amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Importance of Outreach by Ottawa's Literary Community


Whether it's trying to put Canadian contemporary poetry in the schools, the current initiative of Arc Poetry Magazine, the Dusty Owl Reading Series' upcoming celebration of Black History Month & fundraising for the Ottawa Food Bank every year at its annual Chocolate House, Bywords' fundraiser for Cornerstone & participation in the AIDS/HIV Walk for Life, local press Phafours' anthology fundraiser for the Guatemala Stove Project, the spoken word community's activism for causes like the Haiti Earthquake a few years back, the Ottawa International Writers Festival's campaign for literacy or any other number of outreach initiatives by the literary community, such outreach is an important and not often recognized part of the activity of Ottawa's writers, storytellers, spoken word artists and event organizers.

Aside from all the work that goes into organizing a reading series, writing grant applications, & promoting events to help create a thriving national cultural capital, Ottawa's creative community has demonstrated through these attempts to help fellow Ottawa residents who are dealing with poverty, homelessness and abuse that they understand they are part of the larger community, that Ottawa is their home. 

Numerous members of the creative writing community volunteer at food banks, shelters, fundraising campaigns & can be found at rallies in support of causes, such as the recent Idle No More.

I think this says something about our creative community. There is care here and kindness and generosity of spirit and empathy. Numerous writers live below the poverty line. Many of us are fortunate to live comfortable lives, but the understanding that we are only a few pay cheques away from hunger is inescapable.

I recently heard that certain segments of the media don't bother to report on poetry readings taking place in Ottawa because they claim most of the readings bring in only small and regular audiences and therefore reporting on these events wouldn't serve the interests of the larger readership, viewers, listeners. I think this is misguided. The creative community of Ottawa is part of the larger community and affects it in numerous ways. This is an example.

I hope you'll join me on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 5pm at the Manx Pub to help raise much needed money for Cornerstone, an organization that provides shelter & support for Ottawa's homeless women. We will pass the hat while you listen to poetry by former & current Ottawa poets and music by the fabulous Jill Zmud. 

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