Firsts, Starts & Beginnings

Page 1

Firsts, Starts & Beginnings

Cover image: Starry Ignite Marisha Pula 2

Fiona Seth

Comic Panel: Fridays @ 3


Mel Bender

then fly


Mel Bender

go get tomorrow


Mel Bender

untitled (where to begin)


Christine Waloszczyk

About to Burst


Jan Swinburne



WAVE FORM Toshio Ushiroguchi-Pigott

Buddha and the Mountain


Elaine Lum

Door Open-Child


Lorette C. Luzajic

The Bone Bride


Eve Strickland



Eve Strickland



Amy Ness

Private Dancer


meek xoxo



Jai S. Wax

Showing a Friend to


Everyone Hanan Hazime

My Mother’s Womb



Mutations of All Ages


Benjamin Priede

#spring #patterns 2017


Ruby Urlocker

The Cosmic Dance of Us


Paulette Andria Hamilton



Paulette Andria Hamilton



Mel Bender

i feel i know




Comic Panel: Fridays @ 3 Fiona Seth


then fly Mel Bender to act is to make real to give a voice for those who were wondering bring me to my next point wait until you are confident you’ll do it you have to prove something to somebody that can be motivation for today


go get tomorrow Mel Bender I’ve chosen things to decide for myself I’m in and will not go back to land I will swim and trust another shore is waiting where I belong growing pains hurt and the worst part of illness is the isolation keep exploring you’re good at it


Untitled (where to begin) 8

Mel Bender

About to Burst Christine Waloszcyk My mouth is full of unsaid things, hard to swallow or spit out. So I chew on them like rainbow bubble gum secrets. Perhaps one day you will see your reflection in them



“I have captured an image of my voice saying the word “Beginning” and digitally manipulated it and then rearranged the code and made glitch-art from the image.” 11

Buddha and the Mountain Toshio Ushiroguchi-Pigott

The peaceful one Appeared to me In Dufferin Grove Seated against A mountain Telling me I got to this part Of the journey The sun shone bright On the bumpy path Pink Chrysanthemums Moving gently As the earth sighs Fifty or so metres Away The city roars I look at Buddha’s face My urban rage Dissipates Sipping my coffee I notice

He seems content With his throat parched His belly empty The mountain Is his back rest The sun His ever-changing Companion Suddenly my mind Opens A figure “8” Reveals itself As Infinity (From above) Another beam of light Reassures me As he leaves When I go On my way


Door Open—Child Elaine Lum



The Bone Bride Lorette C. Luzajic visiting Santa Muerte in Tepito, Mexico City On a bright, sunshiny day walking through the Centro Historico of Mexico City, I snapped a few photos of Death in a daffodil dress. Like any other saint, I'd seen her icons at the mercados and some churches. She is the grim reaper decked out in her quinceaĂąera best, immortal, and yet, by nature, mortal. The most finite of all the gods. With death, you can begin all over again. Don't confuse Santa Muerte with the rest of Mexico's Day of the Dead festivities and histories. She is disguised as a relative, and passes herself off as naturally entwined with the Mexican narrative. She wears the draped garments and repetitive iconography of Catholicism, yet is not of the Church. She comes cloaked, too, in the guise of even older traditions, as a reincarnation of Mictecacihuatl, the Aztec goddess of death, but on Halloween night, a few of her worshippers tell me this is just the clever way in which the devil gave her access to the Mexican people. The Skinny Lady is, of course, a syncretic culmination of all these traditions, triggered perhaps by the failure of the orthodox customs to solve cartel violence, gang warfare, and hopeless poverty. Increasingly popular in Mexico and around the world, the worship of death is one of the fastest growing religions. She has catapulted to nearly par with Mexico's national patroness, the Virgin of Guadalupe. She has gone beyond Mexico and found substantial congregations in places like Los Angeles and Guatemala, as well as smaller pockets of believers all around the world. 15

David Romo, founder and "bishop" of Mexico's first Santa Muerte church, the National Sanctuary for the Angel of the Holy Death, famously said,"‌To the people here, Death offers friendship, hope, and miracles. We're the church of the people, down here among the people." Muerte's most important shrine is located on the mean streets of Tepito, a district of Mexico City notorious for lawlessness, black markets, and drug and human trafficking. Along with good people who happen to be of low socioeconomic status, the bleak and toppling streets are populated with thieves, prostitutes, gangbangers, boxers, drug dealers, and cartel affiliates. But Santa Muerte's holiest weekend provides strangers a modicum of protection from the dangers of her realm. Pilgrims and seekers are welcomed and taken care of. It's Halloween night, and Tepito is teeming with revellers. Many are holding skeletons; honey is smeared on the dolls' hollow faces, and they are baptized with tequila and shrill whoops, a thousand hands in the air and as many candles flickering in wax banks at the sides of the roads. Mountains of purple and orange flowers- "Aztec marigolds"- flank the curbs in every direction. Tepito has been a barrio of the underclass since preHispanic times, and perhaps the neighbourhood for the church of death is only fitting since the word means "little temple." There are seeming miles of markets that swathe the north west of Mexico City's Centro Historico, endless baby sneakers and plastic flowers and bottles of tonic promises, for hair restoration, curse breaking, or eternal life. Tonight I come bearing an armload of traditional orange cempasúchitl to lay before a god I don't believe in. As always in exploring my fascination with culture and religion, I come to the altar with my trademark blend of respect, openness, amusement, and irreverence.


A young man who is handing out sweets to Death's minions has enormous brown eyes. He hands me two lollipops, one for me, and one for Death, then says sagely, "Mama Muerte doesn't care if you believe in her or not." And I suppose she doesn't. On the weekend of Allhallowtide, Muerte is dressed as the virgin bride. Visitors kneel in front of her white effigy, weeping, petitioning favours, lighting candles. Her altar is heaped with cigarettes and booze along with trinkets and coins and flowers. Adherents of Holy Death are quite open to talk about their beliefs. Two young men outside of the shrine tell me they remain Catholics as baptized, but reject the orthodoxy and power of the Church. Following Santa Muerte, Angel explains, emphasizes "the true message of Christos, which was love for the outcast and the poor." The other, named Francisco, has English as limited as my Spanish, so Angel translates. "Santa Muerte is a more honest Christianity. The faith is based on death as a sacrament." Both agree that their main gripe with the more traditional manifestation of Catholicism is how wealth is put into building cathedrals when the flocks are hungry and living in squalor. Santa Muerte is better suited to the needs of real people than the lofty saints who know nothing of human misery. I ask the pair what they think of the fact that Catholics are and have always been the greatest champions of the poor, getting their hands dirty to provide health services and food the world over. But they lose interest in this turn of conversation and move toward a man with a skull tattoo and a flask of tequila. Believers are quite certain that their saint grants them favours and miracles in love, and so they trust her to usher them into a sanctuary in the afterlife, despite weaknesses and crimes, real or perceived. Death is revered because she looks the other way, 17

instead of looking on in judgement. She doesn't demand repentance of sins. Gangsters and other criminals don't have to pray for forgiveness or change their ways, but rather petition her for success in smuggling, drug trafficking, pimping, murder, and evasion of prison. Whatever her positive attributes, it is undeniable that Santa Muerte is deeply woven into darkness. She is the favoured saint of cartel criminals and her shrines are routinely found in their homes, as she blesses their most savage violence. Famous thugs like Daniel Arizmendi LĂłpez, known for chopping the ears off his kidnapping victims, and Gilberto GarcĂ­a Mena, of the Gulf Cartel, are devoted followers. And just a few years ago, David Rolo himself posed as a member of notorious gang The Zetas and kidnapped elderly citizens to pocket ransom money. He continues his role as patron of his church from a jail cell. It's important to make the distinction that most believers in the bone bride offer sweets or incense, not human lives. But some have indeed sacrificed life to death. Yes, cartels have covered up their killings by disguising them as worship rituals, and both the Mexican government and the Catholic Church have exaggerated tales of murders to Muerte for their political ends. But just as ancient rites for Aztec and Mayan gods included human sacrifice, some devotees of Muerte have killed for her. One victim was a ten year old boy named Jesus. My emotions at the Tepito shrine surprise me. I have a notorious bent for the macabre, I love kitsch, and I myself gravitate to the misfits and the margins, so it's hard for me make sense of why the whole spectacle makes me so sad. Part of it is the obvious impotence of the target of devotion. The Tepito shrine's resident priestess, Enriqua Romera is by all accounts a gentle, peaceful and loving woman, as was her husband Raymundo. He was gunned down earlier this year by as assassin on a motorcycle. 18

But there is more to it yet. After all, most religions are pure fantasy. They are vibrant manifestations of human creativity and imagination. Yet there is something utterly unholy about seeing the handsome young barrio boys kneel down on the ground, seeing infants brought before the throne of bones, the children handing out flowers and candy. There's something heartbreaking about how they have put their hope and trust in death when they literally have their whole lives ahead of them.



GetOfftheGround Eve Strickland

Release Eve Strickland


Private Dancer Amy Ness My heart sank When asked to take the poison that would fix My ailments, girlie The guard sat there eyeing me suspiciously Like the deviant I was In a world of ignorant lunatics Looking to uphold their corrupted truths By force, they made sure Their bizarre inane fears were quelled By my submission of their blind rule And that I gulped it down compliantly Harold, the other guy in chains Hung his head while he was taken to seclusion For pissing off the bearded guard. Veronica, the comatose vagrant A vagrant like me Who sat like a mad hatter in her mouldy throne Watched on with perplexed wonder Of the “horror” show ( yes my bad…I “exaggerate”) Aces saying I did it to myself The hidden scars and bruises of oppressive traumatic force wrapped in “female terror and hysteria” About to unfold. Yes yes yes I did it I’m guilty I could feel it coming The dogs begin to whine and bark They feel it too Knees buckling with fear of another violation of my soul About to ensue Again I wanted to vomit out the fear Of having my spirit terrorized once again…. In the cold institution they all called god They all called redemption They all called recovery They all called for my own good 22

Of an imagination they wanted to create and then fix An imagination that ran wild And needed to be tamed My mind My thoughts Years later I processed the war I knew then it was righteous to me mindful. I didn’t know! Only to find after the bombs I swallowed all their toxic denial at a heavy energetic expense Then blamed me for the catastrophe I called healing The catastrophe I called healing They called “hell” They called a threat They called fear They called what would happen If you didn’t do what you are told I told them I’d lead with my visceral truth That id be honest Finally in my rightful place With the muses whores and dreamers And that made them Even more scared So I shut up In case I made them angry Don’t make them angry. No no no we don’t want that. Make them feel safe That is what they want Everyone wants that. I was safe Their own fears created the problem In the first place. In the First Place. 23

Ambulance 24

meek xoxo



Showing a Friend to Everyone Jai S. Wax

My Mother’s Womb Hanan Hazime “You have to be strong,” my Mama told me. “This world is not like a mother’s rahem. It doesn’t show rahema to anyone. ” And she was right; the world has not shown me any mercy. I am too Eastern for the West

too Western for the East.

a prude

a slut






white washed



an outcast

an outcast

“Where are you from?” Canada “No, where are you really from?” My mother’s womb.


Mutations of All Ages Genova Dusty memories come creeping back As if to say that happiness was once there Today will be forgotten tomorrow Which will turn into yesterday’s dream Like a fleeting light the echoes Of the soul are sharp, they speak And then they are no more Darkness envelops sanity A body once young A mind once quick A soul once full Of certain reveries Now melt away Great glaciers go Ice ages ebb Rays revolutionize Stars cease, shining, While mysterious mutations mock the muddled minds


#spring #patterns 2017 Benjamin Priede 29

The Cosmic Dance of Us Ruby Urlocker I once had a life. It was a great life. We ran through the school with frosty green grins And intuitive insights, piles of fluttering papers wreaking madness and the fantasy novels we loved. We goofed around in abandoned houses That were spray painted with pentagrams And stumbled through a woods at night wearing sunglasses, giddy laughter, Our arms around each other. And on my own time I was something of a star. The lights on the black stage were set And I owned it. Inside myself were songs and clusterfuck meteors And I knew I was brilliant And I owned it. I was a person. I had a life. I scribbled my angsty, antisocial thoughts In a black-leather book that was falling apart. It’s been three fucking years since then, you know. A spider web of delusion, confusion, Brain waves polluted, love lost in the mess And then numbness instead of a chance to grieve And let the meaning rush through my blood, let the cobalt tide wash over me and feel a cold tingling Waking me up. The stern pang of the morning after. I never got that. I’m like a dead body, I swear it. I died. Now I’m unnaturally preserved. 30

I could be myself if they just let me off these things. I could grow back, dark and good and wholesome Like a navy green weed from another planet. You said I had so much strength in me. It’s there but it’s chemically frozen. It’s so close but it’s out of reach forever. I’m not myself. I visualize myself in the past. I see grade 10 hovering there in the warmly lit hallways And lockers slamming And talks of Ouija boards and the end of the world, twisted purple brain confetti, flying tentacle monsters, TS Eliot and HP Lovecraft and bookstores And I WANT IT ALL BACK. I can see my destiny through closed eyes. I’ll win this somehow. Took a major wrong turn, but I’ll rebound. Yes I will come back with flying colors and shifting mandalas and spells And astound everyone. The pieces will come together, The long-awaited embrace in the train station, The victorious ballad on stage, everyone quiet, The comforting silence on park benches in March, a deep understanding beyond talking. My memory. Love makes sense. Everything else doesn’t. I’m caught in the everything else And so help me God I will NOT surrender. They were wrong. We shouldn’t have listened to them. We were right To be all or nothing, Living fireworks exploding from the roof And stardust and heartsick longing at night. I’ll come back. 31

You’ll come back. We’ll all come back. It’s been a thousand years. Where am I and where are my sisters? Where are you? We’ve all been scattered across the land after a war, Little pockets of meaning amounting to nothing larger in our lives. But we’ll get there. I’ll hold that lantern in the darkness And beat everyone who protests with my big-ass copy of House of Leaves. I’ll be the end And the beginning, And I’ll not stop, I’ll not stop Until the profound, glittering darkness of God Blasts us all to pieces.


Starts Paulette Andria Hamilton Let me start by saying we all gathered here, To begin this Journey, No revolution, Nope , Symposium no that's not the word either. I will restart we gather here to speak truth, To truthiness, No more fake ass bitches allowed.. The start might have been shaky @ first sure the people can forgive the writer this non starter beginning. My brain is the key that sets me free, My delusional dreams of grandeur writing an opus that is an Ode to making art from the details of everyday life. So what if Jim Jarmusch Poem film Paterson is not real, The beginning will inspire the writers, Poets, musicians creativity. Express the language of shorthand to another. As a 4 yr old child, Candy, hugs, friends & new play Devoured his/her conscious first beginning of the lullaby sung in tune to the tiny ears. Now as an adult trying to reminisce about the start of where it all began. Sometimes fade into a distant memory, Slowly dripping down the drain, Drop by drop into pool of nothingness. Is This Desire?


The Wind Lit up the sky into an gray Puddle of rage, Earth Died Screaming. Sang Tom Waits, Big Little Lies told as a child start To damage the teenager That presents itself in adulthood. Don’t let the terrible start fool you this writer is brimming with tons of idea’s They may start free form, As a monkey climbing a tree Curious George always had the man in the yellow hat To fall back on. What does the starting writer have her wits, sense of humour & great playlist of ideals.


First Paulette Andria Hamilton First breath was a walloping cry First tear Frozen cheek in winter is coming First friend @ the age of 5 First crush in grade 1 or 2 First heartbreak in grade 2 whole class pool b-day party invited except for you First near death experience drown @ the pool party Baywatch dad saviour First time bus ride to special ed class & school First hurt noticeable scar on the forehead First fire burnt finger @ age of 2 First word No! First punishment recurring dream of throwing box of car parts for garbage collection First emergency fractured knee, Terry Fox & me running around town First Kiss @ church who said Son of A Preacher Man is so pure First night in Canadian Projects called Regent Park First overnight summer camp no homesickness First domestic Violence witness fuzzy dreams mom’s broken arm trip to new york First Ballet recital & last no $ for pointy toes First black Brownie & Girl Guide First bout of poverty homeless in chicago vacation First experience of death RIP MOM First encounter w` canada KK hair brunt in math class like Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial 35

First Pms age of 9 First time sex grassy knoll of a Scarborough Fair Park First attempt of Rape, UGLY FRACKING BOYFRIEND First Rape egyptian friends brother date rape w`out the date First bout of depression bedridden for 3 weeks sleep/eat/watch tv/listen to radio/repeat read sometimes First Firing Mcdonald Cult First album the Police Synchronicity First Disney Lady & The Tramp First Movie Empire Strikes Back First Prince Purple Rain First Performance elementary doorbell in the wizard of OZ First book Gordon Korman This Can’t Be Happening @ Mcdonald Hall First Concert Depeche Mode short people front row is not good unless right @ stage First christmas in Florida- playing tennis on Xmas eve no winter hockey in sight First paid gig Secret Handshake spoken word poem First Poem Anomalies Captain America Flight of the Pixie by Me First short story english class grade 7or8 First class @ Workman Arts Stand up for Mental Health taught by Skype First First first first first first first first first Won't be my last


i feel i know Mel Bender from the walls of home to the walls of work what if I escaped could I live if I paid rent got a line skipped the pass paid my bills it might add up if I worked if I wanted to accommodate act along I feel I know I’ll never be happy but I think I need to dive in



Contributors Mel Bender is a visual artist, a writer, and an editor. She graduated from OCAD University with a BFA in Drawing and Painting, minoring in Art History, and from the University of Waterloo with a BA in Psychology. Her work taps into the subconscious through nonlinear and automatic processes such as blind-contour drawing, stream-ofconsciousness writing and free association. She is currently working on her first book with the working title Kind of Like Wilson. No man is an island. Genova treasures her past, holes and havens alike, strives to help our planet’s future, and inhabits the minute (both the now and the detailed). A former square peg in a round (corporate) hole, she now dips into disciplines and decadence that she decides she deserves. She believes that life is like a box of paints. You never know what you’re going to create. Paulette Andria Hamilton is a multidisciplinary artist and has been a member at Workman Arts since 2009. She can be found writing and reading out loud poetry and also learning from her teachers bill bissett, Mary Rykov, Jacob Scheier, Lynne Crosbie, Andrea Thompson & Pasha Malla. Hanan Hazime is a poet, a story teller, and an avid scripturient. She has a Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. Hanan’s poetry and prose have appeared in a number of publications, including The Windsor Review, and Generation magazine. When not writing, Hanan enjoys overanalyzing things, photo-blogging, dancing with faeries in the woods, and drinking copious amounts of tea.


Elaine Lum is a mother, a maker of visual work, and a vessel for what the world pours down her throat. Although she has no formal training, she has always felt the call to draw. After a long hiatus, she has been reconnecting with the creative part of herself, and although she continues to struggle with it, she drags herself back time and time again to the canvas. Through her visual work, she deviates from the safety of a career in IT to take a leap of faith and expose herself to the unpredictable. She is currently working on a series of paintings entitled Door Open in which she explores the vulnerability of opening the door to a stranger, and thereby makes a commitment to open her own door, even if just a crack. Lorette C. Luzajic is a Toronto-based artist and writer. She is the editor of the arts journal The Ekphrastic Review, and her poetry has appeared in over 150 publications. Her visual work has shown with Workman Arts and the Mood Disorder Association of Ontario, as well as on a 20 foot billboard in New Orleans, and most recently, at an exhibition as part of the Ministry of Culture in Tunisia, North Africa. meek xoxo is a multi-disciplinary artist who focuses on abstract expressionism and experiments with pop art, spoken word, poetry, photography, and music. His work has been featured in various group shows including Sketch’s 20th Anniversary and Annual Rad Grads, Dirty Talk Art Party #5, and What The F: Feminist Art from the Margins and Intersections. He was a panel speaker at the latter -- a satellite show of Toronto’s Feminist Art Conference 2017. Amy Ness identifies as a writer and has had a vivid imagination since her girlhood and lived in that world. She enjoyed writing short stories and writing poems for her mother. She wrote a play called "The Demon Lover" which was put on at Workman Arts in 2014 under the direction of Kate Lushington. Amy holds a general arts degree from the University of Guelph - with a minor in drama.


Benjamin Priede holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, as a Psychology Specialist, with a minor in Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health. He is a prolific songwriter, producing recordings as The Dada Das. He studies music, poetry, phenomenology, psychology and mindfulness, and experiments with multi-layered imagery. Central to his views of creative practices, and to life in general, is the concept of therapy, in all its manifest forms. Marisha Pula is an artist who creates work that is not only visually composed, but carries and contributes to a narrative. She often uses an overwhelming amount of small objects to illustrate multiple ideas within a theme. Pula approaches subjects concerning environmental changes, gentrification, marginalization and social justice. “Isn't it interesting how often we run into contradictions in trying to solve problems that we ourselves participate in?� Fiona Seth is a queer illustrator, comic artist, filmmaker and writer born in Toronto in 1966. They have an affinity with the black line and enjoy the combination of words with images. They have recently finished self-publishing their first memoir, She Said What About Love. Eve Strickland has reached 60 with finally a narrower sense of where her art needs to go. With a life spent on artistic pursuits inbetween bouts of illness, her focus is at last on mixed media collage, ranging from Artist Trading Cards, to Journal Pages to larger canvases. She is also passionate about her EarthDancers series in pen and ink and glorious colour, currently on hiatus due to cataract surgery.


Jan Swinburne’s interdisciplinary practice approaches all media from a painter’s sensibility and works with simple code systems and complexity as her aesthetic framework. At times her work mutates into large-scale, site-sensitive installations and projects. An experimental approach to art is central to her practice. Swinburne’s digital work explores meta-exposure, image de/re/ generation and composing sound. Swinburne has screened in Brooklyn, New Jersey, Washington DC and Toronto. In 2015 she signed with Alrealon Musique. Ruby Urlocker Ruby Urlocker is a single goldfish swimming in a neon blue ocean of warm water. Her thoughts are pingpong balls zipping back and forth through the cosmic space of her mind. A thin shadow of sadness cloaks her, but she is unaware of it. She could continue swimming in a strait line for the rest of her life, and not notice. She once was a girl with dark hair and a passionate energy who felt things the way storms produce thunder, but now, she just floats. Toshio Ushiroguchi-Pigott is a poet and avid community gardener who enjoys keeping a journal and writing poetry through the lens of a person with a lived experience of mental illness. He also enjoys his freedom as an outpatient to appreciate nature and urban living. Christine Waloszczyk joined Workman Arts in January 2017 as a U of T graduate, to study film and spoken-word poetry. She hopes to combine these art-forms to create motion-poem films. Christine is inspired by abstract art, music, nature, late nights and large quantities of coffee. While she most enjoys capturing the divine spirit of everyday situations, if you make her angry, you just may discover a poem that is written about you. Jai S. Wax is a 62 year old Jewish self-taught artist with strong affinities with Aboriginals and India. He has been living with schizophrenia since age 17 and has been painting, promoting and selling his artwork for about 25 years.


Workman Arts is an arts and mental health organization based in Toronto Ontario Canada.

It provides artists who have lived experience of mental health and/or addiction issues access to free art training, studios and professional presentation opportunities.

Published in June 2017 Thanks to Henry Gomes



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