Rebent Sinner by Ivan Coyote

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Book cover for Rebent Sinner showing a black-and-white photo of a child blowing bubbles through a window; an old-fashioned toboggan run is also seen through the window.)“I read and then reread Stone Butch Blues [by Leslie Feinberg] in 1993, and […] I recognized myself in someone else’s story for the very first time.

“I recognized myself and picked up a pen, and now it’s twenty-seven years later and I have not put it down.”

Observations like this are the heart of Ivan Coyote’s remarkable new book, Rebent Sinner (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019). A collection of anecdotes, memories, and essays that range from a single sentence to several pages, Coyote takes the reader on an odyssey-like journey through life as a trans person, a working artist, and a storyteller. The stops along the way range from a trailer party in Whitehorse to a prison-turned-arts-centre in Hong Kong, but Coyote skillfully guides readers to each place with their clear, passionate voice. Continue reading

Hustling Verse edited by Amber Dawn and Justin Ducharme

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Book cover for Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers' PoetryHustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2019) showcases the literary talent of almost five dozen self-identified current or former sex workers (an umbrella that includes stripping, phone sex, full-service, etc.). The autobiographical thrust of Hustling Verse renders slut-shaming absurd and delivers a kind of reality check that only sex workers can.

Sedgemore’s poem, “A John’s Funeral,” for example, is a fond tribute to a client who “paid fucking well / and tipped too, also a great fuck” —one hundred and eighty degrees from the “violent john” bogeyman used to infantalize or concern-troll consenting adult sex workers. Hysterika’s “Going to Hell” revels in hedonism and not only eschews judgement but mocks the judgemental for their lack of imagination: “Twerking for Jesus / And his hair is metaphorically tied back in a gorgeous yoga man bun.” Continue reading

On Creating a Literary Festival: Five Questions with AfterWords Co-Organiser Stephanie Domet

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Official poster for the After Words Literary festival listing a selection of speakers.Understorey Magazine: AfterWords is a brand new literary festival for the Halifax area. What inspired you take on this project?

Stephanie Domet: My co-organiser, Ryan Turner, and I have had the idea for AfterWords since the final Halifax International Writers Festival back in 2008. Halifax hasn’t had a multi-day literary festival for the past ten years. We aimed to create the kind of event we would like to go to. There’s so much happening in Nova Scotia. We wanted to show writers who travel here for the festival—as well as local readers and writers—the very best that Halifax has to offer.

UM: Tell us about the AfterWords slogan: “Where writers and readers meet.”

SD: The focus of the festival is on conversation and hospitality, not just readings to an audience. So we have a lot of different venues, including Cafe Lara and the Agricola Street Brasserie. Some events free. Some have food and drink. We hope to widen the appeal of a literary festival, especially to people who might not think “literary” is their thing. This is not an elite event. It’s for everyone. Continue reading

Women on the Ballot by Betsy McGregor

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Book cover for Women on the Ballot: Pathways to Political PowerIt is an unfortunate fact that there have been more MLAs named John elected to Nova Scotia’s provincial legislature than there have been women. Women on the Ballot: Pathways to Political Power (Rubicon, 2019) bills itself as an “essential roadmap” to correct this imbalance by empowering women to run for political office.

Author Betsy McGregor ran for Liberal nominations three times and for Parliament twice. I have also run as both a federal and provincial NDP candidate and can say that many of the experiences and insights shared throughout this book ring true. McGregor interviewed more than 90 women with experience at all levels of politics. She spoke to Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats—from women of experience like Alexa McDonough, the first woman leader of the Nova Scotia NDP, and Hazel McCallion, Mississauga’s longest-serving mayor, to Roseanne Archibald, the youngest Chief at 23 years, and Farheen Khan, the only hijab-wearing woman to run during the 2015 federal election campaign.

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The Nap-Away Motel by Nadja Lubiw-Hazard

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Book cover for The Nap-Away Motel, showing a illustrated tree with cats.

We all have stayed at the Nap-Away. For a night or a week or a longer time, at some point and for some reason, we all have found refuge in a small motel on the edge of a city. The facade is nondescript except for one or two curious features. The same might be said of the staff. Because it’s the residents who, for the length of their stay, define the motel and create its story.

The Nap-Away in Nadja Lubiw-Hazard’s debut novel (Palimpsest, 2019) is somewhere in Scarborough. Its walls are yellow, the roof grey. Behind the Nap-Away is a huge oak tree and butterflies. In front is an open space where pigeons alight. And for the length of Lubiw-Hazard’s beautiful tale, the Nap-Away is home to three wildly different, struggling characters.

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