Wednesday, 23 April 2014

My writing process: poetry games

Called a blog tour, the ideas/questions are on tour across many literary persons and canpo blogs: a virus of poetics, a literary contagion.

You can read Sandra Stephenson and Christine Miscione, Gary Barwin and Rob McLennan, and all the branching poets participant as mentioned on the various sites, reflecting upon these same questions. 

Julie Mahfood and BrandonCrilly are my littermates, check out their responses, too. Check the bottom of this post for the next poets/whistlestops.

What am I working on?
In the moment I am immersed in published and unpublished manuscripts by other writers, reading and reflecting and researching, in order to write something sensical that the authors may then use in support of their works, moving them on to the next stages (the lives of written works). I am promoting my new book and my newer one, my first set of twins.
Plus many inspiring collaborations, moving toward front-burner status: Public art in Richmond, Reconciliation Through Poetry in Vancouver, and something in Toronto (too soon to tell).

Impending, I have guest appearances on diverse blogs, promoting my new book, Halfling spring. I will add the addresses and eta when these are compiled.

With images by Leo Yerxa, this is a compilation of love poems that will not cure you of cynicism, but will remind you to celebrate the sweetness of life.

On the backburner, I have many books in many stages, from republishing out-of-print books to a fantasy romp, exploring polyandry (it seems tiring) through the whimsical inspiration of a medieval Persian adventure epic.

Also, it’s tax time, which I handle through an annual deer-in-the-headlamps freeze:

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There’s a handy question.

Primarily i write poetry, also essays: I would say that my approach is conversational, highly intimate, and includes a great deal of wordplay: language-sensitive, earthy, sense of humour, heavy-lifting (in the sense of engagement with big collective as well as wee personal concerns). Perhaps the works fit more closely in traditions of balladeering and country songs, or storytelling and oratory, than the more cerebral poetics. But. Iconoclastic is another word I’ve seen, directed at my work.

There is a demand for embodiment and affect, alongside intelligence: if these are not handled with sureness then the work is not done. Song principles govern everything: energy patterns are most important; large or small, complex or mundane, the pattern and path of ideation through the course of a work must bring a person along for the ride, or it’s not going anywhere. I have low tolerance for ideas piled on ideas in towering towers: I won’t read 19 Europeans to “get” a single Canadian poem.

Why do I write what I do?

Another good question… these arise as feelings that need to be discharged, an intellectual itch or an emotional wobble, an imbalance in the world that somehow lands upon my desk, and must be dealt with. Through writing I explore the world, my inner world and my realms of relatedness, as well as the global and ageless, for fun or from deeply serious motivation. An assignment from without becomes an inner process, through the ethics of “it’s on my desk.”

Lin Yu-tang’s The Importance of Living was one early directive, James Baldwin’s Another Country, another.

How does my writing process work?

As noted: when a job has been identified, whether an accepted assignment, an assertion from within, or what have you, I wander around and gather items from the world which will help me complete the task. 

These sometimes have a straight-forward connection. 
One instance: I was recently tasked to write about reconciliation, so I watched many Chief Robert Joseph videos online, examined etymologies, talked to specific people (in this case Jane Marston should be mentioned, was quoted). I researched poetry and reconciliation as companions in other countries, in this country, in this province (who else has linked poetry, reconciliation, in Canada, everywhere else?). I had many irritable thoughts about everything, processing through feeling and visitation (my family, old friends).

Other times: I will find myself repeatedly studying a subject and I don’t know why, until voila! some new thing arrives in the world (birthing, disgorging). The subliminal assignment is revealed.

I move back and forth between pen/paper and word-processor. I read aloud and come to understand direction more deeply through this circuitry. When it sounds right, it feels right, and it withstands the question of relevance (revisiting the original request), I move it along to the next stage: performance, submission.

If something is very challenging, I may send to a friend, “does this make sense?” I use the reader responses to offset the incorrigible worrier, to tap into that confidence trickster/word warrior.

Sometimes, as in this particular piece, I copy and paste others’ words directly into my own work [above questions from above-mentioned blogs], and thus, carry a bit of others’ energies and genii into my own passages.

All hail reciprocity!

Next stop:

Friday, 11 April 2014

ayahkwêw through time + worldwide

Laura Jane Grace on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight 
(full details below)

more about Laura Jane Grace & Against Me! on this blog,

more about gender identity on this blog


Language, culture, and Two-Spirit identity.

  • napêw iskwêwisêhot (nu-PAYO ihs-gwayo-WIH-say-hoht), a man who dresses as a woman
  • iskwêw ka napêwayat (ihs-GWAYO ga nu-PAYO-wuh-yut), a woman dressed as a man 
  • ayahkwêw (U-yuh-gwayo), a man dressed/living/accepted as a woman.  I can see the ‘woman’ part of this word, but I am confused about the possible meaning of the rest of the word.  Some have suggested this word can actually be used as a ‘third’ gender of sorts, applied to women and men.
  • înahpîkasoht (ee-nuh-PEE-gu-soot), a woman dressed/living/accepted as a man. (also translated as someone who fights everyone to prove they are the toughest?  Interesting!)
  • iskwêhkân (IS-gwayh-gahn), literally ‘fake woman’, but without negative connotations.
  • napêhkân (NU-payh-gahn) literally ‘fake man’, but without negative connotations.
Read the full essay,
source for images & excerpt

Posters originally published by The Native Youth Sexual Health Network (NYSHN), an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice throughout the United States and Canada.


Nepal's 'third gender'

The country is a pioneer in rights for 

gender and sexual minorities, but many 

continue to face marginalisation. 

(excerpt from original published on

Al Jazeera website)

Last updated: 12 Mar 2014

"Last year, Nepal became one of the world's few countries to officially recognise a third gender in citizenship documents, following a 2007 Supreme Court decision. The small nation wedged between China and India has been providing more rights to gender and sexual minorities ever since.

"The legal benchmark established self-determination as the sole criterion to identify one's gender. But only a handful of people have so far been given a citizenship card with the new identity. Nepalese local and district administrations still request proof to certify one's gender, while the central government only issues citizenship cards with the third category to new applicants.

"We have challenged district and local governments to the court again so that they don't put obstacles to this law," explained Asia's first openly gay federal-level politician Sunil Babu Pant, who took the Nepalese government to court in 2007. The Supreme Court decision urged the government not only to include a third category in citizenship cards, but also to scrap all discriminatory laws against sexual minorities and to form a committee to study same-sex marriage.

Nepal's advance towards legal recognition of sexual and gender minorities has been cheered by the international community, becoming a model in the region. However, the current interim government still has to draft an inclusive constitution for more than 100 different ethnic and social minorities.

Read the full article (source of image and excerpt)

About the image: Bishwa is one of the few transgender Nepalis given an ID with the new, 'other' category [Angel L Martinez/Al Jazeera]


Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote question ‘the order of things’

On the road and in print, performer duo breaks out of gender binary strictures

More about the book & show: 

Gender Failure

 Mistaken Identity: Sheila Gilhooly on this blog


Sri Ramacandra 
Benefactor of the Third Sex

"Sri Ramacandra is one of the most popular incarnations of Vishnu, especially in South India.  He appeared on earth during the Treta Yuga and His pastimes are vividly described in the epic, Ramayana.  There are hundreds of versions of the Ramayana, both written and oral, that are read and recited all over India.  

One narrative especially popular among the ali (a third-sex group of South India) is recited as follows: Ramacandra’s father, Maharaja Dasaratha, was forced to exile his beloved son to the forest for fourteen years.  As the young prince left to fulfill the order of His father, the bereaved citizens of the kingdom followed Rama to the edge of the forest.  At this point Ramacandra turned around and said, “Dear ladies and gentlemen, please stop your crying now and return to your homes without Me.”  The citizens obeyed the command but those who were neither men nor women—the third sex—did not know what to do.  They decided to remain in that place for the entire fourteen years, meditating on Rama, and when the Lord returned He was very pleased and gave them all His blessings."

Read more about Sri Ramacandra and other deities and protectors,
source of image and excerpt:


Laura Jane Grace on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight: 

FULL Interview Published on Apr 10, 2014

Laura Jane Grace, the trangender lead singer for rock band Against Me!, was in the red chair to talk about the band's new album Transgender Dysphoria Blues.

George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 pm on CBC Television


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My thanks to Lila Campbell for sending me the interview, 
and to Kagan Goh for the new book alert!