Monday, June 10, 2013

NZSA - Michael King Writers Centre, Flash Fiction Award, and Mentorship

I had a fabulous week in February staying and working at the Michael King Writers Centre. This spacious wonderful old Victorian villa on Takarunga volcanic cone overlooks Devonport and Auckland Harbour. It is fully wheelchair accessible, set in a lovely garden and supported so well by the staff and volunteers. A very peaceful place to work I made a lot of progress with my prose memoir a girl called brian. Thirty stories written in the past 15 years or so. I spent 2 days just reading and editing the whole manuscript as it is, and found it to hang together better than I had anticipated and it is more lighthearted than I imagined. While working with a copy editor at long distance. the Michael King Writers Centre is run by the New Zealand Society of Authors and is a real hub for visiting writers, meetings and workshops, as well as (from the front anyway) a tourist attraction for those walking or busing up the mountain for the 360 degree views. Don McGlashan was the writer in residence while I was there, working on his next album. We had some great chats in the kitchen.

While in Auckland I also received second prize in the NZSA Queer  Flash Fiction writing award for a page long version of a girl called brian. The award was presented by author Sandi Hall as part of a Pride Festival event at the Auckland Public Library ( I used to haunt and the nearby art shops when I was 18, my small home town only had a 2 room art gallery!). Where three queer readers read their work and discussed the queerness or not, of it. Tony Simpson NZSA President, David Lyndon Brown, and Julie Helean. The latter of which proved a reunion of sorts as photos of her from 1990 made up part of my Retrospective Exhibition in March in Wellington.

I received word recently I have been accepted to for a NZSA Mentorship with well respected NZ author Elizabeth Smither. We will work for 20 hours on a collection of poems in three suites:  A collection of poems inspired by the great New Zealand blended-extended family holiday, historic and my contemporary New Zealand writers and artists, and the land herself - especially the back roads.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sunday June 16 3pm VMI Reading

Sunday June 16 3pm VMI Reading I will be reading (second on the reading order) from the  wry memoir a girl called brian I have been working on for the past 5 months intensively of stories written in the past 15 years or so. A long with a great line up of readers! Hosted by VMI facilitator and mentor Betsy Warland. See you there!

You are invited to join us for our Vancouver Manuscript Intensive 2013 Reading on June 16th at the Vancouver Film School Cafe, 392 West Hastings.
The reading begins at 3PM

Nine dynamically diverse and talented fiction and nonfiction writers will read excerpts from their manuscripts. The writers are :  

Jane Mortifee
Carol Cram
Lorraine Kiidumae
Cynthia Woodman Kerkham
Beth Hawkes
Meg Torwl
Margreet Dietz
Meaghan Rondeau
Yaana Dancer

This photo is me at age 17, and ends one of the excerpts I will be reading from the story The Power of the Suit which explores the power of a woman in a 'mens' suit. I will also be reading  'black and white' based on another photograph, which came second the New Zealand Society of Authors LGBT Flash Fiction writing competition.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Flash Fiction wins NZ Society of Authors prize!

I won second prize in the New Zealand Society of Authors queer flash fiction writing competition! Yay! for my piece 'black and white' (see above) photo ( : ) which locates me in my family in the prose memoir i am working on 'a girl called brian'.  I am currently working on this book in the Vancouver Manuscript Intensive with Betsy Warland, and will be working on it also at The Micheal King Writers Centre in Auckland.

The winning entries will be published in Express Newspaper Aotearoa/NZ, and I get to pick up my prize Feb 11 at an event, where New Zealand Society of Authors President Tony Simpson, himself a gay non-fiction writer,  will be in conversation with two recent award-winning queer writers. Julie Helean’s first novel, Open Accounts of an Honesty Box, was published in 2010. Earlier this year, she won the coveted Katherine Mansfield Short Story Award. David Lyndon Brown is the outgoing Sargeson Fellow, finishing a book of short stories while in residence at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Devonport.

This coincides with my interdisciplinary Retrospective Exhibition in Wellington March 5 -10, 2013, Re-Tern:   Hokinga Mahara, curated by Elizabeth Kerekere and Treason Seditio. More about that soon! To which I will be traveling thanks to a travel grant from Canada Council for the Arts, Inter-Arts section.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 an Inviting Year!

( * many of the hyperlinks lead to blogposts and photo albums of the events ( : enjoy!)

2012 began with my being invited by Director Betsy Warland, along with a handful of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University alumni from different years, to speak to the 2012 students on their orientation day. About our experience with TWS, writing careers goals and plans for the future. That was fun!

In March and June I completed my elective paper for th TWS course, by attending Betsy Warland’s SFU classes The Reluctant Memoirist and Memoir of Inquiry. Both I found very liberating, and developed a better understanding of creative-nonfiction. If you don’t know things because you weren’t there, writing from another characters point of view, were too young, or weren’t born etc, use your imagination! This led me on some wild and interesting tangents!

June also saw the launch of chapbooks by members of The Independents (The Poetry and Lyric Prose TWS alumni 2011) at a wonderful reading we had at (the alas now closed) Cafe Montmartre, with Jen Currin being a great MC! A manuscript for my poetry chapbook Transit of Venus – about love, public transit, and life transitions, was short-listed for the Doire Press prize. A good time was had by all, lots of photos here.

I participated in 6 anthology book launches and/or readings throughout the year. Including in January an Exhibition of Caregivers Creativity. Leaf Press The Wild Weathers chocolatey love poem anthology launch in February at Historic Joy Kogawa House. March the lively Enpipe Line book launch of opposition to the Endbridge oil pipeline proposal. August I was invited by Poetry is Dead to represent them at a reading for MagScence on Main on a hot summer evening. The the standing room only Queer Issue of Poetry is Dead Magazine in November with a lively interactive launch. I was invited by curator Aileen Penner to participate in The Science of Poetry Vol. 1. An amazing collaboration between 5 poets and 5 scientists, resulting in 10 new poems and beautiful limited edition chapbook. A barely standing room only reading at which my working partner and I, Adrienne Drobnies read our work to the accompaniment of an audio mashup I designed, photos from my Views from Cancer Town series, and an installation of illuminated body casts used to immobilize people during radiation ‘treatment’.

 On the audio-visual front I was invited to present my water photography based new media installations aqwai, tiarika and going coastal in the July mixed media Homecoming Exhibition at Gibsons Public Art Gallery. In August I completed the video poems Jest or Malice and Freedom, which have been languishing on my hard drive for a number of years, without music and titles, and posted them online!

September I was invited to fly to Canmore, Alberta  as one of two professional artists representing the province of BC, at the BeyondAccess2012 gathering of 14 artists from across Canada who work inside and outside disability and arts and culture. Had a great time amongst my peers, worked really hard, met great artists across disciplines. We resolved to form DACAC – Disability Arts and Culture Canada. In preparation for this event and next 2013’s Retrospective Exhibition in NZ ( see below) I created a 90 slide power point presentation tracing my development across artistic disciplines in the past 20 + years. Using the themes of my arts practice: - collaboration, cross-cultural, mentorship, and interdisciplinary. It is interesting to observe your own work in that way and see how things and people come back around in different forms years later. 

The year was completed by my graduating from SFU, along with about 10 of my fellow 2011 graduates, our certificates presented by new TWS Director Wayde Compton. I especially enjoyed the speech by writer and publisher Mary Schendlinger whose very informative SFU course Getting Published: From Manuscript to Book I recently completed. She talked about the need for both amateurs and professionals in writing, the 10, 000 hours it takes to become a good writer, the importance to language to children’s development, and some very humorous asides!

2013 is already shaping up to be a good year! I applied to and was accepted into Betsy Warlands VMI program - Vancouver Manuscript Intensive. I will be working with her in the Creative Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Mixed-genre group, (with fellow TWS Poetry and Lyric Prose alumni Yaana Dancer). Yay! On a manuscript of 33 plus auto-biographical stories in a girl called brian, (because my life is far stranger than anything I could make up!) Below an excerpt from a flash fiction opening premise. I am very much looking forward to shaping this manuscript with Betsy, especially given her current Oscar of Between project.

  “Black and White: A photo you will find when you are twenty-five years old. Two older women with babies on their knees’, everyone is laughing. It will defi(n)e everything you have been told. This is what you need to know: you will grow into something beautiful. Something in-between. When you are six your older sister will call this something, Brian. Even though your birth certificate says you are a girl.....”

I have been commissioned to complete a number of Video Poems for Stage Left’s 2013 performance festivals. I will likely work on 2-3 of my Views from Cancer Town video poems.

 The ultimate event for me in 2013, which I have been working on all this year in terms of logistics, funding, press, with curators Elizabeth Kerekere and Treason Seditio is Re-Tern: Hokinga Mahara – A Meg Torwl Retrospective. In association with the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2013 Wellington, and LAGANZ present an interdisciplinary exhibition of my video, new media, performance, photography, audio, writing. Thistle Hall Gallery March 5-10. It’s going to be a great experience, I hope to attend! I also received support with this project from the NZ Mix and Mash competition. Through which I applied for and received a Mentor for 2012, Elizabeth Vaneveld, ED of  The Big Idea, Aotearoa/NZ’s online arts community 

Let me know how your 2012 went and your plans for 2013?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dec 14, 2013 Poetry and Science Reading Vol 1.

Meg Torwl photo. Views from Cancer Town series.
What happens when you have 5 scientists, and 5 poets, and ask them to write poems together? Creative chaos! Come and see! I have been having so much fun working on this project with my writing partner genome scientist and accomplished poet Adrienne Drobnies! We may collaborate in the future, so many possibilities! The project was facilitated by Aileen Penner, scientists, poet, environmental communications specialist. There will be a limited edition handmade chapbooks available at the event with a poem by each of the 10 scientists and poets, as well a a collaboratively written poem. We each wrote poems in response to discussion we had, and we will read them together verse for verse, they comment on each other in an interesting way. Adrienne Drobnies will read her new poem day in the lab, night in the cemetery, and I will be reading a new poem enviro-mental, part of a suite of poems I am working on in my Views from Cancer Town series. (see a sample poem below) We plan an audio mashup, a installation with body casts, and photos from my Views from Cancer Town series - photos taken from West 10th, and West Broadway. (see sample photo above) My poem enviro-mental explores health and the environment, references, Rachel Carson, and the movies Karate Kid, and Eat, Pray, Love! There is humor involved! Come check it out! It's gonna be one rockin evening!   Facebook Invite:

It was a GREEEAAAT evening! Checkout photos of the event on Facebook: Integrial Media

     Gallery 1965 Main St, Vancouver, BC. Wheelchair Accessible

    6:30pm doors open.

    7:30 pm – Welcome by Vancouver Poet Laureate Evelyn Lau

    7:35 pm – Introduction By Aileen Penner – Curator

    7:40 pm – Readings by first two poet-scientist pairings

stem cell researcher + poet & novelist
              Ben Paylor + Leanne Dunic

landscape architect + M├ętis/Icelandic poet
    Kelty McKinnon + Jonina Kirton

    * 10 min break *

    8:10 pm- Readings by last three poet-scientist pairings

          chemist-poet + poet & artist
Adrienne Drobnies + Meg Torwl

biochemist researcher + poet & personal coach
       (Pamela  Lincez) + Olive Dempsey

microbiologist + poet & anthropologist
Lynne Quarmby + Carol Shillibeer

  8:40 – Reception with DJ and Cash Bar


you think you know
the view from cancer town

fluorescent lit rooms
surgical scars
bald chemo heads

lie on a slab

live in cancer town

there are cigarette butts
and hand-knitted blankets
autumn leaves

the view from cancer town
 - the best in the city
north shore mountains
with their snow and wind turbine
burrard inlet
anchored oil tankers
by the tide. 

Meg Torwl.