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COVEN EDITIONS – Shiny New Small Press in Ottawa!

Coven Editions Launch Party February 27th 2018 Bar Robo - 7pm

Coven Editions Launch Party
February 27th 2018
Bar Robo – 7pm


 
Coven Editions is a brand new small press in Ottawa, specializing in broadsides and handmade chapbooks. They’re a woman-run press, though they don’t only publish work by women.
They’re having their launch party this February 27th at Bar Robo. There will be poetry performances (of course) and broadsides for sale, as well as a very short run of Magical Micropoems collected for the occasion.
 
As someone who write a LOT of magic-related poetry, I think it’ll be a good time.
 
See you there,
A.

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Queer Femme Poets – Adele Barclay

So I’ve been working on a poetry manuscript for a while now. A series of glosas riffing on the poetry of other queer femmes. Femmes get a lot done with a little, draw inspiration and strength from each other, collaborate with each other, and generally lift each other up. I think the poetic form of the glosa – a style where you take four sequential lines of someone else’s poem and write your own four-stanza, forty-line response poem incorporating one of the lines into the same point of each ten-line stanza (usually as the last line of each stanza, but not always) – works really well, in and of itself, as a metaphor for femme solidarity and mutual inspiration.
To that end: A small series talking about the poets and poems that are inspiring my manuscript.
 

Cover of Adele Barclay’s “If I Were In A Cage I’d Reach Out For You” (Nightwood Editions, 2016).


 
Some Thoughts About This Book: If I Were In A Cage I’d Reach Out For You was recommended to me by a friend when I put a note up on Facebook asking for the names of queer femme poets I should be reading. I rattled off a list of the femmes whose work I either already had, or had on order either from a bookstore or through the library. When I looked up the author on twitter, I discovered that she’s the same kind of witchy queer poet that I am (turns out we are mirror witches – I’m a Scorpio with a Cancer moon, and she’s a Cancer with a Scorpio moon – which makes me inordinately happy, for weird, woo reasons that I’m more likely to delve into over at Urban Meliad than here. 😉 ). Being my kind of witch, it’s no surprise that she brings astrology, tarot, and kitchen magic into her work (as well as a delicious mix of explicitly formal and more free-verse styles of writing – which have inspired me to write aubades and other interestingly shaped or themed poems since reading it). It’s also no surprise that I love this book for the way she (re) enchants the urban landscape or, maybe more accurately, makes visible the magic that has always been there. I love the way water – the suit of feeling and healing – comes back again and again and again all through this book.
 
Which poem I chose to gloss and why: I chose to gloss the poem “Yukon River Breakup”, though there are a LOT of poems to draw on in this book (“Sea Hag”, “Cardinal vs Mutable”, “Last Night”, “Brackish”, the whole “Sara” collection, though “Sara VI” in particular…). I chose it because of the way she asks how a river breaks (“like a day // or like an egg” – hope & possibilities vs irreparable, disastrous damage), and because I also know that a photograph is a spell, and that humans love to make meaning out of everything. I also chose it because it’s position – the first new moon of a new year – is a good one for the kind of poem I wanted to write, about surfacing with wisdom gleaned from your own depths, and stepping towards a new way of being.
 
 
Cheers,
A.

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Queer Femme Poets – Amber Dawn

So I’ve been working on a poetry manuscript for a while now. A series of glosas riffing on the poetry of other queer femmes. Femmes get a lot done with a little, draw inspiration and strength from each other, collaborate with each other, and generally lift each other up. So I think the poetic form of the glosa – a style where you take four sequential lines of someone else’s poem and write your own four-stanza, forty-line response poem incorporating one of the lines into the same point of each ten-line stanza (usually as the last line of each stanza, but not always) – works really well, in and of itself, as a metaphor for femme solidarity and mutual inspiration. It’s also, of course, the form used in Amber Dawn’s Where the words end and my body begins, and her influence on my own writing has been pretty significant.
 
So, to the surprise of nobody, I’m starting this little blog series with that very same book.
 

Cover of Amber Dawn’s “Where the Words End and My Body Begins” (Arsenal Pulp, 2015).


 
Some Thoughts About This Book: This book was the beginning of it all, even before I decided that I could write glosas as a project, as a chapbook let alone a full-length manuscript, because reading it gave me the push to try using formal poetry as a way to unlock my writer’s brain and trick myself into creating Actual Poetry (as opposed to “paragraphs with funny line breaks”, which free verse – or at least MY free verse – can stumble into). Because, in Amber Dawn’s use of the form, she’s not afraid to mess with it, to move things around a little. It felt like permission to do the same – to divvy those quatrains up into the second or sixth or eighth line of each stanza, rather than the first or last, or to stick to the form hard, and then cheat it just a little in the last stanza.
But I also chose to work with poetry from this book, rather than from, say, How Poetry Saved My Life, because I want to incorporate something like a cascade effect into my poems: the four lines I chose from “The Revered Femme Bottom” include a line from the original Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha poem onto-which Amber Dawn built her own piece, and the title of her book echos a poem (“Summer : or, I want the rage of poets to bleed guns, speechless with words”) by femme poet Anurima Banerji. I love this book because it’s a story, told in stand-alone poems, about lineage. Lineage in Kathryn Payne’s “Whores and Bitches Who Sleep With Women”[3] sense of the word; in the “What kind of ancestor do you want to be?”[2] sense of the word. One more map showing where we came from, helping us chart where we go.
 
Which poem I chose to gloss and why: So far, I’ve written glosas riffing on both “Dirt Bag Love Affair” and “The Revered Femme Bottom”, though the one I wrote for Dirt Bag doesn’t really count – I don’t think – because it’s not actually a response to the poem, just a poem of mine written around the bones of four lines from hers. I love that poem because it is, itself, a gloss of another femme’s poem (Chandra Mayor’s “Winter Night”, from August Witch, iirc), and for it’s putting on and taking off of city & university layered over rural & poor, neither of those identities false or complete on their own. I love the other – and my gloss of “Femme Bottom” is a response, as a sometimes-stone femme top dreaming her way[3] back into her body and her desires – because it speaks to learning to recognize and name desire, and for the truth of “no-one could have told you the dearest souls roll rough trade”. My dearest souls so often do. I don’t know which, if either, of the poems I wrote on these pieces will end up in the final manuscript. Solid chance I’ll write at least one more on Amber Dawn’s work. But here we are.
 
 
Cheers,
A.
 
 
[1] You can find this essay, and Anurima Banerji’s above-mentioned poem, in Brazen Femme (Arsenal Pulp, 2002).
 
[2] Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Bodymap (Mawenzi House, 2015).
 
[3] As Amber L Hollibaugh and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha would both say, and have.

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Self-Censoring

I haven’t written much, lately.
The last poetry I wrote was for submissions to an anthology/zine/something out in BC (I have no idea if my work has been accepted or not, or whether the anthology is still happening, as the organizer/editor is dealing with Life Stuff and has other things on their plate right now. Time will tell).
I keep going “but I’m tired”, and knowing that’s not really what’s up.
I mean, yes, I have two (both part-time) jobs + occasional other paid work, my social media feed is a landscape of fear, panic, and calls-to-action that is somewhat less-frequently interrupted with Emergency Kittens and kink discussion than it was two weeks ago, and I’m not sleeping too well these days, but when “I’m tired” – and, more-so, “I’m just tired” starts showing up in my interior monologue, I know it means something more than that.
 
Starhawk, in Truth or Dare talks about the gate of the censor (the book is constructed loosely around the Descent of Innana). She says:
 

Notice when you are bored, when the dull fog of the Censor creeps in. Ask: What is not being said here? What am I not seeing/saying/doing? What do I want to do? What do I fear?

 
This is what “I’m just tired” generally means for me. It means I’m self-censoring. I’m “tired” of… what? From what?
So I ask myself: What is not being said here?
My answer comes back:
 
I don’t want to write a break-up album. I don’t want my queer-poly poetry collection to be all sad and wistful stuff about loss. I don’t want my chap-book of femme-poetry glosas to just be me spending more femme energy on a masc who broke my heart.
 
I miss writing. I miss making the time to write, and I miss generating creative work, but I also miss the ritual of sitting down in a coffee shop, dropping $5 for coffee and a lemon square, and creating for a couple of hours without distraction (meaning: without access to the internet, which I can technically do at home by sitting in the front room rather than on the couch; but also meaning: without the guilt/shame around taking time to Art when my living room and kitchen are untidy). I feel guilty for wanting to take that time, and for wanting to spend that money, when I could be working in the shop to help my wife’s business grow (aka: to help us pay our bills) or donating to Standing Rock or emailing my prime minister about repealing Bill C-51 (among other things). But mostly? Mostly, I’m just embarrassed to be still processing a heart-break that happened almost a year ago (meaning: more time has passed since breaking up than passed during the entire, short-lived relationship), and I want to find something else to speak-from-the-heart about that will contribute to the works I have in progress.
 
Ugh. Ages ago, I read a horoscope for myself that said my break-throughs were going to come from the artistic-output equivalent of singing “Bed of Roses” in a really heart-felt way, while drunk at a karaoke party. So maybe I need to write the damn break-up album and be done with it?
 
I don’t know. I’m working at a cegep tomorrow. If I arrive early enough, maybe I can sit myself in their school cafeteria and scribble something while I wait.

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Femme Dykes Write Glosas (Apparently)

So, apparently, when you’re a femme-dyke poet, you write Glosas. (Thanks, Amber Dawn. 😉 )
 
Dorothy Chan has a poem featured at Matrix Magazine, written from the (theoretical) perspective of a Playboy Centrefold.
 
I find poems like this Interesting because, while there is a tonne of overlap between women who do sexwork and women who write poetry, as a professional naked person who has done plenty of this kind of modeling (albeit definitely not for those kind of excellent rates), I find myself wondering if Dorothy Chan has worked in this particular industry.
Maybe.
Maybe not.
(I admit to a suspicion of Not, but I’ve been wrong before, so hey).
 
So I decided to write a glosa using the last four lines of her featured poem.
I’d originally thought it would be one for “We Are All Jezebel” (a manuscript that I work on intermittently which looks at the intersection of femme, slut, and ho – as per Kathryn Payne’s essay in Brazen Femme) and talk about my own experience as a model doing glam nudes and boudoir shoots.
But that’s not how it worked out at all.
I actually wound up talking about hunger – hunger for food, hunger for sex, how food and sex and bound up together in my head andmy body in a way that has nothing to do with whipped cream and chocolate body paint and everything to do with being nurtured and fed on an emotional/heart level – about asexuality and eating disorders and needing to relearn “healthy eating habits” in my skin.
So it’s going to end up in “How to Cook a Heart” – the manuscript I work on much more frequently that explores queer polyamourous love & desire and the building of chosen family through the lens of local-seasonal food (growing it, cooking it, preserving it, sharing it, you name it…).
 
Here’s a sample of what I wrote today:
 

can almost taste her
the edge of memory burns
my tongue on her hip bone I sob
at a kiss
I’m allowed to crave
or am I? This sheath shows every flaw
I want to shrug off
let you have me like this
open
straps falling down, breasts out, bending my body over,

 
It’s a work in progress, as they say. 😉
 
 
TTFN,
A.

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FIGURES: Impressions of a Professional Naked Girl (chapbook by me)

So, as-you-know-bob, I’m doing a reading with fabulous femme Amber Dawn Writes (home page) and bodaceous butch Kalyani Pandya (Daily Xtra article by Lukayo) this coming Saturday to celebrate the launch of Amber Dawn’s latest book, Where the Words End and My Body Begins. There will be a write-in during the show, and there will of course be merch. I mean, buy Amber’s books, clearly.
But there will also be this:
 

FIGURES: Inpressions of a Professional Naked Girl

FIGURES: Inpressions of a Professional Naked Girl


 
I’m rather chuffed about the whole situation.
It’s a limitted run of fifty (except that it’s currently a limitted run of forty-nine because the printshop and the other printshop and I Had A Miscommunication… But I’ll get it sorted out).
 
Anyway. That’s my wee bit of news. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
A.

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Chapbook – Gone to Print!

So, my chapbook is at the print shop.
 
There was rigamarole, but it has (fingers crossed) (probably) passed.
As of Wednesday morning I should have a stack of fifty chapbooks with bright red covers (becuase I’m opting for stereotypical, apparently) to call my own and, y’know, hawk at my upcoming show, where it’ll be available for $5 at the Merch Table.
 
This wee, self-published collection of fifteen poems focuses on my work as a model, and touches on the places where that work overaps and intersects with different areas of the sex industry. It is mostly new work, written in the past year, though a few older pieces are included.
 
This isn’t my first chapbook, but it’s the first one I’ve made with either a colourful cover OR the sense to make mention of its Limited Edition nature. Here’s hoping that the reading goes well enough that people in attendence will want copies of their own to take home.
 
Fingers Crossed.
 
 
A.

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Book Launch with Amber Dawn! I’m In It! :-D

Hey, folks!
 
So I may or may not have mentioned this back in, like, February, when this scheme was first cooked up, BUT: I’m in a show! With Amber Fucking Dawn! 😀 😀 😀
Be still, my little femme literary heart! 😀
 
It’s a free show at 7:30pm, on Saturday, June 13th (so a week from this coming Saturday) at Venus Envy in Ottawa. The occasion is the launch of Amber Dawn’s quite awesome new book of Glosas – Where the Words End and My Body Begins – and there will be a sex-positive write-in (audience non-mandatory participation, essentially) during the show.
 
There will be love-letters to queerdom, poetry about queer history, femme identity, modeling, & sexwork, short stories told and read, and, as the flyer puts it, a whole lot of “sex, sass, humour, and healing”.
 
In short, you should all come.
 

FREE show ft Amber Dawn, Kalyani Pandya, and ME!
Saturday, June 13th, 2015
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Venus Envy (226 Bank St, Ottawa)

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Prose, Poetry, and Shifting Priorities

So, upon saying Yes to doing a show this coming June, I set The Novel aside (temporarily…) in order to focus on writing the raw material for what will, by the time the show rolls around, be a (hopefully) gorgeously-polished chapbook about my experiences as a Professional Naked Girl.
But I gathered up most of those poems yesterday and I’ve got about the right amount, plus a few extras. They still need to be worked on – some polished, some straight-up finished, some (probably) combined to make new, individual poems – but I’ve got enough stuff pulled together that I feel fairly safe bringing prose back onto the table, in some way at least.
To that end, there is this: WritingChallenge.org
Which comes with this handy little essay on Why 500 Words A Day Works for Me (and Might Work for You), which I’m just going to leave here for people to find and read. Go ahead. It’s handy stuff. 🙂
 
Tonight is the VERSeFest Volunteers event, so I’ll be hanging about with other Awesome Poetry People this evening.
TTFN,
A.

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Show! (Long Time Coming, Not Here Yet)

A poet I admire asked me if I would like to read with her.
I said yes.
We are going to do a show together in the summer, possibly with a third poet.
We will be making zero money as the door-take will be going to a local non-profit – although she and the potential third poet will have books/chapbooks to sell – but it’s a show. I haven’t done a show in over a year at this point, so I’m quite looking forward to it.
 
And, hey. Now I have an external deadline by which to be finished one, ideally two, manuscript(s). So that’s a handy thing as well.
 
 
TTFN,
A.

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