Whenever I’m in Vancouver (which isn’t that often, the last time was three years ago), I like to pop in to Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium. When I mentioned this to two lesbian friends of my mother, one of them said, “Oh, do they sell books?” (I guess they’ve only shopped in the ‘Art Emporium’ part…I didn’t know what this was a euphemism for until my first visit.)
I do just go in to look at the books (Really, Mum!). This time, however, they were in the midst of re-organising the bookshelves and a lot of the books were in boxes waiting to be put on the new shelving. But I did manage to find a few treasures. In the used book section, there was this oldie by Bonnie J. Morris, The Question of Sabotage. I have recently read her latest non-fiction book, The Disappearing L, in which she devotes a large portion to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. So I was able to relate to this novel with a deeper understanding of the politics of the whole event. Told from the viewpoint of a first time ‘festie’ goer, the story is a delightful mix of humour and pathos.
Then I couldn’t resist picking up the lovely reprints of two even older stories. I’m looking forward to revisiting these classics.
My mother and I attended a poetry reading, one of the many events (no. 61 out of 93 in fact) at the Vancouver International Writers Festival. It was wonderful – all four poets reading did a great job. But two really stuck out – and from opposite spectrums in terms of their writing careers. New Zealander, Hera Lindsay Bird, read from her award winning debut book of poetry. Her performance was impressive and we thought no one else would top that.
But the last to read was Eileen Myles who has had over twenty books published. And really knows how to ‘perform’ poetry. If you haven’t read or heard any of Eileen’s work, I can recommend that you look it up…now! (There are clips on YouTube.)
As we left the theatre my mother commented that no one could say poetry was boring after listening to these poets. We’d heard more about f**king and orgasms than you would get in an hour-long erotica symposium.
While I was in Victoria, I popped into Russell Books, mainly to pick up a used copy of Hamlet that my mother wanted. She’s reading the play with a group of friends; all taking different parts and didn’t want to take along her hefty complete works of Shakespeare. Anyway, after finding Hamlet I thought I would see if they had a lesbian and gay section, and I did locate it (a few shelves, next to Gender Studies). This book caught my eye and I thought it would be good to educate myself on some earlier lesfic.
How did these writers find ways to write about lesbianism which wasn’t even considered viable at that time? Well, they used coded messages of passion and desire between women and the stories were published because, really, the idea that two women could have a sexual relationship just couldn’t be true.
So I’ve come back from my two weeks in Canada with a lot of reading material and not a lot of time to process it all before the end of this month. The first few days of November are going to be busy.
And on the same day the collection of stories, essays and poems collated by S. Renée Bess and Lee Lynch is released: Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices from the Gay Bars. My short story in this collection is called Gateway to Heaven.
Then on 3rd November I’m off to the inaugural Diva Literary Festival. The Awards ceremony is being held that evening and I’m delighted to say my book, Running From Love, is shortlisted in the Romance category. (You can vote here for books in all the categories) I will also be doing a reading on the Sunday afternoon, 5 November, at 2:15. Wendy Hudson and A.L. Brooks are joining me. So, do come along if you’re attending the festival on Sunday.
Taking a deep breath now…time to get in some reading.
The Starling Hill Trilogy: