I’m really excited to share that my non-fiction story, ‘Spray It, Don’t Say It,’ has been published in the latest issue of Event Literary Magazine, that for decades has published the best short prose and poetry in the country. I have been trying to crack into Event for 10 years (they are notoriously selective!), so I was delighted when they snatched this up with such kind words for my voice and style. The piece is about my time as a waif on the streets of Europe, and specifically deals with this, where I blogged only peripherally about it at the time, so this story is the full story. Here’s a scan of the first page to pique your interest:
And here’s my EVENT bio. Awww yeeeeeeah, dis mah shit. This is only a slice of my publications, my full list of publications can be found here
You can pick up Event at any bookshop in the country. As always, don’t forget to check out the official ChristineEstima dot com for more of my writing, performances, and recent news!
As many of you know, I’ve been photographing Laser 3.14‘s street art for well over a year now. I’ve blogged his work so much, that him and I have become friendly. Friendly enough that he even gave me the nickname “Brows” because of my infamous eyebrows (they really are the only reason people like me, let’s be honest). Every time I’m in Amsterdam, he let’s me know the locations of some of his latest works so I can go on a graff-hunt. Anyway, since I had recently been in-and-around the ‘dam for 3 weeks, he sent me on a hunt, and the above piece in question was found on the Vijzelgracht near the Weteringsplein.
I am forever humbled and obliged.
Here are some of his newest works to be found on the streets of my beloved Amsterdam.
The future is already haunting us
Children of the electric funk
Promises of heaven
Giving us hell
I peel off my skin
So I can reach the inner me
The drapes are drawn
Our bodies entangled
(This one is my favourite, obvi)
My favourite thing about this photograph is the shadow of the guy next to me who took a swig from his liquor bottle right as I snapped this photograph, and the shadow of him falls upon Laser’s work, giving it a level of potency, methinks.
Welcome to (my life). This was number 1.
This was number 2.
Versace never reassured me.
This was particularly potent because the street it was on had some pretty upmarket high street shops like Gucci and Ermenegildo Zegna.
The certainty of uncertainty
(this to me is like the flip side of the ol’ Death and Taxes saying)
Yours too? What are the odds!
She controls the knob
Or as I like to think of this one, “She stoops to conquer.” Har har.
Laser told me this one is actually around 3 or 4 years old, so we’re both shocked it’s still kicking around!
Check out my Laser 3.14 category so you can see all of his pieces that I’ve photographed in Amsterdam. And the next time you’re in the ‘dam, make sure you check out his work!
Sorry for not blogging for almost 3 weeks! It’s been crazy around here. I went from Berlin, to Regensburg, to Amsterdam, and now I’m in Paris, where I will be situated for the next little while … ah, the life of resourceful nomad. Expect more photojaculations about all of these adventures!
Anyway, you, my little munchkins, might remember the last few times I have blogged about Laser 3.14, the graff-poet of Amsterdam. Well, I let him know that I would be in Amsterdam for a week, and he sent me all the locations of his most recent bombings. The work, as always, is thrilling and moving. Dude speaks exactly what is on my mind and in my heart, and he has recently had a few gallery exhibitions and openings that have been met with lots of press and accolades. Dude is going places.
This one I found on my own. Someone had wrapped up the tarp & knotted it through itself (see the hole right before the 3?). I had to unravel it just to photograph it. Almost get yelled at the home owner. Totally worth it.
Found this one also by mistake. It’s part of an older batch, hence its poor state. It says “blind idealism destroys reason.”
Found this by accident. It’s one of my favourites.
Another from his older series. “Don’t just murmur your insanity.”
Again, an older one that I just stumbled upon. It says “Travis the streets are swept.” You’ll see in some of these pieces I’m about to blog that he likes to use the names of his friends in his tags….
“Oh you’ll know when it’s too late.”
When I found this one in the pouring rain, that red bike was blocking the piece. I had to pick that fucking tank up and move it out of the way. It was obvious that bike hadn’t been moved in some time because of the cobwebs on it. I’ve seen some pics lately of others photographing this piece and the bike is where I left it.
YOU’RE ALL WELCOME!!!!
“This panorama is for you.”
What a panorama…. cough.
“Mind control is everything, everything is mind control…” upside down.
“Things don’t work that way Timmy.”
Remember what I said about the names?
“Nobody believes the media… except when it’s in their own interest.”
“Reap the tame heart, and all.”
This was on the other side of the previous one! Two tags on one corner= my idea of christmas.
As I’ve noted in past blogs, Laser 3.14 almost exclusively only tags construction boards and tarps. My guess is that he does it so that no one’s property is damaged by his tags. Those tarps and construction boards are only up temporarily. Also, they seem to provide an awfully potent frame for his poetry. The boards act like excellent frames, and the tarps give his words a kind of ethereal beauty. Lately I find myself extremely disappointed when I pass a construction site and cannot find his work.
And this one was on the other side of the previous. It’s like a poetry corner!
“Wrong underdog, try the one next door.”
Again with the friends’ names 🙂
This has to be some inside joke, I don’t get it. Who’s egg man?
This one is my absolute favourite and really speaks to me. “Too much love for after the fact.”
Yes, yes, GOOD GAWD YES.
BACK OFF, GET YOUR OWN IDEALS!
So nice, he tagged it twice.
“The Goggle age questions your ideals.”
As you’ve seen from this huge haul of his work, Laser 3.14 is interested in online privacy, the theatre of the media, capitalist ideals, the state of Europe, personal agency, and of course, as always, matters of the heart. This is what good street art is, people. TAKE NOTES.
Check out my Laser 3.14 category for more of his work that I’ve photographed.
The 48 hour Neukölln arts fest is very much like Nuit Blanche in Toronto, except it lasts for 48 hours, and it’s not in the freezing cold. Berlin has always been known for its arts scene, and for welcoming artists from all across Europe into their embrace, so this was a perfect way to induct me into the wonderful German hipster dudebro artistic experience.
Obvi, I adored it.
I got drunk on it.
I ate that shit up.
First we found these artists who gave us a tutorial on how to make street art stencils. Of course, I plopped down to make a masterpiece. *cough*
This was a guerilla poetry space, where thousands of newspaper headlines were chopped up for us, and we got to fashion poetry… like one would fashion an anonymous ransom note! Or like refrigerator magnet poetry. Or like found poetry.
And so on.
This was ours. “I think to be seduced is the right solution.”
This was someone elses. The wall behind it said “Courage is…” so this poem finishes the sentence with “…unlikely to result in vaginal dryness.”
I’ll get my coat.
Courage is… “What was going on in the East German sky without us.”
Chris, there’s a giant frog with a cell phone growing out of your back.
Then this tenor emerged from his balcony and sang Nessun Dorma to all of us down below. It was the crowning moment of the fest, for me.
There were 1000 origami cranes. There was a pillow fort where we affixed our adult dreams to. There were shopping carts woven into a circle. There were art-convenience-stores. There were angel-birds. There was sunshine. There was FIFA. There was dancing and music.
There was Berlin.
**Unless bearing my watermark, all pics are copyright Moneim Eltohami.
Recently I received a charming invitation to “blog hop” about my writing experience. How it works is: a blogger/writer blogs about their writing process, and then nominates three other blogger/writers to do the same… and so it goes. Oh the blogs you can hop through in this network!
I was nominated by writer and editor Rachel Stuckey to blog it like it’s hot, a challenge I would never shy away from, and so now you get to read an insight into my life as a writer. If you’re a writer like me, or you’re interested in becoming one, hearing about the writing processes and habits of other writers is always invaluable information that you an apply to your own process.
I’ve done this before, a few years ago I was an invited panellist at my alma mater York University to speak about my experience in the writing and publishing industry. Here’s a clip from that lecture, where I was telling the students how to go about getting funding and grants for their creative writing projects from Canadian funding bodies:
A lot of the other writers in this blog-hop are travel writers, which I am as well, but I also do fiction (novels and short stories), playwrighting, spoken word, music/film/theatre/book reviews, academic essays, interviews with notable personalities, and basically anything remotely related to writing that interests me, so I cover a lot of bases.
Anyway, enjoy my insights and writing-foibles!
What am I working on/writing?
I recently finished writing my second novel! I have been editing it with the help of some outside eyes and also in conjunction with my literary agent, and it is ready to be taken to the next level. I don’t want to talk too much about this on here because I feel like it will jinx it, but when the “next level” has been achieved, I will blog the snot out of it, trust me. I have also been working on a whole bunch of short stories and have been submitting them to literary journals which, as any writer will tell you, carries a long waiting sentence before you receive word of acceptance or rejection. So while I wait patiently, I have already begun brewing in my head the concept for my next novel! Novel number three, here we go. This one will involve some historical figures and a lot of research, so for the foreseeable future, you can find me living in the library. Ah, Old-Book-Smell. How I love thee.
How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
My literary agent told me recently that the reason why he was so eager to sign me to his roster is because I am a “fearless” writer. Everybody wants to be a writer. Everybody wants to write the next great novel, but most of the time, they don’t want to take the chances necessary to achieve such goals. My writing, first and foremost, has a distinct voice. I spent years crafting my style, my form, my content, and my voice. For some writers, all that stuff comes naturally. Not me. I am not naturally gifted like Kerouac or Keats. I have had to work for every writing-coup I’ve ever had. The structure of each sentence is a BIG DEAL to me. So when it comes to what I write about, and my style of writing, I have to be provocative, and take chances, and let the story go to places that make even me uncomfortable. There’s no point in writing if you’re not willing to be vulnerable.
Why do I write what I do?
Great question. I don’t think anyone has ever asked me why I write fiction.
For as long as I can remember, I have always been a storyteller. I used to love crafting up little narratives in my head as a little girl and then telling Mum about them. When I was in Grade 4 and our English teacher gave us the assignment to write a short story, everyone turned in about 4 pages worth of writing. I turned in 40.
I always had my nose in a book, and would get huge book deliveries from Scholastic (remember Scholastic!!) every few weeks. I couldn’t read enough, most of the time. And I always felt the urge to tell stories, especially when new concepts and ideas would pop into my head. I always preferred making up the stories, rather than telling true stories, so fiction naturally became my weapon of choice. By the time I was 12 years old, just the sight of a sharpened pencil and a huge stack of crisp loose-leaf paper would get me all giddy.
I guess I enjoy the freedom that fiction affords. The freedom to completely own the story that you tell, and the characters therein. I love the ability to fashion wild scenarios, and explore all the dark facets of human behaviour when stuck in such scenarios. Non-fiction and memoir have to be true and grounded in reality. Fiction is beholden to neither. That is just too tempting for such a dreamer like me.
When I got my first professional publication at the age of 18, I never looked back. I was hooked.
I double-majored Theatre Studies and Creative Writing in university, and returned to both subjects for my Masters degree. Since then, I have been published in literary anthologies, literary journals, travel anthologies, daily newspapers, weekly alternative magazines, glossy mags, national and international reviews, academic reviews, and even an encyclopedia. I’ve had about five plays produced, and I’ve lectured and performed at academic and creative conferences around the world.
How does my writing process work?
I actually have a strange writing process. Firstly, I absolutely need to write my first draft by hand.
Even though I type faster than I write.
Even though this means that I have to go through mounds and mounds of notebooks filled with messy scribblings, and arrows criss-crossing all over the page.
I cannot just stare at a blinking cursor and start to write. I need to have a pen in my hand and paper before me. I think this has to do with the actual act of writing. I see it as a violent act. The violence of pressing the pen nub into the paper and scratching your words into its surface, forever defacing it. There’s something about the Violence of Writing, as I call it, that is required for me to tell a good story.
Secondly, I can’t write at home. I need to be out in public.
Maybe because writing is such a solitary and isolating experience, that the sheer presence of others makes me feel less alone.
Maybe because there are too many distractions at home (like bed and Facebook….. mmmmm, Facebook in bed….sooo tempting).
Maybe because my stories are usually set in urban areas, so it requires me to be situated amongst the populous to inspire the descriptions about life in the metropolis…
Maybe because the word Writer is synonymous with Coffee Shop, and therefore one is always apt to find themselves amongst other writers down at their local latte-hole.
Who knows? All I know is that I’m weird, man.
I nominate Fran Harvey over at Bookworms and Coffee Monsters because she’s just gotten her first poetry publication and is ON FIRE at the moment with writing and submissions and can surely offer some keen insight into her work and process.
Onto the next blog-hop!
The Dutch love erecting sayings and quotes on their buildings … bless ’em.
Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and I remember more than I have seen.
TELL ME ABOUT IT.
Men under the guidance of reason desire nothing for themselves which they do not also desire for the rest of mankind.
This was on the wall at Café Brecht, which makes sense, as this is a Brechtian quote. It translates (roughly) in English to, “Because things are the way they are, they will not stay the way they are.” I found this wall last year, when I titled this post.
Haha! So true.
Ok so this wasn’t in Amsterdam, it was in the Delft. I found it when I took a daytrip there to visit the birthplace of Johannes Vermeer.
This was on an abandoned, boarded-up building.
It’s Emily Dickinson.
“To make a prairie,
it takes a clover
and one bee.
and a bee,
The revery alone
if the bees are few.”
Some people go to Amsterdam for the pot. Some go for the ladies in the red-lights. Some go for the bicycles.
I went for Laser314 (whom I have blogged about before). If you don’t know, Laser 3.14 is a street poet. He sprays his unique and original lines of poetry (yes, they’re his words) all over the city in English. Most locals tend to appreciate his work, as it is not seen as typical narcissistic vandalism. The poetry is moving, heart-breaking, ephemeral, and packs an emotional punch. When I found this piece last summer, I needed to sit down on a nearby bench. I just tried to breathe.
It was a glorious two weeks.
I was lucky enough, through the magic of the webernet (heehee), to get into contact with the elusive Laser, and he instructed me to go graff-hunting in certain areas of Amsterdam, where I found many of these pieces.
But I also found many of these pieces on my own, just from using some intuition, a bike, and good pair of walking shoes 🙂
After a while of hanging out in Amsterdam and finding Laser’s work, I started to easily identify possible places he might have bombed. He seems to favour either the tarps that go over construction sites, or the plywood that protects constructions sites. There are very few instances of his poetry-art appearing on anything else (although I have seen photographs of his work appearing on skips and industrial garbage bins). If I were to hazard a guess, I would say he does this because, this way, he’s not permanently damaging anyone’s property. Those construction tarps and boards will come down, eventually. No harm, no foul, no clean-up, no damage. Everyone wins.
Travel beyond the shroud.
I adore this one.
We are always on the verge of something.
Vermin gnawing holes in democracy.
This one was the hardest to photograph because half of the piece was covered by cinder blocks and construction. It says, “Days of confusion precedes the age of reason.”
And the horses waited to be tamed…
Life can be such a lonely place.
Ha ha ha!
Vote Nixon, he’s dead.
Progress. Regress. Regrets.
Hello, I’m your assassin!
I wish I was someone…
I hope to find more on my next journey to the ‘dam. Well, if I’m hoping for things, I hope to meet someone who’ll spraypaint poetry about me one day …. but one step at a time, Chris.
Ah, so much Amsterdam-Awesomesauce.
More street art pics to come from my time in the most magical city on the planet… just you wait.