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.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

D.A.C.A.C. - Disability Arts and Culture Association of Canada

The national BeyondAccess 2012 gathering in Canmore, Alberta was amazing! A week with professional colleagues with disabilities working across a range of artistic disciplines. Bliss! Lots of hard work. Learnt a lot. Great connections. The gathering was convened and facilitated by Stage-Left Artistic Director Michele Decottignies, along with Alan Shain. (Stage Left commissioned my solo interdisciplinary spoken word show That's so gay! in 2009).

In the mornings we talked about the 40 year history of disability arts and culture practice in Canada, worked towards establishing common ground, and aesthetics.

In the afternoons, one or two people or groups each took turns to present our visual, media, dance, or theatre work. Our artistic decision making processes, and where possible practical workshops, like integrated dance. I presented on media with filmmaker and academic Danielle Peers.

The other participant from the province of BC was Dr. Kirsty Johnston who wrote the groundbreaking book Stage Turns - Canadian Disability Theatre. How Canadian theatre artists are challenging traditional theatre practices and re-imagining disability on stage.

You can see the list of participants online here. Along with the purpose of the event.

On Thursday night we each screened 10 minutes of work, or excerpts from our work in film, dance or theatre. That was a highlight for me to see the stunning professional solo and collaborative work we all do. I went back to my roots and operated as the projectionist as we sourced work from the web, DVD’s and our laptop computers. 

In the evenings, we often shared a meal in one of the lovely hotel suites we were accommodated in, got to know one another, networked and discussed possible future collaborations.

At the conclusion of the gathering we resolved to form D.A.C.A.C. - Disability Arts and Culture Association of Canada. Which will be launched publicly with an online presence in the spring of 2013.

I realized what a rare experience it was for me to have my knowledge, skills, and artistic practice in disability arts valued. Although of course I also work in the arts community generally. Having at times worked in mainstream media organizations as the lone ‘disability voice’ can be a very wearing and at times combative experience when working for policy change to be inclusive of artists with disabilities.

We talked about the importance of sharing our knowledge and skills as senior artists in our local, national, and international communities. To that end upon my return I joined the Board if Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture - who have been trying to entice me to join for some time. I worked for Kickstart 2009- 2010 on their festivals, workshops, Audio Description Program, (Vocal Eye formerly EarSighted) and BC Regional Inclusive Arts Network (BRIAN). Joining the Kickstart Board continues my commitment to a vibrant inclusive arts community in BC and providing professional development opportunities to artists.

Congratulations to Alan Shain who post conference was appointed to the position of Disability Arts Officer with the Canada Council for the Arts, in Ottawa.

We spent a few hours one afternoon in an improvisational dance workshop outside interacting with a standing stone sculpture by local artist Lucie Bause. I volunteered to document the gathering as much as possible in photographs and video, so you can see photos of dance, the gathering participants, and beautiful Canmore on my Integrial Media facebook page. I was particularly impressed by the collaborative dance work and choreography IDANCE, Propeller Dance, and Frank Hull are doing. You can see a short improvised dance playing with the Albertan wind on the BeyondAccess2012 Youtube channel.

With the rare free time we had I made the most of the great paved bike paths and zoomed along in my chairiot enjoying the fresh air, mountain and river views. 

The location of Canmore was stunning, with mountains all around us. We were treated to great hospitality, snow, rain, sunshine -  and the northern lights to welcome us on our first night.

I survived the long intense work days by the knowledge that come 10pm I could go to the hot tub and soak away the aches and pains of sitting all day, and quiet the whirling mind.

I wrote this poem while I was there which sums up the experience for me.


we scan the room
everyone has
what they need
to be present
adjustments are made

across the table
eager to meet
share food

in the hotel
hot pool
to skin
and bone

bikini clad
spa patrons
amongst themselves
  avert their eyes

in my dreams
we take over
the empty at night
kids water fountain
play area
behind the blue tiled wall

swirling circles
around one another

Friday, November 23, 2012

Poetry is Dead Magazine - Queer Issue November 2012

I was humbled and honoured to have my poem 'close encounters' included in the great Queer Issue of Poetry is Dead Magazine, guest edited by the wonderful Alex Leslie, who blogs about the issue. It has great art work by Alexandra Sebag, and Sarah Leavitt in a poetic collaboration with Jen Currin, which Sarah Leavitt Blogs about.

All in all it was a great experience!  I represented Poetry is Dead at a Magscene on Main reading in August ‘Write the body with Adrienne Gruber and others.

Gave an online interview on the Poetry is Dead website in September, along with many of the other contributors to the Queer Issue, on the topic of failure as success. Queers Fail Better: ‘In her book ‘The Queer Art of Failure’ Judith Halberstam offers alternative ways of knowing and becoming. Instead of valuing the conventional paths of belonging, achievement and completion, she thinks about and champions the ways of “failure”: losing your way, giving in, being excluded, forgetting, awkwardness, coming apart. Not just rejecting the “normal,” Halberstam shows alternatives to success as paths that have always been there, moving away from mastery and coherence. In this series of Q&A’s with contributors to our upcoming Queer issue, we play with these ideas. When we aren’t trying to finish first (or finish anything) where do we end up?’

The Queer Issue of Poetry is Dead Magazine launch and reading November 14th 2012 at Project Space Gallery went really well! An appreciative crowd packed the space for a lively multimedia presentation! Check out the photos I took of the event here, or the photos Rachel Bauman took here.

I decided to make people laugh more than cry for my reading, so turned to some older work, and took a stroll through the misunderstandings that can happen on androgyny lane. Got some great feedback besides the laughter. Fellow contributor Amber Dawn said I have perfect timing. It’s true I do like to really look at the audience and play with the energy in the room, hold them in the palm of your hand, and then release them. Fellow writer Adrienne Gruber said her partner is not always fond of poetry readings but is still raving about my performance at the Magscene on Main event. Good to know! I do like to think I can make anyone like poetry! I really enjoyed the other contributors readings too! It was a great night to be a part of.

or at Chapters or other bookstores

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BeyondAccess Canmore October 2012

In a few days I will be heading for sunny Canmore, Alberta, to participate in a week long gathering of sixteen professional artists with disabilities from across Canada. I will be one of two senior artists representing the province of BC. We will be getting to know each other, talking about and showing our artistic practices. Others around the country will be joining in by skype. We will be having a discussion I have wanted to have for a long time about 'Disability Art (practiced by disabled artists), Integrated Art (practiced by artists with a disability and their non-disabled allies), and Art & Disability (practiced by people with a disability who define themselves as artists, period and by their non-disabled allies)'. Generating a report to feedback to stakeholders and funding bodies about how best to further the professional development of the above groups. The event is the brainchild of Michele Decotignes of Stage Left Productions which amongst other things ran a successful disability arts festival in Calgary for 10 years. I was lucky to be commissioned to do a solo interdisciplinary show "That's so gay!" at the 2009 festival.

I will also be working on a new Video Poem for an event later in the year.

 Canmore is beautiful!. I did go there once in 1998, here I am rapeling near there.(dressed in green with blue helmet)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fri Aug 17, 6.30pm MagScene on Main Reading: Write the Body

Photo from Lost in Translation
Add caption

I will be one of 6 emerging poets reading at the below event, representing Poetry is Dead.
More info at MagScene on Main

 Sparkly sandals, wheelchairs, Cindi Lauper, and Joan Armatrading will appear in my poems!

$10 at the door gets you in to three MagScene on Main events happening on Georgia and Union Streets that night.

  Fri Aug 17, 6.30pm MagScene on Main Reading

 Feeling it out: Emerging Poets Write the Body

 Time: 6:30 - 8:00 PM

Host Magazine(s): PRISM International, Poetry Is Dead

In collaboration with: Wolf Mountain Writing Collective

Venue: 221A Artist Run Centre 221A E Georgia Street

 Six emerging poets delve into the world of arms, legs, torsos, breasts and knees, and from that turn their focus outward to eating, breathing and sexing. When poets take on the body beauty and/or raunch are sure to follow.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Video Poem: freedom

A poem about escaping violence.

Video Poem: Jest or Malice

This poem is about how people from a  dominant culture in society respond to differences in accent, language, spirituality, culture, appearance, etc.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Poet and The Cleaner: NZ National Poetry Day

The Poet and The Cleaner

                                                           while the cleaner
                                                           scrubbed the toilets

the poet spoke loudly
in meter
about truth
                                                           as the cleaner   
                                                           polished the mirror
                                                           in swirling circles

the poet leant close
to it’s sheen
and whispered
about justice
her breath
a small patch
of condensation

the poet repeated
to remember
her poems

                                                        to the rhythm
                                                        of the cleaners mop

musing on difference
        or identity
standing back
to finish
her poem
in the mirror
with a flourish

                                                       the cleaner
                                                       slowly clapped
                                                       her hands

the poet bowed low

                    one hand still holding the mop.

Above is the re-imagining of a poem I wrote when I was 17 and working cleaning a school, after my school day. I don't have the original it's in an archive far away...It's in honour of National Poetry Day in NZ July 27. People are going crazy for poetry all over the country! Read a poem aloud! It would be 15 more years after the above poem, before I finally started saying my poems out loud in public! I am celebrating 30 years of writing poetry myself, by re-joining the New Zealand Society of Authors.

 I am reminded of teaching a poetry class a few years back. On instinct, on my way out the door, along with my books by Canadian poets, notes, and weblinks, I picked up photocopies of some poems I had published anonymously in the school magazine around the same time as the above poem. In a break in the class a man asked me what was the purpose of poetry, we chatted some and then I handed him the poems from aged 17 and told him to read as few or as many as he liked, 2 of the 8 poems were about writing poetry. After the break he was still studying the poems, closely. We wrote, and then who ever wanted to, read their work aloud. He like me, was an immigrant to Canada, and read  about what he had left behind, what he found when he arrived, what he hoped for. It was a class in which people often shared their struggles, but later the tutor told me that in two years, this was the first time he had ever shared anything personal. I marveled that the words of a teenage white girl from the other side of the world, from 25 years ago, could inspire a middle aged black man to reveal himself in words. As I too have been inspired by so many poets from so many backgrounds. 

Then we looked at video poems on the web, by young and old, performance poets, in American Sign Language, all kinds of formats. The tutor was so enthused she made a video poem right then and there with a poem she had previously written and some photos she had in her laptop. 

Be enthused about poetry!

Monday, July 9, 2012


You can find my work back on the Sunshine Coast again this summer!
My water photography based meditative installations, Aqwai, Tiarika, and Going Coastal will be in the invitational HOMECOMING EXHIBITION
July 19 to August 20 2012
This public art gallery is located in Historic Gibsons Landing, BC
201 – 287 Gower Point Road or from Molly’s Lane up the stairs.
HOURS: Thursday to Monday 11 am – 4 pm
RECEPTION:  July the 21st 2 pm
Seven artists who have been influenced by their life on the Coast share their vision. Photography, oil, watercolour, video, animation, glass, inkjet prints with collage and acrylic combine to form a rich and complex image of where we live and what it has added to our lives.

You can check out photos of the HOMECOMING EXHIBITION on Integrial Media Facebook

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Transit Of Venus Chapbook short listed by Doire Press Ireland

My chapbook of poetry, Transit Of Venus, being launched June 2 2012 in Vancouver, was short listed by Doire Press in Ireland for their poetry chapbook publishing prize.

Twenty six new poems about love, taking public transit, and life transitions. Free verse, prose poems, sestina and found poems.

Love from New York restaurants, to the Big Bang Theory,  and the back of an ambulance. Interactions and philosophy on public transit through the doors of buddhism, memory and strangers notebooks. Life transitions like illness, disability, mortality through the lens of jack layton, frida khalo, the 2011 Tsunami in Japan.

You can check out me reading the sestina poem bear at the bottom of a previous blogpost.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

June 2 2012 The Independents Reading and Chapbook Launch

 Saturday June 2 2012
6pm to 8pm
Montmarte Cafe
4362 Main St (at 27th)

The Independents writing collective will be reading new work, poetry and prose and launching our handmade chapbooks, should be a fun evening!

Hosted by award winning poet and raconteur Jen Currin, The Writers Studio at SFU poetry and lyric prose mentor.

Readings by:

Yaana Dancer
Dhana Musil
Meg Torwl
Leanne Dunic
Cole Nowicki
Katie Quakenbush
Jaime-Lee Kirtz

I will be reading from my new chapbook, Transit of Venus, which explores themes of love, public transit and life transitions. It was short listed for the poetry chapbook publishing prize by Doire Press Ireland. Come celebrate early the transit of venus (which is occurring on June 5th 2012,  won't happen again until 2117, and has only been noted 6 times in recorded history!) - when the planet venus passes in front of earth's sun.

Checkout photos of the event on Integrial Media Facebook

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Enpipe Line Book Launch March 23 7pm

100 poets oppose the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline. Along with many TWS alumni I have 2 poems in the book.
Vancouver / Coast Salish Territory launch
When: March 23, 2012
Where: 505 Burrard Street (in front of Enbridge's Northern Gateway Pipelines office), with a reception at Artspeak, 233 Carrall St
More info about the book  and the pipeline and to download a free ebook until March 22, or order online.

Also available at the Launch as a hard copy, and at The Peoples Coop Bookstore.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feb 12 3pm Love Poems Book Launch

Romance is in the air at Historic Joy Kogawa House. Come celebrate Valentine’s Day with love poems, chocolate and vino, and help launch Leaf Press’s anthology The Wild Weathers with readings from Peter Trower, Daniela Elza, Susan McCaslin, Elsie Neufeld, Berenice Freedome, Jocelyn Pitsch, Meg Torwl, Leanne Dunic, Lenore Rowntree, and Robin Susanto. Vancouver’s poet laureate Evelyn Lau has been invited and the Kogawa House writer-in-residence, Deborah Willis, will attend.
When: 3 to 5 pm, Sunday, February 12
Where: Historic Joy Kogawa House is located at 1450 West 64th Avenue (2 blocks east of Granville)
Cost: Tickets are $15 and include a glass of the best vino and all the chocolate in the house
Please rsvp to See you there!
This anthology features my recent poem Sheldon.
For more info and to order from Leaf Press 

Photos of the launch on Facebook 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jan 24 2012 Exhibition of Creativity by Caregivers

Two of my poems, Remote  and acts considering caregiving from those receiving and giving it, will be on display in an exhibition celebrating creativity by caregivers.

Tuesday January 24 2012. Garden Room. West Vancouver Community Health Centre.
2121 Marine Drive
West Vancouver
6.30pm to 8.30pm

North Shore Caregivers Resources