RON STEWART TO BE HONOURED AS LONDON OPEN MIC'S FEB. 1ST FEATURE.
London poet and workshop leader Ron Stewart is being honoured Feb. 1st for his longstanding support for poets and poetry in London, and for supplying the impetus for the creation of London Open Mic Poetry five seasons ago. Over the years, he has inspired many poets to write and keep writing by creating an inviting home in which poetry could be shared, learning take place, and creation flourish. The London poetry scene is in his debt. (Scroll down for bio.)
WHERE: Mykonos Restaurant at 572 Adelaide St. North, London, Ontario. The restaurant has a large, covered terrace just behind the main restaurant, which comfortably holds 60 poetry lovers. Mediterranean food and drinks are available. Overflow parking is available across the side street and in the large lot one block north, in front of Trad’s Furniture.
WHEN: Feb. 1st, 2017. Poetry begins at 7 pm. Come anytime before that and place your order.
THE FEATURED POET: Ron Stewart opens the event at 7:00, followed by a Q&A.
OPEN MIC: Following the featured poet, 15 open mic poets will read until 9:30 at the latest, with an intermission at about 8:00. Each poet has five minutes (which is about two good pages of poetry, but it should be timed at home). Sign up on the reader`s list, which is on the book table at the back. It's first come, first served.
COVER: Pay What You Can (in jar on back table, or use Donate Button on website Donate Page). Donations are our only source of income to cover expenses.
RAFFLE PRIZES: Anyone who donates at the event receives a ticket for a raffle prize, three of which will be picked after the intermission. The prizes consist of poetry books donated by The Ontario Poetry Society.
BIO: Ron Stewart started writing poetry shortly after a crash in Northern Ontario took the lives of three friends (two pilots and a flight attendant, Ron’s co- workers). When asked why he turned to poetry, he replied that both careers are two syllable words that start with p and end with t, and, as a person with very little imagination, he thought it appropriate. Ron has been published in journals, anthologies and online. One of his poems “Sunset” was carved in stone on the tombstone of a dear departed friend. His “A Boy Growing up in London” poem was studied in an English class in Sweden. He has read in library basements, coffee shops, churches, museums, art galleries and bars. Both as a performer and judge, Ron has participated in slam poetry events, and has judged the Poetry in Voice high school competitions for the past five years. Ron created and ran a poetry workshop in Landon Library for five years before retiring to pursue other challenges. In 2006, he won the Great Blue Heron Poetry Award and in 2010, the poetry division of the Coffee Shop Authors competition.
But most of Ron’s life has existed in a very different sphere than that of poetry.
Ron Stewart graduated from Royal Military College with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in 1966 specializing in Aeronautical Engineering (aircraft engines). He underwent pilot training in Manitoba and received his RCAF wings in 1967. His first flying job in the Airforce was as an instructor on the DeHavilland Chipmunk. During that tour he alternated between flight and ground school instructor positions. It was here that he authored his first book (a flight training manual). Next was the C130 Hercules squadron based in Namao (Edmonton, Alberta). Here he flew worldwide transport and tactical missions in probably the best and most versatile aircraft ever built. On Herc missions, Ron got to see the world as very few others ever will. Some of the places his job took him to were Canadian Forces Base Alert, Thule and Sondresom Greenland, Reykjavik and Keflavik Iceland, Norway, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Cypress, Hawaii, Wake Is, Guam, Philippines, Hong Kong, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt, Japan, Alaska and the Yukon and Northwest Territories. He also accompanied The Queen, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles on three separate Royal tours.
At the end of his Hercules tour Ron retired from the Airforce and joined Aircraft Accident Division of Transport Canada. As part of his training to become an aircraft accident investigator Ron studied at USC in Los Angeles, the University of Arizona in Tempe, Az and the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
As an aircraft accident investigator, Ron participated in over 200 investigations, ranging from ultralight sport airplanes to large jet transport aircraft as well as many helicopter accidents. He didn’t stop flying here either, but kept up his pilot skills on the fleet of Transport Canada aircraft. He also learned to fly helicopters during this time. In the final two years of his Transport Canada career Ron became the Regional Aviation Safety Officer for Western Canada. In this capacity, Ron became responsible for flight safety promotion for the region – basically all of Alberta, the Yukon and the Western half of the North West Territories. This job entailed promoting flight safety through presentations, flight safety seminars, meetings, inspections and safety analyses. It was here he became comfortable in front of an audience. In 1979 Ron joined Great Lakes Airlines and flew for the many iterations of that airline until retiring in 2007 when the airline was known as Jazz.
Presently, Ron is enjoying life in Kilworth with his best friend, his wife for 50 years Janet, their dog Calliope and cat Penelope. He volunteers at Country Terrace nursing home and Hospice London with his dog as part of the St John Ambulance Therapy Dog program. He spent the last 2 years writing grant proposals and fundraising for an addition at his church. This half million dollar project was completed this past summer.
David Stones' performance at the Dec. 7th open mic was rousing and well-attended
Feature David Stones was introduced by his longtime musical producer and friend David Forrester. Stones performed poems from his book Infinite Sequels and his stage play of that name, which he has performed to acclaim in Stratford. The Mykonos audience of 40 was enthusiastic. Samples of Stones' poetry, as well as our interview.
Done! We presented our sidewalk poetry idea. Now we wait.
On Dec. 1st, three English students from Western and I presented to the London Arts Council (LAC) our idea to stamp poems in fresh cement as it’s being poured in sidewalk repairs. The interest seemed to be there so we went away cautiously excited. Of course, the people responsible have to spend some time going over it, thinking and talking about it, before they can decide.
Andrea Halwa, LAC executive Director, Rachel Pennington, its Public Art Specialist, and Tom Cull, London's LAC-appointed Poet Laureate, listened as the three third-year English students made the presentation they had researched and written.
Jennifer Ball (L in the photo), Leizel Rafanan and Noelle Schmidt did the work as part of Professor Manina Jones' class "Canadian Literature, Creativity and the Local".
After the presentation, Andrea Halwa cautioned us about some of the difficulties, but the three of them, especially Poet Laureate Tom Cull, seemed quite positive nevertheless.
The presentation included discussion of some of the methods, processes and costs from the St. Paul, Minnesota project, which has been stamping poems 2008, with over 700 impressions in its sidewalks now. It also included ideas of our own, the results of a petition the students circulated, and a number of letters of support.
Jennifer Ball (L), Leizel Rafanan and Noelle Schmidt are getting a first-hand view of how poetry can be propagated outside of campus. They’ve been doing research, making petitions, asking for letters of support, refining the idea and writing the proposal.
Fifth Season (last season with Stan Burfield as organizer):
Feb. 1st, 2017: Ron Stewart
Mar. 1st, 2017: Andy Verboom
Apr. 5th, 2017: James Deahl & Norma Linder
May, 2017: Jason Dickson
June, 2017: Stan Burfield
NEW IDEA: A BASIC POETICS STUDY GROUP
I'm fishing for potential here. Please tell me what you think.
1. This group would be mainly for poets (and poetry lovers) with little formal education in poetry. As for example, yours truly.
2. Because poetry is like chess in that a person can become endlessly more proficient at it (because of its ancient lineage and because bright people have been studying it and writing and teaching about it for nearly that whole time), there is a God-awful lot to learn. Thus the world of poets can be divided into two groups: those with a formal university education specializing to some degree in poetry, and those without one.
3. The group's professors would be the group members themselves. Each would pick a topic from the world of poetics, research it, and present it, discuss it, show examples of it in poems, and generally get the group thinking about how, why, and when to apply it, and what happens if it's not applied, and so on. In other words, by the end of each session, everyone should have a new tool at their disposal to help them enrich their poetry. (And to help them read others' poetry.)
4. Topics would include especially the aspects of poetics most commonly employed in contemporary poetry, but not limited to them. Some examples: the major aspects of poetry, including lines, syntax, diction, trope, rhetoric, rhythm, meter, stanza and then some of the zillion sub-categories like enjambment, stress, scansion, allusion, imagism, metaphor, free verse, feeling, metonymy, allusion, abstraction, how to read a poem, etc etc.
If there's enough interest, we'll definitely start this thing.
Express yourself here, but especially send me an email so I can put you on the invite list: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, Stan Burfield
Help us keep videotaping our poets
Sebastian is volunteering his invaluable services videotaping our poets. Please help keep him with us. If you or anyone you know can use his videography or any other tech work he does, which is extensive and detailed in the video below, by all means contact him.
This is my last season: HELP WANTED!
This 5th season of London Open Mic Poetry will be my last as organizer. I’ve had a good run, and accomplished what I wanted to, both in terms of personal growth and helping to build a poetry community in London. But I have other things I want to accomplish that will require all my time and effort in the future.
Our committee right now doesn’t include anyone who can pick up where I leave off. It would be a shame for London Open Mic to die, or even to fizzle away in a half-hearted fashion. So we desperately need someone to step forward before the end of the season: June, 2017.
• You must be able to plan ahead, continually. Not everyone can handle this. Since London Open Mic is a series of events, two events have to be prepared for simultaneously, first in finding featured poets, then in making sure everything else is done in proper sequence and on schedule: writing and posting ads on the website and social media and other platforms, doing interviews with the features, hosting the actual event, getting photography and videography done, writing and posting summaries and photo galleries. Consequently, a strong sense of responsibility and an ability to manage time are necessary.
• You need to persuade other volunteers to do as much of the work as possible. This is also important because the open mic is a social event, and so should be run by a social group, which then forms one of the seeds of the community it is promoting.
• You have to do any work yourself that other volunteers aren’t getting done.
• You must communicate with all parts of the community: featured poets, open mic poets, poetry aficionados, other poetry organizations, city agencies, etc.
• You must search not only for new featured poets, but for other possible kinds of features, and also for new ways of involving the organization in the community--then make them happen.
• You must inspire others.
• You must use your position to do as many good things for individuals as you possibly can. This is more important than all the rest.
Organizing London Open Mic Poetry has been a very rewarding adventure, ridding me of a debilitating shyness and, at the same time, involving me productively in my community.
I’m hoping that someone else will want to carry it forward. If you’re just curious but not likely to go for it, please ask me about it anyway. If you know someone else who might be right for it, suggest it to them. It isn’t for everyone, but it may, in the end, be perfect for someone who doesn’t think so at first glance. That was certainly true for me when I started it.
I’m happy to talk about it: