A while back, Edmonton poet Shawna Lemay asked me to contribute to her Capacious Project, which was a clever and sensitive response to women's spaces and women's concerns.
But she said it better than I can:
"There has been a fascination with artist’s and writer’s workspaces – one can find pools of photos on flickr and books of photographs as well. But I’m interested in what we carry. How we carry. To paraphrase Anna Johnson, the purse has been seen as an honest time capsule, an archive, a little house, a portable boudoir. What do you take away with you in your hold-all? Is it flimsy, sturdy, practical, frivolous? What secrets does it contain?
This is the first in a series, in which I ask writers to creatively engage with these questions. Responses may take the form of a list (made up or real, mischievous or serious), a snapshot, a poem, a story, an impression, a rant, a rhapsody, a drawing."
I started and stopped my response, stopped and started, but never quite finished. It just didn't feel right.
But today, feeling pleasantly quiet and unoccupied the day after my One Night in June launch, I thought I'd riff on the Capacious Project and show you my only-somewhat-artfully-arranged 'launch bag'...
In my reading over on Shawna Lemay's Capacious Hold-all blog, I realized that some writers have a 'book bag' in which they carry the reading copy of a book during the life of a book, by which I mean the variety of events the book takes them to.
The idea appealed. I'm not especially motivated by shoes or purses but have a collection of mostly second-hand bags, including p/leather briefcases, day bags, and computer/messenger bags.
Which are mostly bags to hold notebooks and novels and my wallet and even a last minute apple as I leave the house. Bags for living and working and being in the world.
So I started looking for just the right bag in which to enclose my goat-ish chappies and found it on another Lemay-based blog: Keiskamma Canada.
This site functions as the Canadian portal for Keiskamma, which is
A not-for-profit organization dedicated to the holistic care of the communites that live in the area alongside the Keiskamma River in the Eastern Cape. The Keiskamma Trust combines health, art, music and education initiatives in an integrated fight against poverty and HIV/AIDS.Shawna's been auctioning pillow covers and tote bags by participants in the project in Africa and I was fortunate enough to win the auction for this bag.
Like the Rutting Season book, whose spine you can see peeking out of the bag, the bag is smaller than I'd expected but lovely. And like the Guidelines book, which features Tim Schouten's hooves on the outside and waterbuffaloes inside, it is a brilliant beautiful orange.
At first, the bag only held the books and was slung over the back of my chair. But as the night progressed, other things were added to it.
Like M's late model Mac computer, which sat on the edge of the stage, hooked up to the digital projector and to the sound system, so I could both display 100 of Tim Schouten's horses from his In The Absence of Horses series during my reading and then later play an audio clip of Linda Besner reading a few of her poems from Rutting Season.
Also, the CD with Tim's images on it. He dropped into Aqua earlier in the day, so we could ensure that all the necessary connections worked, because tech is always temperamental. And we had a lovely chat and he invited me to next weekend's rural tour of artists' studios, which will also include his Petersfield studio...
Like the box of assorted Morden's chocolates from writer Anita Daher, who came into Aqua on the way to the barn, where she's tending to a seriously ill horse, just to bring me a confectionary launch-present and hugs. I'm not always a huggy person, but I'll accept a hug from Anita anytime...
Like Sharon Caseburg's gorgeous chapbook from Jackpine Press. I generally consider chapbooks to be fetish objects, but you should know that Sharon's sleepwalking is well worth fete-ing/fetish-izing. It feels ancient and precious...and I'm glad to have been one of five people who got to buy one last night.
Sharon also brought several intestine-loops of tawny raw silk to the launch, to give people an idea of what her sister Debbie Caseburg Tyson's process was while creating the felted silk covers.
My eyes gleamed at the sight of the silk. I coveted those tumbling curves more than I have ever coveted anything and so Sharon, being Sharon, gave it to me. There was enough of it that I could give 'locks' to other writers present and still have a good length to drape around my neck.
And yes, in case you were wondering, it's the softest goddamn thing I've ever touched...
And that's about it, except for the thanks.
To those who attended and to those who wrote to say they couldn't make it, life being not-especially-artfully-arranged at the best of times...
To Jenna Butler at Rubicon Press, who told me this morning that the first print run of Guidelines is already sold out...
To Correy Baldwin at Buffalo Runs Press and Linda Besner and even her uncle Neil Besner, a Winnipeg lit community stalwart and U of Wpg VP International who did his best to sneak out on last night's convocation for our event...
Many many thanks.