last night at new venue the Ottawa Art Gallery (moved from Gallery 101). The new location is great: chairs are comfy, artwork from the latest collection (Heteropeia) hung from the walls. One of my favourite things about the Factory Reading Series (formerly Poetry 101) is the pairing of local Ottawa writers with those from out of town. In this case Ottawa sound poet Max Middle with Vancouverite/New Yorker text and performance poet, Leanne Averbach and the famously uncategorizable bill bissett.
Middle opened with poems from the recent above/ground press chapbook flow march n powder blossom s, and went on to perform new pieces, stuff from the latest Peter F. Yacht Club publication and a variety of rapturous sound segments. Later when bissett read, he mentioned that he's known Middle since 1991. Middle's started to publish pamphlets too, such as the moonlishly delicious Moon Potatoes and this purposely crumpled up and pieced together scrap booker on overload looking thingy that might be called "ues ext rig." You can get free copies at the upcoming ottawa small press book fair on June 17.
Averbach's reading was more traditionally text based than Middle's, and it packed a wallop, especially a poem about working in an abattoir. She explained in her introduction that she has worked as an activist fighting for the rights of the proletariat. Would have been good to hear some of her spoken music. She does a cool version of "Fever," but we had no band. Where's a good jazz combo when you need one? Go to her site and watch her video Car Wash, it's really neat!
bissett performed oh so briefly but it was such a great thing to hear him do his thing. He asked what's wrong with salmon farming, wondering about the strain on their little fins as they flounder. He jammed on maracas while singing a gospel-sex hallelujah. It's a complete delight to hear this man, even if for a short time.
And that's what's cool about the Factory Reading Series really. You get a chance to hear poets who are not often around, not often in town. That and you get to find books, chapbooks, DVDs and CDs that you might have a hard time finding elsewhere. One of the items for sale which can be bought in shops like Chapters is Radiant Dance Uv Being, a new book where Bissett's fans sing his praises, a kind of Cohenesque I'm Your Fan tribute.
These poets are a true demonstration that anything's possible in poetry. It was such an inspiring evening. If you missed it, you really misssed out! The next Factory Reading Series is in July. Check the Bywords calendar regularly or that and other events that'll knock your shoes off and blow your hat away.