You Look Good For Your Age is a collection of writing by people who identify as women in our 40s upwards. Edited by Rona Altrows, the anthology deals with aging and ageism as experienced by women. It is being published by the University of Alberta Press this month, and the book launch is at 7 p.m. MST on May 27th. Because of the pandemic, it is being held online, but the great part of that is anything can join in. I’ll be reading from my essay “Adult Tween.” Here’s the link to register.

Bandcamp: https://paulaevekirman.bandcamp.com/album/losstending (link will be live on May 7)

During March and April of 2021, I took part in “Soloss,” a community care network initiative developed through a partnership between REACH Edmonton, InWithForward (a Vancouver social design agency), and the City of Edmonton’s RECOVER Wellbeing initiative. The team was prototyping the “Losstender” position in Edmonton, based on ethnographic and other research by all of the partners over the previous three years with street-involved Edmontonians.

“Losstenders” are a constellation of folks who open up spaces for moments of grief to also be moments for connection. Basically, we are artists who sat with and spoke to “Sharers” who told us their stories of life and loss. Thought of another way, a “Losstender” is kind of like the friendly bartender to whom people bare their souls. Three unique people chose to share their stories with me, but I was there to do more than sit and listen. I created a song for each of them as a lasting artifact of our encounters and to help them on their healing journeys, through feeling heard and helping to address unmet needs through song.

For more information about Soloss: soloss.ca

Cover art: This is a photo of the top of my mother’s headstone, with memory stones. When one visits the grave of a departed loved one in Judaism, we leave a stone to mark that we were there.

Tracks:

1 –“ To All Who Are Concerned” (4:00)

I met a woman who shared her experiences being part of the 60s scoop, adopted by a white, religious Christian family. She was very specific about what she wanted her song to capture about her, almost like an anthem for her now being able to live authentically as a transgender woman. What struck me the most about her, was her positive energy despite having a very hard life. She radiated confidence and pride.

2 – “Long-Lost Friend” (2:57)

This is a story about a young boy who would sing his grandmother to sleep every night in Cree, until his language was taken from him at residential school. We also did some jamming. Soloss was able to get a guitar for him, and he played for the first time in 30 years. I would always wear my Johnny Cash shirt when we met, because he’s a big fan. I wrote him a song with simple enough chords that he could be able to play. When I presented the song to him, he nodded and said, “Yup – that’s my story.”

3 – “Close My Eyes” (3:09)

The sharer of this story reminisced about the traditional life that he lost after being dragged away to residential school. He’s a man of few words, but of strong faith. We would pray together, in English and in Cree. When I presented this song to him, he said he was deeply moved.

I had the incredible opportunity to take the fall 2020 Social Enterprise Bootcamp offered by the Edmonton Community Development Company. The instructor was Anna Bubel, who teaches a similar course in third year Business at The King’s University. Over the span of almost three months, we learned about what social enterprise is, how to plan and execute a feasibility study for our ideas, and ultimately present a PowerPoint on our social enterprise idea, including market research and financial projections. While I entered the bootcamp without a clue, I focused on developing the framework for a social enterprise that would address the current financial insecurity being experienced by performing artists, and the isolation and loss of community by audiences. I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to “flip the switch” on the idea, but figured, why not? So if any of my musician, comedian, spoken work, or performance artist friends would like to organize a ticketed show on Zoom, let me know. And allow me to introduce Moving Spotlight: Connecting Artists and Audiences: movingspotlight.com

I am happy to announce that I will be working on the following project in collaboration with #YEGFilm and the cooperation of several community organizations.

JEWISH EDMONTON STORIES ONLINE PROJECT SEEKS PARTICIPANTS

Jewish Edmonton Stories Online, a project for Jewish and non-Jewish Edmontonians alike to learn and connect with the stories and places of our community’s past, will launch in the fall of 2021. We are seeking remarkable stories and memories from interested members of Edmonton’s Jewish community that connect to a particular place in the City. Stories do not have to be submitted in a complete format. At this point, we’re looking for story ideas and summaries. We will follow up with you once the stories are selected for sharing on our coming interactive storytelling website. Stories will be recorded via audio, video, and/or written transcription via an interview process.

We intend for the stories to represent diversity within the Jewish community, including, but not limited to elders, Sephardim and Mizrahim, women, LGBTQ individuals, and people with disabilities. All recording will be carried out safely with COVID-19 protocols in place. The storyteller will be paid a small honorarium. At this time when we are physically isolated due to COVID-19, it’s important to reach out in as many ways possible to connect and share our community’s knowledge, history, and experiences.

This project is being made possible with the support of the Edmonton Heritage Council, JAHSENA, WordsPicturesMusic.com, #YEGFilm, and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton. To share your story, or for more information, feel free to connect with us at stories@jewishedmontonstories.ca. Deadline for stories: March 1, 2021.

What a few months it has been! I’ve been trying to stay busy despite having all of my music gigs cancelled, all of the summer festivals I would normally photograph cancelled as well, and basically staying home as much as I can. Still, life goes on. Here’s a list of the latest:

I have an essay that will be published in the anthology You Look Good for Your Age, edited by Rona Altrows, University of Alberta Press, May 2021. The collection of writing by 29 writers from our 40s to 90s is about being a woman and dealing with aging and ageism.

A Monumental Secret was screened as part of the Kyiv Film Festival in July, and the Bobritsa Film Festival, also in Ukraine, in June. And by “screened,” it means people could watch the film online.

Nazi monuments in Canada, one of which being the focus of A Monumental Secret, became huge news when a monument commemorating the same WWII battalion was vandalized in Oakville, Ontario. I weighed in with an article for the Canadian Jewish Record.

I’ve kept the music coming, but online. In April, I performed a livestream concert as part of Femme Folk UK’s series of women/femme performers from the UK and Canada. I did a pre-recorded song as part of a Pride service in June. I performed a couple of songs for a video to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I am performing the “Daughters Day Theme Song” as part of this year’s Daughters Day celebration, which is also a video instead of live. I’ve also done a series of videos from my basement studio, some covers I am learning and some originals. And there is more to come. Follow my Facebook or YouTube music sites to catch up with my performances.

I’ve been editing another community newspaper. The Stony Plain Road and Area News Network (SPANN) launched in March, just as lockdown began.

I’m also going to be updating the news here more often, so check back for another update soon!