Skate the Book!

UPDATE: EXCITING NEWS: We are thrilled to announce the addition of performances by two ice dance pairs coached by Olympians Aaron Lowe and Megan Wing! Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker are 2017 National Team members,International competitors for Canada, 2017 challenge bronze medalists and 2017 BC provincial champions. Diana Barkley and Geoff Squires are the Adult World Dance Champions. This is a rare chance to be on ice with top level performers, hear their edges and see how fast they skate.

Come be a part of a collaborative, perfomative and participatory skating event based on the book of poems about ice, serpentine loop.tea-and-ekg-lacing-skates

Friday, March 24, 2017, 9:00pm-11:15pm
Hillcrest Community Centre Rink
4575 Clancy Loranger Way
Vancouver, BC V5Y 2M4

This event takes place on the unceded lands of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

img_0317Free event, open to public. Spectators and non-skaters welcome. Rental skates available or bring your own! Bring your kids, friends, neighbours and anyone else who wants to skate for fun.

We know it’s late-ish but the ice was cheap! Before we get on the ice at 10pm we’re featuring a ten minute reading and a short off ice talk by professional skaters Elin Schran and Douglas Webster. After that Douglas and Elin are going to demonstrate some figures and edges and then  Elin is going to skate the Canadian debut of the program she choreographed of the book!

Is this crazy? Perhaps. But figure skating and writing share elements of language. On-ice moves include “paragraphs” and “brackets,” for example, and both work with an idea of inscribing the blank sheet. serpentine loop uses the vocabulary of skating to push off from the frozen river and rink and discuss issues of gender, social justice and how we treat each other. The book, in its second printing and named twice to The Walrus’ Best of 2016 list, arises from the my experience growing up around ice as the daughter of US Olympic figure skating gold medalist Tenley Albright. I actually sequenced the poems at the Skating Club of Boston by laying the pages out by the barrier. Now the poems are leaping off the page onto the ice.

elin-schranProfessional figure skater Elin Schran, my sister, will perform the Canadian debut of the short performance she choreographed based on serpentine loop. Elin Schran is the co-founder of Boston-based Frozen Frog Productions and is the innovator of IceFlow (a yoga-inspired skating class). She is a choreographer and performer with experience in many shows including Ice Capades, and taught for five years at Dorothy Hamill’s Fantasy Skating Camp.

Elin is joined by US skater and professional choreographer Douglas Webster, who will speak about the shared vocabulary of skating and writing before taking the ice to demonstrate school figures and a variety of edges in tandem with Elin Schran.

douglas-websterProfessional skater and choreographer Douglas Webster co-founded the internationally-recognized Ice Dance International in 2014 to create classical and contemporary ice ballet with a professional company. Currently, Douglas is the Creative Director for Shall We Dance on Ice, an ABC TV special that features ice dancing and ballroom. He has worked with Disney on Ice, Holiday on Ice, Stars On Ice, The Sun Valley Ice Show and served as the Artistic Director of Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) as well as their Associate Artistic Director, Resident Choreographer and Ensemble Director. He is on the staff of Grassroots to Champions and on the boards of the Young Artists Showcase and The Dance Hall in his hometown of Kittery, Maine.

Previous iterations of the event have been held in New Hampshire and Massachusetts but this is our first Canadian event.

Tentative schedule:

 

9:00pm-9:45pm: In Hillcrest Centre Community Room 328
Welcome, snacks and drinks, 10 minute poetry reading by Elee Kraljii Gardiner from serpentine loop, brief artists’ talk by Doug Webster and Elin Schran

9:45pm-11:00pm: everyone (all levels and abilities) welcome to skate, rentals available

10:00pm: we ask people to move to edge of ice to watch Elin Schran and Doug Webster perform short demo of school figures and edges

10:10pm: Elin Schran performs serpentine loop, a two-minute skating program based on the book

10:10pm: Adult World Dance Champions Pairs team Diana Barkley and Geoff Squires perform

10:15pm: Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker,
2017 National Team members,International competitors for Canada, 2017 challenge bronze medalists and 2017 BC provincial champions perform

10:15pm -11pm: free skating for everyoneElin Kendall CraneVenue is accessible to City of Vancouver standards and equipped with elevators. For details please contact Hillcrest Community Centre, 604-257-8680

We hope to see you!

Growing Room

Room magazine is celebrating 40 years of publishing women with a three-day festival of panels, workshops and readings in Vancouver March 8-12, 2017.

Here are some of the people involved!

Amber Dawn, Marianne Apostolides, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Carleigh Baker, Adèle Barclay, Meghan Bell, Juliane Okot Bitek, Ali Blythe, Nicole Breit, Kat Cameron, Roxanne Charles, Cyndia Cole, Karla Comanda, Lorna Crozier, Francine Cunningham, Jen Currin, Dina Del Bucchia, Junie Désil, Samantha deVries-Hofman, Dora Dueck, barbara findlay, Cynthia Flood, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Chantal Gibson, Hiromi Goto, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Rachel Hartman, Leah Horlick, Aislinn Hunter, June Hutton, Kyla Jamieson, Rachel Jansen, Vici Johnstone, Jónína Kirton, Chelene Knight, Sonnet L’Abbé, Fiona Tinwei Lam, Doretta Lau, Evelyn Lau, Jen Sookfong Lee, Alex Leslie, Christine Lowther, Carrie Mac, Tanis MacDonald, Alessandra Naccarato, Kellee Ngan, Nilofar Shidmehr, Sylvia Symons, Audrey Thomas, Betsy Warland, Beni Xiao, Jennifer Zilm, Daniel Zomparelli

I am delighted to be on two panels; one as a participant and one as a moderator. Due to place constraints most events need tickets to keep track of attendance numbers.

Both panels “sold out” of free tickets right away but organizers added more seats so I hope you can come. There are lots of other events that I am going to attend – the scope of the festival is pretty amazing.

The Only Way Out is Through: Writing About Trauma
Evelyn Lau, Christine Lowther, Sonnet L’Abbé | Moderator: Elee Kraljii Gardiner
March 11, 10:30am–12:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #2 @ Creekside Community Centre

Many of us seek to escape the traumatic memories that haunt us—to heal and move on from the things that have happened to us. Could writing be a way through? Many recommend writing as a method of healing from trauma, but it’s easier said than done. Join Evelyn LauChristine LowtherSonnet L’Abbé, and Elee Kraljii Gardiner for a powerful discussion about sitting with your memories and leaving it all on the page.

Writing in (the) Community
Leah Horlick, Elee Kraljii Gardiner, Audrey Thomas | Moderator: Amber Dawn
March 12, 10:30am–12:00pm | Free | Multipurpose Room #2 @ Creekside Community Centre

In his acceptance speech for the National Book Award in 2016, Colson Whitehead said, “Be kind to everybody, make art, and fight the power.” Writing of all kinds has always been central to the fight against systemic oppression and injustice—and now, more than ever. As we move forward into an uncertain future, and fight to have our voices heard, writers and community activators Elee Kraljii GardinerLeah HorlickAmber Dawn, and Audrey Thomas discuss writing against the grain and creating spaces for everyone to speak their truth.

 

Writers Resist 2 in Vancouver

On Monday Feb 13, 2017, Family Day Holiday!

Writers Resist Islamophobia & in Solidarity with Muslim, Arab, Immigrant & Refugee Communities cohosted by me with Story We Be

6-7pm, Carnegie Community Centre, 401 Main St, Vancouver

7-8pm in the same space Writers Resist Site C, hosted by Fight C

We acknowledge that this event is taking place on the unceded and occupied territories of the x?m?θk??y??m, s?wxw_ ú7mesh, and Tsleil-­-Waututh.

Join us for the second #WritersResist write-in on Monday Feb 13 at Carnegie Community Centre (3rd floor gallery) at Main and Hastings St, from 6pm-8pm.

We will gather at the tables in the gallery atrium on the third floor, because never before have we needed more urgently to take the story back into our own hands. Let’s do that together.

Bring paper, a pen, your laptop if you like! Bring friends. All are welcome.

Some paper, pens, envelopes and postage for those wishing to snail-mail their letters will also be available.

Some snacks and bus fare will also be provided.

______________________________________________________

6pm – 7pm: Writers Resist Islamophobia & in Solidarity with Muslim, Arab, Immigrant & Refugee Communities
______________________________________________________

In light of renewed attacks on Muslim, Arab, immigrant, and refugee communities here in so-called Canada, and across the imposed border, we will:

*Write letters to government representatives, in support of targeted communities. We will provide some form letters, as well as templates that can be modified.

*Write letters to family, friends, neighbours, whom you would like to engage in difficult conversations towards transformation.

*Respond to the prompt: Writers Resist: ________

*And trade action steps, call lists, other practical information that will help our voices be heard, and brainstorm together.

______________________________________________________

7pm – 8pm: Writers Resist Site C
______________________________________________________

This newly added second hour will be hosted by FightC.

FightC is a non-partisan, non-violent community group committed to stopping the Site C dam in solidarity with the Treaty 8 First Nations. We work to raise awareness and engagement on the violation of First Nations Treaty Rights, as well as the eviction of farmers, the destruction of farmland and food security, and the long term financial implications of the dam. Whether you are familiar with Site C or not, we invite you to join us in discussion and in writing a letter to your MLA.

______________________________________________________

ACCESSIBILITY INFO:
______________________________________________________

– Everyone is welcome to participate in this event to their own level of interest and comfort.
– You can participate in one or both parts of the evening.
– This is a child-inclusive event.
– Venue is wheelchair accessible.
– This is also a scent-free event, please find information below.
– Should you require ASL interpretation for this event, OR if you have additional access needs, please let us know by 5pm, Thursday February 9th. Send an email to storywebe[at]gmail[dot]com
– Carnegie is accessible with an outdoor ramp and indoor elevator. There are bathrooms are on the third floor near the Gallery and they are accessible.

______________________________________________________

HOW TO BE SCENT-FREE
______________________________________________________

In order to create an inclusive and safe environment for members of our community who live with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, we request that everyone attending this #WritersResist event to embody fragrance and scent free practices.

MCS is a serious condition that can produce any of the following symptoms: headache, fatigue, dizzies, nausea, congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, breathing problems including asthma-like conditions, muscle pain or stiffness, skin rashes, diarrhea, bloating, seizures, migraines, nosebleeds, vomiting confusion, trouble concentrating, memory problems, and mood changes. These symptoms can last for hours, days, even weeks after exposure.
How to prepare to be scent/fragrance-free:

1. Please make sure that on the day of the event you do not use colognes, perfumes, or essential oils.
2. Please do not wear clothes that have been previously exposed to perfumes, colognes, scented oils, laundry detergents, or fabric softeners.
3. Wash any clothing that you would like to wear which has been exposed in unscented laundry detergent. This might require a number of washes.
4. Please do not use any scented body and hair care products including: deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, jell, mouse, creams, lotions.

It is vital to note that:

1. “Natural” does not mean scent, fragrance or chemical-free.
2. Using even a little bit of scented product/product with fragrance can create a HUGE impact for individuals with MCS.
3. Clothes that have had pre-exposure to scents/fragrances will often continue to hold scents/fragrances and result in impact and effect (yesterday is today!).

You can ensure that you are eliminating your impact on those with MCS by using products that are expressly scent and fragrance free.

For further resources on how to support inclusivity for individuals living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity check here:

http://www.peggymunson.com/mcs/fragrancefree.html
http://www.brownstargirl.org/…/fragrance-free-femme-of-colo…

______________________________________________________

EVENT BACKGROUND
______________________________________________________

In January 2016 Writers Resist events took place throughout North America based on a general form. We Vancouver writers decided to pursue an hour together of writing and conversation that is positive, protective of democracy, unifying, focused on social good.

From Writers Resist :
We ask local communities of writers to organize themselves using our Writers Resist framework (described below.) This framework deliberately leaves room for local groups to address issues of their choosing consistent with our shared goals. We invite local groups to title their event accordingly by filling in the blank: Writers Resist: ________.

To ensure our most widespread and effective impact, this inaugural theme should be reflected in the setting and tone of the events, with writers reading their own works as appropriate, but particularly highlighting relevant readings from a selection of diverse writers’ voices throughout history that speak to the ideals of democracy.

Writers Resist is not affiliated with a political party. We wish to bypass direct political discourse in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy. In order for us to heal and move forward, individually and as a nation, we believe people need something to be for in this anxious moment. The only thing we “resist” is that which attacks or seeks to undermine those most basic principles of freedom and justice for all.

We urge local organizers and speakers to avoid using the names of politicians or adopting “anti” language as the focus for their Writers Resist event. It’s important to ensure that nonprofit organizations, which are prohibited from political campaigning, will feel confident participating in and sponsoring these events.

We believe these events will coalesce and energize a widespread network of writer-activists throughout the United States and in other countries capable of becoming a consistently potent voice and force for social good around the world.

http://www.writersresist.org/

7 Days in New England

It’s easier and faster to get to Europe from Vancouver than it is to travel to Boston. That said, when I found a $330 all-in flight I jumped on it. While I was there the Muslim travel ban flared. Watching Logan airport fill with people who believe in the right to religious freedom and the democratic right to communicate with the government was double-edged. I felt angry at my country and proud of it at the same time.

On Friday Jan 27 I drove pre-dawn to Phillips Academy Andover to visit Lou Bernieri’s 10th grade poetry class. Lou was not only my 12th grade English teacher (responsible for assigning Clash lyrics, Noam Chomsky and Paolo Freire) but he taught me again as an adult through the excellent Andover Bread Loaf Program (ABL) after I began facilitating classes at Thursdays Writing Collective.

The two week ABL residency brings public school teachers to campus and opens the mental doors on how best to connect with kids through a fire for literacy. A crucial arm of the larger student-based Andover Lawrence Bread Loaf Project, this teachers’ residency decenters classical pedagogy.

The meat of the program happens a few miles away in Lawrence, an old mill town and cradle for the union movement (bread and roses!), which is home to waves of immigrants, most recently from Central America. The ABL program engages hundreds of schools kids in a paired residency during the summer but facilitates earth-shaking spoken word and writing events, many taking place at El Taller, a restaurant/community space in Lawrence.

The program trains up kids to take the mic, continue their studies and pass on guidance through assuming leadership roles. Found out more here. And throw any amount of money at them. This is where the goodness is happening and we can protect and nourish it.

Lou taught me in 1987/8 and on Friday morning we met again in the archway of the same building, Bulfinch, where I was his student. I sat down at one of the writing desks, probably the same one I sat at decades ago. Good to see the graffiti is consistent. Lou and I hadn’t rehearsed what would happen – just a friendly “read a few poems and let’s do some writing.” I remember the novelty of having a visitor. img_2004Especially at 8am. These 10th graders were so sharp. Shy, sharp, clever, observant, bold.

I told them about a workshop I had taken with Jericho Brown when he came to stay with me when I co-hosted the now-dormant Cross Border Pollination Reading Series with Rachel Rose.

Jericho, whose viral poem the students might have seen on BuzzFeed, years ago had led us through an exercise based on antonyms where he prompted us to create a mirror image poem and then revise it until it made sense.

I decided to try that with the students with two poems: William Carlos Williams’ “This is Just to Say” and Juliane Okot Bitek‘s “Day 23”.

Their surrealist responses, written without affectation or the pursuit of smoothness, were incredible. The reversals of “Day 23” were particularly eerie and/or magnificent. Juli’s book is a poem-a-day work about the Rwandan Genocide, an event that began about a decade before the students were born. I’m hoping to share their responses with her.

During the pause before the 12th grade class I meandered through the Addison Gallery, appreciating the scale and scope of this small museum. I love the early American pieces in the collection that are rotated so often but particularly admire the connection with social justice the contemporary art exhibitions demonstrate.

I used to come here to escape when I was a student. I also took a live-model life-drawing class down the hall from this beautiful fountain.

Here is an imp so beautifully carved I swear he moved.

img_1993img_2001img_2003

The major exhibit at the Addison was Ansel Adams’ Manzanar photos of the Japanese Internment Camp in California. Timely. And infuriating.

Another favourite was Triple Candie’s “Throwing up Bunnies” exhibit. I love the colours and chaotic mixed media but primarily I love the subversion of official history/representation. Lots in common here with Wayde Compton’s Hogan’s Alley Project.

I loved this room filled with scenes of Black American history:

img_1999Look at all those lines! What a great installation site for this.

The second class of Lou’s was at 2pm and we tried the same writing exercise with the seniors. Different tempo, different ideas and equally beautiful response.

The next night I read at The Skating Club of Boston at the inaugural Alumni Network Event. I had literally laid the manuscript out at the Club while my sister was skating so it felt rather fitting to read overlooking the ice.img_3901

Reading to a room full of skaters was interesting – the poems opened in a different way. My introductory comments were of a different nature, completely avoidant of definitions any other audience has needed. Many of the attendees were a few decades older than I and were friends with the members of the 1961 plane crash carrying the US Worlds’ Team, most of whom had ties to the Club.

I was standing in front of vitrines packed with their medals, photos and memorabilia. Although I had considered leaving the poem “Final Flight” permanently unread as a monument to the skaters who died I was conscious of being in a room with a unique group of people who were deeply involved. Coupled with the fact the anniversary of the crash, February 15, was just two weeks away, these thoughts prompted me to consider this was the time to let it surface from the page. Afterwards several people said it brought them comfort to hear the poem. I’m profoundly relieved. (Copies of serpentine loop that will be sold at SCOB will benefit the Memorial Fund which supports young competitors in the memory of the Worlds Team.)

These dressing rooms at the SCOB are what I picture when I read “Once a Month.”

And this newspaper clipping is a pretty accurate representation of me from that time (front row, second from left) My sister Elin is behind me in a matching skirt and our sister Rhys is in the back row second from right:

img_2070

Elin skated a new edited version of her program Serpentine Loop, based on her reading of the book. She gave an impromptu artist’s talk by the boards before she began that was conceptualizing and interesting. Her embodiment of the words/ideas is something I never get tired of witnessing. Each time she skates it is slightly different – a loop, a cycle- and this heightens the intensity. I wish every author could have the experience of seeing their writing interpreted like this – it gives me so much to think about. She’s an exceptionally intuitive and open skater and choreographer! After she finished we all skated a little more. (Thanks, Aurelia Hall, for the shots!)

Elin wrote my name for me as in “Learning to Read and Write”!:img_2021-2

The next day Elin and I drove up to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to skate at Puddle Dock Rink at Strawbery Banke.img_2044 Elin and Doug Webster, the artistic director of the rink and head of Ice Dance International, demonstrated figures as I read a poem. Elin and Doug not only demo’d figures but they did a few passes from edge class that are so evocative of swallows in flight to me. Thanks to everyone who stuck around for this mini show!

Plans are happening to have a similar demonstration in Vancouver this March. Here’s a clip filmed by Nancy Boutilier. Don’t skip over Doug’s excellent historical context! And look for Elin’s zoomy entrance at 1:21.

After the show we walked over to River Run Books where Evan Mallett and I read together. Evan is the chef and owner of The Black Trumpet and is a frequent James Beard award nominee who is involved with the slow food and local food movements. img_2048His book is salted with narrative essays that play off the recipes.

btbookcoverHe and I zippered an impromptu reading together, alternating between my poems and his stories. You probably couldn’t find more disparate topics yet the interplay was extremely on point. We had a convivial Q&A before a group of 16 of us walked over to the restaurant.

The menu was delicious. It capped off a pretty perfect day.

My final day of events was at Concord Academy – a boarding school with a beautiful tradition of storytelling/ self-declarative all-school talks by the seniors. Here’s the old, old chapel.img_2053

img_2054

I was invited by Nancy Boutilier to talk with her 11th/12th grade creative non fiction students. Nancy and I have known each other since 1986 when she was my brand new dorm counsellor. img_2056-2Nancy is a writer with two Black Sparrow books, Lambda nods and a ton of educating experience who has changed literally hundreds of lives with her educational skills. She also plays bass and basketball. We decided to riff off each other’s work, trading poems one for one and answering questions from the students in between. For us to get together and read like this was tremendously exciting.

Here I am clinging to her:img_2058-2

Interspersed with these events were family visits, beautiful meals, reconnections, phone calls, errands and a lot of driving. I arrived back in Vancouver exhausted but gratified, and grateful to have this blog to capture the action.

Bye!

Anthology Call for Submissions

I have been working with Vancouver poet laureate Rachel Rose as one of her poetry ambassadors for the last two years. Her legacy project is an anthology on the theme of food. Would you like to submit? We’d love to read your ideas!

Sustenance: 150 Writers from B.C. and Beyond on the Subject of Food.

Writers are invited to submit short essays or poems on the subject of food. We welcome collaborative pieces. We also welcome individual submissions on subjects as diverse as exile, hunger, food scarcity, bulimia, fat shaming, urban beekeeping, rural hunting, community gardening, foraging, feeding a baby, waitressing, dumpster diving, butchering, eating vegan, or reflections on family feast days.

Forthcoming with Anvil Press in September, 2017, Sustenance will bring to the table some of Canada’s best contemporary writers, celebrating all that is unique about Vancouver’s literary and culinary scene, as well as British Columbia’s food producers. Punctuated by beautiful local food photographs and recipes from some of our top chefs, each of these short pieces will shock, comfort, praise, entice, or invite reconciliation, all while illuminating our living history through the lens of food.

Sustenance is also a community response to the needs of new arrivals or low-income families in our city. Profits from this book will provide both a symbolic and practical welcome to the hundreds of refugees who will be arriving in B.C. over the coming months. As it is a fundraiser, all writers will be donating their honoraria to the Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program. Every $15.00 in sales profit will provide a refugee or low-income family with fresh, locally grown produce for a week, and at the same time will support B.C. farmers, fishers, beekeepers and gardeners.

Not only will this anthology celebrate our writers, it will also showcase Vancouver’s local food heritage, while simultaneously affirming our reputation as a city that welcomes new citizens to the table and supports those who are struggling. As a city, as a nation, let us stop to consider who sustains us, where our food comes from, and what the cost of that sustenance actually is.

GUIDELINES:

Deadline: April 15th, 2017

Sustenance will be published by Anvil Press September 1, 2017.

Please submit to sustenanceanthology@gmail.com

One piece of writing per person.

No multiple submissions.

Your name and contact info must be on each page.

12 point Times New Roman

Prose should be double-spaced.

Handwritten submissions (handwriting must be legible and neat) may be dropped off at Vancouver Public Library’s Carnegie Community Centre Branch at Hastings and Main.

Original work preferred. Previously published work considered, but author must secure permission for republication.

1-2 pages maximum (550 words)

Please include a short bio (no more than 50 words) with submission.

Please Note: Your submission is confirmation that you agree to have your work considered for publication in SustenanceAll works will be read with care and appreciation. However, only those whose work has been selected for publication will be contacted by May 15, 2017.

Follow Sustenance on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1745970222318846/

#WritersResist in Vancouver

I can’t go to the Women’s Marches in protest of the Trump inauguration but I can do something to mark my dissent. I heard about the #writersresist idea and decided not to wait for someone else to organize. I made a Facebook event.

Please join us for a #writersresist write-in on Jan 15 at the Main Vancouver Public Library (350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 6B1) at 4pm-5pm at the cafe tables outside the main entrance above the “moat”. We have no agenda other than spending time writing in community with people. Bring paper and a pen, bring friends. Let’s be the change we want to see in the world!

Everyone is welcome. This is a self-guided and peaceful event for all to enjoy. Kids welcome.

The Writers Resist event, which is taking place throughout North America uses a general form. We Vancouver writers can decide if we would like to pursue this when we meet. Everyone is welcome to participate in this event to their own levels of interest and comfort. The focus is on spending an hour together that is positive, protective of democracy, unifying, focused on social good.

From Writers Resist :

We ask local communities of writers to organize themselves using our Writers Resist framework (described below.) This framework deliberately leaves room for local groups to address issues of their choosing consistent with our shared goals. We invite local groups to title their event accordingly by filling in the blank: Writers Resist: ________.

To ensure our most widespread and effective impact, this inaugural theme should be reflected in the setting and tone of the events, with writers reading their own works as appropriate, but particularly highlighting relevant readings from a selection of diverse writers’ voices throughout history that speak to the ideals of democracy.

Writers Resist is not affiliated with a political party. We wish to bypass direct political discourse in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy. In order for us to heal and move forward, individually and as a nation, we believe people need something to be for in this anxious moment. The only thing we “resist” is that which attacks or seeks to undermine those most basic principles of freedom and justice for all.

We urge local organizers and speakers to avoid using the names of politicians or adopting “anti” language as the focus for their Writers Resist event. It’s important to ensure that nonprofit organizations, which are prohibited from political campaigning, will feel confident participating in and sponsoring these events.
We believe these events will coalesce and energize a widespread network of writer-activists throughout the United States and in other countries capable of becoming a consistently potent voice and force for social good around the world.

http://www.writersresist.org/

95 Books

I did the #95books challenge again this year and only just squeaked by, making it to 96 by the skin of my teeth on December 31, 2016 with Notes from a Feminist Killjoy by Erin Wunker. This was the right book to end the year with and I will read it again. (Side note from this feminist killjoy: the TSA searched my carry on bag because of dubious shapes inside. What they found was this pair of books and they offered no explanation about why books (BOOKS!) triggered a nine minute search. They assured me it wasn’t the titles.)img_1814

For those of you who don’t know, #95books was started by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Ball as a “no way!” reaction to Karl Rove’s claim that George Dubya Bush read 95 books in 2006 while holding the office of the presidency. Read about the impetus and the guidelines here.

I’m a fast reader but factor in a hectic spring of book tours, the US government shocker, ongoing and disturbing CanLit debates, and a new Netflix account: by September I had only read 45 titles. That was a wake up call. But binge watching Netflix got me thinking about narrative arcs and serialization in a new way in terms of poetry vs prose. That will be an essay, perhaps.)

My biggest problem in this year’s attempt, aside from mental space, was sourcing the books – it’s impractical to buy them all, difficult to get them from the library and borrowing from friends is a scheduling headache for returns. I really do read more if I have a book literally in my hand or on my body at all times. This year I will begin holding #95book swaps where we each show up with a dozen books, document the swapper-swappee and go home with book bags filled with enough titles to keep the motors churning for three months or so.

I used a simple Excel sheet, the same one as last year that Nikki Reimer shared with me. I don’t know Excel well but appreciate the automatically generated pie charts. Below the charts I list the book titles. The first pie is the genre breakdown. No surprises here.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-4-30-09-pm

While I did read more diversely than last year I am still surprised by the tallies in my reading. As I mentioned, I read 96 titles, 60% by self-identifying women, 37% by self-identifying men, 2% non binary and 1% co authored.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-5-26-39-pm

The next two charts below are irritating. I would like to reverse the percentages this year and read more authors in the blue. Clearly, I am missing out on a lot. Side note: Ayelet Tsabari write a 2015 blog post about reading only writers of colour for a year. You can read it here.

screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-4-33-10-pmscreen-shot-2017-01-04-at-6-04-51-pm

 

This last chart is less riveting but fun to consider: US vs Canadian. It probably skews Canadian because I live in Vancouver and am friends with so many local writers. I derive a deep pleasure from reading my friends’ books.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-5-25-22-pm

I only read two books in Spanish. But I did watch the entire two seasons of Narcos without subtitles!

Here are the books I read in 2016. As before, rereading the list pulls me right back into definite moments of the past year. What a lovely trick!

1 Blood, Bones & Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton
2 15 Dogs – Andre Alexis
3 Girl in a Band – Kim Gordon
4 Red Star Tattoo – Sonja Larsen
5 Mare – Mary Gaitskill
6 What We See When We Read – Peter Mendelsund
7 Alongside- Anne Compton
8  Careen – Carolyn Smart
9 Livelihood- Phoebe MacAdams
10 Mend the Living -Maylis de Kerangal
Translated by Jessica Moore
11 Come on All You Ghosts – Mathew Zapruder
12 Ignite – Kevin Spenst
13 The Heaviness of Things That Float – Jennifer Manuel
14 The Dirty Knees of Prayer – Timothy Shay
15 Waiting Room – Jennifer Zilm
16 Oscar of Between – Betsy Warland
17 Angle of Yaw – Ben Lerner
18 Skeena – Sarah de Leeuw
19 dream/arteries – Phinder Dulai
20 Meditatio Placentae – Monty Reid
21 New Index for Predicting Catastrophes- Madhur Anand
22 Conflict – Christine McNair
23 Model Disciple – Michael Prior
24 Players – John Nyman
25 Kids in Triage – Kilby Smith-McGregor
26 The Hypnotists – Gordon Korman
27 Islands of Decolonial Love – Leanne Simpson
28 Flood Song – Sherwin Bitsui
29 Thou – Aisha Sasha John
30 Wild Horses – Rob McLennan
31 Ceremony of Touching – Karen Shklanka
32 Phantom Noise – Brian Turner
33 On Motherlines, Sex, Blood, Loss and Selfies – Margaret Christakos
34 Poemw – Anne Fleming
35 The Argonauts – Maggie Nelson
36 100 Days – Juliane Okot Bitek
37 Injun – Jordan Abel
38 Shrill – Lindy West
39 Do Not Say We Have Nothing – Madeleine Thien
40 How to Cook a Wolf – MFK Fisher
41 There Devil, Eat That – Jonarno Lawson
42 Buoyancy Control – Adrienne Gruber
43 The Shoe Boy – Duncan McCue
44 Do Not Enter My Soul in Your Shoes
45 A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara
46 Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner
47 Double Teenage – Joni Murphy
48 Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
49 All the Gold Hurts My Mouth – Katherine Leyton
50 Even Birds Leave the World – Ji-Woo Hwang
51 Winter- Adam Gopnik
52 The Red Files – Lisa Bird-Wilson
53 The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down – Anne Fadiman
54 I, Bificus – Bif Naked
55 Crush – Richard Siken
56 Reading Sveva – Daphne Marlatt
57 Everyone I Love is a Stranger to Someone – Annelyse Gelman
58 a book of variations- zygal-art facts – bpNichol
59 Love Me Back – Merritt Tierce
60 Throw the Captain Overboard – Mia Rose Brooks
61 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write- Sarah Ruhl
62 God Loves Hair – Vivek Shraya
63 SuperMutant Magic Academy – Jillian Tamaki
64 Impact – Billeh Nickerson
65 Living Things – Matt Rader
66 somewhere to run from – Tara-Michelle Ziniuk
67 Ban en Banlieue – Bhanu Kapil
68 The Predicament of Or – Shani Mootoo
69 The Waves – Virginia Woolf
70 Odes- Sharon Olds
71 Day and Night – Dorothy Livesay
72 Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antartic Names – Soraya Peerbaye
73 Tell – Soraya Peerbaye
74 Gingersnap – Patricia Reilly Giff
75 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler – E.L. Konigsburg
76 Tumour – Evelyn Lau
77 Tuco – Brian Brett
78 Twenty Seven Stings – Julie Emerson
79 Scree- Fred Wah
80 Deconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight
81 Flying Finish – Dick Francis
82 Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe – Sandra Gulland
83 Undermajordomo Minor- Patrick DeWitt
84 Repeater – Andrew McEwan
85 Water Stair – John Pass
86 Night Vision – Christopher Levenson
87 The Remedy – Zena Sharman
88 Yiddish for Pirates – Gary Barwin
89 Witness – Karen Hesse
90 Papelucho y el Marciano – Marcela Paz
91 En el Ala del Mosquito – Emilio Mozo
92 Slick Reckoning – Ken Belford
93 Dear Oxygen – Lewis MacAdams
94 Wild Horses – Dick Francis
95 The Sellout- Paul Beatty
96 Notes from a Feminist Killjoy – Erin Wunker