On Mitch Albom’s piece about Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt




I just came in from a run and I don’t know if I have the energy for this. However, in the age of the internet, where everyone has a platform to say what they want, and when the anger is there and you need the outlet, you yell it out into the ether. Then, you let the pieces fall where they may.

I have this blog.

The first piece you should read on the latest cultural appropriation controversy is by Myriam Gurba, entitled: “Pendeja, You Ain’t Steinbeck: My Bronca with Fake-Ass Social Justice Literature.”

You can find Jeanine Cummins’ “American Dirt,” by clicking on this link.

Here’s Mitch Albom’s essay, which is the piece that has me in a bit of a tizzy:


In it, he writes, “If critics want to call her tone-deaf, well, that’s what critics can do. If people who have lived the experience want to say it’s not accurate, they have the absolute right to do so.

But when we start telling people not to write at all if they “don’t belong” to a community, you’re stepping on a dangerous live wire, one that could sizzle into less understanding between us, not more.”

He goes on to defend his point by listing a bunch of authors who wrote outside of their experiences. That if we didn’t write outside of our experiences we wouldn’t have the classics we do now.

Well, I’m here to say we can write outside of our experiences and we can do all the research, and express empathy towards those we are portraying. But, nobody is out here burning copies of “American Dirt.” To make it clear, nobody is censoring Jeanine Cummins’ book, they are criticizing it. And in criticizing it, and putting it under a microscope, they are censuring it. This is why critics exist. No artist is above censuring aka expressing our disapproval with Cummins’ work. I’ll get back to that point in a bit.

Albom goes on to say,

“Where does it stop? Should rich authors never write about poor characters? Americans never write about foreigners? The healthy never write about the sick? Gay never write about straight? How can writers ever expand their creativity if it’s permanently walled in by their own personal backgrounds?

Being respectful of a culture is critical. No one disputes that. And if you don’t show that respect in your work, you will no doubt get knocked for it, and should.

But have we become so identity oriented that a person cannot speak to — or worse, should not speak to — another person through their art unless they share the same ethnicity, religion, social class and nationality?”

Whoever said these things? Why the hyperbole? Do I sense a way of writing being threatened. A gate-keeping way of doing the same thing over and over again by the establishment? People who have been silent before are now saying, “Maybe we should think about what we write and who we’re writing about with a bit more compassion?”

Mr. Albom, why is still necessary plunder the stories and backgrounds of other people without care for how we portray them in the name of Art?

Albom pauses and writes, “That doesn’t encourage dialogue and creativity, it fences it in.

No, you not being OK with Latinx (or voices that are not artists) being angry at someone portraying our immigrant experience in a very stereotypical way, fences in creativity and and discourages dialogue.

Again, an artist shouldn’t be censored, but at the same time, they have to open to being censured. People can write about whatever they want to write about from whatever non-experience or experience they want. The idea of fiction enforces that. However, we are under colonialism (we are not post-anything here in any way), and are still dealing with the effects of that. We must start addressing that.

Let’s add another layer here. Jeanine Cummins has been very disingenuous about her background, (labeling herself white before her book was published and now speaking up about one of her grandmothers being Puerto Rican; also claiming a fear for her undocumented husband being deported….when he’s Irish – which is no way a connection to the Mexican immigrant experience).

Let’s add yet another layer here. Latin Americans are not a people. Most of us speak a colonial language (Spanish), and we are made up of a many different colours, races, cultures, and languages. Mexican is not the same as Colombian, and Argentina is not the same as Ecuador. The people in power (politicians and celebrities) that are mostly seen are white. Very rarely do we see an Indigenous politician or a black Latinx actress in telenovelas or Hollywood. As people we are incredibly mixed, but there is racism (BIG TIME) and sexism (BIG TIME) in our culture.

Having white people try to white-splain Latinx by trying to defend this book and trying to silence criticism is the worst kind of censorship, especially when they aren’t Latinx.

“But angrily declaring “It’s my experience, you have no right to explore it!” isn’t going to open any doors between us. It’s just going to slam them closed.”

Again, nobody but you has said that. You seem to want close the doors yourself (as has Jeanine Cummins in blocking all Latinx critics on twitter).

You CAN create art out of what you want. But continue your art by creating/encouraging more art that addresses the harm/creates healing. An artist DOES NOT GET TO walk away from the process. The old guard of, “LET MY ART STAND!” is over.

What can Cummins do? She can:

1. Have a back and forth in essay or panel form with her critics.

2. Bring books by other Latinx authors who do a better job than her at portraying the Mexican immigrant experience.

3. Apologize and/or start listening.

4. Encourage dialogue. Create something out of her own experience now addressing what she is going through right now.

I’m so tired of being angry about stuff like this. I could keep my mouth shut and forget it. But I AM angry and if my anger moves someone to see the light or anything different than ignorance, it’s time for the rest of our silenced voices to start revolting again.

I’m still suffering from PTSD from the last time I spoke out on the topic of cultural appropriation, so this has taken me a bit to parse. You can just google my name and the words “cultural appropriation” and there are a few articles. I don’t really feel like living that experience again. The psychological and emotional labour that goes into defending your right to speak up as a person of colour is incredibly draining and sometimes keeps us from our own art and work.

(And full disclosure: I’m the daughter of Colombian immigrants. I was raised here in Canada with Colombian traditions. My father is black and my mother is white. At one point, as a small child, my parents moved from Toronto to Dallas, Texas to see if job prospects were better. No matter the job they applied for, they were only given jobs alongside immigrants. We lived in some tough conditions and came back. While the racism here for us was less subdued here in Canada than what we faced in the U.S., it is palpable and it is felt in most aspects in our lives. I can not speak of the Mexican immigrant experience and I also acknowledge my privilege in having a voice to use to speak up against a piece, but I have no power over anyone. Nor do I have a wikipedia page nor do I have a giant book deal. I am a writer and an activist.)

(I commend all Latinx writers for taking on speaking up about “American Dirt.” My experience in speaking up about these things is something I don’t want to recreate. The emotional and unpaid energy that you give while writing, speaking, being on a panel of, being subjected to attacks, and fear of reprisals, I don’t wish that upon anyone. In essence, keep on fighting the good fight)


Because my pace is slow and I’m running again without walking, the scream at the end Radiohead’s “Climbing Up The Walls,” sums it all up. Felt screaming into the lake. Good run though.:


Hey ya

2019 was busy with getting some things in order, didn’t have much time for writing or art of any kind, but there were plenty of changes.

  • April: Artscape had a call out for 80 units for low-income people who are artists living in Toronto. A long time friend from my days at CIUT, Marcus Ware, alerted me to the open house. I went and applied with my CV with little hope.They received over 8000 applications for these spaces. In late September, while I hadn’t heard anything, I received a call saying the kids and I were being offered one of these units. And so in October we did and it’s been a rush and an overwhelming blessing.If you’re an artist and have a low income and struggle to make ends meet, please sign up for the Artscape waiting lists. It’s honestly the most validating and helpful development for my family and myself.Mixed housing seems to be the development here in Toronto, but I’m hoping we can build more affordable housing in the downtown core as a result of the city’s rethinking of it’s overblown love of condos. Keep a look out for developments here:



  • Not much else in other news, except for a couple of things coming down the pipeline in regards to CanLit stuff and publishing (actually a kind of big thing, but for now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed and keeping quiet about it). I am shopping out a new manuscript, but these days with the new home, writing, CanLit activism, and art will be a constant.
  • To whoever still reads this, happy new year.

Back from the grave.

My last entry on this blog was from 2017 which seems like ages ago. A lot has gone on between then and now and while most of it has been a struggle. There have been some creative highlights.

In February I wrote about changing how I review film: https://thesegirlsonfilm.wordpress.com/2019/02/07/on-writing-film-criticism/

There will be more pieces on the site. I have draft sitting aimlessly waiting for editing and cohesion. Did I tell you about the struggle? Heh.

My book LILITH was published in 2018 by Desert Pets Press. You can get a copy there on their site. It’s a book of witch poems and the entanglements that women go through in connections, separations, and isolations only to find themselves in nature as themselves.

One of my short stories was also published in the awesome anthology, GUSH: Menstrual Manifestos For Our Times (Frotenac House, 2018). You can also buy it at their site.

Currently I’m the administrator and a resident at the InPrint Collective’s Poetry inPrint, bringing writers and printmakers together to create chapbooks. Take a look: https://poetryinprintcommunity.wordpress.com/


And I’m continuing by restarting the James Joyce project of rewriting Ulysses at http://gettinginsidejamesjoyceshead.blogspot.com/

As it is I’m applying for grants, working on a novel, and trying to get back into the swing of things. Much like the witches in my book LILITH I am hoping to find myself in nature again, to find what this whole struggle is really all about.

Fragmented thoughts on political correctness and appropriation


I don’t understand the problem that people have with political correctness. I’m on many sides of this issue. I think it stems from a conversation I had with my boyfriend about how people were outraged with Steve Martin’s tweet upon Carrie Fisher’s passing.


The responses: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/steve-martin-carrie-fisher-tweet_us_58642c36e4b0de3a08f70427

Here’s one from New York Magazine:

I think Steve Martin was speaking from the heart here. People are allowed to be outraged. I personally don’t believe the tweet was in poor taste, but maybe deleting his tweet was. I can see that Martin probably got upset or tired of the responses he was getting. Keeping in mind that Martin is from a different time, I think of what he might have meant, which was probably thoughtfully considered, especially knowing that he knew her personally. Her fans knew her well too, hence the outrage. The public might have gone overboard, but in this place and time, today, if you’re going to engage with the public, you’re engaging with thousands, even millions of people. And they will respond in multitudes in real time. That is the hyper world we live in now.

This all brings me to the controversies in Canadian literature and western literature as well. Here’s the latest: Editor Resigns Over an Article Defending ‘Cultural Appropriation’https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/arts/editor-resigns-over-article-defending-cultural-appropriation.html

Now I’ve spent a good portion of my writing career talking about appropriation. I’ve written about the ethics and colonization aspects of it within the literary establishment. But I want to note that a lot of this conversation, a lot of this backlash is coming from writers of colour. This isn’t about being politically correct, or being too sensitive in this day and age,  or “political correctness” gone haywire. These are legitimate concerns that people of colour have had for ages. We were rarely heard though even though we’ve been shouting it out from the mountains. Why are we not giving more people of colour and the disenfranchised more opportunities to flourish and to be heard?

I like to think I’ve been “woke” since I was a teenager. The Gulf War and the Human Rights Now Tour of the 80s really made a impression on me. Reading the Charter of Rights here in Canada and the Universal Declaration of Rights from the UN, empowered me and made me feel like anything was possible. So when I began writing, I noticed a few things that I was told to brush off. Why weren’t there only a few people of colour at poetry readings, book launches, literary parties, and the like? Why were there so few people of colour as editors to magazines and publishers in the industry? The more I questioned, the more I got consoled.

“It’s not true. We’re trying. It’s all in your head. We’re a community.”

Nevertheless, after a few poetry readings I started to begin my sets by looking around the room and if I didn’t notice anyone like me, or my colour, or diverse like community in Toronto I live in, I would say, “Thank you for inviting me. It is a privilege. It’s great to see people come out for poetry. Looking around the room, we need more people of colour, more people from the community here.” And then I’d start my reading.

It’s a response to gas-lighting. It was a response to truly waking up to reality. I feel it’s a statement that forces attendees and organizers to do something about it. Unfortunately, a lot of that ends up on people of colour’s shoulders. We are asked to solve the problem the privileged have created. We are told to bring solutions to the table. Therefore, instead of us focusing on our craft and our chosen careers, our labour is given to fixing messes or putting up the illusion that something is being done about the establishment’s “diversity” problem.

As soon as that article in Write appeared, I spoke out on twitter and Facebook and quickly retreated. I did speak out a few times on threads trying to point out the ignorance in our literary community, but nonetheless, I had to let it go. I realized how much those debates take out of me on social media. In turn, I also thought about the emotional labour that the indigenous writers who were in that Write issue were about to take on. It’s scary and overwhelming, even full of opportunities because people want to “diversify” their platforms, and hey, you’re there right in the middle of it, so why not?

But it takes up your time and space in your head. It does for me because I feel really passionate about anti-appropriation and for ethical appropriation in poetry and prose. A lot of the fights I feel like taking on, I have to step back and think, “Whose voice is better suited for this?” I can’t speak for the indigenous cause, nor can I speak for the causes of a black person. I can speak from a Latinx (yes I’ve adopted this term because I’ve come to love it and I’ve chosen it), Afro-latin second generation Canadian female perspective. That is who I am and how I was born. I don’t go around saying that is how I identify. That’s just how I try to approach these controversies and debates in the literary and the real world community. At 44, I think it’s a pretty awesome freedom to be able to self-identify nowadays.

What enriches a community is not taking from its members nor imagining what their experiences might be. What enriches literature and art is taking from one’s imagination and evolving that fictional or non-fictional world through a centre of empathy and compassion. We can imagine ourselves and write from another person’s shoes, for freedom of speech is an inherent and fundamental right, but we can not steal and appropriate to our sole benefit. We must acknowledge if we’re taking a scene, a slice of life, or a culture that comes from a place of pain and colonization.

Many would dismiss colonization as real today, but all you have to do is look at your televisions, the books you were taught in school, our world leaders, and the people that hold positions of power in our literary community. I just want most of you to go out there and notice. Keep a keen eye. Open your mind just a tiny bit and see how many people of colour you interact in media and in those literary communities. Who are your professors and who are your publishing editors? Take note of the people around your neighbourhoods. The establishments you visit and the things you promote. Is it truly reflective of the community around you? If good work stands the test of the literary establishment, why is it there are so few people of colour being published or in those positions of power. We are hard working and for the most part, talented, for our stories are rich and interesting. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be appropriated by so many white privileged folk.

The personal is always political. You can’t dismiss injustice or you will get told. Get ready to interact, get ready to truly expand your work by engaging.

I’ve spent the past few years reading people’s written defences for appropriation. That we need to learn to be free to express however we want to become one people instead of a world of races. I’m sorry (not sorry), but we can’t be one people if you fail to acknowledge and listen to why we are complaining and outraged right now. Why be politically correct? I see it this way, if you’re a writer, you try to engage your reader to feel with your character and their lives. Not only that, but you have to bring something new to the table, something that innovates literature, and emboldens it like the writers of the past have. If you keep appropriating and not innovating your own experience, you stagnate and literature becomes dull and droning. Those who have learned to appropriate ethically, who have opened the doors to an empathetic and considerate new world in literature will move on without you. And when you finally wake up to the issues, for it can never be too late (oh can’t tell you how I hold to that thought fast or I’d sink), then you will be offered a seat at the table and we will share freely, full of heart, and full of good work.

Sure, outrage can go all over the place, but really, I’d rather be able to read stuff like Steve Martin wrote about Carrie Fisher, read the outrage, and then discuss. Humanity and our creative output doesn’t evolve by dismissing, but by interacting and listening. Radical empathy, please google it and do the work yourself. : https://this.org/2016/11/08/what-it-means-to-practise-radical-empathy/


(P.S. You can write from the imagination and from experiences that are not your own in fiction and poetry. You can learn and appreciate different cultures and be influenced by them in your style and comportment. However, the point of all of this is that people are asking you to think, express, and create from a space of consideration. If you want to share and take part, you have to listen and consider.)



Events coming up…

HI! It’s been a while, and I need to update some of the pages and doings on here, but for now I have few things I should mention:

  1. I’m in this anthology! Come on out to the launch: “It’s The PAC’N HEAT Launch Party! Come celebrate with us at See-Scape on Thursday Nov. 10th from 7 PM to 10 PM! Check out the video games! Drink some drinks! Buy some books!” https://www.facebook.com/events/514551702083634/



2. I’m teaching an Uncreative Writing Workshop at Naked Heart Festival (Saturday, November 12th at 10:30am):



Info on my uncreative writing stuffs: https://jacquelinevalencia.wordpress.com/tag/conceptual/


3. I’ll be presenting a paper/on a panel for the Diasporic Joyce: the 2017 James Joyce Conference in Toronto: https://diasporicjoyce.wordpress.com/


4. I’ll be reading at words(on)stages on January 19 at The Central



And still working on my novel manuscript. It’s been an adventure.


On Being A Writer In The Writing World



When I go to a literary event, I first have to gather my bearings to find a familiar face. I keep to myself most days and social media is my connection to networking and “being out there.” I’m maybe 90% more introverted than extroverted in person, so seeing a familiar face in a crowd I feel comfortable with helps. After a bit of catching up with a few people, I will try to meet a couple of more folks, not just for networking, but mainly because book people and fellow readers are awesome. We share in our love books and it’s amazing that we have this world of art that many try to stamp as dead, but damn it, it’s still thriving.

Although I wonder, at most events, about the starving writers, the blocked writers, the struggling writers, the keep to themselves writers and the many other writers that we don’t really talk about. They might come to these events and they might not. They work a full day and might be too exhausted, but they still stay up and work on their manuscripts. They have been unable to put words to paper because trauma or sickness or anxiety prevents them, but sometimes a thought comes out and they journal about it hoping one day their story will be heard. They work a factory job or take care of their kids all day and feel out of place, but they still go to the open mic or the poetry slam. They write and submit, apply for grants and prizes, but don’t get their chance because the literary world is big and racism, sexism, and ageism still exists big time in it. Writing and books are just as important to the types of people I’ve mentioned because they are writers. Some of them published and some of them have not. Some of them are you and some of them are me and maybe we’re all a combination of many.

I write this because as writers we tend to glamourize or romanticize what we do and that’s most of what the world sees. The parties and launches are wonderful, but I do enjoy hearing about lives outside of writing; people’s work days and their boring commutes. I want to ask if behind it all, you’re ok. I’m very confessional by nature and I don’t expect others to be. It’s just interesting to know I’m not alone in the struggle to have a life and still be a writer, or rather to have a life and just be me.

Not all of us are professors or can afford the money or the time for an MFA (although there are struggles there too). Not all of us have the inside track in publishing and know the ins and outs of it (although there are struggles there too). Not all of us are adept at schmoozing (maybe they’ve taken a course?). Yet that’s how the media portrays writers and that’s how the writing world is seen: a bunch of people who dedicate themselves to writing and made it despite the odds. Maybe one percent of those out there have, but most of us have lives outside of that media portrayed world.

I’m a writer, but I’m a single mother of two kids. I combat daily with my own issues, but I live comfortably because of alimony and I have time to write. Although now I have a goal and ambition to be independent. It’s imperative for me as a feminist, and as an example to my daughter to show her that we can create and make a life for ourselves without depending on others financially. I freelance and am out looking for steady work, but my non-writing resume is a history of blue collar factory jobs where computers have made them obsolete, and outdated advertising desk jobs from fifteen years ago before my children were born. I have a supportive family and a close relationship with my children’s father, but I can’t lean on them anymore. I have to stand on my own eventually and it’s hard. I do recognize that I have a roof over my head and food in the pantry because of others. Aiming to change that is the difficult and overwhelming part. I fear writer’s block because of it. I fear not having time to write for myself. I fear my anxiety and cycling bouts of depression will hinder any progress I have made in my writing career.

I am fond of saying that if you work hard at something, things will manifest for you. They might be the things you were looking for, but things will happen. For many writers, they can’t get to the part of just “work” because they’re busy trying to stay afloat. Launch party? Hell, some people have to wake up at 5am for their daily commute.

I’m glad that there are spaces like Sachiko Murakami’s The Hardest Thing About Being a Writer and Daniel Zomparelli and Dina DelBuchia’s Can’t Lit. These are places where writers can be human. I don’t feel alone when I read or listen to these sites or interviews like them. I’m not a big fan of pretension, name dropping, and ego. I like emotion, substance, and am comforted by the idea that in every writer there is a fallibility and vulnerability where stories and poetries are born. Get to know the people that combat the world while still writing.

I’m just bored by the David Foster Wallace or Wonder Boys portrayals of writers.


I’m not saying we should end the glamorization of writing, but rather that when we’re out there doing our thing, we should consider the world we write about, the lives write about, and the topics we write about when we write about writing. Addressing personal concerns and things that hit close to home for us individually is easier for some and harder for others, but it’s good to understand we all live in a world where we have to make compromises to survive. We find our niche, we build our own moulds, and yeah, we’re writers. But writers must feed, cloth, and house ourselves.

If more people knew that we work, we struggle, they’d buy more books from authors, they’d help small presses more (for these are the places a lot of the disenfranchised authors get their chances in), and they’d be more willing to take us seriously when we say that writing is a job, so please pay us. BUY OUR BOOKS. PAY WELL FOR YOUR CREATIVE CONTENT. Pay and pay writers well. It’s work.

I love going to book launches and readings because it’s inspiring to see the amount of folk that still go out to these things. I get huge stage fright before a reading because why would anyone want to hear my poetry? It’s a privilege to be able to get up there and have an audience for it. And I’m paid to do it nowadays. That’s huge. I get paid to write AND get paid to read my poetry…to people even!

I’m a nobody like the many nobodies out there. I hope to forever be a nobody like the many nobodies out there because the only glamour I enjoy from writing is being able to read my words. The rest is work and some of it is fun, I admit, but the rest is work.

On seeing Peter Gabriel and Sting: Rock Paper Scissors 2016






I don’t even know where to begin, but I guess I’ll start. I’ve mentioned on this blog before about my love for pre-1975 Genesis and about my obsession with Peter Gabriel back when I first heard Games Without Frontiers. I will never stop being a huge Gabriel fan.

The Eighties were huge in music for many of us born in the Seventies. While punk still lingered in the back of our brains, new wave, and a lot of fusion had taken over the pop scene. There were genres, of course, but it was such a great time for music that you’d hear Lionel Richie played next to The Cure and not bat an eyelash. One of the bands that really stuck with me were The Police. Their catchy reggae and punk inspired tunes hit feelings of nostalgia no matter when they were played and even if their songs were new. When Sting aka Gordon Sumner, branched out on his own, his music was an extension of that. Although you can separate The Police and Sting, you can’t separate the musical styles as a whole because Sting wrote a lot of the music and lyrics. Andy Summers eccentric guitar style is still iconic and Stewart Copeland is still a god of drums in my book. The Police catalogue lives in vinyl records and VHS tapes in my home.

I remember hearing Fortress Around Your Heart for the first time while waking up one morning. I’m sure many teenage girls were seduced by that song and ran out to get The Dream Of Blue Turtles. Or maybe that was just me. UNF, THAT video. *swoon* 

I caught  Sting every time was on television including his appearances on Saturday Night Live (elevator!) and one of the greatest music shows ever, Night MusicI’ve seen him perform solo live a couple of times and with The Police during their reunion. His shows are incredible and besides being great pleasing his fans, he’s such an underrated musician and poet.

In the Nineties I took my mom to go see Peter Gabriel with me because I’d never seen a concert with her that wasn’t salsa music. My little Colombian mom stood there cheering and putting her hands up in the air like she was a long time fan. Well, it turns out she listened to every mixed tape I made her and tried her best to understand me because she’s an awesome mom. That night we hugged and we had the best time ever as mother and daughter singing along to “Sledgehammer,” which was the only song she hadn’t made up words to, since although she’s fluent in English, it’s hard for her to gauge words when sung sometimes. It’s adorable.

When Sting and Peter Gabriel’s Rock Paper Scissors tour was announced, I called my sister. I took her to her first all-ages show (Weezer) and had also bombarded her with mixed tapes of Genesis, Peter Gabriel, and Sting. I needed to see this concert with her. The first time we saw Sting together was the night I had announced to her that I was pregnant with my first child. As I jumped along to the music that night, she kept trying to hold me down to keep me from hurting myself, worried because I was pregnant.

This year, we’ve both hit some hard times. Thus, when I called her about the Sting/Gabriel concert, she immediately said, “LET’S DO THIS.”

Last night was one of the most amazing concerts I have ever had the pleasure of being present at (and that’s saying a lot since I’ve seen some incredible shows). Peter Gabriel started the night off with a rock hard version of Rhythm Of The Heat (you know that BRRRRRONG from the film Inception and the looming drums in most film trailers? Inspired by this song).

People light up their phone flashlights in lieu of lighters to “Love Can Heal.”

Sting followed after with If I Ever Lose My Faith In You. It’s definitely one of his more pop driven tracks, however, it started what was a great back and forth feeling for the night. Peter Gabriel would drive in, then Sting would answer, and the night felt more like a nice rollercoaster ride of greatest hits and some new tracks as well. As they came up to explain their formula for evening, up on stage the two looked like to best friends about to duel at karaoke. Gabriel would josh on Sting’s looks, while Sting would play up Gabriel’s versatility as a showman. I laughed. I cried. I turned to look at my sister and dance with her. Both of us overjoyed at reliving our teenage hood (we’re eight years apart) together for once.

Gabriel and Sting comedy night.
Sister best friends forever.

One of highlights of the night for me was Sting starting off with the first verse of pre-1975 Genesis’ Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (“selling England by the pound”), and then plow right into Message In A BottleIt was as a response to his and Gabriel’s reaction to Brexit this week. Oh and they played so many hits, so many wonderful renditions together of each other’s music. Peter Gabriel did Sting’s If You Love Somebody Set Them Free in his lounge inspired glam style. And that’s the thing, while both of them are prolific songwriters and accomplished musicians, while Sting is Sting by his presence, Peter Gabriel’s been glaming it up with the likes of David Bowie and Robert Fripp for ages. For me, Gabriel is one of the most influential artists out there, not just because of his music, but also by what he always brings to the stage. Whether it’s in costume changes or weird ass dance moves, but Gabriel’s voice transcends the persona he projects up there and brings shivers especially when performing this song:


Here’s a setlist for the night: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/sting-and-peter-gabriel/2016/air-canada-centre-toronto-on-canada-43ffa7ef.html

Needless to say I am on cloud nine for a while. By chance because it was Gabriel, I got to see Tony Levin play with two tight lineups in one year (with Peter Gabriel last night, and King Crimson earlier)! I am in prog-rock heaven.

I died. I came back to life. I am refreshed. The dark will back as always, but for now, I have music.

I adore my sister. We’ve both seen each other through thick and thin and best and worst. Last night was the best, not just because of the music, but because it’s a reminder that no matter what, reach out. Don’t give up.

“At the end of ‘Don’t Give Up,’ when the pounding bass takes over, I found myself skanking, dancing reggae style; I was in Jamaica in the spirit of Bob Marley; I saw the break of my marriage, my move from Los Angeles to Rome, my change of name, change of face, my own struggles and determination to make it again ’cause I have friends’ who would help me not to give up.” Armando Gallo, Peter Gabriel, (Omnibus Press, 1986).


“‘And Englishman in New York,’ was more of an open tribute to Quentin Crisp. The pair had met when Sting suggested him for a role in The Bride, and their friendship grew when Sting came to New York. ‘He’s one of my heroes and one of the most courageous men I’ve ever met. He was homosexual in England at a time when being so was physically dangerous, and he was himself, with no apologies, in such a flamboyant and brave way that should be an example to us all.'” – Sting, from Sting: the biography by Robert Sellers, (Omnibus Press, 1989)





Although they delved into some old stuff, I still wish they’d played these two songs (I was just in the mood for them…although my Gabriel and Sting choices change day by day):








There Is No Escape Out of Time Book Launch


Come help us celebrate our new titles and the warm weather!

Jacqueline Valencia, There Is No Escape Out of Time (poetry)
Michael Murray, A Van Full of Girls (short fiction)
Dog the Moon, Stan Rogal (fiction)

Thursday, July 7, 2016
6:30 PM
The Supermarket Restaurant and Bar (Kensington Market)
268 Augusta Ave
Toronto, ON


JACQUELINE VALENCIA is a poet and film/literary critic. She has written for The Rusty Toque, Lemon Hound, Next Projection, subTerrain magazine, and The Barnstormer, among others. Her chapbook Maybe was selected for the 2012 Arte Factum exhibit by Poetry Is Dead Magazine.

THERE IS NO ESCAPE OUT OF TIME is an ethereal cinema of a mind, jumping through wormholes in a poet’s past, present, and future, even in space.

MICHAEL MURRAY works as a creative writer, commentator, blogger, and “journalist.” He has written for The Globe and Mail, the National Post, Hazlitt magazine, CBC Radio, the Ottawa Citizen, TheToast, as well as scores of other prestigous publications that pay extraordinary amounts of money and fly him around in helicopters.

A VAN FULL OF GIRLS is a collection of short, dizzy, funny things. It’s zippy and unpredictable, like a mongoose, but it’s dead sexy.

Poet, novelist, and playwright STAN ROGAL’s work has appeared in magazines and anthologies in Canada, the U.S., and Europe. His poetry collection Love’s Not the Way To (Bookland, 2013) was shortlisted for a ReLit Award.

DOG THE MOON is a compelling novel that offers a new look at the traditional Canadian tale of a city boy in the “wilderness,” taking aim at our literary mythology with sharp, satirical darts.