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Spells by Richard Vaughan

Spells: A Novel, R.M. Vaughan

Richard Vaughan

Richard Murray ("R.M.") Vaughan (poet, playwright, journalist, and video artist) was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 1965. Vaughan attended Quispamsis Elementary, St. Martins Elementary, Harry Miller Junior High, and Kennebecasis Valley High. He then attended the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, where he studied English and creative writing, graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After graduation, Vaughan lived in Montreal and Ottawa. He attended the University of Ottawa for a short period of time before returning to New Brunswick to pursue a Master of Arts degree at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

Vaughan’s writing career began when his first published piece of poetry appeared in The Cormorant, a literary quarterly based at UNBSJ. From that point on, his career as a writer took off. Vaughan has contributed poetry, essays, and fiction to numerous anthologies and over one hundred periodicals (“R.M. Vaughan: Biography”). His first collection of poetry, A Selection of Dazzling Scarves, was published in 1996 by ECW Press (“R.M. Vaughan: Biography”). This book caught the attention of the public through its sexually explicit content. Vaughan was said to be one of Canada’s most exciting and controversial emerging writers (About the Author; 1996). Being openly and proudly gay, Vaughan shows no signs of modesty in terms of his sexuality in A Selection of Dazzling Stars or in any of his following publications. Dazzling Stars was chosen as one of the top ten books in 1997 by the Telegraph Journal and the Chronicle Herald (About the Author; 1999). In his early career, Vaughan is said to have idolized other writers, one of them being Sky Gilbert, a novelist, poet, filmmaker, director, actor, and drag queen extraordinaire who resides in Toronto. In many of Vaughan’s publications, he acknowledges Gilbert as a friend and mentor.

A Quilted Heart, published in 1998 with Insomniac Press, was Vaughan’s first novel. It is a strange hybrid of a murder mystery/ghost story/romantic comedy. His next publication was another collection of poetry, also published by ECW Press, titled Invisible Predators. Published in 1999, this book brings together political and social views on sexuality and homosexuality in particular. Vaughan’s most recent book, Troubled, was published in 2008 by Coach House Books. It is a series of poems that collectively tell the story of his sexual relationship with his psychiatrist.

In addition to his successful novels and poetry, Vaughan has spent a substantial amount of time as a playwright. His first play, Gentleman Caller, was performed in 1992 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. Vaughan was also the 1994−5 playwright-in-residence at Buddies in Bad Times. The mission statement of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre states, “We are committed to work that challenges the boundaries of theatrical and social convention. As a company we celebrate difference and question assumptions.” The theatre strives for the success of Canada’s “queer talent.”

Vaughan has also been a frequent contributor to CBC’s National Commentary series and has written about art and culture for newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and the National Post (“R.M. Vaughan: Biography,” “Novelist”). He is currently the arts editor for This Magazine, a Toronto-based magazine focusing on Canadian politics, pop culture, and the arts (“Who’s This”). Vaughan also contributes to Toronto Life: his most recent article in the September 2007 issue (“Generation V”) was about how a monthly dance party for gays and lesbians revolutionized the city’s underground art scene.

Vaughan has also established a career in the visual arts. His paintings have been displayed in both solo and group exhibitions in Atlantic Canada and Toronto, where he is a member of the Symbiosis art collective (“R.M. Vaughan: Biography”). Vaughan has also produced short films, many of which are based on his poetry. Of the sixteen recognized short films, seven were circulated through the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. Like his poems, novels, and plays, Vaughan’s films are also created from the standpoint of a proud and openly gay man, and they often take up social and political issues.

Heather Hotchkiss, Winter 2008
St. Thomas University

Bibliography of primary sources

Vaughan, R.M. 14 Reason Not to Eat Potato Chips on Church Street. Maxville, ON: Above/Ground Press, 1999.

---. 96 Tears (in My Jeans). Fredericton, NB: Broken Jaw Press, 1997.

---. Camera, Woman. Toronto: Coach House Books, 1994.

---. "Generation V." Toronto Life 1 Sep. 2007: CBCA Reference and Current Events, ProQuest. 15 Mar. 2010. <https://login.proxy. hil.unb.ca/login?url=http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=13295 88111&sid=1&Fmt=3 &clientId=10774&RQT=309&VName=PQD>.

---. The InCorrupt Tables. Fredericton, NB: Wild East Publications, 1992.

---. The InCorrupt Tables. 1992. Fredericton, NB: Broken Jaw Press, 1997.

---. Invisible to Predators. Toronto: ECW, 1999.

---. To Monsieur Desmoulins: Dear Camille, in Response to Your Last Letter Before Execution: 203 Years Late. Toronto: Tortoiseshell & Black, 1997.

---. The Monster Trilogy. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2003.

---. A Quilted Heart. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 1998.

---. Ruined Stars. Toronto: ECW, 2004.

---. A Selection of Dazzling Scarves. Toronto: ECW, 1996.

---. Spells. Toronto: ECW, 2003.

---. Troubled: A Memoir in Poems and Fragments. Toronto: Coach House Books, 2008.

Vaughan, R.M., writer. Dinner's at 8. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 1999. Film.

---. A Gun Makes an Awful Mess. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 1998. Film.

---. Hard Times Town. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 2000. Film.

---. Hate. CFMDC, 2004. Film.

---. I'm Sorry, Sterling. Dir. Jared Mitchell. 2008-9. Film.

---. In Cairo. CFMDC, 2005. Film.

---. M*A*S*H Notes for Private Kyle Brown. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 1997. Film.

---. Mr. Danvers. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 2000. Film.

---. Perfect. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 2001. Film.

---. Rx. CFMDC, 2006. Film.

---. Shinto. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 2000. Film.

---. Shit Storm. CFMDC, 2007. Film.

---. Tubbé. Dir. Michael Achtman. Vtape, 1998. Film.

---. My Father's Idea of Heaven. Dir. Jared Mitchell. CFMDC, 2006. Film.

---. Walnut Grove, Mon Amour. CFMDC, 2004. Film.

Vaughan, R.M. and Shannon Cochrane. Sports Bra. CFMDC, 2006. Film.

bibliography of secondary sources

Brophy, Sarah. "'In Sotto Howl': sexuality and politics in the poetry of R.M. Vaughan." Essays on Canadian Writing 63 (Spring 1998): 172-196.

Buddies in Bad Times Theatre website. 2008. 20 Nov. 2008. <http://www.artsexy.ca/bibt_profile.cfm>.

Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre website. 2008. <http://www.cfmdc.org/content.php?page=catalogue>.

Grubisic, Brett Josef. "Margin, vanguard." Canadian Literature 187 (Winter 2005): 122-124.

Huffman, Kerri. "Literary Horror. (Reviews)." The Fiddlehead 219 (Spring 2004): 113-115.

Knight, Chris. "Vaughan, R.M. Ruined Stars." Canadian Book Review Annual (Annual 2005): 233-234.

“Novelist R.M. Vaughan to Read at UNBF.” UNB Fredericton News. 5 Nov. 2003. 21 Nov. 2008. <http://www.unb.ca/news/view.cgi?
id=389>.

“R.M. Vaughan.” 2008. Coach House Books. 19 Nov. 2008 <www.chbooks.com/biographies/r_m_vaughan>.

“R.M. Vaughan: Biography.” 2008. University of Toronto. 19 Nov. 2008. <http://www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/vaughan/
bio.htm>.

Richardson, Bill. "Quilted Heart." Quill and Quire 64.9 (Sept 1998): 56.

Stark, Leslie. "Writing in the Dark." Canadian Literature 186 (Autumn 2005): 187-188.

“Who’s This.” This Magazine website. 2008. 20 Nov. 2008 <http://www.thismagazine.ca/about/>.