Archive | July 2011

August 9th – VoV Features Sarah Musa!

Well, our August show is upon us, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you all about it.

Our feature performer will be none other than the esteemed Sarah Musa, whose talents are well-known throughout the local spoken word scene.

Sarah describes herself as “an old soul in a young body, a daughter to a strong woman, a young woman that observes her surroundings, a teacher to those willing to learn from her, and a student to those willing to teach her […] a lover, and a fighter for truth”.

In addition to being an excellent poet, she is also an activist, a believer, an educator and an aspiring film-maker.

Please join us on August 9th, 8pm at Umi Cafe (610 Somerset West), for an evening of passionate and thought-provoking poetry by Sarah Musa. As always, we will also be hosting a women-only open mic, so ladies: bring your best poetry and short storytelling to our stage (if you sign up for the open mic, you get in free!)

As a final note, please stick around after the show, as VoV has some big news of its own that we’re looking forward to sharing.

We look forward to seeing you there. 😀

– A.


Community Support vs Facebook?

Okay, this is perhaps a weird post to be putting on a blog about women poets, writers, and storytellers, but bear with me.

As you know, Voices of Venus is a queer-and-trans-friendly and sex-positive showcase. Always has been. As such, we’re interested in sticking up for other women-focused, sex-positive, queer-and-trans-friendly spaces. Spaces like Venus Envy, the local book-and-toy-store which recently had its 18+designated ads censored by Facebook.

I know. WTF. (Then again, given FB’s track record when it comes to, say, breast-feeding pics, maybe this is not that surprising).

So. Because VE is all about showcasing art by local women artists and – more to the VoV-related point – books by Canadian writers and performers like Ivan E. Coyote, Anna Camilleri, Amber Dawn, and Tara-Michelle Ziniuk, I’m asking, if you agree that FB’s censorship of VE is wrong, and if you haven’t done this already (I know that many of you have), please go to the go to the Venus Envy Ottawa Page and join it by pressing the “like” button. Sure, you’ll get information from them about workshops, events (like the upcoming Reading Out Loud event), BUT you’ll also be showing your support for sexual awareness and enjoyment AND for Canadian independent writers, performers, and, yes, book stores.

– Thanks a tonne.
– A.

Review 2: The Honey Month – Amal El-Mohtar

Hello again.

So, as we wend our way towards the next season of Voices of Venus, I’m spending my time writing, gardening, and – of course – pouring over poetry, in print and in the flesh.

The launch of the Summer edition of the Bywords Quarterly Journal went off well, last Sunday, and was followed by Dusty Owl Presents featuring local poet and playwrite Joanne John — there were a heap of awesome poetry-chicks there, btw, and I’m looking forward to seeing at least some of them at our next show.

Additionally, the latest issue of free, online magazine Goblin Fruit just came out today, so I’ve been enjoying that all afternoon.  (Seriously.  Check out Elizabeth R. McClellan’s “The Sea Witch Talks Show Business” — it’s awesome, and the voice-recording, provided by S.J. Tucker, is gorgeous).

It’s actually with Goblin Fruit in mind that I chose our next book review.  See, Goblin Fruit is co-edited by one Amal El-Mohtar, VoV alumna and quite the delightful poet herself.

A year ago (literally – she was our July 2010 feature performer) a packed house collectively swooned over the poems that comprise The Honey Month.

This book is the written-down equivalent of a live-album.  Each piece takes its inspiration directly from a different vial of honey, each one of them a gift from an equally honey-minded friend.

The result is a slim volume of sensual, whimsical poetry that explores every aspect of honey and human connection.  A smell vaguely remenscent of “sweaty underthings” gives rise to a poem about awakening sexuality and deceptive appearances of innocence.  A taste like lychee conjures up mysterious strangers, desires, and fairy food.  A name brings forth a symbolic language and a promise of ownership.  Thistle Honey, with its complex, playful taste becomes a story about awkward fairy encounters on the moors.  French Chestnut Honey, with its colour like “sunshine in Ottawa”, calls up the tale of a girl who had forgotten how to kiss, and how she is reminded.

Of course, my favourite – me being me – is #27, Leatherwood Honey.  If you are of a kinky turn of mind, this poem alone will make the book worth buying.  If you aren’t, I’m sure there are other pieces in this volume that will speak to you.

– Cheers,

– A.

Ontario Arts Council Funding

I am extremely happy to announce that, along with other local showcases and organizations, Voices of Venus has been granted funding by the Ontario Arts Council for the second year.

This is big news for us.  With the arts cuts that have been happening, we were more than a little worried that we’d be 100% donation-dependent – a situation that wouldn’t allow us to pay our feature performers appropriately.

So, while we’re hard at work, finding ways and means to keep ourselves from being as grant-dependent as we currently are, and while we are definitely still pulling a good chunk of our funding from the cover charge at our shows, we’re very, very happy to know that we can continue to bring fantastic performers in from both the local area and from out of town, and pay them well for their artistry.

As such, thank you to the Ontario Arts Council for their much-appreciated support, both of Voices of Venus and of our fellow shows and organizations.  YAY! 😀

July 2011 Show in Brief

So.  Our July show was last night, and our Feature Performer was Allison Shaw, a young, Ottawa poet who I chanced to find through one of her pieces, which was published in ARC Poetry magazine.


Before last night, I’d read all of one of Allison Shaw’s poems, and was otherwise unfamiliar with her work.  We took a chance on her, figuring that her publication record and her arts-specialization education were indications of both talent and skill as a writer.  I think the risk paid off.


Allison is a talented poet and, at nineteen, her craft and her stage presence are only going to get better with time.  As for her poems, themselves:  I particularly enjoyed the piece about her grandfather, talking about memory, about what stays and what disappears with age.  I also enjoyed her piece about Odysseus and Calypso, the last lines of which were particularly poignant.  And I loved her Paradise Lost-inspired piece, which talked about the Fall from the perspective of Lucifer.  That one gave me tingles.


I’ve suggested that, as a poet who writes on fantastical themes, she might consider checking out Goblin Fruit magazine and, potentially, submitting something.


I, for one, am looking forward to seeing Allison Shaw at subsequent Voices of Venus events, and hope that she’ll grace us with her talents during the open mic portion of our shows.



Stay tuned.  August’s show brings us the poetic stylings of Sarah Musa (who is competing in the Urban Legends Finals this Friday, the 15th, at the GCTC, FYI).  Come out, take part, and enjoy the show.



– Cheers,

– Allison.

Upcoming Events – July 2011

Special Blend (radio show)
Friday, July 15th, 7am
Ft.: Amanda Early, Sean Moreland, and Allison Armstrong talking about the Bywords Summer Reading


Urban Legends Finals
July 15th, 7pm
GCTC (1233 Wellington St. W. at Holland)
Ft.: Synonymous, Mack Cannon, Hyfidelik the Gypsy Sun, Prufrock Shadowrunner, Brad Morden, Just Jamaal, Khadija Ahmed, and Sarah Musa


Lydia Peever reads from her debut novel Nightface (vicious, gory, vampire fiction)
July 16th, 1pm
Collected Works (1242 Wellington St. W. at Holland)


Bywords Summer Reading (launch of Bywords Quarterly Journal Vol. 9, Issue 2)
Sunday, July 17th, 2pm
Collected Works (1242 Wellington St. W. at Holland)
Ft.: Steven Artelle, L. Garrison & Sean Moreland and Allison Armstrong + Music by Brad Morden


Dusty Owl Presents ft Joanne John
Sunday, July 17th, 5pm
Carleton Tavern (223 Armstrong Street at Parkdale)


Pen and Paper Writers’ Workshop at Rideau Branch
Tuesday, July 19th, 6:30pm
Rideau St. Public Library (377 Rideau)


Spoken Word at the National Gallery
Thursday, July 21st, 6:30pm
National Gallery of Canada
Ft: Mehdi Gonny-Hamdad, Rusty Priske, Marjolaine Beauchamp, Kevin Matthews
Admission = Price of the Caravaggio exhibit


Storytelling at the Bytown Museum
Thursday, July 21st, 7pm
Bytown Museum (1 Canal Lane, by the Locks)
Ft: Ruth Stewart-Verger, Donna Stewart and Kim Kilpatrick
Free Admission


QuARC Launch Party (ARC Poetry Journal #66 Launch)
Saturday, July 23rd, 5pm
The Manx Pub (370 Elgin St. at Gladstone)
Theme: Science and Poetry


I Am: An Exploration of a Woman’s Imagination
Sunday, July 24th, 6pm
Dunrobin Sonic Gym (2909 Torwood Drive)
Ft. Naomi Athena Guzman Poole, Erin Saoirse Adair, Zoe Osanna Guzman-Poole, and Jacqui Du Toit


The Factory Reading Series Presents Janice Williamson
Wednesday, July 27th, 7:30pm
Mother Tongue Books (1067 Bank St. at Sunnyside)
Topics Include: Adoption, peace activism, and pop culture



Creative Writing Play Date with Sean Zio
Tuesdays at 8pm (On-Going)
Mother Tongue Books (1067 Bank St. at Sunnyside)
$5 (I think)


Poetry Workshops with Brandon Wint
Sundays at 1pm (On-Going)
Umi Cafe (610 Somerset St. W. at Percy)

REVIEW 1: Some Days I Think I Know Things – Rhonda Douglas

So. Welcome to the first VoV Book Review Post.

I decided to start with a piece by a local poet. Rhonda Douglas is an Ottawa gal, although she’s originally from Grand Bank, Nfld. She’s won a slew of prizes – from the Gregory J. Power Poetry Contest to the Far Horizons Award for Poetry to the Diana Brebner Prize – and has been published across Canada and also in New Zealand.

The book in question is Some Days I Think I Know Things: The Cassandra Poems, which was published by Signature Editions in 2008.

This is the story of the Fall of Troy, but not only the Fall of Troy, as told from the point of view of Cassandra, the prophet-princess to-whom no-one listened.

The poems talk about rape, about denial, about religion, about resolve.

There are a number of pieces presented by the Chorus – found poems and pieces constructed out of clichés, the things random strangers think it’s appropriate to say to a woman, to a girl. These are some of my favourite pieces in the book. “On Gods” and “On Self-Improvement”, in particular.

I also like pieces like “A List of Things Carried by the Women on Their One Allotted Day”, the un/subtle song of what each item means, might mean, might cause, why it’s dangerous for a slave to dress herself well; or “Loneliness of Frogs” and “Water Will Leave You Like a Lover”, two of the prophecy poems that touch on Y2K, environmental degradation, and the scramble to unmake our own mistakes.

I like this book. The poems flow well together, and you get a good sense of the voices of both the characters and the narrator. The first piece in the collection, “Imagining Cassandra”, ends with the words “I’m just saying you might // want to think about it // before you open the door”.

All warnings aside, I encourage you to let this story in.

– Cheers,
– Allison.