Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Alteration to Schedule, Surrey Muse: Val's Poems Read Early


night walk by elizabeth mcclung of SCREW BRONZE

Doesn't sound like much of a news flash but if you were thinking of not going on Friday because you are not able to stay up (or out) late in the evening, this could make the difference in whether you go.

It's been decided to read Val's poems at the beginning of the evening rather than reserving them for the end, when the Open Mic usually occurs. So the info again is:

There will be a Tribute Gathering for Valerie with various performers at City Centre Library in Surrey, room 418, behind the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, on Friday, 24 October from 5:30-8:30 PM.

Thanks, Surrey Muse!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Valerie B-Taylor's Celebration of Life

Valerie beautifully launching Eileen Kernaghan's "Sophie, In Shadow" in the midst of her health challenges.

:
We will be celebrating Valerie's life together
:

on Saturday, 8 November 2014

from 2 PM till 8 PM
Presentation at 3:30 PM

1928 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
Near Maple (east of Arbutus)
778-882-2642



We love you, Valerie! Thank you for being a Sunburst and a Loving Friend!




Thursday, October 09, 2014

Goodbye to a Friend


Dear friend and writer Valerie B-Taylor died while we were having fun at VCon, unaware that, far from getting better during her stay at hospital, she was letting go of her life. It is a very sad parting, and I so wish I had had the chance to say goodbye.

Valerie was filled with humour and compassion. She was audacious and bold in her writing and her life; we called her seat in our writers group The Naughty Seat because of what she brought to it so many times. Yet she also brought encouragement, joy, deep sorrow, fierce protectiveness, and a wild intelligence that I will miss for years to come.

Goodbye, dear one. Thank you for your love and wisdom. Many blessings on your journey.

Photo from New West Writers

Valerie was, among other supportive roles in the writing community, the president of New West Writers. This is something she posted on their site:








V.B.-Taylor (formerly Valerie P. Aelbers)

It is in that moment, that very moment, when my mind, spirit, and body converge that I know I am a writer. When story moves through me; when story translates through text onto paper another voice unheard.
V. B.- Taylor



The video above shows Valerie as she receives a Distinguished Poet/Writer Award (WIN Literary Festival) presented by Ashok Bhargava and Mabel Elmore, MLA, in Richmond, 2013.

There will be a Tribute Gathering for Valerie with various performers at City Centre Library in Surrey, room 418, behind the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, on Friday, 24 October from 5:30-8:30 PM.

Thanks to Eileen Kernagahn, our leader at the Kyle Center Writers Workshop, for making space for us to grieve and celebrate Valerie today, and to Eileen Mackenzie for bringing in her written memoir of Val, which opened the gates for all of us to speak who needed to.

Sitting In For SF Canada


Well, this is fun. Kristene Perron of SF Canada sent in this photo of me staffing the SFC table at VCon 39.

Casey at the SFC Table at VCon 39. Photo courtesy Kristene Perron

About SF Canada
SF Canada was founded in 1989 as Canada’s National Association for Speculative Fiction Professionals, and was Incorporated as SF Canada in 1992.
SF Canada exists to foster a sense of community among Canadian writers of speculative fiction, to improve communication, to foster the growth of quality writing, to lobby on behalf of Canadian writers, and to encourage the translation of Canadian speculative fiction. SF Canada supports positive social action.
“Speculative fiction” is understood by members to include science fiction, fantasy, horror and any other other weird fiction that invokes a sense of wonder.
SF Canada aims to provide a structure for socializing and maintaining links among members throughout Canada, from coast to coast to coast, in both official languages, and to promote the publishing and sale of works created, edited, and published by its members.
SF Canada provides free webhosting to members on the association website, and maintains a private internet listserver—an online discussion group that is unmoderated and completely uncensored! SF Canada also organizes critique groups and meetings, and operates an online bookstore to publicize and promote its members and their books. SF Canada members are eligible for non-profit health and dental insurance through the Writers’ Coalition Program in cooperation with the Writers’ Union of Canada, and have access to home and auto insurance at lower than market rates.
To qualify for SF Canada membership, an author must have published for payment at least two short stories or three poems in commercial markets, or received a royalty advance for a novel. An editor must have contracted for payment at least one book manuscript or three issues of a magazine. Other Canadians with a substantial professional interest in SF (specialized publishers, academics, librarians) will be considered for membership on a case by case basis. A one-year membership is worth $30; the fixed renewal date is on Canada Day, but members who join after January 1 are credited with the July 1 renewal. Two members living at the same postal address qualify for a common $30 rate.
For more information, or if you wish to apply to become a member, please contact us.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

VCon 39


Survived the con, and a good time was had by all. Somehow I was always in a whirl--I still see tracks when I turn my head.

I especially hanging out with the kids--Frank, Jules, and Flora--and brother-in-law Nick, doing the Writers Workshop on Sunday, and the Turkey Readings shortly thereafter. Also enjoyable was reading with Eileen Kernaghan, she from her new novel Sophie, In Shadow, and me from "Posture of the Infinite", published in Red Tuque Books' Canadian Tales of the Fantastic Vol. IV.

Eileen won her third Prix Aurora Award on the weekend, to my (and I gather her) delight. From Wattle and Daub Books, who published her book of poetry:

Congratulations to Wattle and Daub Books author Eileen Kernaghan who this weekend won the 2014 Prix Aurora Award for Best Poem or Song in English for “Night Journey: West Coast”, published in Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast, EDGE (2013).

For more of her excellent speculative poetry, her collection Tales of the Holograph Woods: Speculative Poetry can be ordered here.

Now, a little photographic evidence, and I'm back to the rest home.

En Route to VCon 39

Rose and Her Companion

Human Battleship

Bug-Eyed Monster

Action Shot
Best In Show! (And Man, Did She Deserve It.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Selfy Challenge


One thing I am not pulling my weight on is getting good recent photos of me out there for the roaring fan-crowd to dream over. That, my friends, is about to change. I have taken

The Selfy Challenge!

First, something serious and arty:


Next, something gay and quirky:

(Confession: Not Actually a Selfy)

One showing my deep appreciation of nature:


And finally, an image that truly defines my personality:

Self Portrait in Herbs

My work here is done.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

New eStory: "Finding Creatures"


Here it is. My second venture into epublishing: the title story from my collection, Finding Creatures & Other Stories. Follow this link for a free download.

"Bernadette is a lonely little girl...until she meets Angel, a horse nobody else can see, a friend like she has never known before. But is she really the only one who can see Angel? Is she really Angel's only friend?"



Another Fine Day in the Scriptorium



St Birgitta of Sweden

A hedge of trees surrounds me, a blackbird’s lay sings to me, praise I shall not conceal,
Above my lined book the trilling of the birds sings to me.
A clear-voiced cuckoo sings to me in a gray cloak from the tops of bushes,
May the Lord save me from Judgement; well do I write under the greenwood.


Time to confess. I have been working on another writing blog.

It isn't meant to replace this one, exactly. The Den is still where I will post updates and so forth. But during a period when I was feeling out of sorts with the whole Promote Publish or Perish caterwaul, I realized I needed a peaceful place to take myself to think about writing, and to share writing, mine and others. It is still gestating, really, but I have a few elements there that I like, and I do, indeed, feel calm and happy when looking over the quite, lovely look of the place.

One thing I decided was that I wanted to share my stories rather than sell them—if not all, at least some. So one of the pages links to free fiction online, including to my first ebooks, both of which are short stories from Finding Creatures & Other Stories. Indeed, one of them, just published tonight, is "Finding Creatures" itself.

In addition there are woodcuts to admire and be inspired by, links to interviews of Eileen Kernaghan and Mike Coney, as well as interviews of me, reviews of some books I have read and loved, and a couple of peaceful poems.

I'm not sure where it will lead over time, but I do invite you to have a look and to say hello if you are so moved. Maybe there is a way that others can participate as well. I am interested in your suggestions.

I think we all need a peaceful place to retreat to at times, and the scriptorium is one that is filled with the love of the pen.

 Please Visit Another Fine Day in the Scriptorium by Following This Link.

 
Manuscript Book mural in Evolution of the Book series John White Alexander 1896

Monday, September 01, 2014

First Venture into eBookism: "Claude and the Henry Moores"



If you have followed my blog for a while you may be smacking your head saying, "What?! Claude and the Henry Moores AGAIN?"

Yep. It's the first book in the collection, Finding Creatures & Other Stories, and my plan is to put all of the stories into ebook format and make them available for free. So, begin at the beginning, jah?

I'm happy with my cover and the upload and conversion seems to have gone well. I'm unclear whether you can see and download or only I can--is there some approval thingee that has to happen at Smashwords? Well, for now it seems you can grab it so try this url: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/472466. I have put a bid in to change my user name so hopefully I will remember to change this address when the time comes...

Have fun!

Why Sing? (A New Essay for A Better World)



I was recently asked to write about singing and why it is important in my life. The piece I wrote (see below) will be published in The Drawing Network's new bulletin, A Better World, which is available to anyone for the asking. And what the heck is The Drawing Network?

"Our goals are to get equal time for the ARTS as for STEM subjects, i.e. maths, sciences, formal literacy etc. and to recognize the community's obligation to provide appropriate schooling from age-2 through  the elder years. The ARTS are essential for psychological development, psychological health, optimum learning, bringing joy to the curriculum. We have neglected the ARTS by assigning them to the outer edges of the curriculum as frills.

Correspondence is welcome: drawnet (AT] shaw {DOT) ca   PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD.



Why Sing?

Why sing?

I fall off the rolling log of singing practice as often as I scramble back on. Embarrassed to be heard, and teased as has happened more than once, I’m the only person who sings in my apartment building, and have a voice that carries punch. It is hard to hide, and hard therefore to keep on the log, to keep my voice flexible and strong enough to climb the songs I feel most moved to sing. But...

As an infant, I cried without thinking, opened my voice and swallowed up the world with my sorrow and my rage. Unworried by my drooling, I gurgled happily, my meaning clear to me at least, and clear I am certain in my eyes, the texture of my voice, the wobblings of my limbs, to anyone who cared to understand. I was at ease with my body, inside and out, and the sounds I made were as natural a part of it as the skin that held me together, the hair that curled from my pate, the sensations that bubbled through me and rippled into emotion and from emotion, yes, into sound.

What were the sounds I made? Were they speech, or song, or some thing from which the two arise, a primitive ancestor of all the civilization of voice that surrounded me, embedded as it was in the mew of cats, the chitter of birds, the scrape of chairs on linoleum, the sound of my own sigh as I was falling into sleep?

It was only with instruction that I learned the strange idea that certain sounds were acceptable, even delightful, even beautiful, and other sounds outrageous, irritating, wrong. And as this instruction continued I learned as well that in the category of sound called singing, there were true notes, off notes, notes which hit me so sharply sidewise that I laughed in fear to hear them, and shrank in fear from making them. I endeavoured to be true. To be right and strong and delightful. To be flexible and controlled and Good. But knowing how close the wrong note sat to the right had me live in subtle fear.

Oh, there were many lessons regarding singing as I grew up. One strange one was that, outside of the enclave of my singing family, it seemed that any time I began to sing people would turn the radio on. Rather than, gods forbid, joining in, the reminder of music had them reaching for its proper type. Music, I learned, was being wrested from the familiar, the shared and the bonding, and plugged into the professional and remote. Only those with recording contracts were good enough to be heard to sing.

But. And here is the rub.

Have you ever run? Run, not just in panic for the bus, spleen stitching and lungs afire, but run often enough that your body builds in strength and you begin to feel the antelope in you stretching supple powerful muscles and coursing with the birds?  Have you ever learned to dig? Learned the placement of the spade and the pressure of the foot and the easy swing that bites the earth out of its bed and shapes the land? Have you ever played a sport, or immersed yourself in yoga, or taken to the mountains so many times your legs and heart and eyes grow bright and strong and you can breathe a giant breath and take the world into yourself and exhale it out again?

Well, that is singing, too. But it is inward exercise. Muscles no one sees, let alone thinks much about, a cage of muscles that supports and connects you to organs and bones and synapses you barely knew you had, orchestrated by the vast intake of air, the training of your lungs till they become not just flabby bags that keep you aerated but bellows capable of more than you had ever dreamed, instruments as precise as a jeweller’s tools.

Running that marathon with your breath and vocal chords, standing still or swaying in your place, fills out the last remaining territory of your body and wow—the strength you find in that. The joy in it. To feel utterly your own body from within and without and, just as in your infancy, to find no blank spots in your self: toe tingling from breath powered by note set free by diaphragm, and mind, and heart. An athlete of the voice.

I urge you, dig your garden, run your kilometre, bow and rise through your dozen vinyasas and then stand still and engage your voice. Discover the union of inner body and outer—both toned, both gleeful in their strength—of breath and stance and sound.

Another thing. Who sings? Who sings what? Who are you when you sing? That subject is as vast as humanity.

Long ago I wanted to learn something of my ancestors. The first thing I did was to listen to their music. To begin to learn the metre of their language. To link my voice with theirs and wonder, why was it sung that way? Why so much sorrow in their songs? Why so much hilarity? I didn’t even like the music when I first heard it, the strident fiddles and the driving rhythms. But that time is long since gone. Their music is in my muscles now. It is in my tears and my dancing feet. It rescues my vocal chords from disuse and brings past and present face to face in me. Over time, of course, I learned more of their story, fleshed out the breath of their music with grittier details. But the stories alone would be empty without their voices. I sing now with my great-great-grandmothers, warning of false young men, and I laugh and cry along with them. I sing with my great-great-grandfathers, who might never see land again, and I cherish their labour and their risks. I sing with the people I never got to meet, and find them in me, and love them still.

Why sing? So many, endless reasons. Better to ask, why live? What else can a child do?


Bob Steele, founder of the network and the driving force behind it, is a professor emeritus from UBC and his essays on the importance of art education are stirring and informative. From the website:


A WAKE-UP CALL FROM THE DRAWING NETWORK

Fellow educators, parents and teachers: this is a serious situation and we are not addressing it seriously:

When we undervalue spontaneous drawing in the home/school curriculum we risk compromising children’s language developmentAs language is critical to mental development, mental health, and learning  we compromise these as well. Putting it so bluntly and in language that may sound more like propaganda than scholarship, I risk alienating you, but consider the following observations:

 1) Children are born with a built in propensity to draw in response to vivid experience. My analysis of hundreds of spontaneous drawings suggests that in the early years it is their most useful language for articulating their acute perceptions, their subtlest and most complex thoughts and most intense feelings! Perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, these take shape in a drawing response!

2) It begins as scribbles and crude graphic symbols in the preschool years and, with nurturing, evolves into full-blown picture making in the kindergarten and primary years. Ideally, children in the preschool period thrive on a “daily draw” of some twenty minutes or so. A caring adult needs to be in attendance, not to show or demonstrate, but to inspire and motivate. The connection to emerging literacy begins in these years with pre-drawing and post-drawing conversations about theme and finished drawing.

Returning to the initial mood of alarm, all children have drawing as a potential but how many homes with preschool children have “daily draw” routines? Should parents be alarmed?  Should PACS be concerned? Should school systems become actively involved in promoting preschool drawing? Should advocates of democracy and civil government pay attention?

3) Kindergarten/primary: these are the years when most children get to draw but typically to facilitate emergent literacy. This is good, but no substitute for free drawing where the focus is on articulating personal perceptions, thoughts and feelings and the goal is making pictures that tell stories. It is also time to integrate drawing into the core curriculum in language arts, science, social studies and art.

K/Primary teachers recognize that spontaneous drawing is a language phenomenon and an aid to literacy. Should they ask themselves if a more broadly based agenda  would contribute more to the well being of their children? Should they examine the arts and crafts segment of their programs and consider making spontaneous drawing a core activity of all art projects? Might they conclude that many ‘crafty’ time-fillers  are indeed counterproductive to language?  Should all art be language, devoted to expressing and giving form to meaningful and heartfelt subject matter?

4) In the intermediate years and beyond, free drawing time is still very much a worthwhile activity and every opportunity should be taken to integrate illustration into Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Art when learning is enhanced.

To insure that older children get the psychological benefits of spontaneous drawing should there be scheduled opportunities for free drawing built into the week’s intermediate timetable and beyond? Are these the years when introducing art history, aesthetics, and the sociology of art would be advantageous?