It’s been a weird few weeks, to be honest.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit close to home recently, and municipal officials here have advised people to not leave the house unless absolutely necessary. It’s been really disheartening to see the number of workers, business owners, and artists who have been facing financial hardships, on top of all the people rightly worrying about their health and that of their loved ones.
I must admit I’ve been getting a bit of cabin fever as I hole up in my apartment. Many kudos to my friend Kristian for suggesting a Discord write-in to alleviate the isolation. It’s also been nice to see the ways people are going out of their way to share art, advice, and camaraderie to help each other through the quarantine period.
Wishing everyone health, safety, and security, and here’s hoping this crisis is resolved as soon as possible.
Anyways, this is my latest blog.
As usual, I’ve included some of my recent writings, including a newly published poem and a handful of reviews, as well as a feature on the JUNO Awards, which were sadly cancelled last week.
Further down, I’ve also shared some new music reading recommendations, including a timely article, some jaw-dropping poems, a few pieces of freaky horror fiction, and a comic series I can’t stop thinking about.
Stick around ’til the end for some cat photos.
Adventures in Writing: Omens and Muses
On Friday the 13th (a strange day, for many reasons) our office got a visit from this fellow. Some would call it a bad omen, but I’m not superstitious about that sort of thing. Personally, I never complain about a visit from a crow.
After work, I went home and wrote a flash story about a bureaucrat who evacuates her office after an ominous warning from a bird. With an invisible threat interrupting the workday, it probably drew more from the current situation than intended.
The following Monday, I wrote a poem called “Shut-in.” Guess what inspired that one.
Some new poems and stories recently released into the world…
Acceptance – “Home Inspection,” “Insect-toothed Woman,” and [REDACTED]
My drabble “Home Inspection” was recently accepted into Trembling With Fear and will be up at Horror Tree in the near future.
And on Friday, I found out that my witch poem “Insect-toothed Woman” was accepted into Cauldron Anthology‘s forthcoming issue. This is one of my favourite poems that I’ve ever written – I’ve been trying to find a home for it forever, and I’m so excited to finally share it.
I also recently received another acceptance that I’m very excited about but can’t talk about right yet.
New Poem – “Seaside Resort”
An apocalyptic poem of mine is in this month’s issue of Bywords, alongside Reid Cooper’s quite topical “Inside Job” and Victoria Mbabazi’s “PLAY REWIND FAST FORWARD.”
Read it here.
Available Now: These Poems Are Not What They Seem
APEP Publications’s Twin Peaks-themed poetry anthology These Poems Are Not What They Seem came out earlier this month.
Edited by Kristin Garth and Justin Karcher, it features my Agent Cooper-morphing-into-Bob poem “Interupted Log” alongside work by some really rad writers. You can listen to some of the featured poets read their work on the February episode of Performance Anxiety:
You can purchase a copy here.
The 2020 JUNO Awards Have Been Cancelled – So Check Out Some Canadian Music [aborted JUNOs profile]
I spent the weeks leading up to the JUNO Awards attempting to listen to every nominated album in most of the nominated categories – which may have been ambitious, as there are (by my count) 42 categories, each with 5 nominees. Anyways, I got through 9 or 10 of those categories before the 2020 awards were cancelled just a few days before the ceremony.
While this was a wise decision for public health, it was also a huge blow to a lot of Canadian musicians who rely on the music awards for exposure. (This is far from the only issue facing Canadian artists during the pandemic – check out this heartbreaking article by Adam Feibel about the bands who’ve been forced to cancel whole tours).
As Feibel writes in his piece, now would be a very good time to buy some merch or some music from an up-and-coming artist.
In that spirit, I wrote a rundown of the 2020 JUNO nominees in the Rock, Alternative, Adult Alternative, Metal/Hard Music, Indigenous Artist or Group, Country, Contemporary Roots, Traditional Roots, Blues, and Pop categories, with a YouTube link to one song from each nominee. You can read it here, and if you like these tunes as much as I did, feel free to share them and give the artists a signal boost.
Fred Penner @ Algonquin Commons Theatre [review]
With bands cancelling tours left and right and venues closing their doors, this was probably the last show I will be seeing for a while.
Beloved children’s songwriter Fred Penner entertained a crowd of kids (and a handful of nostalgic millennials) at Algonquin Commons Theatre last month.
From my review:
“Forty years after the release of his debut, Penner’s whimsy and wordplay still charms. Onstage for over an hour, he held the audience’s attention with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a collection of shanties about sandwiches, lonely bumps, rude goblins, and a menagerie of delightful animals. The understated animations that accompanied the music had an earthy, storybook quality”
The Colour Out Of Space [review]
My favourite movie of the year so far is Richard Stanley’s H.P. Lovecraft adaptation The Colour Out Of Space.
From my review:
“The film is a phantasmagorical delight, with kaleidoscopic visuals, oddball dialogue, and quirky humour off-setting the existential dread of the premise. (The majority of Lovecraft’s works are overwhelmingly grim; a film adaptation without a sense of humour would surely collapse under its own self-seriousness).”
Fans of Mandy will really dig this one.
New Music Round-Up
Some new tunes for your listening pleasure…
Lamb of God – “Memento Mori”
This new track from the Virginia groove metal greats starts out on an ominous note, with a gloomy Manson-esque intro giving way to a frantic race to destruction.
The video’s really cool as well – it’s like a mini horror movie.
The Killers – “Caution”
On the opposite side of the musical spectrum is The Killers’s latest track.
With sunny power-pop arrangements, wistful lyrics, and Broadway-worthy vocals, it’s the band at their best.
Hayley Williams – “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris”
New Haley Williams song! Hooray!
Looking forward to hearing the rest of this album.
Some Reading Recommendations
What I’ve been reading lately…
Adam Feibel – “Here’s How Hard Canadian Musicians Will Be Hit by COVID-19 — and How Fans Can Help” (Exclaim!)
I know I linked to this article earlier in the blog, but that’s because you should really give it a look. Very topical with some practical advice on how you can help struggling musicians weather this storm.
Read it at Exclaim!
Orrin Grey – “No Exit” (Nightmare Magazine)
A student investigates the ritual murder of her sister in this excellent occult horror story.
Read it at Nightmare Magazine.
Stuart M. Buck – “rejection letter to the crow that just flew into my bedroom window”
This poem, shared on Twitter by Stuart Buck, is brilliant and I love everything about it. (I’ve definitely received similar letters).
Read it here:
‘Pemi Aguda – “Things Boys Do” (Nightmare Magazine)
Long-ago sins haunt a trio of new fathers in this sinister tale of revenge.
Read it at Nightmare Magazine.
Michael Robbins – Alien Vs. Predator (Penguin Books)
I stumbled upon Michael Robbins’s collection Alien Vs. Predator in a used book store, back when used book stores were still open.
I’ll admit I’d never read or heard of his work before, but after skimming the pages I was intrigued and decided to pick it up. (I’m a sucker for pop culture references).
The book ended up being one of the most wonderfully fun reads I’ve encountered in a while – delightfully bizarre and startling. The last line in “Hold Steady” actually made me laugh out loud.
You can find a copy here.
Read the title poem in the New York Times.
Kelli Simpson – “With Fire Sauce” (Taco Bell Quarterly)
Striking imagery and an explosive plot twist, all packed into one very short poem.
Read it at Taco Bell Quarterly.
Alex Grecian & Riley Rossmo – Rasputin (Image Comics)
Mixing alternate history with mysticism and a touch of horror, Image Comics’s The Road to the Winter Palace (and its sequel The Road to the White House) is everything you could ever want in a Rasputin comic. Writer Alex Grecian avoids the usual cliched takes on the character, crafting a Rasputin who’s both haunted (literally) and genuinely mysterious. Riley Rossmo’s art is gorgeous and suitably bleak. Fans of the Hellboy comics or Dynamite’s Re-Animator will enjoy these; I only wish it were a longer series.
Miggy Angel – “The Funeral”
Miggy Angel performed his poem “The Funeral” as part of an initiative to put more poetry into the world during these dark times. It’s great – gripping right to the last line.
Stay safe, everybody.
P.S. This cat manages a bookstore in Ottawa.