Sandra Alland is a writer, filmmaker, performer and interdisciplinary artist. This is where they write and post photos, videos and recordings, sometimes. More info on Sandra at blissfultimes.ca
I’ve been quite ill, but am on the mend. 2013 has not been my year, dear friends. However, I still have some exciting things to report:
My documentary with Nathan Gale, ‘I’m Not Your Inspiration’, will screen at Fringe! Festival in London (April 11-14). And after a successful debut at the macrobert in Stirling, all the films from my Queer & Trans* Deaf & Disabled Video Project will screen:
18th April, 7pm
183 Dalry Road, Edinburgh
Facebook event here: http://www.facebook.com/events/476319065755327/
The films will also show in Glasgow:
19th April, 8pm
350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/245258135618772/
(Thanks to the LGBT History Month arts commission for making the project possible, and to Scottish Transgender Alliance for the catering!)
Then in June the entire film programme will take off to Berlin, land of many lovely people and organisations — including Entzaubert Film Festival!
I’ve just received a fantastic arts commission from LGBT History Month Scotland! I will be making a documentary about LGBTI Deaf & Disabled artists in Scotland, as well as mentoring six LGBTI Deaf & Disabled people. Go here for the call-out for the chance to make and screen a short video in Scotland.
Please repost this widely as my time to find people for the workshops and mentorship is very limited. Thanks in advance!
Ah, how the internet does not allow for much deep thought these days. Or at least my interaction with it does not. I tend to reply to emails from my 7 accounts, try to make sense of the newest shite changes on fb, and scroll through twitter for the news and good blog postings — all before I think about blogging, something I used to spend a great deal of time doing.
Last Sunday I caught some gorgeous readings at the not-so-well attended AvantGarden in Toronto (this is food for other thought — why is it when women, especially trans women, queer women and/or women of colour, are reading avant-garde or experimental work, the avant-garde and activist communities are both suddenly Too Busy??). Trish Salah and NourbeSe Philip gave brilliant readings, both of them jolting me back into thinking about writing and its importance, about what makes books and poetry vital.
Salah’s Lyric Sexology is a tour-de-force that I can’t wait to see in print. Her writing gives me goose-bumps, takes me to unexpected places, makes me question. More about her in this interview from Bodies of Work Magazine, where she talks about her trans, queer, Arab and Irish identities, among other deeply engaging topics. In the interview, she says:
"Since poetry is not lucrative, and in fact often operates as anti-economic activity, its value is for thought, dialogic encounter, symbolic transformation, ethical witnessing…. Even where the poet is in isolation, I think these activities invoke the social, the public, the communal."
That was my experience at AvantGarden that night, despite going there alone and not having deeply meaningful interactions outside of the readings themselves. I indeed felt like a witness, and am glad to have shared that witnessing with a few friends who were present. Sitting in the gallery at Glad Day, I was reminded by Salah and by NourbeSe Philip about the connections between humans.
Philip spoke of the deep grief, mortal contemplation and sense of guilt or responsibility caused by suicide. I have a dear friend who has lost three friends in the past year, one to suicide and two to drug overdose (which can also be interpreted as a form of suicide). It has been terrible to watch him struggle with these deaths. I lost a friend and co-worker to suicide almost ten years ago. Philip’s work affected me intensely, though I think it would affect anyone.
Her new piece, which I think is called Not Waving But Drowning (after the poem by Stevie Smith), is about her being a witness to a stranger’s suicide off of a bridge. Her writing moved me to cry, laugh and confront an existential angst that has been gnawing about my edges for quite some time. It was a moment when writing became transformative, painful but necessary, newly complex and even frightening. I don’t know how she does what she does, but she is one of the most gifted and brave writers I have encountered. It was a strange night, because instead of congratulations I offered her condolences, and a speedy release from this work.
In her own words, “At the start of the year I was unfortunate enough to witness a man commit suicide by throwing himself off a bridge in a ravine I used to walk in daily. I have not been able to return to the ravine and have been trying to write myself back to a place where I can begin to make that daily pilgrimage to what was the bedrock for me of “the trivial round the common task.” Walking to and through the ravine in the morning was how I began my day – it is exactly two miles from my home to the end and back. In this essay, which has become my life line – my bridge, if you will – across a chasm created by witnessing this suicide, I am exploring several ideas, one of which the British poet Stevie Smith succinctly captures in her poem, “Not Waving but Drowning,” where we confront the ambiguity of actions. The man on the bridge that fateful morning so many months ago was not exercising as I had thought, but was preparing to jump. Or, perhaps, he fell, which brings me to Nobel Laureate Albert Camus’ La Chute (The Fall), which I am reading in translation. In this work Clamence, the protagonist, crosses a bridge at night and passes a woman who falls or jumps off the bridge. He neither looks back or attempts to help. The Fall explores his motives and the results of his actions or, more accurately, his inaction.” (From Drunken Boat)
Cachín Cachán Cachunga! is at The Wee Red Bar on Saturday 11th February at 7pm. Don’t miss it! There will be music, there will be film, there will be poetry, dance and burlesque. There will be DJ Leggy Pee. There will be some of the hottest and most talented trans and queer artists in the UK: Lily & Yamil, Dr Carmilla, CN Lester, Jacqueline Applebee, Nathan Gale, Robert Softley and Glasgow Glam Bangers! Hosted by Zorras, who will do two new short pieces to warm things up. It’s CCC’s THIRD ANNIVERSARY and it’s gonna be yummy! Fully accessible and BSL-interpreted, and featuring several kick-ass disabled performers!
In related news, Edinburgh Books refused to put up a poster for the event. (This is the bitching part.) The man, who failed to identify himself except as @edinburghbooks on twitter, originally accepted the poster then refused it when he read it was queer and trans. He denies having told our artist that the event was against his principles, but has failed to clarify his poster policy, except to say that he only puts up posters of events that he would personally promote. He also failed to answer questions as to whether he would promote queer and trans literature. Instead he invited us off twitter to chat at his shop — which to be honest, I have no intention of ever visiting again. If you can’t be honest in public, why would I talk to you in private? Sadly, boycotting Edinburgh Books means missing some of the West Port Book Festival.
But onward! More bitching. It looks like Bongo Club is being evicted, which adds to the growing list of wonderful indie spaces that have been forced to close recently in Edinburgh. BC may soon join Cabaret Voltaire, The Roxy, The Big Red Door and The Forest in the graveyard of Beautiful Venues Forced Out By Jerks. Sign here to try to stop it!
See above re why Zorras are seriously considering relocating. Edinburgh is getting us down, man. Not that it’s ever been especially kind to us. But sheesh. Luckily we have Cachín Cachán Cachunga! and The Scottish Transgender Alliance, and the many lovely indie artists who are struggling to keep it going here.
I’ve got a solo reading coming up at an exciting event curated by Graham Brodie. It’s on 26 January (the day after dear Rabbie turns 250-something). I’ll be reading mostly new stuff, from my project Naturally Speaking. More deets below:
26 January, 7:30pm
Canon’s Gait, High Street
In other news, Zorras are busy bees for February, and will be bringing you not one, but two (!) events, both sponsored by the brill Scottish Transgender Alliance.
1. Cachín Cachán Cachunga! queer & trans cabaret
Saturday, 11 February, 7pm-10:30pm
Wee Red Bar
Edinburgh College of Art, 74 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh
For LGBT history month, Zorras bring you our THIRD anniversary event!!
Featuring Performances by
Jacq Applebee, Dr. Carmilla, Nathan Gale, Glasgow Glam Bangers, CN Lester, Lily & Yamil, and Robert Softley. + Short Films by Ania Urbanowska & DJ stylings by Miss Leggy Pee
Hosted by Zorras
More information at http://www.blissfultimes.ca/cachin.htm
Access Info: The Wee Red Bar is fully wheelchair accessible. Films are subtitled in English. The event will be BSL interpreted.
2. Zorras’ Gender Diversity Arts Workshop & Performance Opportunity
Saturday, 25 February, 2pm-9pm
Oasis Youth Centre, Newall Terrace, Dumfries, Scotland
To participate in the FREE Workshop and dinner before the performance you need to register in advance. To just be in the audience for the performance from 7pm to 9pm there is no need to register in advance. Travel & childcare are covered within reason.
Workshop is free & taught by Zorras. For Trans People & Allies.
Evening Performance £3/2 featuring
+ those workshop participants who wish to perform
The Oasis Youth Centre is fully accessible.