steamed up the Royal Oak II last night, and it was already pretty darned steamy, with their reading as part of Tree’s second annual Hot Ottawa Voices event.
the most memorable reader for me during the open set was Nicholas Lea, who read a few new poems. i’m very much looking forward to hearing him read before he leaves Ottawa (he’s reading with fellow departing writer rob mclennan, and staying here poet Marcus McCann at the Carleton Tavern on July 28).
another noteworthy reader in the open set was Michelle Desbarats who read a poem scrawled on some very tiny note paper. i’m looking forward to reading with Michelle along with rob mclennan and Mike Buckthought on July 20 at Rasputins.
after a break for cooler air and circulation, we returned to the basement for the features. more fans of the features arrived, making this event one of the most well attended i’ve seen at Tree in some time.
Emily Falvey opened with an excerpt from her manuscript about a love triangle, and falling in love with the French language. i am a big fan of Emily’s writing. her observations about human nature are witty and spot on. in the excerpt one particularly memorable bit for me concerned coffee and the Greeks believing one can tell the future by reading its grounds. Emily writes with cosmopolitan flare and sophistication while still maintaining an understated tone.
Jacqueline Lawrence is someone I’ve never heard before and I really enjoyed her work. she told us her reading would be about surrender, the name of her chapbook and about being black, fat and female, making all of these into something to celebrate. along with the humour and sensuality of her poetry, Lawrence mixes honesty and incidents to arouse compassion and empathy. i enjoyed her sense of fun, particularly the poem about mango baths. my good mentor, SARK always says...eat a mango naked.
Marcus McCann continued the warming trend with amusing poems about gay threesomes, park sex and some really nerdy word game poems, that were perfect for us word geeks. his most memorable poems for me were those that turned expected things around...something like but not quite: “it wasn’t cold, the air was improvising.” it was much better than that but hard to convey. you’ll have to go to his reading on July 28 at the Carleton to hear for yourself.
Sandra Ridley finished the set with 12 ghazals from her soon-to-be-published chapbook Lift, concerning life in the 50s on a prairie town. i really enjoy Ridley’s simplicity with language and strong imagery. her poetry is quiet and effective. i wish i could give you a good example; instead i’ll send you here. this year Sandra has been reading more and more and i feel she’s really improved in her reading style because of it. she is quiet but this quiet demeanour draws the audience to her rather than pulls them away. the audience was attentive all evening, but there was something almost holy in the way we listened to Sandra. that’s the only way i know how to explain it. i am sure we’ll be hearing more from this talented writer soon.
Tree organizers made excellent choices once again this year for Hot Ottawa Voices. these writers are rising stars. and the night certainly couldn’t have been hotter...
thanks to Dean and Rhonda for organizing another excellent reading. the next one will be a Midsummer Night’s Tree on July 24. it’s the annual all open mic night and it will be hosted by rob mclennan.
don’t forget to season your summer with other upcoming readings. see the Bywords calendar for more. and for those of you still recovering from last night’s sauna, let’s all go jump in a lake!