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.

From Poetry Salons at Urban Gallery
A 1:15min slideshow of all the pics from yesterday's A Divine Afternoon Urban Gallery hosted by Trasharella (Philip Cairns) in honour of PRIDE. The music clip is from Amoeba Starfish's 'In Bali.' I made the slideshow movie in Picasa where there aren't many options for text.


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.

Postscript: Philip bought both drawings.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


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:
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.

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
$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

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:

Tara & I in June


Tara and I! Love my talented smart beautiful niece!

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:

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.


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!

 (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 -

'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 ...