Hey, I've just got the indiegogo campaign running to help me get to the CIPS poetry slam competition. Please share this link! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rabbit-richards-charming-wee-poetry-murder-spree--2/x/13364509#/
I snuck away from the world and I stole time. Toronto, it turns out, is a lovely place with a ridiculous transit system. The @TorontoPoetrySlam located at the Drake Hotel was a really interesting evening. I expected to hear some inspired poetry and some awful crap, because that's the usual spread, right? I was not disappointed, but if there was a lack, it was definitely at the crap end of the spectrum. Hearing work from poets I haven't seen since the CFSW last year was super exciting. Also Tanya Davidson melted me absolutely with her feature presentation of poetry.
I did have the good fortune to be able to go up myself, and am pleased to report that I took 3rd place.
Last week, I was thrilled to go to my first workshop run by the Kalmunity Vibe Collective. Learning from and working with Jahsun, Fabrice, and Alex was nothing short of revelatory. I cant wait to see how my work develops and in what ways my writing becomes informed by their influence.
Surrounding myself with good art is never a bad investment. Kalmunity's tribute to P-Funk, the AGO in Toronto, Philosofly's fantastic view of Scarface in 1st person, Optimus Rhyme's insomnia... I'm happy as a duck in a pond. This week, Kalmunity Tuesday night and maybe Dark Matter's show at Casa del Popolo Wednesday night, and then I'm headed to the chalet to let it all coalesce.
There's a comedy open mike night at McLean's Pub south of Metro Peel. Did you know that? I didn't. I went to see Mike Meo (and whoever else had the bravery to go up on the mike that night) perform, little expecting that I would end up following him.. It was a good night. I did 3 or 4 pieces of very unfunny material but the crowd seemed open to it. I got consent before I plied them with downers, I swear. Also there was always the promise that Mike would be there to make them laugh again when I was done. In any event, the audience enjoyed my work, which was a new and different kind of gratifying. I don't know if I would have taken the risk to present earnest heartfelt poetry to a group of people who came to see comedy if I had had the time to consider the ramifications thereof in advance.
Then, last weekend, there was Throw. I'm really enjoying the community at their events. Both poets and audience are welcoming and interested, and I can feel their engagement when I'm on stage. I went planning to do the sacrifice, but ended up slamming. Since I was unprepared to slam, I expected to do just all right, but I came in 3rd place! So that was a cool feeling. Even if the game is made up and the points don't matter. Because they still do. And after the show I spent some time with Simon and Halogen and had a conversation that lasted well into the morning about synesthesia and the German words for mermaid and jellyfish. All in all, a perfectly wonderful evening.
I'm working on my renewal forms for my permanent residence in Canada. I don't think I was aware that I could have submitted these forms up to 5 months ago, but even if I had been I wouldn't have had the money to do it.. And so now i'm working against the clock because my current card expires in two weeks. I didn't know just how "artsy" I am until I had to figure out and report every address, job, and educational opportunity I've had for the last 5 years. Also every time I've left the country and for how many days and for what purpose. I wish I could just sign a waiver giving the government permission to dig and find all that information out themselves. I'm sure they already know it. If they don't, Google does.
Rodent update: My apartment is to date mouse free, and I'd really like to keep it that way... so I'm looking for a cat to adopt.
Here's the big news: I WON! I've been trying to be low-key about it in person, because I can't decide if it's a big deal and being genuinely excited just makes me look callus and boastful, or if it's not that big a deal and being genuinely excited makes me look like a n00b. In either case, I am genuinely quite excited. Throw Poetry Collective turns out to put on a most excellent evening. I had so much fun, and got to hear some really cool stuff. If I'm perfectly honest, there were some pieces between open mike and slam competition that didn't exactly float my boat, but that's true of any open venue. And I learn from everyone, anyway. That's not just diplomatic rhetoric: there was one guy whose delivery made me really stop and think about how I can incorporate more rhythm into my performances, and I didn't like his poem at all. And another whose writing was very, very strong, but who seemed to have forgotten that we were all there to hear it... I saw a personal favourite, Chris Masson, deliver a piece I hadn't heard before and learned a thing or two about ownership of the stage. And Patrick Ohslund was featuring, which is never a bad time. But the headliner? I won the slam competition. 12 artists, 2 rounds, and when I came off the stage both times I was shaking. It was really awesome. If you weren't there, please do come to the next one. So, so worth it.
And now for a little introspection.
I'm going to be 33 years old on Monday. That feels important, somehow. Like I actually might need to pay attention to it. Of course, my nerd brain wants me to celebrate 0.66666... and i probably will. In any case, there is a certain amount of reflection. I would like very much to go through the catalogue of pieces I've written since the beginning of time (I'm not being grandiose, it's just that my perception of time couldn't start until I started, so as far as the relative physics are concerned, time did, in fact, start for me when I became sentient) and see which of them, if any, are worth reworking, rehashing, or retiring. Performance poetry has taken me by storm, and I haven't been giving attention to my knitting (sorry, Dr. Client. I know you're waiting.), my stories, my *shhh* novel *it might hear us*... I have a lot of stuff to catch up on. But poetry is a wonderful and cruel mistress, and I just can't seem to get out of her boudoir without her scent wafting up from my clothes when I walk down the street.
I'm starting a cool writing project with a friend involving ultimate editing control that has me pretty excited. I am really trying to concentrate on getting my house in order, both literally and metaphorically. I have plans with two different individuals regarding podcasts that make me want to sit in libraries and just do research all day long. Stay 'tuned,' because I expect one of those to break soon. I am getting a cat. I think we all know the secondary reason there, but the first is definitely more compelling. I liked being a family of one and a half. My little girl and I were inseparable, and I miss her often and hard, but it's time I let some new furry beast into my life. And with a four and a half, I've plenty of space for the furball to roam, play, and destroy my textiles.
Have you got multiple creative projects on the go? How do you keep them in some sort of restrained chaos and not lose track of your life? Leave me a note in the comments.
I was all set to leave my house for a routine errand. Literally, just a run to the bank and back. I had my coat on and everything. And out of the corner of my eye? A mouse.
So it turns out I'm a wuss. Who knew? I have suddenly been humanised in the eyes of my friends, who have waited a year and a half for me to demonstrate a weakness. I am not comfortable with what I perceive as my own silliness, but I will qualify that by saying that I do feel that it's coming from an appropriate place, if overblown.
There is no trap or system that I yet know of that is "humane" no matter what the boxes say. Glue traps are a sick, sick idea, and the snappy thing doesn't always catch the neck... And anyone who thinks drying the thing out while it's alive by making it eat chemicals is equally twisted. I feel like a serial killer. I'm pretty sure this is a form of genocide. And there is a part of me that is well aware that I can NOT have vermin in my home, that I am equally unwilling to compromise my health and home for the sake of a pest. But it just wanted to get warm and be fed, right? And I've gone to DefCon3 and sought out species- specific toxins and become the Pol Pot of rodentiae. I'm pretty sure that I'm a horrible person on both counts. Either I should take them in and be loving (crazy veganist behaviour) or I should be able to kill them and move on with my life, accepting that they are 'disgusting,' which they aren't (cold-hearted genocidal behaviour).
By either metric, I fail on an epic level, so I spent the night at a friend's house after leaving my evil traps of doom behind me, laced with tempting cranberry peanut peanut butter. Only the best for your last meal, little friends. And I sit at a kitchen table not my own, dreaming of the cat I will soon invite to live with me and thinking of ways to assuage my troubled conscience.
"Performing is not easy." At some point during most slam competitions or open mic nights, someone, usually the host, will say this, and while it is both trite and trope, it is also true. When going up on stage feels comfortable and right, there's something odd going on in the rest of your life... but what I learned last month is that that stage can turn hostile and threatening so very easily. I guess it's not fair to say I 'learned' it so much as that I had a forceful reminder. And it is absolutely the stage that was hostile. The audience was lovely. They were encouraging and hopeful for me and wanted me to do well. I however, froze stock still like a deer in ... well, a flashbulb, actually.
I've been going over and over and over my pieces ad nauseam.. There's no way I didn't know them. It's true that I was working with new material, but that's just part of the process. Breaking a new piece shouldn't break you. On the other hand, I will go back to having my notes in my back pocket: there's absolutely nothing wrong with having backup on you in case of emergency. Some show hosts or event organisers take a militantly opposed view to paper of any kind onstage, and having seen how some artists hide behind their notes, I do understand where they're coming from. But new artists have a long row to hoe before they can just get onstage with a new piece and not be thrown by outside noises, children in the front row, flash photography, or any one of a dozen other things that could throw your concentration. I will not be derailed in quite that fashion again.
I'm also casting my eyes westward. In the next month or two, money permitting, I'd really like to slam in Ontario. There are so many more opportunities in the GTA and Ottawa. Montreal is a lovely city, don't get me wrong: I'm happy to be here an have no intention of decamping. But it might be nice to peek my head over the wall and see what's going on next door.
Thank heavens for insufficient work. Really, that's what drove so many artists to greatness, to surpass their basics, to...death...
I cooked the last zucchini today in a pasta dish that was way too spicy (as if there existed any such thing). A fresh baked challah made without the egg wash makes a pretty decent dessert with a glass of tea, too. I figure if I can manage to make another 150$ this month by one means or another I might not have to talk to the landlord. I really do prefer to minimise our engagement. An interchange with an artist I respect a LOT, John Akpata, reminded me not to think of myself as a starving artist, but as a surviving one. I like that. Positive reinforcement is good for you, even
The new poem up today, Children's Story, is a piece I started during the Festival this month. I cringe a little at anyone who knows my mother potentially seeing the language, but the subject matter really doesn't lend itself to delicate attention. I heard Saul Williams quote Maya Angelou the other day in a recording. She had said that we ought to be writing as if we had guns in our mouths. That image has been pushing me, harassing me, cajoling me... I hate the idea of writing what other people want to hear. I want to write what is viscerally necessary, what must come out, what needs to be said.
briefly I considered not to write has also received a slight currycombing. It's hard to edit spoken word pieces until they've been performed; so much of the process has to do with how the words fall out of my mouth and onto what reception from the audience. But I quite like the imagery and I look forward to playing with this one on a stage.
Also, I will be posting the date for Throw Collective's slam on Monday. I don't know yet if I'll be able to be there, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. If I'm able, I intend to slam there. Saturday night's date at Espace des Arts has me excited. I've already seen the lineup, and there are some great old friends and some new contenders on that list. I'm personally looking forward to see what Ben Wolf and JD Hobbes bring. Lots of magick in that room. Come and see.
The application process for various career-driving opportunities has this Rabbit ducking for cover and looking very much like an ostrich. Suddenly a functional website is less frivolous time-wasting break from "real" creating and more CV necessity. I didn't know how much I wanted to wear poetry on the outside instead of just having it permeate my life from the inside until the CFSW.
The week of the Festival here in Montreal was absolutely life-changing. I was dipped like Achilles in poetry and spoken word and music and art, and even a little bit in practical concerns like microphone handling and grant proposals. And now every bit of me but the thumb-size divot behind my ankle bone is screaming for completion, and I find myself needing to be onstage, craving opportunities to practice and to talk poetry and to be inspired.
And thinking hard about what a website means and why I need to make this a reality.