Weeding the Experiential Archives

It’s been a busy week for releases! My short spec-fic piece, Weeding the Experiential Archives, is in the latest issue of Quilliad. It is available to read or download to your device here. This story is inspired by my childhood spent building my own collection of books bought for a quarter from the library discard bin. I wondered what the future version of this would look like. This was a fun one to write as—something most folks don’t know—I’m a library and information technician. Writing this story helped justify 2 years of cataloguing class. Library people know what I mean.

Centring our Creative Community

If you haven’t checked out Spoonie Authors Network, what are you waiting for? Oh. More spoons? Fair. When you have the spoons, visit them and enjoy interviews, tips, and a kickin’ podcast. And if you don’t know what a Spoonie is, they have you covered there too! The network has a focus on disabled and chronically ill creators, but the tips are broadly applicable and can help any author improve their work.

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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Regarding the Shelter at Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre

A screen shot of a tweet by @cityoftoronto. It reads, "The City of Toronto is opening 560 new spaces between November and April to help those experiencing homelessness through out winter services plan. More space at warming centres and enhanced street outreach will also be activated during extreme cold weather alerts." There is also an imge which shows a large, warehouse like room in which glass barriers separate cots. The rooms are about twice the size of the cots. The glass walls provide no privacy. The cots resemble lawn chairs and feature a thin mattress.

This letter was written in response to a City of Toronto press release. In it, we see a photo of the proposed emergency shelter at at Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre. This is being offered as a no-choice alternative to Toronto’s tent communities. I will be sending this letter to the Mayor and my council representative.

Dear Mayor John Tory,

I’m writing today to ask you to reconsider your current plan to house people experiencing homelessness in the Better Living Centre as it currently exists.

There is a word we come back to when discussing people who are currently without a home: vulnerable. And it’s a fair descriptor. Our homeless community includes a disproportionate amount of refugee and asylum claimants, physical and sexual abuse survivors, group home and foster care survivors, formerly institutionalized or incarcerated people, folks who were homeless as children, disabled and chronically ill people, Black, Indigenous and Persons of Colour, veterans, and members of the 2SLGBTQQIPA+ or Queer community.

When I say vulnerable, what I mean is that homeless people have inevitably experienced trauma—and they continue to experience the ongoing trauma of being discarded and neglected in a nation of plenty.

When Toronto proudly shared their vision for emergency overnight accommodations for the winter, it was clear that it wasn’t designed with the survival of vulnerable persons in mind. To suppose that all that matters is a roof and a cot is to ignore the crossroads of vulnerability that people exist at if they are homeless in Toronto. How is a rape survivor supposed to sleep in a glass box? How is a group home survivor supposed to find rest in a space where they have no privacy or autonomy? How is a residential school survivor supposed to accept this as a place to warm on a cold night when cameras, and cells, and security guards make it more like a prison?

People are not dry goods. A warehouse is not an answer. To re-traumatize already traumatized people is to lengthen the time it will take them to rebuild if and when they find housing. I know I’m still recovering, some 25 years later, from my experiences with homelessness in Toronto. I’m sure it costs more to address the after-effects of that trauma now than it would have to just make sure my rent was covered all those years ago.

You say you consulted experts to design this space, but perhaps you need to spend time—actual ongoing time—with the community members who will use it. They are the real experts in their own needs. I know if you sat down with me I would tell you that homelessness has its own gravity. Once you are close to it, an inordinate amount of strength is needed to pull away. Because of this, an inordinate amount, and quality, of resources must be provided. The bare bones approach changes nothing, save re-traumatizing vulnerable community members by relocating them to what looks more like a debtor’s prison than a community care centre. I implore you to consider this when you create spaces for your fellow human beings.

Thank you,
H. E. Casson

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
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Allhallowtide

For the second time, the wonderful Kristin Garth has included one of my poems in her journal, Pink Plastic House. It was part of her 31-day collection of Halloween-hearted poems. You can read it by clicking here and scrolling down to October 17th, the day my poem was featured.

Centring our Creative Community

It seems apt to feature Kristin Garth – a creator and editor whose work will knock your socks off! Toeing the line between innocence and disaster, her work is always moody, always impactful, always visceral. You can support her by buying her books and following her on Twitter or Instagram. Read more from Pink Plastic House here.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Disenchanted

I was given the opportunity to voice Aunt Mae in the final episode of Mel Hartman’s brilliant exploration of haunted-house-horror as told through a young, neurodiverse, and queer lens. I encourage folks to listen to the whole series!

Disenchanted logo features a drawing of Lyra who is a teenager with short purple hair. They are in a dark house in front of a window, at night.

Here are a few platforms to listen on:

Centring our Creative Community

Starting today, whenever I post an update on this website, I’m going to boost another creator whose work deserves your eyes.

This week, it’s Vanessa Maki. She is a poet, writer, and visual artist whose work re-examines horror/popular culture — with a focus on film and television. To dive into her work, visit her LinkTree and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. You can also support her on Ko-Fi. At present, you can commission her to write a custom poem based on her curated list of horror/pop culture properties or purchase one of her existing chapbooks.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

What Were You Wearing?

The Autumn issue of Thema Literary Journal features my poem, What Were You Wearing? I wrote this piece in response to the question inevitably asked by police, social workers, doctors, friends, and lovers when talking about sexual assault. You can purchase the issue here.

12 Tanzen Lane

My queer and quirky fairy-tale retelling, 12 Tanzen Lane, is now live at the young adult speculative fiction podcast, Cast of Wonders. This story is informed by my time spent living in a transitional group home in my teens. They’ve done a careful job of taking my text and giving it life. I’m especially grateful to Larissa Thompson for the narration. I have to say, her Sylvia is exactly what I heard in my mind when I was writing.