Sunday, June 28, 2015

Poetry and Drawing at PRIDE

Here is a slideshow video I put together of all the photographs I took at A Divine Afternoon.


A 1min slideshow of all the pics from yesterday's A Divine Afternoon Urban Gallery hosted by Trasharella (Philip Philip...
Posted by Brenda Clews on Sunday, June 28, 2015



                      

Trasharella (Philip Cairns), 9" x 12", ©BrendaClews, A Divine Afternoon @ Urban Gallery in Honour of PRIDE, 27 June 2015, graphite and other media on Strathmore 400 Series acid free drawing paper.

My drawing of Trasharella yesterday while he read at a poetry event. Philip didn't like the drawing, or so he said when I showed him at the time. But I coloured it in anyhow today with water-soluble media that I wet with a brush. It is what it is.

I know I said that I would not be colouring these drawings anymore, and looking at the scans, I wonder if I could have better spent those hours (of colouring, wetting and working with a brush and scanning) doing something else.

This is the quick sketch I did of Trasharella in 2013, which Philip does very much like.



Saturday, June 27, 2015

Trasharella


Trasharella (Philip Cairns) - 27 June 2015 - changing after 'A Divine Afternoon,' a poetry salon in honour of Pride, at Urban Gallery in Toronto. Photo (taken and then photoshopped) copyright © by Brenda Clews.

I was originally 'in the mirror' taking the cell phone shot, but I removed myself and placed Philip/Trasharella, who were in transformation, there instead.

I like it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trailer for an Upcoming Videopoetry Performance



direct link: Trailer for Upcoming Videopoem Performance

A short trailer for my upcoming feature! I'm presenting and performing three of my videopoems at Shab-e She'r next Tuesday evening, June 30th. As a multi-media artist, I am very excited to be showing my craft- poems, art, dance, video. It's at 7pm, Beit Zatoum, 612 Markham St., Toronto (Bloor and Bathurst), cover: $5.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/911027915631459
__________________ 
The photo for the still is from a poetry event where I performed A Floral Opera and was taken by Josef Hochleitner. The Ink Ocean clips in the trailer are from that same performance, though the video has been given multiple visual 'treatments.'



Monday, June 22, 2015

She is still Untitled, but almost finished....


Untitled, work-in-progress, ©Brenda Clews 2015, 16" x 20", oil on canvas.

What I'm considering: toning down the blue lady on the right with a patina of white when she is dry; toning down that knee-shaped pillow (that echoes the saron lady's bent knee) or adding another pillow between them.

Otherwise, it is almost finished, finally.

This is a 'poem painting' and the title will be a line from one of my poems. This painting is a return to a love of paint, raw wild colour, mystical figures, a composition of depth and flatness, linear and with blocks of colour. Perhaps I should call it 'Before Conceptualism,' because that is what I am returning to.
___

 brendaclews.com

Saturday, June 20, 2015

More sketches of poets at readings around the city


Lorraine Gane @ The Art Bar


Margaret Christakos @ The Art Bar


Gianna Patriarca @ Vino Rosso


Gene Wong @ The Art Bar

About the only life drawing I am doing these days - I do enjoy sketching poets and musicians, if they're relatively still, that is! I've thrown out quite a few water-soluble colour ink drawings that did not work to my eye and I've decided to stick with a .9mm technical pencil with a B or 2B lead for now. (Though in Gianna's drawing I did add some fine black Pitt pen.)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Poems that Offer a Mythic Feast: A Review of Clara Blackwood's, 'Forecast'


Forecast by Clara Blackwood
Guernica Editions, Spring 2014
108 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN13: 9781550718195
ISBN10: 1550718193
English
$20.00 Canada, $20.00 US

Poems that Offer a Mythic Feast: A Review of Clara Blackwood's, 'Forecast'

by Brenda Clews

Clara Blackwood’s, Forecast, focuses on hidden, delitescent experience. The collection is like a tarot reading. The poems never fully reveal themselves. Across the five sections of the book, including one on the cards of the Major Arcana, we find references to what is dealt, the forces compelling the life of the poet. The poems seep with intuitions of a deeper reality underlying the normative one where “the ravine teems with life: /crows chase hawks, foxes hunt hares” and, more importantly, that “Each blade of grass /aware of itself. //The animal spirits from long ago /made an agreement. /The human imprint /has yet to unseat it.” (Local Pantheon, 27)

The poems in Forecast are from the perspective of the medium rather than the prophet, a Delphic oracle rather than a mystic eulogizing on divine experience. Being adept means perceiving that the order of things is dependent on what underlies the known, that the construction of reality is stranger than the normally perceived one. The way things are is arbitrary and could change at any moment. Forecast opens with the lines, “I believe a strange force field surrounds /the high rise I live in.” What turns the image of an impenetrable, invisible balustrade upside down is the next stanza: “It’s not a force field that protects, /but revs things up, frenetic.” (The White Tower, 13) In ‘Glasgow —> Iceland —> Toronto’:
I glance at the woman beside me
reading the paper:
Ash cloud chaos hits UK.
She doesn’t look nervous
or alarmed that disorder’s taken reign. (54)
In the poem from which the title of the collection is drawn, ‘Forecast’ (24), we find all these elements: an unpredictability of the weather, both inner and outer, a Surreality in images of falling ‘shellfish,’ ‘pink hailstones,’ ‘birds migrating in reverse.’ The worldly ego cannot order this reality. The poem is an incantation, a spell that holds ‘the torch to illuminate the darkness’:
The weather ahead is unpredictable.

Shellfish could fall from the skies,
summer and winter
congeal.

You may find love,
or spite. Always ambivalence.

There are wind patterns you don’t understand,
pink hailstones and midnight at noon.
Total solar eclipse,
birds migrating in reverse.

You believe there is a way
to distil chaos; that you could recover
a torch to illuminate the darkness,
pinpoint a light source
brighter than Andromeda.

If you just knew how to begin.
The underworld of the unconscious is a strange and sometimes dangerous world with treasures for anyone willing to explore the depths. The journey and persona of the poems in Forecast reminded me of Demeter searching for herself in the underworld. And, in fact, Blackwood says in an interview with George Fetherling in Poetry Primer #7: “I liken my enmeshment with poetry to the Persephone archetype. She was a naive maiden like myself until Hades (the dark muse) chose her against her will and took her to the underworld. The underworld here being the unconscious where poetic inspiration is drawn.”

Forecast is an illuminated feast where mythic worlds reign and their intersections with the concrete world of not just objects but social organization can be intuited through strange co-incidences and through being open to the forces, and to understanding their power. Reading signs in the personal tableau of memory, experience, thought, world-view, perspective is beholding our own painting as it is being painted. Blackwood writes, “What binds me together are ciphers, /scratched in the fabric /of now.” (Two Kinds of Blue, 36)


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

More photos from my upcoming videopoetry live performance on June 30th

   

   

Especially for those of you working in video or considering video for your writing, you might try to make it to this presentation because you will find it interesting and it will spark so many ideas for your own work!

Here are more images from my 'Ink Ocean' videopoem that I will be showing *and* performing live at Shab-e S'her on Tues evening June 30th (Beit Zatoum 612 Markham St). Bänoo asked for political poems, and this one is on oil spills... oil, ink... The other pieces I will be performing with video are 'Threnody in Clay' and 'A Floral Opera,' plus a couple of short bonus pieces, and performing 'Split Mask' in the mask... all videos shot and edited by me (sometimes I use images from the Internet Archives with full credits). I hope it will be an evening to remember.

Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/911027915631459/

Monday, June 08, 2015

Preparing for an upcoming feature performance...


A photo from one of the performance videos I am working on for my poetry feature at Shab-e S'her on June 30th, a Tuesday, at Beit Zatoum 612 Markham St (near Bloor and Bathurst). Been busy preparing for this upcoming feature - I will be doing about half an hour of poetry, some with masks, most with video.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/911027915631459/

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Transit Drawings

   

A couple of small quick Transit Drawings (done on the subway). 5.5" x 8", graphite, Pitt art pens, Strathmore toned gray sketch paper acid free.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Attended the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Readings


The 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Readings last night at Koerner Hall (each writer gets $10,000. for being shortlisted, the books translated share the money) – Shane Book, Eleanor Goodman and Wang Xiaoni, Marek Kazmierski and Wioletta Greg, Michael Longley, Jane Munro, Spencer Reece and Russell Thornton - was magnifico! Saw quite a few poets from the Toronto poetry scene there - which was wonderful. The reception afterwards was a lot of fun too, thanks Quattro Books - who have a book shortlisted - The Hundred Lives by Russell Thornton (I'll be writing a review of his book). The readings were top notch, and who is going to win will be a difficult decision for the judges, who narrowed down this year's shortlist from a submission of 500 poetry books from Canadian publishers. Took the photo with my iPhone without realizing I shouldn't have (my bad), but I did get permission to post it.

2015-anthology


I also bought, The Griffin Poetry Prize 2015 Anthology (edited by Tim Bowling, published by House of Anansi Press), a collection of a few poems by each of the authors shortlisted. Royalties from The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology are donated to UNESCO’s World Poetry Day, created to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression, and to offer endangered languages the opportunities to be heard in their communities.


Monday, June 01, 2015

May 2015 Poetry Salon: photos and video

Was brillyg, our Poetry and Music Salon! We did gyre and gimble at Urban Gallery! I'd like to thank our features, Kath MacLean and Joani Paige, for their poems, songs, for sharing so deeply with us their oeuvre, their work, beautiful and gutsy and more than a wonderful way to spend time on a Saturday afternoon. The open mic list was lit with light. This city has so much talent! I am so privileged to be able to gather some of that talent in one room for an afternoon of poetry and music. I'd like to thank Feng Zhou, Jim McCuaig, Norman Bethune Allan, Charles Taylor, Stedmond Pardy, Jeff Cottrill, Harry Briggs, John Charles Daly, and Bänoo Zan for sharing a portion of their oeuvre - a frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! [S]He chortled in joy!

Bryllyg
 (derived from the verb to bryl or broil) -the time of broiling dinner, i.e., the close of the afternoon. (Lewis Carroll’s definition)

Frabjous -wonderful, elegant, superb, or delicious.
Callooh! Callay! -are exclamations of joy and are equivalent to 'hurrah' and 'hooray'.

Check out the Picasa album: Poetry Salons at Urban Gallery for everyone's names.

                                                 




direct link: May 2015 Poetry Salon

A video of the afternoon. The order of appearance. At YouTube, if you click on the time the video should start at that person's piece. Otherwise, move the playhead to the person you'd like to hear.

1. Feng Zhou 0:50
2. Jim McCuaig 5:30
3. Norman Allan 14:37
4. Jeff Cottrill 19:52
5. Charles Taylor 23:51
6. Stedmond Pardy 30:55
7. Brenda Clews 37:38
8. Kath MacLean 40:20
9. John Charles Daly 1:17:43
10. Harry Briggs 1:23:50
11. Bänoo Zan 1:30:31
12. Joani Paige 1:35:17

[The intro and ending need some theme music - it has to be entirely free, a gift, and forever, no turning it into a track and posting on CD Baby or iTunes or anywhere commercial because then I get hit with a copyright violation and ads get slapped on videos that I have worked long and hard on even if the original agreement with the musician was Creative Commons Licensed - please note: I make no money from organizing and hosting Salons or from the photos and videos I offer as mementos of these events.]

KATH MACLEAN Is a Toronto multi - media artist and educator. She writes poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, critical reviews, performance poetry, drama & film and has performed her work throughout Canada and the United States. Her most recent work is Kat Among the Tigers (2011), poetry based on the journals & correspondence of Katherine Mansfield, & its accompanying poetryvideo, Doo-Da-Doo-Da, which won her the “Best of Fest” at its first national & international screening. Inspired by the writing of Robert Kroetsch, MacLean’s poetry was short- listed for the Robert Kroetsch Innovative Poetry Award in 2012, the same year she received the inaugural Anne Green Award for her excellence & innovation in film, poetry, & performance. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Mackie House for Kalamalka Press, and she is the current WIR at the Al Purdy A-frame in Ameliasburgh.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist, JOANI PAIGE, captures audiences with passionate performances of acoustic alternative, rock, blues, roots and a hint of the psychedelic, weaving tales with a little grit, a little class and a lot of heart.

"A whiskey huskey twang on target with a big city muse", JoAnne Light

Along the way Joani has received numerous awards including a nomination for Best Unreleased Song of the Year in Nashville, FACTOR, NXNE performance, and Finalist on FM96 ONTracks. She has appeared on TV as well as a song on Biker TV, vocals in a rock opera, music in art video(s) by award winning artist, Tony Miller, internet radio airplay, on charts in Germany, airplay for several songs, contributions as vocalist/writer/producer on other's projects (including a techno house project), as well as live performances. She has almost 200 songs to date and continues to write. Her travels and experiences have brought her to share the stage and studio with many talented musicians/artists/writers/actors.

When not on the musical stage Joani can be found acting, writing a novel "The Beautiful Crazies", or basking in art and nature at Bliss Studio........... and, of course, writing new tunes.

_____________
hosted and videoed by Brenda Clews - http://brendaclews.com

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where Sadness is Not Mute: A Review of Pablo Valdivia’s, ‘Breathing Underwater’



Pablo Valdivia, Breathing Underwater
translated from the Spanish by Ross Woods
Guernica Editions, Fall 2014
102 pages
Trade Paperback
ISBN13: 9781550718799
ISBN10: 1550718797>
English
Translated from the Spanish
$20.00 Canada, $20.00 US


Where Sadness is Not Mute: A Review of Pablo Valdivia’s, ‘Breathing Underwater’
by Brenda Clews

A stranger. What does the stranger feel? In this book, Valdivia writes from what it feels like. A nomad writing about the alienated self. Minimal poems, bare traceries of the consciousness passing through the landscape of another land that is not home. Home is “the bosom of the olive piles…that burst with happiness.” (The Valley, 31) London, by contrast, “is dying /from the melancholy.” (53) Leaving home is perhaps a broken love affair: “There is a heaviness which lives in the skin /and reopens wounds… //Have patience that time /will leave the path /of misfortune clear /and with its light it will cure the pain”: (Recollection, 21)
This was loneliness.
The coldness of silence
whispering in the bones,
the infinite prison
from which none escape. (Loneliness, 61)
Pablo Valdivia’s, Breathing Underwater (translated by Ross Woods from the Spanish), is a sparse melancholic meditation on alienation and loneliness and the anxiety and pain which accompanies the isolation of the stranger in a strange land. The tenor of the imagery is consistent. Everything, the landscape, the locale, is described only in ways that express the emotional trauma of separation and the isolation of the poet: “The room waits, its keyhole / dormant, until a voice awakens it.” (Doors, 19)

Emptiness lies at the heart of these poems. “Everything returns and perishes.” (Everything Returns, 35). The poet watches lovers kiss underwater, "their lips" pouring "bubbles of happiness," and responds, "I would like to submerge myself /near their hope forever, /so that pain would finally float /away from my smile." (The Swimmers, 23) Many of the poem in this collection describe a stagnation of the poet's joy in life while in a foreign and lonely landscape. As he listens to an evocation of the sea in "River" (59), he sees faces in the clouds who fight through the water and says, "They are like my memories /illusions that tame the current."

Perhaps the collection is a lament for a broken love, the loss of a relationship, or the poet longing for home in an alien land, the lover being Spain itself. This is left deliberately unclear in the poems. He is adrift in a new locale, where he has no community, has not created friendships yet. He is the watcher who does not participate except as a poet grappling with his own feelings of loneliness. Valdivia's writing could be called nomadic, in the Deleuzian sense, but it not post-colonial writing and does not deal with exile, discrimination, race, colour or creed. He is Spanish, living in London, clearly is fluent in English, and, as we learn from his bio, now lives in Amsterdam, where he is a Professor of Spanish Literature at the University of Amsterdam.

I was initially drawn to the collection by the sparse beauty of the poems that were read at the Guernica launch in Toronto in 2014. On a closer read, though, I find that the poems do not seem to grapple with the attitudes of the writer, and that there is little contradiction in the perspective of the poems. This left me feeling that the collection slides over difficulties in the subjective stance of the poetic voice. I was missing a depth that I expected the collection as a whole to have because I thought it would include contradictions to the main voice, echoes of other stances, moments of joy that interfere with the overall sombre tone.

The poem from which the title of the book is drawn:
I submerge myself in the
hopeless evenings
of the first days
of Spring.

Light is a sound
of bodies that walk in the distance,
of illusions that live in houses.

Night begins
to suffocate me relentlessly.

Day has a pulse as difficult and strange
as breathing underwater. Cold.
Meanwhile loneliness writes
my name in the air.

(Breathing Underwater, 25)
Valdivia is outside the outside, coiled within. The fog of London, his melancholia; a visitor, his room a glasshouse of the lonely. In the poems, which are sparse and quite beautiful, sadness is not mute, but, rather, described as carefully as a stranger might map his locale in new territory. Breathing Underwater is an anatomy of a specific sadness. The focus is on the poet's difficulties with his transposition to a foreign country. All images of his new landscape represent his inner feelings of loss, of being cut-off from others, from home. In this way, the collection has a more passionate undercurrent, one might say a more Spanish feel, than we might normally be used to with our English emotional tautness.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May Poetry Salon this Saturday afternoon!


On Saturday afternoon, May 30th, 2:30-5pm, I am hosting another wonderful Poetry Salon at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St E (just west of Parliament) in Toronto. This month features poet Kath MacLean and musician/song writer Joani Paige. There are 8-10 open mic spots of 5 min each and all forms of writing are welcome, as well as music. The Salon is free, but we do pass-the-hat for the features. Hot apple cider and mineral water provided by Urban Gallery. It's always a warm, convivial, supportive and very talented afternoon and I would love you to come out and enjoy a marvellous afternoon and perhaps share a poem, short story or song of your own.

We have two features this month:

KATH MACLEAN Is a Toronto multi-media artist and educator. She writes poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, critical reviews, performance poetry, drama and film and has performed her work throughout Canada and the United States. Her most recent work is Kat Among the Tigers (2011), poetry based on the journals and correspondence of Katherine Mansfield, and its accompanying poetryvideo, Doo-Da-Doo-Da, which won her the “Best of Fest” at its first national and international screening. Inspired by the writing of Robert Kroetsch, MacLean’s poetry was short-listed for the Robert Kroetsch Innovative Poetry Award in 2012, the same year she received the inaugural Anne Green Award for her excellence and innovation in film, poetry, and performance. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Mackie House for Kalamalka Press, and she is the current WIR at the Al Purdy A-frame in Ameliasburgh.

Singer/songwriter/guitarist, JOANI PAIGE, captures audiences with passionate performances of acoustic alternative, rock, blues, roots and a hint of the psychedelic, weaving tales with a little grit, a little class and a lot of heart.

"A whiskey huskey twang on target with a big city muse", JoAnne Light.

Along the way Joani has received numerous awards including a nomination for Best Unreleased Song of the Year in Nashville, FACTOR, NXNE performance, and Finalist on FM96 ONTracks. She has appeared on TV as well as a song on Biker TV, vocals in a rock opera, music in art video(s) by award winning artist, Tony Miller, internet radio airplay, on charts in Germany, airplay for several songs, contributions as vocalist/writer/producer on other's projects (including a techno house project), as well as live performances. She has almost 200 songs to date and continues to write. Her travels and experiences have brought her to share the stage and studio with many talented musicians/artists/writers/actors.

When not on the musical stage Joani can be found acting, writing a novel "The Beautiful Crazies", or basking in art and nature at Bliss Studio........... and, of course, writing new tunes.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Simple sketch to test Pitt oil-based pencils


A simple sketch to test some Pitt Faber Castell oil-based pencils, soft and hard black, sanguine and sepia. In my Moleskine poetry journal. Small, 4"x3".

Thursday, May 21, 2015

'Words on Water, the Humber River Poetry Walk'

This walk is part of the Lost Rivers exploration in Toronto: http://lostrivers.ca. These photos are from, 'Words on Water, the Humber River Poetry Walk' last Saturday afternoon (May 16th). Yah, poets on the Humber River! A perfect afternoon!

We walked, and then stopped a pre-designated spots for poetry readings. Raymond Souster lived near the Humber River and some poems were read that were written by him on the river. Lucy Maud Montgomery also lived by the Humber, and extracts from her diaries were read. The organizers had done this walk late last Fall and each had written poems, and they read them at various stopping places. The river came to us in many moods and through many images in the poetry. It was all quite wonderful, indeed.

               

2. Hogweed - if this touches your skin, a nasty rash (with boils 'n stuff) that can be reactivated by sunlight up to 12 years after the initial exposure. Way too much of it along the Humber...

3. That mark of waves on the bridge... how high the waters flowed during Hurricane Hazel in 1954!
___

 brendaclews.com