September 18, 2013

Tiny Little Pieces

By Steve Locke

Poetry, like ancient pottery, often comes to us in pieces. Language and ceramics are worn down by history and innovation until they are re-discovered, and then reassembled into new lines, shapes, and functions. Or, in the case of a particular transmedia project by Toronto poet, filmmaker and journalist Ann Shin you can smash your family china and tchotchke into tiny little bits, then reassemble their stories and meanings into whatever form suits you.

Gallagher-esque in delivery, but innovative in narrative concept and design, Shin opens up her second collection of poetry, The Family China, to readers and festival goers alike. Her work explores the brackish lines in which humanity interacts, particularly between family members in a place of diaspora which one calls home, wherever that may be.

Ann Shin's next project: pseudo grunge band/performance act called "Smashing Watermelons".

Consider moving day, wherein one's lease on a particular plot of habitation is at its end. One has to decide what to bring and what to leave behind, which may be both liberating and traumatizing. Then, at a new destination, the individual's way of being is unpacked and reassembled. Things go in different places. Some things might be missing, and some new things take their place.

In the process of deconstructing, building, and transforming, we adapt and define ourselves. And sometimes, it's really fun to smash the crap out of junk you don't need anymore. This is also a part of Shin's on stage antics, as illustrated by this article. Shin has been known to invite audience members on stage to literally smash their heirlooms and knick-knacks to bits, then share a story in a little bit of show and tell. As anyone can imagine, it must be a cathartic and liberating experience as any, and it sure makes for a memorable literary event.

Come see Ann Shin at Thin Air's mainstage event "Changing the Family Channel" on Tuesday, September 24, and listen in on a discussion on letting go of objects with Cassie Stocks, Lauren B. Davis, and Andrew Kaufman.

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