Thursday, June 29, 2006

Armageddon is Here!

Today I was writing a scene in which my main character imagines God killing her enemies, specifically the schoolyard bully Tammy who frequently torments her. Young Emily is a Jehovah's Witness and thus believes that all non-JWs will soon perish in a perpetually-imminent Armageddon. One scenario she vengefully pictured was Tammy being stoned to death by massive hailstones.

Moments later, it started to rain really hard (in real life, that is), and I was concerned about the garden I started putting in yesterday, especially the row of potted flowers lined up obediently on the sidewalk next to the house. As I contemplated ushering them inside until it stopped blowing and pouring, I heard some weird rattling sounds around the outside of the house. I rushed to the window in my office to see what the hell was going on... and it was hailing!

I haven't seen hail in years.

Maybe if I write something about being a better hockey player, that will come true too.


We tied 2-2 last night, and no points for me. Rumour has it though, that #13 on our team inadvertently broke some woman's wrist last week...


(I was trying to think of a song for this post with the word HAIL in the title, but no luck)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bill Bolton Hockey Night, Take Two

Well, we lost. But barely! It was 4-3, and the other team had twice as many players... But damn, it was fantastic to play league hockey again! I had a great time, and I was definitely pleased with my effort and how I've developed. Those 8 million skills lessons I've taken are beginning to pay off... I wasn't perfect, not remotely, and I fucked up one ideal shot at the net, I hesitated and the goalie poked it away, but other than that, I was definitely not playing as crappily as when I started the league one year ago. One assist, a couple of breakaways and blocked shots, not bad for an uncoordinated poet.

One pint of Stella at the pub after, good chats with the wide array of other hockey gals, and home to finish up that damn grant application...

If only I felt as good about the novel as I do right now about hockey. I guess it's a question of pressure. Doing "not horrible" at hockey is fabulous; anything less than what I perceive as brilliant in writing is heartbreaking.

I've paused in the actual narrative of the novel in order to deepen some of the characters, particularly the adult characters, so I've been working primarily on backstories and character sketches. I feel like I'm procrastinating because these are not pages that will see the light of proverbial day, but I keep trying to remind myself that this work is an essential, though non-gratifying, part of the process.

God, I hate that expression, "part of the process."

Anyway, novel-writing, or I suppose any long writing project, seems fraught with and intrinsically tied to psychological pressure, massive swings of emotion, guilt, and self-loathing. I feel like maybe I'm dating my novel, and it's a horribly unhealthy and abusive relationship.

Geez, that's a dark analogy. I think I'll just stop here. Though I bet I'm not even close to the first writer who has made such a comparison!


JUST WHAT I NEEDED by The Cars (a great song I heard earlier today!)

Hockey Night in the Annex

Tonight is the first night of the Women's Summer Hockey League at Bill Bolton Arena. Being on the ice is a great way to celebrate the first day of summer!

This time, Jhann, Nicole, Megan & I are all on the same team, which should be a blast, and result in a higher likelihood of after-game pints on Bathurst St.

I hope we win. And if we do, I hope I have something to do with it!


Chapbook Workshop

On Monday morning, Sandra Alland and I taught a Chapbook Workshop to a group of about fifteen 18-20 year old "at-risk youth" (whatever that label means) at the City Adult Learning Centre. We were the guest "experts" in Chris Kubsch's Writers' Craft English class, and the students' final assignment was to produce a chapbook of their writing from the term.

We discussed a bit about the history of chapbooks, current chapbook publishers, and a great deal of technical tips about layout and printing. I managed to find the very first poetry chapbook I'd ever made, in the mid-90s in Bob Casto's poetry workshop at York. It was called "Climbing Parentheses" and contained lots of sex and swearing, as well as Tristan Tzara quotations, and poems comprised solely of punctuation. It was an ugly little book, coil-bound and full of errors, and I utilized it as an example of what not to do: blank pages everywhere, words cut off by binding, bad margins, and a bland aesthetic. I wouldn't let Sandra read any of the poems either, too embarrassing.

We brought in a wide array of sample chapbooks, both of our own projects, and works by Proper Tales Press, Pas de Chance, Black Bile Press, 2x4 to the forehead, Puddle Press, housepress, among many others. The goal was to illustrate to the students that the possibilities of form were almost limitless, and certainly not restricted to black and white photocopied and stapled booklets.

In the latter half of the workshop, it was hands-on time, and the students used the materials we brought in to create the covers and binding for their chapbooks. Some students got more involved in the process than others, which is to be expected, but some of their covers were amazing! There were a few elaborate collages, as well as lots of questions about layout and what they should put in their author bios.

Chris is going to try to send us pictures of their finished projects.

I love doing these workshops, especially with teens. The adults are not always as willing to play with the materials and get their hands dirty, but the teenagers can get really into it, which is very cool and inspiring.


TEENLAND by Northern Pikes

Friday, June 16, 2006

Willowdale Park

Today I went for a run up here in North York, and saw some images that made me feel a little more at home. I'm not in Parkdale anymore, but I finally saw some rather Parkdalian activities:
  • Guy with bright green mohawk playing guitar in the park for his merry band of tattooed pals
  • Group of teenaged girls doing b.t.'s, in another area of the park. They must have been on spare, I'm sure they weren't cutting class to do drugs...

Not that these are activities strictly limited to Parkdale, certainly not. But those were the first encounters I've had in this neighbourhood of anything remotely rambunctious or rebellious. I almost cheered them on, but they would have probably thought I was just some weird old person, nearly double their age, gosh, how horrible.

I didn't know people still did b.t.'s. Sasha, are you reading this? Yes, I remember. Ahem.


FIGHT THE POWER by Public Enemy

Monday, June 12, 2006

Canadian Poetry Night

On Tuesday, June 13th I will be reading at the Art Bar (Victory Cafe, upstairs; Bloor West and Markham, behind Honest Ed's). The reading starts at 8pm and is free, though a hat is passed for donations.

It's Canadian Poetry Night, where various Canadian poets will cover other Canadian poets. I will be reading work by the late Libby Scheier, whose poetry was a significant influence on me when I was a teenager in a small town. Discovering her work was a major turning point in my writing - our local library contained few poetry books, and most by Keats, Donne, Yeats, and Dickinson, so I was thrilled to find something contemporary.

So I stole the book.

Tomorrow night, I will read from that copy of Second Nature, formerly belonging to the Dunnville Public Library.


Friday, June 09, 2006

Unabashed Self-Indulgent Gemini

It's my birthday and I'll self-indulge if I want to... !

Jhann inspired me with a list of highlights from the past year and I'm going to build on that today. Here are my favourite moments or events since this time last year:

Today I'm going to basically just read and eat and maybe download some more of Da Ali G Show clips. I'm reading Case Histories by Kate Atkinson - Kate gave me this book a couple of birthdays ago and I've finally gotten to it! So far it's pretty good, and dark in an A. M. Holmes sort of way. It's too soon to say more than that about it. Then out for tempura and Sapporo tonight, a field trip to Chris B's boat tomorrow, followed by bbq and imbibing. I have a few other Gemini pals, so it looks like the excuses to celebrate will extend at least until Canada Day.


I CAN JAPAN by Miranda July. (she put out a few experimental narrative audio cds before her feature film last year, and they're disturbingly brilliant. I first encountered them about five years ago on Brave New Waves, when I had a really high fever...perfect way to question your perceptions!)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Signs to Consider

On Monday nights I have a co-ed hockey skills class. We do skating, passing, stick-handling and shooting drills for an hour. The gender ratio in the class is fairly balanced; there are more males than females, but not by all that much.

There is a board near the entrance of the arena that outlines who uses which change room. Before league games, for example, it will say something like "Red team #3, Blue #5" etc. For co-ed classes, it divides the groups by gender.

This week the sign said:

7pm Class
Men - Change room #6
Girls - Change room #3

I was tempted to ask the rink guys where the women were supposed to change, but I assumed they wouldn't get it.

Imagine the confusion if it had said "Women and Boys" instead of "Men and Girls."



Monday, June 05, 2006

Feminist Read-In

This event tomorrow sounds like an important and worthwhile endeavor. See you there!



Thursday, June 01, 2006

Small Press Book Fair this Saturday

The Spring Small Press Book Fair is this Saturday, June 3 from 11am-5pm. I will have numerous copies of the eleventh issue of dig. available for the deal of $6 each. Response so far to the issue has been positive, so get your limited edition unique copy while you can! At the launch on Monday, many were having trouble choosing which cover they liked best - some then bought two copies. This issue features an in-depth interview with Jen Currin, as well as poetry by Kevin Connolly, Hugh Thomas, Sandra Alland, Gary Barwin, Jon Paul Fiorentino, David McGimpsey, among others, and a story by Salvatore Difalco.

If you are a contributor to this issue and have not yet collected your copies from me, visit the wayward armadillo press table on Saturday and I'll hook you up. If you are out of town and have not yet received your copies via post, be patient, I'm in the midst of moving, and I'll mail them as soon as I can find where I packed the envelopes and stamps.