amongst books

amongst books

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ottawater 4.0

was launched last night in the Firestone Gallery of the Ottawa Art Gallery, surrounded by the colourful artwork of the late Norval Morrisseau. Monty Reid hosted the event. Reading last night were Rhonda Douglas, Ann Le Dressay, Chris Jennings, John Lavery, Christian McPherson, Peter Richardson, Marcus McCann and Sandra Ridley.

It was a cold night but that didn’t stop the seats from being filled, including the benches. It was great to see a good turn out and sad not to see rob there, even though Monty was a great host. Also somewhere in the audience was Ottawater’s designer Tanya Sprowl. I wish i’d been able to spot her later to commend her on her beautiful design job, not just on this issue but on all of the Ottawaters. The artwork in the issue is amazing too. Ottawater is one of the most well-designed and attractive online literary magazines out there.

I enjoyed all the readings. I’m always impressed with the variety of styles of Ottawater’s contributors. It’s a good cross section of the Ottawa literary community.

Of particular note for me with my fetish for risk taking, experimentalism, strong imagery and sound play was the work of Marcus McCann who had the most marvellous title for a poem The Very Most Montreal St John's Prodigal Couple Arrival Movie Log (thanks for the help with that, Marcus). Sandra Ridley continues to impress me with her imagery and variety of voices. John Lavery read Quickeye, which is also in the issue. I absolutely love his word play and the two voices in the poem. He’s got such a unique style and pace and way of looking at things. I hope he writes more poems and yes, more fiction too. He delights me.

Other things I appreciated – the understated humour of Anne Le Dressay in a poem about a woman who commiserates with a cashier who cannot stand the music of Celine Dion, her poem What Angels Look Like (in the issue too) about a server in a cafe with his androgenous good looks, Peter Richardson's Kitchen Song (in the issue) with the very unusual refrain "the noccini are coming." Chris Jennings' playful Epimetheus Unbound, Epimetheus being the brother of Prometheus, Chris explained. His Zucchini Stand stuck with me for some time too, as did Rhonda Douglas’ poems about her husband. I left the room with a head full of imagery and syllables, which I’m keeping for later.

Check out the latest issue of Ottawater.com. There are 156 pages of poetry, interviews and reviews. I'm really looking forward to reading the interviews with both Anne Le Dressay and David O'Meara, Anne's conducted by rob and David's conducted by Stephen Brockwell.

I tip my toque to mr. mclennan, the instigator of all these shenanigans and all the contributors. This is the kind of thing we need to demonstrate Ottawa’s literary fervour to the world out there and in here and to promote the skilled and creative folk in our city.

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