Versefest 2020

Hello again, STPSers!

Justin Million here, your STPS mouthpiece.

Well, it was a tough cancellation to swallow, for a lot of reasons.

Versefest, Ottawa’s international poetry festival, was supposed to take place live back in March, but like almost everything else, it was postponed until further notice.

I was crushed… again, for many reasons. I had planned to make my Versefest experience my sort of modest vacation for 2020, as I didn’t (and still don’t!) have enough money for some lavish tropical destination, or European romp… tho the tropical thing has never been something that I’ve wanted… ANYWAY, I had planned to sped six days in the capital, in hotels to boot! Which brings me to another reason I was looking forward to this festival: the treatment. I was, for the first time in my young writing career, going to get two nights accommodation at a downtown Ottawa hotel, an honorarium, a full festival pass with open bar designation (Yeehaw!), and an opportunity to come back to Ottawa, a place where I spent more than a decade and really cut my teeth as a poet, to deliver a performance that I had been cultivating for weeks beforehand. I had plans for that audience. Versefest was also supposed to be the launch for my first trade book, EJECTA: The Uncollected KEYBOARDS! Poems, published by Ottawa’s inimitable Apt. 9 Press. I was also supposed to see a lot of old friends and poetry folk that I hadn’t seen for years. I was also supposed to reacquaint myself with the city that held me for so long. I was coming back to the festival that I was one of the founding members of 10 years previous. None of that happened. It was all gone.

Well, the fine folks at Versefest, through a series of surely Herculean efforts, managed to launch a digital version of the festival starting a couple weeks ago, and I submitted a video reading to be aired as part of my digital event. I could not be more proud of this video that I made with the help of my partner Elisha Rubacha, and admittedly we had such a good time making it that it almost makes up for losing out on what potentially would have been one of the better weeks of my life. I love this video so much, and I wanted to make sure that it remains available long after the fest ends (which isn’t until tomorrow, so you still have time to catch some events here: https://versefest.ca/year/2020/), so I’ve posted the link from Versefest’s event page below, and I would love for you to watch it (I’m the first poet up, if you don’t feel like/can’t justify watching an hour of poetry right now!), and then watch the poets read who come after me if you like!

Check it out at the following link: https://versefest.ca/year/2020/event/?id=151&fbclid=IwAR3mDEKUi7VIpcHq0nExVSmOIZrtmRMDmPFpEJLeanmnM4pNSyweOlgyGjM

If Versefest takes it down, I will post my own download here.

Thanks team. Love you.

J

Downtown Artist In Residence

Hello STPSers!

Justin Million here. Captain of the STPShip.

I am proud and humbled to tell you that I have been named Peterborough’s first Downtown Artist In Residence!

I have never had the opportunity to work in a studio space of my own, nor have I ever had a paid opportunity to just explore my work, and things I find interesting, without having some kind of deadline or expectation to show finished work at the end of the process. This will allow me a very welcome moment to play in the sandbox of my own work for a while.

I’ll be working with Leslie Managh of Madderhouse Textile Studios, who is the coordinator of this project, and who has made one of her residency studios available to me. Thank you to EC3 and Su Ditta for making this opportunity possible.

My friend Sarah McNeilly wrote a grand piece about the whole thing, and included quite a bit of an interview she did with me a couple weekends ago. Thank you, Sarah! The link to the article is just under this sentence. Check it out!

https://kawarthanow.com/2020/11/11/local-poet-justin-million-becomes-downtown-peterboroughs-first-artist-in-residence/?fbclid=IwAR2CVqpkCTJa_uhWBIDd8lF5COJhMV9NTFVmSoywd-os_ueth3MwAzexSE4

Yeehaw! My inevitable takeover of the arts scene in Peterborough continues! Lol… What will I do with all this power? Keep writing, and making weird shit, that’s what.

See you downtown.

J

Artsweek SHIFT

Hello again!

It’s been a while! How is your crippling anxiety and fear of contracting Covid? Good?

I, Justin Million, STPS’ big kahuna, spent the last couple of months (between losing my mind and finding it again, in intervals) curating and coordinating a couple happenings for Artsweek SHIFT, a kind of stand-in for Peterborough’s (now bi-annual) Artsweek programming, as the festival was, like everything else, postponed far past its usual starting date.

It was a relief to be programming readings again, reading for live audiences and having the means to pay other local poets to join me in doing so. Jon Hedderwick, Elisabeth Jenkins, Shaun Phuah, Katherine Heigh-Roper, Nick Taylor, and Ziysah Von Bieberstein joined me for three readings, with two more still to come… and yes, Jon, Elisabeth, Ziysah, and I still have two more OUTDOOR readings to do! I hope to have those wrapped up by the end of November… which is in about a week… yikes… we’ll see. At least one of the two remaining venues has a fire pit! We’ll be doing readings at private residences for our last two readings, something that I was doing solo when the pandemic started, which I had dubbed the Show and Tell Quarantine Series. There are photos in the mosaic above from a reading Shaun, Katherine, Nick and I did at my good friend Michael Fazackerley’s home. That was such a beautiful and refreshing afternoon, the first time any of us had read in public since at least March. Thank you to Ricardo Bandala, and Peterborough’s arts photographer Andy Carroll for photographing the events featured above (and Andy’s images are also featured below… you’ll see).

It was also great to work with local venues again, in this case, one of my favorites, The Theatre On King (TTOK). When the pandemic hit, they were forced to shut down, like many venues in the city. It’s a scary time for artists and arts venues at the moment, who are now feeling precarity the likes of which has possibly never been felt in this city. At the crux of what I wanted to do with my Artsweek programming was to highlight venues and artists/artforms that are increasingly at risk. Poetry, and arts venues will outlive this terrible time, for the most part, but there is a profound difference in losing a hardware store or coffee shop then there is in losing an arts venue, in that once you lose an arts venue you will likely never get it back, whereas there will never be a lack of coffee shops or restaurants or clothing stores. I don’t mean to speak flippantly about losing these aforementioned locales, but the work involved in getting an arts venue off the ground requires a groundswell of artist and community support that, once lost, is literally impossible to replicate. If we were to lose Market Hall, for instance, which is currently at dire risk of not being able to keep its doors open, we will lose it forever, and it is unrealistic to assume that someone else in our community will be able to mimic the connections, partnerships, relationships with touring artists, agencies, bookers, tradespeople, community supports, etc as to replicate what Market Hall brings to our community. We would lose a venue, but also everything that venue stands for and supports. The loss is just short of unquantifiable.

With this in mind, I asked local visual artist John Climenhage, one of my favorite local artists, to work with me to install some of the paintings he has done in Peterborough since the onset of the pandemic in various storefronts downtown, as a small but not insignificant means of drawing more attention to both open and currently closed downtown arts and culture venues.

Though my Artsweek SHIFT programming is wrapping up, I am hoping that we reached enough folks to remind everyone of how much art can do for a community with little to no funding. The Electric City Culture Council provided me funding to hand out for this project, and if I’m being honest, that was the best part of this project: thinking of artists in the community who deserve to be rewarded for not letting the pandemic dictate their level of engagement in the arts community. We did it together, and reached as many as we could. That’s what artists do best: collaborate, look out for each other, and reach every potential ear and eye.

Update

Hello STPSers!

I have just uploaded another collection in the Gallery. There is an explainer there, so as opposed to me telling you what to expect, please just go check it out, if you like!

STPS will soon be moving away from Facebook to concentrate more on (1) the website, (2) Instagram, and (3) a Mailchimp newsletter, to disseminate STPS information in the future. Honestly, we’re just not sure what Facebook is for anymore, Zuckerberg’s a monster, and it’s having a profoundly negative effect on our mental health (and has for some time), so we’re done. Admittedly we were only keeping it around for event pages, but since there won’t be any in-person events for some time, AND the Facebook event page mechanism is a completely unhelpful and unintuitive mess, STPS will be leaving Facebook for good. We will still keep the page up, for posterity and for contact information, but otherwise it will be entirely inactive.

I mean, wouldn’t physical invitations be a much lovelier way to invite someone to an event? Wouldn’t it be nice to put work into making keepsake broadsides for event posters, like Peterborough’s O, Underworld! Press does? Anyhow, a lot of changes coming to STPS… we hope you’ll take the ride with us.

Love you,

J

Web Update / KEYBOARDS! Performance Announcement

Hello STPSers!

Justin Million here.

I have uploaded a slideshow of one of my redaction projects called The Headless Truth. It’s available in the Gallery menu. There is also a link for download just below the posted slideshow, if you’d rather. Check it out!

Also, have you picked up your copy of my first book EJECTA: The Uncollected KEYBOARDS! Poems? Here is the link, if you haven’t: https://www.etsy.com/listing/769317864/justin-million-ejecta-the-uncollected

As a fun and ideally entertaining means of promoting the book I will be performing a KEYBOARDS! set live on Facebook, on Sunday May 17th at 8PM… I know, all you KEYBOARDS! fans know that we usually do it on the last Sunday of the month, but hey, things change, and I wanna get right to it! I’ll be posting an update of exactly what to expect a few days before the event, so stay tuned to our website, Facebook page, or Instagram.

I will also be announcing a KEYBOARDS! reclamation project of sorts, the night of the performance, so if you’d please get your KEYBOARDS! poems ready to scan or photograph to send to me, I would be grateful.

Thanks, team! Hope you are all well, and doing what you can to help yourselves, and others. Stay frosty.

Love you,

J

 

Do you wanna buy a book?

Hello folks,

Justin Million here, for the Show and Tell Poetry Series.

This past weekend would have been the launch of my first trade book ‘EJECTA’ (Apt. 9 Press) at VerseFest Ottawa, the capital’s international poetry festival. Like many other events over the last few weeks, it was postponed.

For those of you who know me, you know that this book means a lot to me. This book is my long and conflicted love letter to Peterborough, to Hunter Street, to The Garnet set, to the last few years…

I held the book in my hands for the first time a little over a week ago. I got to flip through it, look at Andy Carroll’s pictures, admire Graeme Kennedy’s cover design, and just really get to appreciate what Cameron Anstee at Apt. 9 Press made possible for me… but I felt strange promoting it, given everything else that was happening, and then felt bad that I wasn’t promoting it, etc. I know what it’s like to not have expendable income (but surely you’re all thinking “What would a poet know about financial hardship?”), and everyone right now is worried about what’s coming next, or what might not be coming…

But now it’s reached the point where the press is getting ready to ship pre-orders, folks are asking me where they can find my book, and, what’s more, I’m just damn proud of the thing, and damnit I deserve to show it around, talk about it, and maybe even sell it. Cameron made a beautiful book. I wrote some things that I’m still proud of almost a couple years later (not proud of everything… “they can’t all be winners”), and that’s saying a lot, and if you happen to have the ability and desire to buy books right now, please consider this one… If you live in Peterborough, you might even be in it.

https://www.etsy.com/…/justin-million-ejecta-the-uncollecte…

As soon as we’re able we’ll have a Peterborough launch for the book, at The Garnet, of course. We’ll let you know.

Until then,
stay home and read a fucking book.

Thanks friends,

Justin Million
Show and Tell Poetry Series

National Poetry Month cancellation announcement

Show and Tell Poetry Series has cancelled all National Poetry Month (April) programming.

I know, I’m sure you’re all shocked and appalled. How could we? Well, organizing events can be difficult at the best of times, and instead of making plans that will inevitably be cancelled, and then having to make new plans which will inevitably be cancelled, etc, we have decided to just stop pestering our contributors and booking agents with emails and contingencies and what not, and just push everything into May, at the earliest.

There are enough online concerts, poetry readings, theatre, etc happening right now that we will not be pursuing a virtual poetry reading experience of any kind, so please don’t recommend in the comments that we do the same… that’s just not our thing. Instead, we’ll be taking time to organize and conceptualize future events, and to ACTUALLY READ AND WRITE SOME POETRY… what a concept!

Looking forward to hearing everyone’s quarantine work, tho remember to always think bigger, or smaller… the virus itself may be the least interesting thing about times like these.

Thanks for reading this.
And, just thanks for reading.

Justin Million
Show and Tell Poetry Series

STPS does Precarious Festival!

 

 

STPS is so excited to announce that our very own Justin Million is one of a handful of local artists in Peterborough chosen to do an Artist-In-Residency for the second iteration of the magnificent Precarious Festival in Peterborough!

Huzzah!

STPS/Justin will be hosting four events from Nov. 15th-Dec. 9th at The Garnet, including:

Nov. 18th – The Down ‘n Out Revue (with Chris Conway) – 8PM

Nov. 25th – Art for Introverts (feat. Wes Grist, and Art for Introverts creator Melissa Johnston) – 8PM

Dec. 3rd – Kitchen Talks (feat. Brad Brackenridge, Justin Million, John Marris, and Esther Vincent) – 8PM

Dec. 9th – KEYBOARDS! FAMILY! CHRISTMAS! (feat. assorted friends) – 8PM

…and all the events are FREE!

I could give you a full rundown on all of the events in the festival, but instead I’d prefer to make you visit Precarious Festival 2 to check out ALL of the festival’s amazing offerings!

It is STPS’ humble opinion that the Precarious Festival is the most important festival in the city, due to its mandate of shining a light on issues surrounding precarity, such as wage insecurity, food insecurity, basic income, marginalization, reconciliation efforts, etc by including experts and artists in the round, thereby providing a breadth of context and information to such complicated issues.

Join me in celebrating what local artists do everyday, which is undertaking the direct transmission of hope, beauty, and wonder regardless of being generally underpaid, overworked, and overlooked, for the betterment of our small but passionate society in Peterborough.

Show up. Experience art.

Let’s give these Peterborough artists a hand!