SEC-; by Stephanie Creaghan

Stephanie E. Creaghan is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer and curator based in Montreal. Her work often explores the barriers presented when using language as a medium for expression. To learn more about Stephanie and her work visit http://www.stephaniecreaghan.com/

"The word sec means dry in French; it is also my initials, S.E.C. The term dry in English can refer to the experience of navigating life in the absence of substance use/abuse, but with the same addictive behavior, as in, a dry drunk. Two years ago I quit drinking; this is a video about what it's like to live when a layer of perceived protection is removed." 

Unpublished work by Dan Darrah

Dan Darrah's first collection published by Permanent Sleep entitled 'What else we could be doing' is sold out, to celebrate we decided to share his latest offering, a previously unpublished poem entitled Dominion. 

DOMINION

back in the fall i realized
that the only thing i had at my disposal
was hanging up the phone and not picking back up. 
my words couldn’t shake you
because you never believed in them. 
all i could say to you was
that i wouldn’t pick up anymore, and now
i’ve got a whole life to prove
that i meant it, that i won’t pick up
and offer up the love that people trap in jars
and get friends to hide from them, love
that comes out in wal-mart parking lots with
clear views of stars -
full, pure, stripped of complications.

i’ve been spending mornings in my kitchen
fighting with my hands.
i’ve been spending mornings in my kitchen
running through life with a brush.
i’ve been spending mornings in my kitchen
trying to reconcile in my head
all the times i wanted to kill you but
never, ever wanted you to die.
i’ve been spending mornings in my kitchen
loosening your dominion,
pulling out your planted flags from
the cupboards and counters -
the things that you made yours
with confessionals and apologies, then more confessionals, 
the things that you made yours, and remade yours, 
whenever you called.

but these days those flags are getting smaller;
they used to be full-size like at schools, now
they’re sandwich toppers for picnics, and soon
they’ll be stamps, and one day,
they’ll just be splayed paint on paper, 
colours that fade -
no longer love, just
leftover coffee mugs and hairclips
and hair on the couch, 
things that disappear on their own.

i’ve been spending mornings in the summer balm,
stuck in wide fields like they were amber. 

WHAT ELSE WE COULD BE DOING EXPLORES GROWING PAINS AND THE STRUGGLE TO STAY PRESENT

This article originally appeared on The Strand and was written by Molly Kay 

This article originally appeared on The Strand and was written by Molly Kay 

Dan Darrah is a third-year Political Science and History student at Ryerson University. When not playing guitar for local hardcore band, Mil-Spec, or putting out solo music under the moniker Funeral Blues, Darrah takes to creative writing and producing zines. Earlier this month, he released a poetry collection entitled What Else We Could Be Doing through Permanent Sleep Press. The book—which tackles themes of childhood, relationships, and life in the suburbs—contains 28 of Darrah’s most intimate poems, edited by Caroline White. The Strand sat down with Darrah to discuss the process of getting a book published, the hardcore scene, and the struggle to establish oneself within the arts community.

In What Else We Could Be Doing, Darrah draws on his experiences growing up in Ajax and in Whitby, where he still lives. “I wanted to write about stuff that was personal,” he says. “I guess it’s like a sin in fiction to write about what you know because then you approach it in a guarded sense—you don’t want to talk about the things that you’ve experienced. For some people, I guess, you don’t want to render them in a way that doesn’t do them justice, or you wanna protect the people that you try to talk about. But I found the opposite with poetry is that the only thing I want to talk about is experiences that I’ve had and I can’t really talk about anything else.”

“It’s nice to be able to get to a place where you can say: I wasn’t thinking about the other things I could be doing while I was in this moment,” continues Darrah in reference to the title of his collection. “If I’m out somewhere, or with a friend, or even doing something mundane or unimportant, it’s nice to just sort of be there and to be doing that, instead of thinking: okay, there are a hundred other things that would be better for me, or that I could be doing.”

He explains that it was through his connections in the hardcore community, a subgenre of punk music, that he was able to get the book published. “I’ve always been a part of [the hardcore community] since I was really young. It’s sort of the binding logic for a lot of the people I hang around with. It branches out into film, books, or whatever other hobbies people have outside of hardcore. Anyway, there’s a subsection of people into alternative music that are also enormously into reading, so that was, for me, a comfortable thing to tap into.”

He adds, “I don’t think this book would have been published in any other situation than with me being friends with Matt Finner, founder of Permanent Sleep.”

For Darrah, finding time for creative projects is a difficult balancing act. “Making time just had to be a necessity,” he begins. “That’s probably why I started writing poems as opposed to longer stuff—poems are more digestible. I’d be like: okay, I have an hour to write out an idea I had. It kind of helps to see it come together and to see an ending. When I was writing poems, I suddenly felt like I was completing something. And in turn, that let me develop a faculty for patience […] which got me to a point where I was able to balance my obligations through school, while still engaging to some degree with writing.”

Never having done a reading of his poetry, or taken any formal creative writing classes, Darrah expresses his uncertainty about his position in the art community. “I don’t know if I’m in the Toronto arts scene at all,” he says nervously. “I guess I am by definition, now that I’ve written or produced something.”

“This is actually something that I’m trying to figure out. I don’t feel like an author, or a poet […] I’m disconnected from the culture that surrounds writing. I’ve never really been a part of it. I just kind of read and write in my own sort of world, I guess. I would feel wrong trying to say that I’m a part of the arts scene, when I don’t really have a real stake in it.”

When it comes to finding the confidence to share his work with a larger audience, Darrah explains his approach to opening himself up for criticism: “I just close my eyes and go. That’s all you can do.”

“If I think about it too much, I’ll just talk myself out of it,” he laughs. “Like, more than fifteen minutes—I will just opt out. You just gotta get it out! If you get to a point where you can say like, I think this is a good poem—send it off. Don’t think about it, just close your eyes and do it.”

Darrah concluded the interview by mentioning that the only way to get better at writing is to keep working at it, and especially to keep exposing yourself to new forms of literature. “Read a lot. Figure out what is impactful and analyze it. Don’t copy it, but let it sort of carry you. Figure out your own work habits, figure out which environment you thrive the most in, and write every day. Even if it’s just like a sentence, write every single day.”