This home will be home again

e26a9632907573.5697fdf1d1b92 (1)

word by Boris But 

colour by Alex Andreev

The obsidian titan looms from

Below, a weary vision bestowed

On the fallow dreamer dreary-

Minded by the sea.

st-petersburg montreal

Your quiet eyes pace through

My possessions: strangling rope,

Brine-soaked pages, symbols of the

Lost hope of an exiled meanderer.

st-petersburg montreal

Dear stranger, learn of home

And sing of it. When us strangers

Gather on stranger seas, we

Recall a home we never see.

st-petersburg montreal

Tale by tale you regale of the forgotten,

The sea-tossed bottle lost in tribal

Misunderstanding, a tongue

Lashing at hollow space,

st-petersburg montreal

Our anguish laid bare in mutual

Vulnerability, pyrobabble in place

Of a strange silence. Your eyes

Glimmer beneath a buried quaver,

st-petersburg montreal

A ripple pulsing from an unknown

Provenance ripping apart

In a fear or pain

Lost to a generation unto me.

st-petersburg montreal

My adrifted mind scrambles for some

Consolation of storied survivors or

A measure of a distinguished nature, blessed

By the godliness of constellations above,

st-petersburg montreal

The mortal shipwrecked sands below.

But let me rot here with you

Borne in eternal entropy,

Born to be forever forgotten.

st-petersburg montreal

Do dead men cry? Do words die?

Who swims and who sinks in your currents?

This home will be home again. Welcome,

Old friend, and dare not stay silent.

st-petersburg montreal

word by Boris But 

“What stranger does not first appear to be alien? Inspired by Alex Andreev’s masterful piece and anguished by the refugee crises and the oft-overlooked diaspora of vagrants everywhere, I crafted a poem about two strangers, perhaps parallel images, making a common home. What estranges people is the failure to recognize humanity in what we find unfamiliar. Stories imbue us with a transcendental magic, building homes where nothing should be.”

colour by Alex Andreev

“Alex Andreev lives in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.
He’s been drawing, painting and doing graphic design over last 20 years.
He works as art-director in advertising agency and as senior concept artist for movie and game production. Born in 1972, Russia”

on depression: “the red door”


word by Kate Shaw

colour by Joe Hengst

It has been several days since I’ve left the house. In a significant way, at least – I’ve left to take out the garbage, to buy eggs, to remember that I owned clothes that weren’t pajamas, but it has been several days since I’ve gone anywhere, done anything.

It’s cold. Not northeastern U.S. cold – worse. Wind chill down to thirty below zero. It’s amazing, how cold it can be. Every time I walk outside I re-hear those news broadcasts about Canadian citizens suffering severe skin injuries from five minutes of exposure to extreme cold. Is it cold enough to be dangerous right now? My cheeks feel like they’re turning to putty.

Hour after hour passes by and I pace, I sink into the torn, velvety couch, I heat oil in a skillet but forget what I was planning to make (did I have a plan?). I sit on the ledge by the window and look. See. It doesn’t look so cold out there, I think. There are people out there, walking around, and they’re not collapsed or clutching at their putty cheeks. They’re living despite all this, despite this unbelievably-wind-chilled air.

And then I pace again. Sometimes I pick up a book, but usually the words just end up dancing out of my consciousness before I can understand them and I just read the same lines over and over, absorbing nothing. As hard as I try to focus on the little letters, they blow away.


I haven’t been seeing anyone. My roommate is gone and I tell other people – friends, I guess – that I’m just overwhelmed with school, just trying to catch up on reading, thanks for saving me a seat but I’m actually not coming to campus today, oops!


It actually looks lovely outside. If I force my eyes through the grayish haze hanging over the street, I can nearly unearth the image of the bakery with its little orange sign, or the barbershop with its red front door. They were colored once, lovely shades, I know they were. The colors are distorted now. I hope the originals come back.

I’ve decided to start sitting on the floor instead of on the couch. From down here I feel small, and maybe that will make me feel overwhelmed by how big everything is around me, or amazed by how much this new apartment feels like home, or pitiful of what a pathetic spectacle I’m making of myself. Maybe sitting down here will make me feel something.

I lean back against the couch – I think it was green once, but the colors in here are distorted too. I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting, and now that it’s dark outside it could be 5:30 or 9 or 2 in the morning. Now, even if the colors hadn’t disappeared, I wouldn’t be able to see them anyway.





from the author: “The shades present in the visual art piece have an eerie tint to me, which is underscored by the dark tunnel in the center that disappears into nothingness. It made me think of the distorted way one sees the world through the lens of depression and other mental illnesses, so this piece deals with that distortion and the inability to pull oneself out of that dark space that burrows its way to the center of everything against your will.”

On breakups: “Almost”

rivet 1
word by Hannah Chubb
colour by Stephanie Rivet 
I don’t care what anyone says, it’s the almosts that hurt the most.
It kills me to watch this go down the drain.
You must have dipped your tongue in ink before you said those three words because I can’t find anything strong enough to erase those eight letters. My mind is black and blue with thoughts of you and my sclerae scream red because I can’t categorize these feelings I have for something I may have just created in my head.
You were almost there.
I have no label for you and it hurts because I need to know that I’m not delirious and that my feet were on the ground. I swear to god I remember yours being there next to mine because your shoes were too-white and the left one was always undone and I just wanted to tie it back together for you but I didn’t know how to say it.
I almost told you.
I swallowed a different brand of turquoise pill than you did and I never knew why but maybe that was the problem. Mine came on a shelf and killed the pain while yours was handled by grimy hands crusty with tangerine-tinted drugstore lipstick and made you feel anything at all. You always swallowed more than you should have but I let you because I didn’t even know that version of you and maybe you never wanted to know me anyways. I guess I’ll never know if you wanted me to stop you.
You almost felt like reality was enough.
We never held hands but we spoke in colours and sometimes you walked me home at night. Your mother never knew my name but your roommates sure did because your yellow walls were thin and your voice is loud when you drink enough to drown the monsters in your skull. I swear I could have slayed them but our time ran out too soon.
You almost asked me to stay.
I almost did.
Your mother should have named you Almost because I think that’s all you’ll ever be. I can’t stand you and your stupid razorblade tongue of promises slicing down my already raw throat. I think I belong up North because my head is a messy Aurora Borealis of the colours you used to turn my skin before you left and everything around me turned to black. I tried to be your fuchsia sky but you never told me you were colourblind.
I am a catastrophe of colour aching for the comfort of canvas, but darling, almost is just never enough.


Never been here before

joehengst 2

word by Jacob Goldberg

colour by Joe Hengst

The flight attendant looks at my carry-on like it’s got four heads. ‘It’ll fit,’ I tell her confidently as she lets me pass through jet bridge, windowless and quiet. A considerable gap between the walkway and cabin has me thinking that there should be a warning sign somewhere. So, I watch my step. The stewardess, black and shapely, smiles at me. I have to walk with my right shoulder toward the tail of the plane so I don’t hit those already settled with my bag.

            It fits in the overhead compartment above my seat, which I share with a woman of about 25. Her nail filing looks like she’s playing a small violin and we exchange smiles when I sit down. The stewardess over the intercom welcomes us to American Airlines and asks for our attention as we prepare for takeoff. I remove my headphones but mostly hear my neighbor and her nails. At the stewardess’ direction, I open the In Case of Emergency pamphlet located in the pouch in front of me. The pamphlet’s spine feels fresh. Inside, images accompany the text. One picture, detailing the protocol for a water landing, has people fastening their life jackets; their cheeks are loose, their eyebrows steady, and their mouths unopened. I quickly put the booklet back in the pouch.

            The plane stops at the takeoff hash. I look out the window and make eye contact with my neighbor.

            ‘Hi, I’m Calvin’ I say.

‘Stacey, sorry about the nail filing. It’s a bit of a nervous habit,’ she adds with an uncomfortable smile.

‘Don’t like flying?’

‘Rather be on the ground,’ she says as the engines crescendo.

‘I’ve never flown before, actually. Are you afraid of heights?’ I ask, immediately wishing I hadn’t.

‘Never?’ The plane jerks forward and she grabs the armrest between us. ‘I just don’t really like takeoff is all.  Why now?’

‘My brother lives out in Seattle and he’s getting married.’ Outside, I see LaGuardia flitting past us, and I wonder how long the runway is.

‘Oh, you’re getting married?’ She asks, her eyes closed, hands gripping both armrests, body frozen to the seat.

‘No, my brother is.’

When the back wheels come off the ground, I feel the plane’s tail swing underneath and Stacey says, ‘Oh.’

            Stacey is busy grabbing the back of the seat in front of her. We pass through some clouds, which from the ground I’d never imagine would be so dense and unwelcoming. The plane feels like a rickety train. Before this flight, I’d think of overcast, opaque skies in terms of an absence of sun. But on this side of the clouds you realize that it’s just the presence of clouds; the sun is always shining. The view from my window looks like what I was taught to believe Heaven looks like.

            And so the plane continues to climb, and the blue of the sky turns from baby to turquoise, climbing higher to navy, and now stars pepper the sky and I look at my watch and it’s only 3pm.

From the author: “I guess the question to ask is: How do you deal with people who are scared?  Do you let them fall deep into their phobias?  The artwork moves from mimetic to surreal, vertically, in the photo, and I thought it would be fitting if the plane that Calvin and Stacey were on flew right into space.”

See more colour by Joe Hengst 

“Everything Will Be Great”


word by Kate Shaw 

colour by Micheal Ward 

spinnign no, spinning how long have i been here thirty minutes? an hour? i think it’s been hours

Stop counting the seconds and try – just TRY – to act like a normal human being and enjoy yourself.

 it’s so loud here and i think i’m going to fall over why am i lauhging

That happens. Things are funnier when you’re drunk. Just calm down; most people take laughter as a good sign.

 i want to leave

            You’ll regret it as soon as you get to your room.

 but i’m not having fun i want to go tobed

It’s not even 1. Hayden won’t be home yet, and then how will you feel?

 i don’t um, it doesnt matter

You’ll feel like an idiot for leaving early and being home hours before your roommate. It does matter.

        Why didn’t you talk to her? She was being friendly.

i don’t…i can’t! i can’t think and it is is so loud

You don’t have to think, just talk to someone. Standing mute by the wall is a shitty way for you to start the best four years of your life.

i can’t do this alone

So find someone to talk to!

 no no i can’t be here alone, at this school

Well you are. And everyone else is dealing with it without any problems.

 i know

            Have another beer.

i dont want another i want to go

            You’re being ridiculous.


[At this point you push off the wall you’ve been clinging to for what has only been, in actuality, about forty minutes. Your senses are shocked by the rush of gravity that pulls you side to side, lower and lower; your body has become a pendulum and you have no control. Someone helps you stand and you just laugh. Once you’ve collected your swinging limbs and whatever scrap of composure you can find, you start a determined march out the door and down the stairs (you only trip once).]


[Getting across campus to your dorm takes five minutes or maybe thirty, and there are silly slobbering messes of students strewn across the paths like litter. You laugh at them too, although you don’t know why.]


[Climbing the stairs to your floor appears to be a seemingly insurmountable task, yet somehow you find yourself curled up (giggling) on your bed so you must have accomplished it somehow. It’s this moment when you finally stop laughing. In the dark, Hayden’s empty bed comes fuzzily into focus.]


i dont know how todo this

I don’t know how to do this.



From the author: “There are two kinds of social messages I wanted to address with this piece: The belief that alcohol necessarily leads to “a good time,” as depicted by the artist, and the fallacy that everyone at university is adjusting to their new lifestyle immediately (and better than you). For me, the Bud Light ad on a random street corner spoke to the omnipresence of the belief that life is more fun when you’re drunk. I thought there was a dissonance to be captured here: the true experience of a first year student at university versus the societal messages he or she has internalized about what the experience should be, which ultimately break down.”


On the painter: “Phyllis Lutjeans, Museum Educator and former curator, has said of Ward’s work: “Although Michael Ward may be called a neo-realist painter his work can ultimately be described as abstract realism. The picture image is photographically realistic, but within the context of the painting his compositions are complex and almost abstract. Deciphering the work section by section one sees how a multitude of individual complete compositions are put together to form the entire work. For me the viewer is confronted by a realistic image that puzzles us and clearly tells the story simultaneously.”


Le théâtre des opprimés


Le théâtre des opprimés, présenté par l’association des étudiants arabes (ASA), est un spectacle en deux actes ayant la fonction de poser d’importantes questions sur les rapports entourant l’oppression – sans toute fois prétendre avoir des réponses. Le spectacle mets en scène oppresseurs et opprimés et vers la fin de la représentation, des spectateurs sont invités à recréer des scènes en tentant d’améliorer le sort des personnages opprimés.

Cette technique interactive – développée en 1971 par l’activiste Augusto Boal – mis de la fébrilité dans l’air, le public ayant eu l’impression que ses interventions pouvaient avoir un fort impact sur la manière d’aborder le rôle des genres dans la famille, du profilage racial ou du harcèlement public au coeur des scènes.

Les membres du public trouvèrent de nouvelles façons d’interpréter les scènes du point de vue des opprimés sans toutefois changer radicalement les traitements prodigués par les oppresseurs. Les harceleurs publics continuèrent d’harceler leurs victimes malgré les réponses renouvelées de ces dernières et un officier de police qu’on confronta à la présence possible de motifs raciaux derrière l’exécution de sa fouille répondit:

“Et alors?”


La décision de l’Association des étudiants arabes de rendre chaque personnage multiple est intéressante. Tous tentent vivement de trouver la paix tant dans leur vie privée que leur vie en société, mais n’y arrivent pas toujours. Ce qui pose plusieurs questions: est-ce que l’oppression entoure seulement l’existence des oppressés mêmes ou en sommes-nous socialisés pour en être tous porteurs?

Comment réduire la souffrance lors de situations oppressantes lorsque l’oppresseur semble insensible aux appels de l’opprimé?

Bien que le rôle du Théâtre des opprimés n’était pas d’apporter des réponses concrètes, l’expérience qui se veut une opportunité d’humaniser l’humanité a su soulever des questions majeures.  L’association fait du travail important à Montréal et nous attendons leur prochain événement avec impatience.

Laurence Dauphinais – Montréal

click here for English

Review: ASA’s Theatre of The Oppressed


The Theatre of The Oppressed, put on by the Arab Students’ Association, was a two act show that served to ask important questions about interactions on oppression – without claiming to have the answers. The performance intertwined lives of the oppressed and their oppressors in an interactive way: upon closing, members of the audience were invited to recreate scenes where they felt harm could have been reduced by taking the place of an oppressed character.

The innovative technique – developed in 1971 by activist Augusto Boal – brought tangible excitement to the audience. The feeling seemed that these new interventions would make a significant change in the scenes on gender roles in the family, racial profiling, and street harassment.

Audience members brought new ways of interpreting the scene from the oppressed, although bringing little change to the treatment by the oppressor: street harassers went on harassing, regardless of new responses from the harassed. A police officer was confronted on the racial motives of a search. The officer’s response?

“So what?”


Valuable lessons come from the ASA’s decision to portray all characters in a multifacted perspective, each struggling to find a balance of peace in their home and public lives, raising many questions: is oppression simply ‘around’ the oppressed, or is everyone born with it? How do we reduce harm in oppressive situations, when it seems that, however the oppressed responds, the same treatment seems to occur?

As the group proposed, the Theatre of The Oppressed was not to provide prescriptive solutions for change, but rather to raise awareness and pose questions while ‘humanizing humanity.’ An important group doing important work in Montréal – we look forward to their next event.

Allison Kutcher, 23 March 2015, Montréal

Image credits: Arab Student Association of McGill