Posted By Sandra Alland


Well, thank you Canada for the week of gorgeous summer weather! And thanks to all the beautiful friends who came to my gigs and hung out with me in the sunshine in Kensington Market or Lawrence & Orton Park. It's been nice to be warm (even when it 's cold, you Canadians have this great idea of *heating* your homes!) and to have my clothes dried in a dryer, oh my.

Some things I've loved since being here:

1. Dead Cars in Managua by Stuart Ross. A beautiful collection of poems by one of Canada's best writers. It's also one of his most personal collections... and there are pictures!

2. Cusp of Chaos by ryli skelton. Skelton's latest chapbook of poems... he's a supertalented up and coming writer who mixes humour and loss in divine ways. And he has a delicious touch of weirdness. Get it at This Ain't the Rosedale Library.

3. Shameless Magazine. Shameless is always yummy, and the new publisher and editor are doing a great job. I especially dug publisher Stacey Mae Fowles' piece on self-harm.

4. Mutant Superpowers and Lithium Pills: Bipolar Adventure Stories. I picked this zine up at Toronto Women's Bookstore. It's by Sascha Scatter of The Icarus Project, and is an engrossing account of personal thoughts on mental health, creativity and the medical system. Also superb details about community activism and peer support.

5. Auk/Blood by Tagaq. I have to give Tagaq's latest CD a few more listens for a final verdict. But of course she is brilliant. Listening to her can never be casual (which makes it a bit hard to throw into a party shuffle!) but if you have time to sit down and really listen, this CD is gorgeous, like going to a trippy opera. Tagaq often works with a dj, and has quite a lot of different and wondrous fusions going on. The only stuff I'm really not crazy about are her collaborations with Buck 65. It feels like she's just backup for his tracks, which doesn't do her justice. Also I find Buck 65's rhymes rather simple and cliche.

I want to talk about the gigs I read at, cuz everyone was so grand, but I will save that for another post, so I can add pictures. Okay? I'll miss you Canadialand.

As for the rest of you, I'll see you on the other side of the pond soon.



Posted By Sandra Alland

"It got to the point where it became logical: If a woman was fiercely intelligent, outspoken and passionate, I'd look towards her arms for the scars. They were almost always there."

- Sabrina Chapadjiev, editor of Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction (Seven Stories Press)

Wow. Live Through This is an intense and wonderful new collection of personal essays, graphic stories and photos by some of the most amazing women artists in the United States. About how they survive pain and trauma, and if self-destruction is tied to their creativity.

It's star-studded. Patricia Smith writes about her father's murder and its connection to her poetry, bell hooks writes about the effects of trauma, and photographer Nan Goldin contributes some stunning and disturbing self-portraits.On the slightly lighter side of things, Eileen Myles writes about the importance of flossing, and Diane DiMassa draws the birth of her career as creator of the comic heroine Hothead Paisan:Homocidal Lesbian Terrorist (her psychiatrist annoyed her into it).

Some of the slightly less-famous artists contribute the strongest pieces in the collection - visual artist Fly writes beautifully about art-journalling and manic-depression, and poet Daphne Gottlieb eloquently describes her fear that treating her debilitating depression and suicidal tendencies will also take away her creativity.

I was also especially taken with the pieces on cutting and self-harm. Kate Bornstein describes cutting and anorexia as survival mechanisms for a gender misfit in a gender-obsessed society, and Inga Muscio tells how she cut herself with broken bottles and burned herself for a year in order to grieve her brother's death. What I love about both these pieces is that the writers refuse to pathologize self-harm. They also remove it from its inferred ties to suicide, and place it more in the context of coping, of being in control of one's own pain, of choosing to live.

"Cutting, starving yourself, drugging, drinking...these are all rituals some of us develop in order to deal with pain.Each of these solutions to pain is in itself painful, so each solution/ritual contains a very personal lesson on how to handle the experience of pain. Pain itself is nothing scary. It's the surprise of pain -- the helplessness in the face of some pain -- that can debilitate people... Am I advocating self-inflicted pain? Yeah. Yeah I am.Yes it can get out of hand...but any ritual can get out of hand."

- Kate Bornstein

"I have read a lot about cutters -- psychological assessments and whatnot -- and none of it ever resonates with my experience. When my brother died I projectile-vomited screams, but it was not acceptable for me to do that every day for a couple years.There was no space to grieve, so I found a quiet way in a very personal space...I don't really like to write about this subject because I am supposed to have the moral responsibility to offer a cautionary tale, and I can't do that.The slash n burn time of my life served me well, though it was costly."

- Inga Muscio

In other news, Edinburgh arts afficionado Michelle Kasprzak has a pretty cool blog, the September 3rd one on prison (especially women in prison) is particularly interesting.

Off to live through another day.






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