amongst books

amongst books

Sunday, December 04, 2016

One Thing Too: bill dimichele

Aaron's rod, aaron was brother to moses. It was aaron's rod that turned into a snake, then it ate the false magic of the egyptian sorcerers.


your invitation:
tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be an artefact or a glitch, a link to some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] ; i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

Friday, December 02, 2016

Desperately Seeking Pen Pals

Dear Readers,

Would you be my pen pal? I propose an exchange in the mail of letters (handwritten or not, but mine shall be made on the computer because my handwriting is illegible, even to me).
If interested, please send me an e-mail with your mailing address & I will acknowledge then send you a letter. my email is amanda at amandaearl dot com.

These letters can include anything that can be sent in the mail that you can dream up & would like to send, but shouldn’t cost you a fortune. I want personal and ongoing correspondence between kindreds. I want the intimacy of letters transported from your home to mine, crossing oceans or travelling along bumpy roads to reach us.

I recently wrote a rant on my Polymumbles feature on my Tumblr blog about the lost art of communication. How few of my friends or other people I know return e-mails, text me or communicate with me in any way except for emojis and hearts on social media. At least that’s something.

But the world feels cold to me & lonely. This lack of human interaction is making things worse for me & I suspect for others. I see people occasionally at poetry readings or other events, but we barely talk to one another because too much is going on. I want a quiet moment of contemplation with your words, pictures, mix tapes or anything else you care to exchange.

You can be a stranger to me, a friend, a former lover, a current lover. You can be local or far away. On this planet or another. Whoever you are, what matters most to me is that we have an interesting exchange of words that helps us to feel less lonely on this fucked up little planet.  

I expect the correspondence to be sporadic, rather than regular. No commitments to anything. I don’t like that myself. Just occasional surprises in the mail.

I don’t know if anyone will respond to this at all or if a bunch of people will. I will answer your letters if you send them to me.

Are you a fan of the Griffin and Sabine trilogy of books? If you are, you would make a great pen pal. The rest, I’ll leave us to discover.

your fellow weirdo,

Amanda Earl, lonely but still trying to reach out…

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One Thing Too: Dominic Bercier

Shine On…
Hope. “What if hope exists only I cannot see it!?” This phrase kept me alive during my very darkest hours. Hope did not return quickly. It did not come with trumpets blaring. But it did arrive.

I drew the above illustration on ‘ART’ exactly 20 years ago while still in high school. I was quite the little star in my small fishbowl world. I had won the Visual Arts Medal and was poised to win the Artistic Excellence Award a couple of years later. It was a big deal. Fellow students pegged me as working for big comics publishers within only a few years. But that never happened.

Well, it sort of did… After turning down an artist’s invitation to submit to Marvel Comics, Dave McKean told me to go to art school and so I did. I was a talented draftsman, I had an old soul, I was ready for comics, but I listened to his advice instead and went to OCAD in Toronto [I was never one for easy paths]. OCAD turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. I became more versatile, quicker, and… more unpredictable; I had become an editor’s paradox of good surprise / different surprise. At OCAD, I met lifelong friends and I did well, but as the years went on from four to five to six [as I was working as assistant-penciler on gigs for big publishers full time – my fifteen minutes of un-credited fame], I started to lose my grip. I was unhappy, unfulfilled, and unable to speak about it with anyone. I persevered silently, finished school, but within months of graduating, I found myself squarely in what I called my “dark night of the soul.” And I festered there and went to a dark, dark, place, from which some do not return. So I went on a lark… and I asked myself : “What if hope exists only I cannot see it!?” It was either to have blind faith in that idea or, well…

It was my greatest experiment. And my conclusion is that hope does return. Not quickly. Not ceremoniously. But it does.

Many of my friends in the USA are now living in fear and despair. To you and to them I tell you to believe in hope. In fact I’ve thought about it quite seriously and have come to understand that I myself can do the following to foster hope in others :

1.       Vote.
2.       Be myself and do my thing [this might be the most important element of all].
3.       Tell those under duress all over the world that they are loved.
4.       And pray. Pray* harder than I have ever prayed…

It is a miracle that hope ever returned to me. And so I believe in miracles now. And now is the time when we need miracles the most. *I’m not talking about religion, or even spirituality, I’m talking about the human condition… Like that little bottle of light when Frodo is near the end of his quest, so too does your hope shine when things are at their darkest – just reach for the light.

Your thoughts matter. Your emotions matter. Your actions, whatever you can do, matter… YOU matter!!!

So… as Pink Floyd would say : “Shine on you crazy diamond!!!” We need you now… more than ever.


www.mirrorcomics.com – Dominic Bercier, November 30, 2016.

your invitation:
tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be an artefact or a glitch, a link to some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] ; i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

One Thing Too: Ally Fleming



"I struggle with mental illness. As a child and teenager, I picked up a lot of poor coping mechanisms and self-destructive habits. For about ten years, since my most severe depressive episode, I've been trying to undo the damage I've done to myself and learn to channel my symptoms into more useful activities. My urge to obliterate is so deep in me that resisting it sometimes feels like pulling out my own veins. But I'm learning to turn to writing poetry and making vispo/photo art in my most painful moments. Not addiction, not projection, not rage. Art. At least, it's what I aspire to, and I've been fortunate to have had friends and mentors who are much better at it than I am, who show me ways to go about it.

One thing that sticks in my brain, often, is image. As in, our own, our faces, and how they communicate emotion. I have a lot of trouble with self-concept. I have a poor sense of self, part of my illness and childhood issues. A couple years ago, I started taking selfies in moments of high emotion. Mania, desolation, infatuation. I get entangled in the disconnect between the intensity of the emotion and my own expression of it. I can't comprehend myself, I don't see the tempest. Lately, I've been riding out tough times by "fixing" selfies. I use popular photo editing apps and conventional "beautifying" filters and overlays, but try to trick them into interesting effects. It's still an obsessive thing, but a step up from the more unhealthy behaviours I first learned. The images are low-res and can't be used for much, I might show them to one or two people. I do it for the unlearning aspect, the discipline, tolerance. It's an inversion process. Learning to see the thing I don't want to see (myself), and amplifying instead of denying. It's why I make a bad minimalist - I'd minimize to zero if I could, have tried to, but now I fight that. This is one way I fight, thought I'd share it with you."

your invitation:
tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be an artefact or a glitch, a link to some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] ; i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

One Thing Too: Ronald Seatter

"at MacLarens with the glass half full"

your invitation:
tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be an artefact or a glitch, a link to some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] ; i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

One Thing Too: Margaret Saine

THRESHOLD OF A DARKENED WORLD
HAIKU [9]



let the daylight fade
and night fall: I want to be part
of your dreaming

when the ocean roars
and hills echo with murmurs
we shall move closer

flying through the night
a moth makes the air tremble
our dreams start rustling

from a darkened world
we quickly cross the threshold
to hold and cherish

I spread out my dreams
at your feet, open my heart
to your tender sighs                   

in the sheets of night
your bold body appears dressed
only in my gaze

bodies surrounded
by air in a naked space
open to the skies

the burden of words
our rosary of poems
holds joy and sorrow    

in the night’s embrace
unison bodies inflame
hearts nude to the touch

your invitation:
tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be an artefact or a glitch, a link to some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] ; i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

One Thing Too: Devon Balwit

I want to send you an image from one of my favorite artists, Ivan Albright.  As a teenager, his work fascinated me (and it continues to do so and to inspire many ekphrastic poems).  I was captivated by how his surfaces were roiling and bubbling, splitting and blistering.  Much was going on unseen (just as it was within me then and still is now).  I was taken by the fact that he spent years, even a decade, on a single work.  That spoke to an obsessiveness and a fierce fidelity to his own vision that I hoped to find within me as well as I undertook my own creative tasks.  Also, many people find his works repellent as his humans and the worlds they inhabit look wrecked or diseased.  In contrast, I took (and take) comfort from this.  It is from our wreckage that we create.  It is from disease that we heal (or die and change).

This painting, "That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door)" was the one that took him a decade to paint.  It hangs in the Chicago Museum of Art.  It is worthy of a pilgrimage. 

your invitation:
tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be an artefact or a glitch, a link to some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] ; i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

One Thing Too: Ellen Wiener


 here's your invitation, everyone...

tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be an artefact or a glitch, a link to some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] ; i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

Monday, November 28, 2016

One Thing Too: Gary Barwin

saw this on Gary Barwin's FB page & dearly wanted it to be our first One Thing Too.

Gary writes: "Just came across this, one of my last official duties as music teacher/choir director at Hillfield Strathallan College. I wrote this little piece, here performed by my Middle School Choir and the Senior School Choir for the big 'holiday' concert, Carol Service.


One thing that isn't in the video is the final verse of the final song that the entire school would sing (Adeste Fideles) when the students would (ostensibly) surreptitiously rip up their programs and then throw them into the air when the headmaster wished everyone happy holidays. An amazing moment. 1000 kids throwing confetti into the air at once, the hall filled with paper snow. I equipped my choir (who didn't have programs) with pockets full of glitter so there was our own little bit of radiance over us. Quite a magical moment at the end of term."

watch your mailbox for a thank you bit of whimsy from me soon, Gary!

& here's your invitation, everyone...

tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be about some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] & i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com


"One Thing" Too

hi all,
remember one thing? it happened here on this blog in the summer of 2015. i'd like to do it again.
here's the invitation:


tell me or show me one thing. it doesn’t have to be profound. it could be visual or written or a combo of both.  it could be about your work; it could be about some film or tv show you’ve watched or a coffee place you like. it could be short or long. i’ll post it along with a link of your choice to your work or somewhere else. disclaimer: i might choose not to post if it doesn’t suit me.
your reward? send me your mailing address & i’ll send you something whimsical…
it’s dark out there this summer  fall/winter [since the election of that motherfucker in the USA etc] & i think we need an injection of whimsy / duende.
so fire away. svp. amanda at angelhousepress dot com

Monday, November 21, 2016

Advocate by Darren Greer

Although we have never met, I knew I liked Darren Greer from the moment I started reading his essay collection, “Strange Ghosts” (Cormorant Books, 2006), particularly the opening piece entitled “Remembering Felix Partz” in which he writes about gaining an appreciation for contemporary art while wandering through the National Gallery of Canada as a patient in a drug addiction treatment program, later diagnosed with HIV.

The experience in the NGC was an inspiration for his compelling novel, “Still Life with June” (Cormorant Books, 2003). Although I read the book some time ago, I remember loving the character of June, the woman with Down’s Syndrome. What I have always liked about Darren’s work, aside from the fact that the stories are always engrossing, is that he writes about Salvation Army workers, drug addicts, criminals, people in the margins, but he doesn’t turn them into caricatures or standard bearers, he just has them try to deal with whatever’s going on. He makes them real and he makes their dilemmas plausible. I went on to read and enjoy all his novels and am currently rereading “Strange Ghosts” and if I can figure out where I’ve shelved “Still Life with June,” I’m going to reread that too. If I loaned it to you, please return it.

“Advocate”(Cormorant Books, 2016) is the story of Jacob McNeil who works as a counsellor in Toronto at a men’s outreach centre. He returns to his small town of Advocate, Nova Scotia to see his dying grandmother, with whom he has a complicated history. The story is also about the treatment his Uncle David received from  his family and the town when he returned to Advocate in 1984. In the course of the novel, we learn that David has AIDS. Certainly he is the first person to have AIDS in that small town.  Their reaction is to shun him and his family. Political and religious authority figures ban him and his family, including a twelve-year-old Jake, from taking part in any activities or entering any public buildings. . In Jake’s case, he is first told he can’t enter the school library and then he is not allowed to attend school. When his uncle dies, no undertaker in the town will bury him, nor will any religious institution give him a funeral. Compassion comes from outside the town and from the Indigenous community. It’s interesting that compassion in this book comes from those who are not part of the status quo. The people of Advocate, divided on Catholic and Protestant lines, but religious, are afraid of contagion and believe that the disease is God’s punishment  for homosexuality.

When the young Jake first encounters his Uncle David, he is resentful of his presence, but as time goes on, he gets to know him and comes to love him. David is intelligent, has been a teacher and is well-read. He befriends, Henry, fellow bibliophile and the town’s only black person, who Jake also gets to know. Henry is one of the people to spend time with David. We see the terrible scourge of the disease through Jake’s eyes. The portrait of David is drawn with compassion and accuracy.

It is easy to treat human suffering as abstract. The talent of Darren Greer is that he doesn’t let us do that. He gives us a close up view of suffering and shows how intolerance causes heartbreak and sorrow, in addition to the horror of AIDS, particularly when it was first discovered and diagnosed.

The grandmother is the matriarch of the family after the death of her husband, the town’s doctor. She is used to getting respect and she expects to be treated with the same. When David comes back to live in the family home, his grandmother is not pleased. She never accepted the fact that he was gay. When the town begins to treat her and the rest of the family badly because of David, we see some cracks in her armour, but she never yields in her lifetime and by the time she is dying, it is too late.

On her deathbed, she asks something surprising of Jake. In order to do what she asks, Jake has to sift through his feelings for his grandmother and the way she treated his uncle and decide if he can acquiesce.

The grandmother is controlling and judgemental. The townspeople are superstitious and ignorant but they are also afraid and we see that fear when the water supply is tainted and the population sickens. They assume that the sick have come down with AIDS, given to them by David, the only person in the town with the disease.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Bernadette, or Deanny, who first appears as a young girl from the wrong side of the tracks who causes Jake to get dirty for the first time in his life, much to the horror of his grandmother. Deanny goes on to be an influence in Jake’s life, always pushing him to date a new man. She is also one of the few people to show compassion to David. I think Deanny could have a book of her own. I’d love to read it.

Jake, the main character, is well-rendered. We see his struggle as someone who likes order, who is put in a situation where there can be no order; his uncle is dying, his grandmother and the town are acting in ways he doesn’t understand. He likes to line up his fingers “perfectly on the paper, so large equations could be distilled magically down to one final and irrevocable number equal to a variable of x or y.” He starts to discover his own sexuality when his uncle is dying of AIDS. He is afraid of the ramifications of his attraction to males and not females. He is confused when  his grandmother forbids him to play with the Easy Bake Oven he finds in the attic. He takes a biology class in order to learn about the virus so that he won’t be frightened of it.

He decides to abandon a potential career in mathematics in favour of working as a counselor, after seeing what his uncle has gone through. Perhaps it is that intimate knowledge of his uncle’s suffering that makes it difficult for him to treat clients clinically, taking their difficulties too much to  heart, but he also has issues with personal intimacy, with forming relationships with other men. Jake struggles throughout the book and my heart goes out to him as it does to David.

 I haven’t spoken of Jake’s mother or his Aunt Jeannette, but they also play important roles in the book, acting as foils to his grandmother’s strict and narrow-minded attitudes. They also take care of David with love and compassion.

I wouldn’t be an appreciator of poetry, if I didn’t mention the vivid imagery in this book. Early on, in Jake’s biology class, the virus is described as “shaped like a dodecahedron…coloured green, with small barnacles all over it. It looked like a child’s toy, or a badly made Christmas ornament.” The descriptions of the family homes are fascinating and deliberate: the depression era glass bowl, the statue of a black boy with a fishing pole on the lawn, the garden gnomes. There’s poetry and humour in the descriptions of the Orange and Lemon parades given by the Irish Protestants and Catholics. There’s symbolism in David’s St. Jude medallion.

The book shows how intolerance and fear can take hold and lead to inhumanity and lack of compassion. In this post-truth era, the book seems particularly relevant.

Darren Greer is one of several Canadian writers who I admire and read extensively in the fields of poetry, fiction and nonfiction/autobiography. He, along with Amber Dawn, bill bissett, Michael V. Smith, Heather O’Neill, Bill Brown, Marcus McCann, Daniel Allen Cox, Lynn Crosbie, Nelly Arcan, Tom Walmsley, Tamara Faith Berger, Billeh Nickerson, and Zoe Whittall, to name a few, write strongly, with humour and compassion, and deal with issues of estrangement and intolerance based on sex and sexuality, poverty, family dysfunction, gender and orientation, managing to make the issues real and personal. These are subjects that I am concerned with, obsessed with. These are my people.

I will end with a quote from “Strange Ghosts,” which epitomizes why I like this man and his writing:

“Artists are also canaries in the mineshaft of the world—they, we, are people who have never learned to express in socially acceptable ways our anxiety for the state of the world.
            So here I am, thirty-seven years of age, and my teacher’s prediction has, thankfully, not come true. I have never learned, for better or for worse, to live with things simply as they are. I am still that hopelessly inarticulate, socially awkward boy, standing in front of my audience and crying out for everyone to listen, for everyone to open their eyes and try just for a minute to honestly and truly see.” “Elugelab: Canaries in the Mindshaft of the World.” (Strange Ghosts)


Please note that any inaccuracies, errors and spelling errors are my own. -- AE

Sunday, November 13, 2016

New stories at Unlikely


Thanks to Jonathan Penton and Alan Fyfe of UnlikelyStories.org for publishing the first of two stories from “Fallen Angels and Other Broken People.” Lucifrina is kicked out of Heaven after fucking Michael. Tango Unclare finds a home in the desert after wrecking havoc in Humdrum City. You can read the stories here.

These stories mark a departure in my fiction writing. They are not erotica, not deliberately written to arouse the sexual appetite as well as the imagination, the heart and the mind. I hope you enjoy them. Please let me know if they resonate for you in any way.

I am grateful to have been published once more at UnlikelyStories.org. Previous publications include visual poetry:



and erotic fiction:

Successor about a dystopian post-apocalyptic society which hunts queers and gender queer people, who hide and create their own world underground.

Ludmila’s Voyage about a young women who is seduced and corrupted until the tables are turned.

I am continuing to work on stories about the characters in “Fallen Angels and Other Broken People.” Stay tuned!


Thank you for reading.