Archive for October, 2006


…and the gobble-uns’ll git ya ef ya don’t watch out!

October 31, 2006

c’est l’hallowe’en! (clap clap clap) c’est l’hallowe’en! (clap clap)

from six to nine years old, i was obsessed with a hallowe’en poem. i had it memorized, and would recite it to my little brother or myself or anyone else who might listen. when i moved from indiana to ontario, i lost the book and slowly forgot the poem as i drifted into my teen years. this morning, i woke up determined to remember, at the very least, the poem’s refrain, hoping that it might lead me to the entire poem.

work, brain…!

and as i puzzled over breakfast, and washed my face, and dressed, a rhythm for the refrain drifted to me… “and the [blah blah blah blah blah blah] if you don’t watch out.” could this be from the poem? i struggled to remember more. i sat down at my browser, and started to type what i could remember, and suddenly the word ‘goblins’ came. yes!

my long-lost favourite kids’ poem: “little orphant annie” by hoosier poet james whitcomb riley. and, imagine, the u of t poetry site has the full text of the poem online!

An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;
An’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there,
She mocked ‘em an’ shocked ‘em, an’ said she didn’t care!

well, happy hallowe’en!


9 days to HATCH workshop

October 28, 2006

excitement’s mounting around my house for our upcoming week-long residency at harbourfront centre, where we’ll workshop wide slumber and then present our experiments on nov. 11 & 12 (8pm). much activity in the interim:

  • yesterday, i had a charmed visit to leaside high school, where conor attended. high-energy writer’s craft class featured writing exercises, readings, and Q&A. greatly looking forward to a return visit next spring.
  • today, we launched mark miller’s a certain respect for tradition and david lee’s the battle of the five spot (both mercury) at art of jazz (distillery district). kiki misumi (cellist), reg schwager (guitarist), and david virelles (pianist) stole my heart during an impromptu jam.
  • monday, i’m at marc garneau collegiate institute, writer’s craft. i always get a rush visiting kathy jonathan’s classes, so this’ll be fun!
  • fall books season at mercury = go go go. lovely, good going but going nonetheless.
  • saturday, potential contact improv workshop.
  • sunday, hamilton for gritLIT festival. also, dad arrives for brief visit from the sault.

though most of my last two weeks has been overwhelmed by HATCH prep, i have noticed three newish canadian publishers sashay through my e-mail: chaudiere books (ottawa, publishing monty reid and others), snare books (montreal, showcasing jason christie, angela carr, zoe whittall, and more), west coast line books (vancouver, featuring roger farr, reg johanson, natalie simpson). books, books, books. what do you think of the emergence of new poetry publishers?


HATCH: poster

October 26, 2006


review: WSfL in Black Ink

October 26, 2006

aaron tucker reviews wide slumber for lepidopterists in the new montreal literary blog black ink.


weekly update

October 25, 2006

this week’s been hectic, administrative, lovely, challenging, and collaborative.

  • spent some time creating a poster and flyers for our HATCH project.
  • conor confirmed new commutiny collaborators mika collins (performer) and susanna hood (movement designer). tremendously exciting!
  • saw elizabeth treadwell trio @ gladstone, featuring the loveliest audience i’ve ever seen… as in, i am considering attending another treadwell show (excellent entertainment) just to encounter the audience again. have you ever had this experience?
  • attended the chb fall launch where conversation was the order of the evening.
  • books are off to the printers @ mercury and i’m knee-deep in promo.
  • received an amazing envelope from karen hannah’s temple u creative writing workshop, including their written responses to wide slumber. i’m in the process of formulating a reply.
  • read at the box last night, which featured an eclectic mix of artists including myfanwy ashmore, allen kaeja, benoît casas, velcrow ripper, and john southworth. got to visit with high-school friend nate and new friend eliza; saw alixandra, mark, maggie, maria, and john ever so briefly.
  • tonight: always a flurry of activity. i’m at the north york public library for a young voices event, though my ears will be straining towards ryerson where the enchanting oana avasilichioaei is reading; please let me know how the event is if you attend.

Statements on desire

October 21, 2006

Harbourfront Centre asked me to write an artistic statement on my relationship to ‘desire’ for their 2007 ideas-based programming. my response incorporates text from and

Statements on desire
“the language we use / is the language we desire” – Jill Hartman

Desire wants something very strongly. Desire wants to have sexual relations. Desire wishes, craves, longs, aspires, fancies, yearns, hankers, hungers, enthuses, yens, itches, joneses, lusts.

Desire is a potato of a pink-skinned variety with yellow, waxy flesh.

Desire is from Middle English, Old French, Latin.

Desire is a concept in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, tanha in Buddhist philosophy, a thought that leads to an action on which microeconomic theory is based.

Desire fixates on the sensual materials of language, the sonic production of phonemes of morphemes, strung together in words in sentences in senses or the visual suggestion of a letter and the movement indicators of syllables, stresses, and punctuation.

Desire is a ship, wrestler, telenovela, documentary, comic-book character. Desire is words in and out of orifices, luscious, tangled in the saliva and wax of bodies.

Desire is a Bob Dylan album, a Pharoahe Monch album, a song by U2 by Talk Talk by Geri Halliwell by Do As Infinity by 2 Unlimited by Airway Lanes by Ozzy Osbourne. Desire is a Polish R&B band.

Desire is passion is eagerness is enthusiasm determination sensuality passion, passion.

Desire is the shapes and sounds of letters and the body’s physical response to text. Desire’s eyes move across the page. Desire mouths words.

Desire mouths, oh yes.


Wide slumber @ HATCH

October 20, 2006


TORONTO, October 19, 2006 – Harbourfront Centre’s HATCH: emerging performance projects series kicks off for 2006/07 with Theatre Commutiny’s page-to-stage translation of a.rawlings’ book of poetry, Wide slumber for lepidopterists.

What happens when a person, obsessed with a subject, dreams at night; does the subject affect how she thinks, how she dreams, how her body processes information? If a poet writes poems during sleep, how might a lepidopterist work while she sleeps? What effect does intimate examination of insects have on long-term information processing and subconscious behaviour? Wide slumber for lepidopterists explores these questions through a dynamic combination of sound, movement, and visual art.

“[A] full-body experience… fabulous.” – T.L. Cowan,

“Affected by her background in dance and theatre, rawlings’ text has a kinetic aspect, an awareness of the body and the breath, which is unusual in such linguistically innovative writing. She brings a vocabulary of dance and the body to her consideration of how to approach text as an active, moving site, asking, ‘How can sound translate into text, text into movement, movement into text? How can a page act as a stage for words?’” — derek beaulieu, Calgary FFWD

Tickets ($15) for HATCH are now available through the Harbourfront Centre Box Office. To order by phone: 416-973-4000.

Saturday, November 11, 8pm
Sunday, November 12, 8pm
Harbourfront Centre, Studio Theatre
235 Queen’s Quay West, Toronto

Written by a.rawlings
Directed by Conor Green
Conceptual design by Matt Ceolin
Lighting design by Geoff Bouckley
Sound design and original music by Richard Windeyer
Performed by Amanda Brugel and a.rawlings


belladonna* chapbook out!

October 19, 2006

my belladonna* chapbook, W I D E R (B-side: rarities and remixes from Wide slumber), is now available; you may recall my post about this chapbook last month. send me a note if you’d like a copy, or contact belladonna* directly.


travelogue: philadelphia

October 16, 2006

catching the chinatown bus from NYC to philly was quite the memory. as my cab pulled up to the buses, a woman rushed forward and opened my door, shouting at me. i assumed she needed my cab and hurried to exit, only to discover she was actually asking me my travel destination by saying, “D.C.! D.C?” repeatedly. as soon as i said philly, she turned heel.

i found the philly bus, and one of its few waiting passengers offered me a milk crate while we waited for its departure. rebekka ladewig, a german cultural theorist in the states for a conference, turned out to be a stunning bus companion, and i enjoyed an animated conversation with her about geography, sports, and arts. how’s this for an odd moment of synchronicity? when i found out the title of rebekka’s paper, “psychogeography and the instant city: the performative production of space in the 1960s,” it reminded me that a week earlier i’d written the title “psychograph E Colic, for spinach” in my notebook. at the time i had no clear reason why psychogeography’d suddenly occurred to me. it IS a gorgeous word, but at the time the word passed into my brain, i couldn’t suss out why it’d found me. foreshadowing? like my meeting with john mac master en route to NYC, meeting rebekka felt fated.

i arrived at janet neigh’s with just an hour to spare before the inaugural emergency reading series at upenn, featuring sarah dowling and jena osman. karen hannah met us and we scurried to the reading. for a new series, it was well-attended, with grad students spilling out of the seams of kelly writers’ house. sarah read her disturbing manuscript keepness with grace, her performance punctuated by unspoken words caught in glottal stops. a power-point slide show of US army instructional graphics and taliban war images, all taken from the US government’s website, accompanied jena’s essay on interruptions (which included scripted audience interruptions that distracted from the impact of her essay).

the readings were followed by a Q&A, kicked off by pre-planned questions both jena and sarah had a chance to consider ahead of time. when the audience was invited to ask questions, i immediately inquired about the pseudo-hierarchical implications of the term ‘mentor’ in the moderator’s introduction, which seemed to underscore the raison d’etre of the series (to feature an emerging artist and her mentor counterpart, to show their works in tandem). jena and sarah both voiced their discomfort with the term, sarah including a list of google searches she unearthed relating to ‘mentor’ (including the giggle-inducing ‘womentorship’). post-reading, i met event co-organizer julia bloch, nick montfort, and a few other lovely philadelphians.

friday morning found me in karen hannah’s temple u creative writing workshop, to read from wide slumber which she’s teaching this week. this reading marks the earliest in the morning i’ve hooshed and ha’d. excellent group of students, shiny questions ranging from the languages present in the book to use of movement during performance. after class, karen and i had an invigorating chat about pedagogy and how to talk about our writing projects after. i was heartened to hear her own reading adventures have lead her to steve venright, who’s similarly interested in spirals.

friday afternoon, i was mostly delirious from lack of sleep and too much soy protein, but delirium was mediated by my adventure with sarah, where we tracked down amazing light-up squish frogs and racing wind-up lepidoptera in a toy store. i had a fifteen-minute catnap before janet returned home. and then it was off to dinner!

friday evening, i read with jess arndt and sina queyras at Moles Not Molar. sweet turn-out, which a chance to chum with brian kim stefans and nick montfort. where NYC was frenetic, philly was much more familiar, familial. it felt like home.

saturday, i actually returned home. fascinating conversation with a swathmore college student en route to toronto, conversing about ecological economy and experimental poetry. upon his request, i recommended he check out poetry by jason christie and sina queyras, and he told me i’d made his day. saturday, i learned that poetry can make an economist’s day.

and rest.


travelogue: NYC

October 15, 2006

frenetic energy in NYC. had an amazing (short!) plane ride last tuesday morning, the highlight an engrossing chat with fellow passenger and opera tenor john mac master. illuminating conversation about opera and poetry, arts funding, national/international support of artists. it’s my first time meeting a librettist; can’t wait to see him perform.

from the air, i saw central park, la guardia airport, all of manhattan and brooklyn, the statue of liberty. on land, shocking temperature difference from toronto (75F on october 10, wow). found myself immediately overheated in vest and sweater, though not before i was stopped by two photographers in harlem asking to take my picture for little gray house, which they said would run a spread on new yorkers in fall attire. random.

i took the subway downtown (everyone i encountered was helpful in guiding me), and wandered looking for free wifi connectivity. had a long stroll down broadway before swooping to bowery, where i met margaret christakos. we enjoyed dinner at a charming restaurant (my treat: four oversized ricotta-filled ravioli with fresh sage and butter), and then headed to dixon place for belladonna* reading series.

margaret and i comprised the third all-canadian line-up (the others featuring nathalie stephens/rachel zolf and erin moure/lisa robertson, how stunning!). it was a thrill to meet organizer rachel levitsky, and especially kate greenstreet who embodied positivity. she passed me a copy of her brand new book case sensitive. also a thrill to meet brenda coultas, whose book a handmade museum is set in the bowery area of manhattan. met austin publicover, too, who’s in the process of editing/remixing readings by carla harryman and brenda iijima.

wednesday, i considered visiting museums and galleries, but chose instead to continue my wandering tour of NYC. on a future visit, i’ll likely delve into more structured events like gallery visits, but for my first true intro to NYC, i’m glad i chose to meander. since my visit, i’ve thought frequently of how NYC is its own organism; you can hear it breathing, hear it talking to itself in the beeps, wind, ambient noise. it’s amazing for me to consider a city as an organic form. structure. being. are the people parasites on/in its body? my analogy’s only half-grown here. anyone recommend reading/thinking along these lines?

wednesday afternoon, i found myself at mcnally robinson on prince street, a canadian bookstore nestled into the rush and grind of the big american city. on my way to sign books, i ran into aaron peck, who turned in a grand moment of synchronicity holding a copy of wide slumber to greet me. aaron’s the one friend i hoped to call while in town, so it was fated we ran into each other. i had tea with aaron, his sister tasha, and the lovely doretta lau. we then wandered through the streets of NOLI (aka North of Little Italy, according to my knowledgeable fellows) to a charming lunch-place called bread. doretta and i were passionately discussing larissa lai’s work and walked right past elijah wood without noticing him (aaron and tasha told us later and we laughed mightily). (‘we laughed mightily’ is a silly phrase, hey?) we then trailed tasha on a power-shopping excursion, and i abandoned the party once her ballet flats were safely purchased.

wednesday night, i read with jon paul fiorentino, margaret christakos, and sina queyras at Poets House. i was thrilled to meet kim rosenfield finally, and to see robert fitterman and stephanie strickland again.

thursday morning, a silly breakfast of carrot juice and french fries (actually quite gross, but my appetite was bizarre during this trip) and then the chinatown bus to philadelphia…


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