Poet, painter, dancer, video-maker;
mother, friend, muse, mystery-maker;
a lover, a solitary, believer in divine sybaritism.
While we all have an instinctual sense of what
'art' is, it's from a 'Weltanschauung' that
is itself art because it is part of the process of
conscious life in a world that is a work
Our universe's creativity is beyond our
Self-Portrait, oil-based pencils, 2015
BRENDA CLEWS is an African-Canadian writer and artist living in Toronto, Canada.
She was born in Zimbabwe in the small mining town of Sinoia. When she was two her father, D. Richard Clews, who was a geologist, moved her and her mother to Kafue National Park in Zambia, then the largest gamepark in Africa, as he joined a mining team looking for copper, and where her two brothers were born.
Her formative years were spent in the jungle, barefoot, living in a compound of mud huts, with many wild animals and the wonderful Ndembu people. With little but her imagination and the accoutrements of nature, she wiled away her childhood in a bliss that she has always been grateful for. Her deep resonance with a tribal spirituality and perspective on life remain fundamental to her work.
After the time in the jungle came a year in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and then her father took the family to England where he obtained a doctorate in Geochemistry and accepted a position in Canada. Brenda has lived in Canada since then.
She attended York University for a decade or so, garnering a few degrees with courses in Fine Arts, English Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies, and read voraciously and widely. She's been published in literary journals and shown her work in art shows. She was married for 15 years, had children, and became single again. She moved to Vancouver for 2 years, between 2003-2005, before returning to Toronto, where she now lives.
She has written an autobiographical photopoem in 19 sections, "Horizon After Horizon of Singing Bowls," 'a prose poem of my life in sections, part scrapbook, part travelogue, an immigrant poem of the always arriving with its tracings of memories of the singing bowls of horizons traversed, maps a journey across continents...' (scroll down on this webpage to read the poem)
Her focus for the past number of years has been on developing a creative practice that integrates multiplicities. That focuses on the prism rather than the spotlight, or on multiple spotlights. A work may include poetry, essays, painting, recordings and video on one general topic, an approach that may be seen at her website: Art & Writings.
'Self-Portraits,' 2006, oil on canvas sheet, board or paper
mostly 8½" x 11" page-sized
(click on image for large size)
Dancing of the Selves, painting and
|Dancing of the Selves
What is the self?
Peel away to nothing.
inner winds and flames
streams of thought
a body of cells of earthdust.
Who am I?
Am I my memories
shifting and changing like ice flows
or the sand of the desert?
We are transducers, relay switches,
cross-currents of selves.
I deconstruct in paint across the canvas.
Am I what I offer--
scrawl of words, strokes of paint,
a flash dance through the air,
a few ideas, a point of gravity
where the light bends?
My children who
tumbled out of me?
I am a link
in the generations,
an ancestor's granddaughter,
great aunt of the future,
a name for genealogists.
A living person
breathing over the
page where I write.
A slight tangle
in the ganglia
of neurons, and
That's not me.
I am who I am
Dancing of the Selves -the process-, photographs,
a sketch, a painting, and the final image.
direct link: 'Dance of the Selves.' I read this poem as part of my set as a Guest Poet at Linda Stitt's Words and
Music Salon on May 2, 2015. I had forgottenabout the painting, or would have included it in the video.
So much for memory. Dance on!!!
An autobiographical prose poem in 19 sections.
Dedicated to my father, D. Richard Clews, 1922-1984.
'Bowl After Singing Bowl of Horizons,' a prose poem of my life in sections, part scrapbook, part travelogue, an immigrant poem of the always arriving with its tracings of memories of the singing bowls of horizons traversed, maps a journey across continents...and is embedded in the following nineteen photomontages.
Composed in Vancouver, Canada in 2004.
(click here to go to a full screen slideshow of Horizons of Singing Bowls)
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