Monday, December 13, 2010

Sinister Wisdom Volume 81

I have three poems published in Sinister Wisdom Volume 81: Blue; Je t'adore; and Mountain. We had to pair our poetry with a 'poet of yore' and I chose Elsa Gidlow's work: Of Forbidden Love (1960), Love's Acolyte (1919) and To the unknown Goddess (1918). From her lovely book SAPPHIC SONGS Seventeen to Seventy. (Thanks to C, for introducing me to her work many years ago). Elsa Gidlow's work was reprinted with the generous permission of her literary executor  Marcelina Martin. Sinister Wisdom Volume 81 features some 40 contemporary and 'poets of yore' including luminaries such as Audre Lorde, Gertrude Stein, Pat Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Muriel Rukeyser. A lovely read over the holidays.

Cover of Sinister Wisdom Vol 81
Here is Je t'adore; and a brief bio for Elsa Gidlow:
Je t'adore Meg Torwl

I have seen
your lips on my breast
like a worshipper
at a temple
I have felt
your tongues libations
I have known
your head fall down
with overwhelming passion
as my body rises
to meet you.

ELSA GIDLOW. 1898 – 1986
To quote Phyllis Matyi, Elsa Gidlow’s friend in a 1986 Press Release: ‘Born in Yorkshire, England in 1898, six-year-old Elsa Gidlow immigrated with her family of nine to the French Canadian village of Tetreauville. She was mainly self-educated, being allowed what she called, "the untutored space to be”. Gidlow left Montreal for New York in 1920, where she became poetry editor for Frank Harris' progressive, much censored Pearson's Magazine. Poet-philosopher Elsa Gidlow died peacefully in her mountain home retreat, "Druid Heights," near Muir Woods, Mill Valley, California on June 8, 1986’.
Many of the poems she wrote before 1923 were published that year in her book, On a Grey Thread, Will Ransom. Her other work includes: Sapphic Songs : Seventeen to Seventy, 1976, Diana Press; Makings for Meditation : A Collection of Parapoems Reverent and Irreverent, 1973, Booklegger Press; and Elsa I Come With My Songs the Autobiography of Elsa Gidlow,1985, Booklegger Press. Her work appeared in many journals and anthologies. She had many lovers, as is evident in her poetry. Including when she was a young woman with the older Tommy, - Violet Henry-Anderson, whom she met in New York in 1945, and lived with for thirteen years until Tommy’s death. In her seventies Elsa lived with Gretchen Muller who was then in her twenties. ( Sinister Wisdom Vol 81)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PrideNZ - Photography Profile

Pride NZ is featuring a profile of me in their Visual Arts section, with a portfolio of my photography! Yay!
photo of yellow frangipani flower by Meg Torwl

It is a great website with many audio programs on just about every topic you can imagine - Arts and Culture, Community Profiles, Education, Health and Wellbeing, History, Identity, Media, Organisations, Relationships, Sport and Recreation, and Youth. PrideNZ aims to present positive stories and images by and about LGBTQI community. There is lots of current stuff online, as well as history and herstory, they provide transcripts of their audio files. A recent feature is Rainbow Touchstones, 6 people from LGBTQI community talk about their mental health journey's in 5 minute videos. Gareth Watkins, Hannah Ho and Roger Smith do a great job supporting and hosting the website, creating content.

Monday, November 8, 2010

EarSighted Live Audio Description - a first in Canada!

It was the dream of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture Artistic Director Geoff McMurchy, and Executive Director Rina Fraticelli to introduce Audio Description to theatres in Vancouver, and Canada. Which has resulted in EarSighted Live Audio Description first full season - 15 shows October 2010 - June 2011 with 6 greater Vancouver theatres.

What is Audio Description?
'Audio description brings the sets, lighting, costumes, and action of a theatre performance alive for blind and visually impaired audience members. Kickstart has trained a team of professionals who provide key action and other visual information, between the actor’s lines, through a wireless transmitter to a single earpiece worn by the recipient. Description begins 15 minutes prior to curtain, with an introduction to the overall production and design concept, and other programme notes'. Audio Describers preview the show 2-3 times and write succinct yet descriptive notes.

How it all began
Audio Description for live events has been available in the USA for 3 decades, and began in Washington DC, and San Francisco, CA. You can read a brief history at the Audio Description Coalition website. It was one of the co-founders of the coalition, Deborah Lewis who would become the trainer for EarSighted. The Audio Description Coalition provides, training and professional development, guiding principles and codes of conduct throughout the USA, and now also Canada.

In 2009 I was employed by Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture to coordinate audio description and quite a journey it has been for all of us! In the spring of 2009 we put out a call for auditions, and received over 40 applications, from this talented pool we auditioned 15 people, and chose 8 for the training. Auditions were recorded to assess for natural aptitude and feedback was taken not only from those of us conducting the interviews, but also from trainer Deborah Lewis, and a representative from locally based Access for Sight Impaired Consumer, Tamara Tedesco. Tamara and other people who are blind or sight impaired provided feedback to the audio describers throughout our training sessions also.

From the training a dedicated core of 4 Audio Describers has emerged, Khaira Ledeyo, Rick Waines, Teri Snelgrove, and Stephane Kirkland, who are all experienced in delivering live audio description in a variety of settings. At the time of the first training in Vancouver in late spring 2009, while Deborah Lewis was in the city, Kickstart took the opportunity to invite theatres to a meeting to learn more about audio description- from which may developments progressed.

The First Audio Described show in Vancouver
 Kickstart's first show was a partnership with the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in the fall of 2009, with a performance of the early life of blind and Deaf person Helen Keller, as told in The Miracle Worker. Feedback from the audience was very positive:

‘I attended the Vancouver Playhouse's performance of The Miracle Worker. I was extremely impressed with the live AD.  Not only was the service beneficial for me as a blind patron, but it was also beneficial for my sighted companion.  Without the AD, my companion would be trying to provide the description.  This is distracting to him, since he is not able to fully focus on and enjoy the play himself, but it can also be annoying to other patrons sitting nearby.  In addition, my companion would never be able to provide as much detail about the set design, costumes, and physical attributes of the actors. Most importantly, the AD allows me the independence and choice to attend a live theatre production without having to rely on a sighted companion. I would be interested in attending more live theatre presentations that were accompanied by AD, and to pass on information to my sight impaired friends and acquaintances’  Linda Weber - BC CNIB Board Co-Chair.

Audio describer Teri Snelgrove with her script, in the technical booth, with a view of the stage at the Vancouver Playhouse. Photo courtesy of Meg Torwl, and EarSighted.        

 Audio Description is able to use the same technology provided for hearing enhanced performances which many modern theatres already have. After some research Kickstart settled on purchasing a portable FM wireless transmitter and 20 headset and receiver system to give EarSighted the flexibility of being able to audio describe in any setting, indoors or outdoors, and with the option of adding more headsets. With funding from the City of Vancouver, and Canadian Heritage, EarSighted was under way.

Cultural Olympiad
The Cultural Olympiad of the Olympic and Paralympic games in Vancouver in the winter 2010 provided opportunities for partnerships and showcasing EarSighted Live Audio Description, with the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards, and HIVE3. Three intriguing shows provided their own unique challenges. At the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, Robert LePage's The Blue Dragon/ Le Dragon Bleu and SPINE by Kevin Kerr, James Sanders, and Bob Frazer were both very visual shows,  making use of frequent projections, so there was a lot to describe, and much crucial to the show that would have be missed by visually impaired audience members if not for the audio description. The Madama Butterfly-like story of The Blue Dragon set in China included  scenes such as a projection of a giant hand tattooing on to the back of main character Pierre Lamontagne; the sights seen from a bicycle tour, trains; inside a revolving bar lounge; an art gallery show; and paintings of Vincent van Gogh appearing one after the other on blank canvases stacked against a warehouse wall.  With SPINE, there are 12 characters, and at least half of them play their alter egos or  avatar in a online video game.

While with HIVE3, where 12 theatres perform short scenes throughout the night, EarSighted audio described 4 shows the audio describers had prepared, including one with Touchstone Theatre which involved sitting in pairs listening to music  while the actors told stories with pieces of cooking dough on chopping boards on the audiences knees. So enthused were the team and audience we tried a couple of off the cuff shows unprepared, one of which involved been towed around the car park in a bicycle drawn 4 person cart, with actors running beside, and some of the action happening via puppets seen through a periscope in the roof. Now that was a lot of fun for all! Funding to provide audio description for these shows was generously provided by 2010 Legacies Now. You can hear a great CBC interview recorded by Jen Moss, with myself as coordinator, audio describers Rick and Khaira, and audience members, during a performance of SPINE. The interview which was broadcast August 22 on North by North West starts about 30 minutes in to the 60 minute audio file.

Audio Description for Exhibitions
Also during the Cultural Olympiad, Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture partnered with the University of British Columbia and Ryersen University to bring the groundbreaking exhibition Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember, to the heart of the action, UBC Robson Square. right next to the free Zipline across the square. Audio describer Teri Snelgrove, and 2 local actors worked with the exhibition to provide pre-recorded  full audio descriptive, and plain language audio tours of the exhibit. American Sign Language, Touch Displays, and print, large print, and braille formats were also available. All formats are available online with the exhibit under Access, and offer a gold standard in exhibition accessibility. EarSighted plans to develop live and/or pre-recorded audio description tours with major local art galleries.

Kickstart provided advanced training and certification for the 4 EarSighted audio describers with Deborah Lewis in the spring of 2010, and again met with theatres.  In the fall 2010 we partnered with Access for Sight Impaired Consumers to provided training to theatres on how to appropriately accommodate visually impaired audiences in a theatre setting, the training by Rob Sleath was very well received. ASIC provide on their website homepage a whole range of useful resources including 'Proper Etiquette when you meet a person who is blind or sight impaired,' and 'Proper Etiquette when you meet a guide dog team'. Also providing a consideration of other factors, such as economic - ticket pricing is as much a disability access issue as any other due to the high rate in unemployment and under-employment of people with disabilities. EarSighted has built relationships with ASIC, CNIB and other organizations serving people who are blind and visually impaired and continues outreach in these communities. 

EarSighted Live Audio Description Logo

EarSighted Season
In October 2010 EarSighted launched a full season of 15 shows with theatres in the greater Vancouver area. The three theatres who are all offering several shows launched their first shows in October, the Stanley Theatre and Vancouver Playhouse Theatre in Vancouver, and the Gateway Theatre in Richmond. In November the three theatres who are offering single shows will be launching at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver with Touchstone Theatre and Presentation House Theatre in North Vancouver. EarSighted has also partnered with the Greater Vancouver Professional Theatre Alliance, offering a workshop on audio description at their fall 2009 Making a Scene conference, and currently in introducing audio description to theatre going audiences through a page on their online theatre guide. I have stepped down from the coordinating role after 2 years and a successful launch to pursue my own writing and artwork. Afuwa Granger has taken on the role of coordinator with EarSighted.

Kickstart Disbility Arts and Culture has been guiding a sister organization in Toronto, Picasso Pro through the process of introducing live audio description which they hope will be launched in 2011. It is our dream that eventually audio description will be offered in all theatres across Canada.

Trainer Deborah Lewis, members of the EarSighted Team, audience members, and staff at the Vancouver Playhouse.          Photo courtesy of Teri Snelgrove, the Vancouver Playhouse, and EarSighted      

Friday, October 22, 2010

IQC - IDENTITY QUOTIENTS CALCULATOR in Magdalena Aotearoa October Vol 36

The second part of a  two part series I wrote about working in performance and video, published on pages  15 -16 Magdalena Aotearoa Newsletter, Issue 36 October 2010. Puts my own artistic practice in the context of the development of women working in film, and disability arts practice both in Aotearoa and Canada. Particularly the mentoring role pf women who came through Canada's Studio D, feminist film  studio;  and my inventing the IQC - Identity Quotients Calculator - a tool for the multiply marginalized! Download the Magdalena Newsletter 36 PDF here

Here's a sneak preview:  'Frustrated at times by a lack of understanding of my work, even within/between the various marginalized communities I belong to, I analyzed my work to discover in what context different disciplines have been presented 1999-2009. This resulted in the invention of my Identity Quotients Calculator – IQC ©. If mainstream society of the dominant culture defines ‘normal’ as male, European, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied, the further you are away from that, the least likely your work will be presented, commissioned, funded, reviewed in a mainstream context. This I call the Standard Deviation – how far you are away from ‘the norm’. 

The more I am physically present in my work, such as performance I am defined as 60% queer; or radio, audio on the web 100% disabled. In film I am 1/3 female, queer, and disabled/human rights activist. When I work in new media I am 50% disabled, 25% human rights activist, and 25% mainstream -  but neither queer nor a woman. When my poetry is published, and I’m not present I am 40% mainstream, and 20% each female, disabled, queer. Go on get out the calculator, work out your own IQC!'

The Magdalena Aotearoa Newsletter is a great read, this issue includes work from around the globe: Kahuku Empress Stiltdance month long residency and performance at the  Cairns Arts Festival in Australia;  Challen Wilson's residency at the Alaskan Indigenous Synergetic Collaboration: Winter with Cathy Rexford in USA; Madeline McNamara and Jack Trolove on critical race theory in theatre as white artists in Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand; Andrea Arial attends and perform Alfonisna with Auckland LAB Theatre Company at the 2 weeks Magdalena project event Vertice Brasil; Sandra Dempster and Sandra Sarala attend a Teatr ZAR workshop to learn the 2000 year old polyphonic Georgion songs in Brzezinka, Poland.

Magdalena Aotearoa cofounder Madeline McNamara wonders in her review of 2 day long sessions to reflect on 10 years since the Magdalena International Festival 1999, and in looking to the furture: 'If a local Magdalena event can actually exist if there is not an international or cross cultural exchange of some kind?'

Saturday, October 9, 2010

PORTAL / PORTAGE media exhibition

PORTAL/PORTAGE a collaboration I am curating between four artists who are known to one another, and who are each currently exploring in our work, humans as part of nature. PORTAL/PORTAGE combines my own work in photo based video installations; Claudia Medina-Culos video installations and sound-scapes; Liliana Kleiner video work drawing on her photography, painting, and mixed media work; and Diane Tanchak abstract-realist style paintings. Each artist explores the nuance of location and the universality of story, while negotiating our bi-national, or tri-national cultural identities and/or art practices, in places we each understand as home. These are the stories we collect, create, and carry from LAN (Local Area Network – an internet term) to LAND, to LANGUAGE; or images as a language bypassing spoken language all together.

I are currently submitting the work to places we call home West Coast – Canada, New York - USA, Jerusalem -Israel/Palestine, Mexico, Aotearoa/New Zealand. This will also mean some or all of the artists will be available in each location for installation and to be present for the exhibition. This provides the option of adding components in each location, to make it a unique local experience, for example inviting local artists we know to exhibit also. In the essence of creating an eco-friendly exhibition, a primarily digital based work makes for ease of shipping and installation around the globe.

UPDATE: Our first confirmed show is for August 3 - 28, 2011, with the Sunshine Coast Arts Council, Doris Crowston Gallery, 5714 Medusa St, Sechelt, BC, Canada. Reception August 3 2011, 7pm to 9pm. Wheelchair accessible.


Claudia Medina-Culos
A multimedia exploration of how humans connect or disconnect with the natural world through the imagery we see and create. With the participation of the local community of Powell River, BC, Canada this installation aims to create a focused space for reflection on how our senses interact with the natural world.

Liliana Kleiner
LUMINOZA INANNA is the first in a series of 8 videos, a collaboration of IMAGE and MUSIC, based on the ancient Sumerian myth of the Goddess Inanna. Luminosa Inanna is the first in the series: "The 8 Doors of Inanna" an ongoing public art piece collaboration between Liliana and Gabriela, at La Duna Ecology Center, Southern Baja California peninsula, La Paz, Mexico

Diane Tanchak
A Dream of Trees is a series of paintings in a hybrid abstract-realist style. Contrasting the darkness – night and winter in urban New York, and the light of Pacific West coast – arbutus, cedar trees, - cycle of life and rebirth each promise. 

Meg Torwl
Matching ambient music - featuring the sounds of water, chimes; with mind relaxing visuals – colors, water, fish, flowers; Meg Torwl's computer installations traverse the south pacific and Pacific North west shorelines and waterways.



Claudia Medina-Culos, of Mexican, and Italian ancestry, grew up in the small mill town of Powell River BC, Canada. Eleven years ago Claudia Medina began her career as a filmmaker working with acclaimed Canadian director Nettie Wild on her feature documentary "A Place Called Chiapas" Since then she has worked alongside a number of respected Canadian filmmakers as an editor, production coordinator, field producer and shooter. Most recently she worked alongside director Velcrow Ripper as he was shooting his latest award winning feature documentary, "Fierce Light", filmed in several countries, including Aotearoa/New Zealand. Claudia has been the recipient of numerous awards from the Canada Council of the Arts for her short dramatic films she has written, produced and directed – such as, Entre el Medio, Si Muero Lejos de Ti, and Finding Lloronna. For the past two years she has also been collaborating with artists of different disciplines to create visual projections for performances, and live vj-ing for electronic musicians throughout Canada and in Barcelona. She also develops and implements curriculum for workshops that combine community development and conflict resolution through filmmaking to diverse groups nationally and internationally. Claudia is currently living in Barcelona, where she is completing a masters in Visual Culture as well as developing a feature documentary project about alternative economics called Growing Growing Gone. She has completed the production of her latest fiction film, "Animal Blessings" in the Friuli region of Italy and a video installation series On the Trail: Nature Inside and Out.

Liliana Kleiner, of Jewish ancestry, was born and raised in Buenos Aires Argentina, completed her schooling in Israel - a B.A in Fine Art and PhD in psychology, specializing in Dream Analysis. She has been based in Canada - Montreal and the Pacific coast, for the past 30 years, on Galiano Island for the past 10 years. In Argentina she learnt the art of painting in oils in the tradition of the old European masters. She works with painting, drawing, printmaking, hand made paper from organic materials, collage, artist's books, public art, film, performance art, and dance. Works include independent short art films - "Lilith and the Tree " 1993, (16mm, - shown in festivals around the world) and "Las 8 puertas de Inanna " ( "the 8 Doors of Inanna") or Luminosa Inanna, a collaboration with musicians in La Paz, mexico. Based on the Sumerian myth of Inanna. Recent works and exhibitions include The song of Lilith, and Song of Songs. Her work seamlessly combines, photography, painting, mixed media, and video. Since 1995 she has channeled all her creativity into visual arts coming back full circle to her first love - the art of oil painting, with a focus on west coast nature – arbutus trees, rocks, seals, birds, and traditional Mexican mythology. Liliana's paintings have been shown in numerous exhibitions throughout Canada and are in private collections in Canada, Israel, Argentina and the United States.

Diane Tanchak of Ukranian ancestry, grew up in Buffalo, NY. Her interest in drawing and painting began in early childhood. She moved to New York City to study with artist Nell Blaine, receiving a scholarship to Southern Illinois University where she completed an MFA in drawing. She has worked as a muralist, graphic artist, illustrator, and pursued her own vision in drawing and painting urban and rural landscapes in a hybrid abstract-realist style. She has had many exhibitions in New York in group and solos shows. She is currently drawn in her work to the darkness – night and winter in urban New York, and the light of Pacific West coast – arbutus, cedar trees, - cycle of life and rebirth each promise.

Meg Torwl, of Celtic ancestry, grew up rurally in Aoteroa/New Zealand, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the south pacific and has been residing in the Pacific Northwest for the past decade - creating work in and from both locales. Meg Torwl is an interdisciplinary artist, working in New Media, Video, Radio,Writing/Performance, and Arts Administration. Her work has been screened, broadcast, exhibited,published, and performed in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Canada, USA, UK. She has produced 4 new media projects; and 4 documentaries, which are distributed by Video Out. She has worked in radio, producing and presenting 50 half hour programs for Radio New Zealand National, including 16 with an arts focus. She was commissioned by Balancing Acts 09 to create and perform a solo interdisciplinary show with spoken word, poetry, new media, video, slides, and audio soundscape. Her writing and performance examine identity across communities; her documentaries consider intersecting political issues; her new media installations offer an opportunity to empty the mind. She received her training in media through VIVO media arts centre in 2000, and a BC Film associate producers internship 2002. She has also worked for the NFB and CBC. She has been a curator of visual and video art, in all her work she specializes in bringing diverse communities together.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Te rain

people ask you

 - they always will
how come you
live here
you say:
I am at home
 - and you mean it

you say:
what, besides the fact
where I am from
is a tiny island
(actually several)
in the middle of the ocean
they think
about this
and smile

they say:
don’t you miss it?
it’s your turn
to smile
nice place to visit
wouldn’t want
to live there

you believe
and tell people it’s so
you got it all
outa ya system
missing it
by going back
to work there
for a year or two

you been back here
two years
haven’t missed it
don’t think
you ever will, again

and then
it hits you
one hot summer night
just before it rains
you find your mind
driving down
the Bombay hills motorway
in the dark
past the flower store
on your right
the manuka trees, swamp
turn off to Thames
on your left
or coming the other way
through Ngaruawahia
late at night
past the fish’n’chip shop
the pub
railway line
Turangawaewae marae
army camp
urupa on the hill
the dead looking over
the smooth, wide
Waikato river

Or it's a sunny day
and you’re hitch hiking
somewhere out back
near Te Aroha
on a country road
going past
the milk treatment plant
whatever you remember
you are always
in motion
always in
the inbetween places
moving on

that’s partly why, too
people ask you:
how long you’ve been here
you say:
ten years
except really
with all the coming
and going
if you add it all up
you spent three
of those ten years

used to be
when you could afford it
come november
and the grey west coast rain forest
by december
you were desperate
from the gloom
in the dead of winter
you’d book your ticket
to the sunny south pacific
by the end
of january
you’d be there
not missing it
at all

people ask you:
why you’re here, now
and you wonder
about the answer
because you feel safe here
how you felt at home
the first time you visited
a journey of love
the doors of art
which opened to you
or the spirit bears
who called
you painted
before you ever
came here
the bears who
came to you
right after
you got here
or the years
your spirit spent
hovering over this coast


Ngaruawahia photo by rytc on flkr (creative commons)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 31 2010 the POWER of the SUIT

Radclyffe Hall
If you have been wondering what I might have in common with writers Radclyffe Hall and Anne Frank, actors Marlene Dietrich and Julie Andrews, painter Frida Khalo, and musicians Patti Smith, Grace Jones, Annie Lennox, the Topp Twins, or  k.d.lang - you can find out Saturday July 31 at 7.30pm at the Roundhouse, as part of the Queer Arts Festival  (July 27  - August 4). I can tell you now it is not my musical ability!

I will be the opening act performing the story The POWER of the SUIT before KONCERT KONTINUUM presents an evening of music Crazy For Cole N Co. Come join my meandering personal and historical journey through the wonderful world of androgyny and suit wearing women! Here's a little taste: 'Whatever it was people saw in me as a child, which did not fit their idea of gender, my sister named it by the time I was 6 – Brian…. People are plagued by the question: what are you? Not who, what….When I wear the suit, I am contained, protected, distinct, a one trick pony, a complete package, entirely suit-able, covered from head to toe. No longer vague, indeterminate, in between. There is no question in peoples minds’, they are absolutely sure, I am whatever it is they see, they desire'

Followed by: 'KONCERT KONTINUUM presents a fabulous tribute to celebrated queer composer Cole Porter and his contemporaries, with a showcase of witty vocal repartee, smooth stylings of the saxophone and playful piano patter.

Transport back to the 1920s through to the 1940s, with Porter's sophisticated, brilliant and daring lyrics, his singable catchy tunes, and provocative social commentary of the times. The program is supported by two of his most famous songwriting peers, Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin - both innovators of what are now jazz standards and whose songs are still "in rotation" today. Koncert Kontinuum will deliver their special mix of audience favorite sing-along’s, gorgeous ballads, comic pieces, and of course a few songs with the unexpected KK twist.

There will be different performances each night, I recommend you check out Jan Derbyshire in Turkey In The Woods Monday | 09 August | 7:30pm. Jan was the one who encouraged me to write The POWER of the SUIT, last year while she was directing me in my show That's so gay! She is awfully smart and funny, and an electrifying performer!

Here's what Jan is dishing up for dinner this year: 'Hale's lover, Peaches wants to tie the knot. Hale wants to throw in the rope.  On the advice of her questionable therapist Hale, hoping to solve some of her commitment 'issues, decides to go home to her family for Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time in ten years. Hale's mother decides not to have the dinner around the dining room table but outside in the woods, just like the pilgrims. The tract of land she choses for the festivities is surrounded by a rifle range. A burnt comedy for those with a certain type of humor. A drama for others.  Lesbian friendly.'

An art exhibition will be up Tuesday 27 July to Saturday 14 August. Gallery Hours: Weekdays 10am - 10pm | Weekends 10am - 430pm. Apparently us literary types who will be performing before many of the shows, will also have an excerpt of our writing on display for the duration of the festival. So you will be able to check out a poem version of the story The POWER of the SUIT, which appears in my poetry chapbook (in) valid.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blue Boots - Poetry on Sins Invalid Blog

My poem Blue Boots - about disability, gender, sexuality, family,  from my poetry chapbook (in) valid is featured in the June 2010 blog of Sins Invalid. In text  and audio. I wrote about Sins Invalid in May. The recording is from a QUIRK-E event in June 2009. Where I read some poems for the first time in many years in Canada, got my performing mojo back - thanks QUIRK-E! 

I write about why I lost my mojo for performing in Canada (it's an accent, humour, colloquial thang) in the Magdalena Aotearoa Newsletter in part 1 of a 2 part series of articles. Part 2 coming soon, how I got my mojo back!

You can check out photos I took at this years lively QUIRK-E anthology launch on my Integrial Media Facebook Page. There was reading, acting, singing, movies, book signing and general festivity - dancing even broke out at the reception!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

HeartBeats - Teaching Poetry

Hey guess what!? I am going to be teaching a poetry class with 'Write From The Heart writers program, a project of the Consumer Initiative Funds, Vancouver Coastal Health/Community Mental Health Services'. Very fun! I have been known to make people who 'don't even like poetry' - like poetry, and people who have stopped writing poetry be inspired to start again! I love poetry, its so free form! It's just words piled on top of each other!

Plus it's always good to get to say the words Kinetic, Magnetic, Tagnetic out loud, in a row. Don't worry I will say many more, less obtuse words a well, I promise! While we consider  different types of poetry from many wonderful Canadian poets, and try some new things.

The course is facilitated by Susan J. Katz, who recently won a Tom Howard/John H. Reid Poetry Prize for her poem The Bowpicker.

HeartBeats is the website for the 'Write From The Heart' writers program. Which includes a great clearing house of information on local and international opportunities and links for writing. Now in it's third year, 6-8 people meet once a week for 8 weeks and learn, share, practice, and create - writing. 

Sins Invalid

The poem in-valid,  title poem of my poetry chapbook (in) valid, is featured on the Sins Invalid Blog, in text and audio. Sweet.

Based in California 'Sins Invalid is a performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized. Our performance work explores the themes of sexuality, embodiment and the disabled body. Conceived and led by disabled people of color, we develop and present cutting-edge work where normative paradigms of "normal" and "sexy" are challenged, offering instead a vision of beauty and sexuality inclusive of all individuals and communities'

Sins Invalid has produced an annual performance since 2006, as well as workshops, and have a lot of interesting videos from shows on the Sins Invalid website. Including by compatriot and dancer Rodney Bell, and I especially like Maria R. Palacios graceful writing and performance.

You can also find Sins Invalid on Facebook. Music that accompanies the RNZ audio recording of in-valid poem is by prolific NZ composer Eric Biddington, whose music I sometimes featured on One in Five. His music accompanies the work of other poets. He named his cat after  me. ( :     All photos by Sins Invalid.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yes we CanDance!

 I was kvetching in November 2009, on the NZ Disability Media Collective website, of which I am a member and commentator about the casting of a non-disabled actor to play the character of wheelchair using highschool student Artie Abrams, in the popular TV series Glee

Let me be clear I mean no disrespect to the actor Kevin McHale, who is 22, this is a casting decision, made by the shows Directors and Producers. The whole inclusion of a character with a disability is a bit sad anyway, as Artie seldom stars in solo songs or dances and is rarely integrated in to the high school glee club's group song and dance routines story lines. Which is to say Artie is pretty much sidelined. This is perhaps to be expected in a program, like so much TV with one dimensional characters. There's Kurt who is Caucasian-American and gay, Tina who is Asian-American, Mercedes who is African-American, Sue who is the mean Caucasian-American lesbian sports coach, Artie who is  disabled. Season 2 has returned with the same line-up of characters and actors.

No one is allowed to be oh I don't know even 2 dimensional, say disabled and gay, African-American and disabled, Asian-American and lesbian, Latin-American and have Downs Syndrome, Native-American and the smartest kid in school. Where so much is one times removed, you can be a gay couple, (Rachel's parents) or a sister with Downs Syndrome (cheerleading coach Sue's sister), if you are a relative of a main character. You can't be the main character.

What got us talking was this well researched article considering why actors with disabilities do not get roles in TV and film even for characters with disabilities.  'Glee' wheelchair episode hits bump with disabled  by Lynn Elber. 

Upon viewing the episode 'Wheels' where the whole glee club make a bad attempt at all performing a dance in wheelchairs  I wrote on NZDMC

'...But I wondered whimsically if like synchronized swimming, somewhere in the world there wasn't a paralympic synchronized dancing team that would do a much better job!? It is kind of an anomaly in 2009, that Asian, African-American, and possibly gay (?) actors get to play characters relevant to their identities, but characters with disabilities are still played by non-disabled actors. Apart from a few wonderful exceptions - Marlee Matlin, (who happens to be Deaf) Hollywood rarely allows disabled actors to portray characters with disabilities, or characters for whom disability is incidental to their character...'

Well search no further, here right in my own back yard as it were are the CanDance Team. I stumbled upon crowd favorites Jamie DeChamplain (in purple), and partners Sarah Lapp (in pink) and Matt Pregent (in blue) performing at an event this week. Sarah using  an electric wheelchair, damn she has good control in the turn on a dime 360 spin! Jamie and Matt in manual wheelchairs, are hip-hop on wheels.  The trio's synchronization, innovation, and sense of fun is awesome.  My personal favorite move, when all three linked in a row do the 360 spin. Copyright the name of that move right now people! What I really like about this troupe, is all the dancers being wheelchair users. Sometimes with mixed ability groups there is a sense  of inequality in the movements somehow, with an able-bodied dancer, dancing 'around' a dancer in a wheelchair, or 'guiding' them to make traditional ballet moves. The all wheelchair troupe make up their own moves so it is much more natural.

They are young, hip, and going places! Can they act and sing? Yep I expect some of them will. Below a clip of Sarah, Jamie and others of the CanDance Team performing that signature move in Robson Square, and ASL Singing along with the song lyrics. They told me during the performances for the opening ceremonies of the Paralympic Games 2010 there was only 1 wheelchair dancer, which they thought was kind of tokenistic and pathetic, on behalf of the organizers, directors and choreographers. You can contact CanDance through Photos by Matthew Wild.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Magdalena Aotearoa

Part 1 of a  two part series I wrote about working in performance and video, pages 9 -10, Magdalena Aotearoa Newsletter, Issue 35 April 2010. Traverses my experience since the 1999 Magdalena Aotearoa International Performance Festival, including thinking about language, humour and accent. Download the PDF here

Here's a sneak preview of the beginning: 'Kia ora koutou! I was very inspired by the December 2009 Magdalena Aotearoa Newsletter! Reflections on the diverse journeys many have taken in the 10 years since the magnificent 1999 Magdalena Aotearoa International Performance Festival. Like Miff Moore, Lisa Maule, Jale Karabekir; and the recent work by Madeline McNamara, Natalie Marcet, Jo Randerson, Jan Bolwel, Helen Moulder, Judith Jones. In Aotearoa, Denmark, Norway, Argentina, Turkey; prompted me to reflect on my own journey.

In 1999 I was involved in theatre, poetry, storytelling, including with Louise Maich who was preparing her show Drevna Viscera for the March 1999 Magdalena Festival. Drevna Viscera – ancient flesh, my many mother’s tongue, Louise’s tender exploration of her ancestry, history and connection to the former Yugoslavia. Together as Pandora’s Box we produced performances and an exhibition with women artists at the Silo Theatre and Kamo in Auckland May 1999.......'

I am very fond of the Pandora's Box logo, I drew it while sitting with a friend who was having chemo. The bag of medicine was down my trousers to keep it  warm, as if it was too cold it made her have an epileptic seizure. We laugh about that day sometimes (she took photos!), it always seemed  to sum up women working in performance! "And so while rehearsing my show, I drew the logo, at the hospital with  a bag of chemo down my trousers......"

We LOVED the Pandora's Box Art Exhibition, I had the joy of being the curator of, we wanted  to leave it up FOREVER! All the work was of such high standard, and diverse mediums, interesting to see where they and their work as artists has gone ten years on. There was stone sculpture by Patz McGahey, which seemed to be kaitiaki (guardians), paintings of older women's lips by Fran Marno, silkscreens by Justina Gruber, a goddess costume by Louise Maich, Raranga (weaving) by Tania Remana, painting/photo by Lisa Benson. Thanks to Jan Morrison we got to answer the question we have all been wondering - how many women does it take to hang  a 200 hundred pound tile heart with a cartoon on it, on a brick will? FOUR! Plus me nervously biting my fist, I worried for the whole 2 weeks the exhibition was up it could fall from the wall and hurt some one! It didn't tho. Tracey Tawhiao performed poetry, and Lisa Costain  music,  with us at the Silo Theatre.

In part 2 to be published with Magdalena later in the year, I consider disability arts in Aotearoa and Canada, how NFB, Kickstart, and IGODAP ultimately lead me back to working in performance. With a commission from Michele Decottignies Director of the Balancing Acts Festival, and working with theatre director Jan Derbyshire.

Helpfully the fabulous 1999 Magdalena Festival has been archived online. Including lots of photos, the festival program, and insights from key organizers. You can read more about the herstory of the development of Magdalena Aotearoa on their website.

Or the establishment of the international 'The Magdalena Project is a dynamic cross-cultural network of women’s theatre and performance, facilitating critical discussion, support and training. The network was founded in 1986 and currently spans more than 50 countries, with autonomous national groups organising festivals, gatherings and events on a regular basis.'

With events coming up in 2010 in Australia, Brazil, and Italy; in 2011, Wales; 2012, India.
Their website is available in English, French, and Spanish. 

I also reflected on my development as a filmmaker on the Development Facebook site, a film by  Marian Evans, about a woman trying to make a film... 

So like we say in the L&P (Lemon and Paeroa) soft drink ads -  World Famous - in New Zealand!  

If you want to brush up on your New Ziln accent after reading the above, I recommend the below clip:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Close Encounters

In honour of Pink Shirt Day to stop bullying, and Poetry Month, here's a poem which opens my Interdisciplinary Show and Poetry Chapbook  (In) valid. The show uses a 'patch' I designed with the programs MaxMSP/Jitter to turn music into colors.

Close encounters 

do you remember
that film
from 1977
close encounters
of the third kind
came out when I was 10

where people communicated
with beings from
another planet
with musical notes
and colored lights

it always made me cry
always made me wonder
when my people
were coming
to get me

the truth is
they don’t come in spaceships
they come in ones
or twos

they don’t necessarily
look like you
but you can tell them
just the same
you'll know

when you meet.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Integrial Media Launches:  MAKE VIA RAIL ACCESSIBLE BY 2012!

Canada's train which travels across the country is not accessible to all Canadians. Particularly not to wheelchair users. In March 2010 Catherine Frazee, co-curator of the Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember exhibition, was forced to travel from Toronto to Vancouver via the USA train service AMTRAK. As VIA RAIL could not accommodate her. She was bringing the Out from Under exhibition, to participate as part of the Paralympic Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver 2010. After some publicity around our inaccessible national train service, VIA RAIL sent a letter of apology to Ms Frazee, and the Vancouver Sun. At a reception in Vancouver for the Human Rights Museum, Catherine Frazee, challenged VIA RAIL to be fully accessible by 2012, when the Museum opens in Winnipeg.

Join us on Facebook, tell us about the trip you DIDN'T take because you COULDN'T get on the train or the trip you would like to take, when you can. Or just become a fan of:  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kickstart Festival 2010

Doing some work with Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, community outreach for the opening performance of the Kickstart 2010 Festival - She Laughed She Cried; and coordination for BRIAN, and EarSighted Audio Description Service.

SHE LAUGHED, SHE CRIED March 12 8 PM Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. UBC 
Opening the performance stream of the Kickstart Festival 2010 in partnership with the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts. Soulful fado music with Sara Marreiros and comedian Jan Derbyshire performing the rollicking Funny in the Head.
Tickets: $22 ($16 students, seniors & fixed income) 604.280.3311

Kickstart 2010 Festival March 8 – 27
Art, dance, music, theatre, workshops.

BRIAN – BC Regional Integrated Arts Network
Meeting March 13.

EarSighted Audio Description of Performances
March 16 SPINE and March 18 HIVE3.

This very cool exhibition is on March 9 – 21 UBC Robson Square, with a fantastic interactive website

Out From Under: Disability, History & Things to Remember. FREE. UBC Robson Square. 800 Robson Street. Hours: Monday – Friday: 8am – 10pm, Saturday and. Sunday: 9am - 5pm. A groundbreaking, interactive installation that pays tribute to the resilience, creativity and cultural contributions of Canadians with disabilities. Interpretation onsite and online is available in the following formats: Recorded ASL Podcasts. Recorded Full Audio Description. Recorded Plain Language Audio Tour. Print Materials – Braille, Large Print, Plain Text. Touch Display.

To see work by local artists Heroes
Exhibition March 8 - 27 at Pendulum Gallery