amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Elephant in the Room

In/Words, January 30, 2014, the ClockTower Pub on Bank Street

At the time of writing this post, I had attended two In/Words readings in its current location & with its current editors, Matt Jones, Maria Demare and Chris Johnson at the helm. Both times, someone has taken off his clothes.

The first time I went, I was the featured reader. The second time I chose to brave the cold and the ungodly late hour (readings begin sometime after 9pm & on a school day!) to attend because of the features: Davie Currie and JM Francheteau. I have rarely had an opportunity to hear Mr. Currie, but whenever I do I am always entertained by his humour, which is often inappropriate. JM is a very skilled writer. I'm starting to think he can write just about anything & make it great.

The reading opened with Dave in an elephant suit, yes…an elephant suit. After some struggles with figuring out how to get the microphone beneath his trunk, he proceeded to talk about issues such as poverty, human trafficking, slave labour etc. His collaboration with JM consisted of stories they told about one another. Dave's long tale of a relationship between a bear & a duck was punctuated with stories from JM. I can't make this stuff sound as hilarious & odd as it was.

After the break there was an open mic. I really love the In/Words open mic. The hosts and audience are warm & attentive & the readers & performers are truly talented. What stood out for me in particular at this open mic was the beautiful voice of Kimberly Dawkins who sang "Images" by William Waring Cuney. Lynette Wilsonplayed guitar & sang in a beautiful & smoky voice. I always enjoy it when music is included in an evening of primarily poetry & prose.

But there were other highlights too. Liam Burke reminded me quite a bit of Sean Moreland: good sound play, dark lyrical poems. Michelle Louise's poem about the bathroom floor, Marilyn Irwin & Cameron Anstee both read short & powerful pieces. The open mic set was gargantuan, so I can't begin to remember all the excellent participants.

In/Words has a new tradition with the current group of giving out prizes to open mic participants, which is such a caring & supportive thing to do. Congratulations to the recipients of bacon, a book on cheese & finger puppets. Yes, that's the kind of a night it was…& the kind of series. 

In/Words readings remind me very much of the old Café Nostalgica's Thursday night open mic series. Friendships made at that series have endured & some of its participants have gone on to become well-known performers. I can see that happening here with In/Words.

A note about the venue: the event takes place downstairs at the Bank Street Clocktower. The bar tender is a really great guy who runs around like crazy getting everyone's beer & food. He seems very supportive. The place the night of the reading was packed. A lot of the attendees were students at Carleton or former students, plus there were numerous members of the literary community there.

In/Words is a very active part of the community, not only holding these readings, but also showcases that include music, poetry & spoken word, a weekly writing workshop & publishing a chapbook series & a magazine. I have learned from personal experience that the more you put into something, the more you get out of it. I think it's very clear that In/Words is a labour of love for the organizers & they receive a lot of love in return.

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