Jessica Hiemstra and Concetta Principe Launch at Another Story Bookshop

Joan made plans for us to meet at the Wallace Bridge, the walking bridge that goes from the end of Wallace over the train tracks to Dundas. She got there first and was waiting for me at the bottom of the west stairs. I felt bad for her that she hadn’t climbed up to get above everything and take a look around. But she looked content enough taking photographs in the vicinity of a small building at the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t look at what it was she was taking pictures of with her big old camera. I thought maybe it was graffiti. Big as in not really big just bigger than regular sized. Big as in definitely not a cell phone camera. Old as in, not actually old. Old as in a camera a person could feel affection for and attached to.

We headed down to Concetta’s Pedlar Press launch of her book of prose poems called Hiroshima: A Love War Story which was being held at Another Story Bookshop on Roncesvalles. Since it was so nice out we hung outside for a bit the highlight of which was Joan explicating a Freudian interpretation of president-elect Donald Trump running his campaign from the position of the primal father. It left us despairing but our timing was excellent. We entered the book store just as the poet Jessica Hiemstra with her new book The Holy Nothing was being introduced and were waved to the front where there were still some seats.

Jessica was an amazing reader. So comfortable in her skin. Personable with us her audience. I talked to her about it afterward and she explained she likes to look around at the audience as individuals. That that connection served the reading. That was the trick. I looked her up on Facebook when I got home planning to send a friend request but couldn’t find her. Maybe not being on Facebook is another way she stays so chill. She mentioned something about pretending something to herself too, to keep her in the right state of mind I think, which got me telling her about this thought I had recently about how living in the city you have to constantly be pretending things to yourself because there’s so little psychological space because there’s so little physical space. She didn’t disagree.

Concetta read well too. Concetta Principe. She gave a super comprehensive introduction which she explained to me afterward was in part a response to her inaugural reading at York University at which a lot of the audience, younger students, were not familiar with the movie the book is based on. (Hiroshima mon amour) Her reading was more somber than Jessica’s. Her use of language felt denser. It seems fitting to use a word I saw describing Leonard Cohen here, seeing as when we all got home and opened our Facebook pages (except Jessica) we discovered he had passed on. Concetta’s reading had gravitas.

That being said I noticed a lot of crossover in subject matter. To name a few, both readings referenced Jesus, love and math and scientific terminology. A poem Jessica read called “Pasta” intermingles entropy and parabola arcs with basil, thrown cooking pots and a lovers’ quarrel. The poem’s speaker is begged by its you to be objective, implored to be logical. In the same poem Hiemstra pulls Jesus into the personal in a manner so sweet and direct, “I slew my self because Jesus was/my first love story.” The first poem Concetta read entitled “Aug 6, 1958” shapes with phrases such as “the sum of shocks,” “the radius of some emotional logic” and “parameters of Event”. Principe makes personal Jesus too, calling the religious holiday Christmas “Jesus’ birthday” while also utilizing its power as the penultimate memory referent to the event Hiroshima.

Ronna Bloom was there. She had recently spent sixteen days in Venice. Her description of how powerful the place is for her I think excited all of us. It was relatable for me that for Ronna a great time in Venice, like the need for extra personal space in the personalities of certain cats, meant lots of time for writing. By all I’m thinking of Maureen Hynes and Maureen Scott Harris. Bending down together to peruse the poetry section located on a lower shelf, I tried to explain to Maureen Hynes what a great book The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson is. Close to the end of the evening, after the chairs were folded away, I noticed the two Maureens putting a bookshelf back in place in a manner that made it look like Another Story Bookshop was a second home. It seemed to be a shelf that rolled but was difficult to make roll. I suppose they would have been helping out on behalf of Pedlar Press as well. I pointed it out to Joan who said she better take a photograph which she went and did. I hope she got a good one.

maureens

~ photo by Joan Guenther

A new day the day after

Hi. I just updated my website. It’s been a while. I found out the website builder site I needed to go to update it. I learned my username is different than it used to be. It has a letter in front of it now. The letter K for Klu Klux Klan. I learned I have a new password. I replaced the yellow sticky note on my bulletin board with the old username and password. But first I removed some of the other stuff on my bulletin board to get to the original yellow sticky note. Things like remedy recommendations from my naturopathic doctor, an old folded map of the moon, a map of fine art galleries in the lower east side of New York City from April 2015. Which is not to say these things don’t still remain pertinent to me. They are. They are pertinent in a “they are on the floor to the right of my desk near my feet in front of my two drawer plastic filing cabinet and I wonder what I am going to do with them” kind of way.

Technology has changed since last time I updated things. I made things look nicer. I was able to make the font more consistent. When I used to update my website consistency in font size and theme was such an issue for me. The new website updating tools are easier.

On a less writerly note we stayed up late last night watching Hillary Clinton lose. It was terrible.

One day, I tell myself, I’m going to survey the entirety of that moon map. I’m going to learn the name of every crater.

moon-map

Voicey

I’m struggling to blog about my novel Flip Turn because I can’t figure out the right voice to do it in. I feel like I want to talk in its voice. I also feel like I want to talk in this more, what I would call – social – voice. The social voice would be one of those voices that knows a lot to do with critical thinking, that knows how to connect to others in a mature, relating way. Further, I suppose could write my blog in a more personal voice, like the one in Flip Turn, but one that is more mature. Like me. Now. I’m not a young girl anymore. But then I like saying shocking, direct things, more suitable to a young woman, actually, would be a better description of the voice in Flip Turn. Although, come to think of it, the voice in Flip Turn, is hard to pinpoint age-wise. It’s both young girl and young woman.  

Another pull to my voice is the audience. I do like to talk to my audience.

I have been reading a book of poetry written by a friend recently. Which for me can really help sometimes, feeling a personal connection to the writing, but I just could not hear her voice. It was really hard for me to read her work, even despite the fact I know her.

I was thinking she probably just isn’t a very voicey writer. I was thinking maybe she writes more from the word level. I thought maybe the reason it’s hard for me to read her is that I think words are dangerous. I don’t trust them. But then I thought, no, that’s not it. Quite. I think the distrust is more about the person, the being pulled into their grammar, their world view, I don’t trust. (can you believe I just admitted to that?)

Which makes me think, while my writing voice may be maturing, my ability to read is still pretty immature.

Or to let myself off the hook some, maybe I just prefer to read voicey writers. Which similarly I am.

As far as voice goes, I also talk to my cats a lot in a sort of voicey way too. In the talking-to-pets voice. My son has had a lizard for year now and for a while I really didn’t know how to be with him. (the lizard) But now I talk to him in that voice too. I put him on my knee and put blueberries on my other knee. I coo to him and once all the tension with the cats trying to figure out how to catch and eat him wanes, he thrusts his pretty pink tongue out, capturing a blueberry at a time with it and gobbles them down.

Soon

My novel is coming out soon. I demolished my old astrology website. The new site representing me as a writer is spare, perhaps pointless.

I do however want to blog excitedly about my up and coming novel publication. Perhaps as I do I will think of subjects to add to my website.