The Brock University Creative Writer’s Club introduces our first reading of the year, Cipher X! Come over this friday, sept 16th, for some poetry, some prose, some rounds (in the musical sense), and various other shenanigans. Our list of readers for the night include:
Ed Edmonds Jade Scapillato Craig Dodman Spencer Roberts
The launch of my new chapbook But I don’t write haiku, which will also be my last reading in the Niagara region for the foreseeable future, will be taking place this Friday July 29 2011 at the Fine Grind Cafe (37 James Street, St. Catharines). Doors open at 7pm, poetry begins at 7:30pm.
Readers, for the moment, include Thomas Hoad, James Millhaven, Jeremy Colangelo, Ed Edmonds, and Tasneem Motola. More readers will be announced shortly.
I received some exciting news last week. In September, I had submitted some poems to The Fiddlehead, Canada’s oldest literary journal. Last week, I received a letter informing me that two of my poems will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal. This is a huge step for me as a poet and a great honour.
Niagara Falls features the longest-running consistent fireworks series. From June 3 until September 4, the city offers fireworks displays above the Falls every Friday, Sunday and Holiday at 10:00 p.m. Additionally, free concerts are offered before the fireworks each Friday.
This week, I get to watch the fireworks with the ESL students that I work with. I haven’t seen the Falls fireworks in years, so I am excited to see them. The band performing this week is Rich and the Poor Boys, a blues band that might be interesting to check out.
I have always had a special attachment to Port Colborne, as my Dad grew up there and my grandparents still live there. One of my favourite times of year is the long weekend at the end of July. During this civic holiday, the city of Port Colborne hosts Canal Days, a weekend-long festival that features food vendors, merchants, historic tall ships and live concerts. This year the headlining act is Finger Eleven.
I am lucky, because my grandparents live right across the street from the downtown Market Square where the concerts are held. Every year, my family lounges on my Nanny and Bummy’s rooftop patio and enjoy the concerts above the mobs of people.
This event is fun, exciting and worth checking out. For more information, click HERE!
On every Tuesday in July and August, the city of Jordan welcomes you to come enjoy free concerts! The concerts are held at Charles Daley Park, located at 1969 North Service Road in Jordan. The concerts begin at 7:00 p.m., but local vendors begin serving food at 5:30 p.m. Butterballs Express barbeques, the Beamsville Straberry Festival Association offers fresh ice cream, and Sunnydale Farms serves fresh fruit.
Well, I never thought I would be writing about toilets, but how can I ignore a cultural activity? The St. Catharines Museum, located at Lock 3, 1932 Welland Canals Parkway is hosting a special exhibit from May 21 until August 28. This exhibit traces the history of the toilet, one of the most important ignored features in our lives.
The exhibition is on loan from the Guelph Museums and offers interactive quizzes, audio programming of the history of outhouses, as well as collections of chamber pots and other antique toilets. Check out the Museum daily between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. to brush up on toilet lore!
Tomorrow (Wednesday, July 20), The Driftwood Theatre Group will be performing a production of Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The performance will take place in Montebello Park, downtown St. Catharines. It will begin at 7:30 and tickets will be pay-what-you-can, with a suggested fee of $10.00.
The Driftwood Theatre Group is based in Ontario and spends their summers touring outdoor locations in order to share the works of William Shakespeare. Since founding in 1995 and registering as a not-for-profit charitable organization in 1997, they have performed for nearly 70,000 people. Award-winning Artistic Director and General Manager Jeremy Smith believes in reaching audiences that do not normally have access to professional, classical theatre.
"Our philosophy is simple. All audiences, regardless of socio-economic, physical or geographical considerations, should have access to high-quality, professional theatre. Through touring outdoor-summer performances, which will always be available for Pay-What-You-Can admission, Driftwood provides opportunities for people to experience the works of Shakespeare and other great playwrights as they were originally intended - live and onstage.” (Source)
If you want to experience one of Shakespeare’s most chilling works, this is a great opportunity. Why not enjoy a warm, summer’s evening soaking up some plotting and murder?
Although I am passionate about participating in and enriching the arts and cultural scene in Niagara, I often find myself pulled away from this scene. I wake up and notice that I am buried under self-imposed burdens, and I wonder why it is that we over-burden ourselves. Why do we allow ourselves to feel pressure, even during the months that we are supposed to relax, the sunny dog days of summer?
This summer, I had planned to write for at least an hour a day. But by giving myself a deadline and a goal, I have been deterred and unfocused. Even when I do find time to write, I am not writing for pleasure; instead, I am editing past works to include in my graduate application portfolios. This work is interesting and necessary, but it does not allow me to be as creative as I would like to be. In June, I wanted to attend most of the events hosted by the Literary Arts Festival, but because I have four jobs, I was unable to find the time or the energy to do much more than sleep or work.
The region is full of rich and bounteous festivals, exhibitions and events during the summer months. But I have not been keeping my blog updated, because I have not had time to research these events myself. I have been lucky to be involved in cultural events and activities with my job at ESL Services at Brock. It is interesting to do things through fresh eyes, to explore wineries with people who had never seen them before, to go to Niagara Falls as a tourist.
This post is not meant to be a space for me to complain, but a space for me to question. Is it because I am a student, struggling to find a path in life, applying for jobs, scholarships, and schools that I find my artistic life slipping? Or do people feel overwhelmed throughout their entire lives? I can’t help but wonder whether making money and being productive is worth losing the time to be creative.
The 48th annual Carnival will run at the St. David’s Lions Grounds, 1462 York Road, St. David’s from July 21 to July 24. The Carnival will feature rides, food, games, and five bands on the Saturday night. The headliner will be MRS. JOHNSTON.The funds raised are used for local charities, sports for kids and the Guide Dog programmes.
In the summer, on every Sunday and Tuesday at 8:00 p.m., there are free concerts in Montebello Park. This park, which is downtown St. Catharines, is a great place to relax, enjoy a beautiful evening and listen to interesting and exciting music. Visit this link for a listing of performers.
While working at the winery this past weekend, I met a trio of women who had just come from the Shaw Festival. They had seen My Fair Lady, directed by Molly Smith, and they said it was just fabulous. Talking to these women sparked in me a desire to see a show this summer. And with the Shaw Festival so close, I hope the rest of you are excited to witness their summer offerings as well.
The season runs until the end of October. This season, the Shaw Festival is putting on renditions of My Fair Lady, Heartbreak House, The Admirable Crichton, Drama at Inish-a Comedy, On the Rocks, Maria Severa, Candida, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The President, TopDog/UnderDog and When the Rain Stops Falling.
Trouble getting to Niagara-on-the-Lake? First Student Canada offers a bus shuttle service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The shuttle goes from the St. Catharines Bus Terminal to Fort George, leaving St Catharines at 10:15am and 4:23pm, and leaving Niagara-on-the-Lake at 11am and 5:05pm. The cost of the shuttle is only $5 each way.
Writing by Canadian playwright, Norm Foster, Office Hours follows six different stories that are essentially connected. The story takes place on a Friday afternoon in six different city offices. This comedy is playing at the Port Mansion Theatre from July 22 to September 4, 2011.
Phafours Press is looking for contributors to a chapbook on The Value of Air. All proceeds from the printing of this publication will buy a $200 stove for a Mayan family to “cook and breathe clean air.” Have you ever heard of the Guatemala Stove Project (GSP)? I hadn’t until I read about this call for submissions. Essentially, the GSP raises funds to provide Guatemalan families with stoves. These stoves are energy-efficient, so villagers can use half as many trees for fire wood. This is important, because the country suffers from deforestation. GSP’s goal is to create sustainable, healthy communities in Guatemala. According to poet Pearl Pirie, leader of the chapbook project, “The idea is that collectively, a few bucks at a time, the poetry community can use poetry to pay for Mayan masons to buy a stove for one family. If we go into a second print, a second stove.” Phafour is looking for all kinds of poetry, anything including and beyond “vispo, lyric, ghazal, form, unformed”. It just needs to be compelling. Each selected contributor will receive one free copy of the chapbook. The deadline for submissions is: August 31st, 2011The chapbook will be printed in: November, 2011 The theme of the chapbook is: The Value of AirLearn more about this project here: Pearl Pirie
to celebrate the successful release of dg’s first issue, we decided to party in ecological style. come on out and celebrate the environmental arts and sciences!come on out and celebrate the greatest artist of all time: Mother Nature :) the event is goin’ down at the Niagara Artists’ Centre (354 St. Paul Street, St. Kitts, Ont.) on Friday, July 22nd, 2011. doors open at 7pm; presentations and readings begin promptly at 7:30 :) featuring— enviro-lit readings by: angela rawlings (via satellite from Iceland)Adam DickinsonJohn TerpstraOmar MosqueraPiero Manchego-Badiola a special presentation on visual environments by Professor J. Keri Cronin! visual art/video displays by:Barsin AghajanCourtney MichaudDan Manchego BadiolaAdrienne Crossman and more! indie-environmental group D.I.G will be on-site promoting their cause for building more community gardens, and— weather pending— selling some awesome plants :)recycled screen-paper will also be available thanks very much to artists Mike DiRisio and Vic Mucciarone! dg will be providing delicious (all-vegan) treats from Rise Above Bakery! this is a donate-what-you-can, licensed event. *ALL DONATIONS go directly to the second-issue of dead (g)end(er)! GO HOMEGROWN
reader bios: a.rawlings is a Canadian poet and multidisciplinary artist. The recipient of the bpNichol Award for Distinction in Writing (2001), angela has worked with many arts organizations, including The Mercury Press, Lexiconjury Reading Series, Theatre Gargantua, and the TV series Heart of a Poet. She also instructs text and sound workshops for the Toronto Public Library, Learning through the Arts, and Ryerson University. Working with derek beaulieu and Jason Christie, angela co-edited Shift & Switch: New Canadian Poetry (Mercury, 2005). Her first book, Wide slumber for lepidopterists (Coach House Books, 2006), was featured in The Globe and Mail’s top 100 books of 2006; it went on to receive an Alcuin Award for Design and was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. Wide slumber was recently translated from page to stage for Harbourfront Centre’s Hatch: Emerging Performance Projects in Toronto. angela is currently researching sound, text, and movement, with special emphases on vocal/contact improvisation and acoustic ecology. She lives in Toronto.
Adam Dickinson was born in Bracebridge, Ontario. His poems, articles, and reviews have appeared in a number of literary journals and in anthologies such as Breathing Fire 2: Canada’s New Poets, and Post Prairie. He has poems forthcoming in The Echoing Years: An Anthology of Poetry from Canada and Ireland, and in The Shape of Content, an anthology of creative writing in mathematics and science. His first book of poetry, Cartography and Walking, was published by Brick Books in 2002 and was short listed for an Alberta Book Award. The collection that became this book won the 1999 Alfred G. Bailey Prize from the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick for the best unpublished poetry manuscript. His second book of poetry Kingdom, Phylum was published by Brick Books in 2006 and was a finalist for the 2007 Trillium Book Award for Poetry. Adam is currently professor of poetics at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he teaches poetry, creative writing, and literary theory. He also co-edits the literary journal PRECIPICe.
John Terpstra has published seven books of poetry, including the CG-nominated Disarmament (2003) and the Bressani Award-winning Forty Days & Forty Nights (1987). He is also an acclaimed prose author. Falling Into Place (2002) is his creative investigation of the Iroquois Bar, the geological formation that supports one of Canada’s busiest transportation corridors. Most recently he published The Boys, Or, Waiting For the Electrician’s Daughter (2005), honouring the lives of the wife’s three brothers, each of whom lived with muscular dystrophy until their early twenties. The Book was shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize and the BC Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. John Terpstra lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where he works as a writer and cabinetmaker. *more bios to come :)
Penn KempStan RogalAndy WeaverErin Knight
and this time we’re adding a live video component by
Marinko Jareb Location: Niagara Artists Centre (354 St. Paul Street)
This event is part of the Niagara Literary Arts Festival.
Although I have always been interested in travel myself, this job has allowed me to view the world in a refreshed light.
Last summer, I was able to study at Herstmonceux Castle, in England. The cultural education that I received during this time was priceless, as were the connections I made with people from all over the world. We were all living and studying together and became very close very fast. Unfortunately, what with the high prices of flights, I have not been able to visit my new friends since we met in England. I would love to be able to hop on a plane and go see Elaine in Hong Kong. But, due to monetary concerns, I have had to settle for learning about cultures here at home.
In my role at Brock, I am learning a lot about cultures that I had never before studied, such as the Chinese, Saudi Arabian, Japanese, Korean and Colombian cultures. The students are friendly and willing to share their customs with Canadians, and I’m lucky enough to be with them every day. Today, Wednesday, June 15, we were invited to participate in a Multicultural Festival at Parliament Oak Elementary School.
During this festival, our ESL students presented their cultures to school-aged children in an interactive and exciting manner. In the weeks leading up to the festival, I was involved in helping the ESL students prepare their presentations, whether that involved helping them rehearse or giving them craft supplies. I also assisted in organizing logistics of the event. Although we were nervous that things wouldn’t come together with a bow on top, I was blown away by the ESL students.
During their presentations, the ESL students presented a variety of activities that included: • teaching students traditional dances and songs • showing students how to write their names in Arabic and Chinese • organizing traditional crafts and games with the students • serving traditional food and drink to the students • presenting traditional dress and household items to the students • educating the students about holidays in other cultures • teaching the students how to use chopsticks
We were all treated to an International buffet after the workshops and presentations. The buffet was prepared by parents of the young students and the food was incredible. There were tables of food that seemed to be served in bottomless dishes, and I found a new favourite dish: Soba noodles! These are Japanese noodles that were served cold. I can’t wait to try to make this new food at home!
After lunch, some of our Saudi Arabian students sang traditional national anthems in Arabic. I was glad to see them being so proud of their culture, and I was even happier when the elementary children were eager to listen. Local jazz vocalist Juliet Dunn performed as part of Le Duo Parisien. They brought French jazz music to the school and performed a variety of songs in both French and English. Juliet actually lived in Paris for a decade, and it was great to learn about French music from someone who had experienced it firsthand.
Any opportunity to learn more about another part of the world is a day well-spent. Learning from people who are eager to share their culture teaches us that we are all connected by many of the same ties, some of which include family, food, games, and dance. We may look different and it may be hard to understand each other at first, but if you are willing to listen, you will find friendship and peace with those around you.
Starting next week, Toronto is hosting a 9-day long arts and culture festival, called Luminato. This festival’s got everything, from music to theatre to film screenings to literature readings to food. The festival runs from June 10 to June 19, with most events happening at David Pecaut Square, on King Street. The festival begins with a free concert, featuring Joel Plaskett and Beast! I can’t wait! Tickets have to be purchased in advance for some events, so do your research before showing up.
For more information about the Luminato festival, CLICK HERE!
Something that is closer to home, the Grey Borders Niagara Literary Arts Festival kicked off on June 1. I have posted about this festival multiple times, but to remind you: the festival runs for a whole month, each day featuring different literary events. Tomorrow, myself and other Brock University Creative Writers Club members will be taking part in a book sale at the Niagara Falls Public Library. Come check us out!
For more information about the Literary Arts festival, CLICK HERE!
I have been kind of MIA in terms of blogging lately, and I apologize. Although I have not been writing about the Niagara Arts and Culture Scene, I have been soaking up plenty of A and C. Since I finished school in April, I have been very busy working three jobs, but I have still found time to enjoy what our region has to offer.
Literary: On Friday, May 13, I attended the launch of Jade Alyssa’s first chapbook at Fine Grind. This was a great night (and not just because of Rob’s iced green tea with honey…yum!). This was a great way to celebrate Jade’s huge accomplishment. Many local writers delighted the crowd with readings. Congratulations again Jade!
Cultural: I have also had the opportunity to attend Niagara Folk Arts Festival events as part of my job in Brock’s ESL department. I am responsible for taking students to various events and festivals throughout the region, so I was able to attend the Ukranian, Polish, and Scottish Open Houses. The Polish perogies and cabbage rolls were my favourite, but each cultural group dazzled me with their music, costumes and dance. I also attended the Greek festival with friends. YUMMY! Festivals such as these are a great way to appreciate the heritage of our city and learn more about other cultures.
Food: This weekend, I purchased something new from the market: Sprouted Veggie Burgers. I had been planning on making my own bean burgers that day, so this find was a great coincidence. The burgers were delicious. When I bit into one, I could see the sprouts, beans and other ingredients in the burger. And they didn’t fall apart when cooked, like my own bean burgers do, because they were coated with cornmeal. This is a trick that I am going to try myself. I also made my first batch of kale chips this weekend! I have always loved kale chips, and decided it was time to make them myself. It was a success! I used a very simple recipe, only coating them in olive oil and sea salt. Next time, I may try more flavouring.
Books: I’ve also been slowly working my way through my summer reading list.
1) The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
2) Sexual Intelligence – Kim Cattrall
3) The Interpretation of Dreams – Sigmund Freud
4) 5th Avenue – Candace Bushnell
5) Trading Up – Candace Bushnell
6) this book is about you – BUCWC Anthology
7) The Fiddlehead – Spring 2011 Edition
8) Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
9) Wicked – Gregory Maguire
10) The World Peace Diet - Will Tuttle
11) Dead Gender Magazine - Spring 2011
1) The Help - Kathryn Stockett
2) The Bible
1) The Origin of Species – Charles Darwin
2) Paradise Lost – John Milton
3) The Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
4) Adventures of a Chemist Collecter – Alfred Bader
5) Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
6) Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
7) The Bostonians – Henry James
8) Son of a Witch – Gregory Maguire
9) Pulp – Charles Bukowski
10) Emma – Jane Austen
11) The Stand - Stephen King
Music: Greg and I were lucky enough to get tickets to see one of our favourite artist’s, Joel Plaskett! He is playing at Jackson-Triggs on August 20, and we cannot wait to enjoy a summer evening listening to the folk/Eastern tunes of Plaskett. Check out one of my favourite songs:
This post is a reminder about the fast approaching Grey Borders Literary Arts Festival, happening throughout the month of June. The festival will feature many writers, including Catherine Owen, Terry Trowbridge, Adam Dickinson, and Gregory Betts. I will be joining other executives of the Brock Creative Writing Club at a book sale at the Niagara Falls Public Library on Saturday, June 4 from 10:00-5:00. See you there!
I just learned some information that I wanted to share for all the Thorold-ites out there. A local artist, Paul Augustino currently has his work in an exhibition at 28 Front Street South, in Thorold. The exhibition started on May 1 and will last until June 1. This exhibition features his most recent work and highlights Thorold! This sounds like an interesting display of work!
Every year, the Niagara region has a Folk Arts Festival, during which we can celebrate the cultural diversity of our region. Each cultural group hosts open houses, which feature food, entertainment and more. These open houses will be taking place from May 14 to May 27. On May 28 and May 29, visit Montebello Park for “Folk Arts in the Park”, a single location where each cultural group can meet.
I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to attend these events, in order to introduce ESL students to the region. I can’t wait to eat perogies at the Ukrainian open house! This is a great opportunity to support local clubs, learn more about other cultures, and take part in the Niagara community.
For more information about the festival, click HERE!
Illuminaqua is a still not-very-well known summer music festival that takes place in Welland. The stage floats in the canal, with torches floating around and behind it. The audience sits in a stone amphitheater and enjoys summer nights filled with Canadian music. Last summer, my grandparents took Greg and me to see Natalie McMaster, an amazing fiddler from out East.
Illuminaqua has recently released their performers for this year. Performers will be Steven Page, Matt Andersen, the Niagara Symphony with Elton Lammie, Molly Johnson, and Ashley MacIsaac. For more information about this year’s concert series, visit the Illuminaqua website. This is a great way to appreciate our region and be exposed to some fabulous Canadian music!
On Friday, April 29, I participated in a reading with some other executives of the Brock University Creative Writing Club. We read at Pan Cafe and there was a nice turnout! I also had a delicious grilled cheese that had an apple compote in it. YUM! I decided to read a short story, which was an interesting experience. I had never read fiction in public before and it was a very different experience than reading poetry. I was scared to look up while I was reading, because I didn’t want to lose my spot on the page! Other readers were Phil Miletic, Rob Dimmers, Jade Alyssa and Ed Edmonds.
After our reading, the band Taylor Made played a set. They were amazing! The combination of the singer/songwriter Taylor Davidson’s voice and folk-esque guitar chords combined nicely with her bandmate’s bongos, morocco’s and symbols. Their sound was unique and enchanting!
After that, local poet and professor Adam Dickinson read, a lot of which was his recent work about plastics. I had never seen him read before and I loved it! His poetry is funny, intelligent and insightful and I look forward to reading his new book when it comes out.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay to hear the last band, but it was a good night! A great way to celebrate the In The Soil Festival!
Last night, I went downtown to take part in the In The Soil Arts Festival. My brother and I stood on the corner of James and St. Paul and listened to The Northern Arm, a three-person group that creates improvised outdoor music, based on their surroundings. A small crowd of about 30 gathered to hear their folk-style, somewhat eerie sounds. Two guitars and an accordion created sounds perfectly suited to a warm spring’s evening, while images of St. Catharines storefronts were projected onto the side of a building. A closing neon sign was placed in the middle of these images, reminding everyone about the importance of supporting local businesses.
If not, I suggest you check out the new exhibitions at Rodman Hall. I am particularly interested in visiting the gallery to see these unique exhibitions. Marc Bell’s “Honk if you Pay Throo The Schnozz” merges comics and fine art, while Micah Lexier’s “A Week at a Glance” will be updated every Monday for one year.
From Wednesday, April 27 to Sunday, May 1, local artists will be taking over downtown St. Catharines. This will be the third year of In The Soil, Niagara’s Homegrown Arts Festival. Local talent of all kinds will be featured, including poetry, visual art and music. Events will take place at many different places, from theatres to cafes to restaurants to bars.
The festival was founded by Jordy Yack, Sarah Palmieri, Joe Lapinski and Annie Wilson, all of whom either grew up around St. Catharines or went to Brock University. The founders felt the need for more opportunities to showcase local talent, and in 2009, the region’s arts scene welcomed In The Soil.
Some executive members of the Brock University Creative Writing Club will be reading at Pan Cafe on Friday, April 29 at 6:00 as part of the “Organic Originals” event.
For more information on the festival and the schedule, click here: In The Soil 2011
This past weekend, I visited a couple of art events. On Thursday, April 7, Greg and I went to the launch of Dead Gender, Lindsey Cahill’s magazine based on the art of Niagara. This was a really fun event. Some of the photography and artwork featured in the magazine was on display, and I got to see many of the contributing poets read. Everyone produced some great work; I was really impressed. I would like to contribute something myself to the next issue.
Rise Above Bakery supplied free treats for the event, and I had my first experience with a Vegan donut. IT WAS DELICIOUS! It actually had some substance, unlike the deep-fried air you get at Tim Hortons. For more info about Dead Gender: http://deadgender.blogspot.com. For more info about Rise Above Bakery: http://artisandoughnuts.blogspot.com.
On Sunday, April 10, spur-of-the-moment, my parents, Greg and I ventured to Vaughn to visit the McMichael Art Gallery. The Gallery is in the little, quaint village of Kleinburg, a place that we want to return to in the summer, buy an ice cream cone, and walk around the 19th century buildings. The Gallery itself is nestled in the woods, and reminiscent of being up north.
We went to the Gallery primarily for their Marilyn Monroe exhibition that was on display. This was really fun and we got to see some pictures we had never seen before. There was a photo shoot done two weeks before her death, and she is obviously under the influence of something. She is trying to be playful and seductive, but her eyes reflect a haunting and deep sadness. The exhibition is on display until May 15. For more information on the exhibition: http://www.mcmichael.com/exhibitions/marilynmonroe/upcoming.cfm.
The Gallery also has a permanent Group of Seven collection, which was incredible. We all have favourites in the group (my parents like Tom Thomson best, I like A.Y. Jackson best and Greg prefers Lawren Harris). Greg and I ended up buying some Group of Seven prints.
After the Gallery, we went to Toronto’s Distillery District and ate at the Mill Street Brewery. It was delicious! We all had wonderful meals and got to sample many of their beers. The final stop was the most decadent Mayan hot chocolate EVER! This was from a chocolaterie in the Distillery District.
All in all, it was a fun weekend! (Made even more artsy by my Saturday night bead night with Katrina!)