Saturday, August 22, 2020

'Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers,' Zoom video August 20, 2020

 
 "I'd dance to death to evoke it." "Who in me writes?"

It was a rich, varied poetry evening where we read, talked about process, and asked questions. I'm still integrating what everyone said. An evening of inspiration. I would like to thank my features, Elana Wolff, Michael Mirolla, Margaret Christakos and Jeff Cottrill for their superlative poems, readings and expressions of inspiration. And for our fabulous, talented audience! You all added your creative energy to this dynamic event. Thank you, one and all! 💗

The drill order:

I open with a pre-amble, then read/perform a prose poem, 'Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers,' about breaking through a writing block of 9 years, followed by a Q & A. Elana Wolff and Michael Mirolla each read a poem and talk about their writing process. There is a 15min break, where discussion ensues. Margaret Christakos, and Jeff Cottrill each read a poem and talk about process. We end with an open discussion with feedback on poems and writing processes. My hope is that writers who watch come away inspired, and thinking about how best to continue writing in the ways they most wish. 

Timestamps:

0:10 Brenda's pre-Amble
07:50 Brenda gets Lola, the tiny doggy
08:30 Brenda read/performs Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers
27:57 Q & A on Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers
42:54 Brenda introduces Elana Wolff
44:44 Elana Wolff reads 'Surfacing Behavior'
55:14 Break, with open discussion
1:09:16 Brenda introduces Michael Mirolla
1:15:38 Michael Mirolla reads 'Demeter Makes Plans to Uproot Herself'
1:32:42 Brenda introduces Margaret Christakos
1:35:34 Margaret talks about Pull Down the Northern Lights, performative aspect and imagery, and also her own poetic
1:41:00 Margaret Christakos reads 'Charger 12' and speaks about open field poetics
1:55:22 Brenda introduces Jeff Cottrill
1:57:50 Jeff Cottrill reads 'Wilfred Owen's Off Day'
2:13:41 Open discussion at the end

direct link: https://youtu.be/3bhZzXzX5fs

I would like to thank the League of Canadian Poets & Toronto Literary Council for funding for this event.
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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Crawling Out of the Morass

A preliminary sketch that I hope to work on in the coming days. Photo with electric light during a dark thunderstorm. Self-portrait, stick and water-soluble graphite, 20"x26". Crawling out from a deeply troubling family crisis.

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Saturday, June 20, 2020

June 20, 2020

June 20, 2020


Today I am silent. Between The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James, and the ballet dancer, Sergei Polunin, who I watch on YouTube. One, grippingly violent, a story of the slave trade in Jamaica, in beautiful prose, in a seamless, perfect and mesmerizing dialect; the other, one the best dancers in the world, spins and leaps that are superhuman, a force de majeure, but shy, introverted, a rebel and a visionary. I float through a heatwave, basking in humidity. Sitting on a bench with my cat, I stare at the foliage and sky, the green, until I am saturated with heat and the healing of trees. Later in the evening, I buy the 2017 documentary on Sergei, The Dancer. I am living in Lilith’s world where she defended herself violently against rape. There has been blood in my mouth since that scene. I had to put the book down because I am living in that hut with her and her burned, skinned-alive would be rapist. I fall asleep dreaming of pirouettes. 
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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020

June 16, 2020


The Salt of the Earth, directed by Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. France, 2014.


Rich blacks, almost coppery greys, luminosities of light, whites sheer like silk shining, Salgado's work, grandeur, a vast scale. In his humanity, we see the terror of us, how we are victim to our own cruelties. His golddiggers, a hive of ants in the pit, farmers, dying Rwandans, Ethiopian skeletal peoples, the genocide of the Serbs, burning oil fields in Kuwait, on land, water, air, ice, in forests, mud plains, cities, deserts, he paints landscapes of pain or of beauty. When he cannot contain the pain anymore, retreats into existential despair, his wife, Leila, who was with him in spirit on every project in every part of the world while at home with their children, a true curator, guide, turns their focus to healing through affirmation of the beauty of the planet, to re-planting their denuded rainforest in Brazil, to documenting the diversity and beauty of animals, birds & insects of the world. The film ends with renewal, resurgence, regeneration, a joy, transcendent. Of a mountainous desert alive with two and a half million trees.


Wim Wenders has created a portrait of an artist, Sebastiao Salgado, whose face is as smoothly worn, craggy and lined as the mountains he loved and full of the light from the tops of those peaks, which spreads out in every direction.

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Sunday, June 14, 2020

June 14, 2020

June 14, 2020


Clara, in Allende’s The House of Spirits is, I think, my favourite character in all of literature. Psychic, clairvoyant, telekinetic, someone who could draw many people to her, helper of the poor, I’ve only just read her and am integrating her still. I suspect she is the real writer of the novel and the narrator draws his story from her copious notebooks. Others… Fevvers in Angela Carter’s Nights in the Circus, but not as much as Allende’s Clara. Two books I’m currently reading! This isn’t much of a piece but it does come from the potpourri of a writing life. 


    But the grass didn’t get cut. The dog wasn’t bathed. There is no coffee cream for the morning. Laundry is still waiting. The floor didn’t get washed. The dishes not done, though that’s an easy task while the kettle boils for coffee. There was no writing. I started and finished a whole section of what is likely a new project and since then, nothing—waiting in writing purgatory. Tapping the keyboard distractedly, waiting for inspiration, for the muse, for a new place to begin again.
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Friday, June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020

June 12, 2020


Another day of nothing. Up till 2am reading Isabel Allende’s, The House of Spirits. Such lives - an incredible book, its social commentary, magic realism. Tired, though. Hammered shelves into the cat closet to put everything stored there so I can remove the kitty litter lid easily for daily cleaning. Felt slightly frazzled all day, with loose electrical wires hanging off my body that should be hooked into substantial activities. Cooked salmon pinwheels for mid-day dinner, followed by Portuguese custard tarts. A cool, sunny day. Waiting for a Laura Ashley cotton quilt that I can ask for a refund on tomorrow if it doesn’t arrive today. Waiting for a Zoom meeting with fellow poets. Waiting for focus to return. Waiting to come back since I seem to be wandering among uncertain particles in the dark matter of the universe. Waiting for nightfall. 

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

June 11, 2020

June 11, 2020


A lost day. Where tasks overtake, and not even. Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood on earbuds—the scene where the doctor is dressed in women’s clothes, a wig, lipstick and false eyelashes and is disappointed when Nora enters his chaotic room with the full chamber pot. His soliloquy on the meaning of life. Tying parcels to a dolly & returning them at the post office in the drug store & the guy refusing to scan them because it was too busy - one other person waiting in an empty line. After a dog walk, a slew of National Geographic videos on lions, all too short. And one on Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi. Sergei Polunin on YouTube, a favourite dancer. No writing. 
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'Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers,' Zoom video August 20, 2020

   "I'd dance to death to evoke it." "Who in me writes?" It was a rich, varied poetry evening where we read, talked ...