Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ivan E. Coyote last night

Ivan E. Coyote reading in Ottawa

Ivan E. Coyote's reading at the Northern Woman's Bookstore was fantastic! And if it wasn't for my sister coming by and pushing me to get out the door, I would've missed this late afternoon storyfest because I was hands deep in water cleaning the fish tank, looking for the lost loach.

So, we walked in a bit late, right into the middle of a spellbound audience. Throughout the reading, Ivan had everyone in stitches, laughing. What a story-teller. Ivan does not only tell you a story, s/he re-lives that story in front of you, and you somehow feel that you know each of the people Ivan tells you about. You can visualize the kitchen, the bar, or the stairwell. Somehow, you too feel yourself part of that circle standing outside the bar, having a smoke. Or sitting at the table when the Mafia man with his one tube sock tucked into his pants comes by to teach Ivan a lesson -- sure to watch this clip til the end!

-- on tying ties, a double Windsor knot, no less. Ivan's dad, however, hated ties. He was more the steel-toe boot kind than the dress shoe type. The story about Ivan's dad's influence on her/his sense of self was both humorous and touching. If you ever get a chance to hear Ivan read, don't miss it. I bought a copy of Ivan's latest book of short stories, The Slow Fix, and I'm already enthralled from reading "Welcome Wagon." You can find the first story, "By Any Other Name," here.

I told Ivan I hope that s/he could come to town to do a writing workshop for s/he has considerable skills to pass along in capturing the minutiae and idiosyncrasies of everyday people and places. I told Ivan that I had used the stories in One Man's Trash in my classes to teach about the intersections of identity and place, and to get thinking to move beyond a reductionist "Oh, this is about sexuality." Hopefully, I told Ivan, the Sleeping Giant Writing Festival here in town will consider bringing her/him in to lead a writing workshop. There were 5 male and 1 female writer headlining the last SGWF, so I think a queer writer would be a great new addition.

Ivan told me that yes, s/he'd love to do that, as currently s/he's been teaching memoir writing to seniors....and then s/he told me a funny story about one of the elderly women who attended the seniors' memoir writing workshop, about how she went to the bookstore to try and find Ivan's books and after quite a search was "Why!" surprised to find "they were in the lesbian section!" I'm sure Ivan will write a story about that one, as there's more to it than that...

Below, find Ivan at the Boot Camp for Procrastinators Workshop, part of Words Aloud.

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