Writing on International Dance Day

For International Dance Day, I participated in a Yoga and Writing workshop, to which I was invited through the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada. Following a Terrill Maguire-led half-hour of yoga-inspired movement to get our creative auras active, we did time-constrained writing exercises led by Carol Anderson. One of the writing activities consisted of 3-minute bursts of writing about parts of our body. Here are my unedited (we weren’t allowed) writings:

My Hips

For years, my hips didn’t know they were lonely.

My hips didn’t know they’d enjoy bearing, didn’t know they’d like having tiny hips, hands, arms, feet, legs, face nestled in them.

My hips experienced this once and are sad – just a little – that they haven’t had a chance to be a nest again.

My Feet

My feet are looking forward to the sunshine, to grass, to sand between their toes.

My feet will be glad to dress in sandals and toe rings and paint.

My feet enjoyed their winter cardigans – reds and blues and cats and bows and hearts and stripes,

but they long to breathe and not be cold, for a change.

My hair

My hair is shy, thinning since it was ten years old.

My hair artificially sought body, and it broke, severed under a perm.

My hair is long and I cut it because what’s the difference.

My hair learns, every night, to be curly the next day.

My hair discovers it is happy even when stifled under wigs;

and as my hair gets wispier and wispier, it knows it has in them a replacement.

My spine

My spine woke up a few years ago, no longer curving at the neck – elongating itself, asserting itself, finding a way to lengthen though it is part of only a five-feet-tall frame.

My spine is short, yet mighty.

My heart

My heart skips beats – literally. (Figuratively, that hasn’t happened in years.)

My heart likes to surprise me and worry me with its literal irregularity.

« Don’t worry, it’s normal, » says the doctor.

So, everyone is walking around with their hearts stopping for milliseconds at a time?

It’s a wonder we keep going and don’t stop, for a moment, to feel until our hearts start again.

#TBT The Write Decision

Over twelve years ago, my then-still-new alma mater, Carleton University, featured me and three fellow writers in the cover story of its student and alumni magazine. (You’ll also see an article about Lynn Coady in there.)

A screen capture of the Carleton magazine feature "Making the Write Decision", featuring A.M. Matte.

I am quoted as saying: « If you can’t go through the day without writing, then you’re a writer. » I think I was channeling L.M. Montgomery’s Emily « of New Moon » Starr when I said that.

You can read the full article by following this link.

Ah, youth.

Immense Thanks to the Toronto Arts Council

A Big Thank You to the Toronto Arts Council, for its support of my writing.

Its generous support will allow me to take some time next summer to write the second part of my novel, La face cachée du bonheur.

I am one of two French-language writers to get Grants to Writers support this year.

Merci beaucoup!

A Literary Cabaret, live literature and music

Literary Cabaret poster, highlighting the evening line-up of readers, including A.M. Matte

Literary Cabaret poster

As part of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative’s annual outreach efforts, I participated in the 2014 Literary Cabaret at Alleycatz Lounge last February. Eighteen members of the Co-op took the stage to perform their writing, accompanied by a varying array of musicians.

Though I’d never met him before we shook hands on stage, my reading of my short story  Paper Dolls was accompanied by James Faulkner on acoustic guitar. James’ spry yet mournful strumming was a touching backdrop to a story of a late-blooming friendship in the life of an older woman.

I will make a video of my reading available in April.

Under a spotlight and by a few microphones, A.M. Matte reads excerpts of her short story, Paper Dolls

A.M. Matte on stage, reading excerpts of her short story, Paper Dolls (photo courtesy of Omar Samara)

 

Exchanging Notes – Alissa York at the Toronto Public Library

Had a great time at the Toronto Public Library yesterday, where writer Alissa York was a guest of the Toronto Writers’ Co-operative, and interviewed by john miller.

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Ms. York talked about her childhood, the inspiration for her books, her writing routine, the importance of naming characters well (with which I agreed wholeheartedly) and the role of animals in her life and in her writing.

I was struck by Ms. York’s dedication to her writing and the thoroughness of her research (Ms. York’s books are quite research-heavy), and at how one tiny detail such as a discrepancy in the number of survivors of the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre provided « just enough room » to allow her to write her novel Effigy.

It was an enlightening, entertaining and enjoyable evening. I wish I had taken notes beyond the few in my Twitter feed!

A.M. Matte and Alissa York standing side by side in an open space of the Toronto Public Library

A.M. Matte and Alissa York at the Toronto Public Library

Pigeons Go Wild – Book Launch

What better spot than a wing place to launch a book boasting a pigeon on its cover?

On Wednesday, November 20th, 2013, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., please join me as I launch my short collection of stories, Where Pigeons Roost, at Wild Wing, 431 Yonge Street in Toronto, just south of College subway station.

Those attending the launch will get half price appetizers with the purchase of a drink, and a copy of the book for over 10% off the cover price.

See you there!

Cover of short story collection Where Pigeons Roost, featuring a photgraph of pigeons strutting about on a sunny pavement.

The cover of Where Pigeons Roost.

Where Pigeons Roost – now available

Very excited to announce that I have approved the proof of my short story collection, and that Where Pigeons Roost and other stories is now available through me and through Amazon!

Cover page of short story collection Where Pigeons Roost, featuring a photgraph of pigeons strutting about on a sunny pavement.

The cover page of Where Pigeons Roost, designed by Maria Buscemi

In Where Pigeons Roost, four women trapped in worlds of their own making journey between obsession and redemption.

« Feather and Gaelyn reached the foyer, not yet knowing that each would remain disappointed by her life while being secretly pleased her twin would fare no better. They did not yet know that their final competition – whom would outlive the other – would be moot, the winner forever undeclared. » – Excerpt from Stalemate, from Where Pigeons Roost

The book’s official launch will be held in November in Toronto, Canada. Details to follow!

A Public Service Reading

Following my Salon du livre de Toronto gig in December 2012, I was invited by public servant colleagues at the government of Ontario to host a reading and discussion next week, on Valentine’s Day.

I will read my short stories Secrets and Nelles, both from literary magazine Virages, to an audience of people who know me more as a policy advisor than as a writer.

Too often, public servants are painted as lazy, boring paper-pushers. While there may be a handful of those, most of us are dynamic workers, eager to serve our fellow citizens. We are  especially, people who care. We are family people, volunteers and leaders in our communities. And some of us are even artists.

A discussion about the place of writing in my life, stuffed here and there around work and family responsibilities, will be interesting. When one has a passion, it’s a privilege to share it with others.

 

A Reading In Absentia

A few weeks ago, my mother, who coordinates a programme for seniors in Ottawa called Creative Connections, held a reading of my work for the programme’s participants.

I wasn’t there.

My mum read for me: my short story A Treat (excerpt here), and two non-fiction pieces, Maman’s Hands and Sunborrowers and Watering Cans.

The positive response is humbling; « they want more! » shares my mum by email.

They meet once a week – I better get writing.

Good News and Free Flow

I happily began the year 2013 with three bits of good writing news:

– I won second place in Good News Toronto‘s True Story Contest. (more on that here)

– My short story Nelles (in French) will be published in the literary magazine Virages in March. (an excerpt can be found here)

–  I will have a ten-minute play produced in this year’s Inspirato Festival, for which I must  write a play from scratch.

As part of  Inspirato Festival’s Playwrights’ Mentoring Project, I attended a day-long workshop during which I met my fellow playwrights and did short writing exercises before being assigned the subject matter of the play I am to write for the festival in June 2013.

One of the exercises included building a small sculpture and writing a free flow/stream of consciousness monologue from its point of view. The result:

We voyaged across the sea, but remain perched in precarious existence. If we photosynthesized, we’d be leaning toward the sun. As it is, we merely lean gravity-ward, which annoys us as we yearn to achieve more. We are both practical and whimsical; our career as a children’s entertainer didn’t last long. If we had the means, we’d bask in the collective glow of of super troupers and admiration. Sadly, the reflection of mere trinkets in the mirror remind us that inanimate life cannot hope, as Pinocchio did, to become real. And even if we fulfilled our dream of a grander, more productive life, it might be at the cost of a separation too painful to fathom. A diminutive pedestal therefore must suffice; hope of a melody at our centre remaining merely the lullaby of slumber, which, even that, escapes us.

A trinket from Croatia, a set of skeleton keys and a foam clown nose get me writing.

It’s unlikely that this text makes it anywhere into the short play I need to write by next month, but it was fun playing with words and getting something down, pencil to paper. Now to write about rope…