amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, January 27, 2007

ottawater at the mercury lounge

friday night i had the pleasure of taking part in the launch of ottawater 3.0, an annual on line publication founded in 2005 by rob mclennan to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the city of ottawa.

darkness and rum means that i have to rely on my memory rather than notes, but here are a few choice moments:

the haunting poetry of anita dolman, continuing her mesmerizing reading from the previous evening’s factory reading series. there’s a new intensity to anita’s work in the past year. you’ll find more of her poems in decalogue.

being introduced so graciously by rob. my attempts at adjusting the microphone which hissed and popped like a snakes in popcorn but i wore fringies, so all was well.

clare latremouille’s precise, spare language and evocative imagery. she said that the ottawater poems were the first she’s written this millennium. a great way to mark a new era.

wanda o’connor visiting from concordia’s "school of creative writhing" as rob put it. that beautiful dress. the smooth way she adjusted the microphone (compared to my clumsy snake charming technique) and that poem about the staircase, her ability to make an image that lingers.

shane rhodes on the spanish word esperar to hope, to wait for.

roland prevost’s skillful word play and surrealistic philosophical musings.

rob’s address book poems. the idea that the poem is there long after the buildings have been destroyed.

stephen brockwell’s lightning poem. his gracious acknowledgement and thanks for all rob does in the literary community, echoed and cheered by the crowd.

delightful conversations about jerry garcia of the grateful dead with monty reid, with stephen brockwell, new year’s eve with heather mcleod, candles as a foot warming technique with pearl pirie.

was lovely to see so many people attending the reading. the mercury lounge is a glamour palace with its long red velvet curtains, brick walls and high ceilings. to take part in such a reading with so many excellent writers and such an attentive audience is one of the delights of writing and being part of the ottawa literary community. the event was a dream come true for me. and i didn't even have to ride home in a pumpkin coach.

if you didn’t get the chance to go to the reading and even if you did, visit the site to read the latest issue. it’s 150 pages of literary hijinx, hubub and haberdashery (i made up the hats). i haven’t gotten through it all yet, but so far my favourite bits are rob’s interview with stephen brockwell whose profound knowledge, and dry wit make for a compelling read, together with rob’s insightful questions. also the harold rhenisch review of some above/ground chapbooks packs a punch. i was pleased to see new writing by former classmate Kristy MacKay, who now lives in Edmonton. Of particular originality and depth are the self-addressed post cards.

oh..and the artwork and design enhance the issue beautifully. ottawater 3.0 together with the previous issues are a helpful resource for anyone studying current writing and a good sample of the variety of poetry being written by current and former ottawa folk. i tip my balaclava to the always inspiring and dedicated rob mclennan.


Anonymous said...

I really regret missing it. I was off work that night too -- unfortunately I was off work that night due to a "massive" (my doctor's word, not mine) sinus infection that has been dogging me for weeks, maybe months.
Sounds awesome. Kudos all 'round!

Amanda Earl said...

drat the sinuses eh. you were there in spirit :)