1. Go to the library and take out Canadian poetry books, better yet, books by local Ottawa poets. I’ve been told by Ann Archer, the Co-Ordinator of Adult Acquisitions, that poetry has a circulation which is lower than other books. I imagine that it would be hard to justify purchases if the books weren’t being taken out, so ....take out your local poet...today.
2. Buy a copy of your very favourite book of poems by a living poet, especially if it’s buy someone local or published here in Ottawa and give it to a friend who is ripe for poetry.
3. Attend at least one reading this month.
4. Conduct interviews, write reviews or articles about living poets.
5. Write a response poem to the work of a living poet.
6. Treat your favourite local poet to a coffee or a beer or several beers.
If I emphasize living poets throughout all of this, it’s not because I don’t have respect for the dead (i'll be there soon enough), but rather because I believe that contemporary poets need our support now and that when the media talks about poetry at all, it’s almost always about the classics. I want to see contemporary poetry get some exposure. If I dwell upon local writers it’s not because I am not interested in the works of poets outside of Ottawa, au contraire. But part of my interest during National Poetry Month is to let people know that Ottawa is a vibrant cultural centre. We get a bad rap in the media too often and by others who repeat it ad nauseum without having experienced the bounty the literary community here has to offer.
ps: Check out Pearl's reports on the Ottawa Poetry newsletter blog about the Writers Festival!