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Monday, 22 February 2010
Heavy Rooms

I'm still processing the Dusty Owl show from Sunday afternoon. John Akpata got up on the stage during the open mike and commented on what a 'heavy room' it was - with the National Slam Champions featuring (and are they ever a force to be reckoned with: their team set in particular was mesmerizing), a whole lot of representation from 3 Dreads and a Bald Head in the audience, and people like PrufRock and Hodan Ibrahim hanging out in the audience, it really was a seriously heady collection of passionate, powerful, creative talent all in one place. I was reminded of one Writers Festival event a couple of years ago, where Marcus McCann blogged later, speculating that if a bomb had been dropped on the room, poetry in Ottawa would have been set back decades - it was like that for spoken word and hip hop in Swizzles on Sunday.

John himself is going to be opening for Linton Kwesi Johnson this March in St. Andrews, Scotland: when he told us that yesterday I admit to going a little fangirl. I've loved LKJ since about 1991 or '92, when my brother introduced me to his work. And how cool is it that Canadian spoken word is so hot right now?

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 9:52 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 22 February 2010 9:53 PM EST
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Thursday, 18 February 2010
Literary Landscapes tonight!

Yessiree, it's that time again... I'll be hosting Literary Landscapes tonight at 6:30 pm. Going on live, with Jacqueline Lawrence, who I don't get to see half as much as I would like to. She's working away on many things, I hear, and she'll be teaming up with The Recipe (otherwise known as the Canadian National Slam Champions) and musician Rita Carter at the Dusty Owl this weekend, in a fundraiser for the Black Youth Conference.

Confession time - I haven't gone on totally live before. AND the station has a brand new computer interface. And this is CKCU. Techies? We don't need no stinking techies! Whee!

Good thing is, I think Jacqueline has some radio experience, so I'll lean on her. Will you be listening? or 93.1...

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 2:06 PM EST
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Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Yeah, the sonnet can still bring it, right?

This just popped up randomly in my inbox (I never know where people found my email address: ah well.) It's in Toronto, but I am kind of amused that someone's dusted off the sonnet and thrown it into the slam ring. I wish someone would do something like that here. 

Hmm... maybe I'll bring that up at the next Dusty Owl meeting...

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 11:12 AM EST
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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Poetry highs

I never really pegged myself as a performing poet. I admit, I think I do pay attention to the sounds of my poems and I try to focus on reading them well, but if there's an open mike I'm happy to sit back and listen, I shrug and say, "I didn't bring my stuff," or I just don't feel quite right about jumping up and claiming time that could as easily be filled with some other poet. It's the second-stringer, beta-wolf, supporting-cast side of me, I suppose.

So I was really surprised at how exhilarating it was to be a featured reader. I read at Voices of Venus last night, to a packed room at Umi Cafe, and it was fun. I wasn't even all that nervous, really. And having a whole half hour to stretch out and inhabit my work was great. I've done great shows with the Kymeras before - the Acadian set we did for the last Windborn was a highlight - but there's something qualitatively different about being the only featured artist. I found I really got comfortable up there when I had all that time and a sense of an arc to the material I was reading.

A lot of the reason for my comfort, I think, was the crowd. Voices of Venus is a really relaxed, fun space - props to Faye, the host, for creating that - and I think it is true that you can feel when a room full of people has 'clicked' somehow, when the audience is with you. It was a great feeling. I was surprised to discover that I had some funny poems - and had to remind myself to stop and wait for the laughs I hadn't been expecting - and was even more surprised by the occasional silent moment before people clapped, with a couple of of 'mm' sounds in the room. Oooh, fun. 

The open mic was also great beforehand - first-timers and veteran readers alike got up and read or told stories. I admit to being a bit nervous about having to follow some of the poets that got up. But the huge variety of work that came out during the open mike dispelled that. There was such a number of different voices that I felt just fine about stepping up and saying, Okay, this is my voice. I don't slam, and haven't done open mike at Capital Slam (though I've been asked to) for that reason: my stuff just isn't slam stage material. But then nothing about this open mike was restricted to any one style. 

And I was so buzzed afterwards! The coordinator, Allison, and I were standing around in the emptied-out cafe afterwards and she just kept bouncing up and down: which was pretty much exactly how I felt. I was on a complete high.

So while I never pegged myself as a performance sort of poet - I would so totally do that again! 

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 1:28 PM EST
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Friday, 5 February 2010
Texas fails again

Oh, Texas. Wasn't it there that recently the Merriam-Webster Dictionary was banned from some classrooms because the definition of "oral sex" was too racy?

Now, I'm listening to As It Happens and catch an interview with a reporter from the American Statesman who wrote a great article on which books are banned from Texas jails. No Freakonomics (they use a racial epithet in a piece on infiltrating a KKK group) and no Introduction to Physics (the inmate might turn into a mad scientist and blow the place up, MacGyver-style). And no Grisham depicting crimes of any type, no Auto Repair for Dummies, and no National Geographic "Visual History of the World" (because it contains a picture of a naked girl. The one running away from the napalm attack in Vietnam.) Oh, yeah, and no Lovely Bones either. 

But - boggle - The Hitler We Loved and Why, published by White Power Publications, is apparently okay.

What astonished me was the comments that the reporter said had been cropping up on his article, suggesting that when you're not in prison, you can read whatever you want, so obviously the lesson here is: don't go to prison, and you can read Pablo Neruda all you want. 

Do I even need to go into the reasons I think this is appalling?

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 7:59 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 5 February 2010 8:00 PM EST
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Thursday, 4 February 2010
The Jackpine Sonnet Contest
The Geist Jackpine Sonnet Contest is now open!

What the jackpine sonnet is: 
A sonnet-like poem.

Where it comes from: 
Milton Acorn (1923–1986), a poet from Prince Edward Island, created the genre and named it after the jack pine, a tree that seeds itself in fire.

How to write one: 
Write a poem with 14 lines, each line containing 7 to 13 syllables. But, in Acorn's words, "If your sonnet cuts itself off—click!—at, say line 12, 18 or 20, leave it at that." An odd number of lines is okay too. Apply the rhyme scheme of your choice, and if no rhyme comes up, be patient. Acorn advised writers to write internal rhymes (rhymes within a line) or external rhymes (rhymes at the end of consecutive lines) "to keep the flow." In the absence of rhyme, use assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds), "to keep the rhyme alive in order to come up with a true rhyme further on."

First prize: $500

Second prize: $250

Third prize: $125

How to enter the contest: Write a jackpine sonnet and send it to Geist by post or submit electronically. Include a $10 entry fee, which buys you a one-year subscription to Geist, digital edition.

Contest dead line: Canada Day, July 1, 2010

To keep up to date, join the discussion, and find out more about Milton Acorn, jackpine sonnets, and the Geist Jackpine Sonnet Contest, read the Geist Jackpine Sonnet Blog

Enter today!

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 1:11 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 4 February 2010 1:13 PM EST
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Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Reading Next Week!

That's me, yup. I'll be the featured reader at Voices of Venus on the 9th. So far the plan includes what is extant of my Boudicca cycle (where else to break out the warrior queen, right?) some flash fiction (thanks to the Play Date) and a whole lotta stuff I've never read in public before because I had a pretty prolific time of it last spring and then haven't really been on the reading circuit. So - you may have heard some of the Boudicca poems, but I guarantee some new stuff that no one - and I mean no one - has heard or seen before. And I think I might bring along My First Real Poem.

Plus, there are some wikkid awesome women going to be stepping up to the open mic afterward and I'm really looking forward to that!

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 1:45 PM EST
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Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Video editing and vampires

This is some of what I've been doing at work lately: editing footage from the videocamera from the Fall Edition of the Writers Festival. My first project was the interview Sean Moreland did with Dacre Stoker.

I had no idea what to expect from the book (Dracula: The Un-Dead) and I still think it reads like a sequel to the Francis Ford Coppola Dracula rather than to the novel, but I thought Sean's interview did a lot for how I thought about the book. He quite skilfully addressed the question of whether to accept the 'apocryphal' vampire mythology that has developed since Bram Stoker's book, especially about things like the humanization of vampires since then, the general public acceptance of a romance between Dracula and Mina Harker, the fusion of the original Prince Vlad and Stoker's creation into a much more sympathetic character, the possibility of half-vampires... all the stuff that I guess I was hoping not to see in a sequel to the original (I've had more than enough angsty, pain-ridden sexy vampires, thank you Anne Rice, Laurell Hamilton and Stephenie Meyer.) But I liked how Sean took those ideas on, and traced the history of the vampire as a developing and changing figure in pop culture. 

Plus, Dacre turned out to be a genuinely charming and pleasant guy. Likeable right off the bat, and not at all weird or hung up about being descended from Bram Stoker. 


Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 3:16 PM EST
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Thursday, 21 January 2010
RIP Paul Quarrington

I can't believe how out of touch with things I can be. This blog post from BookMadam says it, in a way: there are times when you realize that all of these people out there, who you pretty much take for granted, could one day - in fact will - just not be there anymore.

I met Paul a couple of times. He was a guest at the Writers Festival a few times while I've been working there, and he came up to the Hospitality Suite in the spring of 2009 when he was in the building for another event entirely. That would have been about a month before he was diagnosed with lung cancer, I now realize. I liked him. There are some people whose personalities leave an impression on me: not of anything in particular, just a sense of liking. He was one of them. 

And yet somehow I never really get out there and talk to as many people as I have the opportunity to talk to, especially given my job. So I didn't really have any real conversations with him: I hovered at the sidelines of other people's conversations, as I tend to do with strangers. And now I don't have the chance.

Tonight I'm doing a show on Literary Landscape about local slam poet Steve Sauve - someone else that I assumed would always be around, and who I didn't know anywhere near as well as I wish I had. I let myself be both too shy or too busy or too tied up with my own stuff to get involved. It takes the swift kick to the head of mortality to remind me that people won't always be here. I didn't really get to know Paul in person, but I love his books, and his music, and they're what I know best of him. 

So I wish I'd had more of a chance to talk to him, and I wish there were more of his books and films and songs to look forward to. 

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 1:17 PM EST
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Monday, 18 January 2010
The weirdest writing contest rules I've ever seen

I just got this announcement from the "Global Writers' Network" - they're holding a writing contest. All well and good, but these are some of the weirdest contest rules I've ever run into. Leave aside the fact that they're asking for a story synopsis, not a story, in their short fiction category. That's slightly strange. But the rest of this, especially the limitations/prohibited content, is just too bizarre not to reprint in its entirety:



Follow these steps illustrated in these photographs:

(1.) Go to the event page here>

(2.) Follow the description of this picture>

(3.) Then also this>

(4.) Add your photo/entry by click the ADD PHOTOS button>


1st group writing competition.

Read and comprehend twice sharper than your pen. I'd write it loud so hear it clear.

1) Submit only 1 entry per writing genre. For example: if you have to join for the poetry genre competition, just submit one poem, which is related to the topic. You can join all of these 3 genres--poetry, essay, and story (only vague synopsis) but only one entry per category.

(2) Choose your preferred photo, which you think, is related to the literary piece you've written. Remember: the topic is all about LIFE.

(3) We will use the photograph application of our event page; so all entries will be posted on the photograph sub-field. Your literary piece will serve as the caption of your photograph. Follow the photograph example here>

(4) After you have posted your entry, never comment on your entry or like on the another entries, because these features must be preserved for the voting week (January 25 - 29, 2009).


After the submission of entries week, the event page and the Global Writers' Network will be temporarily closed; that's to make sure that no outsiders can vote during the casting of vote week. The photograph sub field also will be disabled so that no one can submit entries anymore after the date of entry submission.

During our 1st writing contest, decent and order will be prescribed. We believed that there is no substitute in the art of formality and orderliness, so we must follow rules and regulations.

I'll announce it again. There are only 3 writing genres in this contest. These are poetry, essay, and story (only synopsis). The theme is all about LIFE.

For poetry - it must be not less than 14 lines. Avoid cliches. For essay - it must be at least 500 words more, not less than 450 words. For story synopsis - it must be at least 500 words more, not less than 450 words. Must have the 3 major parts: the setting, conflict, and the climax.

RULES: No plagiarism, pornographic descriptions, rebellion against government systems or of God, green words, perverse idioms or expressions, and all unseemly violations.


MECHANICS - 60 % - Content, clarity of speech, on topic, sentiment, etc.

TECHNIQUES - 40 % - metered(only for metrical poetry--like sonnet), correct contractions, etc.


1ST Place - You'll be given an electronic certificate and recognition by the GWN's admins, plus your work will be posted in the GWN's group information page as the 1st placer in our first competition, and will be posted on the FRONPAGE of the official main website of GWN which can be located within this web address: .

2ND Place - Also, will receive an electronic certificate recognized by the GWN's administrators; and your piece will also be posted on the main website of GWN.

3RD Place - You'll be recognized by the admins and your work will be posted on the INFO page of this group and on the FRONTPAGE of .

WARNING: plagiarized or just copied from another author will be automatically disqualified. GWN is not liable in any form or by any means in such case as literary robbery.

NOTE: The admins are not referees. We are also such as writing freaks. So yay! We'll join the contest. There's nothing to worry because we'll play it smooth and plain. The members are the judges. But for the sonnet department, only those who can submit a sonnet entry, or the one who will participate the contest can vote. The rest writing departments, all can vote.



PS: Way of voting will be announced during the deadline of submission! May the best writers win! Write on and be prepare!


So there you have it. I'm completely confused. And what the hell is a 'green word'? Not to mention they're prohibiting 'rebellion against God or of government systems' and 'all unseemly violations'? What's an 'unseemly violation'?

Posted by Kathryn Hunt at 11:55 AM EST
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