Jane Eaton Hamilton

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle…" Einstein

Wordpeace … it’s new

 IMG_2475painting: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2015


It is Canada Day, also known as Turtle Island Day. There is a Truth and Reconciliation Report, and we are glad, but no inquiry, still, on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

There’s a new litmag in town called Wordpeace from writer and editor Lori Derosiers. May we soon find peace in all corners of the world.

Lori included a poem of mine written during NaPoWri Mo in 2014. Turtle Island Day seems a good time to run it.

Tar Sands Hotel and Spa

LWBITS review

Love will Burst

Always a celebratory day for me when one of my books gets a great review. Here’s Julie R. Enszer writing for Lambda Literary, reviewing ‘Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes’ and Judith Barrington’s ‘The Conversation.’

Lambda Literary

Thanks, Lambda Literary and Julie R Enszer.

Blog post up at Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s site


photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2006

Gail Anderson-Dargatz and I have known each other since she published her first book, ‘The Cure for Death by Lightning.’ She invited me to write a blog post on our favourite topic, the ins and outs of being writers. When you’re having a peak, notice she’s got blog posts up from many, many writers on all sorts of writerly topics.

“Losing the flow, for me, is a calamitous writer’s block.” Jane Eaton Hamilton

The Adequate Writer: On Writing Intensives


Cede Poetry: The Script

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There’s a new kid in town, the poetry lit mag Cede. I have a poem in the first issue along with Patrick Lane, Heather Spears, Alice Major and many other Canadian poets. Have a look.

Cede Poetry

The Adequate Writer: Rejection Slips We Have Known and Hated

JEHhand3sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2006

The de-code:

Thank you for sending your work.  It was not suitable for our publication.

Are you fucking kidding us?  You spent $3 at Submittable to send us this?  Giggles all around.

We were pleased to read your work for issue X.  However, we’re sorry to say it was not what we are looking for at this time.

Or any other fucking time since the Big Bang.

(Really.  Long walk, your work in your hand.  Short pier.)

We at X would be pleased to publish your work, however this piece is just too avant garde for us. 

Lesbian.  (Also, what do you guys actually do in bed?)

We published a story very similar to this one just last issue. 

We have a queer-quota and you have surpassed it.  We are so glad we used it up before this landed on our desks.

The editors thank you for submitting this work, but are sorry it is not for us. We know you will understand that the volume of work submitted precludes a more personal reply. 

No, it really doesn’t.  But wtf, we hate your piece and we have to say that somehow.







Writers and painters


sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

In 2013, Janet Malcolm published ‘Forty-One False Starts.’ Here she is thinking about and talking to UK artist David Salle about making art:

“Writers have traditionally come to painters’ ateliers in search os aesthetic succor. To the writer, the painter is a fortunate alter ego, an embodiment of the sensuality and exteriority that he has abjured to pursue his invisible, odorless calling. The writer comes to the places where traces of making art can actually be seen and smelled and touched expecting to be inspired and enabled, possibly even cured. While I was interviewing the artist David Salle, I was coincidentally writing a book that was giving me trouble, and although I cannot pin it down exactly (and would not want to), in his studio something clarifying and bracing did filter down to my enterpirse. He was a good influence. But he was also a dauntingly productive artist, and one day, as I walked into the studio and caught a glimpse of his new work, I blurted out my envious feelings. In the month since we last met,he had produced four large, complex new paintings, which hung on the walls in galling aplomb–while I had written maybe ten pages I wasn’t sure I would keep. To my surprise, instead of uttering a modest disclaimer or reassuring words about the difference between writing and painting, Salle flushed and became defensive. His detractors point to his lauge output as another sign of his lightweightness. “They hold it up as further evidence that the work is glib and superficial,” Salle said.

“If work comes easily, it is suspect.”

“But it doesn’t come easily. I find it extremely difficult. I feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall… When I work, I feel that I’m doing everything wrong. I feel that it can’t be this hard for other people. I feel that everyone else has figured out a way to do it that allows him an effortless, charmed ride through life, while I have to stay in this horrible pit of a room, suffering …

“I just realized something,” I said. “Everyone who writes or paints or performs is defensive about everything. I’m defensive about not working fast enough.


Julian Barnes writes about grief


sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

Julian Barnes on grief:

“I do not believe I shall ever see her again.  Never see, hear, touch, embrace, listen to, laugh with; never again wait for her footstep, smile at the sound of an opening door, fit her body into mine, mine into hers.  Nor do I believe we shall meet in some dematerialised form. I believe dead is dead…
I remember, sharply, last things.  The last book she read.  The last play (and film, and concert, and opera, and art exhibition) that we went to together. The last wine she drank, the last clothes she bought.  The last weekend away.  The last bed we slept in that wasn’t ours.  The last this, the last that.  The last piece of my writing that made her laugh. The laat words she wrote herself; the last time she signed her name.  The last piece of music I played her when she came home.  Her last complete sentence.  Her last spoken word.” (from “Levels of Life”)

Eudora Welty reads Why I Live at the P.O.


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One of my favourite Welty stories. You can’t watch this one with its You Tube florid green screen, but you can listen to the master’s delicious voice:

Eudora Welty reads Why I live at the P.O.

Eudora Welty reads A Worn Path

Here she is talking to Gore Vidal:

Eudora Welty interviewed by Gore Vidal

Here is information about her photography career:

Eudora Welty, photographer

Rare Simone de Beauvoir interview, 1975

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“In the 1975 interview above with French journalist Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber—“Why I’m a Feminist”—De Beauvoir picks up the ideas of The Second Sex, which Servan-Schreiber calls as important an “ideological reference” for feminists as Marx’s Capital is for communists.”

de Beauvoir



“Dala seem bound for a loftier place where substance stands equal to style.”
– The Irish Times

Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine of Dala write and sing in harmony best described as angelic. These two best friends met in their high school music class in 2002; they have since released five albums and toured extensively across North America. Darlings of the Canadian music scene, Dala are now poised to bring their fresh brand of acoustic pop music to the world.

Drawing upon influences like The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, Dala write songs that are both catchy and insightful. Amanda’s ethereal soprano voice blends seamlessly with Sheila’s velvety alto, creating the lush harmonies that have become their trademark.

Best Day

Review of Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes

Love will Burst

Esther Griffin, a student in the optional residency MFA at UBC and an English teacher in ON, has generously reviewed the book for Prism where, as she notes, I twice won the fiction prize. Someone was just asking me with what stories:  Sperm King and Goombay Smash.

Prism review


Was This Review Helpful to You?

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Have some fun.  Rebecca Makkai sends up starred reviews on Ploughshares.


Dear 13 year old me


sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton (after Picasso) 2014

Dear You;

I hate to break it to you, but binding is not going to push them back in. Someday you will live in a world where you get to decide, but you won’t be young by then and you’ll think those resources should go to younger people (and you’ll be right).

Don’t smoke.

Your home life is not gonna improve, but you will get out of there.  A long time from now there will be a campaign speerheaded by queers as old as you’ll then be called “It Gets Better” and they won’t be wrong. From the day you get turfed out of there, things will improve little by little.

Find older women whose work in the world you admire, and study their contributions. Mentors and models. Go be with them and figure out how to learn from them and emulate them. Especially learn how they didn’t get sidetracked by love and family–figure it out for you.

You will be so surprised that all the studies about animals in university were pretty much bang on wrong, just as you insisted they were. Perservere. Get at least one PhD and then do what you want to do–investigate animal communication/inter-species communications. Someday there will be people unlocking prairie dog and parrot communications.

I am not lying. This will really happen. Animals will become non-human persons in your lifetime. You will meet Jane Goodall.

You are going to get sick, really seriously sick, young, before you’re 30, because you lost a genetic lottery, and don’t believe them when they say (every year) that you’ll be dead inside the year. Don’t be ashamed and embarrassed at being sick. You are, and that’s just that. It will circumscribe your life in hard, painful ways that are not fair. But get on with things.

Don’t fuck boys because you will never be into that shit.

Know that pretty much everything society tells you about religion and social strata and race and poverty and intelligence and capitalism and women and reproduction and homosexuality are wrong. And oh yeah: Feminism is the best thing to happen to women ever. It has a million shapes and pretty early on you’ll find the one that’s right for you.

Find your people.

Your people will get human rights within your lifetime. You will have something to do with that. You’ll grow up to help change the constitution of a country.

Don’t couple with assaholics.  (And yes, I do mean her. Walk away. Don’t look back.)

Enjoy your babies. You’ll be a great Adequate Mom.

You won’t be stopped because you’re sick.  You’ll still do a lot of things remarkably well. You’ll publish a lot of books. You’ll write like a motherfucker.

Starting now, though, before you get sick:

Dance your fucking heart out–take every kind of classes out there. Smell a lot of fucking roses. Double up on your laughing. Fight for the environment. Fight for animal rights. Don’t eat meat. Travel widely (there is such a big other side). Find your mentors. Study like hell. Go to see even more art.

Don’t be chary with admiration and compassion. Don’t be chary with gratitude. Fight like hell to change the bad things. Take time to celebrate the good ones.

And know this:  You were right about a lot of things, a scary number of things. I’d call you wise, 13-year-old, and you’ll get even wiser.



Gender, blah, blah, blah

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Katherine Angel writes beautifully on gender and publishing for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Gender, blah, blah, blah

Bad News from Canada’s Writers’ Union



sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2013

Today the Writers’ Union of Canada, of which I first became a member in the 1980s, released the results of a recent survey:

“writers in Canada are making 27% less from their writing than they were making in 1998 (when last surveyed to this extent). What’s more, a full 45% of those surveyed indicated they are working harder in order to earn that lower amount.”

Furthermore, Canadian women writers earn only about half of what their male peers earn.

Survey Results

Quill and Quire–women earn less

The Commitment

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photograph: Jane Eaton Hamilton, clematis, 2015

The following flash fiction was published in Ocho, and nominated for a Pushcart:

It is lightly spitting. Lisa says she is unreliable, and that she sleeps with her exes whenever they contact her, both women, her favourites, and men, even though she is scarcely interested in them, even when she doesn’t particularly want to, and that in her professional life and in her friendships she is extremely reliable, and that she depends on her own reliability in these areas to bring her satisfaction and pleasure and self-esteem, and that her unreliability in love affairs causes her to be ashamed of herself, but she laughs as she says this, as if underneath her shame she is proud, proud to be ashamed, but then she sobers, ashamed to be proud, and Karen says that if this bothers her, she must change, the way that if smoking bothers her, she must quit, or at least understand that not quitting means increasing symptoms of COPD when already she is coughing badly. Karen understands that she is not impartial; she has a stake in this; she cannot stand the smoke, and she has wondered if it would be possible or advisable to love Lisa. Lisa wishes she already were those things, a non-smoker and a reliable lover, but she does not want to go through the process of becoming them. She would feel trapped if she were reliable, she says; she would take no risks at all and her life would shrivel like a man’s testicles. After all, she does tell her lovers that she is unreliable, and this single fact should get her off the hook, she thinks. Perhaps, however, she does not mention this soon enough, or in the right manner, because her lovers become hurt, and then refuse to see her at all. And she does not want to quit smoking at all—she has tried and it is not within the realm of the possible. Lisa and Karen are lovers; they have had sex once, and so Karen thinks Lisa is giving her a warning. She is not certain why she slept with Lisa, other than that she was there, and asked, and it had been a while. During the sex, she kept stopping them, saying, I would have liked to have considered this before I did it. I would like to know whether I want to be here, or I am just here by default, the trains stopped running, you needed to stay over. We should stop, go to sleep. But then they wouldn’t stop, they would start again, and so on throughout the night which was not mitigated by alcohol or drugs. She thinks she slept with Lisa in the way that Lisa sleeps with her ex-male lovers. Here is a chocolate. Eat the chocolate. Here is a woman. During this description of Lisa’s love life, which is now in some sense also Karen’s love life, it continues to rain. After Lisa has finished talking, and fallen silent, it is still raining, but a little harder, and they hurry towards cover.

Half a Baby

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sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

I recorded a new poem for Sound Cloud this morning.  ‘Half a Baby’ from Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes.


A Night of Art and Anti-Art


sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

I’m very excited that one of my blog posts got reprinted at The Tavern Lantern.  Have a read.

Analyzing the big prizes: do books about women win?

Georgia copy

sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton, Georgia O’Keefe, 2013

Nicola Griffith from Seattle analyzed some big awards and concluded that books about women and girls do not win them.  Furthermore, if women win, they are generally writing about men or boys.

Nicola Griffith

H E Francis story competition


photo: primula, Jane Eaton Hamilton 2015

I’m pleased that I made it to the long list of the H E Francis Award with my story ‘The Storm Chasers,’ a dystopian lesbian romance!

H E Francis winners


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