Jane Eaton Hamilton

"I write not because I am courageous but because I am afraid. I discover my courage in the writing, and am no longer silenced by fear." -Kerry Beth Neville

“Every Time We Put Pen to Paper, It is an Act of Protest:” a Michele Filgate roundtable on silence

“Red Ink is a quarterly series curated and hosted by Michele Filgate, hosted at powerHouse Arena. This dynamic series focuses on women writers, past and present. The name Red Ink brings to mind vitality, blood, correcting history, and making a mark on the world.

The following is an edited transcript from November’s panel, “Silence,” which featured Rene Denfeld, Alisson Wood, T Kira Madden, Gayle Brandeis, and Alexis Okeowo.”

I always admire the speakers at the Red Ink panels, which are generally excerpted for LitHub. This one is particular good. Since I write mostly about the aftermath of trauma, and am writing about it currently in a novel where a character (like one of Rene’s!) has selective mutism, I was particularly riveted. So might you be.

Every Time We Put Pen to Paper, It is an Act of Protest

 

Words for Your 2018 by Louise Erdrich

Advice to Myself by Louise Erdrich

How to Support Your Writer Friend

The care and feeding of the special writer in your life? Is it awkward when they publish a book? What if you haven’t bought it? What if you haven’t read it? Are there expected practices you are violating? You know they suffered getting the thing to press–weren’t they crying on your shoulder a year ago and saying they’d never finish?–and for sure you want to be supportive, but, really, how? What would help?

Here are some tips from Leslie Pietrzyk:

How to Support Your Writer Friend by Leslie Pietrzyk

Henceforth, I declare your backlash

Henceforth, I declare, and so it shall be: #UBCA #CanLit #USCongress #SupremeToad

Everytime a UBCA signatory or a CanLit gatekeeper pulls a piece of crap, or a GOP senator goes off, or the Congress or Supreme Toad issue nonsense, or damage, another womxn gets their brain-snakes (like angel wings but custom-made for banshee feminists).

Love Will (Still) Burst Into a Thousand Shapes

“…The next section of the collection following the one focused on artists is “Our Terrible Good Luck,” an apt oxymoron that encompasses the devastation that populates these poems on topics not often associated that kind of horror: motherhood and children. Oh boy, was this part of the collection hard for me. They’re just shattering to read: domestic abuse, the death of children, gun violence, mass murderers, the dark sides of motherhood, the physicality and sometimes grotesqueness of child birth. For me, they were painful and difficult to read, despite their being beautifully written. When I say devastating, this is what I mean:

In the month before they find your son’s body

downstream, you wake imagining

his fist clutching the spent elastic

of his pyjama bottoms, the pair with sailboats riding them

He’s swimming past your room toward milk and Cheerios

his cowlick alive on his small head, swimming

toward cartoons and baseballs, toward his skateboard

paddling his feet like flippers. You’re surprised

by how light he is, how his lips shimmer like water

how his eyes glow green as algae

He amazes you again and again, how he breathes

through water. Every morning you almost drown

fighting the undertow, the wild summer runoff

coughing into air exhausted, but your son is happy

He’s learning the language of gills and fins

of minnows and fry. That’s what he says

when you try to pull him to safety; he says he’s a stuntman

riding the waterfall down its awful lengths

to the log jam at the bottom pool

He’s cool to the touch; his beauty has you by the throat

He’s translucent, you can see his heart under

his young boy’s ribs, beating

as it once beat under the stretched skin of your belly

blue as airlessness, primed for vertical dive

HOLY FUCK, Jane Eaton Hamilton. I don’t remember the last time I read a poem so fucking sad and heartbreaking.” -Casey Stepaniuk

Ursula–we’ll miss her so. Here she is on being a late bloomer

Oddly, in the way life goes, I was thinking of Ursula Le Guin when the word came through on Twitter that she had died. She was a remarkable writer and thinker, an early protector of women’s rights, and the world will be smaller for her absence.

Ursula K. Le Guin On ‘Starting Late’ as a Writer

Shut Up and Write sessions in Canada: do you have a location to share?

 

I’m sitting in the library on a sunny Tuesday in Shut Up and Write session. SUAW sessions originally formed in San Francisco before being brought to Canada by Tom Cho when he was writer-in-residence at Kogawa House in Vancouver. I kept them going after Tom moved to Toronto, and even though I later moved away from the city, they are still on-going Wednesday mornings in central Vancouver. There’s a FB page. Here we do them in person Tuesdays, but we’ve added several remote sessions most weeks, where one writes alone at home with one of us sending along the timing using FB message. Using the Pomodoro Method we write with each other for 25 quiet minutes, break for 5, and repeat three times before taking a 20-minute break. At the end of that, we do another 2 25-min sessions.

For someone like me who writes seven days a week, SUAW is a terrific means to cut off hours and write efficiently. Check to see if there’s a SUAW where you live, and if there isn’t, start one! Download a timer like Focus Keeper, find a location, invite folks and you’re ready to go!

 

“65 Queer and Feminist Books To Read In 2018”

65 Queer and Feminist Books To Read In 2018, a list by Carolyn Yates at Autostraddle. Look at all these lovelies. Why, you’d never have to read a book by any author on that idiotic UBCA list to be edified, shocked, enchanted, moved, transported, renewed, challenged, taught, expanded!

CBC Guide to Writing Contests for Canadians (some international)

We’re lucky when we get a more or less up-to-date list of what’s happening on the contest scene. Here we are for fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry:

CBC Guide to Writing Contests

Out of the blue

unknown photographer

I hear the repetitive hit of a hammer–the neighbours putting in a suite, I think. I notice motion, see a pileated woodpecker nailing the top of a countertop I have leaning against the porch railings. The woodpecker’s done a lot of damage–to the old junk countertop, but also, I see, to the porch beams, and I think how stupid it is to look for insects in new wood, the scars bright and bare. As I move closer to the doors, the woodpecker dives out of sight, makes three ovals so I can only briefly note its raised red alarmed crest. Like a cartoon, really, all wheeling motion.

I’m blue like the shortest day, the blue of indigo. I’ve been trying to keep my pecker up, as they say, and indeed here at the manse there are many other peckers up–this morning six flickers at a time, along with downy and hairy woodpeckers, and of course the big mama of them all, the huge pileateds who swoop in for leisurely meals of suet or peanuts before dashing away.

This woodpecker’s in trouble. This woodpecker, I see, on stepping outside, is entangled in the netting I use for clematis, in effect, caught just as certainly in a doll-size sea of six-pack plastic as any turtle or whale. I rue the problems with feeding birds, the list of which sweeps through me as the bird thrashes, hung by one over-extended claw … the window hits, the rodents, the birds of prey, the starlings (does one give in and just feed the things? I shout, Go murmur! as I bang the window, but they are never dissuaded), the expense, and now this.

Entirely my fault.

Whisper, I tell myself. So I go quiet and inside my head I tell her I know she’s stuck, and I’m going to go into my house and fetch something to free her, but the important part will be for her to make herself calm because when she struggles, I can’t get the netting off. When I get back with scissors the bird is wild, and wilder still as I extend an arm. I tell her, internally, I can’t help if you don’t stay still. I size up her bill, a fat three-inch needle. She heaves herself upright and lies out along the top of the counter’s edge with her snagged leg extended back toward me. Without thinking, I snip as close to her foot as I can get and before I can try a second time for the netting on her claw, she’s long gone. I watch her lift into the trees and snag herself onto pine bark.

I feel sad, though. Sad to have inadvertently caught her in a kind of leg-hold trap, as I’m sad when birds hit my windows. I’m trying two group whispers now, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, and the first is to stop the window carnage. It seems to be working here at the end of a week. Too soon to know for sure, but the rates seem down.

Is there a whisperer available to just talk to me? I haven’t been able to see my pipsqueak g-babies in weeks because of illnesses, even for tree trimming, and I am worried, tormented, filling up with more and more concerns, the personal ones, the bigger ones. There isn’t any point, is there, to struggling? I’m post-natal on (draft of) a major project. I’m agonizing about money. I’m worried for the welfare of friends, especially in the hot zones like Vancouver and the US. I’m cranked about desertification, jellification, plastics. I’m frantic about who will take in climate and political refugees, about Trudeau being so right-wing, about the Congress and omnibus bills and Mueller not being allowed to finish. I’m worried about the dreamers. I’m worried about the ACA. I’m worried about my disabled friends, because whatever problems others are having, they’re magnified for the disabled. I’m worried about the loneliness that capsizes people during the holidays.

I think about my dead parents-in-law, my dead cat, my dead marriage. I light what I call the “mama candle” for my dead mother and m-in-l, which is blue like my mood. It’s a green night tonight, small flame notwithstanding, with patches of white heavy on cedars, on today’s day that is seconds longer than yesterday’s. The dark falls like tree boughs in wind storms, and I can’t shake my depression.

I hope your holidays are the best they can be, with warmth and intimacies that cherish you. I wish you the return of light.

“I want my cup of stars.” -Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen and I go back a bit, and I’m finally reading her collection My Body and Other Parties, and, so far, adoring and admiring it, and I’d like to see if she’ll agree to an interview even though this is not a going-concern blog and even though she is much much too busy, but in the meantime, here is a great and sparkly interview with The Atlantic’s Joe Fassler. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson haunts me still, so I understand how she got riveted. Jackson’s idea that she could transcend the many limitations of her lived life by entering other worlds, much as the disabled quite often do, in fact, and the stunning skills with which she brought her points home, still flabbergasts and inspires me. We need her in the world, and now we need Machado, too.

How Surrealism Enriches Storytelling About Women

In Conversation–with Room Magazine

I’m lucky to be judging the Room short forms contest this year; I was interviewed by Mica Lemisky here. I hope you consider entering because I’d certainly like the chance of reading your (exciting, invigorating, devastating, soulful, perplexing) work!

“A Sexual Violence Reckoning is Coming In Publishing” Or Is It?

From Bitch Media, S E Smith’s great piece on sexual harassment and assault in CanLit. Where are we now? Where have we been? Where are we going and how will we get there?

As someone pretty much drummed out of a traditional literary career, and who (mostly) speaks their mind, I have to tell you losing hopes of getting ahead is a lot better than the alternative of shutting up. It’s a coming out, if you will. There’s great and abiding strength in it. There’s passion and direction and a waiting army of feminists who refuse to shut the fuck up about the harms that have been done to us.

Nothing will stop us.

A Sexual Violence Reckoning is Coming in Publishinghttps://www.bitchmedia.org/article/sexual-reckoning-in-publishing

“When Bad Men Define Good Art We talk about separating art from artist, but many of the accused abusers aren’t creators—they’re gatekeepers”

Jess Zimmerman at Electric Lit writes:

“The Paris Review publishes twice as many men as women; are men twice as good? The New York Times described Stein as “regarded by many as a champion of new talent, including some women writers,” but that “some” is poison. One can’t really make the case that Stein was a champion of women writers generally; under his auspices, The Paris Review went from one-third women writers to… one-third women writers. So who broke through to be part of the illustrious third? This is not to say that the writers who did make their way into The Paris Review’s pages aren’t worthy, but we should illuminate the hand that picked them, and the other work it cast aside. In short, if you weren’t already paying attention to the ways that whiteness and maleness determine what we value in art, you should be now.”

Electric Lit

New Painting

Jane Eaton Hamilton: 8×8 conte on mixed media paper 2017

Toronto poet Lisa Richter launches at Salt Spring Library!

Natalie Meisner and I will be joining the reading to help celebrate Lisa’s achievement. Join us 8 pm Nov 29, 2017.

Femme au collier jaune

1946 Femme au collier jaune; Picasso

painting of Françoise Gilot with cigarette burn on her cheek–if we view this, are we complict?

I found this article by Claire Dederer useful in thinking through what has been an obsession without answer during my artistic career. Should we love the art and ignore what we know of the artist? Should art be held to standards? All I ever could answer with were questions.

What is art? What does it mean? Whose art? Whose history? What art was left out? This is as true of literature of course as it is of visual art or films or photography.

I want to see the world we’d have if the people who had been left by the wayside were white men. I want to see the films, read the books, look at the photography and visual art that wasn’t captured or wasn’t kept or wasn’t remarked upon. I long to know the world without patriarchy. Would it be better, or only different?

What Do We Do With the Art of Monstrous Men?

The Lesbian Paintbrush Jane Eaton Hamilton 2014

Shelving Books–not for the meek

Hanya Yanagihara gets my vote here for sheer numbers and gorgeous storage. I think only writers who are visual artists could be comfortable with the results after shelving by colour, don’t you, but nonetheless, Michael Chabon did it. (I was just as impressed at the existence of the summer home.) A fun article by Emily Temple at LitHub.

I organize mine into poetry, short fiction, novels, and non-fiction, then organize by “Best of” collections, and, in non-fiction, by subject (art, photography, biographies, gardening, animals etc) but I don’t alphabetize sections.

How 11 Writers Organize Their Personal Libraries

“So You’ve Sexually Harassed Or Abused Someone: What Now?”

Ijeoma Oluo, writing at The Establishment, offers guidance to men (and womxn) who have harassed or abused someone. It’s advice I wish two of my exes would read and take to heart. How to be honourable, folks.

So You’ve Sexually Harassed or Abused Someone: What Now?

Flip the script, UBC Accountable. It’s time

graphic from U of Windsor

Today is a year since the anti-feminist, anti-victim, UBCAccountable letter went up. What a year it has been. What an autumn it has been. Now we’re in the middle of the “me too” initiative, awash in thousands of declarations of womxn’s experiences of sexual assault. I’m embarrassed for Canada that this letter exists, ashamed for CanLit, and scared because of the new chill on reporting that it’s caused. This letter had severe repercussions in my own writing life, and I’m old, published, experienced. Imagine how much worse for you if you happen to be young, unpublished and inexperienced. Imagine how much worse still if you are from a marginalized community with other barriers set against your literary success.

I’m more surprised than ever that women signatories haven’t taken their names off and whispered, chastened, “I’m so sorry. Me too.”

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