read last night at the Factory Reading Series in celebration of the fourteenth anniversary of above/ground press.
Marcus debuted his very first solo chapbook, Hetroskeptical (above/ground press, 2007) and read from other pieces including poems from the Techtonic Suites and from his collaborative chapbook with Nicholas Lea and Andrew Falkner, the Basement Tapes. i particularly enjoyed his poem Whoa and the beautiful word play combined with sexual jubilation based on the first (i’m assuming) experience of a hand job. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Marcus McCann is a dexterous and agile manipulator of poems having to do with sex and sexuality. His work is highly erotic and at the same time he manages to push languages boundaries. I have read few poets today who do this.
William Hawkins read from Dancing Alone: Selected Poems 1960-1990 (Broken Jaw Press / cauldron books, 2005) and from his newly printed chapbook “the black prince of bank street” (above/ground press, 2007). his poems were very well received by the audience. they have a real life grit to them and yet at the same time are poignant without being overly sentimental. He opened a poem with the line “Donna was a cocksucker” (A Pimping Analogy” and with that, he had everyone’s full attention. There’s something wonderful about hearing poems that talk about our own neighborhoods: Hintonburg is mentioned in the above poem. There’s a poem called “King Kong Goes to the Shawville Fair,” another in his ongoing King Kong series. There are poems about drugs and alcohol and the loneliness of being old. Poems we could all understand and relate to: “How strange this growing attachment/To minor keys...” (Elegy for Everybody). After Bill read, the audience clapped for a very long time, the longest I’ve ever heard an audience clap at the Factory Reading Series. rob reminded us that the launch for Dancing Alone at the Ottawa International Writers Festival a few years back, the event was sold out. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to hear William Hawkins read last night.
I read too, but I’m not likely to say much about that from the point of view of an audience member. I read from my second chapbook, “Eleanor” (above/ground press, 2007). if you’d like to hear me reading it, please go to one of my numerous other blogs, here. Much thanks to Susan Johnston of Special Blend for allowing me to publish the recording of our recent interview.
Finally, i offer my congratulations and thanks to rob mclennan, above/ground press publisher, who continues to publish and promote poetry through chapbooks and broadsheets and distribute them, despite financial hardships and a shortage of time due to his busy schedule. i am very honoured to be included in the roster of above/ground press writers.
It was a lovely and touching evening, the memories of which I will cherish. Thank you to all my friends who came to the reading. It was heartening to look out into the audience and see you all. Thanks very much to Emily Falvey, curator of the Ottawa Art Gallery and close friend, who had the good sense to move us all to a different space when the rambunctuous punk rockers in Club Saw tried to drown us out.