5 min read

Letter of News: Vanished Spring Edition

Blackberry brambles in white bloom against a sunny blue sky, the sun tangled up in one of the top stems.

Dear Friends,

The crocuses, squill, and lilacs have all been and gone. The last time I wrote was March 8, and at some point in the last 5-7 days, I fully out loud said "isn't it wild that May's almost over?"

So that's how things have been over here.

Meanwhile, here's some time-sensitive stuff.

Bereavement Fundraiser for Jessica Wick

Jess is one of my dearest friends; she co-founded Goblin Fruit with me back in 2006, and is very much family. She lost her mother last month, and it's been harrowing to witness all the ways in which vicious systems essentially paywall the right to grieve.

CSE Cooney, Carlos Hernandez, Julia Rios and I put together this GoFundMe for her and her brother; it would mean a lot if you'd consider spreading the word or contributing to it.

Cover for the anthology, titled ALL IN AMONG THE BRIARS: An Anthology of Mythic Wonder. A curtain-like frame at the top features a fox on the left hand side tangled up in berry brambles; on the right hand side, a beautiful young woman is half-obscured by the same brambles while playing with her long red hair. The brambles also tangle up individual bones. Beneath the title, a centrepiece of bones, berry, spiderwebbing and flying insects drips something that could be juice or blood. Despite the suggestion of gore the image is dainty, in an illustrated fairy tale storybook style. A disc at the top centre of the frame contains the words "In Honor of Karen Wick."

Offered in thanks to anyone who donates, Julia edited together this very beautiful anthology of mythic stories, poems and art by Jess' friends and colleagues. The cover features art by Oliver Hunter, and the collection includes a 2009 collaborative poem between Jess and me, an exemplar of the playful folkloric stuff we were doing together then. It's called "Apple Jack Tangles the Maidy Lac with a Red, Red Ribbon," originally published in Mike Allen's Mythic Delirium, and accompanied in the anthology, as it was then, by a fantastic illustration from Paula Arwen Owen.

DRESSED AS PEOPLE at the Ottawa Fringe!

Poster for "Dressed As People: A Triptych of Uncanny Abduction." Beneath the title, a white middle-aged woman with short white hair and piercing blue eyes stares directly at the camera, wearing a white shirt, and holding her hands up, palms facing her, close to her chin. Behind her is a blurred and enlarged image of her that's almost identical except that her hands are covering her face.

The Ottawa Fringe Festival is on, and Margo MacDonald is performing Dressed As People at it live and in person – closing a restorative circle from its origins at the virtual Fringe in 2021. Here's a chunk of what I said about seeing it in person for the first time last year.

In 2021, my dear friend Margo MacDonald invited Kelly Robson, A. M. Dellamonica and me to each write her a monologue on the theme of "uncanny abduction." We did, and the result became Dressed as People: A Triptych of Uncanny AbductionIt debuted during Ottawa's virtual Fringe Festival, where it took home the Audience Choice & Outstanding Solo Performance awards, but this year it's getting tangibly staged twice, and the first set of shows took place during Ottawa's Undercurrents festival last week: directed by Mary Ellis as before, but this time with sound design by Alli Harris and lighting design by Laura Wheeler.
I caught it on closing night and it was, frankly, a triumph. I fully expected Margo to be mesmerizing and to blow me away, because I've been watching her perform for just over 20 years; what I didn't know how to expect was the dimension and texture added by the set and sound and light design, how it would feel to get to see these pieces take up space. My sister described experiencing Kelly Robson's devastating "Skinless" as "a dull ache" in her heart; A. M. Dellamonica's "Repositioning" had us roaring with laughter and then going suddenly, tensely quiet with every almost-revelation.
My piece, titled "The Shape of My Teeth," was between them, and despite having heard Kelly's name announced with her piece before Margo began performing, I was completely unprepared for hearing my own name spoken over the sound system. It was the first of several knocks at my heart; at one point I found myself leaning forward, mouth open, tearing up, unable to believe that I'd written anything of what Margo was saying, because surely if I had it couldn't affect me like this, but I had, and it was, and that's theatre.
The audience that night sounded so young and so passionate and so queer. People came up to us afterwards to talk about the pieces and how much they loved them, and I felt like some dark, dusty room inside my body had lit up – dimly, the bulb flickering and confused, but still showing the contours of the space in which I used to talk about art and life and love in crowds of people, filling each other up with excitement and joy and gratitude and the terror and relief of being seen.

But you don't have to take my word for it – you can go see it in person any time between now and closing night on June 22! Here are the times:

  • Saturday, June 15, 9:00PM
  • Sunday, June 16, 3:00PM
  • Tuesday, June 18, 6:00PM
  • Thursday, June 20, 7:30PM
  • Saturday, June 22, 9:00PM

I really hope you're able to make it out and experience Margo's extraordinary performance. Buy your tickets now! Bring friends! Go see it a BUNCH of times – in fact, maybe plan to, because indie theatre is so hard to make happen and so ephemeral. I hope you see as much of the Fringe as you can.

There's so much I want to talk about: so much family eventfulness, so much writing stuff, so much travel to come and travel that's been. I miss writing here fulsomely and thoughtfully. The last two and a half months have seen a lot of dissociation and grief, wonder and relief, small tossed stones of conversation rippling the surface of my life in ways I can't trace the shape of yet, before even wondering at what's stirring beneath it. New projects, new knowledge, new ways of feeling solidarity and allyship – both their presence, and their absence. There's joy and grief in that too: understanding, in marrow-deep ways, to whom you are a whole person all of the time, and to whom your humanity is contingent on your sweetness and biddability.

Sometimes it's clarifying; sometimes it's muddying. It's hard to say which is which from inside the process. But the process is ongoing.

Anyway, here are some links about Palestine.

If you're in Canada, this informational google doc is updated almost daily with information, scripts, and direct actions you can take to pressure our government into ceasing its support for Palestinian genocide and stand in solidarity with people enduring relentless and unspeakable horror.

If you're in the US, Jewish Voice for Peace has many tools for coordinating action, and links to repositories of information for comprehending this atrocity.

This Linktree has a rotating list of six fundraisers started by Palestinians in Gaza and their family members abroad. When the goals are met, the fundraisers get rotated off and replaced with new ones. This is triage and absolutely not a substitute for immediate ceasefire and the lifting of obstructions to aid which the US and Israel could make happen instantly. But every life saved is a universe, and I think this is a helpful coordination.

Similarly, Operation Olive Branch is coordinating efforts that cast a wider net, tabulating different categories of need and requests for help.

I hope that wherever you are in the world you're finding ways to work for the liberation of all people.

All best,


Mirror-selfie taken from the bust up in a partially visible gloriously ornate gilt mirror frame, next to which someone has scribbled “Ceasefire Now, Save Gaza”