I've been a big fan of Priest's since 1993 at the Ottawa Valley Book Festival when Phil Jenkins decided to start the event as if it were the launch of spring baseball season and threw Priest's book "Scream Blue Living" right at me. I'm a lousy catch: the book dropped at my feet and the audience chanted "take it, take it." I turned red and picked up my prize. The book was full of witty, creative and provocative poetry. I also got to hear Priest for the first time. He was really the first "live" poet I'd ever heard. Since then I've bought his books, including his kid fiction and poetry and caught his readings in Ottawa a few times, but last night was the first time since '93 that I heard him perform his music. It's just as witty and thoughtful as his poetry. I bought his book "How To Swallow A Pig" even though some of it is already published in "Scream Blue Living," but this gave me a chance to chat a bit with him and get his autograph. Even better, this was his last copy, so he read from it and then gave it back to me after. I have his dog-eared corners. The night was a very special time particularly because a local choir was there and contributed by harmonizing with Priest and his co-performer, Danny Bakan. Priest and Bakan, switched to sing-along songs toward the end to encourage the choir's beautiful harmonies. We ended by singing a song about a day when there will be no war. If people hung out at Rasputins more, the chances of that might be significantly increased. That hot mulled red wine and cider doesn't hurt either.
Go to Robert Priest's site to sample his original work. He's one of the most versatile writers in Canada. And since wit like a good wine should be dry, he's worth savouring.