Quick Lit Fest Recap

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Room held their first lit fest ever two weeks ago, at various locations in Vancouver. I attended the readings at Cartems Donuterie — marks off for spelling “doughnut” the wrong (US) way — where I shared a stump stool with B-cat. It was that packed.

Room is a Canadian, feminist literary magazine that is worth reading even though they keep rejecting my submissions (haha); their recently published anthology was out of my price range, so I only bought a hipster doughnut. The weird parmesan type was the only one left. Like the tea and works read, though, it was surprisingly good. B-cat got about 10 raffle tickets, more to support the cause than to win a prize, so of course he didn’t win. ;’)

Last night I attended a thing hosted by The Tyee and talked to some interesting people. Other than that, my life hasn’t been terribly cerebral lately… so here’s a picture of B-cat with his cat for your enjoyment.

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Mermaids, Cats, and Pokemon Go

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Kristine Opolais as Rusalka

I guess whinging about not having done anything fun in a month worked, because in the three weeks after that, I attended an opera, painted for an art installation, and got a Twitter-length story published.

The opera:

I had gotten tickets for Dvořák’s Rusalka when I went to the Czech Republic last spring, but the opera was cancelled without notice. B-cat, being wonderful, took me to hear Met Opera’s brand new production for St. Valentine’s Day.

[Instant summary]
Rusalka is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, with the mermaid being a water nymph, her dad being the biggest downer of a water sprite, and her wood nymph friends being nicer than her crappy sisters. No one’s happy in the end.
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The costumes are gorgeous — Kristine Opolais’s water nymph dress is an entire pond floating with water lilies!! The Foreign Princess resembles Monica Bellucci’s Mirror Queen in The Brothers Grimm. The wood nymphs are good dancers, and one of the main trio is East Asian and a beautiful singer. And the Prince, Brandon Jovanovich, looks just like Michael Fassbender.

I’m usually not the biggest fan of German operas, but I love every single second of this one — the music, libretto, and acting combined. Rusalka is my new favourite opera.

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Having trouble smiling because I ran out of moisturiser and lip balm

The painting:

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival put together a giant koinobori (those tube-shaped carp flags/kites) art installation for display in VanDusen Garden. “Giant” is no exaggeration when the diameter of each fish scale exceeds half my height.

B-cat and I painted our scales at Joy Kogawa House. Two strokes in, I remembered I don’t actually like painting, so I sped through the rest. Still, it’s neat to see how the painting changes with sunlight shining through the thin nylon (see above) vs. under indoor lighting, with a table underneath (see below).

The festival begins March 30, 2017.

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My cat (tentative title: “Kibble Sky”) and B-cat’s geometric shapes

The story:

Gotham Writers has posted results for its 16-word “memoir” — story summing up the year, technically — contest for 2016, and mine is one of the finalists. It’s not much of a story, but I’d say I managed to cram in a lot of information about the entire year (how 2016 is Pokemon Go?).

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To be clear, I only had Pokemon Go open at the crematorium because my entire extended family minus two members was playing it. It was a day-long funeral and I laughed and cried the entire time; don’t judge. And I only downloaded the game because, after the car accident, i.e. after being stuck on the couch in pain for two months, I really, really wanted to walk and run again. So the logical thing* to do was to install a bunch of apps that required real-life walking and running.

*It’s totally logical! I have a degree in philosophy!

Last Writing Update for the Blah-est of Years

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My short story with Okey-Panky (Electric Literature) is out.

I was excited for exactly one day; now I’m imagining that the editor regretted accepting the story months ago, that reader response to this piece is at a historic low, etc.

Torquere Press has reverted the rights to my story, but hasn’t paid anyone yet. Thankfully B-cat’s family will be feeding me for Christmas, because I’ve misplaced my credit card and, either way, I’ll be broke ’til the reimbursement comes for the car accident.

Speaking of which… The second poem I wrote about B-cat’s nephew Spencer, who passed away this year, apparently got into the Yamadera Basho Museum 2016 haiku contest collection. I had forgotten about the contest completely because, you know, car accident.

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My poem (grafted onto the cover)

It forms a matching pair with my “Spencer” haiku, which won an award. This poem didn’t win anything, but being published by a museum commemorating Basho — arguably the greatest of haiku poets — is kind of cool.

Isn’t a downer the perfect way to end 2016? Happy Holidays!

Litergasm

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Homemade cake and cookies, courtesy of Room

B-cat and I attended Room Magazine‘s issue launch/(belated) International Women’s Day event this past weekend.

My experience with Room, a Canadian women’s literary magazine, had been limited to entering and losing their fiction contest one year — and receiving a subscription with my entry, yay? — but the readings sounded like fun.

Plus, I’d always wanted to visit the historic Joy Kogawa House. It’s not as pretty as Emily Carr House, but the building is a reminder of the bit of Canadian history everyone’s comfortable forgetting: the internment of Japanese Canadians (and confiscation of their personal property) in WWII.

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They’re looking for volunteers, by the way

Roxanne Charles‘s artist talk about reviving without appropriating indigenous techniques and ideas was the highlight of the afternoon for us, though Cynthia Flood’s excerpt from her story was the one B-cat and I argued over for the next two days.

And then, and then…

The next day, I received an acceptance letter from Green Hills Literary Lantern. I saw the email soon after it arrived and started working on the suggested revisions then. B-cat took me to Benkei for a celebratory dinner of curry ramen before I returned to edit some more.

I’ve been bursting with both positive and negative feelings since (they’re not obeying the laws of physics, sadly), but it is such an honour to be included in a prestigious journal, alongside those who care about Literature with a capital L.

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Cherry blossoms (and my backpack) out in Vancouver

This is going to keep me from blowing my brains out until July at least!

Words, Words: UBC Alice 150 Tea Party and Vancouver Writers Fest

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Happy 150th birthday, Alice in Wonderland!

I attended two literary (but mainly amusing) events recently.

The main week of Vancouver Writers Fest has just ended, and I’ve heard a dozen authors for free just by volunteering for two days (despite spending half of that time in the bookstore — never again).

Pretty sweet deal, eh?

New self-help book
New self-help book

TJ Dawe was my favourite at the spoken word event. His joint book with Chris Gibbs, The Power of Ignorance, is a mock self help manual by an oblivious but largely well-meaning idiot. It isn’t as funny as his own work and person seem to be, but it is surprisingly clever… and bittersweet.

After hearing readings by a few horror authors, all of whom were a little bad at presenting themselves, I picked up Samuel Archibald‘s new collection of short stories. Arvida is also a surprise; though I’m only halfway through (I tend to read several books at once), there is nothing all that Gothic or fantastical in it. Promo hype aside, it’s perfectly respectable literary fiction of the type belonging to, say, Alice Munro or Carol Shields. There is something decidedly feminine about the style.

“A Mirror in the Mirror” is the closest Archibald gets to horror, though.

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The streetlight made Arvida and my Compass Card holder mauve/pink

Having won a seat at the sold-out Sunday brunch in the volunteers’ raffle, I finished the festival with strong tea, mimosas, two giant slabs of pate, and some of the best readings of the week.

Steven Hayward, my favourite there, read from a short story in which he pokes fun at himself and the short story genre. Hilarious. Of course I’d left my credit card and everything else at home during a bag switch, so I’ll have to track down To Dance the Beginning of the World some other time.

Sunday brunch at VWF
Sunday brunch at VWF

The week before VWF, my friend S, a current English major, invited me to an Alice-themed tea party at University of British Columbia.

Hosted by UBC’s department of language & literacy education, the Golden Afternoon event began with a buffet-style afternoon tea with smoked salmon and watercress sandwiches, featured a number of poetry readings by professors, and ended with a rare books tour and croquet “match” in another building.

Proceeds went towards libraries.

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Vermin in my teapot!

As you may know, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Not at all good at math beyond high school algebra and formal logic in philosophy, I find the two Alice novels almost tedious in the amount of footnotes necessary.

Yes, I’m a dumb-dumb.

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Macarons from the sweets buffet

As a children’s story, though, and along with everything arising from the originals (except the awful Tim Burton film), Alice is delightful. I particularly like the Christopher Wheeldon ballet performed by the Royal Ballet, which B-cat gave me in DVD form last Christmas.

It’s rare that a ballet trumps (haha) the literary source material.

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My first plate of sandwiches and tarts

The readings were the highlight of the event. Dr. Carl Leggo and Dr. Kedrick James were passionate and amusing; I don’t think I’ve heard such energy in recitations since high school, when the best teachers read that way and told us that was how poetry should be read and heard.

There isn’t much Alice material on display — the children’s books in the rare books room are more interesting — and the croquet thing didn’t go anywhere, but it was otherwise a fulfilling afternoon.

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E and me

The Illustrated Alice exhibition ends on Hallowe’en (Oct. 31, 2015).

P.S. It takes me two hours to bus there. If you live nearer to UBC or can drive, you may as well go.

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Poetry readings by the Mad Hatter and March Hare