Jane Eaton Hamilton

"You have a political pipe bomb under your shirt." -Maureen Bayless

“…the worst book signing ever.”

Lori Jakiela on the Time Sam’s Club Confused Her For Miss America

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“Why I Write” by Meldon Sandrow




We all pretend we don’t know why.

But maybe we do. And maybe this is it?

Why I Write



Shut Up and Write, Salt Spring Island

Shut Up and Write Vancouver July 2016

Shut Up and Write Vancouver 2016

Oh yes, you can, Salt Spring Island, now most Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the library from 1-4, though early September. How great is that? Check out our FB page and each individual session’s event page, all linked from the main page.

Here’s a comment from writer Helen Polychronakos, from the Vancouver SUAW FB page: “I feel much more focused. The twenty-five minute segments make the most difficult work seem “bearable.” When the writing happens it’s serious business–no distractions; no one chats. But then the social moments in between, where I get to hear about people’s projects, are enlightening. I love the sense of community and seeing how many serious writers are out there!”

Phart on, babios

JEH acrylic on paper 2015

sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2015, acrylic on paper

“On Sexism in Literary Prize Culture”

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This sage article at Literary Hub.

“In 1987, Toni Morrison declared that she was reclaiming the label of “black woman writer,” stating that those who wouldn’t label her as such “were trying to suggest that I was ‘bigger’ than that, or better than that.” Instead, she says,

“I simply refused to accept their view of bigger and better. I really think the range of emotions and perceptions I have had access to as a black person and as a female person are greater than those of people who are neither. I really do. So it seems to me that my world did not shrink because I was a black female writer. It just got bigger.””

Seen reading…

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…in Montreal

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…in Hamilton, ON

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…wherever this is…

Pride: the must-reads for 2016

Jane and Susan Safyan June 2016

Pride 8 Must-Read LBGT Books Summer 2016

“Jade Colbert rounds-up the best from Canadian independent publishers.”


Don’t know if this is exactly a *good* review or not, but it’s the Globe, so what the heck? Happy to be here with Myrna Kostash and Susan Perly.

Globe and Mail review

Sharon Olds in Edinburgh

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The exquisite poems of Sharon Olds. Her voice, always.

Black Lives Matter at Pride: Bullet Points by Jericho Brown

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Our outrage at the police murder of Louisiana citizen Alton Sterling while selling CDs, and the police murder of Minnesotan Lavish Reynolds for having a broken tail light, lands heavily. I hope no one could second-guess the protest by Black Lives Matter at Toronto Pride after this.

Read Jericho Brown’s Bullet Points here on Buzzfeed.

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Julie R Enszer generously reviews WEEKEND for Curve Magazine:

‘Weekend’ By Jane Eaton Hamilton

“Stunningly beautiful.”

“This is a book I have been waiting to read. It is a book I enjoyed every single minute of reading. It is a book I want to share with everyone. I commend Weekend. This is a story of how we live our queer lesbian lives now. Do not miss it.”

Dyke March 2016, Toronto

Dyke March TO 2016 JEH Dyke March TO 2016-3 JEH Dyke March Toronto 2016-2 JEH

10,000 deep, we marched.

Readings Tonight and Tomorrow Night!


Folks, I’m reading in Peterborough at The Garnet tonight Jul 3 and in Ottawa at Venus Envy Jul 4. Check my events page for time and details.

Cobourg: ashamed of queers?

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Cobourg, Ontario, city council won’t fly the Pride flag. They might not say it’s because they’re ashamed of us, but actions speak loudly, and that’s what we hear. We hear it’s okay because Cobourg police fly the rainbow flag but the police aren’t the seat of city government.

Today, here is your job: call, write, insist. It’s Pride Toronto this weekend and we need Cobourg on board.

Cobourg, 102 of us just got shot in one violent incident. Cobourg residents got bashed in Toronto. Trans people in Canada and the US are stalked, hurt and murdered on the regular. If ever we need your heartfelt assistance in helping us stay visible and safe, we need it today, Cobourg city. Don’t let hate and bigotry win.

Reading tonight, tomorrow, Cobourg and Toronto!

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Let’s Talk Books Cobourg, ON 7:30 June 29

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An evening of women’s voices and women’s words, featuring the Toronto book launch of ‘Weekend’ by Jane Eaton Hamilton.
Thursday June 30th
5:45pm – 8pm (meet and greet followed by reading)
Yorkville Public Library
(wheelchair accessible)

Farzana Doctor
Jane Eaton Hamilton
Jessica Webb
Marnie Woodrow
Sheila van den Heuvel-Collins

At Yorkville Library 5:45 June 30

Interview with author and artist, Lydia Kwa

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photo of Lydia Kwa by Hideaki Kanamaru

I’d like to welcome artist and writer Lydia Kwa to my blog. Lydia and I have known each other for many years, and this spring I had the pleasure of reading her books in a string in order to formulate questions for this interview. If you don’t know Lydia’s work, I highly recommend it.

As a writer of fiction and poetry, a visual artist, and also a psychologist, you cross genres and professions. What drew/draws you to bending genre and career? Can you tell us how you come to understand that an impulse is toward one kind of expression, and then, if that’s a written expression, how a written work will become one genre or the other?

I don’t set out with an intellectual resolve to bend genre or career. I find myself constantly surprised by new adventures and experiments that arise in response to situations, books, art or music I encounter. I have a playful and curious mind—that childlike quality prompts the beginning of many pursuits. I’m predominantly functioning from an intuitive place, both as psychotherapist and as an artist and writer. As a writer and artist, it’s only further along, when I am developing a project, that my more deliberate and analytical self comes to the fore.

You also cross nations and cultures in your writing, splitting your characters between Canada and Singapore, and are involved in the literary communities in both locations. Do you feel that you have two homes? What are the ramifications of being bi-national for your literary career?

I follow my natural connections to lived experiences, and most of those relate to having been born in Singapore and living there until I was 21, then coming to Canada and basically spending more than half of my life here.

No, I feel like I have one home, and that’s been Vancouver for the past 24 years. Going to visit Singapore is like being an inside outsider. It’s a strange, slightly disorienting phenomenon for me, every time I visit.

I sense there have been many ramifications for my literary career. So far it has led to a difficult and uneasy presence in both literary worlds, because I can’t be fitted into either easily.

You write about immigration, race, colonialism, childhood abuse and trauma. How do these coincide/inform each other in your imagination and artistic practices?

I write about experiences I care about, and some of these stem from my personal experience; inspiration also arises from my empathy for people I’ve worked with in my private practice, although I never use material from my clients.

At the start of your novel “Pulse,” a character has just committed suicide in Singapore. Your Toronto-residing protagonist returns to Singapore to untangle the mystery at the heart of suicide. Is the outside topography mapping Natalie’s inside topography? What were the original impulses toward writing “Pulse?”

I am a symbolic thinker in the final stretch. Yes, it’s true, I like to suggest that the outer world resonates with inner psychic realities. With respect to Pulse, I wanted to situate most of the novel in 1960s and 70s Singapore because that was the time of my adolescence, and there was a lot happening then with the “birth” of an independent country.

I wanted to explore what kinds of secrets and practices bind people’s spirits; how do we transcend trauma, as individuals and collectively, as a nation? Maybe both are really not separate.

A 2015 Masters thesis from Yu-Hsuan Guo (Department of Foreign Language and Literature, National Sun Yat-Sen University) suggests that Pulse could be viewed as the “sequel” to This Place Called Absence (Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2000). I quite like that notion, although I did not consciously intend it that way. I suppose Pulse is part of an ongoing exploration and conversation I am having with my history and that country’s history since both have been intertwined.

How do you use the web when you write? What other ways do you research and how is research incorporated in what you write? For instance, regarding kinbaku (Japanese erotic rope bondage), which appears in “Pulse?”

I use. I use a lot. ‘Tis not autobiographical.

In 2011, you were caught up in the demise of Key Porter Books and the HB Fenn bankruptcy. Can you tell us what happened as it pertains to your work?

Let’s just say I don’t think it helped my literary career.

You are also a psychologist. Do you experience your professional life weaving through your poetry, fiction and art in any direct or indirect way?

I became a psychologist and a writer because I’ve always been a person interested by the life of the mind-body and spirit.

It seems there are two general approaches with novel writing—free-form, where the story suggest itself by modifying drafts, and controlled, where the story is shaped before writing. What is your process?

The former. As I said in my answer to Question 1, I am quite organic in the initial process of creation. Then I become quite anal in the end, which allows me to torture and torment myself through numerous iterations.

Your visual art is striking, often involving text with images. How might a work like “Linguistic Tantrums,” a series of art cards you call “visual poems,” develop?

That project completely evolved in response to the news that Ho Sun Hing print shop was closing down in Chinatown. I went to the shop and bought trays of letterpress type, simply because I love the physical beauty of type. Next thing I knew, I was creating images which I now call “visual poems”. Then I used scans of the twelve images, along with accompanying couplets, to make “linguistic tantrums”. Things grow and take over (like mould, perhaps) and next thing you know, it’s a project/product! Really, truly, I was playing and playing, and having fun, and then voila.

George Woodcock, in his review of The Colours of Heroines, an early book of poetry, described you as “a memory writer of almost Proustian intensity, who has lived variously and remembered astonishingly.” (BC Bookworld, Summer 1995). Do you have a disciplined and intensive focus once you’re inside a project?

I’m just intense all the time. I can’t help myself.

What relationship do you have with social media? Do you feel it helps or hinders your life as an author?

I’m a charming introvert. Sometimes I show up on social media in a quirky appearance. And then I rush back into my cave. All I can say is that I want to be famous when I’m dead.

What are you working on currently?

A prequel to The Walking Boy. An art installation using black-and-white Polaroids and text done with a letterpress machine.

Can you tell us a few things you’d like to do/accomplish in your life to come?

I know you mean this current life. But I’ve been thinking I’d like to become a homeopath and be a skilled martial artist like Donnie Yen in my next reincarnation.

Are there things you wish you had done differently in your careers?

I don’t spend time or energy in wishful thinking. This saves me a lot of grief.

When you’re writing, do you think of other authors? What authors inspire you?

I don’t think consciously of other authors when I write, but I’m reading all the time. There are so many authors who inspire me. Don’t really think I can only highlight a few. I don’t set out to copy anyone, although I am sure their work influences mine.

Do you have any advice to young artists/writers just starting out?

Don’t do it in the hopes of fame or money. Or of getting laid. Do it because you feel an urge to, to stay sane and healthy. And sometimes, staying sane means being okay with being very non-normative in many ways.



by Lydia Kwa


surfacing turmoil


running on time

or outside


hidden bursts

a quiet ugliness


skin weeps

when I can’t


a stranger’s pain runs



tumult’s surface

seep of shadows


fleeing time




rage rises

rage spreads

a poison a friend

a sign

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“stuttering in domestica” by Lydia Kwa



Contrast. Give it to your characters


sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton unknown date

We all know many writers who are also visual artists.

Yonder at Ploughshares, Annie Weatherwax confirms that many of the tools in their belts are the same no matter which art they are practicing.

I found myself wishing this article was much longer, and I hope Annie Weatherwax wishes so too and writes more about this.

Freefalling into art


I was chuffed that Freefall literary journal out of Calgary, and editor Micheline Maylor, Calgary’s poet laureate, chose a sketch of mine for their cover! Thanks! I love it!


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