Brockton Writers Series 11.05.22 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by:

Khashayar “Kess” Mohammadi

Gavin Barrett

H. Nigel Thomas

Victoria Mbabazi

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

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GUEST SPEAKER

“Social Media 101 for Authors

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

READERS

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

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.

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).

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.

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BWS 09.03.22 report: “Finding the Right Literary Agent for You” with emmy

emmy (they/them) holds a PhD in justice-oriented social work. In 2019, they made a lateral career move into publishing after four years as a bookseller at a local indie, and they now work as a literary agent at Westwood Creative Artists. emmy lives with their partner, a Deaf Dalmatian, and two formerly feral Maine coon cats. 

Agents and CanLit

As a literary agent with Westwood Creative Artists, I constantly get asked what it is that I do day to day, and whether or not an author needs an agent. I usually use real estate to help explain to people what it is that I do in my work as a lit agent. On a basic level, as a real estate agent can help someone sell a building, I help people sell books to publishers. If you know the real estate industry at all, or you’re like me and you watch a lot of real estate TV shows, you can think of it this way – I am a listing agent for a book, only it’s a perpetual buyers’ market out there!

Not every author in a healthy publishing ecosystem needs an agent. Some authors have the perfect skill set for self-publishing, while others have the legal and industry literacy to be able to negotiate their own contracts with reputable independent publishers, and still others write in genres or categories that don’t benefit much from literary representation. That said, if you are an author whose goal it is to be published by a large, corporate, trade publisher, your best advocate is your literary agent.

The good news for those seeking an agent is that you’re not limited by geography. No matter where you live, you can be represented by agents from anywhere in the world. That said, Canada’s literary landscape is a bit different from other markets, so no matter who you choose to represent you, make sure that they have a working knowledge of Canadian literary awards, Arts Council grant opportunities, tax structures, Public Lending Rights, and imprints. We also have great, accomplished literary agencies based in Canada, and for Canadian authors, they are a great place to start looking for the representative who might be the right fit for you. Those that are the most established include CookeMcDermid, PS Literary, Transatlantic, The Rights Factory, and the agency that I work for, Westwood Creative Artists.

There are lots of places to start researching other agents and agencies, including PACLA, the AALA, Publishers Marketplace, ManuscriptWishlist.com, workshops and conferences, Twitter pitch parties, book launches and events, through your literary networks, and podcasts (for example, The Shit No One Tells You About Writing). The most important thing is to try to seek out the agent who is the best fit for you and your process!

When you start querying, be sure to do your research and follow the specific submission guidelines for each individual agent that you reach out to. There is an expected, three-paragraph, industry standard query letter format that agents are expecting to receive, so make sure that you adhere to these expectations as much as possible. You can query multiple agents at once from different agencies, but be mindful to stay on top of your communication! If you receive an offer of representation, let everyone else who you reached out to know. If you want them to consider competing to work with you, be sure to give them ample time to read your materials and think them through thoroughly – usually, most agents will want a couple of weeks to do this. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You want to make sure that this relationship will work in the long term for you, the agent, and the agency, and that should be the goal on the agent’s side as well! Understand what you’re getting into, and what your shared expectations of one another will be before you sign an agency agreement.

I have shared a lot of query tips on my Twitter feed, but one that I go back to over and over is that if you have a manuscript that has already been self-published or posted for free online, except in very rare cases, that means that the book isn’t eligible for submission to publishers, and therefore, agents can’t represent it! When you’re working on a book, keep your end goal in mind, and don’t let your anxiety get the better of you. Nothing makes me sadder than books being self-published out of desperation, and missing chances at getting to reach their full potential.

Good luck out there to anyone who’s seeking an agent in this competitive landscape. I’m currently only accepting non-fiction queries because of my workload, but my Twitter DMs are always open if folks have questions. I can be found at @emmy_of_spines.

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BWS 09:03:22: In case you missed it!

Click here to see the recorded live stream of our March 9th event featuring Grace Lau, Brad Fraser, Rebecca Salazar, James Lee Lord Parker and guest speaker emmy who gave us pointers on, “Finding the Right Literary Agent for You.”

Stay tuned for our next event on Wednesday, May 11th at 6:30pm!

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BWS 09.03.22: Rebecca Salazar

Rebecca Salazar (she/they) is a writer, editor, and community organizer living on the unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik. Salazar is the author of two chapbooks, and her first full-length collection sulphurtongue (McClelland & Stewart) was a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

7 Horrors for Traumatized Queers

The scariest thing I have done in the last few years is to write poems on illness, trauma, and horror during a global pandemic that fully animated these fears. Writing these poems has been a deeply personal exorcism, of sorts.

Mainstream horror cinema and literature have been rightly criticized for being exploitative of the traumatized (see: the bulk of the torture porn and rape revenge subgenres). In all its gory glory, though, horror is powerful because it refuses to prettify, the ugly, repulsive, and frightening aspects of fear and trauma. Since being diagnosed with PTSD in my early twenties, though I have found myself drawn to the oddballs of horror: the queer, feminist, and survivor-centred art that makes fear into something liberatory, without erasing the real horrors of gendered, sexual, racial, and ableist oppression.

Below is a list of horror media I keep returning to as I write my own nightmarish poems. Expect blood, guts, ghosts, monsters, and graphic violence, but no direct depictions of sexual or anti-queer violence. Expect the survivors of violence to wreak their own horrific justice, and to do more than just survive.

Scream, Queen! by Tommy Pico and Drea Washington

(Podcast)

Proclaiming itself “a podcast about scary movies by people not typically depicted in scary movies,” Scream, Queen! is hosted by two queer writers of colour with wits sharper than Freddy Kreuger’s claws. Pico and Washington have a raunchy, memeable chemistry that brings comedy to their discussions of everything from low-budget 80s B-movies to horror serials like Lovecraft Country, itself a speculative resistance to racism in the horror genre. I have taken more film recommendations from this podcast than I have from anywhere else.

Another Final Girl: Horror Poems by Claire Kelly

(Poetry)

Disclaimer: I was able to read this collection a year or two before its publication by Rahila’s Ghost press, since Claire is a long-time writing friend. It was her choice of subtitle for this chapbook that spurred me to seriously consider horror as a genre in poetry. This chapbook is both an homage to classic horror films and a reckoning with what—and who—they have left out or harmed. “Survival is not enough,” begins the title poem, in which the archetypal final girl demands recognition; “I am more than just / getting out of this alive.”

The Magnus Archives by Jonathan Simms

(Podcast)

If there is a single piece of media that has gotten me through the pandemic, it is this UK-produced cosmic horror podcast. After fans began crowd-sourcing content warnings for each episode in the early seasons, production company Rusty Quill began officially incorporating these into episode descriptions; additionally, writer and creator Jonathan Simms has stated his refusal to use sexual violence as a plot point. Magnus begins with a monster-of-the-week format, as a newly hired archivist sifts through disorganized paranormal research, but the series soon becomes a sprawling web (pun intended; if you know, you know) of interrelated narratives driven by characters who become inextricably tied to the horrors they investigate. The Magnus Archives is a rare case that proves horror can be both trauma-informed—actively responding to and offering care for conversations about trauma—while also producing legitimately chilling storytelling.

The Low Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado and Dani

(Graphic Novel)

What can I say about Carmen Maria Machado’s writing that will not rip me open and put my entire being on display? The Low Low Woods is the third of her books I have experienced as a chilling déjà vu that confirms and animates all the thoughts I never dare to write or speak. This graphic novel in particular feels like Machado reached into my nightmares and splayed them on a page: a mining town haunted by damaged land; the constant, buzzing threat of male violence; the tricky kinships between queer survivors. This story literalizes how trauma feels like your body transforming into a monstrous thing—an uncanny, hypervigilant animal ready to lash out, or a fracture in the very earth. While The Low Low Woods is in part a rape revenge, it is also a dream for a future that heals without covering the ugliness—it that makes room for the rage and rough magic of survival to carry into healing.

Parkdale Haunt by Alex Nursall and Emily Kellogg

(Podcast)

The best scares in this Toronto-based horror serial come from the audio format itself. When long-time friends Judith and Claire start recording their renovation of an inherited house in Parkdale to make their own podcast, this attempt derails: their recordings begin to change, warped by the influence of something lurking in the house. What hits me hardest in this series is its handling of traumatic memory gaps: when Claire and others are unable to recall conversations they hear themselves having on tape, the series becomes an examination of gaslighting and spiritual abuse on the supernatural scale, without ever trivializing the harm the characters suffer on the way. Side note: Parkdale Haunt also contains the funniest satire of new-age white wellness culture I have heard anywhere.

Salt is for Curing by Sonya Vatomsky

(Poetry)

A grimoire in poetic form, Salt is for Curing draws together ancestral spell craft recipes with new abjurations against sexual violence. What physically presents as a tiny, unassuming book is a powerful collection that establishes a kind of “ethical grotesque,” a way of surviving that embraces the witchy, wild, and subversive as a form of care.

The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula

(Series)

How could I talk about weird, queer horror without mentioning Dragula? A reality competition in which contestants vie for the title of Drag Supermonster, the show features the blood-soaked, kinky, alternative, and genderfucked drag styles excluded from mainstream drag circuits, and includes drag kings and creatures as well as queens of many genders. Each episode opens with the Boulet’s’ cheeky re-enactments of classic horror tropes (killer clowns! exorcisms! 1960s vampire surfers!), but what hooks me beyond these tributes to a genre I love is in the performers themselves. Between the silly, reality-tv staples of dramas and rivalries, this is a world where queerness is the default. There is so much joy here, watching weirdos of all ilk reveal why horror feels like home to them, before creating politically subversive performance art that shocks, disgusts, arouses, and celebrates queer resistance all at once.

Rebecca Salazar visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Grace Lau, Brad Fraser, and James Lee Lord Parker. Our guest speaker emmy will give us pointers on, “Finding the Right Literary Agent for You.

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BWS 09.03.22: Grace Lau  

Grace is a Hong-Kong-born, Chinese-Canadian settler living in Ontario on the traditional and Treaty territory of the Anishinabek people, now known as the Chippewa Tri-Council comprised of Beausoleil First Nation, Rama First Nation, and the Georgina Island First Nation. Her debut collection of poetry, The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak, is published by Guernica Editions. Her work is published or forthcoming in Grain Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Frontier Poetry, Arc Poetry, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter at @thrillandgrace.

Hello! I’m Grace, and besides writing poetry, I also love photography. In the past few years, I’ve been doing more film photography. Even though I didn’t write my debut collection with the intention of it being a visual experience, I thought it might be interesting to pair some excerpts with photos I took during the time I spent writing those poems.

I hear tourists whisper, with the shiver

of a cheap thrill,

about driving down that strip

on East Hastings

windows up doors locked

past boarded-up bakeries and empty apothecaries

dried shrimp just don’t sell.

What happens when
a Chinese Immigration Act falls in love
with an Indian Act…What happens when
our medicine heals
each other—
her sage / my ginseng.
150 years are not enough to carry
the age in our roots

It is Friday night and we are at home 

on the couch, your head on my shoulder, a well -worn path. This is not the first time 

you have slowed my hours 

and yet 

how the seconds gasp 

to be doing nothing at all but feeling 

the universe 

wax content in your breath.

And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free.

I twisted the prawn’s head
from its body,
ran my finger along its belly,
split it clean.

Grace visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Rebecca Salazar, Brad Fraser, and James Lee Lord Parker. Our guest speaker emmy will give us pointers on, “Finding the Right Literary Agent for You.

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BWS 09.03.22: Brad Fraser  

Brad Fraser is an award winning writer/director/host who has worked extensively in various media. Credits include plays; Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of LovePoor Super ManTrue Love Lies, Kill Me Now, and others produced worldwide,  film; Love and Human Remains, writer and Leaving Metropolis, writer director, and television;  Queer as Folk, writer, story editor and associate producer and Jawbreaker which he hosted for two seasons on Out TV. He has written a number of projects for radio, CBC and BBC, as well as regular columns and stories for Xtra, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and others. He has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, twice listed in Tim Magazine’s Top Ten Plays of the year, and has recently finished his Masters’ degree in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.  Brad’s play Kill Me Now was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2016 and is currently filming in South Korea as well as being in development for a film in Canada. His memoir “All the Rage” has just been released by Penguin/Random House. Bradfraser.net

Ahead of his appearance on our virtual stage, Brad shares an excerpt from his just released memoir, “All the Rage.”

One night the three of us had gone for a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant after leaving the club. When we left the restaurant we took a shortcut through the alley that used to run to next to the Odeon Theatre without giving it a thought.

By the time we’d gotten partway up the alley we realized we were being followed by four men of about our age. We shared a quick look and quickened our step. Our pursuers did the same, admiring Tad’s fleece lined leather coat, saying they were going to take if off of him.

Tad said, “Come on guys. We don’t need any trouble.”

They laughed. We could hear them whispering, “… faggot … cocksuckers … why you walking so fast … scared ?”

We were terrified. We were also three guys who worked out and they didn’t look all that big. Just as we emerged from the alley across the street from the Hudson’s Bay store they rushed us.

I could feel adrenaline flushing through my system. My father didn’t teach me much in my childhood but he did teach me how to put up a guard and throw a punch and I started roaring insults at them in my most demonic voice. I blocked a couple of punches and slapped my attacker away just as I heard Tad call my name. Two of them were moving in on him. Richard was holding his own with his attacker, landing a few decent blows, so I punched one of Tad’s assailants in the side of the head. He made a pained noise and amazingly they all took off suddenly.

As we walked up Jasper Avenue we were sky high with our victory, giddy and shaky. We dropped Richard off at his place and continued on to mine. Tad was staying with me while Kate was out of town doing a show as he had someone subletting his place. As we passed under the dark shadow of the old train overpass that used to cross Jasper just west of 109th Street we became aware of footsteps behind us. Our hearts sank. The whispering started again. The quartet was back and now we were just two.

Tad and I began to run. The hoods were hot on our heels. The only place open at that time of night was the Tad’s store up the block. We sprinted toward its bright lights.

We flew into the store and straight to the counter were Tad asked the clerk, a slight gay guy we slightly knew from the bars, to call the cops just as our pursuers entered. The store was moderately busy, mostly with gay guys we’d just seen an hour earlier at the club. As soon as it became obvious what was going down they all cleared out immediately.

I shared a look with Tad. He nodded and turned, grabbing the guy who was right behind him and pushing him to the back of the store. The guy and his friends were so surprised they didn’t know what to do as Tad shoved their buddy into a tall Coke display that toppled, exploding sticky soda all over the store, causing Tad’s target to slip and fall.

I grabbed the guy next to me and ran him to the door, smashing him into it so it opened and meaning to throw him out. Unfortunately his buddy got behind me and pushed me out the door as well. Tad and the third guy followed us and it became a free for all of hurled insults, punches and kicks.

As one guy came at me I grabbed the dark rimmed glasses off of his face, threw them onto the cement and spun him around so his head smacked into the brick wall. I heard someone behind me and turned bringing my elbow up too late. I took a hard one right in the nose. I was seeing stars but still swinging and roaring like a rabid bear. (Tad would later admit I scared him as much as the bashers did.) At that point Tad took a hit and retreated into the store leaving me outside with all four attackers who were moving in fast. I had nothing in my mind except hurting them as much as I could before they took me down. The rage- this wasn’t just a gay bashing- this was reliving every time some bully had hit me- this was standing up to my father- was powerful and frightening.

The likely bloodbath in which I was crippled for life was curtailed by the appearance of the store clerk brandishing a large wooden baseball bat with a couple of nails in the end screaming at the bashers to get the hell out of here because the cops were on the way. The sound of an approaching siren convinced them and they took off.

Brad Fraser visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Grace Lau, Rebecca Salazar, and James Lee Lord Parker. Our guest speaker emmy will give us pointers on, “Finding the Right Literary Agent for You.

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Brockton Writers Series 09.03.22 

Wednesday, March 9, 2022 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by:

Brad Fraser 

Grace Lau

Rebecca Salazar

James Lee Lord Parker

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

“Finding the Right Literary Agent for You

emmy (they/them) holds a PhD in justice-oriented social work. In 2019, they made a lateral career move into publishing after four years as a bookseller at a local indie, and they now work as a literary agent at Westwood Creative Artists. emmy lives with their partner, a Deaf Dalmatian, and two formerly feral Maine coon cats. 

READERS

Brad Fraser is an award winning writer/director/host who has worked extensively in various media. Credits include plays; Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of LovePoor Super ManTrue Love Lies, Kill Me Now, and others produced worldwide,  film; Love and Human Remains, writer and Leaving Metropolis, writer director, and television;  Queer as Folk, writer, story editor and associate producer and Jawbreaker which he hosted for two seasons on Out TV. He has written a number of projects for radio, CBC and BBC, as well as regular columns and stories for Xtra, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star and others. He has been the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, twice listed in Tim Magazine’s Top Ten Plays of the year, and has recently finished his Masters’ degree in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto.  Brad’s play Kill Me Now was nominated for a Governor General’s Award in 2016 and is currently filming in South Korea as well as being in development for a film in Canada. His memoir “All the Rage” has just been released by Penguin/Random House. Bradfraser.net

Grace is a Hong-Kong-born, Chinese-Canadian settler living in Ontario on the traditional and Treaty territory of the Anishinabek people, now known as the Chippewa Tri-Council comprised of Beausoleil First Nation, Rama First Nation, and the Georgina Island First Nation. Her debut collection of poetry, The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak, is published by Guernica Editions. Her work is published or forthcoming in Grain Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Frontier Poetry, Arc Poetry, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter at @thrillandgrace.

Rebecca Salazar (she/they) is a writer, editor, and community organizer living on the unceded territory of the Wolastoqiyik. Salazar is the author of two chapbooks, and her first full-length collection sulphurtongue (McClelland & Stewart) was a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

James Lee Lord Parker is a Scarborough singer-songwriter and one half of the pop duo, ‘Keep In Touch’. His poetry has appeared in Sewer Lid and Scarborough Fair as well as the Canadian anthologies Release Any Words Stuck Inside You II and Feel Ways. His debut EP, Scrapbook 1, can be found on all streaming platforms.

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BWS 12:01:22: In case you missed it!

Click here to see the recorded live stream of our January 12th event featuring Jessica Westhead, Becky Blake, Jane Woods, Hollay Ghadery, and guest speaker Nadia L. Hohn who presented, “Writing Kidlit in a Nutshell”.

Stay tuned for our next event on Wednesday, March 9th at 6:30pm!

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BWS 12.01.22: Hollay Ghadery 

Hollay Ghadery is a writer living in rural Ontario on Anishinaabe land. She has her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have been published in various literary journals, including The Malahat Review, Room, Understorey, CAROUSEL, The Antigonish Review, Grain, and The Fiddlehead. Her debut collection of poetry, Rebellion Box, is set to be released by Radiant Press in spring 2023 and Fuse, her memoir of mixed-race identity and mental health, was released by Guernica Editions’ MiroLand imprint in spring 2021.

Prior to her virtual appearance at Brockton Writers Series, she’s shared an excerpt of Fuse with us here.

Content warning: addiction and eating disorders.

I’m Still Gone

We were walking in the rain, this guy and I. I’d just met him at a campus party and didn’t know his name—didn’t know or couldn’t remember.

“Ben?” I guessed.

He’d said: “No, and I’m not telling you again.” Even though, like I said, I wasn’t convinced he had told me in the first place.

I shrugged. “Suit yourself!” Because it made no difference to me anyway. He could have been anyone. I was just a girl with a buzz and a hacksaw heart looking to disappear, and I needed someone to help make that happen. The night before it had been someone else. Tonight, this guy.

And man, this guy.

In my blackout twenties, there were a lot of guys, but this one had the greenest eyes I’d ever seen. For the first few minutes we talked, I thought his eyes were blue because he carried himself like a man with blue eyes, with that distant ease. But no. His eyes were green, all shades of green, really, like a rainforest. He took my hand when we crossed the street, and my soul turned to steam. I could feel it: where I ended and where the world began was getting less clear.

It had been my idea to leave the party. I’d been bored, but mostly I’d wanted to leave because the only booze they had left was beer, and that had too many calories. I was already feeling squeezed into my pants.

“Hope you don’t mind that I wanted to leave,” I’d said as we walked to his car. He’d parked it in a municipal lot, a couple blocks away.

“Not at all,” he said. “I’d been there too long anyway. That was my buddy’s place. How do you know him?”

“I don’t know.” I’d been invited by a friend of a friend. That friend was still there, presumably.

“You don’t know how you know him?”

“I mean, I don’t know him. At all.”

He smiled, and it was as soft as snow, as easy and incessant.

“What do you know?”

I told him that he walked like a little boy, and he said: “Do not.”

He did.

It was one of the first things I’d noticed about him. His right foot was slightly more turned in than his left, and he moved through space as though he was reinventing it. I found this gentle, haphazard approach to motion reassuring: I saw it as a sign that there can be imperfection and perfection all at once.

I’d needed this comfort. I’d spent the day trying to fight through a hangover caused by the previous night’s partying. I was learning that you can’t fill the void. You can only feed it.

I knew that no amount of time at the gym would fix that feeling, so I’d skipped my workout, loaded up on fast food, and sequestered myself in my apartment. There, I spent the rest of the day eating and purging and eating and purging and eating and eating until my face and body were bloated and my stomach ached and my throat burned and I thought I’d die or never, ever, ever do this again. Whichever came first, or both. At one point, I clogged the toilet and resorted to throwing up in a grocery bag.

I knew I wouldn’t win if I kept drinking like I was, but that didn’t stop me. The small amount of relief afforded by even a few hours of oblivion was worth the consequences. I couldn’t see a puddle without feeling an ocean. I didn’t know of another way to deal with the hugeness of these pressing emotions. All the hate, fear, longing, frustration, and sadness. All my unclaimed life; it was passing me by and I had no way to stop it. I had nothing but a laundry list of neuroses and a plastic bag of vomit.

When a friend called around 7 p.m. to invite me to a party, she’d offered a break from thinking about all these things. I’d looked at the half-full bottle of vanilla-flavoured vodka on my counter that I’d been avoiding all day, and thought: Why the hell not? There was always something to prove—to myself, to someone else. I was tired of having to try to prove I was worthy of trust, consideration, love. It was easier to just not be worth the effort.

I’d poured myself a drink, raised a glass and thought: Drink ’til your hot.

“Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” I said.

The guy laughed. “Do you know where that’s from?”

“Dunno. I just know it. Sounds like Thomas Hardy.”

“It’s from the bible.”

“Then why did you ask me, if you knew?”

“I wanted to see if you knew.”

“I’m Muslim. I don’t do the Bible.” I’d smiled at myself. It was amazing: We were drifting through our soundstage city, street lights bouncing off glistening pavement toward the sky; it was amazing that I could be with this guy, who was unloading his gaze on me, but still drift in and out, in and out of myself as I pleased.

I learned how to exist outside my body early in life. In my 1997 high school yearbook, a boy had drawn a picture of a three-humped camel with horns, tail lifted, shitting a turban shaped coil. He’d written, “Turban Maker” underneath. I didn’t understand. I was half-Iranian Muslim, not a Sikh. I was born and raised in Canada, and my mom was sixth-generation Canadian, and of British descent. He showed his friends his work, and they laughed, so when he handed me my book back, I laughed too.

Hollay Ghadery visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Jessica Westhead, Becky Blake, and Jane Woods . Our guest speaker Nadia L. Hohn gives us, “Writing Kidlit in a Nutshell.”

Please log in at 6:30.

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BWS 12.01.22: Jane Woods 

Jane Woods was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She grew up in Montreal and is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. She has worked extensively as a voice actor and a translator. She lives in Toronto.

As everyone in the same boat knows, having a book come out during a pandemic poses no end of sticky challenges. With the doors shut tight against a frightening world, it’s just you, your mewling little newborn novel, and any harebrained promotional ideas you can dream up.

This homegrown video came about as a pandemic project, a way to stave off despair (oh, so much despair!) My talented collaborators and I tried to condense Running Downhill Like Water into graphics, music, and snippets of text so as to give a brief—and, I hope, intriguing— taste of the book’s characters and themes.

It was good, nail-biting fun to make, and I’m so pleased to have the chance to post it here!

Jane Woods visits Brockton Writers Series via our YouTube channel on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 starting at 6:30pm alongside Jessica Westhead, Becky Blake, and Hollay Ghadery . Our guest speaker Nadia L. Hohn gives us, “Writing Kidlit in a Nutshell.”

Please log in at 6:30.

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