Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Chapter 1: Beginning (Again)

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It’s strange to think of a formal beginning in the midst of the continuous alterations—some barely perceptible, some profound—that seem always to unfold at this time of year and in the midst of alterations particular to this unfolding year. In Toronto, the hide-and-go-seek appearing and disappearing of Spring, the feel of the thawing ground yielding against my boots, sap running through the trees, the end of one strike and the possibility of new strikes, book season. And beyond my desk, beyond Toronto’s mud and politics, nodes (or modes) of intersection with the world: Canada’s decision to extend its bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraq to include strikes in Syria, the oil pipeline and the protests against it, the disappearance and deaths of so many First Nations women, community and national movements against racism in Canada and the US, transgender rights activism, nuclear talks with Iran, the Nigerian election.

Amidst the simultaneous passion and outrage and care and resilience and solidarity and sorrow and joy and love of these alterations, I am blogging at Open Book Toronto for the month of April.

April, burgeoning with life in its myriad forms.

Here are a few of my favorite sentences: “I’m trying to write to you with my whole body, loosing an arrow that will sink into the tender and neuralgic centre of the word. My secret body tells you: dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and plesiosaurs, meaning nothing but their sound, though this doesn’t dry them out like straw but moistens them instead” (Clarice Lispector).*

I bring these lines up because they’ll guide my blogging this month as I try to write with my whole body of and to and for and with bodies that go missing, bodies that form modes of thinking, bodies that challenge thinking, that demand change, that register oppression, that trace historical and political sorrow and transformation, bodies that form intimacies and communities, bodies that resist and respond, bodies that vibrate with rage and love, bodies that do all or some of these things at once or in sequence or singly. In the abstract, this is a grand project, but in the days of April I have, it can only proceed, I suspect, in small gestures, evolving thoughts, strong efforts, in provisionality, risk, and empathy.

I’ll be writing a series of posts on the way the body and the mind intersect, the synapses carrying information from experience, shaping the body and thinking of the brain experiencing it; and by contrast, I’ll be writing of the experiences that shape the synapses carrying signals through the brain and body.

It is hard to know where to begin, easier to understand where one might simply pick up—

*Lispector, Clarice. Água Viva, Trans. Stefan Tobler (New York: New Directions, 2012) 6.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Julie Joosten

Julie Joosten is originally from Georgia but now lives in Toronto. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers Program and a PhD from Cornell University. Her poems and reviews can be read in like starlings, Lemon Hound, Lit, Jacket 2, Tarpaulin Sky, the Malahat Review and The Fiddlehead. She recently guest edited an issue of BafterC, a journal of contemporary poetry. Her first book, Light Light, was shortlisted for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and the 2014 Goldie Award.

You can reach Julie throughout the month of April at writer@openbooktoronto.com

Go to Julie Joosten’s Author Page