Yesterday afternoon: David Seymour and Karen Solie. When I first imagined going to literary readings, this is the kind of place I thought I'd be going to: a small, cozy pub with dim lighting, lots of beers on tap and a long list of Scotch varieties to choose from. Tip: avoid those big booths with the uncomfortable bench seats. It's hard to see from those booths and your back and bum will not thank you for a few hours of "poetry reader position," which is a pose unknown to yoga practitioners, but necessary to those who attend readings: neck titled, hand on beer mug, slump. Also, get there early if you want the good seats. My preferred location is at the high tables in the centre. I get a good view of the performers and am in the middle of the waitress' path from bar to booths, so she can't help but provide me with a never-ending supply of beer.
The Plan 99 Reading Series has been going on for many years, but I don't know the details. Perhaps it began in 1999, given the title, but who knows? I've gone sporadically for the past few years. Its host is poet David O'Meara who has two collections of poetry, including The Vicinity, which won the 2004 Lampman Award.
Of the two featured readers yesterday, the work that stayed with me most was David Seymour's poetry. Seymour read from his first poetry collection, Inter Alia. He's been published in Breathing Fire 2. He read from a series called 12 String Poems for Huddie Lebetter, known by Blues fans as Leadbelly. The poems had the cadence and magic of the blues. Here's an excerpt from BF2:
"Watching his new friend ride the neck of the half-empty bottle along his guitar strings, listening to the coiled steel twinge and complain. Like an old salvaged feeling. Dark as the starless night, those icy waters of the North Atlantic.
I'm sitting here wonderin', would a matchbox hold my clothes."
And then after chatting with friends, old and new....we left and continued what had been a full day of literary meandering starting with the OIW book fair (not really my cup of tea, but I did pick up the Tree anthology for $10 bucks);
followed by the monthly Ravenswing Craft and Zine fair (notable Sean Zio's great bags and zines, Nekusius' Bondage Bitches);
to Mother Tongue Books (Ginger snap cookies with Michelle Desbarats/poetry collections by Sheri D. Wilson and Salimah Valiani);
Perfect Books (Alice Hoffman's books for teens plus a book of love poems by Carol Ann Duffy)
Mags N Fags (David Eggers' zany quarterly McSweeny, which includes a pile of random stuff, notably the YETI Researcher: The Magazine of the Society for Cryptic Hominid Investigation)
Sleep, sleep, sleep.