I have a short story in the latest issue of carte blanche, the Quebec Writers Federation online literary magazine. Here’s a description of what’s in Issue 10:

An investigation into murder and racism in Farmington, New Mexico by Emilie Karrick Surrusco
A tour of the “Seven Wards” with poet Buxton Wells
An interview with Myrna Kostash on the origins of creative nonfiction
And “Having Fun with Autobiography” by Dustin Harbin

photography by Steven Beckly;
graphic fiction by Francis Raven;
nonfiction by Tilya Gallay Helfield;
poetry from William Burton, Kara Dorris, Aaron Kreuter, Barb Lundy, Nancy Mackenzie, and Drew Winchur; and
fiction from William Robinson, Matt D. B. Wilcox, Teri Vlassopoulos, Pauline Clift, and carte blanche Quebec Prize finalist, Melissa A. Thompson.

The issue also includes the winner of the 2009 carte blanche Quebec prize for the poem “Changing Winter Tires” by Julie Mahfood, who I met through a QWF workshop 2 years ago – congratulations, Julie! The story in this issue is the one I workshopped in that very class, actually.

Upcoming Events

In chronological order:

1) For those of you in Montreal, I’m going to be doing a reading this Thursday November 19, 2009 at Depanneur Le Pick Up (7032 Waverly). It’s me and Sean Michaels, who writes one of the most magical music blogs on the Internet, Said the Gramophone. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to read yet, but please come by if you’re in the area. It starts at 7. I wonder if the Pick Up will be serving pulled pork sandwiches? I hope so. Thanks to Jeff for asking me to read!

2) I can’t believe I haven’t talked about CJAM here. CJAM stands for Clinique Juridiques des Artistes de Montreal, and I’ve been volunteering with them for the past few months as their treasurer. CJAM is this amazing initiative spearheaded by Keith Serry and Olivier Plessis, two law students at McGill, to get a free, accessible legal clinic open for arts-related issues. Imagine you’re an emerging writer or painter or filmmaker and you’re given a contract – you probably don’t have the money to spend on a lawyer, right? CJAM hopes to bridge that gap by initially offering workshops on law-related issues and having a legal information service. At Pop Montreal a few weeks ago, CJAM hosted a workshop with a tax lawyer. I mean, it’s not the most glamorous subject matter, but it’s important for people to know their rights, and to have access to do so. There’s a team of 11 of us (plus some lovely volunteers) working to get the clinic off the ground and, guys, it’s a lot of work. Everyone is balancing school + jobs + family with their CJAM tasks, but we’re really psyched about how it’s going to turn out.

Montreal - come to this!!

We’re going to launch the first stage of the 2009 workshop schedule and the legal information service with a special event at Le Cagibi (5490 St-Laurent) on Friday November 27, 2009. The doors will open at 6:30pm and the event starts at 7pm. Patrick Pleau, Chasing Bright Lights and Athena Holmes will perform, and there will be music by musicfirm. The tickets are $7 and all proceeds go to supporting the artists and CJAM. If you’re interested in a ticket, please let me know – Cagibi will fill up fast and I know it will be a great night.

You can read more about CJAM and the event over here: http://cjam.info.

1) I was in Toronto last weekend and did an afternoon reading at the Toronto Zine Library. Hallowzine featured a bunch of great zine writers, like Alex Wrekk (Brainscan), Jeff Miller (Ghost Pine), Chris Landry (Kiss Off) and Suzanne Sutherland (My Bad). I felt a little sheepish reading at a zine reading considering that “Cement, Flour, Saints” is now 2 years old and is not going to be reprinted, but I seized the opportunity to read “We Should Make Things”, the essay about zines that I wrote for the Shameless anthology. It was great reading it to a group of people steeped in zine culture. They knew what I meant when I talked about long-armed staplers and glueing stamps. I’ve only done a handful of readings, but this was my favourite, I think. The vibe in the library was warm and cozy, the audience was engaged and it was a wonderful way to spend a few hours on Halloween afternoon. Super big thanks to Amy for being an adorable MC and for inviting me to read.
Hallowzine setup at the TZL
Setting up for the reading – Chris is stringing up pumpkin lights, Amy is in kitty-cat ears and Suzanne has a beard on. Just your typical Halloween day reading.
Here I am reading. I didn’t wear a costume, but I did wear all black for the occasion.

2) Soon after working my way through those Cavafy poems, I happened across a flyer for “Cavafy: Passions and Ancient Days“, a one-man reading/play by Yannis Simonides that was going to be performed at Montreal’s Hellenic Community Center. I reserved the night for myself and went this past Friday. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a Greek community event. When I was growing up, my father was heavily involved in the community and I spent many childhood evenings in auditoriums like the one I was in on Friday. It felt the same: the old ladies with their haispray-stiffened hairdo’s, that blend of Greek and English, the vague smell of coffee from the coffee makers in the back of the room.

Simonides’ performance was an homage to Cavafy, and jumped from biographical facts about the poet, Simonides’ own reflections on his work and influence, and then to Cavafy himself, reciting poems. It was surprisingly seamless: Simonides was wondeful at switching between the two roles of himself, the playright, and Cavafy, that famous Alexandrian poet. Cavafy was such an interesting, complex person and Simonides touched on everything that made him who he was: his eccentricness, his homosexuality, his sense of Hellenism (Cavafy always insisted that he was a Hellene more than a Greek, and that if he was a Greek, he was an Asian Greek), his love of Alexandria, his work life (30 years as a government clerk in the irrigation department!). The show was billed as a bilingual reading, but other than the poems which were first read in Greek before being translated, it was in English, to the dismay of some people in the audience. The woman next to me poked me once after I’d laughed at a joke and asked me if I understood what was going on. I said yes, and then she sniffed, “This is like a university course.” I guess not everyone was as impressed as I was.