12/11/15

The end of 2015

My apologies for taking so long to post here, for the informality of this post and the length.

IFOA was a lot to take in. So was Like Water (the multi art project that we presented early October). After both experiences, I came to a number of realizations:

1/ I spent too much time promoting my last book in the GTA, and I should have booked more readings.
2/ If I am going to get an agent, I need to pitch a novel that shows my potential as a best-selling author. The prose that I've been writing is more mid-label than best selling.
3/Our first presentation of Like Water confirmed that we have something, but we need to polish our work.

Solutions?

1/ I've booked a reading in Ottawa in May (trying to find a spot in Montreal as we speak).  I have a reading in Brantford in September. I've also sent copies of my last book out West with hopes to get into two or three writers/poetry festivals in Western Canada. So far, I have 5 readings booked (4 confirmed) with the aim of 20 readings for this next book. I might of read 10 times for Bending. The furthest out I went to promote the book was Oshawa.

2/ I've decided to pitch my current novel to smaller presses along with my novella. Who knows, maybe I hit it  off with a publisher and never have to get an agent, but, after I find homes for these two books the plan is to write two more commercial works. I've already started story-boarding both.

3/ The past month has been filled with me contacting funding organizations to figure out what grants will work to get Like Water on an appropriate stage. And also researching funding options. My collaborators and I have come up with a name for our collective and we're looking to book gigs.

To be honest, reading at IFOA made me feel a bit like a fraud. I didn't feel like I belonged. But, I'm not going to stop writing. That's not a reason to. All that I can do to insure that my name is worthy to be mentioned alongside the authors that I met there, is to work doubly hard and earn a spot to feel like I belong.

That's it. If I don't feel worthy of the attention that I'm getting, I will become a person worthy of it. That simple.

My resolution for this year was to be happy by the end of it. Not sure if I'm going to make it. I have some amazing friends who I'm collaborating with creatively. Many who I never knew before this year. I reached a point of prestige as a writer, being invited to IFOA -- which would have been a great ending point to my writing career if it was a younger version of myself.

But, I'm a hopeless romantic who wishes I had someone to share these moments with. I'm still broke as hell. The fears I have of what happens if I fail are real. If any of the books, manuscripts, or projects I'm working on fail will I have to reset? Can I still write if I have to move somewhere and get a real job? There's a lot of weight on next year. I guess that's the yin and yang of things. My goal was never bliss, but I guess I'm still on that journey.

The other thing I did since my last post, was add the finishing touches to A Mingus Lullaby. I had them change the layout to something simple, edited the back cover text, and challenged editorial changes to punctuation marks. If it was someone else's book I would have enjoyed the minutia of fighting for layout and punctuation. But, this was my book. It wasn't editor versus layout designer & publisher, it was author versus layout designer & publisher. It was exhausting. It was worth it, but exhausting. If I ever meet a poet as dedicated to the smallest, incremental element of a book, as I've been with Mingus, I'll buy them a drink.

That said, I'm happy with the final layout of my book. And a couple weeks ago, I received an email with the layout for the cover. It's amazing. Mingus looks like a special book. I hope people can appreciate the amount of work that went into it. If it's my last published work of poetry it's a great way to "drop the mic" on a genre of literature.

Here's to new beginnings.

8/31/15

...and the ball begins to roll...

It's taken me over a year, but I'm happy to announce that on October 2nd I will be presenting Like Water, an event that combines my poetry with performance art and music. It's been a long time coming. When I first wrote Like Water it was something to break up the intense nature of what I was writing. Now, it's an hour + show of a dozen poems.

Additionally, I made a call out to various page and slam poets and will feature their works in breaks of my set. The recorded elements of Like Water feature production and vocals from Bermuda/UK DnB/Soul-step outfit 1Undread, Brampton's Soulfistikato and a local favorite poet -- Vanessa McGowan. The live version will also feature Soulfistikato (hosting & DJing) as well as performance art curated by Christina Kozak, and poetry from Tomy Bewick, Patrick Connors, Cathy Petch, and Liz Gallo. If you're in Toronto October 2nd and can make it to May Cafe please join us.

November 1st, I will be reading at the International Festival of Authors in an event celebrating the work of Austin Clarke. For some reason I'll be signing autographs (probably for Bending the Continuum). I look up to Mr. Clarke so this is a pretty big deal for me.

Finally, I have no clue when my next book is being launched (looks like early 2016), but I recently received a JPG with the cover art from Dominic Laporte. I'm really pleased.

Almost forgot, the weekend before Like Water, Patrick Connors will be hosting a 100TPC event. Keep an eye on my Facebook fan page for more details (I believe that it's an early afternoon event this year in Kensington Market).

Take care all!


8/7/15

Rastavarius and my old blog

My second short story published this summer is live and online thanks to Tracer Publishing. Pretty exciting news. This may be my favorite of the set of short stories that I wrote earlier this year. I feel like I'm starting over again as I begin to add more prose to my publishing history. Definitely a fun experience. Please check out Rastavarius and share it with your friends!

On a separate note, my old blog Daneformation is in desperate need of a full redesign. I'm thinking of putting together a portfolio with some of my writing, my resume, and my photos. Then, I want to use the blog to publish writing that I don't want to submit elsewhere. I've also started a Flickr account (not live yet). I'm also debating if I should add an Instagram account (stealing peoples' images seems to be a thing there). We shall see.

Cheers.

7/2/15

Being published by Broken Pencil

This morning I woke up to some good news, my short story, "Hand Wraps," was published on Broken Pencil Magazine's website. Later in the day, I posted a link to the story on Twitter and was pleasantly surprised to see that a boxing legend, a sports website, and a member of the boxing media "favorited" my post.

"Hand Wraps" is the first piece of prose that I've had published as an adult. I was pretty wary about sending it out, but I did my best to make it real, yet accessible. Go have a look, I hope that you enjoy the read.

Peace and Respect

6/11/15

Vallum Magazine, and my up coming show


Someone at Vallum Magazine must love my poetry. I have no clue why, but at every turn Vallum has made extra effort to promote my writing. What's funny is that I've only submitted once and had one poem published by them.

“The Irrelevant Age,” is an important poem for me. When Vallum first informed me that it would be published, I was working on my final draft of “Bending theContinuum.” My editor had taken the poem out of the manuscript, and I was struggling to decide whether I would put it back in. After learning about it getting published in Vallum's “futures” edition I copied and pasted the original draft and placed it as the first poem in the manuscript.

When Vallum decided to begin publishing their magazine digitally, they naturally gravitated to the poem, asking for my permission to republish it in a special e-edition of Vallum. Today, I was informed that “The Irrelevant Age,” will be the part of their “Poem of the Week,” online feature.

Each time that Vallum has contacted me, it has been at an important point in my career. This time, I'm trying to decide my next steps after a 2nd year trying to navigate through school applications. I think I know what I'm going to do now, heavily influenced by the lectures that I witnessed at the Griot Summit.

I've never seen so many poets who are as engaged in the academic side of spoken-word as I did that weekend. It's comforting to know that I'm not the only one.

On October 2nd, I will be presenting, “Like Water,” A presentation of poetry that will feature Dub poetry, Story telling, Rap, Slam inspired, and lyrical poetry at May Cafe. I'll be performing something like 16 poems! My business partner Soulfistikato will be DJing instrumentals featuring musicians and producers from 3 countries (Canada, UK, Bermuda). Christina, who is part of the performance artist collective, THE BROKEN DOLL FACTORY, that hosts the monthly Nuts & Volts events will be performing with us.

We'll also have special guest poets and musicians gracing the stage. More to come as things near.

Recently, I've been debating whether I wanted to more aggressively use SEO tools with this blog. I've decided against it. To make a complicated explanation simple, this Blog is hosted by Google, and the numerous links do serve a purpose to search engine algorithms.

Also, it's about time that I disconnect my Facebook Fanpage from my Twitter account. It'll mean more work, but, it's about time that I did the work.

Until I find an agent for my novel, or, a publisher for my novella there's nothing else to do (minus getting the cover for my book sorted, and memorizing 16 poems!).

Good night. Peace and Respect

5/19/15

Updates, and things coming up

As you guys can see I'm changing things a bit. The background of the blog has been bugging me for a while. I was going to use a photo of one of my new visual poems, but I feel uncomfortable sharing them without a watermark. So, I've decided on the rustic floorboards.

You'll also notice that I replaced the events page with a bio page. After seeing a pretty lengthy bio a few years back on someone else's online home, I always wanted to try my hand at a bio that went beyond the standard one paragraph. I debated making it longer, and I might add my DJ history in the future, but it's a start.

Also, I added a contact form. My sincere apology. I should have made it easier to reach me personally a long time ago.

As far as what's next for me -- currently, I am waiting to finalize a reading with Austin Clarke this June. It might be the first time that I am nervous about reading with someone. The event marks the launch of Mr. Clarke's second book of poetry with Guernica Editions.

South-North Griots Summit is coming to Toronto and I was invited to write a paper for the event. My paper, "Every word has power: Why the griot community needs more editors, mentors and elders to guide mid-career artists," hopefully, will be available on the summit's web space in the very near future. 

Currently, I am trying to confirm a venue for a project that I am putting on this Fall. As soon as things are confirmed, I will post the details of the project.

Finally, by days end this post should be edited with a link to my Writers Union Page. Wish me luck!

EDIT: It still needs work, but my union profile is starting to look respectable!

3/16/15

My op-ed for Write Magzine

Greetings,

Yesterday was pretty cool. I read at a poetry reading that started around the time I prefer waking up at and met some pretty interesting people there. Afterwards Patrick Connors, James Deahl, his wife and myself grabbed coffee, before Patrick and I had a jovial argument with a Conservative gentleman while the 4 of us (and a father and son beside us) watched sports between beers. Really cool guy, he played football for SFXU and went to high school with Leo Rautins. It always amazes me how a love for sports can unify people of very different political views.

I digress. Recently, I officially became a member of the Writers Union of Canada. My member page looks awful (I'll add a link somewhere after I fix it). I also received a copy of the Write Magazine that my op-ed (which I wrote a year ago) was published in. I believe that the full magazine is available through the Union, however, my article is featured in the pdf magazine sampler. If pro wrestling is your thing, I've also written a pretty scathing op-ed about WWE for Digital Journal.

Peace and Respect

1/13/15

A New Year with new resolutions

Greetings,

It's been a while since I've posted here for good reason. After performing in Parkdale, and teaching workshops in Ottawa, for Peoples Social Forum, my efforts last year shifted to an organization I was assisting. My plan was to announce the programs we were working on after things became official.

Things never became official. This has left me in a significant hole financially, and attempting to rework things creatively. Spiritually, what I learned about a particular individual has left me crushed. Who knows what my future holds. I'm seriously considering leaving Ontario, becoming a "big fish" elsewhere and trying again.

Currently, I'm trying to save a project that was sent to OAC for grant consideration under that organization's umbrella. Thankfully, they've given me time to try to rework the project, and have allowed me to use SoulJahRas as the organization behind the application. Hopefully, this crazy idea I had last year can still happen.

Writing wise, my efforts are devoted to a YA novel right now. So far, I have 3 chapters done with a minimum of 12 to go. It's looking good.

The only thing that I haven't posted about is the listening party Dan and I had. For the first time, Dan shared his instrumental album and I shared the full Like Water project, which I performed segments from at Lab Cab. Smaller numbers than we expected, but it felt good sharing our work.

On Boxing Day fellow poet Patrick Connors and I went to a Marlies game. Pat asked me what my New Years resolution was for 2015. I told him that my main goal is to be happy. If I enter 2016 with a genuine smile on my face this year will have been a success.

As I get older, I am finally beginning to grasp what I've learned actually means. I always knew the healing powers of forgiveness, but I didn't understand what that meant until I was given no choice but to forgive someone. Until last year I thought that I understood the importance of being spiritually balanced, but it wasn't until I experienced imbalance that the lesson fell into place. In 2015, I will try to truly experience happiness with the same zeal. To be honest, I have no clue what that will mean for others, how it will effect my writing, or if my happiness is found in another province, country, or continent. But I am excited for this new journey.