amongst books

amongst books

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lust Thrusting - Part 2

Part two of my article "Pursuing the wild in art and sex at 50 +" is up at the lovely Queen Mob's Teahouse. I hope you'll read and let me know what you think or enjoy the piece quietly or write something of your own in response. i'm writing these pieces for fellow old lady deviants, those who love and lust after us.

if you have any suggestions for art, further reading, film, music, etc, please give me a shout. if you see me at a reading, come talk to me about this or any other related subject.

you can also find me on OKCupid as OttawaKiki.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Fall Writers Fest Picks

It was love at first sight when I walked into the National Library to attend the Ottawa International Writers Festival in 2003 and my love for the festival continues.

Here are some of the authors and discussions I’m especially looking forward to for the fall festival, which goes from October 20-26, 2016 with a few events happening before and after:

I look forward to this event every autumn. Alan Neal puts a literary spin on music by talking about the lyrics of each participant’s songs and we get to hear great music. This year I’m especially glad that Amos The Transparent and Lynn Miles will be part of the show. You may remember the marvelous Lynn Miles love-in that Alan Neal put on a few years ago at the festival.

I haven’t read any of Charlotte Gray’s books, but I’ve always enjoyed her erudition, eloquence and sense of humour during her interviews with various festival authors.

I have devoured all of Jane Urquhart’s novels and am very much a fan. I’ve seen her at this festival and the Kingston Writers Festival. I enjoy her stage presence.

Clearly I’m biased here, as the organizer and host of the event and the managing editor of, but I do believe we put on a great, fast-paced poetry and music show with surprises.

I’m working on a manuscript-in-progress about urban life right now and reading The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, so this event is important to me. I am also a lover of cities, a lover in the city, and a passionate believer in vital and walkable urban spaces.

I have been following Vivek Shraya’s writing on line mostly and her various social media accounts. I haven’t yet read “even this page is white,” and I’m looking forward to hearing her read from it and talk about it.

I have been a fan of Ivan Coyote’s for years. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard them perform was at a Writers Festival Transgress event, organized by Marcus McCann. I love their stories and I appreciate what they do to make people understand the trials and difficulties and joys of trying to fit in a world where you are treated as if you don’t belong.

I admit I haven’t heard of Gwen Benaway. This is one of the great things about the festival, the opportunity to discover voices previously unknown to me. Gwen is a 2-spirited poet of Odawa/Potawatomi, Cherokee, European, and M├ętis descent.

I loved Zoe Whittall’s latest book, “The Best Kind of People” and have enjoyed her poetry, “The Emily Valentine Poems” and her novel, Bottle-Rocket Hearts. She reminds me of Heather O’Neill, another favourite writer of mine, due to badass topics and sharp writing, quirky characters that I can really get into.

Zoe is also a feature at the evening event entitled “Family Matters.”

I haven’t read every single book of Margaret Atwood’s but I’ve loved the ones I’ve read, particularly Oryx and Crake, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace. I have seen her in both Ottawa and Kingston and I adore her wit, her intelligence, her humour. I would never miss an Atwood event, if I had the chance to see her.

A fitting ending to the festival, a celebration of fine poetry by some of its consummate creators. I’ve already devoured Sandra’s book, “Silvja,” and I am particularly excited about hearing her read from it. I have enjoyed the work of all the poets featured at this event and look forward to hearing them read from their new poetry collections.

I also look forward to new discoveries and collecting reading suggestions for the coming year.

I suggest you make your own choices by listening to the playlist put together by authors reading at the festival. Buy tickets and passes here!

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Lust Thrusting on a Thursday via Queen Mob's Teahouse

don't you just love a good teahouse, my darlings? i do. here's the latest from me, part one of my article "Pursuing the Wild in Art and Sex at 50 +.

part two will appear next Thursday...

you might want to close your eyes. or lie back & think of England...

your mischievous miscreant in words & deeds,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tree Reading Series Workshop by yrs truly ce soir (Tuesday, September 13, 2016)

6:45pm, Gallery 101, 51 B Young Street

In this workshop we will read a poem aloud & explore its non-semantic attributes to glean elements that resonate in order to write poems in response or simply to appreciate it. Too often in poetry, readers are focused solely on semantic surface meaning rather than considering other elements that make up a poem’s music and mood. Let’s see what happens when we focus on sound, shape (including line break, punctuation, line length), symbol (including imagery, free association with Jungian archetypes, mythology). Each participant will write something (a line, a poem, an image) inspired by the source poem and will share the results with the group.

We're going to be looking at Gwendolyn MacEwen's "The Red Bird You Wait For."

In the documentary, the Shadow Maker, the Life and Times of Gwendolyn MacEwen, her editor, writer Barry Callaghan says that people often dismissed MacEwen’s poetry because they didn’t understand the music of her lines or the music of the silence between her lines. 

I think it will be a fun & lively hour. Hope to see you there.

The main event, of course, is the 1st Tree Reading of the season featuring Jessica Moore & Margaret Christakos. Open mic begins at 8pm & features begin sometime around 8:30ish, me thinks.

Note that Tree is at a new venue now. If you're a bus rider/pedestrian like me, i highly recommend taking the 85, getting off at Beech, walking the coupla minute walk down Railroad which leads to Young. Gallery 101 is in a warehouse. Or you can always walk up Preston.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

City of Ottawa 2016 Creation and Production Fund for Emerging Writers

Much thanks to the City of Ottawa for the award of a grant as part of the Creation and Production Fund for Emerging Writers so that I can work on Grace, a poetry manuscript that explores a middle-aged woman's interaction with the city, young men, long life & gin.

Monday, June 20, 2016

why create a close reading service for new women poets?

AngelHousePress: Announcing A Close Reading Service for New Women Poets 

WHAT:  I will read five pages of your free verse or prose poetry, offer editing suggestions and possibly suggest poetry to read;

WHO:   new poets, not yet published with a press (chapbook or spine), who identify as women; must be avid readers of contemporary poetry;

HOW:   send poetry to; name a contemporary influence (poet, work of poetry);

WHEN:           anytime; work read on a first come first served basis, one poet per month;

WHERE:         wordwide;

WHY:             lack of chapbook submission by women; an attempt to encourage and mentor;

COST:             free.


The creation of this service may come as a surprise for anyone who follows me on social media or knows me personally. I despise stereotyping & prejudice of all forms. I have always seen the act of publishing based on gender as a form of prejudice, regardless of which gender. But I have also always believed in welcoming voices that are little heard in the mainstream. So those two ideals have been in conflict for me & I’ve struggled with them. Recently though, the evidence of a lack of women writers’ voices has hit home & I’d like to try, in my own small way, to do something about it.

Since starting AngelHousePress in 2007, our mission has always been to create a space for outsiders, those not published or published rarely in mainstream publications, who don’t win awards or get invited to be part of official verse culture. To offer a space where writers dared, a place where they could be free to try out oddball stuff, to risk. I believe creating an outsider space for rebellion against convention is what small presses are for.

I put out an open call last year for long poem/poem series manuscripts. I received 30 queries/manuscripts & only three were from women. I also put out calls for & for our essay series. I received a lot of work from men, but almost nothing from women. I had to send out individual requests to get women to send me stuff for NPM & for the chapbook series, even after sending out requests to women whose work I admire, but who aren’t well-published in the mainstream, I still didn’t get chapbook submissions.

When I asked some women why they didn’t submit chapbook manuscripts, I was given a variety of reasons, such as wanting to reserve the publication for spines, being too busy with work, children, etc, but the one that particularly stood out for me is that some women didn’t think their work was ready for publication.

I’m concerned about the lack of submissions from women. & I am fully aware that this is a problem for larger spiny presses as well. If a reason that women aren’t sending work out is because they need to receive more feedback, more encouragement, more mentoring, then perhaps I can help with that. I’ve been running for more than a decade. It’s given numerous poets a chance to have their work published for the first time. I’ve been running AngelHousePress since 2007 & am always on the lookout for art & literature from voices all over the world.

Now, given the lack of women writers sending us work, I’ve decided to make that a priority, so I’ve started this close reading service for new women poets.

Not because I’m some kind of authority on poetry, but because I also hear that little voice inside too, the one that says my work won’t be good enough, that I have no business putting it out there. I see women in ball gowns & men in tuxedos live streamed at literary award galas or receive invitations to pay money to hear polite talks in fancy hotels by well-published poets.  I don’t belong in that world. AngelHouse, & its transgressive prose imprint Devilhouse, is for people who don’t belong. So I’m reaching out to women who also feel like outsiders, who feel that their work has no place in the world & I’m telling you that it does. I’m going to find ways to support you & to mentor you. The reading service is one way.

I’m hoping that I’ll discover some new voices & that AngelHousePress will be able to share those voices with kindreds by means of our chapbooks, our online magazines & our essay series.

After a day, I’ve received only one query so far. It is possible that no one will send anything, I suppose. But I hope the service resonates for some out there.

Thanks to all who have retweeted the announcement. Please continue to do so. If this is of interest to you & you fit the criteria, please send me your work. If you don’t fit the criteria, please share the announcement

Saturday, June 11, 2016

All Hail Queen Christina

Queen Christina was a 15th C. Swedish monarch who abdicated the throne, some say to live as a man. This prompted a series of poems about historical and fictional characters who pushed boundaries, particularly gender boundaries, but also those who defied sexual convention or who I imagined defied convention.

The chapbook has been published as part of Ghost City Press's summer microchapbook series. Thanks to Kevin Bertolero for publishing my work.

You can download the chapbook here, along with others. You can either take the work for free or pay any amount you'd like. All proceeds go to the authors.

I read some of these poems last September during a reading with Daniel Allen Cox, Marcus McCann, Billeh Nickerson at Venus Envy in celebration of my husband's birthday. It was a great party. I hope this chapbook is a great party for you! With Pride coming up soon, let's take the opportunity to celebrate those who,  despite the merciless fucking treatment by this wretchedly conventional society, continue to push boundaries and make this a world worth living in.

Please watch this great documentary on Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

& a postscript: my heart goes out to those who have been brutally murdered and wounded in Orlando, to their families, friends & the entire LGBTQ+ community.