Last night at the Gazebo on Parliament Hill, jw curry performed bpNichols’ the martyrology. You’ll have to ask someone else whether he read from all nine books because by 11pm it was past my bedtime and I had to leave.
The performance was the first in a series of fund-raising informal gatherings to help with publication of A Beepliographic Cyclopedia and its side project a concordance to the martyrology.
The Gazebo at sunset was the perfect location for this reading. each section revealed another glorious view of the setting sun and then, in the middle, under bright light, stood curry. The gazebo is a bit of a secret to anyone but tourists, who come upon it accidentally. A few tourists came by, read the sign for a different performance featuring old-time costumes, and walked away bemused. The sound and light show in the background was not as loud as the crickets. The prettty fireworks from the Casino du Lac Leamy gave an opportunity for a break during book 2.
The audience changed over the time we were there. Some of the listeners were rob mclennan (in a corner on the bench, then later on the floor), Stephen Brockwell (sprawled comfortably on the floor), the Dusty Owl folk: Kate Hunt (wedged in the window), Cathy MacDonald-Zytveld (with picnic basket, stretched out on the bench), Steve Zytveld (nipping out now and again for a smoke), Anita Dolman and later James Moran, a quietly attentive Monty Reid, Carmel Purkis and a friend from out of town.
It seems to me that the martyrology just begs to be read aloud. there’s so much wit, so much sound play and so much drama in it. hearing curry read it was like listening to a play.
“In The Martyrology different ways of speaking testify to a journey through different ways of being. Language is both the poetís instructor and, through its various permutations, the dominant ‘image’ of the poem. The [nine] books of The Martyrology document a poetís quest for insight into himself and his writing through scrupulous attention to the messages hidden in the morphology of his own speech.”
I’ve only read the first book myself. It’s probably one of the key texts for those interested in the evolution of poetry and in writing and reading avant-garde poetry today.
Recently in my on line fiction writers’ group, there was a discussion/debate about poetry. Once again people rabbited on about how there was simply nothing around today as good as say, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. This attitude is really tiresome to me. I’m so relieved that there’s a literary community in Ottawa who isn’t spouting this nonsense and actually trying to reach past the 1800s.
To help support jw curry’s efforts to publish the cyclopedia and concordance, you can send heaps of money to jw curry, at the following address: room 302 books, 880 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 6R7. It’s one of the most exciting and interesting projects to come out of Ottawa these days and worthy of our support.