Monday, February 20, 2017

Evelyn Deshane on Angela Carter

Gender Negotiation

During the last year of my undergrad, I didn't think I could be surprised. I was completing the last requirements for an English Literature and Gender Studies degree, and enrolled in the one course I'd been waiting for since I picked these majors: Gender in Literature.

I was mostly disappointed. Not that the books we read weren't good—how can anyone argue with Virginia Woolf and Kate Chopin?—but I'd already discovered them. I'd already consumed Woolf's entire oeuvre and dozens of critical essays on each author's groundbreaking books. The professor was wonderful, but even she wasn't wowing me with knowledge that I hadn't already found on my own time. As the class dragged on, I figured I would quit academia altogether (I'd been preparing my application for grad school, but tossed it aside come February) and take the manager position at a used book store someone had offered me in my hometown.

Then we read Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve. I devoured the entire novel in one sitting, completely captivated. The story is the stuff of B-movies (warning, spoilers ahead): Evelyn, a male professor in an American Wasteland, is captured by a gang of militant feminists, given a forced operation to change his sex, and becomes the "New Eve" who's going to save them. Eve escapes, is taken prisoner by a nihilist called Zero, and then escapes once again to find a movie star named Tristessa. Eve (now using she/her pronouns) soon discovers that Tristessa is also trans. The two fall in love, but Tristessa dies, and Eve decides to accept her fate in her new gender role as she floats into the sea. 

So yes—the story is trashy and horribly problematic in all the trope-y ways for trans people. The use of a forced feminization surgery as a major conflict point (and implied punishment) should have been enough for me to stop reading. But at the time, I had no conscious awareness of the trans community. All I knew was that I'd never read anything so poetic and earth-shattering about the dimensions of gender. Gender was mutable, it was changeable, and there was some negotiation about the body that every single person in the book had to go through. That's all gender was for Carter: a negotiation. Evelyn, the English Professor, took his gender for granted, but then it was changed, and the New Eve had to negotiate a way to be in the world after the fact. To me, the book was perfect—and what I'd needed to hear at the time.

The theory with which the professor paired the reading was Donna Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto—something I'd never read before, either. I sped through that text and patiently waited for my lecture so I could hear more. And when that wasn't enough, I googled Angela Carter and fell in love with her work on my own time.

I had already missed the deadline to apply for graduate school that year, but I decided the year off in a book store would do me some good by allowing me to explore Carter all on my own. I read every book she ever wrote, including her kid's title Sea-Cat and Dragon King and her collected journalism Shaking a Leg. From these, I pieced together snippets of her biography, each time realizing I loved her more. When she won a prize for her first literary work, she used the money to leave her husband and went to live in Japan. Her time in Japan clarified her gender to herself, she wrote in a subsequent essay, and so did her time writing The Passion of New Eve. After her first husband, she never remarried—but eventually had her first child when she was in her 40s with her second husband, a man she met while he mended a roof across the street. After years of literary and academic achievement, she had a family—but only after her successes, never apologizing for living according to her own rules. She wrote about the topics I'd always wanted to write about—gender, sexuality, and the private sphere—and seeing her career trajectory as I waited to start my own in academia was wonderful.

When it came time to start my Master's Degree, I thought I was going to be an Angela Carter scholar. Not so much. During my gap year of exploring Carter and her world of gender, I also discovered the trans community. The real one, not the mixed up version in Carter's dystopian California. And I realized, deep down, why Evelyn the male professor who was forced to be female, suddenly meant so much to me at twenty-one.

I was trans. I never wanted to be a woman in academia, or a man for that fact, but something else all together. I wanted to negotiate my gender, render it poetically, and move on from there. Carter allowed me to see, for the first time, that negotiation was an option. Even if the world she attempted to create in The Passion of New Eve has its problems—the forced feminization surgery being one of them—it was still my first glimpse that a world beyond my birth gender was even possible. She gave me the tools to question and re-establish my desires, and not apologize for them.

Now, I'm a PhD candidate in trans studies, doing just that.

Evelyn Deshane has appeared in Plenitude Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Lackington's Magazine. Their chapbook, Mythology, was released in 2015 with The Steel Chisel. Evelyn (pron. Eve-a-lyn) received an MA from Trent University and currently studying for PhD at Waterloo University. Visit them at:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Emily Izsak on Mina Loy

The first time I met Victor Coleman, poet and founding editor of Coach House Press (who would later become my mentor, editor, and friend), he asked me which female poets I was reading. I was sort of taken aback. We were at a pub in the Annex (in Toronto) at a big table full of male poets and at the time, I wasn’t sure why he didn’t ask me which poets in general I was reading— why I, the only woman at the table, should be the recipient of that gender specific question. After I named the usual suspects (Plath, Stein), he recommended some women I hadn’t heard of before, among them, Mina Loy.

Later, Victor would lend me his copy of The Lost Lunar Baedeker. I would flip through the pages haphazardly until I got to:

Spawn   of    Fantasies
Silting the appraisable
Pig Cupid     his rosy snout
Rooting erotic garbage

I stopped— because she had done it. Everything I was trying to do with words she had done already nearly a hundred years earlier. I finished reading “Songs To Joannes” and thought, all I want to do is write like Mina Loy. From then on, whenever I sat down to write a poem, I would open one by Loy in a browser tab on my computer. I would check my own work against hers; if I didn’t want to read my own poem as much as I wanted to read hers, it wasn’t good enough. I am still reaching for “erotic garbage.”

Loy’s surreal and unusual images spill over each line, accumulating sparkle and strangeness with momentum. In her poems, multisyllabic Latinate words stand alongside moments of simplicity in protest against the unpoetic. When her work becomes difficult to navigate, sound takes over, makes you forget why you ever tried to make sense of anything when you could just sit back and enjoy the music. My boyfriend once told me that “Mina Loy” sounds like something that Doodle Bob would say— and I like to think that she would appreciate her sonic resemblance to composition come alive. 

I now run a series on my website called “New Recruits” in which I invite poetry “newbs” (people who don’t typically read poetry) to read a poem by a contemporary poet and answer some questions about it. The readers are mostly my family and friends, people I know pretty well, and I try to choose poems that fit each reader’s tastes and personality. I want new readers to enjoy the experience of reading contemporary poetry and I want that experience to be different than being forced to read poems in high school. As curator of the series, I’m very aware of expectations to maintain a gender balance, and to feature a diverse lineup of contemporary poets. I have noticed, however, that I typically match female readers with female poets—and I think this is because there aren’t as many of them—us (being published in book form anyway) and if we only get a few and if I’m not planning on featuring a poet more than once, I’m going to give an excellent poem by a female poet to a reader who can not only appreciate her use of language but also share in the gendered experience of the world that her language falls out of. That is not to say that male or non-binary readers can’t appreciate work from a female poet. Of course they can, and they do. But ladies, let’s get our fix where we can. Which female poets are you reading? Not because you should or because you owe it to your sex, but because you’ll like it. I promise you’ll like it.

Emily Izsak is in her second year of U of T’s MA in English and Creative Writing program. Her work has been published in Arc Poetry Magazine, The Puritan, House Organ, Cough, The Steel Chisel, The Doris, and The Hart House Review. In 2014 she was selected as PEN Canada’s New Voices Award nominee. Her chapbook, Stickup, is available on and her first full-length collection, Whistle Stops, will be out in April 2017 from Signature Editions.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Susan Rudy on Nicole Brossard

Nicole Brossard:  Writing what exists

I want to see in fact the form of women organizing in the trajectory of the species.
-          Nicole Brossard These Our Mothers 1983.

I first met Nicole Brossard in an airport departure lounge in Frankfurt in 1988. We were en route to a feminist conference on writing and language in Dubrovnik. As I recall, Brossard gave a talk on the power of the word “lesbian” and I argued, via deconstruction, for a post-gender, post-feminist theory (Rudy Dorscht 1988). I was poststructuralist and straight.  She was feminist and lesbian. I was drawn to her and terrified. 


In 1988, I was married to a man. I had a PhD. And a baby daughter. I had just taken up a tenure-track position at a university and moved thousands of miles from the rest of my family and friends. My husband had moved with me.

This morning I reread an English translation of the paper Brossard delivered at the Dubrovnik conference. I can’t find the word “lesbian” anywhere.   

There are words that return. There are words that always return to find us in the very place we seek for them. […] There are words that are irreducible: to write I am a woman is full of consequences,
-          Nicole Brossard “Corps d’énergie / rituels d’écriture,” 1989

This is what I knew in 1988:  I wanted connection with other women and I didn’t want to change. I wanted a different life but I didn’t know how to get there.  I couldn’t be a lesbian.


For five decades, Nicole Brossard has been investigating questions of multiple identifications, affiliations, and kinships.  For her, writing the word “lesbian” was an “exercise in deconditioning,” a means by which to assert her existence and acknowledge her “legitimacy” (These Our Mothers 16).

In the 1970s, Brossard’s site of investigation was her relation, as a lesbian mother, to other bodies. In “Poetic Politics,” she speaks of “living the most common experience in a woman’s life which is motherhood,” at the same time as she is “living the most marginal experience in a woman’s life which is lesbianism”:

[m]otherhood shaped my solidarity with women and gave me a feminist consciousness as lesbianism opened mental space to explore. (77-78)

“If patriarchy can take what is and make it not,” Brossard writes, “surely we can take what exists and make it be” (“From Radical to Integral” The Aerial Letter 103).


53% of white women voted for Donald Trump. I might have been among them.


Nicole Brossard has been a key figure in my intellectual life for thirty years. In 1997,  Lynette Hunter, Marta Dvorak, and I co-organised a conference on “Women and Texts: Languages Technologies Communities”  under the banner: “Coming together to work on expressing what is valued in our daily lives.”

Our inspiration came from Nicole Brossard and we cited her on the conference poster:[1]

I imagined my thought that day: attentive to movements that spread out in a spiral in books written by women. I was virtually struck by the internal logic which constantly beckons women to merge/to expel themselves.

For Brossard, the spiral opens “and the new circulates, circulates, producing emanations such as those at the gates of an initiatory path” (Translated and quoted by Gould 83; from Le Sens apparent 14).

Even into the mid 1990s, we believed that the new was opening before us. I took the following celebratory photograph: Brossard with her arm around writer Audrey Thomas, alongside Jeannette Armstrong and filmmaker Alanis Obamsawin.

Left to right: Audrey Thomas Nicole Brossard Alanis Obamsawin Jeannette Armstrong at the “Women and Texts: Languages Technologies Communities” Conference University of Leeds 2-5 July 1997.  Photograph by Susan Rudy.

In 2017, we again need solidarity yet our trajectories are different. As feminists and/or trans we want to identify as women and yet we want alternatives to the symbolic order in which the category of woman has been so narrowly constructed.  


In the 1970s Brossard identified patriarchal motherhood as the place where the concept of woman was most fraught. The problem lay in the fact that, in Brossard’s words, “patriarchal mothers” (18) are “able only to initiate their daughters to a man”:

There is no confidence between us. Sold-out at a loss. Split in two. (18)

In contrast to the misogyny perpetuated by patriarchal motherhood, Brossard’s experience of lesbian motherhood offered an alternative based on loving connections.

On the same day, she “caresses” the body of her lesbian lover and washes the body of her daughter: “[c]yprine juices urine. Orgasm and labour as two sides of the same entity” (18):

I write so I won’t engulf and hurt your bodies and so as to find in them my void my centre. (13)

Instead of reproducing the mother-role of patriarchy, Brossard creates “her own locus of desire,” finds “her own place at a distance” (18):

She who is writing in the present between barbed wires remembers her past. Maybe they’ve been forced to cut the current. She goes through.  (These Our Mothers 18)

She goes through.


I think of a photograph on Facebook of an African-American woman at the New York City women’s march. She carried a placard reminding us that 94% of Black women voted against Trump:

Black Women Tried to SAVE Y’ALL!!! #94%


I almost missed meeting Nicole Brossard that day in Frankfurt in 1988.  I had read The Aerial Letter in a feminist theory graduate course. But when I spotted it atop a pile of feminist theory books beside a handsome woman on the ottoman across from me I thought, she must be a colleague.

I looked again and recalled seeing the photo of Brossard with translator Marlene Wildeman at the end of The Aerial Letter.  Could it be her? 

She caught my eye and smiled. I was tongue-tied and brave. I took her hand and said what I could. She listened and spoke. We became friends and moved forward, at first haltingly, then with confidence, over many years, together.


I’ve been thinking recently about what we – in our radical differences – are going through now. In 2006, I finally came out. I have very short grey hair and am middle-aged. I’m often addressed as sir. Yet the pull of family and motherhood, the privileges of middle-class whiteness and cisgender, and conventional ideas about what women are supposed to be still shape me. 

I didn’t attend the women’s march in London because of a long-standing family commitment.
It was my lesbian partner’s mother’s 70th birthday and a gathering in Shropshire the weekend of January 21, 2017 had been planned months ago, when the idea of a Donald Trump presidency was still a sick joke.

Trump’s presidency is now a terrifying reality. And the pull of family still shapes my queer life. To what extent am I still overdetermined by patriarchal structures?  What role have my choices played in the election of Donald Trump?

More overtly than I have seen in my lifetime, patriarchy is taking what exists and making it not. Yet as I reread the work of Nicole Brossard in 2017, I no longer feel terrified or alone. We will get through.

For the ongoing global feminist work of the artists, writers, and academics who participated in the 1997 Leeds “Women and Texts” conference including:

Virginie Alba & Flora Alexander
Paula Bourne
Monique Boucher-Marchand,
Tilla Brading
Di Brand,
Susan Brook,
Helen Buss,
Maggie Butcher,
Pauline Butling,
Rosemary Chapman,
Sally Chivers,
Kwanesook Chung,
Marie H. Clements,
Cynthia Cockburn,
Lorraine Code,
Rachel Conner
Susan Croft,
Barbara Crow,
Pilar Cuder-Dominguez
Asma Dalal
Eva Darias-Beautell,
Martine Delvaux
Ralitza Dimitrova
Beth Donaldson
Helen Douglas
Rachel Dyer
Julia Emberley
Heather Fitzgerald
Louise Forsyth
Danielle Fuller
Carolyn Fyffe
Geetha Ganapathy-Dore
Carole Gerson & Veronica Strong-Boag
Barbara Godard
Hiromi Goto
Michele Gunderson
Faye Hammill,
Susan Harwood
Claire Harris
Barbara Havercroft
Maria Henriquez Betancor
Jacqueline Hodgson
Susanna Hoeness-Krupsaw
Valerie Holman
Lakshmi Holmstrom
Coral Ann Howells
Isabel Huggan & Connie Steenman Marcuse
Vivien Hughes
Lesley Jeffries
Surinder Jetley
Manina Jones
Edwige Khaznadar
Christine Klein-Lataud
Barbara Korte
Celine Labrosse
Jaqueline Lamothe
Bronwen Levy
Marie-Linda Lord
Cathy MacGregor
Erin Moure
Lianne Moyes
Sarah Murphy
Suniti Namjoshi
Miriam Nichols
Uma Parameswaran
Janet M Paterson
Alexandria Patience
Jeanne Perreault
Mireille Perron
Velma Pollard
Susan Prentice
Monique Prunet
Eleonora Rao
Valerie Raoul
Verna Reid
Yannick Resch
Helen Richman
Deb Rindl
Caroline Rooney
Hilary Rose
Sasha Roseneil
Jacqueline Roy
Marie-Josée Roy
Lori Saint-Martin
Louise Saldanha & Aruna Srivastava
Krishna Sarbadhikary
Kim Sawchuk
Danielle Schaub
Kersin Schmidt
Gail Scott
Barbara Sellers-Young
Jane Sellwood
Lesley Semmens & Lynette Willoughby
Sherry Simon
Theresa Smalec
Gaele Sobott-Mogwe
Eugenia Sojka
Susan Speary
Marjorie Stone
Cath Stowers
Simone Suchet
Laura Sullivan
Sharon Thesen
Audrey Thomas
Neelam Tikkha
Valerie Traub
Anirudh P. Trivedi
Jacqueline Turner
Jeanette Urbas
Aritha van Herk
Christl Verduyn
Shobha Verma
Anna Veselovska
Coomi S. Vevaina
Nicole Vigourous-Frey
Anea Vlasopolos
Louise von Flowtow
Wendy Waring
Agnes Whitfield
Gillian Whitlock
Carol Williams
Marion Wynne-Davis
Marta Zajac

Note: This incomplete list of participants is taken from the Abstracts published by the University of Leeds. My memory tells me that Caroline Bergvall and Daphne Marlatt were also in attendance.  Please email me at if you attended the conference and are not listed above.  I am preparing an archive of conference materials and for the historical record will add your name to the list.


Brossard Nicole.  The Aerial Letter. Trans. Marlene Wildeman. Toronto: The Women’s Press 1988.
---.  Fluid Arguments. Edited and with an introduction by Susan Rudy. With translations by Nicole Brossard Anne-Marie Wheeler Alice Parker Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood Patricia Claxton and Marlene Wildeman. Toronto: Mercury Press 2005.
---.  Le Sens apparent. Paris: Flammarion, 1980.
---. “Poetic Politics.” In The Politics of Poetic Form: Poetry and Public Policy. Ed. Charles Bernstein. New York: Roof 1990.  
---. “Rituels d’écriture: L’écriture comme trajectoire du désir et de la conscience.” Writing and Language: The Politics and Poetics of Feminist Critical Practice and Theory. The Inter-University Centre for Postgraduate Studies Dubrovnik Yugoslavia 1988.  An early translation by Alice Parker appeared under the title “Corps d’énergie / rituels d’écriture” (1989). A later translation appears in Brossard Fluid Arguments 101-107.
--.  These Our Mothers. Trans. Barbara Godard. Toronto: Coach House Quebec Translations 1983. Translation of  L’amèr ou le Chapitre effrité. Montreal: Les Editions Quinze 1977. 
Gould, Karen. Writing in the Feminine: Feminism and Experimental Writing in Quebec.  Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1990.
Rudy Susan. “Nicole Brossard.” The Literary Encyclopedia. 5 December 2005. [] Accessed 18 January 2017.
Rudy Dorscht Susan. “Telling the Difference: Postfeminist Theory and Practice.” Writing and Language: The Politics and Poetics of Feminist Critical Practice and Theory. The Inter-University Centre for Postgraduate Studies Dubrovnik Yugoslavia 1988. Published in revised form as a chapter in Women Reading Kroetsch: Telling the Difference. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press 1991.

Susan Rudy is a London-based researcher, writer, and editor. Currently a Senior Research Fellow in the School of English and Drama at Queen Mary University of London, she taught in the Department of English at the University of Calgary from 1988-2011. Susan’s research expertise is in contemporary experimental writing and feminist theory and she has published widely in these areas. In 2016, she published blogs at The New Statesman on what gender and gender equality mean in the twenty-first century. She and Georgina Colby are developing a Salon for Experimental Women’s Writing (SEWW) in London. This piece is from Queer Openings, Rudy’s new book. For more, go to
Nicole Brossard (left) and Susan Rudy at the “Women and Texts: Languages Technologies Communities” Conference, University of Leeds, 2-5 July 1997.

Photograph of Nicole Brossard provided by Nicole Brossard. Used with permission. 

[1] Poster for the 1997 “Women and Texts” conference at the University of Leeds.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Amanda Earl on Sandra Ridley

My Poetic (M)Other

I admit to you that I have an uneasy relationship with (s)(m)otherhood. I am more comfortable with otherhood and othering: the support, care and nurturing of those who are outside of convention, who feel like outsiders. Not to get them to become more conventional, but to help them achieve what they need to achieve and to embrace their otherness.

When I moved into my first apartment with my boyfriend at twenty-one, it was out of a need to escape from the constant strife and drama of living with my father, and my mother’s ineffectualness. Even though I was fleeing their home, my mother snuck out to see me in the basement bachelor apartment on Old Dundas, near the motorcycle bar and the ravines. She gave us oxtail soup and creosote. The soup kept us going through lean months. I used the creosote to scrub the baseboards. It kept away the roaches. I loved its smell, which reminded me of old railway ties.  I slept a lot that winter, secure behind a locked door of my own. I missed a lot of school. I was in a cocoon, learning to deal with my otherness alone.

On this journey toward otherness, there have been numerous writers and artists who have helped me on my path and perhaps I have nurtured and cared for a few others as well. (M)otherhood isn’t always a one-way, parent-child relationship.

Sandra Ridley is a fierce and bad-ass poetesse. When she reads her poems, I can imagine her standing on a railway track, in defiance, beside a sudden field of purple phlox. 

I met Sandra around 2005 when she read poems at a reading I’d set up for The reading was at Chapters in downtown Ottawa, at the top of an escalator, near the kids’ section. I believe it was her first public reading. I was captivated by her poetry, by her stillness, and still am. I could tell it wasn’t easy for her to share her work in public. I admired her bravery.

Over the years we became friends. She gave me advice about my spikey, quirky poetry. I read hers with awe and offered the occasional suggestion. We (m)othered each other. Sandra was there when I lay dying in intensive care. She kept my husband company, bought him a roast chicken and a butternut squash. She drove me home from the hospital.

At a recent reading in 2016 at the Ottawa International Writers Festival, Sandra read from her latest book, Silvja (BookThug, 2016). She whispered as if the poem was private, a secret, like it was forbidden and she was being disobedient.

Sandra dares to play with narrative: starting in the middle or at the end, doing away with the beginning all together, to write sharp, short, staccato sentences as crying jags, as litanies, to sprawl across the page, to leave space for breath.

Poets such as Sandra ,have dared to create despite societal pressures to be the quiet angel of the house, and continue to make me feel it’s ok to create and it’s ok, in fact, even necessary, to work from a place of uncertainty.  Further writers and artists on this list would include Christine McNair, Brecken Hancock, Anne Carson, Beatrice Wood, Leonora Carrington, Leonor Fini, Djuna Barnes, Hélène Cixous, Betsy Warland and Daphne Marlatt.

When I first read Sandra’s work it was a relief. A relief because of the way she dipped in and out of narrative in ways I hadn’t seen before. She left places, spaces for the reader’s imagination or places for the reader to think, to feel. A relief because her work was feisty and rebellious. “She wears navy blue to spite him.” (Fallout, Hagios Press, 2010). 

Fallout included a section called “Lift, Ghazals for C.” which was published as a chapbook by Jack Pine Press (2008). I believe this was the first time I’d ever heard about contemporary ghazals and I loved these. They were an interesting mix of medical terminology and compassion for a child’s sickness.  I ended up writing ghazals for over a year after being introduced to hers, and talking to her about other ghazal writers, such as John Thompson and Adrienne Rich.

I have read and reread each of her four books, finding satisfaction and inspiration in the meticulous language, the themes of survival despite or in spite of, the dark connections to nursery rhymes and children’s songs, particularly in The Counting House (Book Thug, 2013), her sense of the macabre in the everyday, her brilliance.

I relate especially to the unidyllic portrait of childhood so often present in Sandra’s poetry, particularly in Silvja: “Each child dragged by its hair across the linoleum / Given lip / good for nothing / illicit / dust / dusk-lit / Let those bygones / cease holding on to me” in “Farther / Father.”

In 2009, Sandra and I decided to attempt a collaborative long poem: “Eve, a mere roar.” Our styles were complementary; both of us were drawn to the apocalypse. It was a joyful and enriching experience, the most successful collaboration I’ve ever been part of. One of us would write, the next would follow along, expanding on or drawing out the inherent or subtle metaphor the other had established. It was natural and not forced. I learned a lot from the collaboration.

I see Sandra not so much as a mother but a fellow other, a twin sister, separated at birth by ten years, I, being the elder. She has been here for me during terrible times of crisis and she has always been interested in my writing. I look to her poetry when I need to be reminded that there are myriad playful ways to engage with text, when I need to feel that it is a good thing to defy the status quo.

I always say that my three reasons for writing and sharing my work with others are whimsy, exploration and connection. I derive all three of these elements from Sandra’s poetry and from our friendship.

Amanda Earl tries to (m)other fellow poets on their journey toward otherness via the AngelHousePress Close Reading Service for New Women Poets. She’s the managing editor of and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress, and the author of Kiki (Chaudiere Books, 2014), I Owe Saint Hildegard The Light (unarmed, 2016), Queen Christina (Ghost City Press, 2016) and firstwalks of the year (In/Words Press, 2016). Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Arc Poetry Magazine, Canthius, Canadian Literature,,, Vallum and The Windsor Review. Amanda lives in Ottawa with her husband, a massive new shelving unit named Bertha, Mona, the refrigerator and a coffee-maker known simply as the Diva. For more information, please visit or connect with Amanda on Twitter @KikiFolle.