last night. lots of people there to see bc poet don mckay (last syllable pronounced like sky rather than day, in case you were always wondering).
as tree readings do, this one started with an open mic set with tree regulars martin levine, bob monsurinjohn, max middle, rob mclennan, rhonda douglas and occasional readers michelle desbarats, jennifer londry, anita lahey, paul tyler, david’ o’meara (let me know if i’ve forgotten anyone).
open mics at readings are always eclectic and this one was as memorable as always with martin’s e-mails to his sister in winnipeg, bob talking about contracting hpv from thong underwear. i particularly enjoyed jennifer’s poem about a hooker and max middle’s new fish poem (max, please fill in the title for me!) as he said, not a love poem, not a sound poem. also another poem from rob’s on-going valentine series and rhonda’s cassandra manuscript.
after indulging in a brie and conversation break, we returned to our seats to hear the featured reader. this is only my second time hearing mckay, who came to the writers’ festival either last year or the year before. he has an excellent stage presence, an easy and comfortable manner and a great sense of humour. the crowd paid close attention to his poems and between poem banter.
he read poems from his newest collection Strike/Slip and also some brand new pieces. he said that given how long it takes him to write his poems, new for him was within a decade.
the poems he read featured a lot of birds, even the new ones (despite his claims to the contrary). mckay writing is articulate, clear and exact. tom pow has an excellent article on mckay’s poetry over at arc. or go to stan dragland's piece in the university of toronto quarterly.
it was lovely to see such a large audience at the event and to chat with folks and learn who has a book coming out in the fall, who’s been promoted to a new and exciting position, and all that. many spectators were regulars of the tree reading series, but quite a few weren’t. let’s hope this event encourages more people to come out to the twice monthly series and read their stuff or listen to us read our stuff. rhonda and dean are doing a fantastic job nurturing (and shaking) the tree.
they’ve got some leafy events coming up. go see their site or the bywords.ca calendar to find out.