another time), that still doesn’t reassure these straight dudes that everything will be ok when we meet. They would not dare meet up with me on a sunny patio or take me out for a boardwalk stroll and risk “being caught” or found out. But all of them would absolutely sneak into my apartment under the cover of darkness like a ninja in the night on a covert mission. “Discreet.”

No. Just. Stop.

Meeting a tgirl should not be treated as some black operation! But I get why these cis het dude bros are all paranoid and on edge. As they explain, they like and respect me (allegedly) but they’re nervous or worried about what their friends and family would think. They’re afraid of being judged, persecuted and rejected. That’s fair, I get it. I really do. Social stigma is hashtag real.

But it seems they don’t consider how this is affecting me, being treated as a perpetual post-midnight booty call. Like I am always the bridesmaid never the bride type feels, as if I am just some fetish or kink that can only be explored under a hidden veil of shame. Over time, it has an effect on me. It makes me feel like a dirty secret. It’s a degrading disgraceful feeling to be rejected, unwanted and acknowledged. It imprints on the psyche. Impacts the heart. Stings the soul.

When I respected myself less, I allowed that bullshit to happen. Because I had to get jollies too and I used them for their dicks. But I got tired of their shit. As I grew up I learned my value and worth. I know now that I deserve to walk in the sun with a man who loves me. And now I do.

Like our girl Laverne Cox says, what we trans girls all deserve is for a man to “claim us publicly as their girlfriend.” But what will it take for trans attracted guys to chill out and move past the discretion and shame? How can we trans women get to a point of always feeling loved and respected as whole beings?

Well to start, these guys need to start talking to their bros about the trans girls they’re attracted to and hooking up with. When they do, they’ll most likely find they have something in common because their friends probably like trans girls too. Like I said, it’s more common than you think. So start the discussion already, dammit.

And for the men who are in secret relationships with trans women, who are not telling their friends and family, well they need to find the courage within themselves and step forth and say “Yes my girlfriend is trans and I love her.”  Claim her publicly and keep treating her like the Goddess Queen that she is, and seat her on her throne next to yours.

It takes these men stepping out and into the light and declaring:

“I love tgirls!”

“I actually prefer trans women.”

“Transgender girls are hot!”

Yes, there will be an adjustment period. There will be fear, anxiety, stigma and judgement. But also acceptance, approval, understanding and common interest. Over time the veil of shame will be lifted and trans love will eventually become destigmatized, accepted and normalized.

“Hey mom, I met someone. She’s a trans girl and I love her.”

“Oh that’s so sweet, honey, good for you. Where did you meet? Pass the potatoes.”

Like, whatever. NBD.

We’re a long way from that but these men do currently exist. These men who are proud to have a trans girlfriend and claim her love publically. They’re out there, they’re real. Like my loving man, for instance. And my boyfriend before him.

So to all the trans women waiting for their Man, I want you to know he’s waiting for you too.

And to all the straight guys who shamelessly, proudly and publicly date and love us, I applaud you for being man enough to love a trans girl.

Kiley May 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, Chang Liu, Arielle Twist, 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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