JOHN ARTHUR SWEET
Monologist. Spoken word poet. Writer. Editor. Translator. Queer guy.
February 22, 2023: UPDATE! Big, joyous news! I'll be performing outside, in the laneway, under the stars at Fringe TheatreFest in Barnstaple, Devon, England, in late June. AND at Buxton Festival Fringe in Buxton, Derbyshire, England, in early July. This is starting to look like a tour!
January 14, 2024: Happy New Year! Bonne Année à tous!!
By sheer chance, I recently watched two films that are almost like two sides of the same coin. One is a film made in 1985, called An Early Frost, about a young man coming back home to tell his folks he's gay and he has AIDS. Then I watched a film called 1985, released in 2018, about a young man coming back home to (perhaps) tell his folks he's gay and he has AIDS. Two fine films, very different but with common themes. My reviews are here and here.
December 17, 2023: When I was in Paris in May to perform as an invited artist at the Paris Lit Up poetry evening, I started writing a poem about a moment I experienced on the Paris metro. I continued to worked on it when I got home, performed it at a poetry event here in Montreal in August, and now it's been published online by Paris Lit Up. Enjoy!
November 5, 2023: I've got a wonderful piece of news I've been saving for a while. But it's tied to some very sad news. Ian Ferrier, an indefatigable artist and supporter of artists, passed away two days ago. Quite simply, he gave me more encouragement in my creative life than anyone I've ever known. A few months ago, when I was preparing two chapbooks for publication (this is my good news), I didn't have to think more than a couple of seconds about who I was going to dedicate the books to. Ian, of course.
So, I will very shortly be announcing the launch event for my chapbooks. But, sadly, the man to whom they are dedicated has moved on. R.I.P., Ian.
September 3, 2023: Happy Labour Day weekend! After this summer's three Fringe festivals in three different countries, I'm enjoying a bit of a break, and a chance to catch up on some reading. Just finished one of the best gay novels I've ever read! Mini-review here.
August 16, 2023: Following on from the previous entry, I'm now back from the On the Edge Fringe in North Bay, Ontario. That was, I believe, my 16th Canadian Fringe, and I think I would have to say it was the most thoroughly enjoyable of them all. Proof yet again, if proof were needed, that keeping things small, friendly, and accessible is vital to nurturing the sense of community that is at the heart of theatre. I feel as though I made a whole ton of friends in North Bay, and I really hope I'll get to go there again. And they even gave me an award on the last night, for Outstanding Original Show. Thank you to everyone who came to the show, and especially those who spoke to me and offered encouraging words. A heartwarming experience.
August 7, 2023: It's Monday evening as I type this. Tomorrow morning, I'm getting up at 3 a.m. to pack and catch a train at 6:20 a.m. for Ottawa and then a bus for North Bay, where I'm performing my show at the On the Edge Fringe. I'm really pleased to be able to do my show in North Bay, a city that is more or less the size of Belleville, where I grew up and which forms the backdrop for much of my show. Perhaps audiences will identify particularly strongly with some of the stories I have to tell? Particularly about being an LGBTQ person in a small Ontario city? We'll see.
June 21, 2023: Bon été! After a very long gap, I've posted a handful of reviews, all of them British (I was in the UK last month) and most of them having to do with AIDS: the acclaimed and popular 2021 TV series It's a Sin; a British play from 2016 about HIV/AIDS; Derek Jarman's landmark film Blue; the published text of Blue; and, for good measure, an early Jarman film, Sebastiane.
June 8, 2023: Breaking news! Next stop, North Bay. I'll be performing the two parts of outside, in the laneway, under the stars at the On the Edge Fringe in North Bay, Ontario, from August 9 to 13. Looking forward to performing a show about growing up queer in a small Ontario city in ... a small Ontario city.
May 28, 2023: In Prague, the morning after my last show. Artists often say we don't focus that much on reviews, that it's just one person's opinion. That's true, but when a reviewer "gets" what you're doing and expresses it in writing better than you could do yourself, it's a wonderful thing. And that's how I felt about this review: Prague Fringe 2023 – Day 5 – Prague Youth Theatre Blog (wordpress.com)
April 25, 2023: Just two days till I take off for the UK! I did a radio interview with Melita Dennett in Brighton, about my upcoming show at the Brighton Fringe (and, a bit later, at the Prague Fringe). You can hear the interview here: Tuesday Live in Brighton 11.4.2023 with Melita Dennett on RadioReverb by RadioReverb | Mixcloud It's about two-thirds of the way through the hour-long show (sorry, but I don't see any time indicators). An interesting interview that made me think about things I don't explicitly discuss in the show (internalized homophobia, the effect of AIDS on my personal story).
25 août 2022: UNE GROSSE ANNONCE! Je ferai partie des participants dans le spectacle Je te réponds ce soir au Festival international de la littérature en septembre. Tous les détails ici: JE TE RÉPONDS CE SOIR - Festival FIL (festival-fil.qc.ca). Je le savais depuis un bon bout de temps, mais c'est juste cette semaine que le secret se révèle. Pour moi, ce sera un mélange de trois de mes passions: 1. La littérature. 2. Le spectacle théâtral. 3. La langue française.
On se voit au beau Lion d'Or le 29 septembre!
May 21, 2022: It's the long weekend of La Journée Nationale des Patriotes here in Quebec, and much as I respect Quebec's distinctness, it's Victoria Day weekend for me, or (it's even better in French) La Fête de la Reine. And in fact the Royal Family features a wee bit in the novel I just finished reading, whose main character warmed my heart by getting up early to watch Prince William's 2011 wedding.
May 15, 2022: I've really not been posting many MiniReviews recently, have I? But here's one. And another to come in a day or two (a book). Honestly, Jan/Feb/Mar were just rough, and then April I was busy with (yes!) performing a couple of times, and a wee trip, and just getting back into some semblance of a coherent life.
April 7, 2022: Things are really heating up! I have TWO gigs lined up. (Can two things be lined up? Hmm.) On Saturday, April 23, I'm going to be performing at Word & Music at Mainline Theatre. And then, on May 1, I'm going to be a featured performer at the Accent Open Mic series. These will be my first live performances in over two years!!! It will be so nice to hear rustling and smell lovely human smells and see (hopefully) eager faces before me and trip getting onto the stage and have problems with the mic and all those things I've been missing.
January 31, 2022: The exciting announcement that I hinted at on December 5 was about a theatre festival that has since been cancelled. I also had another possible announcement about another theatre festival, but that's not going ahead either. And a spoken word event is cancelled too! So begins 2022. It will get better, right?
January 2, 2022: Happy New Year! Bonne année. Buon anno. Wishing everyone a touch-feely, squishy, tactile 2022, sans masques, with lots of pawing and breathing on one another, without fear.
I decided to start off the New Year with a bang: a rare 3-star review!
September 25, 2021: I see it's been almost a year since I've reviewed a book! It's been all films and plays since October 2020. Maybe the pandemic has made me reluctant to commit to a novel? I have read some novels in the past year, but they weren't LGBTQ (including that awful novel by Dickens, The Old Curiosity Shop). Anyway, I've got a new review of a novel by Christopher Isherwood that was first published in the year of my birth. Also, a review of a fairly recent (by my standards) Israeli film.
May 4, 2021: As someone who believes passionately in the value and role of art, why have I not been missing the live performing arts all that much during the pandemic? Some thoughts.
November 16, 2020: I read Hanya Yanagihara's looooong novel A Little Life. Find out why I find it astonishing that it's been called the Great Gay Novel here.
November 4, 2020: Review of Matthew Lopez's The Inheritance. Is this THE great gay play?
November 2, 2020: Since there's no theatre happening these days, I wrote a little piece of theatre, about theatre; it's here. It's in the same form as a piece I recently wrote for the Quebec Writers' Federation, which can be found here.
Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous — to poetry.
— Thomas Mann, Death in Venice