Folks wore their most luxurious fleece lined long johns last night, coming in to Arts Court from the cold to hear Jennifer Mulligan and Una McDonnell read.
The pre-reading banter was fun, with beer in hand and bawdy conversation. Marcus stopped by en route to Betrayal, the Pinter play being performed at Arts Court right now. Anita, David, Monty, and Pearl were among the writers I babbled to. I spotted John Lavery, but didn’t manage to have a chat, which is a shame. I’m curious about what he’s working on these days. He writes some exquisitely original fiction.
Also had great conversations with Emily, the curator of the gallery, and Jennifer’s pal, Cheryl. I handed out my little winter chappettes, published by Poems For All. I have a few left, so if I see you, ask for one. They’re cute.
It was great hearing Jennifer read once more. I have a problem with the acoustics in the Art Gallery. It might just be me, but I had a devil of a time hearing Jennifer. Luckily I know many of her poems because we workshopped them in rob’s workshop together. I was pleased to hear new work from Jennifer also. I worry when a workshop ends that people will not continue to work on their poetry. Jennifer has a lot of talent. She tends to combine very realistic details with wit and whimsy. She has some sensual pieces as well. I’d like to see Jennifer explore more of her sensuality in her poetry, to really let go and see what comes out.
Una McDonnell, the second reader is as rare on the Ottawa literary scene as good glass of whiskey at the Carleton Tavern, so I was glad to hear her read. The main thing she read was an excerpt from a very compelling story about a hen-pecked husband and a sexually dysfunctional wife. The man is desperately trying to get his marriage back, but she’s more interested in the family poodle. It was interesting to hear a story about such a situation written in the man’s voice by a woman. Cool too, to hear places like Thyme and Again in a story. I go there. I knew just what Una was describing when she talked about the chicken picatta. I’ve tasted it. I wanted to taste the cheese she described: wrapped in grape leaves, aged in a wine barrel. It was beautiful, also very sensuous.
After the reading, rob and I shared in some ribald humour that I’m not sure the others appreciated, but it gave me a reason to end the evening laughing. Charles took a few photos and at least one will be on his site in the next few days.
February is a tough month to get through. Charles and I missed Ronnie Brown’s reading this week at Tree due to the cold and the distraction of a warm bed, but we were damned if we were going to miss another one. We’re tough. We’re Canadian. We shouldn’t let a –31 wind chill stop us. And so tonight it’s off to the launch party of the Puritan at the Avant Garde Bar. If you haven’t picked up a copy of the new prose journal, you should get one at Bridgeheads, or the U of O English Department or just come to the launch party tonight. The vodka at the Avant Garde will cure your winter blues, or at least paint them pink for a while.