Friday, June 30, 2017

June 2017 Final Poetry & Music Salon

Our final salon was luminous - beautiful, loving, giving, sharing.

I am a full range of emotions as this Poetry and Music Salons series comes to an end. The final salon at Palmerston Library Theatre was on June 24, 2017 after a 3 ½ year run. It began at a most wonderful gallery at Queen and Parliament, Urban Gallery, where I had a solo art show in 2014. Calvin Hambrook, the director of the gallery, asked me to bring people into the gallery to make them aware of its presence. So the wonderful Bänoo Zan and Philip Cairns each did a Salon and I learnt how to run an event. I organized, hosted and danced throughout one with Luciano Iacobelli and John Oughton in the Winter of 2014. After my solo art show was over, I missed Calvin and Allen at Urban Gallery, and they also missed me it turned out. Calvin called me in for a meeting in maybe March of that year and asked me if I would like to continue running the Poetry and Music Salons. Thus began a journey through 4 venues - three art galleries (Urban Gallery, the beautiful Charlotte Hale and Associates Fine Art, Photography and Design and the wonderful Mirvish Village - Markham House) and a large 120-seat theatre at my local library, Palmerston Public Library. I have been the woman-of-all trades – booking features, organizing the event, designing the flyer, creating a Facebook event, splattering the event everywhere on social media, hosting the salon, providing refreshments for the break, videoing, photographing, and editing that video which takes 12 hrs to 3-5 days to complete, and discovering what an amazing, giving, loving, hugely talented group we are. I want to celebrate everyone who has come out to share as a feature and as a spotlight on open mic. I am so happy that we have been able to come together for these years to share with and support each other as poets, writers, artists, actors, musicians to be everything that we can be.

I have had some teary times over the ending. These salons are so much work that I do not see continuing them in any real capacity. So there's grieving going on here, in my room, in my heart. Feel very blessed to have been part of the salons for their duration - so much love in our community, so much support for each other. Is what touches me very deeply, is what I hold dearest.

Here are photos of everyone who read or performed. Go to Google Photos to see the album (though, for names, look at the file names, as Google no longer offers an easy way to add captions to photos).


The video of my final Poetry and Music Salon Series:

direct link: June 2017 Final Poetry and Music Salon

In order of appearance:

1. Brandon Pitts 9:52
2. John Oughton 23:34
3. Wolfgang Dios 35:23
4. Kath MacLean 41:16
5. Stedmond Pardy 48:53
6. Tom Gannon Hamilton 55:54
7. August Henry 1:03:30
8. Valentina Assenza 1:07:35
9. Susan Helwig 1:12:31
10. Sharon Goodier 1:14:20
11. Irena Nikolova 1:19:16
12. Jeff Cottrill 1:25:56
13. Stanley Fefferman 1:34:16
14. Anna Gutmanis 1:42:12
15. Clara Blackwood 1:49:17
16. John Evans 1:53:20
17. Mikel BC 1:59:16
18. Charles Taylor 2:05:25
19. Alexandra Innes 2:12:11
20. Jennifer Hosein 2:18:14

Many thanks to John Oughton for the opening theme music and to Tom Gannon Hamilton for the closing theme music.

Videoed and edited by Brenda Clews

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Them Or Us, a little painting

Them Or Us, 2017 ©Brenda Clews, 9"x12", 22.9x30.5cm (actual size, this image is cropped on each side), Strathmore 140lb cold press, acid free watercolour paper.

An older drawing done with a bamboo dip pen - impossible to work with, they blot and won't draw, and you can only do crude drawings, nothing finely, which is why I like them - finished with some watercolour washes while watching a South Korean zombie flick on Netflix, Train to Busan, that was quite good. I like South Korean films because there is a hilarity, always (in this case the zombies, and they must have had so much fun making those scenes!), and also, the man or men who are the main characters are emotional and it spills out of that understated Oriental manner - and it is so refreshing. The ending always lifts a little so it's not completely tragic. I'll watch a South Korean flick anytime.

There isn't any relation between the film and the watercolour drawing, which is an entirely different story, or so it seems. At 3am, I'm calling it 'Them and Us," and I may delete in the morning, you know how things you do in the middle of the night are.


Thursday, June 08, 2017

May 2017 Poetry & Music Salon Fundraiser.

We raised $1,142.55 at a fantastically beautiful Poetry and Music Salon on May 27, 2017 and with on-line donations for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Not bad for a bunch of poets and Indie musicians wouldn't ya say?! We are a strong community of talented, caring people. I am so proud of everyone. ♥️

You can donate on-line - a tax receipt is issued instantly for any donations of $10. or above.

Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a medical relief organization who run medical projects in 70 countries worldwide and focus particularly on emergency medical and humanitarian relief. For 40 years, MSF has provided medical assistance to people affected by armed conflicts, natural disasters, disease epidemics, malnutrition crises and other emergencies. Of the donations, 82% go to a massive emergency relief fund used for projects in the field, 15% to fundraising and 3% to administration.

Thank you to all the features, who gave us everything, from their hearts, and to all those who came out to watch, enjoy, and to support a good cause. Many thanks to Janina for her help, Palmerston Library and to Bobby, our sound man.

Some photos:

A video of the whole, beautiful Salon:

Direct link to the May 2107 Poetry and Music Salon Fundraiser

In order of appearance:

1. Heather Babcock (poetry) 4:28
2. Neil Traynor (music) 11:29
3. Stanley Fefferman (poetry) 19:30
4. Jennifer Hosein (poetry) 25:53
5. Jeannine Pitas (poetry) 36:54
6. Tom Gannon Hamilton (poetry & music) 47:30
7. Michael Marian (music) 57:51
8. Jim McCuaig (music) 1:11:06
9. Tricia Postle (music) 1:20:17
10. Anna Gutmanis (music) 1:30:24
11. Karen Shenfeld (poetry) 1:36:47
12. Isabel Fryszberg (music) 1:42:39

Bios (and TBA):

ANNA GUTMANIS is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and entwines her brave, edgy lyrics with deep, blues-style vocals. Her songs have charted on iTunes, The Independent Music Network Top 30, Roots Music Report Top 100, OutVoice, and 3 different Australian Indie charts. She can hardly wait to get back into the studio to record some new songs!

HEATHER BABCOCK has had short fiction published in various literary magazines and journals including Descant Magazine, Front&Centre Magazine and The Toronto Quarterly. Heather has performed as a feature at the Beautiful & the Damned, the Plasticine Poetry reading series, Lizzie Violet's Cabaret Noir and WonderFest, among others. She has been a guest on the spoken word radio show HOWL (CIUT 89.5FM). Heather's chapbook Of Being Underground and Moving Backwards was published by DevilHousePress in 2015. She is currently working on a novel.



JENNIFER HOSEIN is a writer, visual artist, and teacher. Her poems, short fiction and a play have been published in magazines and an anthology. Her artwork has appeared on book covers, in magazines and in solo and group exhibitions in Toronto.

Ex roady, ex theatre tech, ex subway driver, JIM McCUAIG is now finding joy fingerpicking East Coast Blues and some originals.


MICHAEL MARIAN, Toronto-based Singer/Songwriter with his new album Big Wide Sky. Festivals and show dates are in the works for summer 2017. Toronto-born but raised in the countrysides of Maple, King City, and Aurora. Performed for several years at Wonderland, Elmocambo, Rivoli, Horseshoe. Went solo in 1996. In 2001 he and poet Norman Cristofoli founded Coffeehouse Arts and Culture where they ran shows for 8 years.

NEIL TRAYNOR is a Toronto born singer/songwriter guitarist/multi-instrumentalist. The nephew of legendary Traynor Amplifiers/Yorkville Sound founder Peter Traynor, he has been a staple of the Toronto scene for many years, first with L.S.Tea, and then The Toppermost (a band which also featured Chris Cunnane a.k.a "Starboy" of Robin Black), and currently with his group Neil Traynor & The Emergency Broadcast System, and also as a solo acoustic performer and session musician. His solo album "August Sun" was released a few years back to great acclaim from folk-rock/power-pop fans and picked up for international distribution by Los Angeles label Not Lame Records - one prominent admirer being Ebbot Lundberg, the leader/lead singer of The Soundtrack Of Our Lives. Neil wrote, produced, and played virtually all the instruments on this album - guitars, bass, organ, drums, as well as engineering the recording. He has performed in festivals in Baltimore, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and has played on bills with The Gruesomes, Midge Ure, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, to name, well, three...Neil is currently working on a follow-up to "August Sun" which he hopes will be finished some time before the end of this century...

STANLEY FEFFERMAN is writer and educator. His publications include, Home Was Elsewhere (Quattro Books, 2017), Writing Space, Drugs and World Literature, The Healing Fiction, and My Andrea. CBC National Radio has aired his literary broadcasts. His essays on music appear in electronic media from Canada and the U.K. He taught at Naropa University’s Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and founded the Atkinson Creative Writing Program at York University where he is Professor Emeritus. Quattro Books will launch his first poetry collection, Home Was Elsewhere, in Spring, 2017. He preparing a collection of essays: My Resinous Heart.

THOMAS GANNON HAMILTON is a poet, violinist and producer. He wrote his Masters thesis on "dub poetry" (1985), before humanitarian work took him to Central America, where he joined the Salvadoran artist's cooperative "Tizon.” After relocating to Calgary, he completed a doctoral degree focused on the experiences and practices of high school poets. He has published two e-books of poetry, "Bellicose Veins" and "Deer Crossing.” He now lives in Toronto, where he performs regularly.

TRICIA POSTLE is a founding member of Pneuma Ensemble ( a trio focusing on 12th and 13th century music on period-appropriate instruments. She performs most regularly as a vocalist and on psalteries.

Recent career highlights include performing as an actor-musician in the Poculi Ludique Societas touring production of the medieval farce Mankind (including at the Cloisters Museum, NYC) and a performance with Pneuma Ensemble of Marie de France’s Lai de Bisclaveret (Tale of the Werewolf) at the Colloquium of the Société Internationale pour l’étude du Théâtre Médiéval in Durham Castle, UK. A song cycle based on her poetry, Ash Roses, was recorded in 2014 through the Canadian Art Song Project.

Since 2005 she has been developing the Majlis Art Garden in Toronto’s Queen West as a venue for the performing arts (


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Beautiful Fundraiser Today for Doctors Without Borders

So far, in total, we have raised $920. for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). We raised $470 at a fantastically beautiful Poetry and Music Salon this afternoon, plus the on-line donations are $450. Not bad for a bunch of poets and Indie musicians wouldn't ya say?! We are a strong community of talented, caring people. I am so proud of everyone.

You can donate to the Poetry and Music Fundraiser on-line here: May 2017 Poetry & Music Salon Fundraiser.

Thank you to all the features, who gave us everything, from their hearts, Anna Gutmanis, Janina La Papita, Neil Traynor, Stanley Fefferman, Tricia Postle, Michael Marian, Jennifer Hosein, Jim McCuaig, Karen Shenfeld, Heather Babcock and Isabel Fryszberg, and to all those who came out to watch, enjoy, and to support a good cause. Many thanks to Palmerston Library and to Bobby, our sound man.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An Hour Performance from Tidal Fury

direct link: An Hour Performance from Tidal Fury

I can recite from Tidal Fury for about an hour. Why have I undertaken to memorize my poetry? Originally, I had intended to memorize the whole book to have full access for any readings or open mics, but haven't gotten there yet. Memorizing is a good exercise for an aging mind. Being able to perform poems lets me connect to the audience. I have no acting experience and have never studied acting and so I wing it. I have no idea if these performances work for people or not.

Memorizing remains hard work, especially as the poems have to be duplicated exactly in the mind and retrieved in their all their convoluted syntaxes and words. Being untrained, when my mind collides a little, and I can't get the line, I simply stop and wait for the words to click in and then I continue. This doesn't bother me a bit - it's part of the process of a live enactment. About the only impediment I've found is when I am nervous I might skip a line. I also switch words with synonyms occasionally, and these are unconscious replacements. I only know due to videoing my readings and find this an interesting quirk of the way the mind retains a list of synonyms to use if the exact word is not recalled quickly enough.

I love hearing poets read their writing and have always enjoyed going to poetry readings - in fact, I've run a poetry series for 3½ years. In my community, there are some poets who memorize and perform their poetry - they are not slam poets, which is a different genre and the poems have rhyme and tend follow a format with a set rhythm to the spoken word which makes it quite different to a literary poet performing a piece. The literary poets I know who perform are marvellous, and I find I 'hear' their poetry with perhaps more texture and depth when they offer it directly to us, but they either have acting backgrounds or studied acting in university.

Sometimes I'm not sure what I'm doing. Without the feedback loop a director or teacher would give, I send what I do out into the darkened fields of the audience. I like to dress the part too - mask, snaky wig, gauze sack, kimono, jingly belly dancing belt. It may be that performance gives me a way to inhabit the writing, to hide in it. As an introvert, performing forces me into my opposite. The next day I am exhausted - the act of performing publicly is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

And yet I keep exploring it and pushing myself to go deeper, to enter the writing, to give to those listening from fragile and open and honest places within. I feel that exploring memorization and performance is a fruitful endeavour and I will continue to expand my comfort zones in this regard.

A collusion of forces left me in a private place of extreme worry and tiredness the day that I did this feature and yet I strove to put aside my life, to step onto the stage as if it were a blank canvas, and create a poetry that carried itself through the air into the theatre and here, on the screen.

I hope I have done Tidal Fury justice. With the high quality video (see note below), I am happy with this recording.

Here is a webpage that has descriptions of Tidal Fury, and links to reviews and on-line booksellers:

I would like to thank Tom Gannon Hamilton who came and played his violin with sensitivity and beauty while I enacted the poems. He enters the poetry, its dramatic expression. His masterful playing becomes a collaborative dance of music that enters the words, uplifts them as the spirit that inhabits Tidal Fury is expressed.

Jeff Howard, as a thank you for all the videoing of everyone I've done at my Salons through the years, brought a professional camera from the television studio where he is a Technical Director. They were testing the Panasonic 4k camera that he brought. Matching the clips between my prosumer Sony and the professional Panasonic was challenging and I hope I've managed it somewhat. Mostly, I used his clips - he zoomed in and followed the performance with the camera, and the detail is excruciatingly amazing. Thank you, Jeff!

This feature was part of my Poetry and Music Salon series and took place at Palmerston Library Theatre on Saturday afternoon, April 29, 2017.