Thursday, December 23, 2010

I treat poetry like underwear.

At least when it comes to the holidays. When I was a kid, Christmas gifts were a careful combination of fun toys and practical clothing. Underwear never held the same appeal as a guitar or a toy pony, but it was reliably there every year. So in that spirit, I've bought each of my immediate family members two gifts: the one they want, and the one I think they need. That's right. I think they need poetry. Why? Well, not because I'm trying to recruit new readers, or convert my family into poetry lovers, though that would be nice. No, this is a selfish gift: I figure if I can introduce my family members to some contemporary poetry, I might slowly have to stop fielding questions about what it is exactly that I am writing. If my well-intentioned family can actually get a sense of what I am studying, they might not think I am putting them off. It might make future holiday dinners less awkward, as I try to contextualize why I am writing poetry for a thesis, and what that has to do with dialects spoken in other parts of the world. My parents have read most of my thesis and scholarship proposals (protip: getting a non-specialist to read those applications can help avoid the jargon problem. My parents might not know a lot about literature, but they're smart people, and their questions about "what does that mean, exactly" got me thinking about how to be concise without being obscure).

The odds are low that the books I have carefully bought will actually be read, but it's the thought that counts, or buy unto others what you would have them buy unto you, or something like that.


For my dad: Priscila Uppal's Winter Sport: Poems, because I think it will appeal to the memory of all the times he drove me to early morning hockey practice and late night games.

For my mum & youngest sister: Helen Hajnoczky's Poets and Killers: A life in advertising pretty much for the reasons I outlined here.

For my middle sister: Nikki Reimer's [sic], because I think it will appeal to her perceptions of Calgary and corporate culture.

I'll report back on reactions post-Holiday.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rape Culture: why stand up when you can be silenced?

In case you needed proof that the rape culture is alive and well, check out the #MooreandMe hashtag on twitter. Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown, and a number of other tweeters, are speaking against the bully tactics being used to silence and discredit the women who accused Julian Assange of rape. A lot of misinformation has been flying around (perpetuated by news articles that have been making strange claims about rape laws in Sweden), and Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann publicized the names of the accusers through twitter. This was wrong: women who accuse men, particularly famous men, of rape are often threatened, assaulted, and harassed. Quite frankly, reporting a rape can be dangerous, especially when there is no repercussion for the men who publicize the alleged victims names. I don't know if Assange is guilty or not. I do know that these women are being victimized by the people trying to get them to drop charges by revealing their privacy and trying to scare them away.

We have to make sure that the men who casually retweet private information about these women understand that it is NOT OKAY. That perpetuating a culture of fear, a culture in which rape only matters when it doesn't interfere with a political agenda (or only matters when in happens to someone you know, or only matters if the rapist was a stranger to the victim, or if the victim has the right reaction...) is completely unacceptable. If we want a culture in which it is safe for a victim to say "I was raped" than we cannot let this kind of public harassment of accusers to continue.

Thanks Sady. Thanks for spending four days on twitter demanding a response from Michael Moore. Thanks for enduring trolls, threats, accusations, and name calling.

"to let none of us go missing without a fuss" - Margaret Christakos

Read Sady's MooreandMe Day 1, Day 2, and Day 4

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Sound Experiment

Kathleen Brown posted (back in April - where have I been?) audio that she created for the creative writing gala at the university last spring. It includes clips from Suzette Mayr, Robert Majzels, Tom Wayman, Christian Bök, and the Homely Fuss: Stephanie Davis, Indra Singh, Marc Lynch, Kye Kocher, Kathleen Brown, Jane Thompson, and me.

What I Learned in Writing Skool by polarstarkricket