Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Birthday @ the Art Bar Poetry Series Carries Its Risks!

direct link: Happy Bday
Featuring at the Art Bar Poetry Series on your birthday carries its risks. Love ❤️ Love ❤️  Love ❤️  Many thanks for all the beautiful birthday wishes!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Open Book Interview on Tidal Fury

Somehow, I missed the publication of this Open Book interview with me on Tidal Fury last October. I just found it. Many thanks to Open Book!

As it was posted 5 months ago, I think to share the whole interview here.


The In Character interview, with Brenda Clews

Brenda Clews is the author of Tidal Fury (Guernica Editions), a narrative collection that is part love story, part examination of identity, and part exploration of power, mythology, and obsession. Illustrated by Brenda's original artwork, Tidal Fury was been called a "richly layered, challenging collection" by John Oughton, author of Time Slip.
We welcome Brenda to Open Book today as part of our In Character interview series, speaking to her about the nameless narrator of Tidal Fury. She tells us about Tidal Fury's unique structure, the mechanics of poetic internal dialogue, and the writerly self vs. the everyday social self.

Open Book:
Tell us about the main character in your new book. 

Brenda Clews:

The main character of Tidal Fury is the speaking voice, a narrator whose wild, untamed poetry and poetic utterances carve her existence into being. Does she exist outside the text in which she is embedded? She limns a coming-to-being, a poet in the process of creating a self that can speak the deeper poetries that compose and uncompose the self.


Some writers feel characters take on a "life of their own" during the writing process. Do you agree with this, or is a writer always in control?


Tidal Fury has a somewhat unique structure for a book of poetry. It has an almost hallucinated narrative structure. In these ‘memoirs of an imaginal life’ (Braille), interweaving stories of two fluid but recognizable characters appear: the Monsieur, and an aged woman with a white face, black hair and lurid red lipstick. One is an absent lover the narrator converses with – but we only hear her voice in the conversations with him. The other is an older narcissist woman the poet grapples with. Both characters develop through the text. They are each stories that unfold through the intertwining of styles of writing; neither appear as subjects with speaking voices. Both relationships undergo change in the book. Nothing is static in Tidal Fury. And there is the figure of the Medusa, who also undergoes transformation throughout the text – from a terrifying traditional mythic figure (Spectre), she becomes a powerful, if dangerous, symbol for creativity (Muse).
Tidal Fury explores subjectivity in the fluid self-portraits that emerge. The text suggests that we are speaking subjects who cannot look upon ourselves. We can only see our reflections in various mirrors, literal and symbolic. In an oceanic text, boundaries between self and other, self and the vast interior landscapes of thought and passion are intermeshed and fluid. The book is an interweaving of poetry, prose poetry, prose, letters, journal entries and theory. Drawings and paintings are also attached to various pieces and are interspersed throughout the book. In the subjectivity of the self-in-creation, a ‘style composed of styles’ emerged to embody the pulses of enfleshed thought, the utterance, the poetic that informs Tidal Fury.


How do you choose names for your characters?


All the characters in Tidal Fury are nameless. The poet or narrator who ultimately discovers a voice, a poetry, is envisioned as a self who “blossoms” even in the “night” (Night Blossom). The Monsieur, a figure “outside the writing for whom the writing” was written, was conceived as a literary device and then the narrator discovers she knows him intimately (Grammars). The figure who wears black with flashes of red the colour of blood, whose derision is a form of entrapment (Entrap) also remains nameless. Questions of power -- power under, power over, empowerment -- stalk the relationships the poet-narrator has with the characters.


What is your approach to crafting dialogue, particularly for your main character? Do you have any tips about writing dialogue for aspiring and emerging writers? 


As a book of poetry, of styles of poetries, the dialogue between characters in Tidal Fury is internal, expressions of the central life force of the writing voice. As a book of essentially lyric poetry, the dialogue is always with the self and the other. We are over-hearing deep psychic processes expressed in imageries and almost hallucinated events that occur on horizons everywhere. When there is dialogue, it is implied rather than overtly spoken. This is a different approach to character-building than would be found in novels or novellas, but as valid given the interior monologues that poetry inclines towards.


Do you have anything in common with your main character? What parts of yourself do you see in him or her, and what is particularly different?


The main character in Tidal Fury, the poet narrator, is certainly an aspect of myself, of a writerly self who is distinct from my everyday social self. Tidal Fury grapples, amid the complexity of what composes the self, with ‘who’ is writing when we create our poetries: “Who haunts us from within? / Who is writing? / Surely not our speaking voice.” (Writings of Who) 


Who are some of the most memorable characters you've come across as a reader?


A collage of characters appears when I face this question as it erupts in my memories of the continuum of the text. The poetic voice in Tidal Fury is composed of multiple approaches and separating them back out from the meshing trajectories would be almost impossible. How do you explain a gesture here, the glance of an eye there, a phrase from the totality of a book, a slight mannerism that found its way into a few words? Many fragments of characters slip like negatives through the imagery and its patterns in Tidal Fury, too obscure and too numerous to pin properly. 


What are you working on now?


Currently, I am working on a prose poetry novella.
Brenda Clews is an African-Canadian multi-media poet, artist and videographer whose approach broaches poetry, painting, theory, dance, recordings and video. Her oeuvre focuses on multiple callings, the obsessive muse. She has been a featured poet at a number of venues and organizes and hosts monthly Poetry & Music Salons in Toronto. LyricalMyrical published her chapbook, the luminist poems, in 2013. Born in a small mining town in Zimbabwe, Brenda currently lives in Toronto.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Tidal Fury Features this Year

Lovely to see Tidal Fury on the shelves at Indigo (Bloor and Bay)! I signed them. A bunch of features are lined up in Toronto this Spring and I am gearing up to perform from Tidal Fury for you and, I hope, to entertain, elevate and inspire you all!
  • March 21 @ Hot-Sauced Words, 7:30-10:00pm, The Supermarket, 268 Augusta Ave., Kensington Market
  • April 29 @ Poetry and Music Salons, a longer, more intense set, 2-4pm, Palmerston Library Theatre, 260 Palmerston Ave
  • September 2nd @ Words and Music Salon, 1:30-4:30pm, location TBA.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Process: Close Up Portraits of Three Women

direct link: Close Up Portraits of Three Women: the process

During the months working on these small portraits, I took photos, and one video, along the way. Thought it would be fun to collect them in a single slideshow video.

From the sketches to the finished paintings, portraits I painted of Bänoo Zan (poet), Isabel Fryszberg (musician/painter) & a Self-Portrait. Each is 20"x16”x1.5”, oil on canvas. ©Brenda Clews 2017.

Music: Lena Selyanina.

Sidenote: I found this interesting. It is from Sep 20th, 2016, showing a photo of an early Autumn leaf by Dave Bonta and my portrait of Bänoo, which was almost finished. Bänoo is a fiery poet and the colours that arose in the shadows of her face echo a leaf on fire (these photographs a co-incidental pairing on Tweetdeck, the Twitter app I use).

Monday, January 16, 2017

View from Robarts Library

The literary world has its own intrigues, passions, blasts and blessings. There's always a story, and there is one with my novella, Fugue in Green, which was languishing and now, suddenly, is slated for publication this Fall 2017. I have 6 weeks to do edits and revisions. I haven't read the ms since I submitted it in 2015. Hit Robarts Library yesterday and finished reading it and making some changes by closing time. It goes for a literary edit in a few weeks, so I have to work on the changes and additions I think it needs now, and then, after it's edited, I will work madly on it again. Here is my lovely view from the library at sunset. Note Hart House down there. (This post about the view, not the panicked lady behind it! Lol!)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pen & ink drawing of Luciano Iacobelli

A rather raw pen and ink sketch of Luciano Iacobelli in preparation for a portrait painting.  ©Brenda Clews, 9"x12", pen and ink on Strathmore 140lb watercolour paper.

Luciano, Rocco and I are doing a triple book launch on Wednesday, January 18th:

A literary ménage à trois of poetry: Luciano Iacobelli, The Examined Life; Rocco De Giacomo, Every Night of Our Lives; and Brenda Clews, Tidal Fury. It'll be a fantastic evening, first at Bar Italia, where we will each read while you drink and eat and enjoy and of course, buy books and then the evening will continue as a party at a nearby location. Do join us for an evening of fine and sometimes raucous poetry.

 Hosted by Dominic Capilongo. Live music by Ian Burgham and friends.


Monday, January 09, 2017

'The Child is Father of the Man' (Wordsworth)

'The Child is Father of the Man,' (Wordsworth), ©Brenda Clews, 9"x12", pen and ink on Strathmore 140lb watercolour paper.

Last night's drawing.


Friday, January 06, 2017

Which one is the real one?

Which one is the real one? A too-fast sketch of Geraldine James in Jewel of India (1984), though she looks obliquely Frida somehow. With the somewhat crude tool I am using, a $2.75 bamboo reed that I love that blots and dabs, that you struggle with to draw, makes the attempt at, approach to, discovery of a more expressionist figuration in the depths, deliberate.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

'the attraction' - pen & ink sketch

'the attraction seems not so much at the heart of it but wheeling outside it' (Larkin), ©Brenda Clews, 9"x12", pen and ink on Fabriano 140lb 100% cotton watercolour paper.

Original note at 1am a few nights ago: Loosely drawn. The sketch, fairly quick. The figures from different time zones. And yet, how strikingly real this seems.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dahlings! Happy New Year!

Dahlings! Wishing you an extraordinary 2017 in all ways, creative, spiritual, financial and in your relationships. Overcome oppressions with true tidal fury!

(costume I patched together to perform Tidal Fury, a book about overcoming oppression)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Wishing you the best of the Festive Season

Wishing everyone a wonderful festivity of giving, love and feasting! Happy Christmas, Hannukah, Shab-e Yalda, Yule, however you celebrate the birth of the light!

(The most perfect tree ever - it is real, yes!)


Friday, December 23, 2016

Kitty is Improving

Some tentative good news - my kitty, Aria, is lightly using her paw again when she walks. Not every time, but definitely last night and this morning a little bit. Which implies that it was a bad sprain (the vet's original diagnosis when I took her in a week before the appointment where he took x-rays). I've seen no sign of an embolism - both eyes blink fine, breath out of both nostrils, both sides are fully sensitive and getting stroked on either side elicits loud purring, just a sore paw that seems to be getting better. She sleeps, she eats, she's playful, she's demanding, she sweet, she's fully herself. It's been 2½ weeks since I first noticed a limp. She still scoots around on three legs, but there is slight improvement (it's that right front leg in the photo) and, hopefully, she is healing.

I am quite happy indeed. The vet may have been right in his diagnosis on our first appointment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wishing You a Brilliant Solstice

Happy Solstice! When the sun is furthest, the night darkest, the return begins. Immanence, beginnings. Yeah, and also, be the shining light you are.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Simple sketch of Aria

I thought my pussy cat had broken her leg, but it turns out there is no fracture and it may have been an embolism. She's only 4 years old. Here's a simple little sketch because I would like to paint her. No idea what the final prognosis will be, or what's coming. She is the sweetest little companion ever.

(Different crops suggested by PS of the same little simple sketch - she didn't sit in that position for long enough! Sort of drew everything while she was sitting near me by calling her and then she'd look up and I'd draw, except for the ears, and the whiskers, she was gone by then and they are mostly guesses...)

Here is a little watercolour painting of her where I did not particularly try to get a good likeness.

I'll post some photos when I have some new ones. Rather heartbreaking to see her scampering about on three legs and always holding one paw in the air, and I have no idea how I will afford the vet care.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Video of 'Tidal Fury' @ Guernica Launch!

Guernica Editions | | | Amazon.UK | Indigo Books | Goodreads |

direct link: Tidal Fury Guernica Launch 2016

Here is a video of my set for my book, Tidal Fury, at the Guernica Editions launch Dec 4th. The talented and lovely Karen Shenfeld introduced me and she said such nice things I was blushing. The MC was Anna Geisler, gorgeous hard-working lady. The Publisher, Michael Mirolla, is a literary force in his own right and has brought much fine writing to public attention with an substantial yearly publishing schedule. I am honoured and fortunate to be a Guernica author. Many thanks to all!

'Tidal Fury' by Brenda Clews
Introduced by Karen Shenfeld
MC Anna Geisler
Guernica video trailer in the background
by Gabriel Quigley

at the Guernica Editions book launch
December 4, 2016
Supermarket Restaurant & Bar
in Kensington Market, Toronto, Canada

Michael Mirolla, Publisher

Tidal Fury is available from all major booksellers:

| Guernica | | Amazon.UK | Indigo Books | Goodreads |
ocean waves

videoed & edited
by Brenda Clews