Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Category: Jane Eaton Hamlton

At the Whistler Writer’s Fest…

I’m delighted to be reading with Lenore, Jim and Joan at the Whistler Writer’s Fest! I wrote about the risk in writing my novel ‘Weekend’ for the festival, here.

Writers of Fiction

October 14, 2017 | 10 – 11:30 a.m.| Fairmont Chateau Whistler | $15

Lenore Rowntree, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Jim Nason, Joan B. Flood and the fiction winner of the Whistler Independent Book Prize. Author Claudia Casper explores the essential elements of fiction through our guest authors’ stories. They involve an only child struggling to emerge from his mother’s bipolar disorder; the complexities of contemporary queer love; how a veterinarian’s life choices, at times, contradict her alleged love of children and animals; and a family drama set in Ireland in which decisions and mistakes echo through generations.

 Moderator: Claudia Casper

Love Letters–of a sort

Will You Ossuary Me?

 Jane Eaton Hamilton

She wanted to kiss me in bones. Death, much? Spiraling down 19 meters. She pulled the ends of my scarf and I moved closer because hers were Parisian lips, the top lip thin, the bottom lip full, and I felt her deeply inside where my nerves snapped and I was decomposible. There were tibias all around us in the damp light, and scapulas from the plague, phalanges and fibulas and metatarsals. Infant bones. People dead of polio. People collapsed of childbirth and famine. Of war. Cries and tears and screams. The bones of six million Parisians dug up from cemeteries to make room, shovels of bones, wagon-loads of bones pulled by sway-backed nags for a full two years—carted down into these old mine tunnels, then arranged. We stood in puddles. The air was heavy with the motes of people’s lives—more broken dreams, I guessed, than dreams come true. It was quiet, but the past echoed. Ghost-din. Someone had written, Pour moi, mort est un gain. Pour moi, pour moi, pour moi, she whispered, rumbling her voice. Exhumations and exhalations all around us, the breath of death, bone-stacks, bone-crosses, bone-chips in heaps, my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, maybe, resting in pieces. My lips were swollen and sore, cut and scabbed over from all that had already happened. Skulls placed in the shape of a heart, eye sockets staring, and behind those eye sockets more eye sockets. Shadows moved across us; her nipples hardened. She pressed me up against a white cross against a black tombstone. I will leave you, she said as she bit my throat, but not yet.

Post-publication blues

photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton

I always look at publishing a book as throwing it down a well. Maybe you will hear echoes, and maybe they will be strong enough to hurt your eardrums, or perhaps as faint as whispers. Maybe, eventually, you will hear a splash when that book hits hard (bellyflops?). But mostly you will just peer down a very dark hole and watch your book careening through the air before drowning. You will see this even with reasonably successful books; even those have their season, and attention moves on. The pages become waterlogged, and sink, and tear. The glue loosens. Things sinking can be very beautiful. Things disintegrating can be magical. Think of fabric waving in water, of seaweed, of things barely glimpsed under surfaces. Of underwater dance. Of the grace and flow that you’ve been given back now the project is done. All that beauty of the finished book–sinking out of sight. This is exactly what leaves you alive and full and tarnished and battered and happy and excited for what’s coming next: the pause, the making.

Here is a piece I once wrote about failing to write a novel and giving it another try:

Congrats-Its-a-6-Pound by Jane Eaton Hamilton

Hunger–my story collection (not Roxane Gay’s memoir I’m reading now)

When I was sorting through my archives, I discovered two reviews of my 2003 short story collection Hunger, one from Event Magazine and one from The Fiddlehead. I thought folks might like to read them. I’d forgotten they existed, and I so loathed the cover the publisher gave that book that I immediately orphaned it. Don’t get me wrong. I am a sizable fan of the artist Egon Shiele, but I didn’t think the chosen image evinced hunger, and the book design was, frankly, pug ugly. I was stunned by the back cover, or lack of back cover, which wasn’t even designed. I know I could have checked the typical stylistic quirks out when the press asked me to publish with them, but I didn’t. At the time, I was on a Gulf Island, and there were none of that press’s books I could find in the library, and it was before the internet was really going. I didn’t see the mess of that book until the press had gone to print (probably on purpose … some presses respect their writers and some don’t) and when I got my author copies, a signature fell out of the first one I picked up, proving that the production values sucked. I felt embarrassed and humiliated. After that, I just–refused it. I always knew it contained great stories, since most of them had won pretty major awards, and it went on to be shortlisted for the Ferro-Grumley, earning it a lovely quote from Emma Donoghue, but I hated its look, so I orphaned it.

Anyway, what a difference 14 years makes–and doesn’t make. I still loathe that cover and the production values (you’ll note the cover is not included in this blog post, and it doesn’t appear on Amazon either) but I now imagine I might like the book if I read it again, because in tearing apart litmags and anthologies to make tear sheets for the archives, I found these:

Event review of Hunger

Painting the Babys Room Green review of Hunger

Mandy Len Catron recommends “Weekend” for love

If Mandy Len Catron recommended my novel “Weekend” and Khloé Kardashian recommended Mandy’s “How To Fall In Love With Anyone,” does that mean I should figure out who Kholé Kardashian is? Or does that just mean you should read Mandy’s book?

This week How To Fall In Love With Anyone” has been released. Mandy is the author who set the NY Times’ Modern Love column on fire with her essay about “36 Questions” to make a couple fall in love with each other, a column viewed millions of times. And now there’s a whole book of her writing!

CBC wanted to know what revs Mandy’s romance engine, and “Weekend” made the cut, with a nod to its dealing with disability issues.

Hopefully Mandy will be here on the blog with a Q+A soon!

Mandy Len Catron on offbeat love stories, and the one secret to relationships that last

Skinning the Rabbit, The Sun Magazine

I got home from a trip, picked up my mail and found my contributor copies of the July 2017 issue of The Sun Magazine (along with the welcome cheque). A couple of weeks ago, I went to add The Sun to my list of places I’ve published, and it was already there. I was puzzled; I didn’t remember having already added it. But then I explored a little further, realized I’d published there a long time ago, and sought out the issue, the cover of which is above. I was bemused to find that the subject matter was quite similar to the recent essay since I haven’t written about my childhood in ages.

Here’s that original and second-person story, which was still on my desktop: Hearts

My piece this time around is called Skinning the Rabbit. I explored my relationship with my father through our collision about animal welfare, and through the bullying I experienced when I got alopecia totalis at six. I hope you like it. Tell me if you do, k? It’s not online, but you can find The Sun almost anywhere that carries literate magazines, even in Canada.

I am proud to have had essays in the NY Times and The Sun this year.

The Sun November 1993

 

 

 

 

Edie and Thea–marriage and disability

Edie and Thea, a movie still

A lot of you know I was one of the litigants who sued Canada’s federal government in 2000 for the right to marry my queer, long-term partner. I’m not a big booster of marriage in general, given its roots in female ownership, and some of its current reflections of same, but I found it offensive that a group of people had been systematically excluded from a civic right available to the rest of the population. I worked with lawyers barb findlay and Kathleen Lahey toward our ultimate success June 8, 2003 and was fortunate to be sitting in the Supreme Court of Canada when Beverly McLaughlin’s court changed our constitution to reflect the new, inclusive law.

Until 2003, you didn’t have the right in Canada, if you were queer, to decide whether or not to marry. We’ve had the right to make up our own minds about marriage for 14 years less a week now.

Heterosexuals changed their minds about us, recognizing our humanity because they recognized the similarity of our vows. Hets spoke marriage and so we began to have a dialogue toward reconciliation and safety.

Why that matters, still, is that we can’t be entirely safe without allies. We can’t fight the battles ahead, which I fear may start grim and devolve, without having each other’s strength and courage to lean on. There are a lot of incidents mentioned in the news now where a straight person stopped an attack we couldn’t stop.

While recognizing that marriage is a flawed institution that evolves in contemporary but still flawed ways, I believe that, all in all, marriage has nevertheless been a great plus for my community. Yes, we got corporatized and gawd knows our Pride marches got taken over by big business and the various arms of the military. But we can stop participating in where that’s gone. We can make our own community Pride again, particularly in support of BLM. We can wrest Pride away from the forces which overtook it and say, again goddammit, This is ours.

People in the community still diss the litigants for ruining queer culture (many of the people who lobbed this charge at us then took advantage of equality to get married themselves). But I watched the magic of visibility unfold as I attended a rash of friends’ weddings, then witnessed for couples from Israel, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, the US, New Zealand, the UK, France, countries in Africa and more.

One of the couples who availed themselves of Canada’s changing marriage laws was Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer, a longterm couple from the US, memorialized in an eponymous movie. I wanted to mention them not because their love was long, or solemnized at its end by marriage, but actually because Thea, one of the two, was from her forties disabled, using various canes and then a wheelchair, and the movie was filmed entirely from this later vantage point, making it a study of love and disability, valuable for people with disabilities and the people who love/care for them.

People may know that I am in and out of wheelchairs, and utilize scooters and walkers. I have thought a lot about whether my disability is a burden (my wife left our marriage declaring that life with disabled me was “1/4 of a life”) and I have decided that no, it isn’t. That the part of me that believes it is is the shamed part that the able-bodied seek to disempower, who finds different to be lesser. I am not lesser. I am not less intelligent. I am not less kick-ass. I am not less talented and skilled as a writer.

I am just not always able to get to the podium, is all, because you able-bodied people insist on repeatedly making that a hard thing for we disabled people. Even today this happened again, for readers and audience in Toronto, though replacing the inaccessible venue only took two hours in the end. (But does the new choice have a safe enough ramp? “Nothing without us,” is part of CripCanLit’s pledge. Please invite us into the discussion before you choose your venues.) Read Nine Phrases Allies Can Say When Called Out Instead of Getting Defensive.

But not to get distracted. My point here is that the person who gave my ex-wife 1/4 of a marriage–if indeed that’s what I had–was not me, but in fact the woman who perceived it as such. Witness how Edie handled it instead.

The movie Edie and Thea shows how to love completely and endearingly while loving someone seriously disabled. And I admired it, and the two of them and the filmmakers, for giving all of us a template on how to do this.

 

Floundering

photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2017

Floundering

A friend and I spend the warm, sunny day on Crescent Beach. I once housesat a block from the beach so I could do a concentrated writing stint—a retreat for one. For months, shine or rain, every wintry morning I circled the town, trodding past tossing ocean headed for the mud flats with my binoculars, DSLR camera and my ubiquitous umbrella. Work was not going well. This riparian area beside the Nicomeki River, Mud Bay on Blackie Spit, was balm. Known for birdwatching because it’s on a migratory path called the Pacific Flyway, it’s also the only place nearby where Purple Martins nest. The swallows looped above while I strolled through demarcated paths beside the eelgrass, able to pull from my photography belt lenses of different focal lengths. I discovered seed pod decay was as beautiful through a macro as a blooming flower. I took photo after photo of rotting pylons, cormorants drying their wings atop. Later, when I became an art student at Emily Carr, I made a painting of one of the bleached white morning pylons. One day I walked late, and rounded the corner to town just as the sky lit up pure radiant orange from top to bottom, north to south; I shot the silhouettes of people as they stood watching. The photos were gaudy, like seventies’ paintings.

Today, I’m older, and for the same stroll I’ve brought a walker. I sit on our blanket, pulling my gear out to photograph great blue herons—I don’t count; are there ten? Fifteen?—fishing along the low tide banks, but I understand it would be chancy for me to hoist this heavy, long-lensed equipment while standing up. We eat our overheated picnic lunch while I feed a crow egg salad from my hand, hoping some nestlings will be the healthier for it. Kayakers paddle past. Behind us, a woman reads in a purple outdoor inflatable. We turn up our pants’ legs and make our way down to the water while mud oozes through our toes. The water pulls the sand from under our feet. It’s hard going indeed for my arthritic body, rife with pain the way uneven surfaces always are, but I love it—my body’s screams of objection at least have the courtesy of silence. A bay has formed a sand shoal and in the intermediate strip of water, as I slosh through it, I notice a creature leaping and flailing. I head for it, but I am slower than everyone, so have lagged behind when a father picks up a flounder to show his kids. I see the milky under-body, which looks like sole in the frying pan. I don’t know my flounders, but I enjoy pointing and saying, “Look there. A flounder is floundering.” It may be a gulf, summer, southern or winter flounder. It may be a sole or (just for the halibut), a halibut. It thrashes. It has two eyes on the top side of its body, jumbled close, which I later learn are ordinarily placed at birth then metamorphose to the top of the fish’s flat head. The child carries it across the spit to the deeper ocean on the other side, but it just lies there looking quite dead, exhausted from its ordeal, far too visible. It’s heron bait, if you ask me.

It’s low tide in my love life too. Epitonium sawinae seashells, dead mollusks picked over by crows, crusty seaweed. Brackish water, poor circulation. The water makes alligator patterns on the surface. My feet keep sinking. My hips keep hurting. My feet are in agony.

Sad, I think of that flounder all evening. I think how it needed a world, a circumstance, it was helpless to create. In the survival of the fittest game, it lost. It’s a bird eat fish world out there.

I am not strong, either, after multitudes of surgeries. I think of sanctuary, where to find it, what it means to the various creatures of the world. I’m lucky that for me, sometimes, sanctuary is as simple as the arms of a beloved wrapped tightly around me, the simplest of homes.

 

 

Mud Bay, Crescent Beach, Jane Eaton Hamilton, acrylic on loose canvas 2013

Meantime, at the Writer’s Union of Canada

The Equity Task Force of the Writer’s Union of Canada (TWUC) has released a statement further to the editorial by Hal Niedzviecki in the union magazine WRITE called “Winning the Appropriation Prize.” The magazine requested Indigenous writers contribute to a special Indigenous issue, but Niedzviecki prefaced their pieces with his impassioned support for appropriation. Thank you, task force, for your swift, thoughtful and thorough work on this insulting situation. I add my personal apologies as a member of TWUC to Indigenous writers, and, in particular, to those who trusted TWUC to publish and honour their work. UPDATE: The WRITE editorial board does not vet articles at WRITE.
Statement from the TWUC Equity Task Force in Response to Niedzviecki editorial
“Winning the Appropriation Prize”:
We, the Equity Task Force of TWUC are writing in response to the editorial in the latest
issue of WRITE. We are angry and appalled by the publication of “Winning the
Appropriation Prize” by Hal Niedzviecki in the editorial column. In the context of working
to recruit writers historically marginalized in the union, this essay contradicts and
dismisses the racist systemic barriers faced by Indigenous writers and other racialized
writers. This is especially insulting given that this issue features the work of many
Indigenous writers.
Cultural appropriation, for Indigenous writers, is often theft of culture. As a concept, a
practice and an issue, it has a long and complex history on Turtle Island/in Canada. It is
one of the more recent phenomena marking a long history of violent colonial
appropriations by settlers against Indigenous peoples. An important, if contentious, part
of its history resides in the 1993 conference The Appropriate Voice, held in Orillia,
Ontario and led by Lenore Keeshig-Tobias and Daniel David Moses, which was a TWUC
sponsored conference. For Niedzviecki to suggest that cultural appropriation is just a
device for our imaginary work is highly problematic and re-entrenches the deeply racist
assumptions about art, and about what constitutes giving and taking.
Niedzviecki states: “There is no formula to appropriately appropriating. Instead it’s up to
each of us to find the right measures of respect, learning and truth telling.” In making
such a statement, he fails to recognize or acknowledge that not all writers play on the
same playing field and that “appropriation” is not a fair game, as the page is not a terra
nullius, in spite of appearances to a privileged few. Appropriation is thus not a practice
that can simply be taken up by anyone at any time. There are historical and colonial
relations in place, which we all inherit, each of us differently. The theft of voice, stories,
culture, and identity are part of a long-standing settler agenda for cultural genocide and
can not be treated lightly. The tongue-in-cheek call for an “Appropriation Prize” is deeply
offensive and dismissive of the history of colonization. What will TWUC offer next, a
“Best Colonizer” prize?
Also to suggest further in the essay that, “… Indigenous writers, buffeted by history and
circumstance, so often must write from what they don’t know”, is both uninformed and
offensive, especially when so much Indigenous knowledge has been either erased from
the historical record or has already been appropriated without attribution. This statement
also partakes of a long-debunked false universalism.
The only statement in the editorial that is accurate is Niedzviecki’s claim, “Indigenous
writing is the most vital and compelling force in writing and publishing in Canada today.”
In this historical present when we speak of reconciliation, we as a union and as a
collective of Canadian/Turtle Island writers must make space and support Indigenous
writers.
Hal Niedzviecki’s resignation was the right decision under these appalling
circumstances. Frankly, what shocks us most, however, is that this piece was passed by
a TWUC editorial committee. This indicates now, in no uncertain terms, the depth of the
structural racism, not to mention the lack of historical memory, at TWUC. Either that, or it
indicates brazen malice, or extreme negligence. We very much hope this is not the case.
We thank TWUC for issuing its apology. This is an important first step, but we don’t think
it goes far enough. This issue is not about “hurt feelings”, but about justice. An apology
is only worth its salt if it opens the door to better actions and better relations in the future.
We offer a set of demands to rectify this truly dire situation, and to begin (again) the work
of respect and reconciliation.
Demands:
1. Retraction of editorial essay, “Winning the Appropriation Prize” by Hal
Niedzviecki.
2. Official apology from TWUC to be posted on the official TWUC site and published
in the next issue of WRITE.
3. Anti-racist education for all staff, National Council, editorial committee members.
4. Protocols for editing all issues of Write that build in accountability to issues of
race and colonialism.
5. Turn over WRITE to Indigenous and other racialized editors and writers for the
next 3 issues in consultation with the Equity Task Force.
6. Broadcast/publish this statement to all TWUC members, the public, on the
TWUC website and in the next issue of WRITE.
7. Affirmative action hiring for the next editor of WRITE. Job description must
specify not only “Indigenous writer or writer of colour” but also, “active and
respected in Indigenous sovereignty or anti-racist cultural movements for at least
three years”.
8. Affirmative action hiring for future TWUC office staff. Job posting to specify in the
criteria that eligible candidates should be able to demonstrate: “active and
respected in anti-oppression cultural movements for at least three years”. Priority
must be given to the following equity-seeking groups: Indigenous writers,
racialized writers, writers with disabilities and trans writers.
9. Dedicate a future issue of WRITE to bringing historical context to cultural
appropriation, Indigenous writers and writers of colour within TWUC.
10. Paid equity officer position housed in the main TWUC offices. Again, hiring
criteria must consider only candidates with “active and respected in antioppression
cultural movements for at least three years”. Priority must be given to
the following equity-seeking groups: Indigenous writers, racialized writers, writers
with disabilities and trans writers.
Signed, The TWUC Equity Task Force
Members: Farzana Doctor, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Ava Homa, Larissa Lai, Carrianne
Leung, Judy Rebick, Heather Wood, Waubgeshig Rice

Nietzsche: the why of art

Jane Eaton Hamilton

“We have art so that we shall not die of reality.” –Nietzsche

Many Gendered Mothers

I edit for many gendered mothers, a project on literary influence featuring short essays by writers (of any/all genders) on the women, femme, trans, and non-binary writers who have influenced them, as a direct or indirect literary forebear.

This project is directly inspired by the American website Literary Mothers, created by editor Nadxieli Nieto and managing editor Nina Puro. While we hope that Literary Mothers might eventually return to posting new pieces, our site was created as an extension and furthering of their project (in homage, if you will), and not meant as any kind of replacement.

Even though we’re new, a lot of terrific pieces have already appeared. Catch up with the essays we’ve published so far:

 

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-2-01-51-am

Standing Against Hate

I despise what’s going on. I stand against it without reservation. I support the LGBTQIA, disabled, women’s and POC communities, and call for y/our lives to be made safer by the continuation of legal protections, Planned Parenthood and the ACA, and the de-militarization of police. So much has gone wrong in a week’s time, but most of it was well seeded earlier.

We feel anxious, frightened and uncertain about what’s coming next. On Friday, immigrants and refugees from seven targeted countries were banned from entering the US, throwing individual lives and entire communities into crisis and destabilizing the planet. My Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has spoken of Canada’s open shores, and I trust that he and his ministers will work tirelessly to ensure refugees and immigrants already in detention in Canada are released into community, and new refugees and immigrants are welcomed immediatey.

Tonight terrorists opened fire at a mosque in Québec City, killing five. I send condolences to the victims’ families and friends and to their religious community, and continue to stand against violence and hatred. Muslims are important and welcome members of my community.

I am buoyed by the push-back of citizens. Protesters are marching, lawyers and protesters are occupying airports, airlines are reversing ticket charges, companies are taking stands to hire refugee workers, and thousands of people on social media are decrying these regressive, dangerous acts and thinking up new ways to make global citizens safe. Each one of us will play a part in de-activating the virus spreading through N America.

We are stronger together, just as Hillary said. Join hands, my friends, and join solutions.

Nuits d’oiseaux (2014)

A little something in French…

wordy-bird-2016-jeh

NUITS D’OISEAUX by Jane Eaton Hamilton

Traduit de l’anglais (Canada) par Cécile Oumhani

 

Voici une histoire. Elle est vraie, mais elle est aussi pleine de mensonges. Et de hachures, le genre qui laisse de tout petits quadrillages sur les cœurs.

1)

Un chirurgien a ouvert la poitrine de ma femme et lui a retiré son sein : des points et des agrafes. C’était il y a plusieurs années. Pendant qu’elle dort la fermeture éclair de sa cicatrice s’ouvre (ruban rallonge du haut, vis de butée supérieure, curseur, tirette), sa chair s’ouvre comme un sac de couchage. Certaines nuits je ne vois que les baleines de corsets qui entourent ses poumons, des éclats de lune luisants dans un ciel rouge foncé, et je fais une prière pour eux, ces pâles nervures de canoë, ces baguettes à ramasser qui sont tout ce qui la sangle. J’aimerais pouvoir faire ça : j’aimerais pouvoir la maintenir. Certaines nuits je crois qu’elle pourrait partir dans toutes les directions, nord, est, sud, ouest, une énorme éclaboussure. Elle ira si loin si vite que je pourrai juste regarder la bouche ouverte. Elle sera partie, et tout ce que j’aurai c’est un grand gâchis rouge à nettoyer et un éclat de côte qui sortira de mon œil.

2)

Les arbres à carquois sont assez étranges de toute façon, mais ajoutez-y le nid d’un Républicain social et vous serez dans un vrai pétrin visuel. Des furoncles verruqueux qui ressemblent à des toffees, ces copropriétés d’oiseaux faits d’herbes sèches ont plus de cent trous différents pour chaque famille ; les nids peuvent abriter quatre cents oiseaux. Il est intéressant de noter que les Républicains sociaux sont polyamoureux, et ont même, apparemment des relations avec des barbus et des fringillidés.

Au Namaqualand, les Tisserins du Cap se suffisent à eux mêmes. Les mâles courtisent les femelles en tissant des sacs qui ressemblent à des testicules, et si une femelle reste indifférente, le mâle construit un deuxième sac sous le premier et ainsi de suite, jusqu’à ce qu’un coup de vent fasse tomber tout le tralala.

Chez les oiseaux, comme chez les humains – c’est pas mal de bousculades pour avoir la fille et la garder.

3)

Certaines nuits quand l’incision de ma femme défait sa fermeture éclair, une côte sort et dessus il y a un oiseau jaune perché, qui se balance comme par grand vent, les plumes ébouriffées en une crête jaune citron. J’adore les oiseaux. Cela me remplit de bonheur de l’entendre chanter, comme j’ai du bonheur lorsque ma femme chante. (Une fois au début que nous étions ensemble, ma femme a traversé la cuisine en dansant nue tout en chantant à tue-tête des chansons de groupes de filles des années 60). Le petit oiseau gazouille et trille, puis s’envole de la côte pour voler dans notre chambre. Il attrape un moustique près de mon oreille. Il volète dans les coins autour des luminaires, et rapporte des morceaux de fil qu’il tire dans les pull-overs, les toiles d’araignée, les pointes des étiquettes de plastique, les moutons. Il fait un nid, se glisse dedans en frissonnant, et pond de petits œufs gélatineux, des œufs dont je pense, de façon simple et candide, qu’ils deviendront des ganglions pour ma femme.

Ces nuits d’oiseaux, j’ai du bonheur, tant de bonheur. De façon implicite, je sais que le petit oiseau jaune sera de notre côté et je m’endors sur des trilles de chant d’oiseau mielleux.

4)

Je traîne sur les sites d’amis des oiseaux, où abondent les questions : Pourquoi mes inséparables changent-ils de couleur ? Les pucerons – mon oiseau n’a pas de problèmes avec eux, mais moi si ? Le picage des plumes d’inséparables ?

La perte de plumes dit Web Aviaire, est un problème difficile à traiter quand le comportement de picage est déjà installé. Il faudrait montrer les oiseaux au Dr Marshall dès les premiers signes de picage. Ma femme et moi nous piquons nos plumes. Nous ne sommes pas allées chez le Dr Marshall et c’est peut-être notre problème. Notre relation souffre d’infection buccale, de bactéries, d’une mauvaise alimentation. Ma femme et moi nous étions autrefois des inséparables. Autrefois, le temps d’une nanoseconde, Nous Deux N’étions qu’Un. Puis, pendant des années, Nous Deux Etions Un et Demi. A la fin, Nous Deux Etions Deux. Maintenant, tout porte à croire que Nous Pourrions Bien Etre Trois.

5)

Les oiseaux m’enchantent. Une fois nous avons emmené notre fille voir une volière, les Combles des Loriquets au parc national des oiseaux de Jurong à Singapour. Un parc de vingt hectares sur un flanc de colline entièrement dédié aux oiseaux, c’est la garantie qu’une personne comme moi aura le vertige. Les loriquets ressemblent à de petits perroquets et dans les volières, alors que vous poussez des cris, vous vous tortillez et criez encore en passant sur des ponts suspendus, venus de haut dans les arbres, ils se posent sur vous, ils vous couvrent. C’est comme si les gardiens étaient installés sur le toit en train de vider des tubes de peinture sur vous, orange-cadmium, bleu cobalt, carmin et vert viridin, des couleurs territoriales criardes avec beaucoup de battements d’ailes et de coups de bec.

Les ornithologues au parc répondent à des questions comme : Est-ce qu’un œuf d’autruche résiste au poids d’un adulte humain ? Je me débats avec celle-ci : Est-ce que mon cœur humain résistera au poids changeant des allégeances de ma femme ?

6)

Recherche : La Manière d’offrir Stimulation Mentale et Bonheur à Votre Femme

C’est moi qui recherche. Regardez-moi certains soirs quand je passe en revue les billets de théâtre (Wicked ! Les Monologues du Vagin ! Avenue Q ! Mon Année de Pensée Magique !) et les expositions dans les musées (Dali : Peinture et cinéma ; Picasso et la Grande-Bretagne : Carr, O’Keefe, Kahlo : leurs lieux) et les détritus qui sortent de sa cicatrice, qui bougent dans des lapins mécaniques et des poupées vaudou qui dégringolent et se libèrent, tous les secrets et la souffrance qu’elle garde profondément enfouis en elle.

Qu’est-ce que je cherche ? Quelque chose à manger peut-être. Des graines pour les oiseaux. Un steak.

7)

Nous avons rencontré une femme en Namibie qui avait perdu presque tout un sein suite à l’attaque d’un crocodile. Elle appartenait à une tribu polygame, les Himba, dont les femmes ne portent que des pagnes. Elle s’était penchée sur la rivière avec sa gourde à eau, les seins pendant comme ils pendent quand on a eu une flopée d’enfants, et les dents d’un croco s’étaient refermées sur son sein droit.

Qui sait ce que le mari de cette femme pense quand il prend dans sa main son sein droit desséché et massacré par un croco ? Retrace-t-il son histoire avec respect ? Crache-t-il de dégoût et choisit-il une autre épouse ?

8)

Il y a ici des histoires d’épouses qui se changent dans la salle de bain, portent des soutien-gorge et des prothèses au lit, et des maris qui se détournent d’elles. Il y a des histoires de désintégrations maritales, et par là je veux dire ce à quoi vous pensez probablement : le mariage hétérosexuel. Je ne connais pas les statistiques des ruptures de mariages homosexuels après un cancer du sein. Ce que je sais, c’est que même après douze ans, quand ma femme ou moi nous passons devant la Cancer Agency, sans même penser à ce qui est arrivé, alors que nous sommes en route vers d’autres rendez-vous et en plein bonheur, l’une ou l’autre de nous deux fond en larmes.

9)

Vancouver a des meurtres de corbeaux et notre maison est sur leur trajet. Si vous sortez alors que l’aube commence à poindre, comme lorsque vous sortez pour une chimio, ils remplissent un ciel à la Hitchcock de leurs cris noirs, et si vous pouviez les compter, vous manqueriez de chiffres avant de manquer d’oiseaux. Les corbeaux ne sont pas protégés en Colombie Britannique, et la forêt qui leur servait de perchoir a été récemment arrachée pour construire un supermarché Costco ; maintenant des dizaines de milliers d’entre eux perchent dans un enchevêtrement de fils électriques et de palettes de matériaux de constructions. Le bruit qu’ils font est assourdissant.

10)

Le réalisme magique mis à part, la cicatrice de ma femme est vraiment juste une cicatrice, ordinaire, quelconque, qui a pâli avec le temps. (Ordinaire, quelconque. Je vous le dis. Ordinaire et quelconque.) Voici la vérité de piéton : elle est un peu concave là où il y avait son sein avant, un nid qu’on a creusé. Elle a fait le choix de ne pas se faire faire de reconstruction. Son unique sein est très petit et elle ne porte pas de soutien-gorge et de prothèse, ce qui est une histoire à voix haute, en fait, la seule partie qui hurle dans son histoire de piéton, frappée de réalité ; elle n’a à l’évidence qu’un sein, et cela se voit quand elle porte des t-shirts et elle fait masculine, alors les gens la regardent. La semaine dernière à un vernissage, un petit garçon d’environ sept ans s’est arrêté net alors qu’il courait et il a promené son regard sur elle de bas en haut, de haut en bas, essayant de lui faire comprendre.

(En ce moment, je fais la même chose, je passe mes yeux sur elle. Le petit garçon a raison. Elle ne comprend plus. Elle est toujours en train de dire au revoir à ses actions alors qu’elle dit bonjour avec ses lèvres qui sourient.)

11)

Mon cœur est une grosse et vieille pompe à sang dont certains endroits sont engorgés comme un ballon (j’ai une grosse et vieille cardiomyopathie pour toi, dis-je parfois à ma femme, mais en fait c’est une insuffisance cardiaque.) Mon cœur est en train d’abandonner, et il a des taches de nécrose qui ressemblent à de la rougeole, des morceaux morts qui sont morts depuis vingt-cinq ans, quel anniversaire ! Faisons un gâteau avec des bougies, joyeuse nécrose à moi !) Parlant de ma circulation sanguine, un cardiologue m’a dit une fois : l’arbre que vous êtes est en train de mourir. Nul doute que vous avez eu trop de Républicains sociables polyamoureux ? Comment vous sentez-vous ? Mon thérapeute m’a questionné sur nos vies, notre relation – oui – les seins en l’air, trois seins en l’air, j’imagine, au lieu de quatre, et voici la réponse, la lettre à ma douleur : cela fait la même impression que mon cœur qui me lâche. Maintenant il balbutie en arythmie, mais il ne peut pas pomper à travers toutes ces émotions et les vieilles cicatrices qui ont lâché, alors il peut bien continuer à s’engorger jusqu’à ce que j’éclate comme un –

12)

Tumeur ?

13)

J’ai été autrefois la copropriétaire d’un cacatoès qui s’appelait Hemingway. Hemingway avait l’habitude de sautiller sur mon os scapulaire et de picorer de la nourriture sur mes dents tout en perdant des plumes grises sur mes seins ? C’était un oiseau heureux avec une crête jaune, mais il n’a jamais écrit de grande nouvelle à ma connaissance.

14)

Au Cap de Bonne Espérance en Afrique du Sud, ma femme a couru vers des autruches pendant que le courant de Benguela lançait ses vagues sur la plage. Les autruches ont une griffe qui peut ouvrir quelqu’un aussi efficacement que la lame de n’importe quel chirurgien. Je me suis levée d’un bond, mais les autruches n’ont pas attaqué, elles ont seulement couru, en déployant leurs ailes mal développées. Puis le mâle s’est retourné et a envoyé d’un coup ma femme par terre. Il a dansé sur sa poitrine jusqu’à ce que son cerveau de la taille d’un petit pois s’en soit lassé.

Ce n’était qu’un jeu, rien qu’un jeu, m’a-t-elle assuré après, d’un air évasif, sans trop de peur. Je n’étais pas vraiment mort.

(C’est un mensonge).

15)

A Okonjima pour des guépards, j’ai été fascinée plutôt par les calaos – ces becs et ces casques ! Des calaos femelles utilisent leurs déjections pour s’enfermer dans leur nid. Je l’ai fait aussi, quand on a diagnostiqué le cancer de ma femme, mais j’ai utilisé un système d’alarme au lieu d’excréments. Je le fais encore, maintenant, mais j’utilise de l’éclairage périmétral, comme si des rayons lumineux brillant dans les ombres de ma femme protègeraient mon mariage.

16)

La peau de ma femme est engourdie, l’ai-je déjà mentionné ? Vous ne pensez pas que c’est la façon dont son esprit s’est guéri de tout ce traumatisme (syndrome de stress post-traumatique), avec une grosse et vieille zone engourdie ? A l’extérieur d’elle, des nerfs coupés deviennent parfois fous, comme un orchestre de la douleur, un cri de violon, une plainte de flûte. Yowey. Quand je suis allongée à côté d’elle et que je passe mon doigt sur sa poitrine, dans son aisselle, le long de la peau près de son bras sur son dos, elle ne sent rien du tout. Ici ? Dis-je et elle secoue la tête. Rien du tout. Ici ? Toujours rien. Ici ? Non. Ici ? Non, pas vraiment.

Est-ce qu’on guérit vraiment jamais après qu’on vous a poussé hors du nid ? Les choses se réparent, les choses se cicatrisent, on continue, mais à la fin on se retrouve à nouveau en chute libre. Nos becs s’empalent sur le sol et on est coincé à battre des ailes de haut en bas comme des chats qui mangent des sucettes. Toutes les vieilles blessures se rouvrent, les vieux trous de crevaison (morsures d’insectes, cette fois où on est tombé de bicyclette, la tendinite, la hernie) se mettent à suinter. La douleur fuit de nous. Nous sommes de sacrés suinteurs, à la fin, n’est-ce pas ?

17)

Une nuit alors que je suis couchée à côté de ma femme, sa poitrine s’ouvre et je regarde Kooza du Cirque du Soleil. L’acrobate se sert des côtes de ma femme comme corde raide ; les contorsionnistes se plient en deux à travers ses côtes et ressortent la tête comme des Gumbies. L’acrobate empile des chaises l’une sur l’autre, l’une sur l’autre, et puis grimpe à son tour, sans peur, pendant que les chaises tremblent. Je ris avec une joie toute enfantine, et ma femme se réveille, tousse et se retourne pendant que l’artiste de cirque dégringole.

Quand il a détalé, j’appuie ma joue sur ce que ma femme a perdu, mon poids la panique et elle se redresse tout d’un coup dans son lit. Elle se frotte les yeux et m’examine. Tu as une trace de fermeture éclair sur la joue, marmonne-t-elle.

Je tends la main et je touche les ondulations.

18)

J’en suis à l’âge de « mon ceci fait mal », où se trouve « mon ceci » est en réalité n’importe quelle partie du corps que vous voudriez insérer au hasard : oreille, coude, articulation, genou, utérus. Quelle relation ai-je avec ma douleur ? Je la sens brûler comme un moteur à combustion. Je trouve qu’elle a les yeux ternes et les épaules tombantes. Elle me regarde comme une proie, la plupart du temps, je crois, et elle vient sur mon cœur avec sa petite hache, hachure, hachure, comme un milan au parc national du Seregenti qui fait un piqué pour voler un sandwich à un touriste qui ne se doute de rien, et lui balafre la joue de ses serres. Quelle relation voudrais-je avoir à l’avenir avec ma douleur ? Je veux être sa divorcée homosexuelle.

19)

Il y a quelques semaines ma femme a battu le rappel pour un test de PSA avec un groupe de survivantes du cancer du sein. Un meurtre de survivantes du cancer, elles m’ont fait flipper avec leurs plumes noires et leurs croassements. Je ne peux pas faire face à ce qui les attend (ma femme). Le pronostic du cancer du sein de ma femme est bon mais ces derniers mois elle a mal en avalant et le chant vient au rythme de la chanson des enfants : yeux, oreilles, bouche et nez ! Sauf que pour les métastases du cancer du sein, c’est : Foie, poumons, sein et os ! Je ne connais pas bien le chant de l’infidélité… d’accord, mais je ne peux pas le chanter ici.

20)

Certaines nuits, la cicatrice de ma femme s’ouvre comme les nymphéas de Monet à l’Orangerie, une longue bande de peinture qui est toute méditation bleue et silence vert.

Avec l’intention… de… guérir, entonne un moine dans une robe couleur safran.

Je dois rester assise jusqu’au bout de ma douleur et me cuirasser le dos. Je dois entrer dans ma douleur, la traverser et aller au-delà.

Et l’exprimer par l’art.

Mon interprétation du sein perdu de ma femme est tranchée en sections et présentée comme des tranches de pain grillé debout, la tumeur phosphorescente à travers cinq lamelles. Anatomique, directe, guerrière, pleurant des larmes de sang.

Le Sein de ma Femme, par Georgia O’Keefe : une fleur rouge et striée tout en mouvement, une côte qui sort au niveau de la ligne du mamelon. Le Sein de ma Femme, par Pablo Picasso : un sein en spirale d’où poussent des cheveux, un sein avec un œil au lieu d’un mamelon, une tumeur au lieu de la tête de son modèle. Le Sein de ma Femme, par Emily Carr : sein comme arbre sombre et tortueux, tumeur comme nid d’oiseau. Le Sein de ma Femme, par Salvador Dali : un sein assis sur une côte, en train de fondre, un cadran d’horloge qui compte les jours qui lui restent. Le Sein de ma Femme, par Frida Kahlo : ma femme et moi tout habillées, main dans la main, une grande ombre à gauche de ma femme, des blessures qu’on voit à travers nos t-shirts, une longue balafre rouge et gonflée sur le côté droit de ma femme qui pompe le sang à travers une grosse veine vers mon cœur plus qu’énorme, engorgé et arythmique, pendant qu’il le pompe à nouveau– un parfait service à thé en argent et un loriquet sur une table d’un côté.

 

ENGLISH

 

Jane Eaton Hamilton vit à Vancouver en Colombie Britannique. Elle est l’auteur de Weekend and Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes. Elle est aussi l’auteur de Jessica’s Elevator, Body Rain, Steam-Cleaning Love, et July Nights and Other Stories. Ses livres ont été nominés pour le Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction, le MIND Book Award, le Pat Lowther Award, le VanCity Award et le Ethel Wilson Prize in the BC Book Prizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the hilarity ensued…

Oops, I seem to have left the straight white dudes out.

As artists, we invite commentary on our work. People often review themselves as much as the work they’re taking on, and this review personifies that.

Weekend. Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Posted on November 14, 2016 by John Sloan

Hamilton, Jane Eaton. Weekend. Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver. 2016. F;10/16

As fiction, for character and for plot this story is very good. There are a lot of interesting twists and turns, the people are three-dimensional and real, and all sorts of issues (money, illness, middle age, love, sex, parents and children, raising a baby…) are taken on directly and presented so we can experience them. But the queer thing, still I’m sorry not entirely in the centre of everyone’s concept of… usual I guess, is here archly and for me therefore aggressively presumed not only to be okay with everyone, but familiar. It’s as if we sat down to read something and discovered, lovely though it might be, that it presumed and celebrated Southern Baptist family life or the circumstances of world-class elite athletes as if everyone lived or at least understood in detail those kinds of a life.

It is also a little as if Ms. Hamilton is daring the world to react the way I am here. Okay, I’ll bite.

Two lesbian couples, one partner of each of which is an architect and has each built a building on an island in a lake in Ontario, have a weekend there and experience critical issues in their relationships. In one a baby has just been born (with very realistic and sympathetic appreciation of the immense ups and downs in that situation) and in the other marriage will be, and is, proposed (with a finely-tuned appreciation of power in a romantic relationship). All, it turns out, is not as it seems, and one of the relationships collapses apparently cruelly on the part of one of the partners, and the other veers off into physical illness.

Sex is rendered in vivid detail, reminding me in places of Book of Memories, where it was also homosexual. Arguments are wonderfully real and exposed as emotional events that bend and shape the logic of the antagonists. The external furniture including a huge dog, boats, the lake, weather, and the beautiful homes enhance the complexity and realism.

So what’s my problem? Well I think I’m there in respect of tolerance of sexual, political, and intellectual lives that aren’t mine. I have gay friends and we joke about our differences, and I also have quite close friends who are pretty committed to the radical right, and others to the radical left. But I’m not at the point of presuming because other ways of life than mine are okay, that mine is somehow not okay or to blame for past intolerance, or that I’m expected not to recognize that there is a difference.

You might call me defensive, a closet homophobe, or a conservative grump. My right-wing friends find I’m a bit on the wet side, advocating drug safe-houses and comfortable with abortion and physician-assisted death. But I prefer not to participate in either side’s turning a blind eye to the other in a world where extremism exists and is likely not to go away.

LGBTQ people and their fans would be over the moon about this novel and if I were one I’m sure I would be too. The writing is pretty terrific. But as it is I guess I wish Ms. Hamilton had woven a little grey into her bright jazzy fabric to let the rest of us know she understands that we dull straights also exist and that we’re okay too. 7.0/8.8.

 

Margaret Laurence: Could you start the year off, please?

margaret-lawrence-by-jane-eaton-hamilton-2016

Margaret Laurence by Jane Eaton Hamilton 2016

I wonder if people remember Margaret Laurence. She was a powerhouse of Canlit when I was a young writer–certainly an influence on us all. Canlit was headed, in those days, by “the Margarets” as much as by any of the men. I was friends with the writer Jane Rule, who was Margaret Laurence’s close colleague. She used to say, “Oh, she knows she’s a terrible writer, she doesn’t fool herself. She used to say, Imagine if I was a good writer!

This, from Wiki:

Literary career

One of Canada’s most esteemed and beloved authors by the end of her literary career,[4] Laurence began writing short stories shortly after her marriage, as did her husband. Each published fiction in literary periodicals while living in Africa, but Margaret continued to write and expand her range. Her early novels were influenced by her experience as a minority in Africa. They show a strong sense of Christian symbolism and ethical concern for being a white person in a colonial state.

It was after her return to Canada that she wrote The Stone Angel, the book for which she is best known. Set in a fictional Manitoba small town called Manawaka, the novel is narrated retrospectively by Hagar Shipley, a ninety-year-old woman living in her eldest son’s home in Vancouver. Published in 1964, the novel is of the literary form that looks at the entire life of a person, and Laurence produced a novel from a Canadian experience. After finishing school, the narrator moves from Toronto to Manitoba, and marries a rough-mannered homesteader, Bram Shipley, against the wishes of her father, who then disinherits her — disinheritance is a recurring theme in much of Laurence’s fiction. The couple struggles through the economic hardship and climatic challenges of Canadian frontier existence, and Hagar, unhappy in the relationship, leaves Bram, moving with her son John to Vancouver where she works as a domestic for many years, betraying her social class and upbringing. The novel was for a time required reading in many North American school systems and colleges.[5]

Laurence was published by Canadian publishing company McClelland and Stewart, and she became one of the key figures in the emerging Canadian literature tradition. Her published works after The Stone Angel explore the changing role of women’s lives in the 1970s. Although on the surface her later works like The Diviners depict very different roles for women than her earlier novels do, Laurence’s career remained dedicated to presenting a female perspective on contemporary life, depicting the choices — and consequences of those choices — women must make to find meaning and purpose.

In later life, Laurence was troubled when a fundamentalist Christian group succeeded in briefly removing The Diviners as course material from Lakefield District Secondary School, her local secondary school.

The Stone Angel, a feature-length film based on Laurence’s novel, written and directed by Kari Skogland and starring Ellen Burstyn premiered in Fall 2007.

Novels

Short story collections

Children’s books

  • Jason’s Quest (1970)
  • Six Darn Cows (1979)
  • The Olden Days Coat (1980)
  • The Christmas Birthday Story (1982)

Non-fiction

After Ellen calls WEEKEND “The Book”

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-10-42-43-pm

I’m so glad to see After Ellen managing to continue after their status changed in September. I surely never thought anyone would find cause to put me and Barack Obama on the same page. In their year end wrap-up, After Ellen via Beth Reynolds calls WEEKEND “The Book.” (All the same, I’d probably rather be “The Writer” since Glennon Doyle Melton sounds like she’s making money hand over fist. 🙂 jk)

After Ellen

Master Class with Jill Soloway

nude1_oct_2016art: Jane Eaton Hamilton 2016

“Protagonism is propaganda that protects and perpetuates privilege.”

This is about story, kids. This is about the poems we write. The short fiction. The novels. The plays. The TV shows. The films.

What work we support and why we do it.

Check her out. The Female Gaze. The Feminist Gaze. Gazing on. Empathy generator. Fucking yes, finally. Bringing it into literature.

You get the idea that the world might be okay after all.

TIFF

The Weekends

jehreading2015

The cabbie called to say he was in the alley and 10 minutes later he dropped my bag outside Pacific Central Station before I had even unlocked my seat belt, which in Vancouver’s theft-frenzied city was crazy, and while I sat in front of the train station getting myself together I thought about how I had seen F- for the last time when I dropped her off exactly here, and I thought about the monument to the women massacred at École Polytechnique, the commemorative benches I could see across in the park where geese had shat into their bowls of tears, and how somewhere my name was etched into one of the stones, linked to a woman who had long been violent with me. I wondered what the engineers who had been killed would be facing now in their lives if they had lived through that day’s hell of misogyny. As I write this, it is almost an anniversary … this year, the 27th. My life, already strangled my disability then, has had its twists and turns. As those women were being slaughtered, I happened to be in Victoria shopping for my kids’ holiday gifts, and when I got back to Salt Spring Island, where I lived, I found the TV on in the living room blaring the shattering news. No woman alive was unaffected. We had all been harrassed, or raped, or battered, or bullied, or denied opportunities in our lives. There was at most three degrees of separation between us and the victims. They were living the dreams my generation had fought for, and they had been killed for them. We knew. We felt the truth move through us like scurrying rats.

I call October Hell Month because a friend was slaughtered in cold blood in October, shot to death during a custody dispute with an ex. I call November the month of twelve months. 2016 has been scarcely anyone’s friend.

There is always pushback when fighting for civil rights. We got same-sex marriage then Harper. The US got same-sex marriage then Trump.

There is always pushback, but we already know how to fight. We’ve done it before. We’ve won before. We will rise steadily to our feet and fight again. Every day we see the truth of this. We see harshness and harm. We see damage and death. We see our friends attacked. We see women losing abortion rights. We see people harmed by police. We wail and mourn. We kick back. We pull our hair. We long for bigger arms, more resources, a longer life to fight. We long for greater and greater capacities. But we also see desegregation, pipelines defeated, inquiries called, universal medicare, HIV drugs developed, poverty dealt blows, women elected, misogyny challenged, constitutions changed, glass ceilings blown to smithereens.

It takes a village, yes, but we are a village, a global village. And we are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore. We are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore.

I went indoors and waited on a hard bench for the train to Seattle, and then in a long lineup. In my ankles, blood was pooling, compliments of heart failure. I proferred my passport and the customs officer questioned why I was returning on Sunday. I didn’t know how to answer. Because two days is enough time with someone I’m just starting to date? He was suspicious. He looked at me for a long time before making his decision about me. I’m queer and not a snappy dresser; I was sending up his alarms. But he let me go forward when the press of people behind me got longer. I had brought editorial work for the ride, but when I started it, I got motion sick, and this made me close my computer. I thought about a dawn train to Seattle with my friend L-, how the frost had filligreed the grass down the coastline. I remembered how dawn had cracked on the eastern horizon so heavily it stained even the sky on our western side of the train pink. I thought about how, that earlier time, I’d just had a big surgery and how all day she’d pushed me around in a wheelchair looking at art. I hungered after art; I particularly recalled the work of Yayoi Kusami and Romaine Brooks, neither of which I’d seen in person before. The Elles exhibit was my first time with many artists whose work I had admired in reproduction. I loved Suzanne Valadon, whose work I would later search out in Paris to much frustration (she wasn’t represented with a painting even in the house she once owned, now a Montmartre gallery, or at the Pompidou, which owned the one piece in the Elles show).

When the train pulled in to Seattle, F- was there in her snazzy car and my heart lit up just a little and I wondered what kind of time we would have together. On Friday night we gazed at the Space Needle from her apartment; behind us was a desk so huge it took up nearly half her living room, a family heirloom or maybe lodestone. In the morning, F- went out for croissants and we sat in her dining room with thick coffee and the NY Times Book Review.

After our weekend ended, another weekend began, and during this one I had four readings, two of them up-coast. F- and I didn’t know each other well. I was suddenly sicker than I could remember having been before, and indeed I then had a mini-stroke while performing in Fanny Bay (as pictured). The next day, when I should have been in hospital getting cardioverted, instead we took ferries to Hornby Island for another reading, me hanging on to F-‘s elbow like the cripple I’d become. I remember the time there only in flashes: my host’s beautiful garden, my difficulty breathing, my cardiac asthma, my horrible A-fib, lines from my co-reader’s poetry, being convinced I would die, trying to sleep sitting up, imagining/yearning for MediVacs. I just couldn’t see over the mountain of my illness into love. I would get back to Vancouver and go to the ER, while F- would drive back to Seattle and consider becoming part of Hillary’s administration. I wouldn’t end up with a cardioversion, but I would get a far more daunting cardiac ablation from which I’d recover, more or less. I’d publish that quickie novel I’d been finagling, and take up with a couple cute kids who called me “Nana” and landed me right back on Salt Spring Island after all those twenty-seven years.

Time threads you through the tiniest needle hole into your own vein, loops you around to your own past, to your own youth, to your own remembrances of women past. If there is one thing I’ve learned in this life it is that love is not enough. To make change, love has to be paired with action.

A Muslim youngster in Hamilton was brutally assaulted. The east and west have been postered with neo-Nazi fliers. Friends report queer attacks. POC friends report slurs, break-ins, attacks. The disabled are more frightened every day as their basic right to exist is challenged. Women report more public harrassment, a new level of anger in the attacks.

Time is a village we occupy. Rise, friends. Rise with me in power and patience and fortitude and intent. Together we are stronger.

 

 

 

TNQ 140, cover and a bit of innards

1

The New Quarterly, cover art: Jane Eaton Hamilton

I did the cover for The New Quarterly this issue, and also have a story, “Angry Birds,” appearing inside. Just arrived today! I look forward to exploring the other writers.

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