We hosted The Ontario Poetry Society's "Sultry Summer Gathering" Aug. 16th at Mykonos
The Sultry Summer Poetry Gathering at London’s beautiful Mykonos Restaurant on Aug. 16th, 2015, was enjoyed by everyone in spite of it being one of the hottest days of the summer in a terrace room with no air conditioning. Twenty hardy poets read to an audience totaling about thirty at the annual gathering of The Ontario Poetry Society (TOPS).
The normal London reading series at Mykonos, London Open Mic Poetry Night, regularly turns out substantially larger audiences, but the weather reports had predicted a very hot day, so it was no surprise that many people decided to stay home. The London Branch Manager had tried to obtain folding paper fans for everybody in advance, but none were available anywhere in the city, so free rental and real-estate magazines were supplied in their place and seemed to do the job for most of the audience
Thirteen TOPS members read: Carmen Falconi, Wayne Ray, Stan Burfield (London Chapter Manager), Fran Figge (TOPS President), Debbie Okun Hill, I. B. (Bunny) Iskov (TOPS founder), Keith Inman, Leona Harris, John Ambury, Nancy Walden, Roy James, Dunlaith O'Heron, and Carmen, a holocaust survivor. Carl Lapp was present but didn't read.
Additionally, seven non-members read at the open mic: Martin Hayter, Joan Clayton, Lorna Pominville, Kevin Heslop, John Nyman, Dorothy Mahoney, Laurie Smith.
Readers drove into London from all over SW Ontario just for this event, from Toronto, Newmarket, Windsor, Sarnia, Thorold and more.
A Personal Note from Stan Burfield, London TOPS Chapter Manager & organizer of London Open Mic Poetry Night: WOW!!!
From my point of view as co-host (with Bunny Iskov, TOPS founder), the afternoon certainly was a success. In fact it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
After a long life of serious shyness, this was the first time I have ever been totally calm in a gathering largely of strangers. It was the culmination of five years of self-therapy. Initially, I forced myself out into the community to attend Ron Stewart's great monthly poetry workshop, and when that became easy I tried to read to an audience, and, finally, for lack of a regular reading venue, I created one by organizing London Open Mic Poetry Night. That idea was sparked by a TOPS reading/open mic I attended in Sarnia. Moreso than attending workshops and reading in public, It was the organizing itself that did most of the work of ridding me of shyness.
So, after three seasons of London Open Mic, here I am actually co-hosting this year’s version of the TOPS event I had attended in Sarnia that got me going on this course in the first place. And, by lovely coincidence, this event happens to be the first one at which I’ve ever been totally calm. It felt so good I had to keep myself from constantly grinning. Everything I said as co-host was warm and relaxed, the polar opposite of my tight fear at the first few events of London Open Mic three years ago. It feels like some huge coin has finally settled down on its opposite face.
I definitely have Bunny Iskov, and the rest of the executive of TOPS, to thank for this, because I would never have thought of becoming a social organizer (“Are you insane!?!?”) had it not been for TOPS.
A possible "Shy Poets Club"
Preparing for the Sultry Summer TOPS reading, I thought of starting a Shy Poets Club. Socializing worked to rid me of my shyness; why wouldn’t it also for others? It would probably be a poem sharing club, but light on critiquing and heavy on socializing. In a group of shy people, no one is going to be judging other shy peole negatively. Only supporting each other.
From Kevin Heslop Blog:
Glimpse - A Review of George Murray's Collected Aphorisms
Like a deck of aces––and the occasional joker––George Murray’s collection of aphorisms, published in 2010 by ECW Press and entitled Glimpse, compels one to recognize that the game of traditional poetry––as a result of the demands of meter, rhyme, form and, perhaps, narrative wedlock––is and often has been saturated with deuces and jacks, so to speak. It demands a serious consideration of the aphorism as vital to our century, necessitating, as great aphorisms do, the increasingly rarified consolation of the sinewed pause, the silent, silent thought. And Murray is a master of the form.
Consider his aphorism #88: The difference between curse and legacy is time.
And––I’m sorry. I can’t resist––what if Theo Van Gogh included this, post-script, in a letter to Vincent?
Aphorism strikes me now as a hunt for the enchantingly fleeting offspring of metaphor and logic. Having seen such sprites as a youth in another great aphorist, Arthur Schopenhauer––see: Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.*––I discovered in Murray’s collection that same fissuring power, the same rapid flights, the same eased descent into jacuzzis of wisdom.
Or like whole geodes promising crystals should you meet them with concentration’s hammer.
To expose the ballpeen of this guy’s third eye, here’s one of the shortest aphorisms in the collection: Meaning is overflow from trying.
Or, with a lighter tone: Panic is worry on a tight schedule.
I’ve observed that great writers, and, particularly, great poets, wring words of more denotative liquid than you’d theretofore thought those words contained, or could contain.
Try another: Harmony is coincidence harnessed.
The book’s 409 aphorisms––the mean constitutive words of each is about 13––demonstrate the politically unfooled Murray’s scientific fluency in addition to his etymological literacy and metaphorical genius. The post-meditation whipcrack of insight into the essence of such “natural philosophies”––as they were once known––as biology, physics and astronomy abound. But they often yield in excess of their polymathic quality a story about what it means, and what it has thus far meant, to be human, and to think, and to love, and to imagine, and to listen.
These messages about existence––now, in the twenty-first century––bleed a compassion, and sometimes a sorrow, for what we have become as a species, and what our becoming has implied; they document, and they rib; they witness.
Here’s one more: Each book is a paper mind that can no longer learn.
Teach though it can. And quick.
*Essays and Aphorisms - Penguin Classics, 1970
From Frank Davey Blog:
Public Poetics: Critical Issues in Canadian Poetry and Poetics
Public Poetics: Critical Issues in Canadian Poetry and Poetics,ed. Bart Vautour, Erin Wunker, Travis V. Mason, and Christl Verduyn. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2015.
This is a fascinating collection on poetics, although not necessarily because of the work of the editors, and not because many of the essays address poetics – the theory of how most effectively and conscientiously to create poetry. Should one create it to impress, to attract empathy, to amaze, to enable listeners/readers to make new connections, to shock? Should one create it craftily, spontaneously, procedurally, passionately, or in a less-than-rational state as in Fred Wah’s “drunk” poems? Is a poet someone who thinks more deeply and laterally than others, who feels more deeply, who is more nimble with words, who takes more risks with language, who thinks more disjunctively, who sees the multiplicities of meaning in language more readily than others? Are poetics culture specific? Should a poet even think about poetics? – 50-some years ago I received several letters from would-be poets deploring that I took time to ponder poetics issues. Are some forms of language more or less suitable for poetry than others? “Go in fear of abstractions,” Pound once famously advised. Reject closure, suggests Lyn Hejinian. Was Ginsberg right that the first thought for a poem is the best thought? Can language itself suggest the phonic direction of a poem, as Robert Duncan believed? Is simile the bird that comes down too quickly, as Olson declared? Readers won’t find much discussion of such questions here, though they will find what co-editors Bart Vautour and Christl Verduyn term a “contemporary mash-up” (333) of impressions of what poetics might be.
Some of the contributors don't seem much interested in poetics, or perhaps confuse it with thematics and audiences. Every poet employs a poetics – an assumption about what poetry is,
Caveman #3: Lunch Pencil work by London artist James Wood See James Wood's blog.
Caveman #2: Reception Pencil work by London artist James Wood See James Wood's blog.
Caveman #1: Locking Up Pencil work by London artist James Wood See James Wood's blog.
From Stan Burfield's Blog:
Getting Caught Up
I got seriously behind on my blog. In the sense that I got into posting on my Facebook page and was no longer transferring the posts over to my website blog as well. However, now that the events of Season Three and the bigger events of the summer are behind us, I'm going to begin bringing them over two or three a day, hopefully. Starting back in the winter.
What is event success?
A new idea.
To someone with a long retail background, which consisted of the day-to-day attempt, over 18 years, to make a flower shop successful, it’s second nature to see ever-larger numbers as the big goal. And that’s a hard rut to get out of. So if 40 come to a event, it’s twice as successful as one that only attracts 20.
However, people keep telling me that the open mic’s success has nothing to do with size, but more with art, ideas, poets appreciating each other’s work, liveliness, life expressed, expression itself, a breakthrough of expressing one’s self, to others, being part of a community.
And those are all good points.
But this summer I’ve discovered a new guage of success. So far I’ve taken part in (organizing and/or reading) three very small open mics. Two of them consisted of a small number of poets essentially reading to each other. But in each case, something good happened. For instance, a young lady who was very anxious and initially afraid to read a poem she considered too “dark” was encouraged to read it anyway, and applauded afterwards for her courage. In these small events, unexpected communication can happen, at least with me the organizer. I and others have more time to help each other with unusual problems that might not otherwise be expressed. And so on.
I came home from these tiny, supposedly unsuccessful events very satisfied. And with this new idea: If one good thing happens at an event, then not only was it a success but I could go one step further and say that the event had a purpose and now its purpose was fulfilled. For me, everything else that happened at the event became simply the things that were required for that good thing to happen. And that makes strong sense to me because when everyone goes home, most will go back to their carry-on lives, to some degree as if the event hadn’t happened at all. But that one person will be changed.
From now on, I’m not going to worry so much about numbers, and instead try to become more sensitive to what’s happening, and maybe what needs to happen.
The next small event to look forward to is this Saturday morning, a poetry reading at the Mantis Eco and Arts Festival at Boler Mountain. We read at 11:00 am. If you’re into nature, as I am, you should enjoy it. http://mantisfestival.blogspot.ca/
Then, the last summer event I’m working on (organizing and hosting) will be Aug. 16 at Mykonos Restaurant, The Sultry Summer Poetry Gathering, put together by London Open Mic and sponsored by The Ontario Poetry Society TOPS, at 12:30 pm. There’s an open mic to read at, and you can get the idea of what TOPS is, and if joining would be of any benefit to you. http://www.theontariopoetrysociety.ca/Poetry%20London%2015.htm
Featured poets to come
London Open Mic Poetry Night has its roster of features filled part way into the fourth season.
Season 4: 2015-2016
Oct. 7, 2015, will feature Madeline Bassnett, who teaches English at Western.
Nov. 4, 2015, will feature Charles Mountford, a Stratford poet and humourist.
MEET OUR NEW VOLUNTEER VIDEOGRAPHER
Sebastian Rydzewski is replacing Kenny Khoo, who resigned because he was finding himself called away on too many business trips on the first week of the month.
We will have Sebastian's first set of London Open Mic videos posted here tomorrow.
Sebastian Rydzewski's family moved to Canada in 1991, and has lived in London Ontario ever since. His passion is digital media and computers, and has taken Computer Science studies at Fanshawe College.
He is a self employed computer, media, and technology specialist and offers a variety of services to the general public of London and surrounding area. From web design to custom software solutions, video-graphing events/weddings to making your very own video DVD's, even home theatre design and setup, he can get the job done at most affordable rates.
For a more in-depth look at the offered services, visit his website or give him a shout at the provided information bellow.
Phone: (519) 878-9395
Sebastian is also a co-founder of the web-academic institute of "Academics Today". Their main goal: "Our goal is to make higher education available to everyone on the planet." How: "Using the internet, students sign up for free, with video lectures, peer reviewed assignments, online tests, and optional certificate for course completion. Instructors are able to create their own courses for free, and provide them to the community. We call this structure neutron learning, as it is learning, without charge." Their website is in Beta testing, you can visit them atwww.academicstoday.ca and find out more.