We've made good use of the first four events to test out and then toss out ideas that sounded much better in an excited discussion than they actually worked on the floor. In the process we ended up with a leaner, simpler event, composed
We did make one major addition to our original idea: Each event is preceded by a widely-circulated interview with that event's featured poet. We try to make the interview as pertinent, interesting and in-depth as possible by first sitting down and reading the poet's latest book. The resulting questions asked are then not only about the poet, but also about the actual poetry and poetics. And by doing the interview by email we give the poet as much time as necessary to develop the most thoughtful answers. This pithy interview, then, provides audience members at the reading with a good background, so that when the poet takes the stand they can really appreciate that twenty minutes.
Writing, reading, and listening to poetry are all to a large degree internal experiences. Likewise, Poetry Night should not be just a social occasion. We're trying to make it as likely as possible for audience members to leave at the end of the evening with their inner lives touched and moved. If not a lot, at least a little bit.
At the moment we are excitedly discussing the possibility of several new projects, all of which will add to and flow from Poetry Night. More on these later.
The featured poets for the rest of Season 1 are as follows:
February 6: D’VORAH ELIAS, who was born in South Korea, was abandoned by her mother and adopted to the United States from an orphanage. She married the late poet/physicist Vic Elias, and raised four children in London. She is a playwrite and poet and has one published book of poems. (Editor: Having read her 2010 book, 'Ani' (I am), I have to say I’m tremendously impressed. I always read each poem three or four times, and normally I would expect any thrill to begin to subside after maybe the second reading. But with these poems I've found that each reading simply opens them more, exposing the tremendous life inside them. Here’s how it feels to me: Where another poet might start with a blank sheet of paper and construct on it layer upon layer until the poem is complete, Ms Elias is instead more of a sculptor who chips away at an already-heavy form. The layers don’t seem to be layers in the normal poetic sense, but are more like the wrapping that has to be removed.
The really odd thing to me is that even though these poems bring to life so much that I have very little personal familiarity with, like womanness, the Jewish faith, religious faith in general, and the particular kind of very complicated, difficult life Ms Elias has lived, when I’m reading of them in her poems I’m living them right there myself. Within the space of a few lines I am a different person. It’s quite an amazing experience. Part of the reason for the depth of the life in her poems is that her subject, the fullness of a human being living a life that’s in turmoil, is itself so inherently rich and layered. But also her cutting tool is very sharp.
I’m sad to say that Ms Elias has very few if any copies of her 2010 first printing of ‘Ani’ (I am) left for sale at her reading. Hopefully a good turnout will convince her publisher, South Western Ontario Poetry, to bring out a second run. Also, I may be able to do something here. Stay tuned. In any case, sharpen your ears and come to the reading. ....Stan)
March 6: CHRISTINE THORPE says her poems are addressed to “those who feel in each bright stream, the pull of an underground river. Readers are drawn from personal crossroads into subtly strange lands where skies may be truly falling but the play of imagination endures.” Before settling for English literature, Christine studied biology, mathematics and computer science. She has two published books of poetry.
April 24, 2013 (the fourth Wednesday): This is a special non-open-mic reading by four prominent London poets for National Poetry Month, held under the auspices of the League of Canadian Poets:
It will include FRANK DAVEY, who, since 1963, has been the editor-publisher of the poetics journal Open Letter, and who co-founded the world’s first on-line literary journal, Swift Current, in 1984. A prolific and highly-esteemed author of numerous books (the latest published in 2010) and scholarly articles on Canadian literary criticism and poetry, Davey writes “with a unique panache as he examines with humour and irony the ambiguous play of signs in contemporary culture, the popular stories that lie behind it, and the struggles between different identity-based groups in our globalizing society—racial, regional, gender-based, ethnic, economic—that drive this play,”according to his publisher’s reviewer.
London’s first Poet Laureate, PENN KEMP, will also read. Born in Strathroy, Kemp is co-editor and co-publisher of Pendas Productions. She describes herself as a ‘sound poet’ and has published twenty-five books of poetry and drama, ten CDs and Canada's first poetry CD-ROM. Since Coach House published her first book in 1972, Penn has been pushing text and aural boundaries, often in participatory performance. The League of Canadian Poets proclaimed her one of the foremothers of Canadian poetry. The following is from my review for this page of Kemp’s August 4th performance: “It's the opposite of narrative poetry. In that if you are looking for a story to carry you forward you are completely missing what's happening. What's happening isn't in the future but the moment, not the story but each word the poem is built from. Not even the word, but the sound of the word. Not just the sound of the word but many of the possible sounds of each word, all fitting together, interweaving, each evolving with each other and with the whole. Imagine hearing jazz built from vocal sounds. Now imagine it's the first time you have ever heard any jazz in your life. Beyond the experience itself there is your own mental experience: You find yourself continually working on your expectations. And your needs. Which turn out to be many.”
One of London's exciting younger poets, TOM CULL will read from his first book, newly published. Cull is Poetry London's workshop coordinator and an instructor at London's Fanshawe College. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in English at York University.
Also to be included in the April reading is LONDON'S SECOND POET LAUREATE, whose announcement was originally expected last September when Penn Kemp’s term ended. It has since been delayed for unknown reasons. If there is actually going to be another London Poet Laureate, and that person is appointed before April, we will try to have him or her read at this event. If not, another prominent poet will read.
This National Poetry Month event .is under the auspices of the League of Canadian Poets, and, as such, is required to be held at a city library, which will be the Landon Library in Wortley Village (instead of our usual venue, the Mykonos Restaurant).
May 1, 2013: SONIA HALPERN has won many teaching awards including UWO’s 2012 Arts & Humanities Teaching Excellence Award for her teaching in women’s studies and art history. She has published a number of articles in that field. She has been voted one of UWO’s most popular profs for five years running. Halpern is also an actor and a composer, and has one book of published poetry, ‘The Life and Times of Transition Girl’ (2005).
June 5, 2013: DAVID J. PAUL has taught in London high schools for nearly thirty years. He has published two chapbooks and one full-length collection (2005). His poetry has been described as concrete, honest, earthy and visceral. He plans on reading poems about birds, dogs, earthquakes, spiders, writers and desire.
Nearly all of the roughly twenty five Londoners with published books have agreed to read for Poetry Night, over two years’ worth. we will soon begin asking those who have not yet read if they will be having a new book published within the next two years. We want to schedule those poets to read soon after their book’s release. After that, we will begin scheduling the rest of the readings for our second year.
All the events will be from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, and all but the special April 24th one will be held at the Mykonos Restaurant, 572 Adelaide St. N. Admission is by donation. There is overflow parking across the side streeet and one block north in front of Trad's Furniture. The first half hour is live music for your entertainment.
For other info, check our website: http://www.londonpoetryopenmic.com/