Wednesday, 26 February 2020

2020 schedule Grind Writers Group

Grind Writers Group
2020 dates

Please email grindwriters at gmail dot com
before attending the first time for details of location, times, etc.


Jan 18
June 06
Feb 1
June 20 LRC
Feb 15
July 4
Feb 29
July 25
Mar 14  LRC
Aug 15
Mar 28
Aug 29
Apr 18
Sept 12
Apr 25
Oct 3
May 9  LRC
Oct 24
Nov 7
May 23
Nov 21

Dec 5 LRC
***Note: Please check your email the night before/ morning of (especially during winter) for any cancellations.




















Friday, 31 January 2020

DrawBridge: Appreciating Joan Boxall's book

A BOOK APPRECIATION   by Margo Lamont


Drawing Alongside My Brother’s Schizophrenia 

Caitlin Press, 2019
by Joan Boxal
l


What an interesting book about a poignant journey which also acts as a memorial to a once long-lost sibling.


Joan Boxall documents her quest to connect with her brother, painter Stephen Corcoran, from whom she and her several siblings have been pretty much estranged for many years due to a combination of mental health issues, family dynamics, time, space, circumstances, times of life, and all the things that converge and roil to create this sort of breakage amongst family. 

I related to this book because of efforts I made to connect with my brother through his blindness and severe developmental disabilities. Only time did I ever feel it happened, that we really connected—once when I was playing my djemb√© for him. Joan in this book documents how she tried and tried and tried to connect to her brother and his art, to enhance her brother’s life—and sometimes succeeds. "I learn and imitate from other artists, but mostly from Steve, who is one of only a few using pastel sticks. It takes me back to hop-scotch patterns drawn on sidewaks..."
It’s not easy.
"Schizophrenia had already done its worst, confounding Steve with voices, hallucinations and delusions.   
At fifty-five, Steve was in a burn-out phase of schizophrenia with a hunger for creativity. Joan's efforts to connect with him through art soon become the vehicle of change."   
-- Caitlin Press writeup.

DrawBridge is a daisychain of word associations as Joan brings in skeins of Steve’s history, art history, and the ups & downs of the bonding journey they went on together, she ever hopeful.  
One of Stephen Corcoran's paintings
Coming to terms with a sibling’s mental health issues and with their death—with so many unanswered questions, with being stuck in the land of suppositions and goodwill—is not without its times of grief. In Joan’s quest, while Steve was alive, she tries to translate Steve’s world into hers.
Joan, kayaking


Joan’s is a world of physical movement, of the intellect and curiosity (she is a retired teacher). Steve seems to view the world, and perhaps to try and explain his to us—through paint, through colour and collage, through the intensity of his brush meeting that canvass.

Joan with cycling friends
 Joan makes a valiant attempt to bring Steve into her mainstream and it may not be unfair to say he resists her quite a lot of the way. But at some point they find their way as siblings who want to love each other, on their own and each other’s terms. They play bocce together: "The bending of rules evolves in how we relax ourselves and the rules as we go" and that also seems to apply, over time and to a degree, to the rules between them. 


"I don't like people," he says one day afer the art session ends. 
I've heard him say this before. I am hoping the reason he tells me is that I am becoming the exception. (from DrawBridge) 

Joan Boxall
Especially for those people who are dealing with this kind of situation—trying to develop bridges as Joan does—this will be a rewarding read. DrawBridge also has pictures of  some of the paintings Steve did, some of which a writing group Joan and I belonged to, wrote to, using Steve’s paintings as writing prompts.

This book has so much heart, and hope, and soul in it. Many of you will recognize the journey.

______________

Transparency: Thanks to Joan for the mention of The Grind Writers Group and of me in the book and in the Acknowledgements.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

*Every*thing is a writing prompt

Absolutely anything can work as a writing prompt.

Grind Writer, Malcolm van Delst
(DoThe Wrong Thing) proved this at our last meeting. 
In a box of writing prompts she found an old bottle of Beaver® brand sweet hot mustard full of sand. It was a jury-rigged thing I had made to weigh down the bottle which in turn held a sign at the writing table, and it got left in the prompts box.

Intrigued by this anomalous 3D object, she chose it as a writing prompt. And look what she created out of that! It goes to show that when you allow yourself to just write, when you let your mind free-wheel and say its piece through your pen, you always come up with creative stuff.

If you want to hear this piece below in her voice, watch this video of Malcolm reading at her Do The Wrong Thing book launch first.

____________________

Cat Litter in a Beaver Brand Sweet Hot Mustard/Moutard Sucree Forte Bottle, Gold Medal Winner, 360 ml
A free-wheeling free-write by Malcolm van Delst
All right, it’s poem time! Poem, pome, mome. Mome-me. I can bring my mother into anything.
All right, it’s poem time! Let’s get rid of her—the Mother, I mean—or, I don’t mean—literally, I mean—Jesus Christ, can you not bring her into something just this once?
She didn’t like mustard or cats. She holds more than 360 ml of anything. She IS red and yellow—oh, damn, look—I said I wasn’t going to bring her into this and here she is: The Mother. All Hail the Red and Yellow Mother!
Gold. Medal. Winner. Every mother is a Gold Medal Winner, it’s baked into the role. To every child, their mother is the absolute best, the center, the beginning the life force the giver the taker the One and Only.
Yeah, it’s happening: Mom took this over. Whatever, Ma, you can have me. You got me. You ol’ goat.

                                                     
There. I insulted her and now, a short reprieve, reader, which I’ve indicated with a double space.
Gold. Medal. Winner. Ma. Mom. Monster. That movie starring Charlize Theron. There’s a mother if ever there was one! “Mother.” In the sense of “heavy,” “large,” “deserving of respect,” even if not love or admiration. Respect for the audacity and evil. What kind of mother makes a mother like Elaine W—I’ll have to look up her name afterwards, the real woman Charlize’s character is based on in the movie, Monster?
There are ways to win medals—scratch that—there are ways to win fame that aren’t based on being liked. Take this cat litter in the mustard bottle. Weird, singular—what if the person who made this bottle left the remaining mustard in before pouring in the litter? That would add to the je ne sais quoi.
What if a monster mother was thrown into this bottle, where she couldn’t mother monster, monster mother? Bottled. Jailed—that would be it: what we do to our criminals.
I like to think of a tiny monster mother bottled in the Beaver Brand Sweet Hot Mustard bottle with the “Gold Medal Winner” sash on the bottom. I bet the monster mother would like that, too. The sash, I mean, she wouldn’t like being bottled, though really, that she is: bottled up—all that hate, anger and anguish with nowhere to go, exploding. Like yellow mustard in a bottle on a hot window ledge in the sun.
____________________

©2019 Malcolm van Delst




Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Interactive Writing from WriteOn Vancouver, The Grind Writers


Grind Writer Elizabeth McLean holding up
the cover of  Swallows Uncaged,
her book of historical fiction.
The Grind Writers Group was invited to host a table at an a daylong writing and publishing event, WriteOn Vancouver, produced by the Vancouver Public Library at their iconic downtown location on May 11th

We accepted and everybody pitched in to copy handouts (Margo, Glenn, Lorna); Glenn made a sign which was vital because otherwise we would have been invisible in that lofty-ceilinged Promenade. And numerous Grind Writers manned our table and participated in a Pop-up Writing Group that we hosted that day ... Beth Brooks who got the interactive Poetry and Story rolls rolling ... Glenn Mori who made our sign and copied handouts and donated the Web-press paper rolls ... Lorna Blake... Carol Flynn... Isabella Mori (A Bagful of Haiku: 87 Imperfections)... Gillian Krantz... Karen Shauber... Malcolm van Delst (Do The Wrong Thing)... Elizabeth McLean (Swallows Uncaged); and Mark Plimley -- all of whom who either manned the table, participated in our pop-up writing group at the event, or both.

The Promenade at the central branch
of the Vancouver Public Library downtown
l to r: Isabella, Carol; Lorna standing.

We originally proposed holding our writing group meeting at the WriteOn Vancouver table so people unfamiliar with how a writing group goes could watch us, or join in and write with us. Because of space issues on the Promenade and the fact that we’d have needed 12 chairs at least, the Library proposed that we host a Pop-up Writing Group instead. They’d provide us the room with tables and chairs, pens and paper, and we would provide the prompts. So that was our other interactive activity, along with the table and the two collaborative-writing rolls. 

Round Robin writing can be quite fun. You never know what’s going to happen—whether the collective output will be inane or profound.


ROLL ON: COLLABORATIVE WRITING
Grind Writer Lorna Blake and the
interactive Story and Poetry rolls.

The paper looped over the table, and people could add to the story in different coloured felt pens. 

We decided to use that venerable and well-loved story opener It was a dark and stormy night as the prompt. Here’s what people going by stopped and wrote:

It was a dark and stormy night
and the leaves on the tree branches were shielding me from the cold wind (Anastasia)
Two hawks flew out of their nets ad screetched: Danger!!!
“Danger?!” a mocking voice cackled from the rose bushes
A crowd had gathered at the meeting place, nervously fidgeting in silence.
As is customary in such scenes, nothing happened, until it did. No one expected… a 6 foot tall crow! A talking crow. A sarcastic crow. “I have loved you all my life,” cawed the crow. “Give me warm. Give me soft.”
The crowd roared, its collective sound very much  resembling the squawks of a murder of crows….
“Murder?!” said the head crow. “I have some details……..”
“It is three days from now, the aliens from the ‘Egoland’ are visiting here.”
“You’re losing it, ma. Back to Earth. We’ve enough problems without that kind of company…”
So of he went, back to where he came from, but more humble.

_____________________
 
THE POETRY ROLL
The prompt was Like wigs that birds live in. If that seems a bit obscure, it is. Talking with Beth Brooks one day I used the phrase (in another context, about how complicated some things are) and she said, “There’s the prompt.” So we went with it. It seemed mysterious enough to launch poetic images. Maybe.

Like wigs that birds live in
my hair also carries the blossoms of life  (Anastasia)
These blossoms give birth to the next life  (Harinder)
The next life… will it be my last?
If it is, what do you plan to do with it?  (Gillian)
Eat chocolate, drink wine, and dance  (Bonnie)
Libraries—the people’s university!!
Truly liberating
Liberating like the energizing warmth of the May sun  (Janna)
Digging … surfacing the depth of emotions
Plumbing our feelings and reactions, hoping somehow,
some way, to make sense of
the incomprehensible 
(Margo)
The bang was given
The Trudeau was forgiven
We all hope health will
Be intro------ (?)
Spring by Hongyun Chen
Spring can never go far
The earth and the sun
are in a lifetime of courtship
The entanglement of one warm gaze
is enough to all over again
trap the heart.

_____________________




THE FREE-WRITE CHALLENGE
Our third interactive activity at our WriteOn Vancouver table was issuing a Free-write Challenge to attendees. Depending on the kind of event, you can get a big response to this, or a little. In this case, not too many people wanted to go off and do a 10-minute timed free-write to a prompt we provided. But we are grateful for those who did. Even in this small sample, genres ranged from poetry to sci-fi, social essay, existential prose-poetry.

 _____________________

Free-write 
A blade of grass with dewdrops on it.  – Dr. Idrenne Lim Alparaque
_____________________
Free-write 

Those green people? Are you shitting me?! I mean they’re a few scales and a tail away from literally being lizard-people! Don’t you guys read sci-fi? you really think all of sci-fi is made up? no, don’t give me that look! I saw that flying saucer with my own eyes. I saw that secret meeting of those so-called benevolent green-see-ers.

They see more than they want you to think, for sure. But surely they ain’t benevolent. I don’t believe a word they say. Curing addiction? Cleaning up tent-cities? 

Please. 

I’m sure they’re up to no good. I don’t know where they’re taking all those poor people. Maybe they’re harvesting them. And you know what?--when they run out of those, you and I are next. ’Cause they can never get enough. Look!--there’s more and more of them each week! They’re up in very corner! Where are all of these freaky monsters coming from? Where have they been all this time? Oh, don’t tell me you actually believe their stories of rebirth and being visited by the Great Green-Seer. These people are not of this Earth.

I don’t remember any of their faces. I mean, come on, this is a small town! It’s not like there are so many strangers. How come none of us, or no-one we know has ever had a visit from this Green-Seer dude?

You wanna keep waiting? Or you wanna give yourself up like these poor folks? None have come back yet, you know. this whole green-hub mumbo-jumbo is a sham. They’ve started with them ’cause no-one’s gonna care I they go missing. No-one’s gonna get worried, start asking questions. Well, I’m afraid, if we don’t start asking questions now, soon it’ll be too late. – Kasra Hassani
_____________________

Free-write
 
Upside down… and mirrored.
Is it real? What is reality? Maybe that’s too much to think about. Just take a look and let the light bounce off of the water, the trees, the moss growing in the shade.
Take it all in without a thought of doubt.
Do you feel it? This moment is real.   –Luyi Wang

_____________________

Free-write
Prompt: write a story or poem about someone struggling with insomnia.

White Nights
Rain and wind
Outside the window
In my heart
Sleepless nights
Nuits blanches
What will I be
tomorrow?
Doors closed
Eyes shut
Soul’s a desert
Waiting for another soul
to come in
Et maintenant
Nuits Blanches.  – Minh Karlsson

 _____________________

Free-write


Feelings are the sort of thing that keeps an economy moving. Without feelings it would be utterly impossible for CocaCola® to market their fizzy drinks to teenagers by handing out free pops outside high school back doors on a hot summer day when good-looking groups of teenagers hanging by. Unbeknownst to the potential customers, as soon as the get hooked on it, as soon as they associate a hot summer day with the pleasure of a gulp of a can of ice-cold Coke®, then they will forever be loyal customers to the Soda Empire.

Without the feeling of fear and uncertainty, home security system companies would not be able to scare single women with the possibility of being attacked by a stranger, by their ex, by the coworker who flirted with them at work, so as to sell them security cameras and charge a hefty subscription fee.

Feelngs are what makes the economy go around. Without the feeling of the need to be loved, admired, and recognized, why would be need social networks and why would we be constantly checking our phones? We check our iPhones®, and realize that no-one has called, messaged, posted to our Facebook wall, the feeling of emptiness and anxiety is unbearable. That’s what’s driving the social networking and smartphone market.  – Jon

_____________________


The free-write rules --Set a timer for 10 minutes.

--Start writing as soon as you’ve read the prompt; don’t overthink.

--Don’t lift your pen from the paper (or fingers from the keyboard) for the 10 minutes. 

-- Just keep writing whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly or irrelevant it might sound to you; and

--No editing while you write.

--Repeat every day, develop a writing practice. You can find writing prompts elsewhere in this blog.

Monday, 22 April 2019

The Grind Writers on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/groups/819686218123471/

Updated meetings schedule


Please email grindwriters at gmail.com 

before you attend for the first time.



Grind Writers Dates 2019
·  Sun Apr 28
Elizabeth McLean: "She's Terrible, and I Love Her:  'Unlikable' Female Characters."
·Sun July 21
·Sun Aug 11  
·Sun Aug 25
·  Sun May 5  date changed to:
·Sun Sept 08
·  Sat May 11
We’re at WriteOn Vancouver Fest,  VPL downtown 11-4
·Sun Sept 22
·Sun Oct 06
·  Sun May 26       
·Sun Oct 20
·  Sun June 09
Susan L Greig, Journal Lady  
·Sun Nov 03  DST ends
·  Sun June 23
Karen Schauber - "The Marvels of Flash Fiction"
·Sun Nov 17
·  Sun July 7
Elizabeth McLean: “Interiority in Fiction - How to balance internal narrative with action
 
·Sun Dec 01
·Sun Dec 15, 2019