Jess Taylor, writer

Pauls out in stores NOW!

The World According to Jess

December 27, 2016.

Read at Pivot, Light Reading, Adele Barclay's Launch. Hosted IFOA event. Wrote my first blurb for Adam Zachary's The End, by Anna. Cultivating several hobbies. A lot of changes this year. Good ones. Trying to write to the end of Just Pervs and Where Everything Glows.

Hello!

So it seems like it's been another four months since I last wrote on here, and we're coming up to the end of 2016. Yay, another year done.


I currently am at my parents' place where I retreated for the holidays, hoping to finish up writing Just Pervs and Where Everything Glows. It's going okay, but of course, I'm never as fast as I want to be. But it's going and the process keeps getting more and more fun, which is nice. This was what my parents' Christmas tree looked like this year:

These are the books I brought with me to read or finish reading:

We did Christmas Eve at my parents' and then headed over to my brother and his wife's place. As soon as we got there, she told us she was feeling a little sick. Throughout breakfast, she couldn't eat and then she started shaking. She ended up staying home from my aunt's place. I ate a bit of pineapple in a jelly salad, which I'm allergic to, so I thought my rocky stomach was just that.

Yeah, no. I had the shakes all night yesterday and had to go to bed. I feel like this:

My brain isn't quite back up to fiction-writing-ability, so I thought I'd catch you all up instead. You're welcome.


Aside from writing these books this year, I've been trying to do a bunch of different things, mostly just to improve my enjoyment of life and my mental health, while still fighting the boredom that often drives me to overwork. It's been great! I'm feeling better than I remember ever feeling, am balanced, and am able to keep everything organized. Aside from some minimal social burnout, I'm glad I got through last year's depression and anxiety as a stronger, more even person. 


My friend, Emma, and I took a woodcarving class on Monday nights with renowned carver, Gordon Becker. It was just through the Toronto District School Board, so we were shocked to have a teacher with so many professional designations and experience. I made a curled up, sleeping fox.


We're going to be taking a Spanish class and non-traditional printmaking and silkscreen this upcoming semester. We also took a knitting class in the summer.


In addition to these crafts and hobbies, I've been completing my TESL certification and I've taken up rockclimbing with Sofia Mostaghimi (who recently put out a story in this cool anthology). I'm hooked and am trying to do it a couple times a week. 

All of this means that I haven't been going out to as many events as last year. I'm still trying to support the community as best I can (and may even have an idea for a new project I'll start working on in 2017), but it's been nice for me to open my social spheres and activities beyond writing. I think it's necessary to keep the work fresh and good. 


This fall, I still got to read at a Pivot that Canisia Lubrin hosted in September, a Light Reading (run by Adam Zachary), and at Adele Barclay's launch of her wonderful poetry book, If I Were in a Cage, I'd Reach Out For You. At all of these, I read Just Pervs stuff, and I find sharing new stories with my peers just the thing to keep me going. 

At Adele Barclay's Launch


At the end of October, I also hosted an event for IFOA featuring Rosemary Sullivan interviewing Eleanor Wachtel. This is me checking out the backroom at the Fleck Dance Theatre.

I also wrote my first ever blurb this year, for Adam Zachary's The End, by AnnaIt's a great book, and I was so happy that it was the first book I have been able to blurb. The thing about Adam is that whatever they are working on, whether it's their reading series, poetry, or fiction, it's super interesting and feels new and real. Metatron is doing some interesting stuff too and is definitely a press to watch.


I'm looking forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for me, especially since this has been a year packed with growth and changes. I hope that I keep growing, keep feeling good, and that you all are feeling good too!


I'm going to go back to enjoying my time here... Unfortunately, no matter what I do, I have this creep staring at me:

So if I die, you know what happened. 


Happy New Year!


Jess

August 28, 2016

Big Changes. Where Everything Glows and Just Pervs. Signed with Marilyn Biderman. Reading a lot.

 

Hi everyone!

 

So another season has passed, so I figured I better check in. A lot has been changing around here for me. I mentioned in my last post that I was reevaluating my life, getting back to making it as writing friendly as possible, and I have been! The biggest change is that I've stepped back from Seneca for the fall semester. I'll still be teaching in the Engineering Communication Program at U of T and I'll also be taking my TESL training part-time. The rest of that time will be spent (hopefully) with writing. It's a big change for me and definitely feels weird tweaking my life around when I'm used to juggling a bunch of jobs, but I need to continue to make writing my priority.

 

I've been working away on my novel, Where Everything Glows, and Just Pervs, my next collection. And I've been reading a ton to support my work with it all. Over the past six months, I've been ploughing through books in a way I haven't since I was a kid. I read everything by Mary Gaitskill -- I was originally recommended her by my friend, Catriona Wright, and then listened to one of her stories on the New Yorker podcast. After that, I was given a couple of her books as gifts and just devoured them all. When I first read Bad Behaviour, I felt like I finally found someone who totally understood my sexuality and what sex is like for young women like me, with all the emotional and power stuff that goes with it. It's a lot of what I write about too and what I'm working on in these two books, so it was both refreshing and uncanny in feeling that recognition. Actually, when Catriona first recommended her to me, she said Pauls reminded her of Gaitskill. After reading Gaitskill, I can only feel like that's a huge compliment and that I'm not so sure, but I hope! I feel her work is very brave and that she just does what she wants without feeling everyone's eyes on her all the time. I think this is the trick of good writing, but it's also one of the hardest things about it -- to try and write like no one will ever read your work while still writing something appealing to an audience. Being true to yourself but also readable. I've been thinking about this a lot lately because pretty much the only thing that makes me freeze up when writing is thinking about those people on the other side of Facebook.

 

Other things I've been reading (in various stages of completion) are the Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante, Bluets and The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Pedal by Chelsea Rooney, Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality by Sarah Barmak, Popular Crime by Bill James, The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, and I Love Dick by Chris Kraus.

 

I'd avoided I Love Dick previously because I thought of it as somewhat trendy... a lot of people I knew read it and I saw it mentioned places again and again. But with the new Amazon miniseries coming out, I thought I'd give it a shot -- Miniseries are probably what I'm best at watching since I'm notoriously bad at watching movies (just don't watch them... I'll watch trailers and read synopses or watch the beginnings and get distracted) and watching long-running series makes me kinda tired/depressed, especially if they are inconsistent. I really enjoyed the book at first, but I've found that as it goes on, it's just making me sad. I'm not sure why this is. I've kinda become sick of criticism since graduating, although I still read some theory, so perhaps it's once it goes into art criticism I'm not that into it. I think it's also so close to situations I've experienced that it makes me wince -- but that's also a strength. It also is strangely alienating as well ... the experiences of some of the women and the class of everyone in the book -- I guess "the academic class" -- makes me feel like it's a book for the "in crowd", for this particular class only and that, although I'm educated, I just don't fit. Also Chris is supposed to be well-read but not highly educated and comments on this multiple times, which makes me wonder why I feel so much like this is a book for academics, not artists or regular folk. Normally I can read about anyone from anywhere with any life experience and just feel comfortable and enjoy the experiences. Maybe you just have to be in the mood for it. My opinion may also change once I'm totally done, and I'll definitely still be checking out the miniseries.

 

Anyway, in other news, Emerging Writers is totally done. Here is a pic of us toasting the last show.

And, in other big news, I've signed on with Marilyn Biderman as my agent. Hooray! Hopefully more big things will be coming.

 

Thanks for reading this and the support!

 

Best wishes,

 

Jess 

  

 

May 21, 2016 

Hiiiii, Long time no talk. Some upcoming readings in May/June. Nominated for an NMA for "Breakfast Curry." "The Stink" out now in Taddle Creek. BafterC and The City Series.

 

Whoops. Sorry I haven't been on here much the last little while. Things have been packed since October, and by packed, I mean I fell into a slump of sadness that I am only just now trying to climb out of instead of allowing it to fester and feed on itself. So hi. Welcome back to my online home.

 

Which brings me to my next point... I have an event coming up called Drone Therapy on May 28th at the Music Gallery from 3-6. I'm going to be leading discussions on mental health, therapy, and art. 

 

I have a couple readings coming up. On Friday, June 3rd, I'm going to be reading at the launch of Taddle Creek No. 37, which published my story, "The Stink". "The Stink" is probably my favourite story I've written and one I was obsessed with even when I was done. I was really happy to see it published, and the layout in Taddle Creek is amazing. "The Stink" is one of the stories for my upcoming collection, Just Pervs

 I'm also going to be reading at Rower's Reading Series on June 6th.

 

I guess in BIG BIG news, I was nominated for a 2015 National Magazine Award for my story, "Breakfast Curry" as it appears in Little Brother Magazine. The gala is June 10th, so I will find out if I win that night! My brother is coming with me, which will be nice too. Two Taylors all dressed up. What could possibly go wrong there?

 

 

This year has been intense. Now I am able to start stepping back and assess everything and see what all I've done and what more I have to do. I have been making several decisions to try and make my life better suited to writing and keeping to a schedule again. So this a good thing. This year, I also edited two collections of poetry, The City Series: Toronto from Frog Hollow Press and BafterC from BookThug. Between the two of them, I included close to 30 poets.

 

Emerging Writers has unfortunately come its natural end. You can read about the end of the series on our website. We'll still be doing a June show and a July BIG on Bloor show. I'm hoping to redirect the energy spent on EW into my own writing and other community projects. Supporting other writers is still important to me and still going to be a pillar of how I live my life.

 

Thanks for reading this and being interested in my work! I hope I will have more news for you soon!

Have a great long weekend,

Jess 

 

 

 

October 20, 2015

Hamilton Today! Tour Poster for all the dates. 

 

Hi all!

 

Today Andrew, Kevin, and I will be hitting up Hamilton at Epic Books. We're excited and hoping it will be a great show!

Here's a tour poster for the whole tour!

 

 

That's all for now!

 

Hope to see you at one of our tour dates!

Jess 

 

 

 

October 18, 2015 

The BookThug Launch. Guelph. Upcoming Tour Dates.  Reviews out on the Bookshelf Blog, The Toronto Star, and The Winnipeg Review. Pauls chosen as one of Amazon.ca's October's Best Books and featured in a Canadian Spotlight.

 

Hi all!

 

Things have been very exciting lately! On Tuesday, I had my publisher's launch at The Garrison. We almost sold out of Pauls and it was so nice to see so many of my friends come out to support me. It was a full house!

Here's a picture of me reading:

Photo by Alexandra Grigorescu.  

 

A few of my friends released books this season, and I've put together a little tour with Andrew Battershill and Kevin Hardcastle, authors of Pillow and Debris. 

I began the tour with Kevin Hardcastle in Guelph on Thursday, October 15, where we read at the Bookshelf at an event organized by the awesome Andrew Hood. I headed to Caledon and took my dad with me. It was a beautiful drive from Caledon as the storm set in. 

 

Here's the books that Andrew Hood had set up.

 

 

Here's me on stage in Guelph. It was a good night overall. I met some interesting new people, including the author Nicholas Ruddock and the artist Cheryl Ruddock. Cheryl gave me a copy of this book of drawings and paintings she'd done, Harmonics. It is a gorgeous book and I'm so happy to have it! I also was gifted a copy of Andrew Hood's book on Jim Guthrie, one of my favourite musicians. My dad was so interested in Andrew's book, he bought a couple copies himself. He also picked up Kevin's book. It was nice to spend that time with him and share part of the tour with my family since they won't be able to come to any of the other tour readings.

 

Upcoming Dates for Pauls, Pillow, and Debris Tour (Details in Calendar)

Tuesday, October 20th - Hamilton, Ontario - Epic Books - 7:30 pm

Thursday, October 22nd - London, Ontario - London Public Library, Landon Branch - 7:00 pm

Wednesday, October 28th - Kingston, Ontario - Novel Idea Bookstore - 7:00 pm

Thursday, October 29th - Ottawa, Ontario - Octopus Books - 7:00 pm

Friday, October 30th - Montreal, Quebec - 170 Jean Talon -  8:00 pm

 

Upcoming Additional Dates

Tuesday, October 27th - Toronto, Ontario - IFOA BookThug Celebration - Pub Hub (Harbourfront) - 8:30 pm

Friday, November 6th - Toronto, Ontario - Friends and Family Launch - The Steady - 7:00 pm

 

A couple reviews have come in now. The Toronto Star  and The Winnipeg Review both liked Pauls. Andrew Hood also gave the book a good review on The BookShelf Blog. 

 

Something else really cool happened... Pauls was chosen as one of October's Best Books on Amazon.ca. They've also given it a special "Canadian Spotlight" that excerpts the Toronto Star review!

 

So a lot of cool things are happening!

 

More soon!

 

Have a great night!

Jess 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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September 2, 2015. 

Redesigned website. Trailer. "Multicoloured Lights" and "Breakfast Curry" coming out this fall in CNQ and Little Brother. Tour dates coming soon for Pauls.  Emerging Writers this fall and BIG on Bloor.

 

Hi everyone!

 

As you can see, I finally redid my website! I got some fantastic photos taken by Angela Lewis, which you can check out in the Look section. Sean Deakin created this wonderful trailer for Pauls. I cried when I saw the first version because I really felt like he understood the book. It was my first time having that feeling from someone who just sat down and read the book. 

 

I'm starting up teaching this week and had my first back-to-school meeting today at Seneca. I'm looking forward to having money coming in, but I feel a little sad to say goodbye to summer and am madly trying to tie up all the loose ends from my summer projects.

 

Emerging Writers will be going through a big change this fall. I'm going to be stepping back from hosting full-time and instead we'll be sharing hosting among the collective members. It was just too much to juggle with book promo, especially since several events fall on Tuesdays. I'll still be working as the Founder/Administrative Director, but am looking forward to easing back from my role with EW and allowing collective members to gain more experience. BIG on Bloor was the first event where we tried this new format. I hosted the new readers on Saturday, August 22nd, but Sofia Mostaghimi hosted the past readers on the Saturday show, and Hannah Peck hosted the Sunday event. Amanda Childs worked on our new podcast project and took photos for our instagram. It went way more smoothly than I ever imagined, and it was really nice for me to be able to sit back and enjoy the talented readers instead of worrying about my next task. I'm very lucky to be sharing EW with such fantastic people.

 

 Left to right: Amanda Childs, Hannah Peck, Sofia Mostaghimi, and me (Jess Taylor). 

 

In other news, "Multicoloured Lights" has been sent to the printers as part of CNQ's summer issue, so it should be available soon! "Breakfast Curry" will be out in Little Brother No. 6 this fall as well. Pauls has also been sent to the printer and will be released in less than a month! I can't believe it!

 

My official group launch date is October 13th at the Garrison, and my friends and family launch will be November 6th at the Steady.  I've also got a south-western Ontario tour planned with a couple of my writer friends who are releasing books, but I don't want to give it away before all the dates are booked!

 

Anyway, that's all for now! I'll try to stay on top of this during the school year and not let everything get away from me. Thanks for your support and following along with what I'm up to.

 

Love love,

Jess 

 

August 6, 2015.

Pauls ARCs out in the world. Book all ready to go to the printers. Fall dates posted on calendar. "We Want Impossible Things" on Joyland.

Hey all!

 

Sorry it's been so long since I posted! A lot has been going on. So far it's been a great summer, and I've been trying to take some time to step back from literary life and just read, see friends, and enjoy the sunshine.  I've actually been to the island twice rather than just talking about it, and I hope to go a couple more times before I'm back to teaching. This fall, I'll be teaching four classes at Seneca and working with one course at U of T as well as leading a Creative Writing Workshop. It's going to be very intense coupled with the book stuff, but I'll try to keep to a schedule and update after my fall appearances.

 

In the biggest news, my book is done, copyedits included! Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) have been sent out everywhere.

This is me meeting my ARC for the first time.

 Pauls among the other Fall ARCs for Prism Magazine to read.

 

Emily Keeler at The National Post tweeted out a pic of her Pauls ARC .

Mark Medley at The Globe and Mail also tweeted about the ARC!

You can read one of the stories from Pauls up on Joyland! "We Want Impossible Things." Kathryn Mockler at Joyland did a great job working with me on this story and we exchanged a lot of hilarious emails while editing. 

 

I've added all important dates on the Calendar.  One of the most exciting being... An IFOA BookThug Event on October 27th! I'm going to reading at IFOA along with a panel of other BookThug authors. I get a fancy dinner beforehand too! I'll update as more information goes up on the IFOA website.

 

I think that's all for now! I'll be going through everything in the next few weeks to update reading lists, press links, etc. I also have some new author photos that I'll post around!

 

As always, thanks for the support and for following what I've been up to!

Love,

Jess 

 

 

May 6, 2015.

Reading. "Claire's Fine" out in Hart House Review. Interview posted on Hart House Review website. Watching movies. 

 

Hey everyone!

 

So I'm feeling quite relaxed now that the semester is over and a week of chilling has stretched out before me. I had originally planned on spending this week furiously writing to make up for all those days I lost during the marking crunch, but I've found I've needed to ease myself back into a schedule in a much more gradual way. I used to wake up and check emails and messages, hang out with Eggos for a bit, and then get right into writing, taking a brief break for an Americano and a quick walk before returning to an afternoon of work. But lately it's not coming as easily. This is because I need to refuel. When I talk about refuelling, this is composed of many things.

1. I need to read as much a possible. 

2. I need to consume and experience other art forms (movies, visual arts, music).

3. I need to dance and move around.

4. I need to experience new things and enjoyable things.

5. I need to spend a lot of time alone thinking and observing the world around me. 

Some of these things are contradictory. In an ideal world, I'd have multiple selves that could do all these things at once. It means I feel quieter, but I also can feel everything gathering to make new work in a very physical way.  So I just need to let it happen, even though I wish I could just slide into my old schedule.

 

I finished the draft for Advanced Reading Copies of my book. So ARCs will be sent around soon. I find this more terrifying than exciting. I know it's something I will be proud of, but it's a very scary. Recently one of the stories, "Claire's Fine," was released by the Hart House Review.

 

"Claire's Fine" in the Hart House Review. Photo by Adam Zachary. 

 

It's a great issue, and I was happy to see that I've been published alongside a lot of writers I respect and admire like Bardia Sinaee, Ben Ladouceur, Laura Ritland, Andy Verboom, and Jacob Wren. The launch was a ton of fun and the readings were fantastic. I'd never seen Fan Wu read, but I really liked his work.

 

 The magazine launches in Hart House's Debate Room. Photo by John Taylor.

Reading "Claire's Fine" in the Hart House Library. Photo by John Taylor.

 

It was a really fun night. I had my parents out to see me read for the first time, and they really enjoyed the event. It helped that the other readings were so strong too! Adam also interviewed me on the Hart House website. You can check it out here. It was the first interview I've ever done in person!

 

I've been watching a lot of movies lately. This is mostly because I finally cracked and signed up for Netflix again and am in between TV shows. I don't watch a lot of TV or movies, and people make fun of me because I watch movie trailers and then read the Wikipedia summaries if I want to know what happened. I've always found it hard to dedicate the amount of time to a movie (although going out with a friend to a movie is totally different because then it's a social experience). Apparently, this makes me very odd. But I discover a lot of cool movies this way. I came across the trailer for The Clouds of Sils Maria.

 I must have watched the trailer a million times. Then I went to see it! And it was fantastic! THE SYSTEM WORKS.

 

Whoops, I bought more books.


 Pictured: If our wealth is criminal then let's live with the criminal joy of pirates by Jacob Wren (limited for Authors for Indies), Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, Little Brother No. 1 (limited for Authors for Indies), tres by Roberto Bolano, Giving Up by Mike Steeves, Otter by Ben Ladouceur, We Others by Steven Millhauser, Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser, Where Did you Sleep Last Night by Lynn Crosbie, A More Perfect [ by Jimmy McInnes.

 

Most recently I finished, Child of God. I'm still ploughing my way through H is for Hawk and have begun to read Lydia Davis' collection can't and won't. I've got a few other things on the go. Check out the Reading List for updates.

 

That's about it for now! "We Want Impossible Things" will be up on Joyland this month, so keep a look out for that!

 

Hope you've been enjoying the sunshine and are in good spirits (I am).

Love,

Jess 

    

 

April 5, 2015.

26. Story out in This Magazine.  Upcoming Publications. Reading at Hart House Review Launch April 9th. Reading. Recent interview on Open Book with Suzanne Sutherland. 

 

Hey all!

 

It's the long weekend. I hope everyone has been having a good time. I've been enjoying having a little extra time to catch up on my writing stuff, including writing this very blog. It snowed last night! In 2006 or 2005, I ran this show in Caledon East on April 7th with all these great bands right before they all raised their guarantees and got more popular. When a giant blizzard happened and the venue started getting calls about whether the show would be cancelled, I thought it would be a flop for sure. But 300 people trekked it through the snow and it's still the biggest event I've ever run! So, please don't complain about the snow too much... If a bunch of Caledon kids could get their parents to drive them to the show, you can still manage to have a good weekend with a few extra days of winter. 

 

So, GUESS WHAT? I'm a full-grown adult now. I'm 26. It was my birthday on March 28th, and now I look at myself in the mirror and whisper, "It's time." Then I go about my life doing regular adult things like laundry and going to work and cleaning my apartment and making positive life decisions.  To celebrate my birthday, I went to Montreal to visit my childhood bffl, Alex, and we hung out with her three cats and went exploring. I got her to take me to Drawn and Quarterly, which I've heard a ton about. I ended up buying five books. My dad gave me H is for Hawk for my birthday, and my writing bffl, Sofia Mostaghimi gave me a collection of Rumi poems (I love Rumi. SO MUCH. Even though he is made of pure mystery.)  I'm also reading this book called The 4% Universe. I'm set for reading for a while! 

 Photo of several books: Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz, can't and won't by Lydia Davis, The Dream of my Return by Horacio Castellanos Moya, Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, The Rumi Collection

 

On the bus ride to and from Montreal, I read a ton and finished The Girl Who was Saturday Night by Heather O'Neill, which I'd been reading during all of March.  I loved its unique voice. I read all of Bonsai. Bonsai was so good! Novellas are a really hard length to write and a delightful length to read. I've started collecting them. I love the idea of small books you can carry everywhere with you, and I hope Pauls will be a book like that - something people could tuck in their back or coat pocket.

 

I also read When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Razeil Reid, which Alex gave me in exchange for The Girl Who was Saturday Night. It was pretty good too. I'm still thinking about it. I just Googled the reviews of it, and all I got were hits about the "controversy" surrounding it being named for the Governor General's Award or very shallow reviews. Anyway, part of me wondered if the book was trying to do too many things at once... While I knew that the ending was coming from the buzz around the book, it didn't seem to fit with the characters or be set up enough through foreshadowing... I don't want to give it away for those who haven't read it, but there is a lot of red herrings to throw the reader off about the ending, and it makes me wonder if there wasn't enough done to make it feel natural. But perhaps the disconnect was what Reid wanted. The last half of the book followed the structure of The Catcher in the Rye with scenes recreated from a 21st century LGBT perspective. In this way, it felt like the book became something totally different. The reactions of the character seemed much closer to those of The Perks of Being a Wallflower's (another book drawn on through intertextual allusions) Charlie than the relatively self-aware Jude and strained to fit The Catcher in the Rye redo. This could have added depth to the character if it'd been sustained a little bit longer. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of the story is that just as we start to know the deeper levels of the character, his life is cut short. There were also some issues with the closeness of narrator/narrative voice, as at times the narrator seems to be aware of what will happen to him and all the events that transpire and other times the voice is of-the-moment. I thought it was a pretty good read overall though! 

 

Suzanne Sutherland interviewed me about my work and writing life in March for Open Book. You can read the interview here.  Suzanne has been my pal for a while, and since that time she's published When We Were Good and Something Wiki. She's built a real momentum which will just keep going! 

 

I also had a story come out recently in This Magazine called "How Is A Person Like A Television Set?"

You can buy the story in the current issue of This Magazine. Much thanks to Dani Couture for getting it all together for me!

 

On April 9th, I'll be reading at Hart House on U of T's St. George Campus to launch the new issue of The Hart House Review. The issue features a lot of great poets and fiction writers and includes "Claire's Fine," one of the Paul stories. I think "Claire's Fine" was the second Paul story. Claire and Nathan and Paul are some of my favourites. Come on out and see me read from it! The issues will also be on sale for half off.

 

I have a couple other things coming up soon. "Multicoloured Lights" will be in the next issue of CNQ. "We Want Impossible Things" should be up on Joyland this month. So keep a look out for all of those! 

 

At the beginning of March, I did a talk as part of The Contemporary Poetry Reading Group (CPRG)'s event PLANNING. They are running a microtalk series. I did a short talk on the question "What is a Reading?" It was interesting to have so many people's voices in the room. When we opened up for a Q and A discussion, the whole room participated. It was refreshing to see something different. 

Another unflattering picture of me talking too much!

 

I think that's all for now! Have a great weekend!

Love and big hugs,
Jess 

February 21, 2015.

"Undertow" in The National Post. Where you can listen to my Literary Landscape CKCU Interview. Upcoming things. Emerging Writers Interviews. Working too hard.

 

Hey everyone!

 

Ok, so my BIG news was that I was being published in The National Post! Emily M. Keeler, my superstar champion who has essentially brought every good thing in my writing life to date, asked me if I ever wrote love stories. I said, "Well, yeah, they are pretty much all love stories, aren't they?"

 

Emily said, "Um, sure. But like real ones?"

 

I said, "Oh, wait, with a happy ending where everyone isn't terrible to each other?"

 

Emily said, "Yeah!"

 

I said, "I probably have one!" Then I got sentimental and started talking to everyone I knew about love. I edited up the love story I'd been thinking of, and then I wrote another story that was even weirder. And then I spent too much time alone in my room and wrote another story that was even weirder. I sent Emily all three and she, of course, picked the weirdest one, which went on to be published in The National Post on Valentine's Day as "Undertow."

 

Here is proof:

 That person is me, and that newspaper is The National Post, and that page says "The Short Story" and then in the middle is says "Undertow." Chloe Cushman did a fantastic illustration that suited the story 100%. I was so pleased with the publication. You can read "Undertow" online here.  

 

I was on the radio for Carleton University's Literary Landscape show on CKCU FM on February 5th. If you didn't get a chance to listen, you can listen on demand byclicking here. I talked to JM Francheteau about what makes a great reading, how to keep readings from being boring, tips and tricks for readers, the draw of community for writers, and what we need to do to keep our community lively and fun. Much thanks to Literary Landscape for having me on the air!

 

The next event I'll be doing is a microtalk on March 5th called PLANNING run by the Contemporary Poetry Reading Group (CPRG), where I'll be talking for a few minutes in response to the question "What Is a Reading?" There are a ton of great people on the panel. You can check out the full event listing and details here. I'll also be adding the details to my calendar tomorrow. Come on out! It should be a really interesting and dynamic discussion.

 

As you know, Emerging Writers expanded our collective from just me and Sofia Mostaghimi to include Hannah Peck, Amanda Childs, and Jessica Bebenek. Amanda (PR) and Hannah (Special Projects Assistant) decided to start a new initiative and are interviewing our readers each month and creating a video to showcase our readers in a different way. I think this is so cool, and I'm glad they got this together! Not only does it allow supporters of EW to hear readers discuss their work in more detail, it also gives readers a chance to get to know each other before the readings, bringing them together. Here's our very first installment. 

 

 
I've been working really hard lately, as usual. I've been chipping away at grants and working intensely on my novel, Where Everything Glows. I've still been trying to balance my time writing with reading and socializing, but it's a lot! I forgot to tell you all that I finally finished Middlesex, and I'm glad I read it to the end. Don't get me wrong, I still hated it more than almost anything I've read, but the last bit of the book is a bit better. I also finished Sabbath's Theatre, which I really enjoyed. Next I went on to read Of Mistresses, Tigresses and Other Conquests by Giacomo Casanova, and... whoa. Casanova, I can see why they call you Casanova, amIright? It was a quick and good read. Now I'm onto Polyamorous Love Song by Jacob Wren, one of my fellow BookThug authors. It's awesome so far!
 
 
Anyway, I hope you are also reading something good! Thanks for keeping up with my life.
Have a great weekend, gang.
 
Love,
Jess 

 

February 4, 2015. 

Upcoming Publications. On CKCU 93.1 FM tomorrow! EW Tues!

 

Hey all,

 

I just wanted to update you quickly about some publications I have coming out soon! A few stories will be coming out in the spring. "Breakfast Curry" is due out with Little Brother Magazine. "How is a Person Like a Television Set?" is due out with This Magazine. "Claire's Fine" was just confirmed to be released by Hart House Review. Yay! "Breakfast Curry" and "Claire's Fine" are both Paul stories and are two of my favourites. "Claire's Fine" was the second Paul story I ever wrote. I'll always love Claire and Paul and Nathan, and I'm so happy the story will be published before Pauls comes out!

 

I had my publicity meeting this week and had to get my publicity questionnaires and manuscript all done up, so I've been working very hard and almost burning myself out! But I'm still going! My teaching schedule is stacked so that my hardest days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so by the time I hit Thursday my life is easy breezy. Tonight I decided that after teaching, I needed to work around people so I met up with my writing comrades, Sofia Mostaghimi (who curates EW with me) and Menaka Ramen-Wilms. We worked in a restaurant together. I ordered macaroni and cheese and deep fried pickles and started to chip away at the novel I'm writing. It's about my Paulina. Paulina 4 lyfe. I think she'll always be my favourite character.

 

Anyway, I'm going to be on the radio!! I'm going to be talking to JM Francheteau for Literary Landscape, a show on CKCU FM 93.1 for those in the Ottawa region. Those outside Ottawa can listen on demand on www.ckcufm.com at 6:30pm tomorrow. If you miss it, you can listen after the fact here. I'm going to be talking about my work, community building, the article I wrote for the Puritan, and The EW Reading Series. 

 

Take it easy and more BIG news soon!

Love,

Jess 

 

 

January 23, 2015.

A Follow-Up to My Middlesex Rant.

 

After I posted this blog, I went searching for Middlesex reviews. I'd gone through them before, but only could find positive reviews. This time with some *ahem* more detailed key words, I was able to discover two things:

1. People who like this book despise ANYONE who says anything negative about it. Probably has to do with the Oprah's book club thing.

2. I found this essay which also discusses the book as cliched and not fully realized! Yay! It's really well written too. READ IT.  

Hugs,

Jess 

 

January 23, 2015.

Review of Never Stop in Parenthetical Issue 5. Working a lot. Writing a lot. Some big news coming soon. I hate Middlesex and need to rant about it.

 

Hey everyone!

 

I thought I should update everyone on things that have been happening. I've started the edits for Pauls. Somehow I managed to finish that long short story, which I was originally calling "Ice Storm" and now am calling "Degenerate". Edits are moving along well and so far it's been a pleasure to work with Malcolm Sutton. I'm so excited about the book!

 

I feel like I've moved into a new period of my writing. It's always been something I've been very serious about, and I always worked continuously on my projects. Now, though, it feels like everything is about deadlines. It's nice because I feel like it's more professional. I think I'm writing more than I even did during the MA program. This is also positive - I think the goal is to get to a place where you have enough time to write as you want, so it's amazing to find that I've actually started to find a balance that works for me. 

 

I got my picture taken for the Little Brother website. This is it:

Brian St. Denis took it, and he was awesome to work with. I hate having my photo taken, as most pictures don't come out looking very much like me at all. I think this looks like me, and you can even tell my mind is off daydreaming. He worked really hard to make me feel comfortable.


I did two readings over the past two weeks.  The first was for Echolocation Magazine's reading series, where I read with Daniel Scott Tysdal and Andrew Sullivan. I've looked up to both these guys for awhile. Andrew was in the program a couple years above me and seemed to bring a similar work ethic and value set to his writing, so I've been especially pleased to see him making headway with his work. I read a short story, "How Is A Person Like a Television Set?" This was a story I originally performed at Write Club back in 2013 under the title, "Dad." The story will be coming out in This Magazine in their March/April issue. We then did a brief Q and A where I revealed too much of my soul, as usual! That's what happens when people ask me questions about why writing gets me out of bed in the morning! Especially in January! (Basically I talked about how writing is the only thing in this world that gives me hope that people actually can connect with each other. That we're not all alone in our struggles to find those reasons to get out of bed in the morning. *Heavy Sigh*). Laura Ritland did a great job hosting. 

Andrew Sullivan (Left), Daniel Scott Tysdal (Centre), me (right) answering difficult questions at Echolocation's Q and A, January 8th, 2015. 

 

"How Is a Person Like a Television Set?" Echolocation Reading, January 8th, 2015.

 

The following Thursday, I read at words(on)stages, as a feature reader alongside Dalton Derkson. I'd never seen Dalton read before, and I'm so glad I got to! He'll be reading for EW coming up soon. He brought a great energy to the stage, an energy very close to a musician performing. The rawness of it got me really pumped up, so I was really into reading. I read from Never Stop "Part 2", which I've been working on. It went over really well, which I was happy about since I haven't read it to an audience or shown it to many people yet. I then read a short story from Pauls, "Breakfast Curry."    

Here I am reading at words(on)stages, January 15, 2015. Behold! My Potato Face!

 

Speaking of words(on)stages/words(on)pages, they put out this magazine, Parenthetical, which actually reviewed my chapbook, Never Stop! They said a bunch of really nice things about the chapbook, which I'm so pleased about! 

 

I have some big news coming soon, and there'll be more publications on the horizon soon. So keep checking back.

 

Ok, I know you all have been waiting for this moment. I hate Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I hate everything about it. I hate the protagonist. I hate the voice. I hate how hokey all the characters are, like they are all caricatures of themselves instead of real people. I hate how hard the book tries to be funny and fails. Like it fails hard. I hate that it often uses stilted phrases and cliches, and I hate that often the writing seems to rely on these to provide information about its character. It's just lazy. The self-reflexivity comes off as amateur in the narrator's voice. The pretentious structure and titles are also a turnoff. I kept with it because I loved The Virgin Suicides. I hadn't devoured a book that way since high school... I couldn't stop reading it. I took baths instead of showers so I wouldn't have to stop reading, just like when I was a kid. So I keep waiting for Middlesex to redeem itself. And there are moments. I'm almost done now, and when Callie starts to describe her adolescent attractions and sexual development, the book finally feels authentic. This is also what Eugenides did well in The Virgin Suicides: he transformed adolescent obsession, experimentation, attraction, and voyeurism into something almost mythic and myserious... Something that holds so much weight. Part of me wanted to read a really pared down version of this book that only focuses on the relationship between Callie and The Obscure ObjectAs it is, there is no emotional core to the book for me. It still has 50 pages to save itself, but I don't see it happening.

 

Things I'm reading that I enjoy more than Middlesex? I just finished a book of George Saunders' short stories, which I'd never read before. Loved it. I'm readingSabbath's Theatre by Philip Roth and it amazes me, confuses me, moves me, and makes me laugh. I finished Denis Johnson's novella, Train Dreams, and I thought it was amazing, as is typical of Johnson (with the exception of Tree of Smoke, ugh). Anyway, in conclusion, I like almost every book more than Middlesex. I never force myself to finish books I hate since I got out of undergrad years ago... But well, we all make mistakes. Who knows why we do what we do?

 

That's it for me. Have a great night! Do something fun this weekend. After a week almost entirely filled with work, I sure think I will!

 

Big hugs,

Jess  

 

December 12, 2014.

I'm the new Fiction Editor of Little Brother. Meet the Presses. Excerpt of Never Stop up on Everyday Genius. Changes for Emerging Writers.  

 

Hi all!

 

So I am writing this blog instead of marking the two batches of exams I should be attacking. But my apartment is bright and outside the world is covered with snow, and I am full of creative energy. It's just not time!

 

Lots has been going on, as usual. I've become the fiction editor of Little BrotherI'll be taking over after this next issue, which features one of my stories, "Breakfast Curry." LB7 will be my first issue. So I'm taking pitches and starting to solicit material for that issue. The announcement of how the team at Little Brother has been changing was covered by The Quill and Quire here, and Charles Yao of Little Brother had more nice things to say about my writing and having me come on board here.

I've gone through my PRESS section and tried to keep everything as up-to-date as possible. I'll be going through the other sections too during December. I'm hoping before the new year to get everything up to date. I will even put up a Fall/Winter reading list!

 

Right now, I'm lying on my stomach on the floor of my apartment, and I keep getting distracted from this blog to write some of a long short story/novella called "Ice Storm," which I hope to be the last short story in Pauls. I write everything out of order, and I've never written a short story so long. When I write longer pieces, I extensively plan, so I've been trying to do that with this story, but still keep some of the spontaneous nature of the writing. So right now, it's all out of order and is a mess. I just printed it out, and I'm going to cut up the sections and rearrange them into something that makes a little more sense and then progress from there. I'm having my first editorial meeting for Pauls next week. I'm excited to get working on the book as a whole!

  

 Photo by my dad, John Taylor. 

 

I've also started working on the next movement of Never Stop, hoping to expand the long poem into a book.  Speaking of Never Stop, an excerpt was featured onEveryday Genius.  Much thanks to Guillaume Morrisette for thinking of my work! Read it, especially if you haven't been able to track down the chapbook. I'm all sold out, but check it out on Anstruther Press.  

 

I also joined the Meet the Presses Collective over the summer, and we had our Indie Literary Market at the end of November. Here is a photo of Eric Schmaltz and me announcing the opening of the market. He is the other new collective member. 

  Photo taken by Gary Barwin. 

 It was a really fun day, and I'm glad to be working with Meet the Presses!

 

Liz Windhorst Harmer and I had an email conversation this fall, which has been published on Echolocation Magazine.  In it, I discuss Pauls, winning the National Magazine Award, how I make sure I never stop writing, and my weird drive. Check it out!

 

Emerging Writers is also going to be going through some big changes. We'll be welcoming Amanda Childs to our collective, as our first ever PR and Social Media representative. So expect Emerging Writers to hit Twitter in the next little bit! Jessica Bebenek is also coming on board as our first ever poetry curator. I'll still be figuring out scheduling, show order, and make curatorial decisions.  Sofia Mostaghimi will continue as our fiction curator and Ralph Kolewe will continue as our show photographer. More info on these changes coming soon over at the Emerging Writers website and Facebook!

 

Ok, that is all. I'm going to look out the window and contemplate my existence and then mark. Thank you for reading my blog and taking an interest in my writing and life!

 

Hugs,

Jess 

 

 

 

 

November 9, 2014.

Pauls to be released by BookThug October 2015. Many, many readings. Life is good.

 

Hi everyone!

 

Once again I've dropped behind in my blogging. Things have been incredibly busy, and I'm teaching more than I have in the past with teaching two courses at Seneca College and working with the Engineering Communication Program at U of T. I love what I'm doing. I came out of a difficult period financially and in general, and now the world is looking pretty all right, and I'm happy with everything.

 

Writing stuff has been going amazing! I am thrilled to say that Pauls, my collection of short stories, is going to be released by BookThug in their Fall 2015 season. I've been writing away, working on more short stories so that the collection will have a lot to choose from and will be as strong as possible. I'm really excited to work with my editor, Malcolm Sutton, and have loved my experience working with Jay and Hazel Millar and being a BookThug so far.  

 

 I've also been doing a lot of readings and appearances lately, which have left me on a life high. I launched my chapbook, Never Stop, in a joint launch between Anstruther Press and Words(on)Pages. It was a really fun night, and I sold a ton of books. I still have a few left, so you can contact me using BUY section in a couple days or Jim Johnstone through the Anstruther Press website.  The website looks fantastic, and Jim recently expanded his editorial board to include Daniel Scott Tysdal and Michael Prior. Jim, Daniel, and Michael all have astounding taste, so I'm looking forward to seeing what new projects they take on!


 Here I am reading at Betty's Basement for the launch of Never Stop.

 

I just found out today that a portion of Never Stop will be excerpted on Everyday Genius sometime this month. I'll post a link to it once it's up. 

 

I also read at The Underdog Poets Academy run by Meat Locker Editions  where I gave a sneak peek of Never Stop. I read at Grey Borders Reading Series in St. Catherines where I read from Never Stop and read a Pauls short story, "Wishweeds." Recently, I read at Pivot Readings on Wednesday, October 29th. This was totally a dream come true. I originally was thinking of Pivot as an unobtainable goal when I started my series, which tries to make reading at a well-curated series more accessible to emerging writers. Well, now I have read at Pivot! I had an amazing night, full of friends and laughs, and I had a blast reading my short story, "The Letters." This will be another for Pauls. 

 

I also participated in Canzine in two events this year. I was both a judge of 1-2 Punch Book Pitch and read in the Radical Reading Series alongside Aisha Sasha John, Ian Rogers, and Amanda Leduc. It was a fun day! Doing two events in one day was really weird and led to me being super hyper all day. It was fantastic being able to hear everyone's pitches and ideas and to be able to offer some constructive criticism.

Here I am judging 1-2 Punch Book Pitch with Jay Millar and Hal Niedzviecki.  

 

Overall it is an exciting time! I don't have any readings coming up until January where I'll be reading at Words(on)Pages. More information on that coming soon. And of course, Emerging Writers is still going strong. Our last show of 2014 will be this Tuesday! Come out and say hi!

 

Best, hugs, and all that,

Jess 

 

July 27, 2014. 

I won a Gold National Magazine Award for "Paul." Never Stop available soon for order, to be released in October.  Sneak Peek!  

 

Hi everyone!

 

So a lot has happened in the last couple months. First off, I won the Gold National Magazine Award for Fiction for "Paul."

 

Not only was this a shocker (I'm super emerging), but it also qualified as my first paid publication!

 

I also was promoted to partial load at Seneca College, so I'm now teaching three courses in September. My tutoring load will be cut down, and it will be nice to have money not be such a struggle, especially after the last couple months. I got a lot of support from my friends and family, Marc's family, and people in the community. Thank you.

 

My new chapbook is coming out with Anstruther Press, headed up by Jim Johnstone in October. Never Stop is currently available for purchase. Here's a sneak peek! 

Gold stamped copies. Limited run of 10. All hand numbered. $10.

 

Black stamped copied. Print run of 20. All hand numbered. $10.

Red stamped cover. Print run of 20. All hand numbered. $10.

 

 

 Talk to me or Jim Johnstone if you want to get your hands on a copy before October. 

 

I'll be updating the calendar and the site over the next few days. In the meantime, check out the reading list for Spring/Summer (still getting updated).

 

Thanks for all the support! See you soon!

Much love and respect,

Jess 

 

May 25, 2014. 

Never Stop to be released as a chapbook with Jim Johnstone's new chapbook press. Video recording of "Weighted" and "Baby Invasion." Fiction Finalist for a 2013 NMA for "Paul." Calendar updated.  Website for tutoring made.

 

Hey everyone!

 

Ok, so a lot has been going on. So much that it's been kind of overwhelming! I'm getting to updating all of this kind of last minute, but oh well, here it is... UPDATES! I'm going to divide this all into two posts, so expect something in a couple days with a little more news in terms of EW stuff.

 

So other than applying for jobs, looking for that dream job that will give me enough money to pay off my student loan and eat something other than just beans while still being able to write (sighhh), I've been shocked by the amount of good writing stuff happening! Ah! First thing, "Paul" originally published in Little Brother No. 3  is a finalist for a 2013 National Magazine Award. Yup. That little story. About all those Pauls. For my collection, PaulsI can't believe I'm on a list with Michael Winter, one of my favourite living writers and one of my favourite writers in general. Wow. Following all of this, on the advice of Guillaume Morrisette (whose New Tab is real good!), Dazed and Confused Magazine wrote a list of "The Best Alt-Lit Reads Coming Out of Canada" and included me and Pauls on the list along with a bunch of my homies! Awesome! I find out the results of the NMA at a fancy-pants gala of the type I have never been to and probably will never go to again on June 6th. I rented a designer dress and everything so that I'll look half decent and not be wearing something full of holes!

 

My chapbook And Then Everyone (Poems of the West End) launched with success, and guess what? I have another chapbook coming out! This one is longer and part of my never-ending long poem Never Stop. Jim Johnstone is starting a new chapbook press (details to come), and my chapbook is going to be the first one! This is super exciting! On Friday, Jim and I met up, went over edits and then went to buy paper for the covers!

 

I've updated my calendar with readings coming up. Marc and I are reading together in Hamilton this Wednesday at Westdale Secondary School, and then again in Niagara as part of the Niagara Literary Arts Festival on June 18th. It's nice to have a couple gigs together, especially since that's how we met. I'll also be reading as part of the Great Lakes Review Summer Tour at the end of the July!

 

Here is a video of me reading "Weighted" and "Baby Invasion." Enjoy!

 

 
 
I made a tutoring website and a brochure for my tutoring work. Check it out! 

More soon,

Jess 

 

   

April 10, 2014.

 Two poems out in offSIDE Zine. Town Crier. Life updates. Writing updates.

 

 Hey everyone!

 

How's it going? Things have been hectic for me lately. Marc and I have been finding a place together in Roncesvalles, which is good news. As long as we're still in the west end, that works for me! In addition, I've been wrapping up the semester, looking for work as usual, and writing away. This weekend, Marc and I are heading to Windsor, where he'll be reading with Dani Couture and Richard Greene at Biblioasis. 

 

I started a new novel yesterday. I'm spinning it off of one of my Paul stories, "We Want Impossible Things." Every time I got stressed out about writing, I would just think about that story and everything would feel good. So I took the character and am expanding it into a novel so far called, Where Everything Glows. It's pretty dark, in a much more brutal and visceral way than I've dealt with before. I think it's good for me though because I always need to go new places with my writing to be able to enjoy it. I've been just editing too much and am glad to be producing some new content. 

 

I had two poems come out in offSIDE Zine this April. "Weighted" and "Baby Invasion" are on pages 9 and 10 of the journal. Check them out! I've also updated the read section with my current Town Crier articles. 

 

My launch for my three poem chapbook is booked for April 29th, 2014 at the Ossington.  

That's all I'm going to post for now, but expect a follow-up post with videos of me reading from offSIDE Zine. I'll also update you on some cool new projects I've been involved with lately. 

 

I hope you all are doing well! 

 

Much love,

Jess 

 

 

February 23, 2014.

 Chapbook released and available for purchase! New video! 

 

Hey everyone!

 

How's it going? I hope you're all doing well. I have exciting news!! My three-poem chapbook has been released! Aaron Kreuter of Picture Window Press. I've added aBUY section for those of you that want to buy the chapbook ahead of time or who can't come out to a launch. It's only $2! The launch will be in April and will feature myself, Aaron Kreuter, Marc Di Saverio, Laura Clarke, Jane Ozkowski, Bardia Sinaee, Mat Laporte, and Jim Johnstone. I'm so happy to have a release coming out during poetry month!

  

 

 The chapbooks are all hand-stitched and numbered out of a print run of 75. We may do another print run if we need to! It contains three poems: "Every Light on Every Cab," "And Then Everyone Ignored Each Other," and "Westenders."

 

Here is a video! I know, it's long overdue. I'll read to you from my short story, "Paul."

 
Enjoy! 
 
Have a great day everyone!
 
Jess 

 

 

 

December 31, 2013.

 Happy New Year! The month that disappeared. Updates. 

 

Hey everyone!

 

Ok I cyber-disappeared for a little over a month! I apologize! I have been updating The Paulr on a regular basis, so if you haven't been following my online version of The Paul Project, please go check it out!  

 

Why did I go cyber-missing? Well, it was the final month in my courses at Seneca and at The Creative Zone, so I had a lot of work to do. I was busy writing, reading, and performing, and there have been some exciting writing updates! I also have been distracted by the talented poet Marc di Saverio, who seems to be my new partner in crime and glory.

 

What are the writing updates?

 

Well, "Paul" was finally released with Little Brother on December 4th. I read at the launch, and it was a ton of fun! My guidelines from Emily Keeler, the mastermind behind Little Brother, included to read something two minutes long from popular culture to launch the "Pop" Issue. I got her OK to read a mash-up/assemblage style poem that drew from a bunch of different sources about pop. I ended up including quotes from an article on Nick Carter, quotes from wikipedia articles on pop (the soda), quotes from teenagers on forums arguing about pop music, manifestos about popular culture, articles about how pop culture and music are destroying people's brains, and a wikihow article on How to Dance. You can listen to it HERE. I read at 1:12. 

 

"Wishweeds," another story from my collection, won Honourable Mention in Room Magazine's Short Fiction Contest at the end of November.  Awesome! It should be published online relatively soon for your reading pleasure. "Wishweeds" was originally a 500 word postcard story based on this image: 

 I ended up expanding the story by a little over 1000 words, and it became a Paul story. I'm trying to do a painting/illustration of this image, flipped upside-down with the words from the last paragraph of the story overlaid. 

 

I've updated the AccomplishmentsResume, Listen, and Read sections. I'll have a winter book list started shortly (because, of course, I never stop reading), and I'll also do a Chat with Jess for "Paul." 

 

For now, I've got to work on Town Crier and The Puritan articles as my day's main goals. Maybe go to the store to buy some clothes without holes. Tonight is a night of celebration! I made it through another year. And so did my comrades. Everyone is alive and somewhat thriving. 

 

2013 in a Nutshell 

 

Jane won the Broken Social Scene contest this year. She's in Barbados sunning. I'm sure her novel will get picked up soon.

 

Jane and I moved into a place that didn't make me need to spend most of my time in cafes or at the Creative Writing office or sobbing on subways. I was able to write at home. I was able to live with one of my best friends. 

 

Nadz and I released Echolocation (we actually did it!). Her book is amazing too.

 

Sofs, Nadz, Menaka, Cheryl, Andrew, and I graduated with our MAs and books finished and in good shape.

 

Andrew got engaged to another writing comrade, Zani.

 

Sofs and Menaka got a place together.

 

Sofs got a real job with real money and managed not to stop writing and dreaming. She came over yesterday to workshop, and her new story is amazing.

 

Laura won the Bronwen Wallace, and Zani was one of the finalists.

 

Mat started an amazing reading group and taught me a lot about poetry. He and Brenda hosted some of the best readings and parties I've been too.

 

Andrew S. launched his book of short stories. 

 

My pals at Dragnet, Ferno House, COUGH, and The Puritan continued to publish and produce amazing work.  

 

Marc got well and released a book of poetry with Palimpsest.

 

All my EW readers performed amazingly and reminded me why I do this back-breaking thing.

 

(And those of you not mentioned, you did a lot of amazing things, some too personal to put publicly on a blog, even if it was just being there for me, or coming to my events, or moving house, or that conversation we had at the bar...) 

 

I went through the roughest summer of all time and survived and got a real job (although still so poor ugh!) and kept myself together and learned things and grew and wrote and took care of my health and looked at my friends and knew that I loved them and knew that I'm doing the right thing and knew that the world's ok.

 

2013, you were hard and you were beautiful. I'm ready for 2014 now. Bring it on.

 

Love love,

Jess 

 

November 8, 2013. 

 Fallfallfall. Reading list up. Various announcements. Calendar updated. Books.

 

Hey!

 

It's Friday afternoon, finally a Friday afternoon that feels like Friday afternoon. I'm just listing to Daft Punk and writing this blog. I have tomorrow off because my Saturday clients are going on a trip, which means I gain a day "free" of work. Of course, that means I gain a day to work on non-paying projects and to catch up on my marking.

 

But life is good! Life is full! I spend my Wednesdays at The Contemporary Poetry Reading Group, which has been a new brightness that I wasn't expecting. I mentioned the group in a previous post. It's been shocking to me how much it's helped my overall energy and life-balance (Either that  or I'm just feeling more balanced because I'm used to my schedule). For instance, this past Wednesday, I worked so hard in the morning finishing up a Town Crier article, after working so hard on Monday evening on an editing gig. I also was taking care of little EW things and prepping for Seneca and tutoring. I wasn't sure I'd have the two hours to put aside for the group, but I ended up going and I left feeling better than I had in three days. It's magic or something.

 

Here are pictures of some of the texts we've been reading:

   

 

Economy David Brazil. Response Juliana Spahr. Thank You for the Window Office Mager Zaher. Hi Zero Oakland Feature. The group uses PDFs mostly, so I use my kickass printer to print things out... Because we read the works aloud, collectively, I end up reading a poetry book a week.

 

I've been reading a ton both for myself and for tutoring.  Check out my fall reading list!

 

Here's the flyer for the next Emerging Writers show.  

It's our last show of 2013.  

 

Other things! I'm updating the calendar. I just got added to a reading on November 18th as part of Readings at The Common. It'll be at... you guessed it, The Common!Little Brother No. 3 is launching on December 4th. That'll have my short story, "Paul," in it.

 

I have a new Town Crier article up.

 

That's it for now! I hope you are all transitioning into the cold cold cold fine.

 

Love,

Jess 

 

 

 October 26, 2013.

 Chapbook update. "Paul" update. 10Daysofpoetry. Echolocation Lucky Issue 13.

 

Hey all!

 

So it's fall, possibly the worst season. All the trees getting nakez. I'm just not sure about it. Sometimes fall seems like it's going to be ok, but then it stops being ok because it's all cold and grey and fall-like.

 

One thing that is going really well is writing and teaching. I'm working really hard. This week we went to pick up Echolocation Magazine from Colour Code.

 We had the launch on Thursday, October 24th at No One Writes to the Colonel. Nadia and I made a little speech, passing the reins on over to the incoming editors. And then we were done as editors of Echolocation! Emily and Laura, the incoming editors, did a really good job organizing the launch... I felt good and could just relax with my friends and hang out, enjoying the feeling of accomplishing Lucky Issue 13. 

 

This week I also finished another Town Crier article, which should go up next week, and resumed a typing/editing freelance job I do from time to time. It was reading week at Seneca, so I was able to get a lot done with EW as well, which was awesome.  I was back to work at The Creative Zone, teaching a class of 7-9 year olds. I love hearing the stories they come up with.

 

I got my chapbook edits and turned them in, so I'm hoping I'll have some more news there very shortly.

 

I also saw the proofs for "Paul," which is coming out with Little Brother next month. The launch date will be announced shortly. The proofs looked great. I can't wait to see that story come out with Little Brother!

 

I was in this movie as an extra a little while ago.

 

Sofia had a story come out on Joyland, so you should check that out. It's called "The Boy through the Window."  

 

I joined this contemporary poetry reading group at U of T, spearheaded by Mat Laporte. We started writing poems on a tumblr as a poetry challenge inspired by Anne Boyer's "Money City Sick as Fuck." Check it out!  The goal was to each write 100 poems in ten days, but we ended up writing as many as we could. I wrote about 12... so a little over one a day. That makes sense since I try to write a poem a day, but scrap most of them or turn some of them into little prose things. I was journaling a lot during the past ten days as well, which always disrupts my poetry output. 

 

I'm going to post the fall reading list in the next couple days. For real this time.

 

Thanks for checking in! EW News coming soon!

Jess  

 

September 15, 2013. 

My chapbook with Picture Window Press. Other stuff.

 

Hey everyone!

 

I found out which sequence will be published with Picture Window Press. It's called Everyone Ignored Each Other: poems of the west end. There are three poems in the sequence. I'm really excited about it. More information to come soon!

 

I'm finally getting into the swing of things with work. I might even be picking up a course for younger students as part of an after school program with The Creative Zone. I'd do that on Mondays too. So I'd go from teaching college in the morning to teaching 7-14 year olds creative writing. It's nice to be working and making money, and I'm glad I'm starting to get things balanced. I even was able to work a bit on my novel today and mess around with my Paul tumblr

 

Things got pumping again this past week in terms of literary events/social writing thingers. Coach House's Wayzgoose party was on Thursday, September 5th, then Tuesday I started EW back up (a full house once again), Thursday the 12th was the Dragnet Anthology Launch, and then I had a Puritan meeting/party (I write for The Town Crier). Somehow I got over my hump of tiredness and managed to do everything I needed to do, still worked a lot and took care of my "grown-up" obligations, and had a good time.

 

One thing I didn't mention in my previous blog post was that I've become a vegetarian. It was easy at first because I usually just eat meat once a week anyway, but after two weeks, I started to feel really sick with a headache. It may have just been stress because everything was kicking off and I was starting real jobs. My vegetarian friends told me it'd go away and I'd feel better soon. And now I do! I just feel hungry more frequently, which is fine because then I go eat.

 

More another day - I have to go write, read, and prep. I have some music news coming soon, but for now it's hushhush.

 

Jess 

 

September 7, 2013.

Things I'm Working on. Links links links. 

 

Hey everyone!

 

So next Tuesday, we get back to work with The EW Reading Series.  Frankly, (and I don't even care how lame it sounds) I'm exhausted. Been trying to get the website's past readers section sorted out, am planning the show, started tutoring more, and started teaching a course at Seneca College. I also was attempting to finish my book before September came, but ended up totally adding another story line and reworking a lot of stuff. I'm really happy about the way everything is going - I like being busy - but with launch season fast approaching, I'm feeling mighty weary! But don't worry, you can expect the same high energy show as usual from Emerging Writers. It's going to be a blast!

 

I did an interview about the series with Andrew Gaboury.  Go read it!

 

I also just had a Town Crier article go live. It's on the Pivot Reading Series. I talked to Jacob McArthur Mooney, who was the first person I met on the Toronto writing scene.  

 

In laughs, I started a tumblr for my Paul short story project. Send me Paul links!

 

In exciting news, I have a small chapbook coming out with Picture Window Press. More details coming soon! It will be of a short poetry sequence. 

 

I also bought a drawing board and started working on a couple new illustrations. I might take a sculpture class this fall.  

 

That's all for now! I will write more soon and post a fall reading list.

Jess 

August 19, 2013. 

Look section updated. Things moving around.

 

Hey everyone!

 

Ok, I've updated the LOOK section more or less. Adding more photos to the readings section as soon as I can. For now, check out the Notebooks and Process Work section and the Assorted Artwork section. Here is a picture I drew the other day while listening to Jim Guthrie:

 It's called "Between". Just oil pastel and this nice paper I have.

 

And here is a picture from BIG on Bloor:

 

That's our pavilion. E Martin (Ted) Nolan is reading a suite on Detroit that went over well. He's also my editor at The Town Crier. 

 

We were set up in the Card-Yard with other pavilions made out of cardboard tubes. Here is what the card-yard looked like from the back:

Taken by Sofia Mostaghimi. We were over at the very far left attached to the fence. I learned how to use a PA and hauled it to and from the site two days in a row and then back to Long and McQuade. A big thank you to my bandmate Stefhan Iwaskow, Sofia Mostaghimi, Nadia Ragbar, a guy from Snakes and Lattes, and various cab drivers who helped me move that heavy equipment. 

 

Nadia and I are almost done over at Echolocation, and we've been spending a lot of time getting everything together. We had our launch for The Chase Chapbook on July 31st and then tabled at Zine Dream on August 4th. The chapbooks look great! I finished putting Issue 13 in order, and now Nadia just needs to do layout and typesetting. Then off to the printers! News on the incoming editors TBA. 

 

Of course, I'm writing away. I just printed off draft 4 of The Awkward Project, and it's filling me with anxiety the way a novel does. I want to have draft 5 done before my friend Alex from Montreal gets into town. She's currently travelling to Cologne, Germany with her partner, Sam. I have met Sam over Skype, and he seems pretty much the best. Alex grew up with me in Caledon, and she was my first editor (other than my mom - shout out!). I would always give her my stories to read, and when I wrote my first novels in grade 9 and 10, she looked them over and gave me tips. And I'm still working on one of them - Bran Flakes - by adapting it for television. For a brief period of time, before art took over our lives in high school, she was considering being an editor and has always been a great reader, so I'm really looking forward to getting her feedback on this draft. But first I need to make sure it's ready!!!!

 

There's a lot more rewriting than I thought I would need to do at this stage. I think I'm in a big period of growth with my writing, which is hard because I'm super impatient and just want to get my work out in the world. I want my novel to be something I'm proud of, so I think it's ok to take a little bit of time. Sometimes I think my whole life is about teaching me to be patient. I learn a lot every day about writing, the type of person I want to be, the way the world works. Sometimes I think I've learnt more this year than I have the whole other 23. I've definitely learned more about all those things since I've finished the master's program. 

 

Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the summer. I went to the island on Saturday. Here I am in a tree with Menaka Raman-Wilms:

 

 Taken by the one, the only, Sofz.

 

Have fun. Go outside!

 

Love,

 

Jess 

 

 

 

August 16, 2013.

A couple videos. Going to put up some art stuff tomorrow. "Paul" to be published in Little Brother No. 3!

 

Hey all,

 

I just wrote a poem today. I liked it, so I filmed it. Then I put it on the internet. I might regret this, but it didn't seem like the kind of poem I'd send around... it just felt like it was for THE NET. So there we go. I wrote it and filmed it while listening to the song, "Library Chant" by Michael Andrews.

Watch it:

 

Here's a chat with Jess:

 

I will post pics and write more tomorrow.

 

Have a good night!

Best,

Jess 

 

July 24, 2013. 

What I'm Reading. Sooo busy! Writing forever. Teaching all the kids. A Chat with Jess to come. Reading VS. Writing.

Hey everyone,

 

A quick blog for today. June sped on through, filled with writing new material and life disasters (which always lead to even more new material), and then the month of my low employment was over and I was broke and eating strange things and making up many recipes that involved chick peas. Finally it was July. One of my students was back in the country and ready for some high-level tutoring, and then, just to make sure I'll grow into a well-rounded person, I led creative writing and art camps as part of the Creative Zone's Camp Green Acres programming and part of their regular summer camp programming. At Camp Green Acres, which I did two weeks ago, I had students in between 7 and 12. We made really cool books. This week, I've been working with 4 and 5 year olds! I'm tired!!! But it's rewarding work.  

 

Other things I've done in July included: BIG on Bloor festival, reading on an island, having a fun EW reading, performing a short story at the Ossington, reading, writing, and I may have just figured out a little bit of work for September. So things have been how I like them - busy and productive!

 

I will do A Chat with Jess over the weekend, probably where I read from "Anthill", which went up on Little Fiction on July 3rd.  

(c) Little Fiction and Troy Palmer. 

Troy's work at Little Fiction is really some of the best I've seen from online publications. His custom-designed covers are so beautiful and clean. I wish he could design covers for all of my stories. He also has really been promoting the story like crazy, which makes me feel even better about placing my work there. I was already happy to be beside writers I respect and admire, my friends and colleagues, but Troy has also made a lot more people aware of my work. I highly suggest you check Little Fictionout and, if you are a writer, submit! 

 

I have a new Town Crier article up too. Right here.  

 

More info on everything coming over the weekend. I have a new reading list posted - check it out! Also, this article by Anakana Schofield on some of the problems surrounding writing as a serious profession (basically - it's not really considered that, if you define serious as something where the worker is paid, the work is given attention rather than the worker, and that workers are seen as not possessing skills specific to a profession [anyone can become the worker]). What I thought was particularly interesting was her discussion of how current society is becoming more of a writing culture than a reading culture.

 

"If you wish to write well, you need to read well, or at least widely [...] It's a great deal more fulfilling to read and think about a fine book than to attempt to write one."  

 

This is so true! When I'm not reading, my writing not only suffers, but the ideas come slower. It's amazing how many of my students never think to read for pleasure, but consider themselves to be creative writers. How can you write without enjoying language or literature? It's like a basketball player who knows nothing about the sport at all trying to learn how to shoot hoops. Playing on a court by himself. Yeah. Ok.

 

My writing comrade, Sofia Mostaghimi, and I often talk about how angry our novels make us. Sometimes, yes, writing's a fun experience, and it is essentially something we love to do (or are more drawn to do by some insane obsession to tell stories) -- but it also drives you absolutely talking-on-the-street crazy. Reading, even when it's difficult reading, is a break. I am never interested in anything unless I'm learning, and of course, I am always critically aware now when I'm reading, but reading has an element of relaxation to it. Writing is problem solving, untangling knots (at least prose -- maybe poetry instead is tying knots, setting up puzzles), but reading is watching someone solve the problems and untangle the knots for you. I just finished reading Michael Winter's The Architects are Here, and every minute I read it, I felt like there was nothing else I'd want to do. I totally forgot who I was and just fell into the story. 

  

 Lately I've been reading Between Parentheses, which are collected essays, speeches, and other things by Roberto Bolano. It also makes me feel like I'm being carried far away. And also:

"I'm much happier reading than writing." - From " Preface: Self-Portrait" by Roberto Bolano

And also: "So what is top-notch writing? The same thing it's always been: the ability to peer into darkness, to leap into the void, to know that literature is basically a dangerous undertaking."- From "Caracas Address" by Roberto Bolano 

 

Writing is scary, reading makes you happy. So check out my reading list and read a little!

 

This was longer than intended. I have to teach four year olds tomorrow!

 

Much love,

Jess 

 

June 3, 2013.

What happened to May? A Chat with Jess! Writing swagger back! Read section organized. Upcoming readings and such.

 

Hey everyone,

 

Ok, I kinda suck. Sorry for not posting in so long! May was too-good-to-be-true for most of it, and then this last week was terrible! But it was really good in terms of friendship and stuff like that.

 

For one, my roommate and writing comrade, Jane Ozkowski, totally destroyed the Broken Social Scene contest. As in, she won the WHOLE THING. THE WHOLE THING. Now we have a bunch of great records and books kicking around the apartment, and she's a little richer which means she's been sharing food with me and buying me drinks. YAY. BIG UPS AND CONGRATS TO HER! You can read her story here: "Cause = Time Time=God ?" on the Walrus. One of my other chums, Laura Clarke, brought home the Bronwen Wallace on Tuesday. What?! Big ups to everyone. So obviously I've been heading out to a lot of events this week. Which ended up being great because it's when your life turns a little sideways that it's good to go out with your friends and just hang out.

 

I made a chat video about my life this week and Emerging Writers and Dream Vlog: The Vlog. 

You're welcome. 

 

Here's the poster for the next EW:

 I'm getting the rest of EW for booked up this week, and then I will turn my attention to the website. Namely, I'll be updating the website and buying a URL so it can be what best represents the past Emerging Writers who have gone on to do EXCITING AND AMAZING THINGS!

 

I've reworked the read section on here a bit to better organize the three areas I've written non-fiction on: the literary scene, educating young people, and being a student. So check that out. I've had two articles published on The Town Crier , and a new article should be up on Wednesday. I continue to post blogs on The Creative Zone's blog and will have a new blog up this evening.

 

I have a reading coming up July 11th, and a story coming out with Little Fiction in the next little while.

 

Thanks for reading and supporting me!

Keep things awesome.

Love,

Jess  

 

April 17, 2013.

I won Write Club!!!!!!

 

Hey everyone,

 

Last night I battled Laura Hartenberger at Write Club at The Garrison, and I won!!!  Our topics were Mom VS. Dad. I got Dad, Laura got Mom. Her story was great and was about a woman who gets impregnated with a neanderthal baby. I ran out of time because I forgot to account for the time I take to laugh at my own jokes while everyone else is laughing. Whoops! People have been asking to read the ending (just half of the last paragraph), so here is the second half of the story.

 

It was really fun. Laura was an excellent and cut-throat competitor, and we had a blast on stage. I got a tiny trophy. The other readers were really cool to see too...everyone was so different, which is what makes Write Club such a unique show.   

 

Anyway, more news to come soon!

XOXOX,

Jess 

 

April 13, 2013.

I passed. What's next?

 

I did my defense yesterday. It was a good time. I passed. Everyone is asking me, "What's next?" It's a big question. Here's what's next.

 

I'm always going to be free. I'm going to be my own person. I'm going to work enough to make money to be free and to live in an apartment and have hummus to eat. I'm going to learn how to stop being a workoholic. I am always going to write -- never going to stop! I'm going to learn how to be invincible. I'm going to do that. I'm going to be a big hustler. I'm going to go to Cuba and get a burn. I'm going to make books. I'm going to run shows. I'm going to teach the youth, but not become a slave to it, just because I care about the youth and care about making a difference in kids' lives. When I wake up in the morning, I'm going to read "Mayakovsky" everyday and think about the world and hope I am improving as a person. I am going to improve as a person. I'm going to dedicate myself to art. I'm going to love every person and every inch of this big weird world.

 

What are you going to do? What's next?

 

Much love,

Jess 

 

April 4, 2013.

I WROTE A BOOK AND HANDED IT IN! Write Club! EW Update! Story coming out in Great Lakes Cultural Review! All the readings! I'm 24! Writing for the Puritan's Town Crier!

 

Hey everyone!

 

So guess what? First off, I'm no longer a young thing anymore. I'm 24. I think this means my early twenties are now over. What do you think? Several of my friends have told me that I'm merely at the tail-end of my early twenties since mid-twenties starts at the MIDDLE of your twenties, as in 25. As long as it's not 22 or 23, I DON'T CARE. Good riddance to those years. Just like with 2013, I'm determined to make 24 the best year of my life so far.  

 

And so far 2013 has been amazing, especially the month of March! It's been the most stressful and productive professional month. I read poetry at The Acrobat launch on March 6th, read poetry at the EW Anniversary show on March 12th, read from my novel at the Creative Writing Gala on March 20th, AND I FINISHED MY BOOK. FOR REALZZZIEZ. 

YEAH! That's right! I handed in my book! On Tuesday! It's called The Awkward Project. During the course of the program, I managed to successfully complete three drafts, and the final manuscript is 176 pages. It included four illustrations, several other visual storytelling elements, and poems by two of the main characters.

 

Here's a picture of me with two of my girlz, Sofia Mostaghimi and Menaka Raman-Wilms handing in our books.

 I look goofy because I'm really happy and fellow comrade (who handed his book in earlier that day) Andrew Battershill was making me laugh. I also am incapable of taking a good photo. 

 

Finishing my thesis has just made me surer than ever that I want to be a writer. I mean, I am a writer (I write things), but I want to publish books. Every time I think I want it as much as I could possibly want it, I want it more. It's made me hungrier. Not for success, but more just for the ability to do what I love and share with all the people I love. To communicate with the strange, confusing world I love.

 

Emerging Writers Anniversary show went so well! Here's a picture of me reading in a beautiful dress designed by Nicole Royer of "It's Been Done."

I read some newish poems, and it went well. I'm going to put together a chapbook called Going Wild in the next month or so.  

 

Our next show is April 9th. Actualized April! is a special show for poetry month! So come on out and support and watch a great show! There might be some nice poetry for sale as well! 

 

In other news, I will be reading/fighting at Write Club on April 16th! It's going down at the Garrison and my challenger is Laura Hartenberger. More details coming soon! 

 

Also! I am going to start covering events for The Puritan's blog, The Town Crier.  Get ready! It's going to be great! Check out The Town Crier for some good reading that's already up, and expect a post from me mid-April.

 

Thanks for reading and all the support!

XOXOXOXOXXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX,

Jess 

  

 

March 3, 2013. 

Creative Writing Gala Reading. A Chat with Jess. Old Friends. Writing poems. 

 

Hey everyone,

 

So I've been writing poems a lot lately. I think my novel made me sick of prose. I did manage to write a flash fiction piece and have been working on revising my book, but poems have been flowing much more naturally lately. Maybe it's because I've been mainly reading poetry as well. I've updated the book list!

Look! Here is a chat:

So sincere!

 

And here's me playing "Wandering" with Old Friends:

Our first run through was better. I love how happy we all look in the video! Jamming with the guys is super fun.

 

In other big news, I'll be reading at the Creative Writing Gala at U of T this year on March 20th with Michael Redhill, Camilla Gibb, Rosemary Sullivan, and fellow student Menaka Raman-Wilms. It's at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library and is open to the public, so come on by!  

 

I'm also doing a reading this Wednesday (6th) to launch Tightrope's The Acrobat at No One Writes to the Colonel, and the following week I'll be reading at Emerging Writers' Anniversary Show on the 12th at Duffy's Tavern

 

That's all for me right now! Talk soon!

 

XOXOX,

Jess 

 

February 8, 2013.

My Life is Exciting!!! Buy Emerge Literary Journal to get my poem, "City, in Fragments." Tightrope show added to Calendar. Book list updated. My novel!

 

Hey gang,

 

Guess what? I finished the rough draft of my novel! Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! It's now in a fancy binder. 

How exciting! I've started the long process of editing, expanding, and revising. 

 

Last night I read at Livewords 5th Anniversary show. It was really fun! I was on the bill with 18 other readers (or maybe even 19; I think an extra got added last minute). So much talent and so many different personalities and styles! It was nice to go back to back with my friend, Jacob McArthur Mooney, who read incredibly as usual. I read three poems, "Turbidity," "City, In Fragments," and "LOVEOFMYLIFEWHEREHAVEYOUBEENMYWHOLELIFE."

 

"City, In Fragments" is actually in the Winter 2012 Issue of Emerge Literary Journal, which you can buy by clicking here.   It's a beautiful, perfect-bound book with tons of great writers. 

 

I've got another show coming up on March 6th: Tightrope Books' TAKE MY BOOK, PLEASE which is a night showcasing upcoming Tightrope Books authors and is also a launch for The Acrobat! 

 

Details have been added my CALENDAR or check out the Facebook Event.  

 

Emerging Writers is coming up on Tuesday! I'm really excited by this line-up. Really strong writers and readers!   

 Now that I'm in the editing stages of my book, I'm reading even more for research and pleasure. I finally bought a book by Frank O'Hara on the recommendation of my friend and fellow poet, Mat Laporte. I bought Meditations in an Emergency on Friday, and every trip I took on the subway on the weekend (I take many a subway trip to get to work), I read the book. I must have read each poem at least three times, and "Mayakovsky" I read every time I held the book in my hands. I am in love with this poem. I typed it up and printed it out, pasted it on nice paper from my favourite art store. Every day when I wake up, I read this poem and look out my window.

 

I've also bought a bunch of books on madness and mental illness (one of the "themes" of my novel if themes are a thing). It's pretty interesting. I bought a bunch more poetry books too, but I'll save all that for another day since I haven't started reading all of them. What can I say? Books are fun! I've updated the Winter Reading List.

 

Remember when I told you about walking with Sofia Mostaghimi to rockclimbing and feeling like Bloor West was still Toronto to me even though I love my new hood in Roncesvalles? She took a picture when we were on the bridge:

Oh, Bloor West! And me on the bridge:

Grinning my heart out, happy in this city. Toronto, you are doing all right, you know that?

 

Much love to you all! Hope to see you at a reading soon!

Jess 

 

January 20, 2013. 

Chunky blog post. Songz. Old Friends. Readings. Lots of exciting things!

 

Hey everyone!

 

So as the title says, this is going to be a chunky blog post. As in it's going to have a lot of meat on its bones. As in a little bit obese. Not too obese. Like it can still walk around and everything, but it has some trouble climbing stairs.

 

I have a new apartment! Here's a song about my new apartment in my new apartment:

 

 

 

As you can probably tell from the song, I am very happy with my new place and feel right at home in my new hood (which is very close to my old hood in Bloor West). Today I went walking with my pal, Sofia, talking about finishing up our novels and other things. We started to walk down my old street. She said, "So different from your new street in Roncesvalles."

I said, "It's true. But this street, I still really like it. It feels like Toronto to me."

Then we walked past my house and my old landlords came out and waved at me and gave me my new copy of The Walrus. BONUS! I should probably change my address with my subscriptions soon.

 

So Sofia and I have also started rock climbing. Which is really fun! We've only been once so far, but it's going to be a regular thing. That's right, Jess Taylor does an extreme sport now. Also, you read correctly... I wrote finishing our novels not writing them. I only have two chapters left in the main section of my novel and then an epilogue/weird section thing. So close! Will probably manage to finish this week if the internet doesn't distract me. 

 

I jammed with Kenny and Stefhan last Sunday, talked more about our Old Friends albums. Ken and I have tons of ideas for different little projects, and Stefhan and I are really excited to turn Old Friends into something real. Here are some more songs I've written lately. One is older, but I needed to record it as a reference for the guys.

 

 

 

 

I've got some shows coming up this winter and spring. I'm pretty excited about it. First, I'm reading at Livewords on Thursday, February 7th at the Black Swan.Liz Howard is going to be sharing the stage, as is Jacob McArthur Mooney, as well as other promoters from Toronto's reading series. I'm stoked! Click the words for the Facebook event. 

 

My February EW show is on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at Duffy's Tavern. Our March show is going to be insane. It's going to be huge. I'm reading! We're getting a DJ. There's going to be a lot more artistic cross-promotion things, bringing all different forms of art together for Emerging Writers Anniversary! 

 

I also have three other shows in the works that I'll be reading at, not running! I'll release more information as I get it, but remember to keep an eye on theCALENDAR section. 

 

I've updated my reading list! I think I must be forgetting at least one book, but that's good for now.

 

Tonight is my first night back on the internet, and I just went manic taking care of business and doing internet things. I changed my Facebook picture three times. I think I need to stop. I need to get off. I need to write. Maybe I'll be able to finish Chapter 13. I think it's going to be a long chapter, but I know what's going to happen,  so I hope it will be a quick one.

 

Have a good night! I love you all! Don't stay up too late travelling all over the net!

 

XOXO,

Jess 

 

 

 

December 24, 2012. Again.

Whoops, I forgot about all my publications in the past month and a half.

So I forgot to write about all the publications I've had in the past month and a bit. It's been a really eventful month for me in terms of writing and publishing.

 

At the beginning of the month, I had a short story called "Drinking Dancing Sweating" published on WhiskeyPaper 

 

Then I had a poem, "Every Light on Every Cab" published in the first ever issue of Tightrope Books' The Acrobat!

I also made a video to promote the poem and The Acrobat, which they featured on their website in the video section:

 

The Acrobat also made a video episode, which is definitely worth checking out.  

 

Troy Palmer of Little Fiction asked me to write a Top 10 of something to wrap up 2012. I chose my favourite literary parties and events of the year. Check it out!

 

Ok, now that's a wrap for sure. Catch you later!

 

Love,

Jess 

 

December 24, 2012.

What up! Winter reading list. Some songs. December EW show was cancelled. Happy Holidays and what not. Starting to record an album. A photo. Notebooks/Sketches posted in the LOOK section.

 

Hey everyone,

 

So it's Christmas Eve. Interesting! I have a cold, of course. Finally got through marking, searching for a place, teaching a million (quite smart and lovely) kids, and now I'm in Caledon, ready for Christmas and am totally ill. OH WELL.

 

Here's a picture of me:

 

 

This photo was taken by Francesca Ludikar of Metal F designs. She's pretty great and is designing me a new website around this picture. All the books in the photo are mine -- you can see a few books written by my friends scattered around too. I don't actually have this many books though. Although none of the books are a fake wall-hanging or anything, a little was done with the magic of photoshop. 

 

My December EW show was cancelled. This was because Duffy's Tavern had some last minute hiccups in their renovations. It was a shame to not be able to reschedule the show, but we had a pub night at the Emmet Ray instead and had a good time. The next show will be in the fresh and new Duffy's Tavern on January 8th.

 

So I also put up a bunch of photographs of sketches from my grade twelve journal and my writing notebooks from 2011-2012. Check them out! It's kind of fun to see them all up there.

 

Here's a song:

 

 

Here's another song:

 

 

I wrote two new songs this past week too. I should record them and post them once I feel better. I saw my brother, Ken Taylor, today, and we talked about recording an album of my work. I think it'll be an Old Friends album instead of a solo album,  and I will get Stefhan Iwaskow to record some parts, as well as get Ken to contribute some bass and guitar. One of my new songs (called "Hearsay") I want to have build to a lot of static and noise. We chatted about different ways to do this, jammed a little. It was really fun. We might start recording on the 26th and 27th before I leave Caledon.

 

Other things: I've started a Winter 2012-2013 Reading List. Check it out! I'll keep adding to it as we go along. Right now, my mom, dad, and I got sick of listening to Christmas music so we are listening to Jimmy Cliff. I was just dancing around the living room. Have a very happy holiday with the people you love! If you don't celebrate any of the many winter holidays, then I hope you're having a good week, still hanging with people you love!

 

Very best wishes,

 

Jess 

 

 

 

November 10, 2012.

Books! I love Roberto Bolano. EW Trailer. 

 

Hey everyone!

 

I love books so much! SO MUCH. I also love BMV, even thought I know that the authors don't get royalties off the books, etc. But the fact that I can buy two books for $13, it's too much for me! This week, I bought The of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy and Roberto Bolano: The Last Interview and other conversations compiled and introduced by Marcela Valdes. This is my first Tolstoy that I'll have ever read. I like it a lot so far. It helps that it's a novella. Doesn't feel so daunting.

  I loved, loved, loved this book. I bought it on Wednesday and finished it before my photoshoot on Thursday. That's how fantastic it was. This is mostly because Roberto Bolano is really cool. You might remember me being reduced to tears over the stellar writing of The Savage Detectives over the summer. The book starts with a fantastic essay by Marcela Valdes, "Alone Among the Ghosts," which was originally published in The Nation. Several times while reading this essay, I shouted aloud, "WHAT A FANTASTIC ESSAY." My cat looked up at me as if thinking, Well, she's finally gone crazy. I wonder if she'll still remember to feed me. I did. The essay discusses Bolano's work on 2666, his research process during the writing of the novel, his friendship with the journalist Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez, and the shift in his thinking and structure from his earlier novels and poetry to 2666. Fascinating stuff, especially for a young writer like myself.

 

One of the things I really admire about Bolano is the momentum in his books -- that they are able to become seemingly more entropic as they go on without losing the reader in the chaos. I also love the insights Bolano always has about literature, the process of writing, and the state of the art world. He's so full of wisdom and humour. Some parts that stuck out for me:

 

On whether he writes "self-portrait" (From "Reading is Always More Important Than Writing"): "A self-portrait? Not much. A self-portrait requires a certain kind of ego, a willingness to look at yourself over and over again, a manifest interest in what you are or have been. Literature is full of autobiographies, some very good, but self-portraits tend to be very bad, including self-portraits in poetry, which at first would seem to be a more suitable genre for self-portraiture than prose. Is my work autobiographical? In a sense, how could it not be? Every work, including the epic, is in some way autobiographical. 

 

On poetry and prose, after saying that they resemble and inform each other (From "Reading is Always More Important Than Writing""There's something about poetry. Whatever the case, the important thing is to keep reading it. That's more important than writing it, don't you think?"

 

Cool. Other things I've been reading include a graphic novel called Y The Last Man which one of my new friends lent me. It's great so far. I've also revisited my fav graphic novelist, Craig Thompson, over the last few days while thinking about graphic novels. There's such a pain and beauty in his work. I think I'm going to photograph some of the drawings from my notebooks and start an album here online because I keep forgetting that I'm always drawing, almost as much as I'm writing. There's something really great about drawing... similar to playing music, gets the feelings out. I'd say with art it's even better than guitar. The mind goes into a semi-meditative state that comes from a deep concentration on the visual, the materials, and the act of drawing. 

 

I've been learning so much on my own lately. I love self-directed learning. I realize that I learn just as much when I'm not in classes as when I'm studying. This is a good thing. I'm going to learn forever. I was like this in high school too, constantly getting interested in new things. It's helping my writing a lot. I keep feeling closer to that high school person, at least creatively. I think that's a good thing. I worked so hard in music, art, and writing. Everything informed everything and the media all worked together and I learned so much. I'm really happy to have more time to do what I love doing.

 

Here's a trailer for EW:

 
Have a great weekend!
 
Lots of love,
 
Jess 

 

November 6, 2012.

New poem up on Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure. New video. Photoshoot on Thurs.

 

Hey everyone!

 

I made you a video. In it, I read you my two poems that have been up on Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure.   

 

 

So, aside from the stuff on Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure, I have a poem, "City, In Fragments," coming out in Emerge Literary Journal; a poem, "Every Light on Every Cab," coming out in The Acrobat; and a short story story, "Drinking Dancing Sweating," coming out in WhiskeyPaper all this winter. Most should be up by December. I'll keep you updated.

 

Francesca Ludikar of Metal F Designs, one of my oldest friends, is coming over to give me a photoshoot for a website redesign. I'm really excited about it! I think we'll have a blast.

 

Ok, that's all for me right now. I also updated my reading list. It was snowing teeny little flakes today. Anyone want to buy me winter boots and clothes without holes?

 

Love,

Jess 

October 21, 2012.

 Writing. New Song. Reading list for Fall. Various things. Saw Michael Chabon and Junot Diaz at IFOA. 

 

Hey everyone!

 

I wrote a new song because I bought a capo finally. I like it a lot. Writing songs with a capo is really fun... I like how it makes my guitar sound and that it allows me to explore different things vocally. I also have really small hands, so it really improves my dexterity working higher on the neck with actual chords and such. I don't know why I never did anything with a capo before this. I played around a little bit in high school, but we never wrote with one while I played in The Big Man Himself. 

 

This song is called "Brute." I think this is a good time to point out that a lot of the time, like in poetry and prose, I use characters in my songs. I think a lot of people do. I know my bro, Ken Taylor, will pretty much write a whole story to go into a song. He'll get really into explaining it to me. "Brute" is lyrically sparse, which I think works for it. Sometimes you don't need a lot of words to tell a story.

 

 

My cat was just going bat-shit crazy and destroying everything that was on my floor with special focus on my writing notebook. I'm trying to not take it personally. I'm rewriting my novel, simplifying it a bit, tightening it up with a new protagonist. It's really fun, but because the style is a little denser it takes longer. I'm on Chapter 2, about 7000 words in. We'll see what happens. It's a lot more about poetry this time around, which doesn't necessarily mean there is more poetry in it... just that both my characters and I are aware of poetry, constantly thinking about it. I've been reading a lot of poetics lately. Ha.

 

I'm posting a new reading list. Check it out!

 

I went to see Diaz and Chabon at IFOA on Friday. It was amazing! I laughed so much, like the entire time. Those two guys are extremely funny, intelligent, and charming. Junot Diaz said some things about females being under-represented and misrepresented in literature (both in terms of reviews and in terms of fiction's content) because of male privilege, and it was so spot-on that the audience burst into applause. The other highlight for me was Junot Diaz referencing a line from The English Patient, and then flipping his shit when he realized Michael Ondaatji was in the audience. It's Toronto, bro!

 

Also, here's the flyer for Notorious November! Coming soon!

 

This is going to be an awesome event. We're being sponsored by Tightrope Books, so we'll have prize packs to be given away before each reader. SWEET DEAL.

 

That's pretty much it for me. I'm a used-up bag of mush this weekend, sick and everything! Went to the Best Canadian Poetry launch on Monday, saw my bro's band on Tuesday and celebrated his fiancees b-day, TA'd for four hours on Wednesday, went to another launch party for Cosmo on Thursday, and went to IFOA on Friday. DEAD. I can't believe how much has happened this week, and that I still had time to do work, lead a Rotman workshop of Tuesday, write, read poetics, surf the net, watch Top Chef Canada 2 online, see friends, take care of a bunch of Echolocation business, etc. I guess it's just food and sleep that got cut out, which explains my mushness now. What a great week though! GREAT. I have a lot of good friends, and I'm lucky I have so many people to see and things to do.

 

XOXOXO,

Jess 

 

October 7, 2012.

"Retreat" is up on The Legendary. What I'm Reading. Thanksgiving. 

 

Hey everyone,

 

So I'm in Caledon for Thanksgiving, which means I'm sitting on a couch in my parents' basement between an electric bass and an acoustic guitar. Ah, music. I saw my brother, Ken Taylor, and his fiancee, Beata. Ken showed me all the tracks he had from our The Big Man Himself days. A lot of the songs for our new album (which started from the idea of rerecording our EP Packing the Heat, but quickly expanded into ideas for a full-length) were almost fully recorded but missing vocals. So I'm going to lay down some vocals one day when Kenny has a day free from working with his new band, The Gentlemen Thieves. Pretty excited about this. We spent a good amount of the night showing each other songs, just like the old days.

 

Here's the trailer for Oscillating October!

 

 

Pretty fun, right? I love The Smiths. OSCILLATE WILDLY!!!!

 

So, I'm debating whether I should do a fall reading list or not. I just find that fall turns into something winterish so quickly. I'm also so busy that I often forget to update the list in the fall. I will decide after this week's show. But what am I reading, you ask? Well! Thursday was the esteemed Coach House Books Fall 2012 Launch. I had a blast! No one parties like writers, editors, and publishers party. I bought two books there: Probably Inevitable by Matthew Tierney and Cosmo by Spencer Gordon. Tierney is a great poet. I really enjoy his work and was planning on picking up his new one. So far I'm really digging it.

 

But, that being said, my excitement that night came from Spencer Gordon launching Cosmo. Spencer has been a hustler on the literary scene forever - he's one of the founders of The Puritan and Ferno House - and he's just a stand up guy in general. He graduated from my program at U of T in 2010, and I think all of us are feeling some pride and good feelings.

 

 Cosmo by Spencer Gordon, published by Coach House. Cover art: Arnaud Brassard.

 

I'm about halfway through - it's awesome!

 

I've also been reading Birds of America by Lorrie Moore, a bunch of short stories, and I finally got my dad to give me his copy of Infinite Jest - SCORE! Yeah, I should probably do a fall book list.

 

In other news, "Retreat" is up on The Legendary. Go read it!

 

All right, that's it for me. I hope you all are having a good Thanksgiving and that I'll see you on Tuesday at Duffy's!

 

XOXO,

Jess 

 

 

October 1, 2012.

Happy October! "Kant's Universal History" is up on Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure!

 

Hey everyone!

 

It seems I'm only full of good news lately! I have a poem up on Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure!   Right now it's on the front page, but I'll update the READ section with the permanent ink once it's up. One of the things I love about online magazines is the turn around time. I just found out this poem got accepted, and now it's up today. I've also heard they will run another poem of mine called, "Potatoes." The release date is TBD.

 

Immanuel Kant is a baller. I used to be a science nerd, especially in terms of science history and philosophy, and that's mostly where I read Kant. I wrote this poem about two and a half years ago, but recently I've stopped watching television and went on a philosophy shopping spree at BMV and ended up buying some Sartre, Nietzsche, Thoreau, and ... more Kant! I bought An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? I love Kant. His writing style (while I understand I've been reading translations) has a great tone, and he seems genuinely excited and fascinated by the world. He's committed to trying to figure it all out. Anyway, enough about that.

 

Please read the poem! I hope you like it.

 

XOXOX,

Jess 

September 28, 2012.

Illustration, "This Isn't Right," up on Dragnet Mag in Issue Six!

 

Hey everyone! Just a quick note to say that Dragnet Magazine has featured my illustration in Issue Six, which just came out today! Check it out!

 

Love,

Jess 

 

September 27, 2012.

"The One I Lost" is up on Zouch Magazine! A Chat with Jess #6! Songs.

 

Hey everyone!

 

My story is up on the homepage of Zouch MagazineThis will directly bring you to the story , but it's kind of cool seeing it on the front page of the Magazine! 

 

I made this weird video last night instead of going to bed after TAing. I talk a little bit about the origins of the story, I guess. Most of my stories don't really have a story behind them - but this one does, so I thought it'd be interesting. I also show you a painting.

 

 

I also put up a couple new songs the other day.

 

This one is the most recent:

 

And this one I wrote in winter:

 

 

I'm sure I have more news, but I'm too excited about the story being up to think about anything. Enjoy!

 

LOVELOVELOVE,

Jess 

 

 September 15, 2012.

My crazy, wonderful, beautiful life. Publications! Catching Butterflies, a short graphic novel/story in full. EW. Dublin. Glasgow. Edinburgh. !Transcontinental Jess! Novel.

Hey everyone!

 

I'm afraid this is going to be a long one, so I apologize in advance. BUT! I will have lots of exciting things for you in this here blog post so get ready!

 

My life has not stopped moving since I left for Edinburgh on August 20th. The morning before I left, I had to take care of TA business with the course instructor. I'm going to be TAing for The Digital Text. Now, if you remember, I used to be a little bit of a science nerd at York University and almost went into Science and Technology Studies for my Master's degree. My field would have been Digital Books and New Communications Media, so I am extremely lucky to have gotten this position (The TA co-ordinator has no idea of my STS background)!  This also was a further reaffirmation that going into CRWR at U of T was the right thing for me, as I've gotten to do everything I wanted in this program, to explore all my research interests, and to write more than I've ever written before. 

 

So that taken care of, I flew into Glasgow where the beautiful Jane Ozkowski picked me up! It was so good to see her! We took the train back to Edinburgh where she's living, ate delicious Indian Food, and went to.........FOUR....literary events in two days. Three of the four were slam poetry and spoken word events put on by the Fringe Festival, so they were free. Some was good, some was bad. But we got to see the top Spoken Word Poet in the world, last year's Scottish champion, and this year's Scottish champion. That was really exciting and all were top notch. I'm not a huge follower of spoken word, but of what I've seen, it was pretty great. Interesting and musical! We also saw Jon Gower and Wayne Price read as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival 2012. The readings were good, but I was really moved by the discussion regarding short story writing and writing in general. I actually ended up busting out my notebook and taking notes like a nerd. I'm really glad I did!

 

After a few days, we were off to Dublin on August 23! Dublin, man, I don't even think I can convey it in words. Other than Toronto, I've never walked into a place and been like, Wow, this could be my home. And as a person that is still trying to figure out where and the way they want to live, that's a huge deal to me. Our hostel was up the street from 7 Ecceles, or, as Ulysses fans will know, the home of Bloom in James Joyce's Ulysses. It's now the James Joyce Centre. Here's a picture of me looking very happy in front of the door on our last day in Dublin:

 

We quickly realized on our first day that the bar and entertainment district (aka Temple Bar) was not the place to be, and the next night we set out to find a cool bar with people closer to our age and style. We found a couple bars and made friends with local people and quickly found ourselves going to bars and clubs to see DJs and hang out with the most awesome people I've met in my life. Everyone was so friendly and genuine. I made some friends I'll keep in touch with, and it was just an amazing experience. We made out way to Sandymount one day and had the beauty and perfection of the world revealed to us on the Strand with clams popping under our feet as we walked. Life is good. 

 

We also went to the Irish Writer's Centre, attended a workshop there, and went to the Bare Hands (a Dublin-based international magazine) Launch Party (literary event #5). 

 

Back to Edinburgh we went, where we cafe hopped, wrote, ate more curry, and went to another literary event (6). This event was probably my favourite. They played short animations, had bands, and had readers. None of the readers got me particularly excited, but the atmosphere and the hosts were all much more fun and chill. Not stuffy. Closer to what I've been trying to do with EW. We went to Glasgow for a day as well, more bar hopping, and it was fun!

 

Here's me in our hostel, getting ready to slay Dublin:

 

I'm currently writing a story with three Pauls in it. I've realized Paul is one of my go-to names, but thought I didn't have a lot of Pauls that I actually knew. So in Ireland, I tried to meet more Pauls. I ended up meeting three Pauls. One Paul I met at a bar called Solas and he was young (younger than me), very tall and handsome, and was obsessed with Canadian punk band Propaghandi! Paul Chillage is an Irish DJ I met at a party/show he was DJing at the Odessa Club rooftop bar. Click his name to hear a set! He signed my notebook where I was writing my comprehensive list of Pauls and laughed at me when I explained my Paul project. He also explained some Irish inside jokes I was failing to understand. Paul from Seattle we found by shouting Paul over and over in bars and on streets in Edinburgh hoping we'd find a Paul! We did! Then we all went dancing. 

 

Ok, enough of that. So other news - well, other than my TAship, I've gotten another teaching assistantship job as a TA for Rotman's at U of T! I'm pretty excited for that. Still tutoring and turning the youth into literature lovers and writers.  

 

And, most exciting of all, PUBLICATIONS! The last month has been quite exciting for me! "City, In Fragments," a poem I wrote, is coming out in the Winter Print Issue of Emerge Literary Journal.  "Retreat," a creative non-fiction piece I wrote based on the writer's retreat I went on with Jane last year, is going to be published in The Legendary in the next week or so. And "The One I Lost," a short story, will be published in Zouch Magazine!  Pretty exciting and all from my last batch of submissions. I also have another illustration coming out in Dragnet Magazine at the end of September.

 

I've been going out like crazy, getting all my new jobs sorted, and had Shameless September on Tuesday. It went great, as usual. So pleased with the turnout and the people who have continued to support the series. I bought one of my reader's, Spencer Gordon's, chapbooks called Feel Good! Look Great! Have a Blast! and it's fantastic! All of the readers read amazing as usual.

 

The next event is October 9th. Here's the silly flyer:

So now that my manic trip and manic return are over with, I'm spending the weekend working, writing, and catching up on correspondence (that is, until I get bored, which might happen tonight resulting in more mania). I'll try to update areas of the site I've been neglecting like WATCH, READ, LOOK, CALENDAR, Summer Booklist 2012. And I'll try to update the Emerging Writers website. Sorry to people that have been trying to get in touch - I haven't even unpacked yet!

 

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST.....Remember that graphic short story I posted pictures of in the LOOK section???? Well, for the first time ever, Catching Butterflies is being self-published online. I made this graphic novel/short story over six weeks for a class project, so it's a bit rough, but I still like it. Check it out!

 

 

Also, not sure if I told you already, but I'm co-editor of Echolocation Magazine this year with Nadia Ragbar!

 

Anyway, that's it for me! I didn't post a video, so here's a song I like:

 

 

Love,

Jess