took place last night at the Café Nostalgica and it was loads of fun. after a brief open mic which featured both poetry and prose by a handful of us, including Joseph Hutt, one of the students in Seymour Mayne’s Poetry/Creative Writing workshop, and Ryan Hume, who played his Zombie song, which is always a crowd favourite (and mine). After this there was a performance of “The Death of the Good” by the theatre group, Black Hand. It was a zany and fun way to start the night.
Christine McNair read from a selection of new poems which focussed on ghosts and miscommunications. Christine has been a feature for a few readings this year already: Ottawater and Bywords, but this time i felt she had more time to read in depth. I’d really like to see a chapbook or book by Christine soon so that I can take my time to read all the accumulation of interesting images and pause to contemplate. I’m looking forward to hearing Christine again later in the year as part of Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices reading in July.
Was also great to hear Stephen Brockwell again. He read mostly from the Real Made Up. And this is a book I really love; it’s creative and full of play and skilful experimentation. He mentioned that new poems for him are usually about three years old. I wish he’d read from some more recent material. On the other hand, this particular audience would have been completely unfamiliar with his work, so his choice made sense and gave them a great idea of how excellent his writing is, hopefully inspiring them too, as he inspires me.
It was good to see the mostly university student audience get exposure to contemporary creative work. I expect that this doesn’t happen much in their classes. I know i was most surprised to learn that poets are actually alive and living in Ottawa.
People came from the crowded and noisy back room to hear the poets, which is a great compliment. For a Monday, the place was more than packed. J.P. Laflèche co-hosted with Sean Moreland, and skilfully handled the sound, which was particularly important as things got rowdy.
The evening ended with music by Line Dezainde, who goes by the nick name Zing, Zing since people have always had trouble pronouncing her last name. She was backed up by Click Here Host, Mitchell Caplan. I coveted both their guitars, but never got a chance to ask Line more about hers. Line had some interesting lyrics and playful songs and Mitchell did a fine job on backup, occasionally throwing in vocals as well. Line is also a visual artist, working in a variety of forms.
I’m jazzed by seeing writers i’ve never heard read at the open mic. I’m jazzed by the variety of talented and creative artists based in Ottawa. i’m also relieved to glide effortlessly across the city from Chinatown to Sandy Hill on a beautiful red and white bus. phew.
The next edition of the series takes place the second Monday in March. I’m eager to see what Sean will cook up next for us.