amongst books

amongst books

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Sunday Thots

 Hello friends,

 Time change is fucking me up, of course. Woke up this morning at 2 a.m, formerly 1 a.m. and yet, if normally when I have trouble sleeping I wake up at 3 a.m which would be 4 a.m., right? Oh well, I wrote a bunch of confessional and silly social media posts and ended up falling back to sleep around 5:30 a.m. I’m here now, somewhere between the old and new times. It’s harder to adjust with aging. To pretty much everything, they say.

 Charles and I are working on Experiment-O this weekend. I start working on that in the summer, inviting contributors and doing a basic layout by the fall, then Charles comes in and pretties it up.

 My attention span is short this morning. We’re waiting for the groceries to arrive.

 “Art can do this – excavate a buried thing inside of us and hold it up until our eyes adjust to the bright truth of it.” Sin Boldly, A sermon for Reformation Day by Nadia Bolz-Weber

 I’ve been painting wings with my hands enshrouded in vinyl gloves. It’s really fun.

 “My father threw me a puffball mushroom as big a beachball and I didn't catch it and it broke into tiny glowing white pieces on the dark ground. Shards of the moon.” Jason, Logan, Toronto Ink Company, The Colour, Wild Grapes. Aside from a phenomenal ink maker, this fellow is a poet. Also, please subscribe to his newsletter. As he says, “I am trying to build a colour revolution one reader at a time.”

 Sarah Bodman’s Book Arts Newsletter makes me want to make artist’s books. UK friends, if you’re in London. Into the Dark Woods - Su Blackwell, Long & Ryle, London, UK 17th November - 17th December 2021 A book launch and accompanying exhibition of new works by Su Blackwell at Long & Ryle Gallery London, opening Wednesday 17th November 2021, 5pm - 8pm. Fragile and beguilng book sculptures? Fairy tales with strong women characters? I’m there. And here is more of Blackwell’s art.

 The groceries came. No laundry this weekend.

 I’m in love with November light and I have a lifelong love affair with trees. I leave you with some photos from last week’s walk to Strathcona Park, Sandy Hill and Lowertown.

Ottawa, you’re lovely in the autumn.

 I urge you to get out there and bathe yourself in that golden light if you can. I feel so much better. Actually I’m feeling good these days. I am 12 years past my expiry date and no longer rotten.



Friday, October 15, 2021

The Before, a video reading from Welcome to Upper Zygonia is now online!

Dear Friends,
I am pleased to share the debut of a video reading for "the Before," an excerpt from Welcome to Upper Zygonia, a series of long poems set in the imagination of a scribe, who dreams of a better world.

Cast of Characters
The Scribe – creator of Welcome to Upper Zygonia
The Tattooist – Earthling who tattoos passengers leaving for UZ
Willowmena – willow tree resident of UZ, former owner of the House of Burlesque, former resident of Saturn
Sparrow – resident of UZ, former resident of Pluto
the Potter – Plutonian who makes pottery out of the remains of dying planets

I am grateful to the Writers Union of Canada Public Readings Program for sponsoring this video reading, and to the City of Ottawa Creation and Production Fund for Established Writers for funding Welcome to Upper Zygonia. WTUZ is made up of guided remixes, combining words from my own work, texts from H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, William Britton, The Burnt Planet, G. Peyton Wertenbaker, The Coming of the Ice, Frances Hodgson Burnett, THE SECRET GARDEN, from Project Gutenberg Wikipedia entries for , online magazines such as Architectural Digest, Time, Science Mag, the National Geographic, Country Living,, NASA and NOAA’s sites, Google’s Arts and Culture site, the Abandoned Ottawa and Wildflowers groups on FaceBook and two newsletters: The Colour by the Toronto Ink Company and Matter by Cindy Deachman. Thank you to the Lazarus Corporation for its Cut Up and Remix Engine.

Gratitude to friends for sharing your tattoos and viewers for watching and sharing this video, and great thanks to Charles Earl for spending hours on this with me.

NOTE: after reviewing the entire video instead of just its individual pieces during editing i realized that the red dress which hangs on trees and various places throughout the video might be seen as a reference to the REDress Project, a public art installation created by Jaime Black to commemorate missing and murdered Indigenous women, which inspired Red Dress Day. My inclusion of the red dress was not an intentional reference to this project, and is unrelated, but since it is here, i take the opportunity to encourage viewers to commemorate, honour and grieve for missing and murdered Indigenous women and point you to Red Dress Day, which takes place on May 5 annually:
I apologize for my use of the red dress which is meant to reference the character of Willowmena and the ransacked ballgowns of later day capitalism. I felt it was important to acknowledge the REDress Project here and to apologize for my unintentional appropriation. I greatly respect and support the work of the REDress Project, and all who are working to call for justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Here is the final report from the Inquiry. Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

I am open to any comments you may have on this or other things in the video. Thank you and kind regards.

your friend,
Amanda Earl, October 15, 2021 (my 58th birthday).

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Sunday Thots

 I slept so well that when the alarm when off for the laundry I was confused as to why it was going off. Then I forgot a few things for the laundry. This pleases me…to have such a deep sleep. The laundry is in the wash and so far we’ve had elevators 3, 3 and 2. We are on the way to a descending trifecta if we get 1 on our downward trip. We had to stop off at the main floor to load up our Coinamatic card. Why isn’t it in the laundry room you ask? Good question. No idea why. It used to be in the laundry room and then they moved it for some reason. This is the kind of scintillating prose you get at 7 am on a Sunday, friends.


I am way behind on reading all the newsletters that come in during the week. I’ve been busy working on a poetry manuscript and my brain has been focused on that pretty much solely since August. I met some milestones so now my brain has a bit of room again.


The Babel Tower Notice Board’s chock full of musings and writing exercise in the form of a newsletter is the first in my to read subdirectory of my newsletter folder of my e-mail, arriving on August 25. Sadly, this is the last newsletter of this nature, but Richard Capener, the editor makes sense – at the time of BTNB’s first anniversary (yay, Babel!),  its newsletter is reaching a very large audience and the editor doesn’t want to seem like a mouthpiece. I will miss the recommendations, writing exercises and musings.  I didn’t agree with all of the positions taken by the editor, but they always gave me food for thought, and I don’t need to agree with everything to enjoy it. I like shit that gets my brain working and their shit did. The work in BTNB’s issues also do that for me, so fair played, Capener, fair played. You can read the work and the year’s worth of newsletters here.


As I have mentioned here, I adore ink maker Jason Logan’s (Toronto Ink Company) newsletter, the Colour. To read it is a true treat. I have just finished the chicory newsletter from August 27 and it is a delight. And oh the rabbit holes! He’s been fairly constrained this time, but he’s led my mind to wandering and that is what it likes to do best. I’m such a fan of Jason’s that I have a character in my ongoing poetry manuscript who is called the Ink Maker and I have remixed, along with many many other sources, some of the words of the newsletter into the poems. Credited of course!


We had elevator 2 for the downward, so no descending trifecta. Upward we did get 1, but only after we didn’t get into elevator 3 with a fellow early morning laundry doer, who kindly held it for us, but we said no—there’s a two-person limit during the pandemic and I’m good with that. Apparently, says Charles we could not get a general trifecta because we had two of the same elevators in a row, the 2. This resets it. If we get a 3 now, we will have a general trifecta. We have two more chances at an ascending trifecta but that would mean we needed the 2, followed by the 3. I’m not sure 3 has woken up yet. I know how it feels.


Another newsletter that takes me down the rabbit hole is Matter written by local artist and writer Cindy Deachman. Volume 1, Issue 12 is entitled “And We Breathe” in which we learn how about oxygen and how wind is created, going back to Ptolemy and Cosmographia, “the earliest German language description of the world, first published in 1540 by cartographer Sebastian Munster.” She references an ancient story about how humans found their way to the moon and it’s a beauty. It involves three-headed vultures. One step for mankind, one giant beak for …uh… moving on… I love all the art and photos in Cindy’s newsletter as well. If you want to subscribe, give Cindy a shout at  cdeachman at gmail dot com.


I continue to write usually until it is close to time to picking up the laundry from the dryer, but today I’m going to stop here. I shall leave you in suspense. Did they manage to get a general trifecta? You’ll never know…dah dah dah!


Thanks for reading. If you are. If you aren’t, I expect you are doing more interesting things or even catching up on some sleep, and that’s ok!







Sunday, August 22, 2021

Sunday Thots

The wash is in the laundry cycle. I woke up at 2:30 and didn’t fall back to sleep until after 5, friends. I have coffee. It is almost 7. We have the makings of a general elevator trifecta, having taken #3 down, followed by 1. The 2 was occupied by a man with two pups, Siberian huskies maybe? They barked at us. They hadn’t had their coffee either.

This week I have been thinking about my privilege, privileges in the plural. I’m a white settler, I have food and shelter and enough financial support to be fairly secure in my life. All of these privileges make a difference to the way I see the world and the way I approach my life and my presence here. It is important that I am mindful of these privileges in my dealings with others. Things that are easy for me to do are not necessarily easy for those without those privileges.

This month Cindy Deachman’s newsletter Matter contemplates attachment to things and places. She shows great photos of books, objects, music, while talking about those who have lost their homes due to flooding, and the homeless locally. Her newsletter combines mindful and thoughtful meandering with beautiful photos, many of them by photographer spouse Tony Fouhse. You can subscribe by contacting Cindy directly at cdeachman at gmail dot com.

I am playing the soundtrack to the HBO film Oslo, which I haven’t even heard of, but Cellist Zoe Keating sends news of it in her newsletter this week. I love her music. The score has been nominated for an Emmy. Nice to hear that Keating is working on a new album again. Her tour schedule is set up for 2022 and she’s going to be in Toronto in January. I know it is hard for musicians and other performers who want to be able to perform in front of live audiences again.

We have now had elevator 2 for the ride back down to change the laundry over, with a brief stop to do our recycling and a climb down the stairs to the 2nd basement where the laundry room is, then the 2 again for the upward ride from the laundry room to our apartment. So we have a general trifecta, not ascending or descending.

Nadia Bolz-Weber’s weekly newsletter, the Corners this week is entitled “If you can't take in anymore, there's a reason - an essay on circuit breakers, empty buckets, and the shame-show of social media” NBW is an interesting person) she says obviously, otherwise why subscribe to the newsletter). She’s a Lutheran minister and a straight-on foul-mouthed tell it like it is speaker and author. Her books are on my to read list, especially, Pastrix, the cranky, beautiful faith of a sinner and saint

In this issue she likens the times we are living in to an overloaded fusebox. For those of you who are feeling guilty about not doing enough in these times to help with social injustice, climate change, etc, this week’s newsletter is a comfort. “It’s ok to focus on one fire.” I needed to hear that. Maybe you did too.

I admit that there are newsletters that I sometimes skip completely. The Paris Review newsletter is something I sign up for and then unsub from because I often just skip it. There’s only so much I can read and take in. This week I’m drawn to the interview with Kaveh Akbar entitled “Poetry is doing great.” I’m intrigued by this because I loved Calling A Wolf A Wolf, his first poetry book and I’ve heard through social media he has a second one out, Pilgrim Bell, and also because the idea of poetry doing great makes me think of it as a person, with needs for nurturing and care.

 This is the bit that spoke to me, “Were you ever a kid who would hold your shirt out like—I don’t know if you can see it—like this, and you would fill it with stones or shells or whatever? I feel like I’m just moving through the world with my shirt out in front of me, filling it with language and images.”

 I don’t read the whole interview, I’m content with that. I’ve been working on some poems for my current WIP and I’ve been filling a box with these too of late.

 I adored  Golden, The Toronto Ink Company’s newsletter this week on the move out of the attic studio. He takes us back to objects again as Cindy’s newsletter started this blog entry. In this case, a bottle of Eve’s Klein blue on the sill evokes a memory, as do the stains and old seeds on the floor.

 This time of year is always so full of the possibilities for change. A new school season begins in a few weeks. It’s complicated with the pandemic still raging on and endlessly on, but somewhere there are little kids with school supplies and new autumn clothes and I remember that feeling – both excited and afraid of what was to come. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sunday Thots

 No laundry today. A deluge of awful – Haitian earthquake, Covid 19 case rates, Conservative attack ads sends me to my weekly newsletters. I find the need for poetry increasingly during these heartbreaking times, and I often learn about poems and poets new to me, along with other great stuff through newsletters.

 In this week’s issue of his newsletter, the Colour, sent out every Saturday, Jason Logan is discussing midnight blue. He opens with “There should be a word for when blue goes from powder to midnight. From sea to vein. From origin to eclipse.” — Scherezade Siobhan from “Radius.“

 I can’t help myself, I have to go read this poem, and it sets my mind on various tangents as well. Another line from this poem, “How should we confirm the missingness of everything we haven’t ever been allowed to speak into a shape?” feels right for the times. I keep the quote in my label maker’s address book, along with other quotes that help me get through. I save these quotes for epigraphs, but also for letters to friends and to stick in my red moleskine journals.

 Scherezade is “the creator and curator of The Mira Project, a global, cross-cultural dialogue which uses expressive art and storytelling to dismantle gendered violence and street harassment.” The Mira Project is now five years old. Today I go to visit the Twitter account where I find a pinned tweet of a great list of books on women’s mental health. I am once more down the rabbit hole!

 Logan’s newsletter thrills me every week. It threads from colour to the earth to history to contemporary artists and more. I have a difficult time saving it for Sundays when it comes in, but on Sunday, I have more time to think, to read and to dream.

 Sign of a good newsletter? It gets me hopping online to seek out the various folk and works mentioned. He even talks about combining words and lines from Dionne Brand’s the Blue Clerk and then meeting her for coffee and giving her the sketchbook he’s made. Gosh. He says Brand is Canada’s greatest poetic voice. He’s not wrong. Her work reverberates.

 By the time I reach the end of this week’s newsletter, I have several tabs open on my browser about artists, books, crayons. I need this.

 I also read writer newsletters such as Kathryn Mockler’s Send My Love to Anyone, which comes out twice a month. It is jam packed this week with great advice about how to avoid writer’s block, and recommendations. She was kind enough to include my recommendation for Judith: Women Making Visual Poetry this time around. It’s a very mindful and community minded newsletter, pointing out articles on decolonializing writing, events and videos. It’s free but you can support it with a donation.

 Soon Charles will be putting the bacon on the grill, who we have named Georgina, and we will have a breakfast of bacon and eggs, we’ll order our groceries and meal kit, do a few domestic chores, then settle down to continue our binge watch of this old Australian reality tv series called the Block.

 It’s not quite 8 a.m. yet. It’s quiet. Just the sound of the a/c, and my occasional clicking on the keyboard. I hope to have a quiet week, some time with a dear friend at DripHouse on Somerset, which is becoming my regular cafĂ© where I meet friends, still something I am taking very careful and tentative steps toward. I am not doing group gatherings at all, and I’m keeping my eye on case counts still. Charles reads me stats and we talk about it. I wonder when reading about case counts and deaths won’t be a daily thing anymore. I’m still rattled and worried. So binge-watches of reality tv: cooking, renovation, fashion…some days that’s about all I can handle.

 If you want to read my monthly newsletter on my writing and publishing activities, along with the occasional tip and a lot of musing, you can sign up on my site.

 A retweet from @poetrytarot via the Mira Project


"I wish for a season

that does not begin with quick tides

of ache."


— Meg Day, from 'Last Psalm at Sea Level'


Sunday, August 08, 2021

Sunday Thots

 Another Sunday, another laundry day. I woke up with my mind full of ideas for my work as always. Four loads of laundry, including one for masks. Summer means less laundry, fewer and lighter clothes. So far we have taken elevators 2, 1, 2, 2 and we have two more rides to go to pick up the drying and bring it home.

 While waiting, I have been reading a few of the newsletters I subscribe to. This week’s the Colour by inkmaker Jason Logan was particularly interesting, as he talks about his correspondence with a fellow inkmaker and the red of a 4000 year-old Turkish carpet, among other things that just fill me with wonder.  

 Another newsletter I love to read is Katrina Rodabaugh’s Make Thrift Mend. I learned of her sewing work when I was doing research for Judith: Women Making Visual Poetry. The newsletter is partly autobiographical about being a mother of young children while also working as an artist, writer and teacher.  She works “at the intersection of fiber arts, slow fashion, and sustainability.” Of particular interest to me is her work with natural dyes and also mending. She includes links to her books and to other artists’ work, along with some of the lovely things she has available through Etsy. This time around she mentions “Mystical Stitches: Embroidery for Personal Empowerment and Magical Embellishment” by Christi Johnson, and I admit I’m fascinated. I can’t sew but I can write and such things often work their way into my writing. Also I have a lot of friends who sew and many of them make visual poetry and stuff like this is right up their alley.

 This has been a weekend of cuddling down with Charles and watching old films like Back to the Future and Pretty Woman, dozing a bit during the films, which is totally fine. I love the peaceful cocoon that Charles and I have here. We both need it more than ever.

 Creatively I’m leading a very enriching life. I am very grateful for my life full of love and whimsy and wonder.


Sunday, August 01, 2021

Sunday Thots

 No laundry today. The benefits of living in an apartment building with a large laundry room that is open twenty-four hours means being able to do a bunch of laundry early and all at once—which is my preference. I have had my own washer/dryer and never liked having to keep doing laundry constantly or dealing with whatever repairs were needed when it broke down.

 Charles is making our breakfast bacon and we are listening to the recently released album, The Devil’s Share by writer, Steven Heighton. I’m enjoying it. Makes me think it would be fun to do an album of Canadian writer musicians. Ottawa has a large share of those. Another idea for the list.

 I enjoyed a coffee chat with a friend on a patio recently, my first since the Before Times. I am gently and slowly coming out of isolation, but one step forward and one step back seems to be my method. After hearing that the CDC in the States has found that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can transmit the Delta variant, I am not in any hurry to move into full scale group gatherings or to be around those with kids, who are unvaccinated and therefore vulnerable. I will continue to mask up in indoor public settings and practice physical distancing etc. The fourth wave is likely coming this autumn.

 I am confused by those who are attending group gatherings, visiting the elderly and the young or planning in person large events this year. None of that makes sense to me at all. I was in ICU with respiratory failure. I feel panic at the very thought of the loosening of restrictions meant to protect people from that experience, from death. I have to repeat over and over again my version of the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer as a mantra: allow me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 I am working on the Welcome to Upper Zygonia manuscript, thinking about utopias and dystopias.

 It’s the third day of a four-day-weekend for Charles and me. I’m adoring our cocooning and focus on the small things that bring comfort. We spend a lot of time cuddled up in bed, watching some tv show or movie and just being close. That’s what I need now, not any kind of group gathering or loud outdoor brouhaha. We have our time together, I do my work, I interact with dear friends, that’s all I want.

 Now we are listening to Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s the Theory of Ice, exactly what I need on a rainy and peaceful day. I hope you are finding peace and joy somehow.