Group Homes, Death, Myths, Madness, and Rediscovering Reading

Welp, it’s been a while since I updated my website. I’ve been busy surviving a whole, actual, ongoing pandemic. It’s a thing. You can probably relate. Since my last update, lots of works that were in the pipeline have come out, so with only…

this much…

further ado…

here they are!

Apparition Lit, the funky independent, speculative lit mag that published my flash piece Seeking Same a few years back, shared my new essay about rediscovering reading after being diagnosed with Covid. Called When We Lost Touch, it’s—at heart—a love letter to the literary community and anyone who is creating art in this impossible time.

Stone of Madness Press picked up my stream of consciousness poem, Familiar, that tries to explain/invite people in to a moment of cPTSD-related panic.

Anti-Heroin Chic shared my group home story-verse about the moment I realized the grass on the other side can be a pretty, green lie. You can read Untended here.

Like everything helmed by Chris Talbot-Heindl, All My Relations is a gorgeous, honest collection that spends time in the concepts of death and loss without losing sight of how delicate and necessary mourning can be. My piece, Death Is a Way to Come Home: Rituals for the Estranged, is a creative non-fiction essay that visits the ways I’ve learned to mourn my estranged family members.

Finally, the minison zine’s mythology themed 12th issue includes three of my pieces: heroes villains, my creation myth, and ra was the sun god. Each poems is made up entirely of lines that are also anagrams of the title. I like to give myself a challenge.

That’s all for now! Hopefully I can find the spoons to get back to writing and submitting soon.

Centring our creative community

This week, I’m giving a boost to a new anthology called It Gets Even Better: Stories of Queer Possibility. I backed their Kickstarter, so my copy just arrived in the mail! It’s full of speculative lit featuring all kinds of Queer stories. It takes Queer-friendly space literally and I love it. You can buy it as an eBook, paperback, or audio book here.

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A Questionnaire for Reporters Writing About Folks Experiencing Homelessness


CW: homelessness, violence, illness, hunger, food, institutionalization, cPTSD, medication, psychiatry.
  1. What’s the largest bruise a security guard has left on your body? Could you draw it back on from memory? Is it tattooed in your brain, even as it’s faded from your skin?
  2. How many tuberculosis tests have you had to take? Can you count them on one hand? Do your hands still shake?
  3. Which item that you sold for food do you regret the most? Or have you learned that regret only comes in moments of quiet? Do you avoid quiet so that you can’t hear your stomach or your knees or your spine play the symphony of privation?
  4. How many times has your life been reset to zero point? If it happens again, will you cry or have you spent all your tears? Do people tell you that you are strong when really, you’re just not dead yet?
  5. How many flashlights have shone through small windows at you while you tried to sleep? Did it jar you awake? Did the subsequent nightmares feature every terror you’d run away to escape?
  6. What was it like cutting your meds in half to make them last longer? How many months did you have to save for a therapy session? What did it feel like when the therapist cringed while you described your life?
  7. What is the coldest your toes have ever been? How many days did the ache linger? Does a drop in temperature still make you panic?
  8. Will you tell the truth when the kid at the kiosk in the mall asks you why you even want this job? What address will you put on the application? Can you wear a retail-ready smile for ten hours after figuring out which play structure in the park offers the most cover from the rain?
  9. How many times has someone watched you use the washroom? How many case workers have laid hands on you? How young were you the first time you were under the care of someone who saw you as consumable?
  10. What makes you think you’re qualified to tell our stories?
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Writing Recap

It’s nice to be back to sharing my writing again. I was fortunate to have three selections come out recently.

The first seems a bit on the nose, all things considered. It’s a poem that I wrote for an anthology called A Drunken Midsommar, featuring pieces inspired by the film Midsommar. Called How to Deprogram Yourself after Leaving a Cult, it explores what it takes to undo the programming of belief. You can download the eBook here, or buy it as a paperback here.

The second is a series of three minisons (14 letter poems) that were included in The Minison Zine’s fairy tale themed issue. I don’t create visual poetry very often, so this was fun to do.

Finally, my horror flash fiction piece, Where Suctorial Insects Abound, is part of The Periodical, Forlorn: Vampires Rise Again. It’s a short piece, but it has bite. Or maybe sting is more accurate. You can buy the issue here for $2.99.

Enjoy!

Resilience

Hello all. I have two more days until my Covid quarantine is over and I can walk in the sun again. This bug is no joke! I can’t remember the last time I was this tired.

Still, it’s also National Poetry Month and I was fortunate enough to be invited to share some words with the League of Canadian Poets. The first piece is an essay, 18 Interpretations of Resilience. It’s an odd year to spend time thinking about resilience. I tried to be honest about the ways the concept has helped and hindered me. The second piece is a poem, Avocado. This is both one of my favourite poems and one of my most rejected. In retrospect, that feels right for the theme.

I’m off for a nap (lots of those right now). But be well, drink lots of water, and hug your humans.

H. E.

Poetry, Homed

I’ve recently had three poems published. The first, A Line From This Poem to Me, was published by Tealight Press. It’s about discovering my gender in a space that couldn’t even say its name. Two other poems, She Asked Me Why I Write Poetry and It Made Me Want to Sing, were published in issue 2 of Ghost Heart Literary Journal. This issue, called Transcend, is dedicated to the voices of creators who exist in the trans experience. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can find it on my Poetry page.

Centring our creative community

I usually feature writers, but we have the ability to work remotely during lockdown. Tattoo artists aren’t so fortunate. One of my favourite artists, the one responsible for the poppy tattoo on my arm, has started selling prints on Etsy. E.K. is more than an artist—they are also part of a community of tattoo artists that work to make their field more safe, equitable, anti-racist, and sustainable. Their work is bold, clean, and usually nature inspired. You can view their work and make purchases here.

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A Group of Poems Is Called a Whisper

Today I’m going to share the poems I had published while I was on pause.

The first, Salt, was published in poetically magazine‘s premiere issue, wonders of winter. It’s perhaps my most intimate poem.

My minison series, The Seven Stages Via Kübler-Ross, appeared in the third issue of The Minison Zine. A minison is a 14 letter sonnet, and is the shortest form I’ve experimented with.

Three of my poems were published in print journal The Avenue‘s sexuality and gender themed issue. They aren’t available online, but the issue can be purchased here.

If you enjoy my poetry, you can always find more of it here.

CENTRING OUR CREATIVE COMMUNITY

Author Dianna Gunn wears so many hats, I’m starting to think she’s a hydra. When she’s not prolifically penning stories, recording podcasts, or helping authors learn how to market their work, she’s busy creating virtual conferences. There’s one coming up on February 20th called Worldbuilding Deep Dive. I’m particularly jazzed for the Accessibility in Worldbuilding: Understanding How Disabled People Move Through Your World panel. All of the panels are free, though spaces are limited. Writers can sign up here.

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Awards Eligibility Time!

Welp, for the first time ever I’m creating an awards eligibility post. Small but mighty, I’m proud of this list of what I’ve accomplished in my first year actively and consistently submitting. Thank you for giving my work a look!
—H. E. Casson

Title: Wings Pulled To Body
Genre: Poetry
Publisher: Scifaikuest, August 2020
This is a short poem about reverse metamorphosis.

Title: 12 Tanzen Lane
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale
Publisher: Cast of Wonders, September 2020
Published as an audio play, 12 Tanzen Lane is a queer retelling of the 12 Dancing Princesses fairy tale, set in a group home. It explores gender, trauma, mental illness, and love. It’s informed by my own time spent in the group home system growing up.

Title: Weeding the Experiential Archives
Genre: Speculative Fiction
Publisher: The Quilliad, November 2020
In this experimental short story, you are cast as the archivist, deciding which experiences will remain in your collection and which will be discarded and sold. The experiences are gleaned from the near past, present, and near future.

The Labels on Shampoo

My first published shape poem, The Labels on Shampoo, is in Ang(st)’s 4th issue, which can be read here. Ang(st) is a feminist zine with a focus on the body. The other works in this issue cover so many moods and styles. There’s likely something in there for every experience of hair. I’ve found some brilliant new writers to follow in this issue.

Funny side story: when I wrote this poem, I went to my local drugstore to take pictures of all the words used to sell shampoo (which, lets be honest, is just wet soap). I took so many photos, a guy at the store thought I was casing the joint. I had to explain that it was all for poetry. I’m not sure he bought it.

CENTRING OUR CREATIVE COMMUNITY

BTW, if you’re into zine culture, there’s some impressive work being done at the Wiggle Bird Mailing Club. There are a few different levels of support you can offer on their Patreon, but every level includes at least some of their bright, gloriously designed zines from trans and queer authors. If an ongoing monthly commitment isn’t feasible, you can also support them with one-off purchases at their Etsy shop.

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Naked

by H. E. Casson
(CW: Gender dysphoria, anxiety)

I stumbled across a poem I wrote a full two decades before I was open about the queerness of my gender. I sometimes feel like I was leaving myself breadcrumbs so that when I finally realized how lost I was, I’d be able to find my way home. This is one of those breadcrumbs.

For folks using text readers:

The clothes, they feel wrong
But the fault’s in the wearer
In terror of being
Exactly myself
With the clothes
That I chose
From the piles on my shelf
I’m pretending I’m someone I’m not
Someone else
Someone normal
And happily lost in the crowd
When I’m lost in this shroud
In this lie
Over-false
Truer walls around feelings
That don’t match my pulse

And I’ve twisted around
From the me I should be
That even my clothes
Have rebelled against me

Saying, “There are some things
That we have to discuss.
For we’d rather you naked,
Than fake it,
With us.”

Shared on Twitter in 2020
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com