amongst books

amongst books

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sex Lit Resurgence in Ottawa

this past weekend was fraught with sexual literature, starting with the Reclaiming Eros reading on Friday at Venus Envy, that I was honoured to be a part of.

it was a joy to hear Luna Allison, Barbara Brown and Suzanne Blackburn read. I opened with my kinky rendition of My Favourite Things and then read a timely political smut story in which Tories were flogged. oh the satisfaction ;). Luna performed a combo song / spoken word piece complete with the audience simulating a heartbeat for her. lots of love in that room Friday night. she also read two short stories, one of which she will continue when she reads in November at the new and wonderful Naughty Thoughts Book Club (more on that later).

Barbara Brown and Suzanne Blackburn came from Toronto to launch Suzanne’s book. Was lovely to hear Barbara’s spoken word pieces, particularly a poem about the sensuousness of spindles. Suzanne, who is from the States, read from Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers. It was an interesting format for a book. Suzanne wrote in the first person but based on her interviews with celebrated sex enthusiasts such as Annie Sprinkle. The idea that sex is something to be celebrated shouldn’t be something novel in this day and age, but it is. Damage is done to people if we repress their sexuality. Readings like the one at Venus Envy go a long way toward reminding us to rejoice in our sexuality.

Thanks to Sara and Fiona of Venus Envy who provided a lovely welcome and organized the event. It was the first time any reading organizer for readings i’ve taken part in has ever taken the time to look for and put out any of the erotica anthologies i’m published in alongside the book being launched.

it was clear on Friday night that Ottawans have a great appetite for sexlit. i don’t think there are enough opportunities to read and listen to such in Ottawa. there is something beautiful about being able to read sexually explicit writing and not be the sole voice and then afterward to have such a loving response. i guess it didn’t hurt that i was wearing clothing i usually reserve for the boudoir :)

one new initiative that is helping to alleviate the sexual tension in Ottawa is the Naughty Thoughts Book Club, the new reading series launched by Capital Xtra’s head heart throb Marcus McCann. Montrealer Daniel Allen Cox was the debut author, brining his novel Shuck(Arsenal Pulp Press) to Ottawa. It’s about a 90s NYC porn actor, sex worker. Daniel dropped his pants to re-enact the novel’s title and a scene set on New York streets. He has very nice grey boxer briefs. He also finger printed a willing volunteer from the audience, but alas, didn’t frisk or cuff anyone. Maybe next time. Marcus read from the novel on Daniel’s behalf because the author doesn’t like to read from his own work. I’d like to know how to get away with that ;)

You may recall Daniel’s first book, Tattoo This Madness In, published by Ottawa’s own Dusty Owl Press. It’s still available thru the Owl. And you can pick up Shuck from After Stonewall at 370 Bank St, a splendid bookstore featuring the best in GLBT fiction, non fiction, porn and more.

Hats off to Marcus for starting this new series. It was delightful to sip my pomegranate mojito in the Buzz while hearing about the top ten most effective ways to become a porn star.

we’ve had sex lit as the main course at reading series before: a few years ago the folks at Capital Slam ran a series called Talented Tongues at Venus Envy, hosted and organized by Lisa Slater, who has since left Ottawa for Vancouver;

another series Dirty Girls, ran for a few years at the Laff and then the Mercury Lounge and was hosted by Ottawa writer and former Xpress sex columnist Nichole McGill.

Who else pens sex lit in Ottawa?

Patricia K. McCarthy is a self-published writer of erotic vampire books. She recently had a launch for her latest novel, the Crimson Boy at Venus Envy. Spoken word artists Jacqueline Lawrence, Steve Sauve and Oni the Haitian Sensation, have been known to dish up a sexy poem or two. check out Oni's Bedside Booty Book CD. Megan Butcher also writes sexy vignettes.

who else?

Matthew Firth writes gritty and straight-up stories where sex is included, usually as something uncomfortable or embarrassing, but never avoided in his writing. He is also the publisher/editor of Front&Centre Magazine, which features writing and reviews from all over the world. The stories are not always sexual in nature, but often. My story "Caught in the Rain" about a woman's sadistic delight in watching another women standing in the rain was published in F&C.

speaking of magazines....we just had a launch of Carleton’s new sex mag, the Moose and Pussy at the Dusty Owl recently and before that my good pal Liam Taliesin published two issues of a wondrous literary erotica journal called Moist, now defunct thanks to distributor bankrupcies alas. but it was a gorgeous and sexy mag and i still miss it.

next up on the sexual celebration is another Capital Xtra event “Transgress” at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on October 24, featuring Sean Horlor, Todd Klinck, Nairne Holtz and Daniel MacIvor.

judging by audience reactions and the well filled rooms at this weekend’s readings, Ottawa’s appetite for literature which deals openly with sex and sexuality has not yet been sated.

let’s keep it coming.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

yesterday's Vote Culture and other artists defending the arts

yesterday's Vote Culture Town Hall was inspiring, particularly because of the stirring words of the first speaker, Wajdi Mouawad, who is the NAC's Artistic Director of French Theatre and an award winning playwright.

one of his key points is that we weren't there to defend arts subsidies but the existence of art itself, that Canada has a reputation for treating its artists with contempt. he said that artists have to situate themselves in the margins in order to practice their art. he told the audience he was speaking as an artist, a director. he talked about his own appreciation for beauty as a motivation in his own work. his speech was very personal and intimate as if he were addressing each member of the audience directly.

also very inspiring was Martin Faucher, President of the Conseil québécois du théâtre. he spoke of his own upbringing and of not fitting in and the role of the arts in his life.

as one of the politicians pointed out, arts is on the political agenda this time around instead of relegated to the sidelines. if you couldn't attend the town hall or even if you could, you can still communicate your concern with making the arts a priority in this election; the Canadian Arts Coalition has an election toolkit that gives you advice about how you can raise the issue of arts with the candidates in your ridings here.

on a side note, i would have liked to have seen representatives from a wider variety of artistic disciplines. if we're going to raise awareness about the role of art in Canada, we need to include representatives from visual, music, literary arts, urban arts and so forth. i'm assuming that if there'd been more time to organize, that would have happened. in future though, it is imperative for all arts to join forces and for each sector to be invited to the table.

all that aside though, it was a stirring event and the Academic Hall theatre was packed. then there was a rally up on Parliament Hill.

i leave the artists themselves with the last word...

Margaret Atwood, Yan Martel and Wajdi Mouawad have recently spoken out in defence of the arts. the links to their passionnate cris de coeur are below.

Margaret Atwood
Yann Martel
Wajdi Mouawad [in translation]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vote Culture, Rally today at 4pm, U of Ottawa

the galas i attend with my arts funding

it was amusing to read of Harper’s latest hijinx in which he referred to arts funding as a “niche issue” (Ottawa Citizen, Sept 24, 2008). wasn’t it fun the way he pitted “ordinary working people” against “a bunch of people at a rich gala”?

this is how out of touch our dishonourable prime minister is with the arts. what he knows about the arts he learns by watching tv. no doubt he thinks all dogs talk because he’s heard Brian yacking on Family Guy.

the arts is not a marginal, nor a niche issue. from the time people begin school to the time, they are put in the ground, it is very likely that they have had some contact with the arts, whether it be through taking band in high school (subsidized) or attending a play at their local theatre (hopefully subsidized) to the pottery class at the retirement home (hopefully subsidized).

and what about subsidies? if we say that arts shouldn’t be subsidised what should? sports? the dairy industry? big oil companies?

statistics that have demonstrated that areas with an active arts community make an area more attractive to live in and bring in more revenue than they cost in subsidies.

it serves the Tory’s purposes to pit urban dwellers against rural dwellers, to separate “ordinary working Canadians” from artists, who are depicted as people who attend fancy galas. the fact is many artists are working at least one other job to support a family and to help underwrite their work. very few people receive funding from the government for their art but many funding recipients have gone on to receive world recognition.

it’s all foolishness what Harper says, but i know people who will buy in to his bullshit. even though they themselves have been & their sons and daughters are involved in many subsidised activities, such as you the bus...driving on highways, medicare.

i’m off to spend more of my (non existant) funding, sipping (imaginary) champagne at yet another (invisible) gala.

if you have time today, please attend the Vote Culture Rally

VOTE CULTURE Town Hall / Assemblée publique VOTE CULTURE
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
4:00pm - 7:00pm
Academic Hall, University of Ottawa
Street: 133 Séraphin-Marion
City/Town: Ottawa, ON

Contact Info Email:

Monday, September 22, 2008

shutterbuggery etc

at the Owl reading yesterday afternoon i counted at least five cameras in the room.

here are the results of two by Ottawa's sexiest photographers:

Charles Earl

thanks to them both, i actually manage to look rather fetching.

thanks to everyone who came to my launch of Welcome to Earth at the Dusty Owly yesterday. it was great fun. & thanks to the Owls: Cathy, Steve and Kate and to Chris of Dog and Pony Sound for pumping up the volume on my soft voice so that the boys in the back could hear.

my next reading is this Friday at 8:30 pm at Venus Envy, when Luna Allison and I heat up the audience as part of the launch of Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers. I have gone over and over what i might read, but i think i've decided on True Grit, my story about a gay bdsm sex scandal on the Hill. the timing just seems too perfect. i promise you i won't read anything pretty. i write smut. come and see ;)

don't forget to check out all the great readings this week: Tree on Tuesday has Susan Musgrave, rob mclennan reads at the Ottawa Art Gallery on Thursday as part of the amazing exhibit, Evidence: the Ottawa City Book Project and the new Capital Xtra sponsored Gay and Lesbian reading series Naughty Thoughts debuts at the Buzz on Sunday with Daniel Allen Cox reading from his new novel Shuck about a 90s sex worker in NYC.

while we're on the subject of sex and literature, am i the only one who craves a pansexual reading series catering to smut writers of all sexes, genders, colours, flavours and bents? possibly open mic?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Upcoming Everything and Beyond......!

we’re heading into one heck of a busy literary season, so i just thought i’d mention a few upcoming readings and activities that i’m directly involved in in the next 10 days or so:

Saturday, Sept 20, 2008
AIDS Walk For Life (Ottawa)
Walk starts at 7pm, registration at 6pm.
The walk raises awareness and money to help people with AIDS/HIV.
If you are so inclined, please join the Ottawa Writers & Friends team or sponsor us.
Bywords has been taking part in this walk since 2003. and last year, we changed the team name to Ottawa Writers & Friends in order to include writers of all stripes and also writer groupies :)
Let’s show Ottawa that we care about the people in our community. C’mon out. It’s always great fun. This is the only time you’ll ever see me in a tutu. Drinks after at the Royal Oak at Bank & Gloucester, where i will drink a tutu (that is, i will be in the tutu, not the beer). Oh, and if you can't make it out, you can donate here

Sunday, Sept 21
Dusty Owl featuring Amanda Earl (that’s me!)
Swizzles Bar & Grill, 246-b Queen Street
Feature at 2pm ish followed by open set and object of desire

Friday, Sept 26
Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers
featuring Luna Allison, Amanda Earl, Suzanne Blackburn and Margaret Wade
Venus Envy, 320 Lisgar, 8:30pm
Luna and I will be reading sexy stories and poems after which Suzanne and Margaret will tell us about this book which talks about the relationship between erotic expression and the divine.

Check the calendar of literary events for many more activities this week and beyond ...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lift by Sandra Ridley

Last night’s reading upstairs at the Carleton Tavern featuring Sandra Ridley, Marcus McCann and Sachiko Murakami had an excellent turnout. Marcus read from a few different chapbooks both forthcoming and recently released. It’s always a pleasure to hear his work. I’ve had the fortune of being in a workshop with Marcus for a number of months now. Sachiko, who is a Vancouver writer read from her Talonbooks poetry collection The Invisibility Exhibit. It is her first book.

The highlight of the evening for me was Sandra’s fine reading of what i believe is her first chapbook, Lift: Ghazals for C., published in a limited edition of 75 copies by Jack Pine Press. The beautifully made chapbook contains linocut and block prints by Eric Slankis, According to the site "The cover is a hand-printed front-to-back linocut print on Arches Aquarelle paper, protected by Mylar sheath. The book is hand-stitched with bees-waxed archival linen thread, and contains three original hand-printed block prints, with text printed on Canson Special Effects paper." Aside from its physical beauty, the chapbook, which consists of 12 ghazals for C., is a well-written sequence. Apparently it is an excerpt from a book-length manuscript, which won the 2008 Alfred G. Bailey Prize. In bios, Sandra always refers to herself as a Saskatchewan writer living in Ottawa. This collection, as audience member Mark Schaan said last night, is very Prairie. it has a Prairie feel to it, not just from the stark cover illustration by Slankis of a house, framed in black night. the poems themselves are stark as the prairie, a clapboard house, chokecherries, fireweed. nature is weaved thru the memories of a child that didn’t live but is part of a family’s history, even though her photographs have been taken out of the album. the poems put the photos back in the album, so to speak.

what I particularly like about these ghazals is their compactness or minimalism; the use ghazal couplets is a restrained form that works effectively to represent the understated tone, grief for a deceased child, Carolyn, to whom these ghazals are dedicated. we are told in the endnote that Carolyn died in 1958, two weeks before her second birthday.


As a needle slides, saline drips
& white cells multiply out of control.

Bone-seekers hide in marrow: in tibia,
in femur. Your bruise is wounded blood.

X-rays are pictures & smiles are expected.
Comfort, a thin blanket woven with lead.

We ask the Fates to respond & they do
with nothing but dread for our questions.

What’s a sweet girl like you doing here?
Dear C., promise me that you’ll be good.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

it's here!

i just received copies of my latest chapbook "Welcome to Earth: poem for alien(s)" from Bookthug. more info later on its Ottawa launch at the Dusty Owl. for now, i just wanted to say...woo hoo! you can purchase copies at the launch here in Ottawa or online thru Bookthug, should you so desire. my other chapbooks "Eleanor" and "the Sad Phoenician's Other Woman" are available thru above/ground press and from me, if you can catch me up here on cloud 9.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Village Street Social & Film Screening tonight at 7pm

Show your support at a Bank St BBQ and film screening
Gilmour, between Bank and O'Connor
Contact: Marcus McCann-

Have a HEART; use your BRAIN; muster up some COURAGE as we sing along to help put Bank Street OVER THE RAINBOW

Because there's no place like home... have fun and support the Village Initiative.
We're taking over Gilmour Street off Bank for some food and a film screening of The Wizard of Oz.

Sing along or cuddle up with a neighbour.

Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and camp out on the street.

FREE event, with a suggested donation of $5 for the Village.

The Village Initiative is a group of concerned queers who want visual acknowledgment of the gay and trans community on Bank St, where many of us already live, work & play.

The Bank St BIA (business improvement area) won't commit to rainbow banners and has led the push to shove our event off Bank Street onto Gilmour, but we refuse to give up.

Show the BIA how much the queer community loves Bank St.Things you can do at a BBQ:*
Eat a hot dog* Meet your neighbours* Singalong to the Wizard of Oz* Dress up like Dorothy (or a friend of Dorothy)* Sign the petition* Hug your neighbours

Village t-shirts, undies and wearable stickers will be available for sale at the screening.
ALL proceeds go directly to the Village Initiative. T's and undies - $20 each; stickers in 26 different "types" - $2 each.

Come out, get involved and stand up for YOUR Street!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

launch of the Moose and Pussy this Sunday

September 7, 2pm at the Dusty Owl Reading Series, Swizzles Bar & Grill, 246-b Queen Street

also a fundraiser for AIDS Walk.

the Moose and Pussy is Carleton’s only sex magazine, debuting at the Owl. there’s a teaser up on the site. take a look at Kane X Faucher’s erudite and insouciant piece “Ars Clitorum.”

if you have smut to read, the open set will be a great chance to do so. let’s celebrate Carleton’s sexy new magazine with sizzle.

by the way, you can sign up to take part in Aids Walk or join or sponsor the Ottawa Writers & Friends team here. i'll be posting more about the walk, which takes place on September 20, later.

Monday, September 01, 2008

rant about Citizen's lack of poetry coverage

is over at the Ottawa Poetry newsletter with a list of what's new and forthcoming in Canadian poetry for 20008/2009.