Posted By Sandra Alland

"In 1994, there were 125 women's bookstores worldwide. Now there are 21." - Quill & Quire, December 2009

And soon there will be 20, unless the wonderful Toronto Women's Bookstore manages to raise $40 000. Please go here to donate.

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

I'm watching a show about how chronic disease is way higher in deprived communities. A major study about Scotland shows that huge socioeconomic changes since the 1950s are responsible for Scotland having the highest rate of heart disease in Western Europe. It seems that hopelessness, stress and poverty are more important factors in bad health than beer, smoking and deep fried crap. This show is depressing me. Scotland depresses me. Speaking of colonial fallout, I'm feeling quite homesick, or maybe just sick of "Great" Britain.

Partially because of reading The English Stories by Cynthia Flood. It's a fantastic collection of linked stories about an 11-year-old Canadian named Amanda who is uprooted and sent to a girls' school in 1950s England. Though the book is not set in Canada, Flood evokes Canada in a beautiful yet unsentimental way.

Flood examines the devastation of colonialism in a complex manner, subtly and brilliantly creating links between England's subjugation of Canada, Ireland and Nigeria. Amanda's chosen connection with Canada's First Nations (despite her own parents' racism and indifference) adds another lush layer to this quiet yet persistent background music. Flood also avoids the potentially bad Canadian cliche of the coming-of-age story by switching the focus of several stories from the little girl to other characters in the narrative. This creates a depth and complexity that the story would otherwise lack. One of the most exquisite parts is when we switch to the point of view of an Irish man who sometimes teaches at the school; we see his struggle between English and Irish identity, and the racism he both experiences and inflicts. In places the book is heartbreaking; Flood creeps up on you in unexpected ways. Special thanks to the lovely Hungry Girl, who put this book into my hands. xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

The blatantly fascist/racist British Nationalist Party's website currently describes the Copenhagen Summit as an "anti-white guilt hatefest which will see billions more taxpayers' cash poured into the Third World." When will Britian do something about the BNP?

In other news, Borders is closing its doors in Glasgow. In the Metro "news", there were reports of campaigns to keep it open. The quotes were as follows: "I met my wifey at the Starbucks in Borders." "I like watching people passing from the window." and "I enjoyed wandering around." No one mentioned books or magazines. I guess that explains why these "protesters" weren't around to protest the closing of independent bookshops...

I do have to admit that I'm slightly sad to see Borders close, only because it's one of the very, very, very few places in Scotland where you can get at least a minimum selection of independent arts, feminist and LGBT magazines and journals. Waterstones, for example, do not sell a single magazine or journal. This is very scary. And I don't know of one good independent bookshop in Glasgow or Edinburgh that specialises in new books and magazines on a wide variety of topics.

Speaking of the death of books and book culture, have you heard of Google Books? Google Books freaked me out a while back when I read they were scanning billions of books to put online without permission. Now it seems there's a class-action suit against them for copyright infringement, which they deny and yet are agreeing to a settlement about.

It's all very confusing for a poet but it seems that I can get the whopping sum of 30 quid for each of my published books that was stolen by Google. From now on I can also supposedly get payments if people request full views of my books (currently the views are partial yet extensive) or click on advertisements for new cars or breath mints next to my books. I can also decide how much of the work and what sections people can view. Finally I have the option to delete my books from their database, but with the threat that they will not be rescanned in the future should I change my mind (e.g. because Google owns the whole world and it's the only way to read anything.)

My first instinct is to have my books deleted, yet I'm a bit confused. Look here and tell me your thoughts if you're so inspired www.googlebooksettlement.com/

In still other news, Noisy Nights was fantastic! Check out the next one in February. It's the Traverse Theatre's new music night, where they accept scores by new and established composers, then arrange a (usually somewhat bizarre) trio of professional musicians to play them live. I especially loved Robert Irvine on the saw and Judith Keaney on the toy piano. Zorras had a blast, and even sold some CDs, which was impressive to me in such a discerning crowd. Also fittingly the logo for Noisy Nights is a person with a megaphone, and the Traverse is currently showcasing Zorro.

Now back to bed with me. Haven't been feeling well.

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

A lot of things were stolen from me this summer, the least of which was my wallet. Strangely, it arrived in the post the other day (minus my credit cards and the small amount of money I had, of course). But thanks to the thief who left my driver's license and other important things behind... you're kinder than some.

Tomorrow is Cachin Cachan Cachunga! at The Street, 2 Picardy Place. Featuring Nine, Kristiane Taylor, Lily, Zorras and some serious and silly films about freedom of speech. More info here.

In other news, I read an article in the Observer about government research into racism in the UK -- the results are not very surprising, but it's good to see them published. When applying for jobs, people of Asian and African descent have to apply for almost twice as many jobs as their white British counterparts (even with the exact same British education and experience) before receiving an interview. I have to say I have found the racism here (coupled with nationalist fervour, whether British, English or Scottish) to be extremely virulent and very very disturbing... the things people say and do are disgusting.

In more positive news, there is an exciting new small press in our midst. It's called tree house press and has just released its first two publications, both of which are stellar. Snapshots of the Boy by Shaun Levin and the long-awaited Joshua Tales by Andra Simons are available from treehousepress.ukATgmail.com. Please check them out, they are gorgeous.

xo

 

 


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Cachín Cachán Cachunga! just keeps getting better and better! Last night both Stuart Crawfrod and Pat Cunningham had their debut performances, and both were stellar! Crawford's inspired Nick Cave-esque singing was accompanied by his excellent and creepy photos. Cunningham's poetry was accompanied by gorgeous drawings by Rabiya Choudhry. We were also treated to a new film by Anna Urbanowska and dance by Lily. Zorras performed two new poem/song-like entities, and people seemed to dig them. Yay for Cachín! More queer and trans poetry, music, dance, video and photography next month. Info here.

In other news, here's a Guardian article about the censorship of queer art at GoMA (and elsewhere...)

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Another indie bookstore gone, and in Toronto where there was the most hope... read about it here and here.

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Thanks to everyone who came to visit me at the Meadows Festival today, and to B and M for sharing their stall with me. Here are some pics... B presented the "smallest theatre ever" and it was crackin. If only all actors were so cooperative...


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Posted By Sandra Alland

In the midst of another rage-fest at the UK governmnent regarding ridiculous barriers set up for people with disabilities (it's time for me to "prove" I'm disabled yet again!), I have also fallen into a rage against the Belgian government and their fascist idenitiy cards and incompetency. European bureaucracy is unbearably ridiculous and ineffective, and a huge waste of money...

To combat all this anger, I will talk about some lovely art that has come my way recently...

1. Let The Right One In is a...um, gorgeous and moving, um... horror film? It's beautifully shot, and the young actors are incredible. By far the best "coming-of-age" film I've ever seen, as well as the best vampire film. Swedish filmmaker Tomas Alfredson is shockingly good. This is a film I want to own! (and due to pickiness and poverty I only own 4 films and some Wholphin DVDs.) See Let The Right One In at The Filmhouse in Edina.

2. Sophie Mayer's first book of poetry, Her Various Scalpels, is a juicy collection indeed. Mayer's imagery is densely beautiful, and even her poems about films feel deeply personal, drawing you in like an incantation. These are pieces I will return to often, always to find something new.

3. American translator Mark Schafer has finally published his ambitious anthology of Mexican poet and activist David Huerta's work, Before Saying Any of the Great Words. The collection is divine, featuring some very early poems by Huerta, as well as selections from his book-length poem, and a large amount of recent work. It's lushly designed, and has facing pages in Spanish and English. It's great to be able to watch an artist's progression in this way, especially one whose style has changed so much. Many thanks to Mark for dedicating himself to this translation at a time when we are seeing fewer and fewer translations...

4. Steven Smith, a local Edinburgh singer/songwriter, has released his first CD, and I dig it. Smith has a pretty but interesting voice, and isn't afraid to delve a wee bit into melodrama (slightly a la Antony and the Johnsons). He also throws in a fair amount of humour, which is always a plus for me.

5. Last, but definitely not least, Edinburgh's Shellsuit Massacre has released an EP that will knock your socks off.  This spoken word band is refreshingly political, especially about class issues  -- and funny, too. The EP comes with a wonderfully tactile booklet of poetry -- -interesting note: many pieces are made from found text. I especially dig "drug king bully" and "yi hoodies". Kudos to the designer, and to this weird and wiley duo of shit-disturbers.

xo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland

Last night's Cachín Cachán Cachunga was superstellarfantastico! Loads of people came, despite the rare summery weather. Gorgeous reading from Sophie Mayer, and crackin films from Evi Tsiligaridou and Karen Miranda Augustine. And Lily and Alejandro danced the roof off! Zorras ended up doing an extra late-night, totally unplugged set, which was really fun. And we sold all the Maricones we brought! (Contact me if you want one cuz there are only 50.) Thanks to everyone for coming out.

soph evi

Sophie Mayer                                                        Rab & Evi & Isi!

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Lily & Alejandro
unplugged

Zorras Unplugged

In other news, I also dig this beatboxer, Lasse Gjertsonwww.youtube.com/watch

xoxo


 
Posted By Sandra Alland
 

Tonight is the last Cachín Cachán Cachunga for a while, and should be a good one! Zorras are playing, and also launching Issue 2 of their zine-like-entity, Maricon. Hand-painted by Y. Josephine, and featuring poetry by Josephine and me. Only 50 in existence! 

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Also featuring poetry, dance and film art by Karen Miranda Augustine, Sophie Mayer, Evi Tsiligaridou, and Lily. The Street, 2 Picardy Place, 8:30pm. Only 2 pounds!

xo


 


 
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