Jane Eaton Hamilton

"This dish is best served published." -Yana Luchkovsky

The Preludes to Assaults

Feel free to share.

#gomeshi #ibelievelucy #IStandWithLucy #BillCosby #hairextensions #truthmatters #rapeculture #cndjustice

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted]. I don’t know you very well, but I know this: one night in early 2004, after I’d been awarded a writing prize in Ottawa, you followed me to a side room annexed to the main hall, where I’d gone to get away from the crowds, and while my (then) wife was in the bathroom or off getting another drink, I’m not sure, you put your hand on me. That hand. One of the very hands that is being discussed in court this week. You closed the distance between us and you massaged my shoulder/neck while talking to me about how I needed to relieve the stress of my big win. Eventually my (then) wife returned, you dropped your hand (that hand), and we chatted politely while you bashed the Rockies, BC and, in particular, Vancouver.

You didn’t ask me if you could massage me. I guess you assumed you could touch me. The way men, the entitled 50%, have always assumed they could access women’s bodies at will. You were a star, and your status helped me to tamp down my resistance. I don’t know why the hell you picked me, as I had just been on stage thanking my (then) wife; I was obviously queer and out and I was significantly older. Maybe I was just the only woman alone during that function? I do know that a number of other men, and people elsewhere on the gender spectrum, have previously in my life singled me out for non-respectful interactions. The truth is, I did not step back, Jian Gomeshi, you [redacted], and I excoriate myself for that now. I should value myself more.

I was taught to be polite. I was taught to smile and nod and always, always be friendly. I was told that friendliness could get me out of pinches, even save my life, and indeed, through the years, this mostly proved to be true. Doing what men tell you to do is just a good idea. Not doing what they tell you to do can be disastrous.

I wish it weren’t so, because they would be illuminating, but stats for close calls don’t exist. The binds we’ve escaped because of our own instinct or intelligence or cunning remain undocumented.

Let me talk about what you touching me was and was not, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted]. Because you had followed me and waited until I was alone to approach, what you did was strange and mildly unsettling. I felt a sense of disquiet. But given my sexual orientation and marital status, I also didn’t take what you did particularly seriously. That night I stayed up with another Canadian literary luminary getting drunk and laughing until 4 a.m. He certainly didn’t massage me and I’ve never written a post about his behaviour.

Okay, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], I get that what you did to me was not a charge-able assault, or, arguably, even an assault. But I’m going to tell you what it was. It was the something else that so many of us experience 1000 times a year as Canadian people assigned female at birth–and let’s name it for what I now believe it was: the prelude to a potential assault.

The preludes to potential assaults are these: language or behaviour or touching that create in their  targets vague senses of unease that we “get over” as the day or week wears on. There is so much of this kind of crap slung in women’s directions in the average day that often we don’t even bother mentioning an encounter. We don’t tell our spouse. We don’t tell our employer. We don’t call a friend. Because these little infractions against our sovreignty, these thousands of small infractions, intended to train us to patriarchy, are par for the course. But we all understand what they’re actually telling us: they’re actually reminding us about what could happen.

If, say, we get uppity. If, say, we say no. If, say, we fight back. If, say, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

A year before you massaged my back, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], you allegedly hurt Lucy de Coutere. And there were alleged other victims, too. With that same hand you extended to me. With that very same hand you used to caress me. If the allegations are true, you wrapped that hand around victims’ throats and choked them. If the allegations are true, you used one of your hands to slap and punch your victims.

But guess what, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], let me tell you something about society. There are lingering affects to minor harrassment. Harrassment is a bridge built of a substance called continuum that Canadian women walk over every day of our lives from the day we are pushed into our pink worlds to the day we close our eyes the last time. And on that bridge are guys, nice guys, scum nozzles, and turds rolled in sprinkles. On that bridge of spectrums are guys with their hands out, fingers waggling. Guys demanding we pay the toll. We’ll let you cross, they say, but only if you’ll smile. Only if you’ll give us a little kiss. Only if you’ll stop a minute and chat. Only if you’ll go home with us. Only if you get scared, because we appreciate scared. Only if we get to bash you in the head, throttle you, rape you and leave you for dead.

They say, We know you like it. They say, You asked for it.

You know what this mountain of harassment (and worse) does to the harried? It makes us queasy. It makes us question our interpretations. It makes us question our importance. It makes us scared to go out at night. Nervous to walk our own streeets. Careful to lock our windows. It makes us tamp ourselves down.

It does all that because it’s meant to do all that. That’s exactly what it’s for.

The truth is, we aren’t fully enfranchised members of society, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted].

This all has a name, this systemic oppression. It’s called misogyny, and in Canada we need an inquiry* to untangle its octopedal arms so we can root it the hell out of our country, and unfasten our institutions from it. Imagine the productivity here if all our population was equally enfranchised. Not 50%, or 60%, or 80%, but 100%?

Really, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], I want you to stop and think about that. I want you to imagine a different world, a world where one class of people can’t get away with (allegedly) treating another class of people violently.

Because right now, in part because of you, Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], we people who’ve experienced violence are triggered. We are not just thinking about your behaviour, and your lawyer’s behaviour, we are thinking of so many other times in our lives where someone else has behaved badly, where someone didn’t respect and honour us.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], this is all coming back up for us, all at once, until it pools like another Canadian ocean under that bridge men have been having us walk, tying us together across the country in one collective wave. We are thinking about times someone stepped across a line. Times we were pressured. Times we were coerced. Times we were held against our will. Times we had brusies. Times we were battered. Times we were raped.

This collective will says, We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.* Pretty soon, if we have our way, you guys with your baitings and assaults are all going to tumble off that bridge and drown in a big cold ocean of women rising up.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], ours is a world that celebrates the male. You know what else is part of our oppressive system? Not letting women drive, or vote, or own property, or go out without male accompaniment. Saying that girls are not good at math, giving girls passive toys, not letting women go to unversity, glass ceilings, few female politicians, women earning less than men for work of equal value, women bearing the brunt of child-rearing and housework, women who perpetuate stereotypes even as they obtain jobs where they could change them.

All that stuff we call sexism? That is misogyny written in semen.

We are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.*

Some men are up in arms this week, cautioning Canadian women to calm the fuck down. Don’t get your sweet little heads all in a tizzy, they say, in Canada we have something called due process. This is supposed to happen to complainants in court. Ultimately, it protects all of us.

In Canada, during due process, victims get psychologically battered, and we, the potentially violated, are standing up right while court is in session, quite out of order, and questioning that. We are saying This is not okay. This is an abridgement of Canadian values and Charter freedoms.

We are saying to the survivors of spectrum violence: We believe you and we stand with you and our support will never waver.

Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], isn’t this quite the amazing system men have developed for themselves over the centuries? This system where women are achingly vulnerable, taught from a young age to submit, while the other half of the population (and a few strays from our side) takes advantage? Because let’s face it, what our patriarchy requires more than convictions, and we all know it, is an intact status quo.

So Jian Ghomeshi, you [redacted], thanks for the back rub. But just so’s you know: I’m an anti-fan.

 

 

*A Canadian inquiry on misogyny is the idea of barbara findlay, QC

*adapted from “Network,” the movie

Here is a very good blog post about this situation: Bone, Broth and Breastmilk

 

Bear Bergman–and yes, it’s nearly Valentine’s Day

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 10.52.19 PM

I rarely post anything that’s personal, but all day I had this column by the wise and clear and sensical writer Bear Bergman up on my “to-read” list, and I finally read it, and it seems to hit so many nails on so many heads that I thought you might want to read this “Dear Bear” column too, since rarely is there a time in relationships when incomes are exactly on par. Which may mean you think of these contentious matters, too.

And because it’s coming up Valentine’s Day, a day where we can all try to learn to love better.

Bear Bergman on Bitch Media

 

 

Junot Díaz

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 2.57.50 AM.png

“Whatever privilege we had, we were fucking ravenous about pursuing it. Unfortunately, pursuing privilege crimps your humanity. That’s something that takes a while for you to discover … every exercise of your privilege reduces your sum total of your humanity. I wouldn’t have noticed if my art wasn’t predicated on the sum total of my humanity. I kept coming up short as an artist and I had to look for the leaks. Where the fucking leaks are, it’s being a fucking asshole–you’re a fucking asshole, your humanity shrinks.”—Junot Díaz in conversation with the New York Public Library

New York Public Library podcasts

Half a Baby, a poem

Love will Burst

From Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes

Half A Baby

 

I’d been there

to photograph the woman’s belly, that tiny unyeasted loaf

that Lilliputian bump, that craving convexity that yearned towards

life but could not manage

and the baby’s father, who tucked his hand atop

the still-beating second heart of his wife

this firstborn son to this couple

who had believed they were charmed

 

I was also there when the night turned soft

a hush, only the three of us at 4 a.m., and something

tangible in the air, brushing our skins

tender as feathers whispering our arms, our necks

 

Just—don’t

Don’t tell me how macabre

it was with my camera, its heavy clacking

We were there, three of us, then four

five briefly, then four, then three

and the night was more astonishing than

the love I feel for my daughters

the night was more blistering than divorce

and we loved each other

 

He was only 20 weeks, halfway to whole, half a baby

half a son, half way, pushing down and out

and when his miniature head finally crowned

showing a black whorl of hair

time shuddered a little before dripping off the clock

The child slid through his mother’s labouring cervix

no bigger than dust

He sank through her vagina gasping towards air

and parentage, slipping through the hot bleed

A nurse caught him, small in her palm

wrapped him in a green receiving blanket

his lips as round as a cherry as he started to breathe

and breathed

 

she passed him to his mother’s breasts and left us

his blue birth eyes jittered and opened

the lashes wet-clumped and his mother said

He has your ears

and her husband said He has your lips

he was covered in a web of blue veins

extra skin he never filled, protuberant bones

a dangling cord, vernix, merconium

 

It felt like silver rain

The parents named him Christopher Jerome, speaking his name

He convulsed, shivered his undersized death rattle, and stopped

And stopped

 

I talked to him, to them

There we are, there we go, brave boy

sweet boy, and in this rare and grieving moment

I tried to speak his silence

I’m just going to lift, I told him, and

photographed his hand, the size of a quarter, as if clasping

first his mother’s, then his father’s

Now, ChristopherJerome, I said, I said again, there now

His mother touched her sore hurting lips to his forehead

 

Don’t—

Don’t speak to me

Just don’t

Human Library Books–this weekend in Vancouver!

IMG_4358

Vancouver: Remember Human Library is coming up again at VPL main branch on the weekend as part of PuSh Fest, 12-4, 3rd floor. The first slots starting at noon are vied over, so probably best to come a little later, at 1 or 2 hoping for a free later slot with one of the Human Books. I think there are 30 of us, with a wide-range of topics. Come check us out!

“The Human Library initiative is an international phenomenon, started in Copenhagen as a project to fight hate in communities. It is designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding. By connecting people who under normal circumstances might not have had a chance to just sit down and talk, the library enables groups to break stereotypes by challenging common prejudices in a positive and humorous manner.

A paper book exists in the finite space of printed text and internalized reading. A human book, however, exists in the real four-dimensional scope of human experience. The reader can’t skip bits or neglect their book, a human book requires fixed attention and, through that intimate engagement with another’s story, invites empathy through real human engagement.”

Human Library 2016

Amazon’s new warning labels on books

 Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 1.38.52 AM

From John Dopp. Go visit his site and check which other ones he’s got up his sleeve.

Revising Your Poems

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 5.22.45 PM

On revision:

The Warmth of the Messy Page by Rachel Richardson

Weekend: I think it might actually be coming out!

COVER WEEKEND

49th Shelfing anticipated spring reads!

49th Shelf

Autostraddling the heck out of spring

COVER WEEKEND

15 Queer/ Feminist Books To Read In Early 2016

My novel “Weekend” would be one of them, joining Roxane Gay with “Hunger” and Tig Notaro with “I’m Just A Person,” and many more.

Eva Saulitis: “I will know how to die.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 10.04.41 PM

Today, Eva Saulitis, biologist, essayist, poet died of metastatic breast cancer.

She has left us her work with the AT1 pod of orcas in Alaska, documenting the decimation during the Exxon Valdez spill of what is now, when it is too late to save them, thought to be a separate species of whale.

Death is capricious and cruel, and I wonder as you must, in this January of domino-deaths, why someone so talented and necessary has been lost, and why we can’t bargain our life for hers.

I urge you to read The Woman Who Loves Orcas, below, and to listen to her fine essay Wild Darkness.

Her books:

Leaving Resurrection: Chronicles of a Whale Scientist, essays
Many Ways to Say It, poetry
Into Great Silence: Discovery and Loss Among Vanishing Orcas, memoir

The Woman Who Loves Orcas

Wild Darkness

Eva Saulitis reading from the Alaska Quarterly Review

A review of Leaving Resurrection: Chronicles of a Whale Scientist

 

Bird Nights, a short story

 Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 1.42.23 AM

Here is a story I wrote more than 5 years ago, called “Bird Nights.” It came out first in Numéro Cinq and then was picked up by poet Marilyn Hacker for translation into French for Siécle 21, Paris, translated by Cécile Oumhani. I would be most honoured if you read it and left me your thoughts. It remains one of my favourite pieces of my writing. The news of my marital separation was still new when I wrote it, yet the story is as much travelogue as it is a raw cry from my heart. It also appeals to the side of me that likes subversive, fractured and braided narratives.

Bird Nights

Here is a story. It is true, but it is also full of lies. And small axes, the kind that make tiny cross-hatchings on hearts.

1)

A surgeon flayed open my wife’s chest and removed her breast: stiches and staples. This was several years ago. While she sleeps her scar unzips (top tape extension, top stop, slider, pull tab), her flesh unfolding like a sleeping bag. Some nights I only see the corset bones that girdle her lungs, gleaming moon slivers in murky red sky, and I say a prayer for them, those pale canoe ribs, those pickup sticks that are all that cinch her in. I wish I could do that: I wish I could hold her together. Some nights I think she may fly away in all directions, north, east, south, west, a huge splatter. She will go so far so fast I will only be able to watch with my mouth fallen open. She’ll be gone, and all I’ll have is a big red mess to clean up and a sliver of rib sticking out of my eye.

2)

Quiver trees are weird enough anyhow, but add a Sociable Weaver nest and you’ve got a real visual pickle. Warty, sponge toffee boils, these bird condos of dry grasses have upwards of 100 different holes for individual families; the nests can house 400 birds. Interestingly, Sociable Weavers are polyamorous, even, apparently, with barbets and finches.

In Namaqualand, Cape Weavers go it individually. The males court females by weaving testicular-like sacs, and if a female remains unimpressed, the male builds a second sac under the first, and etcetera, until a wind knocks the whole shebang down.

Bird-land, human-land—it’s all pretty much just jostling to get and keep the girl.

3)

Some nights when my wife’s incision unzips, a rib extends and on it sits a yellow bird, swaying as if in a great wind, feathers ruffling to lemon combs. I love birds. It makes me happy to hear her song, the same way it makes me happy when my wife sings. (Once when we were fresh, my wife danced naked through our kitchen belting out girl group songs from the 60s.) The little bird warbles and trills, then launches off the rib to fly around our bedroom. She grabs a mosquito near my ear. She flits into the corners, around the light fixtures, and carries back bits of yarn pulled from sweaters, spiderwebs, plastic pricetag spears, dust bunnies. She constructs a nest, shivers down into it, and lays little gelatinous eggs, eggs that I trust, with a simple, guileless trust, will grow up to be lymph nodes for my wife. These bird nights, I am happy, so happy. On some inchoate level, I know the little yellow bird has our backs, and I drift off to trills of sugary bird song.

4)

I hang out on bird-lover websites, where questions abound: Why are my lovebirds changing colour? Aphids–my bird is okay with them, but I’m not? Lovebird feather plucking?

Feather loss, says Avian Web, is a difficult problem to cure when the picking behaviour is already established. Birds should be presented to Dr Marshall at the first signs of picking. My wife and I are feather-plucking. We didn’t go to Dr Marshall and maybe that’s our problem. Our relationship has thrush, bacteria, poor nutrition. My wife and I were once lovebirds. Once, for a nanosecond, We Two Were One. Then, for years, We Two Were One and A Half. Eventually, We Two Were Two. Now, the evidence suggests We Might Be Three.

5)

Birds enchant me. Once we took our daughter to a free flight aviary, the Lory Loft in Jurong Bird Park, Singapore. Having a 20-hectare hillside park entirely devoted to birds is guaranteed to make someone like me giddy. Lories are small parrots, and in the aviaries, as you whoop and wriggle and scream over suspension bridges high in the treetops, they land on you, they cover you. It’s as if the keepers are up on the rooftop squeezing tubes of oil paint, cadmium orange and cobalt blue and carmine and viridian, screechy territorial colours with a lot of wing flap and pecking.

Ornithologists at the park answer such questions as: Will an ostrich egg support the weight of an adult human? I grapple with this one: Will my human heart support the shifting weight of my wife’s loyalties?

6)

Foraging: The Way to Keep Your [Wife] Mentally Stimulated and Happy

It’s me that forages. Watch me some nights, thumbing through theatre tickets (Wicked! The Vagina Monologues! Avenue Q! My Year of Magical Thinking!) and museum exhibitions (Dali: Painting and Film; Picasso and Britain; Carr, O’Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own) and the detritus that falls from her scar, stirring through wind-up rabbits and plastic zombies and voodoo dolls that tumble free, all the secrets and suffering that she hoards deep inside.

What am I looking for? Something to eat, maybe. Bird seed. A steak.

7)

We met a woman in Namibia who lost most of one breast to a crocodile attack. She was a member of a polygamous tribe, the Himba, whose women wear only loincloths. She bent down at the river with her water gourd, breasts hanging as breasts will do after a bunch of kids, and a croc’s teeth snapped closed on the right one.

Who knows what this woman’s husband thinks when he takes her shriveled, croc-mangled right breast into his hand? Does he trace her history with reverence? Does he spit in disgust and choose another wife?

8)

There are local stories of wives who change in the bathroom, wear bras and prosthetics to bed, and husbands who shun them. There are stories of marital disintegration, and by that I mean what you probably assume: straight marriage. I don’t know the stats for queer marriage breakups after breast cancer. I do know that even after twelve years, when my wife or I drive past the Cancer Agency, not even thinking about what happened, on our way to other appointments and sometimes in the midst of great happiness, one or other of us will burst into tears.

9)

Vancouver has murders of crows, and our house is on their flight path. If you go outside in the dawn gloaming, such as when you are going for chemo, they fill a Hitchcockian sky with black shrieks, and if you could count them, you would run out of numbers before you’d run out of birds. Crows are not protected in BC, and their forest roost was recently ripped down to build a Costco; now tens of thousands roost in a tangle of electric wires and pallets of home building supplies. Their noise is deafening.

10)

Magic realism aside, my wife’s scar is really just a scar, plain, unremarkable, faded with time. (Plain, unremarkable. I tell you. Plain and unremarkable.) Here is the pedestrian truth: she is sort of concave there where her breast once was, a hollowed-out nest. She opted not to have a reconstruction. Her one breast is very small and she goes braless without a prosthetic, which is a loud story, actually, the only blaring part of the reality-struck, pedestrian story: she is obviously one-breasted, especially in t-shirts, and manly anyway, so people stare. Last week at an art opening, a little boy about seven stopped from a dead run and ran his eyes up and down her, up and down her, up and down her, trying to make her make sense.

(These days, I do the same thing, rake my eyes across her. The little boy is right: she no longer makes sense. She is always saying goodbye with her actions while she smiles hello with her lips.)

11)

My heart is a big old blood pump with places engorged like a balloon (I’ve got a big old cardiomyopathy for you, I tell my wife sometimes, but it’s actually heart failure.) My heart is giving up, and has necrotic spots like measles, dead bits which have been dead now for 25 years, what an anniversary: let’s have a cake and candles, happy necrosis to me!). Referring to my circulatory system, a cardiologist once said to me: The tree of you is dying. No doubt too many polygamous weavers? How does this feel for you? my therapist asked about our lives (relationship) going—yes—tits up, three tits up I guess, instead of four, and here is the answer, my letter to my pain: It feels exactly like my heart is failing. Right now it’s stuttering along arrhythmically, but it can’t pump through all these emotions and old, ruptured scars, so it may just keep engorging till I pop like a-

12)

Tumour?

13)

Once I co-owned a grey cockatiel named Hemingway. Hemingway would hop around my scapula and peck food from my teeth while molting grey feathers onto my breasts. He was a happy bird with a yellow comb, but he never, as far as I know, wrote a great story.

14)

At the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, my wife ran at ostriches while the wild Benguela current tossed waves on the beach. Ostriches have a nail on each of their feet that is capable of slicing a person open as efficiently as any surgeon’s blade. I was up on my toes with alarm, but the ostriches didn’t fight, they only ran, their stunted wings extended. Then the male turned and knocked my wife flat. He danced on her chest until his pea-sized brain got bored.

Just a game, just a game, she assured me afterwards, brushing off, none the worse for wear. I wasn’t really dead.

(This is a lie.)

15)

At Okonjima for cheetahs, I was fascinated instead by the hornbills—those bills and casques! Female hornbills use their droppings to seal themselves into their nests. I did this too, when my wife was diagnosed, but I used an alarm system instead of poop. I’m doing it again, now, but I’m using perimeter lighting, as if shining sunbeams into my wife’s shadows will keep my marriage intact.

16)

My wife’s skin is numb, did I mention that? That’s how her spirit must have healed from all that trauma (PTSD), don’t you think, with a big old numb spot? On the outside of her, cut nerves sometimes go crazy, like a pain orchestra, a violin screech, a flute shrill. Yowey. When I lay beside her and trail my finger across her chest, through her armpit, across the skin near her arm on her back, she can’t feel a thing. Here? I say and she shakes her head. Nothing. Here? Still nothing. Here? Nope. Here? Kinda, sorta, not really.

Does anyone ever really heal after being pushed out of the nest? Things repair, things scar, we go on, but eventually, we find ourselves in free fall anew. Our beaks impale the ground so we’re stuck flapping upside down like cat-lollipops. All the old wounds break open, the old puncture holes (insect bites, that time we fell off our bikes, the tendonitis, the hernia) ooze. We’re all leaking pain. We’re all bloody oozers, in the end, aren’t we?

17)

One night as I lie beside my wife, her chest opens and I watch Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza. The acrobats use my wife’s ribs as tightropes; the contortionists bend double through her ribs and poke their heads back out, like Gumbies. The acrobat stacks chairs one atop another atop another atop another, and then climbs atop himself, fearless, while the chairs shake. I laugh aloud in pure childish glee, and my wife awakens, coughs, and resettles as the performer tumbles.

When he’s scurried away, I rest my cheek in my wife’s loss, my sudden weight causing her to panic and sit bolt upright. She rubs her eyes and peers at me. You have the imprint of a zipper on your cheek, she mumbles.

I reach up and touch the corrugations.

18)

I am at the “my this hurts” age, where “this” is really any body part you want to interject at random: ear, elbow, knuckle, knee, uterus. What relationship do I have to my pain? I find it hot like a combustion engine. I find it has very droopy eyes, and shoulders that slope. It sees me as prey, mostly, I’d guess, and comes at my heart with its little axe, cross-hatch, cross-hatch, like a Kite in the Serengeti dive-bombing to steal a sandwich from an unsuspecting tourist’s hands, talons gashing a cheek. What relationship do I want to have in the future with my pain? I want to be its gay divorcée.

19)

My wife drummed for a PSA a few weeks ago with a group of breast cancer survivors. A murder of breast cancer survivors, they freaked me out with their black feathers and cawing. I can’t handle what’s coming for them (for my wife). The prognosis for my wife’s breast cancer is good, but the last months she has had pain on swallowing, and the chant arrives in the rhythm of the children’s song: Eyes, ears, mouth and nose! Except for breast cancer mets it’s: Liver, lungs, breast and bone! I’m not sure what the song for infidelity is….okay, I am, but I can’t sing it here.

20)

Some nights my wife’s scar opens like Monet’s water lilies at L’Orangerie, a long wide strip of art that is all blue meditation and green silence.

Intending… to… heal, intones a monk in a saffron robe.

I must sit through my pain and gird my back. I must go into my pain and through and beyond my pain.

And come out into art.

My own rendition of my wife’s lost breast is sliced into sections and presented like upright pieces of toast, the tumour glowing in phosphorescence across five slides. Anatomical, direct, confrontational, weeping blood tears.

My Wife’s Breast, by Georgia O’Keefe: a striated red flower full of motion, a rib protruding at the nipple line. My Wife’s Breast, by Pablo Picasso: a spiral breast sprouting hair, a breast with an eye instead of a nipple, a tumour instead of his model’s head. My Wife’s Breast, by Emily Carr: breast as swirling dark tree, tumour as bird’s nest. My Wife’s Breast, by Savadore Dali: a breast sitting on a rib, melting, a clock face ticking down her remaining days. My Wife’s Breast, by Frieda Kahlo: my wife and I completely clothed, hand in hand, a large shadow to my wife’s left, our injuries showing through our t-shirts, a long red, swollen gash on my wife’s right side that pumps blood across a thick vein to my over-huge, engorged, arrhythmic heart while it pumps it back–a perfect silver tea service and a yellow bird in a cage of ribs to one side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Plain Sight: The Vanishing of Ellen Bass

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 11.52.38 PM

Ellen F Brown interviews poet Ellen Bass in this cogent interview from The Rumpus–it’s wonderful to catch up with her. Many of us spent our young adulthoods with the work of Ellen Bass, both by reading her lucid, conversational poems and via her books on child sexual abuse, I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse and The Courage to Heal.

Count me among the thousands helped by Ellen Bass’s work. Count me among the thousands touched by her poems in (older) and also her more recent collections Mules of Love, The Human Line, and Like a Beggar. Like me, Ellen Bass stopped writing poetry for a time and has reinvented herself as an older, seasoned writer who found the new writing world a quite changed place. I wish her continued success.

Read the interview here.

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 10.26.22 PM
Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 12.15.11 AM

The Body is Problematic over at Electric Literature

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 1.18.59 PM

There’s a great interview up at Electric Literature between Lidia Yuknavitch, author most recently of “The Small Backs of Children” and Anakana Schofield, author most recently of “Martin John.” Two of North America’s most kick-ass writers coming together to chat.

Enjoy it here.

Marilyn Hacker in conversation with Ashwaq Basnawi

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 11.40.41 PM

This year I re-read poet/editor/translator/reviewer Marilyn Hacker’s passionate sonnet sequence Love, Death and the Changing of the Seasons. I meant to have ordered her new collected, A Stranger’s Mirror: New and Selected Poems 1994-2014, but at the last moment I veered, preferring to replace what was a cherished text.

Now you can read Ashwaq Basnawi’s interview with Marilyn, here.

Colm Toibin and the Toil of Writing

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 2.38.23 AM

Colm Toibin on BBC Radio 4

Where to Submit in January 2016

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 12.36.52 AM

Angela Carr has put together a list of poetry competitions and submissions for January 2016 here.

Commonweath writers of first books can try their hands at the Deborah Rogers Foundation award here.

Aerogramme’s list is here.

Canadian authors of mysteries and thrillers can apply for the Vancouver Public Library 2016 residency here.

No Place for Self-Pity, No Room for Fear

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 6.55.14 PM

Visit The Nation for their 150th anniversary issue in pdf form, including this essay by Toni Morrison about the importance of art in a dark world.

No Place for Self-Pity

BC Books to Kick Start the Year

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 2.42.12 PM

Jane Eaton Hamilton; photo: Jen McFarlane

The Vancouver Sun ran this pic of me in Paris in conjuntion with Zoe Grams’ and Megan Jones‘ recommendation of the anthology This Place a Stranger: Canadian Women Traveling Alone (Caitlin Press). Thanks, Vancouver Sun!

BC Books to Kick Start the Year

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,038 other followers

%d bloggers like this: