Thursday, October 17, 2013

The New Media

For more fresh and up-to-date content from myself, please:

Follow me on Twitter (I'll follow back) at @Adam_M_Abbas

Follow me on Instagram (I'll follow back) at @idontknowadamabbas

New website forthcoming when I have a better idea of its design, and have the money for said design.

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A State, A Statue, A Statute: The Unusable Poems - Haikus Pt. 1

Three haikus which I'm leaving on the cutting room floor, from the final edits of my upcoming poetry book A State, A Statue, A Statute:

She chopped the onion
Crying from the fumes and crying
From silent laughter

If you find me in
Your favourite hiding place
Will you go back there?

Keeps his mouth open
Snaps out his wrist, checks his watch
Cracks his Zippo flame

Thursday, March 21, 2013


I joined Twitter yesterday.  Please follow me, then I'll follow you, then we'll follow each other and never get to our destination, only moving in an endless semi-circle that we'll eventually try to perfect out of boredom, forgetting that a circle can never be perfect.

It's a metaphor.  Here's the link to the page:  

Friday, March 8, 2013

New Developments

I'm going to create a new website in the next month.  I lost the desire to maintain this website, mainly b/c living outside the internet is more important, I put my work foremost, I gained a new entry-level career, I'm doing copious amounts of research, I'm having a book of poetry published by Steel Bananas, and I've written a play entitled Instead of Meals.

Coming soon.


I've been thinking of a child, girl or boy, going to show and tell in class.

Standing up in front of the class and being prompted by the teacher to discuss his or her item.

Staying silent despite the teacher's increasingly confused and frustrated coaxing.

The class straining to see what the item is.  Putting as much effort into watching the child's face and the teacher's shift into authoritative behaviour.

The child staying silent, holding up the item for everyone to see.  The kid in the back who always seemed new.

Everyone is sitting too far away to see what the owner of the item sees, all its intricate details which fascinate him or her.  Only those in the very front can make out more details.

What do each of the classmates see?  The same thing?  Why is the child staying silent?  Why is there a lack of description?  What's to be gained by confusing and riling up the audience?

The teacher saying if there is no description, then please sit down. The item has to be explained - what is its meaning, why is it selected, where did it come from, why would the class like it.

The child sits back down, humiliated but still quiet...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Interview with the Black Coffee Poet

I was interviewed a little while back by Jorge Villejos, the Black Coffee Poet. He works inside the U of T and is a powerful human rights advocate. He also wrote an article about my chapbook A State, A Statue, A Statute.

My interview can be found here:

His article about me and my work :

His website :

Thanks to Jorge for the support, it means a lot to me.

A guide to poetry readings in Toronto

All these series have an open mic aside from the SH and EW (shoo, gnat) series, usually held at the end of the evening.  When I moved to Toronto I couldn't really find an up-to-date list of all the open mic poetry readings here, and I had to hunt.  These are most, if not all of them.
I should also mention that PWYC is strongly recommended for all these events. For more non-open mic events such as Pivot, Brockton, Draft et al., and other literary events, visit  Information for all the events below can be found by clicking on their above titles, which contain links to their websites.

The Emerging Writers (EW) Reading Series:

Created by the awesome Jess Taylor, this series is affiliated with Dragnet Magazine and has a strong mix of poetry and prose. I've featured there in the winter and I'm doing it again in January. Information can also be found in NOW magazine.

The Art Bar Poetry Series:

The longest-running poetry series in Toronto, held Tuesdays at 8PM inside the second floor of Pauper's Pub. I was a featured poet at Art Bar back in March.  The two other featured readers didn't show up, so it was just me.  But to compensate there were a lot of people on the open mic.

The Underdog Poets Academy:
A great series run by the talented Sarah Beaudin, this series encourages those who haven't read much or at all to get out and perform. It also features accomplished poets on a regular basis as well.  It's a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere all the time, and is always receptive of every poet. I've featured there twice as well and it was quite fun, once doing my satirical character Jezebel Beelzebub Bells...which is another post in itself.

Plasticine Poetry Series:

Now moved to Pauper's Pub, the same as Art Bar. The first series I did an open mic at here in Toronto, and the first series I featured at.  Run by the great Cathy Petch and Michael Fraser, who are tolerant if you go over the time limit for reading on the open mic, but not to the extent that the whole series is compromised.

Hot-Sauced Words:

Every third Thursday of every month at 8, inside the second floor of the Black Swan Tavern.  Hosted by my friend James Dewar.

Rochdale Rhymes and Readings:

No posters of the RRR exist, so here's one of Mark Gonzales shot by Ari Marcopoulos instead.  This series is usually held in the back studio of the Regal Beagle Pub at 335 Bloor St. W, during the fall, winter, and spring at 8 PM. Hosted by Mike Lipsius.  I heard one poet read a bizarre and hilarious poem about Jesus here once, that made it worthwhile.

Impossible Words:

Impossible Words is the newest reading series here in Toronto. No photos of it exist yet, so here's one of Chris Pastras and Jason Lee shot by Tobin Yelland. It happens every two weeks on Saturdays from 1:30 to 3:30 at the Academy of the Impossible.

The Beautiful and the Damned:
Now held at the Glad Day Bookshop, this series is LGBT-oriented but still welcomes readers of any kind, so long as their work isn't hateful. Everyone's friendly, you just have to get there before it starts to sign up for the open mic.

Secret Handshake Art Gallery Reading Series:

Run by my friend David Bateman with assistance by bill bissett, the SH gallery hosts a poetry reading every month.  I was fortunate to feature here in January, and I gave a copy of my chapbook A State, A Statue, A Statute to bill.  He was supportive, it was great.

Slam Poetry at the Drake Hotel:

There's usually a $5 entrance fee for slam poetry events at the Drake Hotel. A lot of people show up.  I read my work on the open mic here.  A girl was into it, a guy stared at me.  I didn't read slam poetry, I read a prose poem.  If you're into slam poetry, this is the event to attend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The rudeness of talking in a foreign language

You're really not that important. Never mind that Sopranos scene where they travel to Italy.

 But take this following scenario, which happened to me: You introduce yourself to someone who speaks with an accent. You show them something of yours. As they're looking at it, their partner comes up beside them and starts speaking in their native language, and they start giggling as they look at your item. What did I do in response? I said "Hm", loud enough for them to hear me. They didn't continue talking after that.

 What else could I do? And what am I supposed to think? That they could be giggling about anything, least likely of which being your item? Or is it natural, healthy even, to preserve some discomfort over the fact that they're enjoying talking badly about you?

 The truth is that, in personal situations like these, suddenly talking in a foreign language is rude, and is not the mark of civilized and respectable people. I've dealt with much more than my share of rude behaviour. I shouldn't have to take it any longer.

 And for those of you who read this, you don't have to either. It's socially awkward to walk among people talking in a different language and think they're talking about you, absolutely. But it's not when you're in a situation such as the one I've described.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Discussion on Setting and the Attraction of Canada

On the subject of the attraction of Canada:

Being told that the country I live in isn't "sexy", and therefore does not sell products, is odd. Putting aside the triteness of the all-encompassing "sex sells" business maxim...this controversial statement spills over into my own self-image. Am I contributing to the lack of appeal in Canada? Guilt by association, theoretically if all Canadians were sexy then there would be no problem, website posts like these are boring, you're doing it to yourself without even noticing...

...Or is it the varied ecospheres of Canada? The flat prairies, the cold and uninviting north territories, the endless uniform trees?

Is it the fact that we're considered an integrated rather than an assimilated society? And based on that, the idea that we have no real identity of our own and rely on the US and the rest of the globe to further our own cultural progress?

Is it the notion that we're all considered docile and polite, with the exception of middle-aged Canadian women whom are thought to be loud and ignorant?

Is it how some artists based in Canada and trying to break into the US don't outwardly express their Canadian heritage? (which can actually work for Canada's benefit when the band is awful, even though the truth eventually comes out)

Or is it the lack of recognition as to what happens in a Canadian city? Our cities haven't been explored in art and media to the extent that cities like Tokyo or England have. And they lack the mystery which unknown cities like Antananarivo (capital of Madagascar) have. Canadian cities seem to be unknown, but who would want to know them?

On the subject of setting:

Robert McKee writes in Story that a precise setting in a story will give way to more possibilities and appeal, as opposed to a broad and unspecified setting which limits expression.
This is important when trying to write a story about Canada. In my opinion - the crucial aspects of setting are how appealing and relatable it is. The problem is, how do you write about a certain Canadian setting if people won't find it appealing?

My thoughts on these two matters:

The problem of writing an appealing Canadian setting has plagued me for awhile. Of course it's possible to write within a specific, unknown, seemingly boring Canadian setting - Alice Munro has done it repeatedly to great success.
The issue of setting doesn't limit her simply because her stories are so complex and absorbing that people pay the setting no real mind, not thinking to themselves of all the conceptions about Canada which I listed above.

Still, it seems that the odds are weighed against Canadian writers. The Life of Pi for example is considered a Canadian book but describes Canada as full of people with bad haircuts, and not really much else. It takes a lot to have the talent which Alice Munro wields, or yields, I don't know which. To base a story in a boring Canadian landscape and not have it reflect that boredom could be a difficult task. Of course it's a battle.

But it's not impossible to imagine a great love story based in the prairies of Saskatchewan or Alberta. Just because the audience doesn't have an awareness or interest in the prairies, that doesn't mean it can't be instilled if the story is written well enough. To say there's no sexual appeal in the Canadian prairies is inherently ridiculous just because of how it looks on the surface. Canadian authors who base their work solely in, New York City because it's well-known and everyone wants to go there, is weak to me. Of course a Canadian author can base stories in New York, but to try and capitalize on it without any mention of their own country/background is fake.

Any setting can be attractive. It's based on how the characters perceive and interact with it. But - I would argue that a setting doesn't need to be the central part of a story, because if a story focuses too much on a setting which no one really knows, it will eventually become tiresome and alienate the reader.

Of course an author may think, "What can I really do with this setting? What goes on here which is different and dangerous? How can I make this setting something which people will take a step back and re-consider, and actually get into?" It's something I struggle with...trying to write a story in Toronto while not thinking it's only going to appeal to Canadians. That's where research and imagination come in.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


The lynx, one of my favourite animals.

Elusive and stylish.

I was surprised to find out that in inhabits areas in both western Canada and Spain (the Iberian lynx), two very different climates.

I wonder if this scene ever happened: a young man walking around the outskirts of Ibiza as the sun begins to rise, after the most hedonistic, devastating and fortunate party experience of his life. He sits on the ground, and sees a lynx staring at him from far away. The lynx stares, then leaves, and the young man watches it go...and then starts running, chasing it.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The difference between Toronto and Ottawa

Specifically, the rivalry. The clash, which runs deeper than drunken hockey shouting matches and brawls and Leafs graffiti sprayed in public parks in Ottawa.

Having lived in Ottawa from 2006 - 2008 (as well as spending my childhood there, yet I didn't notice the rivalry at that time) and currently living in Toronto, I've sensed a divide between the two Ontario cities. It could be easy to say that the rivalry stems from basic differences such as Ottawa having the status as Canada's capital whereas Toronto is only Ontario's capital, and the Canada Day celebration in Ottawa is way better, but that's not the deepest it sinks.

Toronto's obviously larger population equals more opportunity. And when I worked as a dishwasher in Ottawa I repeatedly heard people talk about what there really is in Ottawa - what oportunity could be capitalized on, and what room for growth there is aside from the governmental avenues. I remember reading an issue of the Ottawa Xpress wherein an artist was defending his move from Ottawa to Toronto, with the article praising the artist's seemingly imminent rise to fame. I haven't heard of him since moving here, but then again I haven't been paying attention to the art scene that closely. I never really was, though. All I remember was that the article seemed to be aware of the hostility which would be lobbied against the artist for moving.

When I was living in Ottawa a friend of mine said that she would move to Toronto because she wanted to see life at all hours of the night, to see people and vibrancy. And she said I could go anywhere and do anything, that I didn't have anything holding me back. And Ottawa has been compared to Winnipeg, where the small size of the city makes people know each other indirectly. Whenever I visit Winnipeg I almost always see people I've met or seen before. Although a smaller city, like a smaller college or university, can also lead to less impersonality between people since it's more tight-knit. Some people like that. I like that, but I don't think it's impossible to find a tight-knit group of people in a large city. The idea of pursuing artistic endeavours to the extent where you lose your desire to get to know and appreciate other people is disturbing, even though a necessary trait of any art is solitude.

The standard of living is also an important factor. Just as Toronto is thought to loook down on Ottawa, people from NYC or LA probably look down on Toronto. But I met people from NYC and they said Toronto is much better, and I've heard from an intelligent former native Californian that it's every liberal American's dream to move to Canada. As as enticing as living in NYC is, I wouldn't want to deal with mice, cockroaches, bedbugs, thieves, pollution, overly crowded streets, expensive items and living expenses, being looked down on for being Canadian, and other issues that would continually arise in order to live in NYC or LA. How much of my personal well-being would I have to sacrifice in order to say "I live in New York City" ? That's where I see Ottawa as having an edge over Toronto - the allure of a large city doesn't always match the toll it takes on your body and mind. I get stressed out here...but I got stressed out living by myself in Ottawa as well.

At different literary events I've heard the speakers make odd allusions to Ottawa which has sent the audience chuckling. I mean odd in the sense that they weren't being insulting. I can't remember what they said, unfortunately - all I remember is the vibe they created.

But this was the first sign that tipped me off about the tension between the cities: when I first moved to Ottawa I was walking around the Byward Market and saw a large banner that said TORONTO APPRECIATION DAY, but in front of this banner there was only a single little man hitting a small drum in a discordant manner. There was also a guy with a large camera filming him and also people's reactions.
Most people were just puzzled, but I saw the humour in it - the man hitting the drum represented the amount of appreciation people living in Ottawa (Ottawan, though I don't like that term) held for Toronto.
I laughed as I walked by and took it in, and the cameraman smiled and filmed me. I wonder where the footage went. Ruminating on it now, I wonder if the battle is continuing in the same media format, or different.

What was I going to achieve by continuing to live in Ottawa? What would've happened to me if I'd have stayed there? Walking through the Rideau Centre (this is another trait of Canadian cities - they all have a mall which marks the downtown core, somethng that Ottawa and Toronto share), I remember seeing a large poster for nuclear power, touting its benefits. This unnerved me slightly, like seeing a gun shop in the States for the first time.
Did/does Ottawa rely on nuclear power? I didn't know and still don't. But I felt that Toronto held more literary opportunity, and so I moved here. The city of Ottawa is laid out perfectly, its architecture, museums, streets, the parks, Hog's Back Park, the way to Hull...despite the fact that Ottawa was originally built on top of a swamp, it's lovely. I didn't have good luck with people there though, which was also part of the reason why I left. Yet Toronto held more allure for me and still does, even though I'd feel off wearing a Blue Jays cap.

Edit: but now, on April 9th, 2013, I'd feel comfortable wearing the cap. It is a great city.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I - the Play, SummerWorks Festival 2011

I have a role in the play I, which is part of the SummerWorks Festival here in Toronto for 2011, and it's been great to have been a part of it so far. The Pulse Theatre Collective produced the play - written and directed by David Hersh and starring Emannuelle Zeesman - and their website can be found by clicking here.

The play is about a young female writer named Eugenia who moves to Paris (leaving her family and friends behind) to write her magnum opus. She meets the ghost of the playwright, who goes by the name of I, whom she's looked up to since childhood and he proceeds to become her mentor, although he quickly becomes tiresome and then eventually a threat.

My role in the play is small - I'm part of the Chorus and we represent I's mind. Which is a great concept, representing a ghost's mind. We're the ghosts within the ghost, it could be said.

I (the play) is metafictional and intertextual as it's based on a play by Eugène Ionesco. What appeals to me about the play is the role of I himself, who's played by David Macniven. I (the character) is self-aggrandizing, self-unaware and uninformed of basic concepts such as different religions, and cannot treat Eugenia with the respect and intelligence she bestows on him, instead baiting her into allowing him to play more games with her. Although this is interlaced with humour (and the play is very witty and funny, with an Abbot and Costello wraparound style)it still reflects on the character of I in a greater sense.

Because I gives Eugenia advice which is fundamental for success in writing, yet due to the nature of his character it wouldn't seem as though Eugenia would be apt to take it. I tells Eugenia that writing is a discipline, and that it needs to be done continuously - which reflects the advice I stumbled upon from the artist Chuck Close not too long ago.
Yet with all the stress Eugenia has to endure through I's mentorship, and his lack of real knowledge, it would be easy to cast aside his advice and just to do what she wants and feels.

To me this ties in closely to a parent-child relationship, where a parent might not know everything and can repel their children against their (maybe hard-fought) advice. And it also relates to the general idea of an author, and how some people look to them for the answers to all their questions.

Sometimes the artist is better off not known. There can be a transformation from an icon to a human being. Autonomy. I delves into this, albeit in a humorous fashion. Just throwing away all of our impressions and forging our own path is what Eugenia and I represent and also showcases the parent-child relationship where a growing child can decide not to follow the path of their parent. The rebellious artist, not knowing what will come of their endeavours. But if they stick with it, as I advises to, they can succeed.

I also tells Eugenia of what it takes to separate literature (wheat) from books (chaff). How a book has to either be someone cherishes or despises. And what would an author really want to create? One or the other or both? So these opposite ends of the spectrum graduate a book into literature. Which I think is sound advice to give to a young author because reading is only worthwhile if it sparks emotion and intellect.