David Redl
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Welcome to the weird mind of David Redl, capable computer scientist, sometimes ScrumMaster, and aspiring author.

I am passionate about stories and started this blog to share my experiences with the written word as a reader and, hopefully someday, an author.

My family and I are blessed to live and work on Treaty 7 land in Alberta, Canada.

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Finding Humanity in a Coyote

A review of Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures by Ivan Coyote

Ivan Coyote book review non-fiction Canadian creators LGBT

2023-06-20 - David Redl

In 2022, I had the good fortune to attend the Writers’ Guild of Alberta Annual Conference, Shifting Creative Gears. The first event of the conference was a keynote address by Ivan Coyote who read from their 2021 book, Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures. The story behind the book, the words it contained, and Ivan’s performance of the same were simply inspiring. I immediately decided that I needed to read the whole book. My to-read pile being what it is, I didn’t get around to doing so until recently, but I’m glad I finally did.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ivan Coyote or their work — and I hope you will become so soon — Ivan is a brilliant writer, performer, and LGBT activist. Their many accolades and invitations to perform speak to their cultural impact but Care Of begins to tell the other half of the story: their deep and lasting impact on a very personal level. For years, Ivan collected communications from fans, friends, and strangers — people who felt a connection to Ivan’s words — and set aside many of them to give in-depth and appropriate responses. Some of these people felt like outcasts, some were grieving, and some were struggling with how to be true to themselves and their identities. When Ivan’s shows were cancelled for the COVID-19 pandemic, they responded to those communications and collected some of them, with the original sender’s permission, so creating a new form of art, Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures.

Care Of is proof, if ever such a thing was needed, that people from any background or walk of life can share a connection across time and distance through the written word. The letters written to Ivan are windows into the lives and souls of their writers, each one deeply emotional and vulnerable, and Ivan’s responses return the same with a poetic elegance that carries rhythm and beauty from each well-crafted sentence to the next.

It’s clear that Ivan cares deeply for humanity and for all the people that have reached out to them over the years. While reading it, I felt like a bit of the love Ivan poured out for those people was coming my way as well. I felt the kind of connection that would make me want to write them a letter, fold it small, and slip it into their hand while shaking it after a show that made me rethink my negative self talk and helped me dismantle my trauma. As I finished, I felt the need to reach out to the people in my life, however inadequate my words may seem to me, just to remind them that I care and to keep our connections going, and to seek out new communities among the hurting. This is what I mean when I say Care Of was inspiring and this is its legacy: that those who read it will come away with their faith in humanity restored and with renewed capacity for love.

Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures by Ivan Coyote is an emotional roller coaster but a great read and I recommend it to anyone who needs a good cry or who enjoys non-fiction or prose poetry.


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