THRIVE: Our Voices Rising! by METRAC

Forum for the 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence

For Women and Trans Peoples

Saturday Nov. 29, 2014 in Toronto, Canada

10:00am-3:00pm (registration starts at 9:30am)

Metro Hall, 55 John St. -Room 308/309 (King & John, 2 blocks east of Spadina)


Join THRIVE on Saturday November 29, to LEARN, DISCUSS and ADDRESS the various ways gendered violence impacts our lives and the ways we can resist.

LEARN about the work of different groups who are engaged in resisting colonization, racism, environmental degradation, etc.

ENGAGE in discussion circles, tool building and different well-being activities. And CONNECT with other community members and people working towards positive change.


Stopping the Violence: It Starts With Us by Sheryl Lindsay, No More Silence

Anti-Black Racism


Prison Industrial Complex by Najla Edwards (PASAN)

Environmental Violence is a Reproductive Justice Issue by The Native Youth Sexual Health Network

Gender and Housing

Twitter Hashtag: #ThriveTO14

Facebook Event:…

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How To Run A Blog

By Jorge Antonio Vallejos

This post is a starter for others but also a reminder for myself.  September 18, 2014 made it four years that I have been running  Four years!  This past year I have fallen off the keyboard: irregular postings and discontent readers because of my irregularity.  For three years I posted 3x a week.  Time to get back to that schedule.  The next few points are a reminder of what I have to do to get back to there and what novice bloggers can learn from my experience.

Post Consistently

Readers generally don’t visit blogs and sites that post irregularly.  Why visit and outdated blog or website?

Post consistently!

Choose days that work for you to publish work and let your readers know your schedule. After setting your schedule stick to it!  Nothing irritates readers more than coming to a site and seeing an old post they’ve already read.  In this day and age readers like new content and consistency.

Stick To Your Guns

In other words, stay on topic.  What is your blog about?  I run a literature blog.  But I’ve always stated that I mix my politics with my writing, and my writing is my activism (poetry and essays).  Hence the special weeks about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Trans Day Of Remembrance, December 6th

Readers like to know where they are going and what they are going to get: focus.

Without a them and focus I would not have the worldwide following that I do.

The Title Says It All  

A title lets the reader know what your post is about.  Titles are also picked up by GOOGLE search (I’m still learning about this).  Good titles matched with good writing are win win!

Over the last four years my titles have not been the best in terms of attracting GOOGLE.  I’ll be going back to change titles and using the topical titles to let my readers know what they are in for.

Bad titles I have used in terms of GOOGLE have been my interviews.  Example: “Interview With…”.  The persons name would be best to start off with.

Good titles I have come up with have been:

Reena Virk (1983-1997): A Poem and Roundtable in Remembrance

The View Needs To Widen Their Scope on Jenna Talackova: Discussing Transphobia While Being Transphobic

Remembering Helen Betty Osborne

Response Equals Respect

If your readers comment on your blog the best thing to do is to respond.  For the first two years I did not do that.  Bad move!  Readers I have started to interact with have been coming back to my blog.  Response equals respect.  I may not agree with all peoples who read my blog, or comment, but I respect the fact that they took the time to visit, read, and write me.

Feature Your Best Posts

Good posts should not be left in the past.  Feature your most successful posts on a special page on your blog.  Click on my page Popular Posts.  New and old readers visit several of my posts that are now two and three years old.

Be A Good Host: Direct Your Readers To Places You Want Them To Visit

A Popular Posts page and a search bar (look to the right) help your readers go back in the past.  Again, old posts are not bad posts.  With the important topics I highlight I want readers to have access to them at all times.

Hold Off On Holding Off


The whole purpose of this post is to remind me not to be away from my readers to long periods of time.  If you want to lose regular readers or new readers visiting your blog stay in active.

We are going full circle here: Post Consistently!

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Reena Virk picReena Virk, a 14 year old South Asian girl living in British Columbia, Canada was murdered in a racist attack by schoolmates in 1997. Today, November 14 2014, makes it 17 years since Reena was killed. The poem Reena is written by Toronto poet and activist Gitanjali Lena in honour or Reena Virk.  May Reena always be remembered.

Trigger Warning: the poem below deals with different forms of violence.


By Gitanjali Lena

Pounced upon by paleness

Set upon by mean girls of mixed races

And a boy for good measure

Who circled you like a titanium bangle

And kicked pleasure out of you

Gorged on your body

One November night in Saanich

Cracking bones burning bindi holes in your brown skin

Trampolining on your back until you were broken

You weren’t pristine

Your swagger spirit already soaked in spit, shame and

Too intimate touches from daddy

Fueled by mickey courage maybe you fooled around with someone at a party

How dare you? Lafungi besharam

You weren’t a delicate flower

With your broad Punjabi nose and masculine jaw

But “ugly” girls need protection too

Was the moon your only witness?

The stars your silent back up crew?

You needed us like brass knuckles, uppercuts and hugs for when you crumble

Standing at your memorial

I wished I could have stood by you in real time

Scattering daddy and Ellard into shards

We’d be that kindred sister posse that the coloured girls longed for

Post-mortem – details of the past rising to the surface like bubbles in bottle of Fanta

Denial of the community pushes back

Because to tear off scabs exposes raw flesh

And no one wants to be vulnerable in this land

You dared.

Gitanjali Lena is a mother, activist, poet, lawyer, an all around awesome person with good politics and a heart for community.  See Gitanjali read her poem Who Was Reena Virk? here.

The roundtable below provides much needed information NOT provided my mainstream media: 

To learn more about the Reena Virk murder and the court case that followed please click on the appropriate links below:

Review of Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives On A Canadian Murder

Interview with Mythili Rajiva, co-editor of Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives On A Canadian Murder

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100_6240Top 9 Poetry Books I Read In The Summer Of 2014

By Jorge Antonio Vallejos  

I read these books in Calgary, Regina, and Bayfield, Ontario.

My eyes hit pages of poems while sipping coffee in the Higgins family kitchen, on my friend Cindy Bourgeois‘s balcony, at Wascana Lake, on a cottage porch, and sitting on the beach on Lake Huron.

Top ten lists are the in thing now.  I like being different.  Here are 9 books I recommend!

1. She Dreams In Red by Alexis Kienlen

2. Things That Matter Now by Bob Stallworthy

3. Guys Named Bill by Leslie Greentree

4. Love In A Handful Of Dust by Kirk Ramdath

5. Go Go Dancing For Elvis by Leslie Greentree

6. Tom Three Persons by Yvonne Trainer

7. Optics by Bob Stallworthy

8. Yes by Rosemary Griebol

9. Inside The Onion by Harold Nemerov

What poetry books did you read this summer?  What do you recommend? Comment below!

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My Stacks Of Books 3All I Want In Life Is…

By Jorge Antonio Vallejos

1. Books

2. Books of poetry

3. Comfy chairs, stools, hammocks and couches to read Books

4. Books by Indigenous Writers and Writers of Colour

5. Money and gift cards for Books

6. Personal libraries full of Books


8. Books by Queer and Trans writers

9. A woman who loves and reads books as much as I do

10. More Independent, Queer and Trans, and Women’s bookstores to open and thrive

11. More time and quiet to read Books

12. More storage space and shelves for my many Books

13. Books of erotic fiction and essays

14. An endless supply of ethical, organic, fair trade coffee to drink while I read books

15. Books written by me to be published, read, and taught

The above was inspired by a list on Face Book by author M. J Rose.


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Rob Walker head shotJune 4, 2014

Dear Friends:

My name is Rob Walker. I am looking for shared accommodations, hoping to move in late June or 1 July (at latest).

I’m a full-time PhD student in Queer Theology, and a talkative introvert. As a gay man living with Cerebral Palsy on Ontario Disability Support Payments, I am looking for:

* accessible accommodation on ground floor or in a building with an elevator (or very few stairs)

* $600 or less/m. rent, including utilities

* downtown, or close to major TTC routes, close to laundry facility. If close to Metropolitan Community Church Toronto or University of Toronto, that would be a bonus.

* preferably furnished, but at least with room for bookshelves!

* someone who can appreciate living with a full-time PhD student who works on the Internet from home

* willing to share/contribute to groceries

If you might be able to offer a place, please don’t hesitate to contact me via email to leave your contact information:

Thanks very much for your consideration!

Rob Walker

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Wednesday May 14, 2014

Dear Readers,

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I have not updated my website in almost two months.  One of you, a good friend of mine and contributor to, asked what the status of my site was and I did not have a real answer.

“If you’re gonna end it then end it.  Don’t just let it die!” said Cindy.

Cindy and I are close like that.

And she is right.

I don’t want to end but I am in a place of contemplation and transition. started out as a project after I was rejected from an MA in Creative Writing program.  I read and reviewed books and interviewed authors.  And I videotaped authors reading from their books.  And I had a stance which was to feature writers ignored by the mainstream: Indigenous writers, writers of  colour, queer writers… My politics were ingrained into every post: challenging colonialism and all it’s sub “isms”.

After two years of doing this many of you asked me about my writing.  “Where are you?” people wrote.  “We want to read your writing.” So I started writing reflections pieces and a series called Showing Up.  I also stared publishing poemsletters and opinion editorials.

I still want to keep my stance, politics, and original vision, but I want to hear from you, my readers.

What do you want to see on

What have you liked or disliked on I welcome constructive criticism.

Do you want to contribute to the site?

Do you want to work together on a project?

Email me your thoughts at  and comment below this post. Write Idea for in the subject line.

Please see and subscribe to my YOUTUBE Channel as it is integral to my site. Subscribe to, and consider writing for,  See this call for submissions.

If you appreciate what I do please consider buying me a coffee via a gift card or donate to my site.  See how by clicking here.

Thank you for your ideas, support, and time.

Peace, Prayers, Poetry,

Jorge Antonio Vallejos

Black Coffee Poet

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Book Review photoHow To Write A Book Review

By Jorge Antonio Vallejos

A large part of is dedicated to writing book reviews.  I also write book reviews for other publications.

I remember writing my first book review in grade five.  I had to write one book review a month and I always looked forward to it.

Most of the books I read and reviewed in grade five were bought via mail from the Scholastic company. Do you remember them? I’d order three or four books at a time and eagerly wait for them to arrive.  And I’d visit World’s Biggest Bookstore in downtown Toronto a couple of times a month with my mom on top of visiting my local library once or twice a week.

It’s fair to say that books have always been a part of my life.  And writing reviews throughout my academic career—grade school, high school, and university—prepared me for the reviews I write today. Here are some suggestions for writing book reviews I’ve come up with over the years:

Read the book.  This sounds simple but you’d be surprised at how many people do not read a book (entirely or at all) before writing a review.  I remember a university professor telling a seminar class I was part of that she had written reviews after reading the back of, and preface, of books.  Gross!

Be an active reader.  Take notes, highlight, write in the margins of the book; journal about the book; talk about the book with someone.

Re-read the book.  If you do not have time, go over your notes and read the parts you liked and disliked.

Plan out the review.  Look over your notes and see what you want readers to know.  Organize your points from most to least important.  Read other reviews and see what reviewers are not talking about.  Be different.

Think about your audience.  Who reads your work?  What do they like?  What politics do they believe and uphold?  Are they political or apolitical?  Do they like long or short reviews?  Do they like lots of quotations?  Do they prefer an overview or an in-depth review?

Include info about the author.  Are you familiar with the work of the author you are reviewing?  Is your audience familiar with the author?  Reference their previous work.  Opine whether this new book is as good, better, or worse than their previous books.  Give some background info on the author: how they started writing, where they are from, where they are now.

Hook the reader in.  Start your review with a line that is eye catching and mentally stimulating.  I often use a quote from the book, or I describe the cover, or I give my opinion.

State your opinion.  Is the book amazing, mediocre, or crap?  Say it.  Be honest.  Be bold.  And back up your opinion with quotes and observations.  A reader will appreciate your opinion from the strong argument your provide them.  You are critiquing the book, not summarizing it!

Do not include new material in the conclusion.  Your last paragraph should be a wrap up of the review.  Don’t start a new argument or make new points.  A conclusion is an ending not a beginning.

Do not bash!  You can be critical without bashing a writer.  It’s a review not a boxing match.

Do not make the review personal.  You are reviewing the book not the author’s character.  And if there is a conflict of interest between you and the author then do not review their book.  I know authors I do not like personally and I do not review their book(s); it would not be fair.  Of course, there are some exceptions.  One of my favourite short story writer’s is someone I cannot stand!  But they write good fiction and I have written favourable reviews of their work; it goes back to integrity and honesty.  Generally, I stay away from reviewing books by authors I do not like personally.

Remember: “The same people you see on your way up are the same people you see on your way down.” It’s a small world.  Someone might be reviewing your book one day.  The same energy you give out comes back at you.

I hope this helps!  Get reading and get writing.

If you appreciate the work I do consider treating me to a coffee or making a donation to  Click on the CONTACT page above to find out how.


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BCP reading Sherman Alexie What I've Stolen What I've EarnedI recently read What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned by Sherman Alexie.  It was amazing!

Alexie is one of my favorite poets.  I own and have read, and re-read, his sex previous collections of poems.

While reading the book I wrote a found-sonnet made up of lines I loved in the book: Found Sonnet, Lines I Loved From Sherman Alexie’s What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned.  It’s an experiment that people have liked.  I hope you enjoy it.

Watch, SHARE, Tweet, and comment on this video.

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If you appreciate the work I do consider treating me to a coffee (via a STARBUCKS gift card) or making a donation to  Click on the CONTACT page above to find out how.

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Found Sonnet, Lines I Loved From Sherman Alexie’s What I’ve Stolen, What I’ve Earned

By Jorge Antonio Vallejos

1. My Indian name is Wants  To Tell You His Indian Name Because It Makes Him Feel More Indian.

2. …my big brother, who was eating and stealing food from the fruit department.

3. If my sons, Indian as they are, contract some preventable disease from those organic, free range white children and die, will it be legal for me to scalp and slaughter their white parents?

4. In Seattle, when white folks first gentrified this neighborhood, they built houses on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, but they turned the front doors of their homes so their street addresses would not be on MLK , Jr. Blvd.

5. Republican, n. One who has, in the past, lied to Indians. Also, one who is currently lying to Indians. Also, one who will, in the future, lie to Indians. See: Democrat.

6. Do you miss the strange women who loved to touch your hair? Do you miss being eroticized because of your braids?

7. White Jesus comes from white people; brown Jesus comes from brown people.

8.  Are you Chicano?

9. I want my coffee to taste like sex and rage.

10. Ariana X. Rodriguez wrote: “There is a word in Nahuatl that means: “All of the memory in the world.” Nobody remembers how to say the word.

11. And who do we become when we are confronted with the truth–with a direct refutation of our closely held beliefs–but still refuse to admit our sins?

12. Do we become liars when we don’t kiss those people who make us tremble and tremble for us?

13. …I drank coffee as strong and bitter as colonialism.

14. I can make up any shit about Indians and you will believe me because you don’t know shit about Indians or rather, all you know is bullshit about Indians, so I can just make up my own bullshit and you won’t know the difference.

Thanks to May Lui for introducing me to found poems.  BIG thanks to Maureen Hynes, one of my poetry Elders, for suggesting writing a found sonnet!

If you appreciate the work I do consider treating me to a coffee or making a donation to  Click on the CONTACT page above to find out how.

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