Incognito Press

truth. knowledge. freedom. passion. courage. Promoting free-thinking, activism & rogue writing.

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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

Become a Patron and Make a Difference

Posted by E on March 22, 2016

green valleys red tree

I really need your help, folks. As a rule of thumb I don’t like to depend on others’ generosity and I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t absolutely crucial. But honestly, it is.

The first and last time I begged for spare change was a year ago, in order to finance my research trip to Eastern Europe. My crowdfunding efforts and book project were publicized in a front-page section of the Toronto Star on May 5, 2015. I managed to generate approx. $2000 through private and online donations, which was enough to pay for my flight and most of my rental accommodations in Bucharest. However, while working on the book I experienced a major depressive episode which was worsened by my mother’s death in December.

Researching in Romania, 2015

Researching in Romania, 2015

I’ve found it extremely difficult to work on my manuscript, which is all kinds of awful since it involves stripping away layers of multi-generational pain and heartache in my family. It didn’t help that my research into my father’s Securitate archives in Bucharest this past spring led me on a path toward discovering that my father had actually been killed by Ceausescu’s secret police.

In January I ended up in hospital after a suicide attempt, and my road to recovery has been rocky. To put it bluntly, I’ve found it extremely difficult to see a point for my life, for the traumas my parents went through…. I know we all feel like this sometimes, but I honestly didn’t see a purpose to my existence; I didn’t feel that anybody would care whether I lived or died.

An acute example of this manifested in the weeks right after my mother died – two of my closest friends didn’t care enough to phone me in person and see if I was okay. It was a brutal thing to discover – that people I really cared about, who I’d helped generate thousands of dollars in grants and helped immensely in the past – people who I thought cared about me also – seemed more interested in posting selfies of themselves in new outfits than in sending a single message of condolence. However, in the last couple of months I have come to realize that it was a blessing in disguise – it’s only at hard times that you discover who your real friends are.

I won’t deny it; it’s been awful trying to understand the roots of cruelty – whether the source of my parents’ childhood traumas or my own, or even to understand indifference and lack of empathy in people who I thought were good friends. And then there’s the issue of figuring out how to get out of bed in the morning. Believe me when I say that trying to self-motivate yourself after a suicide attempt, when you don’t see any value in your own existence, much less in your own work, is one of the hardest things in the world.

But recently I’ve stumbled onto a new means of both inspiring AND supporting myself while writing – by surrounding myself with people who actually want to be part of my artistic process. People who care about contributing to the arts, even if it’s with a single dollar every month. So this week I set up a new crowdfunding site on and I hope that I can connect with new people who will be my new family.

My Patrons are the family I never had – a family that supports and sustains me through the process of creating writing that aims to make a difference. I need each and every one of you, and everything I create is dedicated to you. Please support me by becoming an Arts Patron and make a difference.

Those who know me are aware of how badly I was exploited as a teenage girl – first by a radical homegrown terrorist group called the Heritage Front, and afterwards by Canada’s own CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Network), who exploited my story as a teenage kid and stole my identity for a 1998 film called White Lies, which starred Road to Avonlea’s Sarah Polley. While I lived in hiding after sending white supremacists to prison, dumpster-diving for survival, CBC producers were enjoying the limelight and financial benefits, along with Emmy and Gemini nominations, for a movie that wouldn’t have existed without my suffering.

I’ve never had any breaks in life, and I don’t say this because I expect any sympathy, because I’ve seldom received it. I am only stating a fact – that I need every single one of you because I have no family or fallback options. I put myself through university and graduated Magna cum Laude, I published in prestigious literary journals without knowing the editors, I won every award I’ve ever received with sweat and hard work, without any connections. I have nothing at all but my mind and my writing.

I ask only for a $5 donation every month, and you will be first to know about new books and artistic projects I’m involved in. I will give you an advance copy of every new book I create, and my promise that I will continually work on producing writing that aims to make a difference in the world.

Little-Match-Girl-Illustration-By-Rachel-IsadorI appreciate any contribution, no matter how big or how small. You can donate any amount you feel like. Even $1.00 can make a difference, if enough people contribute.

In centuries past, artists depended on the generosity of strangers and art patrons to fund their creative processes – and although we might live in the 21st century, little has changed. The Arts is still a field marked by poverty and uncertainty – most of the time you don’t know where your next funding source will come from. Often you don’t even know if people appreciate what you are trying to do until the work is out there.

But in those dark, rainy days where you are alone with your doubts and your demons (and those bills that need to get paid), it sure would help to know that someone out there cares about your work.

PLEASE consider being a part of my life. Help me find the inspiration I need by letting me know that others see value in my art. Please tell me that my work matters.

Please help me by becoming a Patron.

Posted in art, grief, inspiration, romania, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Parasitic Twin – a Poem about Mermaids

Posted by E on March 3, 2015



Note on this poem: when I was a teenager, I belonged to an extremist group. By age 18 I turned against the group, gathered information on them, testified against its leaders and went underground because of threats to my life. In the meanwhile, another girl from the same white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization (who had done nothing to shut down the group) capitalized on speaking engagements, film and media opportunities. This poem is inspired by that situation.


On my knees for a thousand years at the bottom of the ocean,

I have finally began to reclaim myself – one fragment at a time:

innocence, loss, shame, guilt, anger, hate, redemption, LOVE

And now, a face takes shape within the mosaic

of a thousand pieces of shattered glass


My knees are bloody, glass is embedded in my barbed-wire hair

– my only gift from my Jewish father, who inherited the wire

and passed its thread of hate within my veins –

and yet (I don’t know how, or when, or even why)

I have begun to unspin the lies, at last;

I’m taking back my identity

Reclaiming what is rightfully mine:


The exploited, worthless little girl who was cast aside

In favour of the middle-class Canadian girl with the pretty pink bedspread

whose mother hand-sewn a mermaid costume and paid for university

(my mother left me in the numb hands of an unfeeling monster)


The “university student”, the “normal”, Christian girl loved by the media

who did absolutely nothing to stop the terror

– assaults, rapes, fire-bombings, stalking, wounding, destruction and more –

but who looked better on the news, precisely because

she was a “normal” child of the suburbs who had done nothing

except swim and lay with those who helped her get ahead,


The “normal”, middle-class girl who volunteered to impersonate

the girl with the scarred soul and the foreigner accent, who had nothing at all

and yet, the one who did everything.

Mermaid sisters


The scared, scarred girl who ate from dumpsters, rummaged for scraps in garbage,

looked into the eyes of evil men and put them in prison, and yet

had no profiteers and managers to barter for favours, for media gigs

and so the other, “better”, new-and-improved version


– the parasitic twin –


Reaped all the benefits with none of the dangers

and the world continued just as before,

ignoring, as usual,

the exploitation of the weak, the unconnected and marginalized

by those who capitalize on the bravery of others,

while the scarred-faced, barefoot girl with no pink bedspreads, no mermaid tails

and no well-connected managers to groom her for the spotlight

who never got something for free

became me.


But I am still broken, a mosaic of a thousand fragments of shattered glass

glued flimsily back together, at a crossroads

where nothing matters, except

falling from a great height into the greenery of the ravine – to see

nothing but vastness, the blueness of above and below.

I hate the world I was born in, a world where the unworthy

thread on the broken backs of those considered worthless.


The little girl who always stood on the outer side of the window

has run out of matches. The fire has been extinguished.

The breath inside my mouth has turned to ice

And I have nothing to lose but the truth


In life, there are battles where you swallow your pride

and then there are those which – if you back down – can swallow your soul;

battles which, if not fought with all your strength and might,

will render you just as complicit as the conspirators of the initial injustice.


Years after the wreckage, I struggle to free myself from the boats and rudders

that weighed down my ribs and kept me at the bottom of the ocean.

I disentangle myself from the underwater reeds that had encircled my wrists,

spit out the dirty water that filled my lungs, swim up to the surface

and, peering at my reflection in a pearly cochlear shell, realize with wonder


that maybe I was the mermaid all along.

mermaid The_Mermaid

Posted in personal, poetry, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Like Ink in Water – the sensual, surreal process of creation

Posted by E on April 11, 2008


A photographer friend recently asked me about motivation. What motivates me to write? I told her that it all depends on what it is I am trying to convey and express. Some things are easier so they come forth smoothly; other subjects I try to write about are deeper, harder to translate into words, and by default the process is painful and tedious. But my biggest motivation is feeling compelled that I have to record something on paper – I selfishly want to re-experience, regurgitate a moment, whether lived or imagined.
I used photography as an analogy. I asked her, When you have a camera in hand and you see a magnificent image, you feel that you just have to take that shot, right? That there is no time but this moment, and you can somehow capture it and the essence of it, all in this one snapshot. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. But you just have to take that shot.

For me, writing is just as compelling. There are times when I am tired or lazy or just can’t figure out how I’m going to capture that shot (the feeling/the story/the imagery) but I still know that I have to do it. If not today, then tomorrow – but that story still needs to be birthed, to come into reality, to have a life of its own. And if I try to look away from it and ignore it, it pecks at the back of my head like an insufferable, invisible chicken until I’m breathless – and I write in order to release that thing inside me onto paper, and then I can breathe again.

This is how I would describe this sensual, surreal process so it is palpable to a reader.

You drop a splash of dark blue ink into a large vase full of water, and watch the swirl take shape – you wait, tantalizingly slow, like a word on your lips that has yet to be formed and takes unbearably long to crystallize, like a fragrance that hovers over your head.

You must watch carefully, for the shape could be interpreted as anything and you must allow it to discern its own life, be borne into its own identity before you can paint it as its genuine self, before you can attempt to capture it into a description, before you can glue it into the confines of a preposition.

You wait.

The swirl of ink becomes a dancer with a ribbon stretching her back. Her silent aquatic ballet steps are capricious like the flicker of a flame, or the whirl of smoke rising out of an opium pipe.
The ink undulates inside its water trap, refusing to be assimilated.
It is as oily as blood, integral to itself.
The woman’s hair flows in slow motion, blue veins traversing across her face like sand spiders in an alien desert, in a place where there are no words, no punctuation other than a peculiar clustering of stars against an indigo horizon.
The solitude of a swirl uncoiling, rippling, a snake of ink dissolving into ether, furious and fragile all at once. It has both the fury of a summer thunderstorm against an evening sky, and the fragility of a little girl in a blue nightgown.

In the intensity of a moment without time, you wait to capture it, you await under the tree of your story, your face upturned, waiting for the words to descend onto your eyes like white blossoms in spring.

How will you know what it feels like when you are ready to begin writing? It is as though the most magnificent bird in the world is about to perch on the branch of the tree sprouting up just in front of you, and you have only one last exposure in your camera to imprint it upon. You wait for that moment, that moment of sweat and trepidation when your heartbeat becomes one with the pulse of the wind, the screech of a northern goose, the pounding of rain against a window pane. And then you write.
You take it.
You take this moment.
You give it this one shot left in you, the moment you have waited for forever, and it doesn’t matter whether you will capture its full feathered body or just the edge of a wing in flight – you don’t think about those things anymore, you are past them.

You only write.

Because it no longer matters whether you give birth to that sensation inside you, whether your portrayal can do it justice. This moment is not about you taking a photo, drawing a nude, writing a story. It is about that opening in you – the space inside the crevice of a tree, inside the fold of a feather – from which something with a life of its own can crawl out.

Your purpose here is only to give birth. You are a channeler, a midwife who enables that which cannot be spoken, to take form.

The story already exists – it has its own predetermined shape. Given enough time, it will use your body, use your bloodstream, use your life force to carry itself out into the world. Given sufficient space, it will birth itself.

All you have to do is wait patiently at the gates of the unknown.

Posted in writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »