read last night at the Carleton Tavern. Nick leaves town next week for New Brunswick and rob is off to Edmonton for his 8-month writer-in-residence position at the University of Alberta in the fall. Seems like a good occasion to hold a reading. Marcus is not (had better not!) leaving.
The Carleton Tavern is such a great venue for a reading: there are two rooms upstairs, a bar and a server available (thank you the very patient Aline). The rooftop serves for post reading stargazing and smoke breaks or wild spinny dances (rob and Carmel).
Last night we had a full house of friends and well wishers. Monty Reid hosted the reading. First we had a mic and stand, then we didn’t. Ah sweet mystery of life.
Marcus McCann began the reading with some of his slant phonetic translations and a very fun poem about saxophones. What always impresses me about Marcus’ poems is the way he plays with sound. A series called Tectonic Suite referred to technology, the tonic note in music and other sideways shifts from the tectonic.
Next up was Nicholas Lea who read from his recently released first poetry collection Everything is Movies (Chaudiere Books, 2007) and also from a series of new poems. One piece was a tongue in cheek poem railing against the lack of publication opportunities for those who, as Nick says, write poetry that doesn’t make sense. His writing always moves me. There’s a stillness to it and the juxtaposition of unlike ideas and images is unique and provocative. I will be very sad to see him go. I look forward to the inspiration Fredericton will provide though.
After a break, the reading resumed with rob mclennan, who read from the Ottawa City Book Project (Chaudiere Books, 2007) , a series of love poems about a (now) imagined future and “After Spicer” (Apostrophe Press, 2007), draft poems inspired by Jack Spicer and others including Robin Blaser.
i can’t do After Spicer justice really, but i’ll extract some of the little gems and you can get a copy from rob yourself.
“thirteen ways/of pitching past an orange”
“; notions of a poet/ or of an oranger, sweeter//in the glove”
“a ghost-text of community”
“; a 1950s fortune/packed in palindrome”
“[...]I measure death/by where it sinks”
What I most love about mclennan’s poems is that he makes me feel like anything is possible in a poem. I think his poems have gotten more lyrical over the years. He’s still pushing the boundaries of language and playing with subtle meaning and form in his writing, but on the lyricism and imagery are more prevalent. Although .... i picked up a copy of an older book I didn’t have (harvest: a book of signifiers (Talonbooks, 2001) and I can see the lyricism there too.
it doesn’t matter if the poem makes sense
it doesn’t matter.
there is blue among them trees, there is snow
slipping quiet from the sundrencht roof.
hope it don’t rain tonight, anyway.
(from the series, “it doesn’t matter”)
I will miss rob.