By Casey Stepaniuk
This November, my absolute dream queer literary event—and possibly yours too—is coming to Vancouver. Local storyteller Ivan Coyote and Toronto-based artist Vivek Shraya are teaming up for a multi-disciplinary show called Pretty Good, combining their various talents as writers, poets, storytellers, and musicians. It’s a short-running show, visiting only Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, and Edmonton, as if it’s some sort of special gift for western Canada! Pretty Good will feature these two talented artists as “they revisit family origins, sing about scars and skeletons, and perform brand new material from their new books.” Another queer Vancouver author, Amber Dawn, will be joining Ivan and Vivek as a guest.
Pretty Good coincides with new book releases for both authors from which they’ll be drawing material: Ivan’s Tomboy Survival Guide and Vivek’s The Boy and the Bindi. Tomboy Survival Guide—Ivan Coyote’s 11th book—is part memoir about their gender non-conforming childhood in the Yukon, part guide for today’s young tomboys, and part reflection on carving out space in the adult world as someone who doesn’t fit gender binaries. (I wrote about Tomboy Survival Guide in more detail in an earlier post, if you’re interested). The Boy and the Bindi, which is Shraya’s first book for kids, is a picture book about a young boy fascinated with his mother’s bindi. Richly illustrated by Rajni Perera, The Boy and the Bindi explores the cultural significance of this marker worn by Hindu women as the mother explains bindis to her son and doesn’t hesitate to give one to him to wear for himself when he asks.
Vivek Shraya is one of those multi-talented artists with a toe in every kind of art: music, fiction, poetry, and film. Her first novel She of the Mountains, which centres around bisexual experience, was named a best book of 2014 by The Globe and Mail and her first poetry collection, even this page is white, came out this spring. As a musician she’s half of the musical duo Too Attached, which recently opened for Tegan and Sara in their fall tour. She is also a three-time Lambda Literary award finalist and a recipient of the Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Dayne Ogilvie Prize Honour of Distinction.
Ivan Coyote is a seasoned storyteller and award-winning author known for their down-to-earth style and explorations of queer, trans, and butch identity. They’ve also explored other mediums, creating four short films and three albums combining music with storytelling. Ivan has twenty years of stage performing under their belt and has become an audience favourite at festivals all over the globe. The Ottawa Xpress once wrote that “Coyote is to Canadian literature what kd lang is to country music: a beautifully odd fixture.”
Both Vivek’s and Ivan’s books will be available for purchase at the event courtesy of Little Sister’s bookstore. You can let your friends know you’re going on the Facebook event here and you can buy tickets online here. They’re $ 25 for adults with $ 5 off for students and seniors.
Where: The Cultch’s York Theatre
When: November 12th, 8pm
Tickets: $ 25 for adults / $ 20 for students and seniors
Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian-in-training who runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find LGBTQ+ Canadian book reviews and a queer book advice column. She also writes for Book Riot. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian
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