Jun 20, 2014

Toronto and Progress

I'm back from a quick trip to Toronto, where I attended my brother's graduation (he's caught the grad student bug too and will be back next year to start his MA). It was my first time in Toronto and my first time in another province besides those immediately surrounding me. I've done far more travelling in the USA than I have in Canada, so I'm hoping to keep remedying that in the next few years. It does seem appropriate that we saw the "Canadian New York" after we visited New York City last summer...at least that's how I thought of it.

A few highlights:

-saw the Group of Seven paintings at the AGO




-stopped for a smoked meat sandwich and saw Adam Sandler having dinner with his friends and family



-went to Ripley's Aquarium of Canada







-ate AMAZING food thanks to my brother's inside knowledge


-replaced my stolen CDs with some awesome soundtracks at Sonic Boom



-got a tour and demo at Coach House Books






-watched Jodorowsky's Dune at Hot Docs



And now it's back to real life! I'm nearly finished ('nearly' is relative maybe) a major edit of the poems in my thesis. I'm hoping to submit the whole thing to my committee in September so I'm chopping my way to the finish line.

I found out shortly before I left for Toronto that three of my poems will feature in Room Magazine's Geek Girl issue, 37.3. I'm really excited about this one because it's the most poems I've ever had in a literary mag and it's a GEEK GIRL issue! I also heard back from On Spec (a very cool speculative fiction mag that I've been trying to get into for a while) and they would like to publish one of my poems as well. I'm nervously crossing my fingers (and wishing on a couple stars) over a submission to the Fairy Tale Review's contest and I'm holding off on further submissions until I finish these edits. I gotta say, I love editing other people's work but I get awfully stubborn about editing my own!

Jun 12, 2014

On Maleficent

"The victim is always morally superior to the master...that is why there have been so few notoriously wicked women in comparison to the number of notoriously wicked men; our victim status ensures that we rarely have the opportunity. Virtue is thrust upon us."


"In common speech, a 'bad boy' may be a thief, or a drunkard, or a liar, and not necessarily just a womaniser. But a 'bad girl' always contains the meaning of a sexually active girl...When, against her will, she is [raped], she knows she remains good because she does not feel pleasure."


"...as if, now she is no longer a virgin, her chastity can still exist in the form of frigidity. She seems almost a monster of the fear of sexuality."


Quotes from Angela Carter's Sadeian Woman

May 3, 2014

Why I'm Angry About Gwen Stacy

I saw Amazing Spider-Man 2 tonight. And I’m mad. (spoilers ahead)
Gwen Stacy’s death was handled poorly. So poorly, in fact, that I would like to put her second-in-line for the Women in Refrigerators crown.
But let’s back up a bit. 
Gwen Stacy is set up as a smart (valedictorian) recent high school graduate, with a job at Oscorp, and a scholarship to Oxford. She and Parker are having relationship problems because Peter still feels tied to his promise to her dad to keep her out of his work. However, they keep talking, and Gwen becomes one of the few girlfriends who hears the inner workings of a superhero’s mind and actually helps him defeat a villain (without Gwen, Peter would have been fried, actually). 
Did Gwen Stacy have to die? I would argue that no, Gwen Stacy did not have to die. It’s a movie; they can do whatever the fuck they want! 
What pisses me off the most is that the solution was there the whole time. She didn’t have to die; she could have gone to England! Like a normal person does after high school when they’re super smart with a scholarship to study in England! 
Now here’s what DID happen: the majority of the movie is spent setting up and dealing with Electro, who is pretty much a sad, lonely, low-threat villain. Harry shows up, as a sidenote. We’re not really sure why he and Peter are still friends, or even what they’re like as friends, since they spend most of their time trying to keep stiff upper lips over their dead dads (or, in Peter’s case, his dead dad, dead uncle, and girlfriend’s dead dad). Once Electro is defeated (with Gwen’s help, btw), the Green Goblin shows up (oh, yeah, Harry turns into the Green Goblin, did you miss that?) out of fucking NOWHERE and decides that Peter has betrayed him, therefore, he’s going to kill Gwen Stacy.
What. the. fuck. I’m sorry, Harry, I lost you. You’re going to kill Gwen Stacy why again? Your character isn’t well-developed enough for anyone to figure it out. I gueeeesss that Goblin juice really did a number on your moral centre and all but…really? You’re going to just kill off the random girl you met in the elevator earlier on, just because she’s kinda sorta in a complicated relationship with Peter? Whaaaat.
At this point, I was shaking my head in the theater. I was still hoping that they weren’t going to do it. And then she falls. There’s an audible gasp and cringe in the theater.
Peter drops to the ground beside her and starts jostling her around (my inside voice is screaming, DON’T MOVE HER, YOU’VE GOT TO STABILIZE HER SPINE, CHECK HER PULSE, CALL THE AMBULANCE, or, or…SOMETHING!). He cries. Cut to the funeral scene (typical). Cut to Peter sitting by the grave (also typical). 
Then we get this awkward flipping through the seasons as Peter stands by the grave. It looks horrible and it does nothing to cool the burning rage in my chest.
Spider-Man then takes a break apparently. Because he’s sad. But he hears the news on the tv and he cries with his aunt and then puts Gwen Stacy’s pictures away (the audience is not ready for this; there’s still sniffling in the theater). 
And then it’s all fine again?
So Spider-Man goes out to fight a robot. Yay, robot fight?
Oh, what’s that you’re feeling? Just the slap across your face from the makers of Spider-Man 2. What, you had feelings for a character you knew was going to die? Well, fuck that, there’s a robot fight! (there’s still sniffling and clearing of throats in the theater)
Goddammit. This movie even made me angry at that poor bullied kid who stands up to the robot because all I could think about was the smart, bad-ass woman who just DIED because someone decided that women NEEDED to see MORE smart, bad-ass women getting killed JUST for being smart and bad-ass and in a real-talk relationship with a superhero.
Fuck. that. Gwen Stacy deserves better.

Apr 15, 2014

Twitter, Comics, and Poetry

I consider myself to be a member of two artistic communities: poetry and comics.

I write poetry, I've been published in several literary magazines, both online and in print, I had a chapbook published in December (only 8 copies left! yay!), I occasionally review poetry here on the blog, and I tweet about poetry.

I don't write comics (I would love to and I can see it becoming a future project once I finish this poetry collection) but I used to write comic book reviews. I'm still an avid reader of comics and I constantly tweet about the ones I love.

Now, guess who makes up the majority of my followers on Twitter and most often communicates with me? I'll give you a hint: it's not the poets.

I had a conversation on Twitter today with a comic book writer and several comic book fans about the benefits of Twitter and Tumblr: mainly that these mediums give a voice to people who would not normally have a voice. One of the most well-known comic book writers currently writing tweeted me back and my tweet was favorited numerous times. And then I congratulated a few comic book writers and artists who have been nominated for Eisner awards. They tweeted back to thank me and let me know about their new work. The comic book community is one of the most active and welcoming communities I have ever experienced. They don't care that I'm not currently writing comic book reviews; they're just glad that I care about the work they're doing!

Then, I tweeted a bit about poetry. I'm mega-nervous about submitting to the Fairy Tale Review because I've been trying to get in there for 2 or 3 years and haven't been able to yet. And, when you're writing a collection of fairy tale poems, that crazy voice in your head likes to screech things like, "If you can't get your fairy tale poems into a literary mag that's ALL ABOUT fairy tales, you must really suck!" (Yeah, my imposter syndrome voice is SUPER nice). Anyways, I got one response back from a local writer. No one else responded. I got into a weird, semi-argument about whether or not song lyrics are poetry with an anonymous person. No one else jumped in.

I recently realized that I'm not followed on Twitter by any literary magazine that I've been published in. Which seems really bizarre. So, I just did a quick search of a few literary magazines on Twitter. If they're on Twitter, they're generally following about 15% of the people who are following them. That's it. They're not reading or listening to their people. Now, I'm just a former English major, so that's not scientific by any means--I just chose magazines that I think of as prestigious in Canada and did some calculations. Some literary magazines aren't even on Twitter. So, if you're a literary magazine and you're on Twitter and following way more than that, then kudos! That's how you listen to your people! Otherwise, you're just reinforcing the idea that poetry is pretentious and cliquey. Which it kinda is. In my experience.

We could talk about the feud between Lemon Hound and Carmine Starnino but most people won't even know what I'm talking about.

We could talk about chapbooks, but most people don't even know what those are.

We could talk about trochees and spondees and dactyls, but really, who the hell knows what those are? And if you do, I kind of hate you. In a loving way, of course.

I've been feeling increasingly isolated as a poet. Now, maybe that's just how it goes as a poet, but the thing is, it shouldn't have to be that way.

Poets need to find a way to move their work online. Myself included. Some poets are already doing it...Dave McGimpsey and Patricia Lockwood spring to mind, simply because they're so outrageous (in a good way, guys! Don't want to start another feud here!).

But poets seem to operate in their own little bubble and we rarely interact with the world...it's as if there are no poetry fans; there are only other poets.

Most literary magazines won't publish a poem that has been previously "published," even if it's on your blog or Tumblr or whatever. Which means that there's no way to directly reach an audience that doesn't mostly consist of other poets and academics without limiting the work you can send out. Most literary magazines are run by academics for other academics. Some literary magazines don't even accept emailed submissions or use Submittable!

Poetry is a baby boomer when it needs to be a millennial.

Poetry needs to take a few notes from the comic book world. Poets should be on Twitter, on Tumblr, on Instagram--and they should be using those sites to interact with each other about the things that they like, to interact with people who have read their work, to create a community that everyone can feel part of, regardless of how many poems or books they have published or whether they're a "real Canadian poet" (which, btw, total bullshit) or not.

So, today, I'm wondering, how do we move poets' voices online and tear down the ivory tower?

Apr 4, 2014

Healing

As of this year, it's been five years since I was in a rollover car accident. It was actually my second rollover, which is perhaps why it had such an effect on me. You can read the essay I wrote about it the week after here. I didn't know it at the time, but that car accident has had long-lasting effects on my life and health since then.

After the accident, I thought I was fine but I went through symptoms of PTSD soon after. The stats are something like 1 in 3 rollovers result in death and 25% of people who go through a life-threatening situation experience symptoms of PTSD. So I fit in those stats pretty neatly. After the accident, I avoided driving that road because I experienced flashbacks as soon as I went near it, I wouldn't pass semis and would often start shaking when I saw one, I couldn't fall asleep or close my eyes without reliving the rollover again and jerking myself awake, and I had nightmares about it. I felt silly for having these feelings and worked hard to mask them and make them go away. That old motto about "getting back on the horse" kept going over and over in my head.

When I started having daily (yes, every day) headaches, I started going for massage appointments, which helped, but only temporarily. So I tried myofascial release and discovered it helped exponentially more--both physically and emotionally. As we talked about the accident, he began equipping me with tools to deal with the anxiety that was causing the pain. I experienced a flashback while I was on the table, which enabled me to work through it in a safe space, and then bring some of that peace to my driving. A year or two later, I began taking yoga classes, which also improved my pain level. Most of the symptoms I experienced went away after a while but others lingered.

It wasn't until last year that my headaches stopped. I only have nightmares about the rollover when I'm really stressed out. I'm still a nervous passenger, which I discovered when I freaked out on Christian for bumping a trash can last year but closing my eyes in a moving vehicle stopped needing an inner monologue first. I don't need to remind myself as often to breathe and relax my shoulders when driving in icy conditions.

So why am I sharing this? Well, my reasons are twofold. First, I now know a few people who have experienced similar accidents and symptoms. I want people to know that it's normal. Because I didn't know what was going on for a while and I felt scared and ashamed. And I want them to know that it goes away.

Which brings me to my second reason. I'll be starting Fresh Meat in May, to train for roller derby. I stopped playing sports and I started limiting what I did after my accident. And I want to prove to myself that this accident doesn't have to define me or what I do. Do I know if I'll be able to handle it? No. Am I terrified? Yes. But that's why I'm going to do it. It's time to face my fears.