I had a really good time listening to Saturday's poetry at VERSeFest. We managed to take in the 5pm & 7pm shows at Arts Court with Shane Rhodes, Tim Bowling, Tim Lilburn & Rae Armantrout & also to socialize a bit with poets & friends& friends who are poets in between & after.
Rhodes gave me the kind of sound play I'm always hankering after in both Err, his most recent book from Nightwood & in new work which samples post-confederation treaties.
Bowling choreographed his reading beautifully, reading not just from his own work, but introducing each segment with work from two other poets.
Lilburn's language & imagery were exquisite & well-rendered in Orphic Politics & the section of a long poem from his soon-to-be-released (but not out yet, alas) book Assiniboia. Orphic Politics, a book about sickness, has particular resonance for me & I had the chance to chat with Lilburn to exchange anecdotes on experiences.
Armantrout was funny & I was taken by surprise by this. I loved the way she mixed everyday expressions with science, money, sex. politics, mushrooms, sunlight, signs, airports.
The evening was the most I've been steeped in the poetry of others for a long time. Again I think of Cohen's "poetry is read in the chamber of the heart." & I think it can be heard there too. all of Saturday's readers were good readers, their words quiet & poignant or funny; imaginative, whimsical, subtle, powerful.
Today's the final day to enjoy the festival. I'm looking forward to Paige Ackerson-Kiely & Barry McKinnon at 4:30pm. Then there's the Summit reading at 8pm. apparently there are still tickets available, so you should splurge & treat yourself to a reading by Phil Hall, Philip Levine & Pura López-Colomé.
While Hall has read in Ottawa fairly regularly, which I am damn grateful for because I love his poetry & seldom miss an opportunity to hear him read & chat with him, Levine & López-Colomé have never read here before & likely won't ever again.