amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Ottawa, April 11, 2020 – Priorities During Covid-19


A crisis is a sure-fire way of figuring out what is important in life. In my life, Charles and my dear friends are most important to me, followed by the communities I interact with closely through Bywords.ca and AngelHousePress, my neighbourhood and city, my writing, and the literary community at large (local, Canadian, American, international) writers and publishers.

I’ve been checking up on friends via e-mail and FB messenger, mostly to see how they’re doing and to offer an ear and commiseration. I’m not a phone or text person, but will even use the phone and text, if need be. And lovely friends have also been helping me by checking in as well, which is really wonderful and helpful.

I’ve adapted my attempts to find events for the Bywords.ca calendar to include virtual readings and performances offered by local writers and organizers, when I’ve found them. I’ve shared other relevant info on funding sources and ways to help writers. I’d love to see more poetry submissions. Understandably they’re lower at this time.

Activities at AngelHousePress have already been busy this month through NationalPoetryMonth.ca. In addition, I’ve been working on podcast episodes that don’t require in-person involvement from others. The podcast is very important to me as another way of connecting with kindred misfits and promoting and supporting poets and publishers, as well as a way to explore craft.

I’ve come to understand that AngelHousePress’s key role is to advocate for and give voice to those who are often treated as lesser than, not only in the mainstream publishing world, but also in society, in general. The Covid-19 pandemic has shed even more light on classicism and ableism, and the inadequacies of capitalism. I feel more excited than ever about what a woman-run micropress can do to help others. I’m listening and watching for opportunities to help in ways that are within my abilities. An essay about the changing role of AngelHousePress will be coming out on periodicities, the new journal rob mclennan runs, in May.

I was feeling / still feel guilty that I am not able to deliver groceries to people or run errands for them. I don’t have a car and I don’t drive. I decided that something I could do was keep a list of resources for those who didn’t fit in with the white het car owning house owning narrative that dominates the response to the pandemic in Canada and particularly locally. That and donating as much money as I can afford to local support groups for the vulnerable, and culture groups.

I’ve already spoken about the Google spreadsheet, advice for the rest of us. here’s the link again. I’m concerned about the increased powers being given functionaries, such as bylaw officers and the police. Someone wrote recently that the police are 22-year-olds with guns and this is exactly why I’m concerned. I’ve also seen a lot of authoritarian and bureaucratic behaviour surface and it worries me. Yes, we all need to do our parts to stay home as much as we’re able and obey physical distancing rules, but if the authorities apply fines indiscriminately and don’t lead with care and education, marginalized groups already beaten down by the system and prejudice are going to be the ones to pay and suffer. This isn’t something we should support.

I’m doing my best to support publishers and organizers in their events and will share info and purchase gift cards and e-books as much as I can reasonably afford to try to ensure we continue to have a publishing industry and a grassroots micropress industry in this country.

Governments who have made arts and culture a low priority are finally learning (or seem to be) about how essential the arts are at this time. Let’s hope they remember it.

With that in mind, if you haven’t already, donate to a cherished cause related to Covid-19 and vulnerable communities to obtain anthologies published collaboratively by Canadian presses Collusion Books and 845. Info is available here.  

The main thing I’m asking myself these days is what can I do to support and help others. Family, whether blood or chosen, and community are most important these days.

Current handwashing song: Yesterday by the Beatles. Thanks, William @neoncloth for this fun and great way to practice good hygiene during Covid-19 and beyond.



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