Josh Massey and John Lavery were the features last night at Max Middle’s A B Series at the City of Ottawa City Hall Art Gallery. Josh arranged Bridgehead coffee/tea and John made flan. What a lovely welcome.
Josh is known for writing about trees and I guess it wouldn’t be untoward to call his work, at least certain aspects of it, ecopoetry. Last night was a luxury, hearing him read for longer. I’ve heard him often at Tree and witnessed the development of his writing over the years. What really excited me about Josh’s writing were the voices: there was a ballad that sounded like it came from a medieval troubador, there was a cowboy poem with words like Missy in it, there were those environmental poems that mentioned oil and above all there was sincerity and intensity that shone through.
When it was John’s turn, he brought a chair close to the audience, took out his guitar and played a few songs. Not only does he make fine flan, but he also plays a mean guitar, actually a very melodic guitar and writes excellent lyrics that are not that far off from the language and wit of his fiction. It was a joy to hear him perform his music. He read an excerpt from a novel in progress about a man named Paul-François and his eccentric lover. I found the story so compelling, I wanted it to go on. I’ve heard John read three or four times now and each time I am left feeling excited about the possibilities of fiction again; his is innovative, unusual and unique.
This was the third of the A B series and it’s really coming along well. There are several readings taking place in the next few months and they sound tantalizing. Check out the blog for further info and come out to the next one, taking place on February 3 at the Mercury Lounge and featuring sound and language poets Mathew Timmons from Los Angeles & j.s. makkos from Cleveland. Isn’t it neat that the A B Series is exposing us to writers we wouldn’t normally experience?