Friday, November 23, 2012

The Wait

It has been 5 years since my debut book launched. 




I sat up in bed last night - sweaty limbs, heartbeat in ears, twitching feet- when I realized this. I have not produced a book in 5 years. Well, let me re-phrase that, I've written 2.5 books in the past 5 years since Red Rooms came into the world, but as far as the reading public is concerned, I've been watching too many episodes of Sons of Anarchy online (true) eating too many Kit Kats (also true) and doing nothing at all with my literary career. And dammit, that sucks. I don't mind when people see my tattoos and assume I'm an unemployed ne'er do well. I don't even mind when people judge me wearing pyjama bottoms to drop my kids off in the morning, but the book thing... well, thats a little harder to take. 

Invitations are slowing down. My cache (what little there was to begin with) in the literary world is slowly losing colour, and my credibility for why I am resistant to a full time job, why I need hours tucked away in pockets of quiet to sit at my desk, well I'm hard pressed to defend it. But why? What is the hold up?

Well, for one, there are less and less publishers in Canada, and therefore, less and less pie for all the blackbirds pecking about the crust. For another, submitting a manuscript is epic in itself. An agent demands a good three months of exclusivity to review a ms. Now times that by 6 submissions and you're already looking at a year and a half. Its a waiting game.

So what do you do? Well, for one, you start a blog and rant. Another good (better) option is anthologies, magazines, periodicals and journals. Just write. Write because you have to. Write like somebody's reading.

One of my mentors, Lee Maracle, said to me once, "Write to bring excellence into the world. Worry about the business of it all later. Publishing has nothing to do with writing, don't ever get them confused." And yes, spoken like a woman with a dozen books, but true none the less. And so, here is my blog, and this is my rant. And also, after my trip to India in 2 weeks (on an invitation to an international literary gathering, so I guess I can't whine too loud), look for an increase in articles, stories, submissions and anthologized pieces. I figure, if I keep writing, even in the long, empty voids between published books, maybe I can convince myself that someone is reading.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Nuit Blanche just got a little rouge


Yay! I get to work with the amazing people at Diaspora Dialogues again. This time we're rocking Nuit Blanche- the all night art party in downtown Toronto. Check out the link and visit us after dusk on September 29!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

excerpt from The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy (Theytus, Spring 2013)

“Hey… hey,” a voice hollered from a balcony sagging under the weight of a past capacity crowd. “Show me the goods, sweetheart!”

Ruby laughed at the slurred stupidity.

“Hey! Don’t be shy sweetie,” the voice called again, somewhere above her head. “Let me see your tittays!”

Ruby looked up and saw a young man in a University of Colorado T-shirt spotted with sweat stains shouting down to her. She still wasn’t sure so she looked around her and found herself surrounded by men. Not another pair of ‘tittays’ in sight.

“Yeah,” he nodded. “You” he pointed down at her.

Ruby felt the point like a small knife in her chest and put a hand there to hold herself together. She opened her eyes wide and felt a deep blush start in her neck and crawl quickly upwards like rising mercury in a glass thermometer.

He screamed, “WHOOOO!!” as if she had agreed to his proposition, shaking a hand full of beads in the air, clenched in his fist like plastic pirate booty that had tumbled out of a piƱata. “Yeah! Show me your tittays!!”

Ruby shook her head and tried to wave him off. People were starting to look at them. “No, please don’t shout like that.” She held her finger to her lips.

He untangled a string of blue beads and dangled them over the edge of the balcony, waiting like a hyperactive child, hopping from foot to foot. “WHOOOOHOOO!”

There was no way in hell Ruby was going to take her damn top off. Not for this geek, licking his lips and clapping his hands like a perverted jester, not for a million dollars, let alone a lousy string of plastic baubles she could buy herself. She had no interest in amusing a street full of tipsy tourists, no interest in becoming a spectacle. She backed away from the balcony, off the sidewalk and into the street.

“Awww,” he pouted, teetered and then leaned the upper half of his heavy body dangerously over the edge of the railing, beads dangling, sweaty t-shirt pulling up over his prematurely flabby belly. “Fine, have'em anyways.”

He half-heartedly threw the blue strand down to her as she turned on her heel towards the other side of the street.

In that moment, both the boy and Ruby would have sudden intuitive leaps of understanding - unexpected epiphanies. Theirs were diametrically opposing visions, though both involved Ruby standing in the middle of Bourbon Street and a set of scuffed blue plastic beads.

Those beads looped through the air like a Mardi Gras lasso, spinning around and around with the precision of a drunk’s aim , descending towards Ruby as she turned away. She saw them out of the corner of her eye and immediately wished them away, didn’t even want the acknowledgement of them glancing off her shoulder and clattering to the ground with the tiny tinkering of hollow plastic.

She waited for them to hit. Instead, she felt the warm steam of a halted engine when the waxed string hooked onto the curves of an inconspicuous cranial universe. The diamond cut beads, like two-dozen blue disco balls, fell into the orbit and became a garish milky way that inexplicably hung above Ruby’s head.

Almost immediately she could smell the stench of burnt plastic, an invasive smell that made her think of old curling irons and hot August days when the rancid garbage on residential curbs keeps kids from their hockey. She reached above her head, perfectly aware of what had happened and not at all surprised. She grabbed a handful of beads before it got too tightly wound like a shoelace in a bicycle wheel, and yanked.

The beads snapped along the thin string and fell to the ground. She looked at them, lying in a puddle of spilt beer at her feet instead of being draped gracefully around her collarbone like the other girls she saw making their way, arm in arm, up the street. And although she didn’t want them to begin with, there was a part of her, a hard lump of Longing that burrowed through Envy’s wake, that did. Why was she never the beautiful one? Why did all the flattery, all the attention get caught up in the turning of a dozen planets and fall at her feet, broken and forgotten? She blinked three times and walked away, stepping over the broken beads.

The boy on the balcony almost looked away from the pretty girl in the black skirt. It was clear she wasn’t going to take her top off; it was obvious he wasn’t going to see any boobs. He’d been throwing these damn beads all night with not one lousy nipple to show for it. Unless those ‘Girls Gone Wild’ videos lied, he’d been having an unusually slow night. And they couldn’t be lying. He’d gone through too many bottles of baby oil in his dorm room by himself and now his summer job savings on the ideology they espoused. But something made him hesitate, arms dangling off the balcony after his heroic throw. And just before he stood straight, intent on getting to the bar to grab another Bud, he saw something miraculous, something that would haunt him even as he slept fitfully, hung-over beyond all recognition, on the plane back to Colorado, even years later, lying in bed beside his quiet suburban wife in their red brick bungalow with the extended back sunroom.

The beads spun towards the girl as she turned away. He grew excited, thinking that he may have just made the perfect throw with an aim that might garner him a quick flash of skin. It looked as though the necklace was actually going to make it. How awesome would that be? He raised his arms as the necklace descended, falling straight over her head. He filled his lungs with warm Louisiana night air, ready to scream it back out in victory. But instead of falling around her shoulders, the beads just hovered there, blurry as if they were being viewed through an unfocused lens.

Before his inebriated mind could wrap around the phenomenon, she reached up and yanked them down, not once looking back at her dumbfounded spectator. The string broke and the beads floated like hardened wontons in a puddle of spilt beer, but still he stared. She walked away, up onto the sidewalk on the other side, and he continued to stare, arms still raised above his head, warm night air still trapped in his lungs.

He knew the girl was pretty, that’s why he’d propositioned her. But he never would he even have guessed that she was an angel, a real live angel. How else could he explain the beads caught up in a halo just above her hair? With the beads hanging there, as ordinary and astounding as planes in the sky, she was rendered beautiful, became inconsolably heartbreaking. It was a miracle, a bloody miracle. He, Jonathan Davidson from Littleton, Colorado had seen an angel in New Orleans. It was amazing, it was historic and he would never forget her, even if he didn’t get to see her tittays.

Ruby walked under a green and white striped awning on the other side of the road. “C’mon now Miss,” a tall man holding a leather bound menu in one hand ushered her into a smoky doorway. “Best jazz in New Orleeens.”  She allowed herself pliancy and was ushered into the club.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Creating Yourself- one online purchase at a time

Summer was always my most favourite time of the year, but not for the usual reasons of sun and beach and that strange erotic mixture of sunscreen and sand grinding beneath the seams of swimwear. It was intoxicating in its power- a break, a chance to create a whole new persona. What's that Eliot line? "A time to create a face to meet the faces that you'll meet".  I think thats how it goes.

I'd spend each summer finding the version of myself the world would have to deal with come September. Its not like it was ever very far off the mark to my casual, non-theatrical, everyday self, and it was definitely a shade of the true colour of my guts (I should say heart or soul here but I can't bring myself to type those words- I'm allergic to trite). It was exciting to pick clothes, and make-up, and hairstyles, and books, and even language to fit whichever Cherie I was going to introduce to the school that first week of September. I'd forgotten about that joy. I forgot about how fucking amazing it can be to go into the summer cocoon and bust out nearing Fall in all your goth/nerd chic/introspective/artistic glory.

I think its a practice I just might have to revive this summer. That being said, he's a rad new pair of tights I just ordered off my favourite (and dangerously addictive) shopping site, Pippi Leggings - Nude with Black Striped Legging Polka Dot Legging  - NUDE - Legging - LARGE Legging Womens Tights
(I LOVE Pippi Longstocking!!) These are from Carouselink's store. Check'em out.

Friday, April 13, 2012


(I'll be here... make sure you are too!)

Diaspora Dialogues returns this April to Keep Toronto Reading's stellar lineup. DD in partnership with Toronto Public Library present Toronto the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Join us for a series of free readings and performances that reveal the different sides of this dynamic city the last three Fridays in April.
Featured writers from Toronto the Good include: Rabindranath Maharaj, Jill Andrew,Shiela Heti, Misha Glouberman, Brandon Pitts and Sarah Feldbloom.
Andrew Pyper, Ron Schafrick, Mia Herrera, Lillian Allen and Shadi Eskandani will present stories about Toronto the Bad.
Anecdotes from Toronto the Ugly will be shared by Michael Helm, Dominque Russell, Valentina Gal, and musical guest LAL.
The evenings’ event will be hosted by Catherine Hernandez, Dora Mavor Moorenominated playwright.
Toronto the Good
 Friday, April 13; 7 pm
Where: Toronto Reference Library, Atrium; 789 Yonge Street
Toronto the Bad
Friday, April 20; 7 pm
Where: Toronto Reference Library, Atrium; 789 Yonge Street
Toronto the Ugly
 Friday, April 27; 7 pm
Where: Toronto Reference Library, Atrium; 789 Yonge Street

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


photo by mark hanauer

Okay, so anyone who knows me knows that I love the work of this craggly, rude, obnoxious, drunken man. I mean really...

if you have ever drawn up your last plan on
and old shirt cardboard in an Eastside hotel room of winter
with last week’s rent due and a dead radiator
you’ll know how large small things are
like yourself coming up the stairway
Maybe for the final time
with your bottle of wine
thinking of the lady in #9
putting on her garters
and on her dresser there is a
dark red drinking glass
which catches the overhead light like a
soft dream of Jerusalem
and she dusts herself
slips into silk and sheath and
spiked feet
and unemployed and looking for work
and maybe looking for you
she passes you on the
such disturbing grace
transforms one.
like a blue-winged fly exploding into
the summer sky
you decide to hang around and
die later; you enter your room and pour wine like
blood, inward, and decide in the morning you’ll
get up early and
read the want

Really? Really Bukowski? I love this. I love the Eliot-like emphasis on the minutae. I love the balletic interaction between images on a broken-down stage. I love the ease with which he can make you cringe and then bring you to comfort in that uncomfortable spot.

Check these out:
Tales of Ordinary Madness

The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses

Also, check out your local used book store- there are usually a few Hank gems in there to be had.

Monday, March 19, 2012

AHHH! I am a terrible blogger

So as penance for my absence, please accept this humble piece of writing; one of the many lovely bombs that has littered my path towards blogging-adriotness.

cut from The Lithopedion of Winterson Cemetery- (what might end up being my 4th adult novel)

The sun dragged its sharpest points across the sky and fat scabs of slow snow spiralled to the ground. Winifred watched from her round bedroom window. Behind the curved glass she felt like a goldfish being fed by an unsupervised child- too much, too fast. Soon the flakes covered the brown grass and the graves became harder to spot; grey and white against the accumulating snow; teeth knocked out of place, pushed forward and overlapping in a grassy lower jaw. The black fence separating the plots from the road, segregating the dead away from the living, was as ineffectual as braces added too late, and the general and the plot populations met and danced and parted again as they pleased.

Winifred was lost to it all. Everything was rendered temporary and difficult in light of Alice’s knowing the truth.

(Also, look up LITHOPEDION... the weirdest stuff is true)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Nations House INDIGENOUS WRITERS GATHERING at the University of Toronto

Thursday, February 9
All events held at First Nations House, 563 Spadina Ave, 3rd Floor (just north of College St)
Free Admission- Open the Public

10:30-12:00 • Journalism and the preservation of our stories in the electronic age with Waubgeshig Rice, Wab Kinew and Muskrat Magazine Publisher Rebeka

12:30-2:00 • Poetry and Politics with the renowned Lee Maracle and Ryan RedCorn of the 1491s

2:30-4:00 • Getting Grants and accessing funding for your creative work

6pm – 8pm OPEN MIKE reading night at First Nations House Drop in and share your short prose or poetry, or be part of the enthusiastic audience. Snacks and drinks will be served.

Friday, February 10

10:00 AM - Breakfast with the Writers: grab a coffee and some food with some of today’s best Indigenous authors.

12:00- 1:30 • Traditional storytelling and mythmaking with Daniel Justice and Waub Rice

2:00-3:30 • Developing and utilizing writing groups with Bren Kolson and Lee Maracle

4:00-5:30 • Writing for performance with the 1491’s Dallas Goldtooth and Ryan RedCorn and author/performer AmberLee Kolson

Friday, Feb 10, 7pm-10pm at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto Gala Reading Night – FREE admission and open to the public

Come early to get a seat!

Dallas Goldtooth hosts an evening of raucous comedy, video screenings, amazing author readings and hip hop.
Starring: Dallas Goldtooth and Ryan Redcorn of the 1491s
Yellowknife’s Bren Kolson
Comedy with AmberLee Kolson
Breakout author Waubgeshig Rice
U of T’s own superstars Daniel Heath Justice and Lee Maracle
And a performance by Winnipeg hip hop phenomenon Wab Kinew

Refreshments served. *Some content may be for adult audiences only.

For more info: and look for us on Facebook!