#YQR axes funding to Literary orgs

It appears to the regina mom that the City of Regina would rather fill that new pie in the sky, outrageously overpriced, not yet built football stadium with ticket-buyers than fund events for writers in the Queen City.  The Vertigo Series, Coteau Books and the Saskatchewan Writers Guild will receive nothing, as it stands. From the member newsletter, eBriefs:

SWG NEWS

City of Regina Slashes Literary Funding

For many years the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild has successfully applied to the City of Regina for about $24,000 annually to assist with literary programming in Regina. This year, our funding request was denied in its entirety.

SWG is one of at least three literary organizations denied funding by the City of Regina grant program. Coteau Books and the Vertigo Reading Series have also been cut. The rationale provided for the cuts is that the SWG application “scored low in the area of community need.” We have been advised that SWG also scored low in the area of “financial need.”

Meanwhile, performance, film and music organizations that run festivals generating ticket sales have received more funding than in previous years.

The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild has a rich history of literary programming in Regina, some of which we have provided for over thirty years. We offer a wide array of free programming to writers and the public, raise literary awareness, raise writers’ profiles, and enrich the lives of hundreds of people, including key identified targets of youth and Aboriginal constituents.

A new application process that groups all disciplines and former community grants into one is partly responsible for the cuts. The literary arts and the community will suffer heavily in Regina this coming year.

As a result of these cuts, beginning August 1st or earlier, the following Guild programs will be affected and/or suspended:

·         City of Regina Writing Award (sponsored by the City for 32 years)

·         Words in the Park (3 years)

·         Writer-in-Residence at a Regina school (10+ years)

·         First Nations Reading series (5+ years)

·         Signature Reading series (15+ years in various editions)

·         Aboriginal Storytelling Month (2 years)

·         Aboriginal History Day/Month (4 Years)

·         Talking Fresh (11 years)

·         Regina Workshops (25+ years)

·         Apprentice Readings (15+ years)

·         Windscript Launch (4 years)

·         Playwrights Reading series (5+ years)

·         Historic Walking Tours (4 years)

Guild staff will be meeting with the City Community Consultant responsible for the grant programs on Tuesday next week to see if there are any options for alternate funding. We will inform you of the results shortly thereafter.

We encourage you to contact Regina City Council to voice your concerns about literary arts being cut from cultural funding, and to raise their awareness that the literary community is strong and viable, and this programming serves an important community need. You may email Regina City Councillors and/or Mayor Michael Fougere at the following link:

http://www.regina.ca/site/contact/contact-your-city-councillor/

trm has already let her Councillor, Shawn Fraser, know about this abomination.  He’s a good guy and has not heard about it but is looking into it.  However, it would be very useful for people “from away” to chime in and let Mayor Fougere know how they feel about the big #YQR #fail!

Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 2

Further to the regina mom‘s Notes from #CNFC2013 Part 1 here is part 2, detailing the session, “Ownership: Stories and Lies,” with Kate Braid and Tyler Trafford, moderated by Myrna Kostash at the 2013 Creative NonFiction Collective’s annual conference in Banff.

 

trm knew of Kate Braid’s work as a poet, having been introduced to her Georgia O’Keefe poems at the Sage Hill Writing Experience more than a decade ago.  She did not know that Kate Braid was also a nonfiction writer and so listened intently during the presentation about her latest nonfiction work, Journeywoman: Swinging a Hammer in a Man’s Worldtrm knows women who work in trades and technologies.  In fact, when she first became active in the women’s movement, she met many women involved in Saskatchewan Women In Trades and Technologies (SaskWITT), women who, like her, were part of the women’s coalition that came about during the end of the Devine years.

 

But back to Braid, who said that memoir writing is not the same as autobiography.  Rather, it tells part of a life.  She said she struggled with finding the stories that mattered and added to it as she went along.  Wisely, she had kept a detailed journal and was able to reference her notes.  Her first draft took more than 25 years to write and was over 1,200 pages!  Eventually, it was carved to a book, thanks to her editor who was able to see the narrative.

 

She said her intent was to be emotionally honest about her experience in the construction trade, about that time in her life, and found that the tense she chose to use, present tense, afforded her the best means of doing so.  The past tense tended to pull her away from the story.  She also said that a memoir’s success depends on the author showing what s/he has learned and referenced Myrna’s opening remarks about memory being like a computer.  “Memory is a backseat driver who wants control,” she said.  Truthtellers, of both emotional and literal truth, she added, are essential to credibility.

 

Her advice, which comes from Beat poet, Allen Ginsberg, is what the regina mom tries to do, that is to “write as though no one is ever going to read this.”  Easier said than done, but doable.  Still, Braid knew people would read her book and so she changed some people’s names to protect them.  She asked herself if names were essential to the story and, in instances where they were, she sent out chapters to those named and sought their feedback.  trm is thinking she may well have to do that with her Sask women’s movement essay, presuming it ever gets written, that is.

 

Braid spoke about her fear and how it stopped her from writing over and over again.  At one point she was paralyzed for years and it got even worse after she submitted the manuscript to her publisher!  But once she was able to figure out who she was writing the book for, the tradeswomen who went through what she went through, it was easier.  She decided she was providing a baseline of what it was like to be a woman working in the trades.  She knew the book wanted to be written, knew it had to be written.  She wrote various versions of it — scholarly, lighthearted, for example — and finally got it written.

 

trm can’t help but wonder about the women who, when she worked at the YWCA, were apprenticing in the trades and remodeling various locations in the building.  How many of them faced ridicule and insult once they completed their training?  How many even completed the training?  Certainly, working as part of an all-women crew would be very different from working as the only woman on a construction crew!  And trm bets they’d love to hear Braid read from her book, so she’s going to do what she can to get Kate Braid to Saskatchewan for a reading in the near future.

 

For all my sisters

the regina mom gives thanks this weekend for all the women who work to make this world a better place, be that in the world at large, in the home and community or within herself.

 

There’s a global war on women.

 

Even though we women make up 52 per cent of the global population and we own only one per cent of the land, we survive.

 

Even though climate change impacts women around the world more harshly (try gathering wood, food, water in a drought zone or flood zone every day), we survive.

 

Even though we earn 73 per cent the wages of men and are over-represented in part-time, low-pay jobs, and even though the world economies once counted us as chattel and told us our work was not work, we survive.

 

Even though cooking, cleaning and caregiving, the three Cs of women’s work, are worth between $234 and $374 billion in labour that remains unpaid, and even though we never received the national childcare program we were promised and yet we still find time to fill the gaps when governments offload services onto communities and families, we survive.

 

Even though, right here in Saskatchewan, one child in five — a full 20 per cent — live without adequate food, shelter and clothing, and even though more than 43,000 of our children live in poverty and 60 per cent of children living in households headed by a lone woman live in poverty, and children around the world continue to live in deep poverty, we survive.

 

Even though governments dismally fail to acknowledge our inequality, respect our issues — or even hear our voices — and instead, privatize economic decision-making, grant corporations more rights and less taxes, doctor documents, cut funding to programs, close doors to our organizations, oppose same sex marriages, peel back our reproductive rights, ignore our human rights, spurn and deride us, tell us to “go slowly,” that we’re “too radical” and dismiss us as “dumb bitches” or “Feminazis,” we survive.

 

Even though violence against us is epidemic the world over — we are assaulted emotionally, psychologically, physically, sexually — even though 50 per cent of us will experience violence to our person in our lifetime and we have sisters, daughters, grand-daughters who are treated as illegal goods to be trafficked and sold into sexual slavery, and even though we are stoned to death, gunned down, disappeared or murdered, we survive.

 

Even though we live our lives in the global war waged against us right here and right now, as it has for centuries — even though we die daily, we survive.

 

We survive because we are strong.

 

We are strong because we are one community. We are one community with a diverse population: women of colour, Indigenous, Métis women, who have immigrated, emigrated, who are refugees, who are urban, rural, peasant, homeless women, are mothers, grandmothers, child-free, who are sex workers, waged workers, volunteer workers, who are lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, are religious, atheist, agnostic, spiritual, women with disabilities, healing powers, visions, who are older, younger, middle-aged…

 

We survive because we are coming to know the power of diversity, to know our power as women. And we know that our time to wield power is at hand.  Watch us.

 

c. Bernadette Wagner

Just a Prochoice Poet Doing Her Thing

And more, perhaps.

As some of you may already know, the regina mom has taken to occasionally performing at the local slam poetry event in Regina, Word Up Wednesday.  This Wednesday, April 25, she will be there with new and old poems to share and be judged on.  She would love to see friends in the audience!

As well, watch this space — and others in the Canadian Progressive Voices blogosphere and beyond — for a blogburst on Motion 312, the motion put forward by a religious zealot in the House of Commons.  If passed M312 will re-open the abortion debate in Canada.

You can read more about the blogburst over at my friends’ place.

Starting today, all bloggers who support a woman’s right to choose can and should blog fiercely about this CONservative, regressive attack on women’s right to choose.

Rest assured, there will be many posts to read, covering many different angles on the issue — angles I hadn’t thought of before becoming active in the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada / Coalition pour le droit à l’avortement Canada and reading the multitude of materials available there.

If you haven’t already done so, please download, print and sign the petition in opposition to M312.  As signatures roll in the petition will be presented to the House of Commons by various prochoice Members of Parliament over the next while.  the regina mom managed to gather almost 20 signatures last night just by pulling it out of her purse!  Someone else did all the work getting her friends to sign.  Thanks for that, Karen!

And now I’m off to my sunshiny garden to contemplate what will be planted where this year.

Performance Tonight!

Vertigo Reading Series Posterthe regina mom is pumped for a performance at the Vertigo Reading Series tonight in Regina.  She’s edited this poem and will slip it into the mix because she has to try out the change and thinks it will fit into her love-themed, genre-hopping set list.

 

trm‘s favourite guitar guy will be on hand to accompany her on a performance piece, “Love Song for Emma Lake,” an earlier version of which you may have caught at the Regina Folk Festival or a Briarpatch Magazine fundraiser a few years ago.

 

It’ll be an eclectic mix of kidlit, poetry, performance and song.  See you there! 7:30 pm Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar, 1925 Victoria Ave.

Anti-violence work

I have been invited to be the guest speaker at the Moose Jaw Transition House event to commemorate The National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women. When I received the invite to this event I thought, Wow!  Yes! And then I thought, Why me? I’ve never used the services of a T-House or a shelter.  I’ve never been harmed, not really.moose jaw event poster

And then I stopped myself, because I realized that yes, I have been harmed.  I have been sexually abused and sexually assaulted and I have stories — poems — which relate to those experiences.  Yes, they’re embellished, but still, they speak truth, truths which hold true for many women, I’m sure.  We are victims of violence, yes.  And if we can live past the abuse and assault, we become survivors, too.  We can live rich and full lives.

And so, the focus of my talk will be on our survival and it will be a talk that is both personal and political, prosaic and poetic, as well as earthy and spiritual.  And who knows, I might even break into song!

I hope you can be there.

Here are the details:

A poetry reading and talk to commemorate
The National Day of Remembrance & Action on Violence Against Women
with Bernadette Wagner

5:30 PM, Monday, December 6
Public Library Theatre
Moose Jaw SK

Sponsored by Moose Jaw Transition House

Investing in the Future

The Regina Mom has just learned that she’s going here to work on her next book of poetry.  And so she needs to raise money–fast. As a result, she’s hosting a Sizzling Summer Salon and Silent Auction with writers, artists, and musicians of her acquaintance on Wednesday, July 14 at 7:30 p.m.

30 tickets are available and they’re $25 in advance, $30 at the door, providing there are some left by then. Note that a Paypal link will be in place by tomorrow.  Note also that any money raised over and above that necessary to attend the prestigious writing school will be used to buy the Regina Mom more writing time.

Here’s that Paypal link. The payment will go to hubby’s already established account and he’ll notify me.

The Book Is Here!

Some of you already know that I’m a poet as well as an activist.  My first book is now available.  This hot place cover image You should be able to find my collection of poetry, This hot place, at bookstores across Canada any day now.  I received my copies from  Thistledown Press a week and a half ago.

I begin a western Canadian tour in April with confirmed stops in Regina, Earl Grey, Prince Albert, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Gabriola, Calgary and Vancouver.  It’d be great if my activist, writing and family friends were able to make the events we’ve lined up.  The more the merrier, y’know?  Tour dates are here, at my book blog.

If your town is not listed just let me know and we’ll see what we can work out.  I ‘m open to sharing my work in a variety of places, from curling rinks to bookstores, art galleries to bars, living rooms to conference rooms — you name it!  I’ll try my best to work it into my schedule.

I’ll head east for a few gigs in Ontario and the Maritimes and then south, down the Pacific coast, after the USA release of the book sometime in September.

Hope to see you somewhere along the path!

Alice Walker on Encountering the Horror

From the Voices Education Project

Alice Walker is one of my favourite American poets and political activists. She is, I believe, a role model for all poets and all citizens of the world. In her recent essay, OVERCOMING SPEECHLESSNESS: A Poet Encounters “the horror” in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel,” she details the horrors of hatre,d and the amazing capacity of women to survive, with references to each of those locations, most particularly Gaza.

There is no hiding what Israel has done or what it does on a daily basis to protect and extend its power. It uses weapons that cut off limbs without bleeding; it drops bombs into people’s homes that never stop detonating in the bodies of anyone who is hit; it causes pollution so severe it is probable that Gaza may be uninhabitable for years to come, though Palestinians, having nowhere else to go, will have to live there.

She reminds us that Israel fed the South African Apartheid government a diet of arms and expertise,  but that regime fell thanks to worldwide pressure.  She encourages each of us to take action, to speak out, to make our voices heard so that we bring down the Israeli regime.

Belated Solstice Greetings

For you, dear readers, in celebration of the Winter Solstice:

From the vast void

She is born, a long, slow explosion of light.  Dark
specks sing through the eons
red and blue. A planet collects
songs and stories, gathers to spin
pretty around one star, learns
days from dust and liquids, heat and air,
breathes human life.  

			         Stardust, I am
alive and alone on this dark path, creating
					     space
safe to name truth,
overcome trouble, honour beauty
avoid denigration in a world consuming
itself in its frenzy for freedom from despair,
in a race lost to keeping up -- those Jones's
desperate to have it all, never arriving --
in a population swallowed, in a more-more campaign
for mutations processed, frozen, packaged
resold to tomorrow's consumers.

Ah, but our dreaming collective
finds small notes, sings big
bright stars of morning into lives,
rekindling joy in the return of light.

-- Bernadette L. Wagner

The season’s best to you and yours!

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