amongst books

amongst books

Friday, March 09, 2007

Transpoetry-Noel Taylor's column in today's Citizen

[I sent this letter to the Ottawa Citizen today, but since I have another letter appearing in this Sunday's Citizen in the spotlight, I doubt they'll publish this one so I post it here; I encourage all of you who want more than just limericks and poems that rhyme on city buses to write in.]

Poetry on the Fly Should Be Light-March 9, 2007

It was good to see Noel Taylor advocating the idea of Transpoetry on Ottawa buses, but does he really think Ottawa residents are so incapable of enjoying anything but light verse, rhyming couplets and a rhythmic beat?

I don’t think Mr. Taylor and I live in the same city. Where I live there are art galleries that are more than paint by numbers exhibits, there are plays that are not just recreations of the Cat in the Hat, and there is a strong and vibrant literary community with activities like the Ottawa International Writers Festival. The festival occurs twice a year and brings in literary figures such as Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood. More germane, it is popular and often sells out to capacity when writers like Alistair MacLeod come to town. We have many other literary activities too, two universities with strong English literature programs, national and local literary publications, and reading series, such Tree and Sasquatch that have existed here for twenty five years.

Why is it that the Citizen continues to underestimate Ottawans? Articles like Mr. Taylor’s remind me why the Citizen’s coverage of Ottawa’s dynamic and growing literary scene continues to be sparse or non existant.

post letter afterthought:

it's been brought to my attention by a writer who i admire that my link between taylor's yearning for light verse on ottawa buses and the citizen's flimsy arts coverage is thin. here's my attempt at creating a stronger link:

given the coverage the citizen has of arts, i think that the person who makes the editorial decisions about what to cover and what not to cover must think ottawans' literary tastes are pretty unvaried, if not pedestrian. not so much for the visual arts and the music scene however. that's why i linked the two. while the coverage is more comprehensive in visual arts and music, coverage for books is mostly about mystery novels. And while there are some really great mystery novels, there's just so much more to write about.

really i was just using taylor's article as a way in to the most important point. i should have also mentioned that when transpoetry was up, many people i know who are not generally poetry readers or writers talked to me about it and said they enjoyed it. is it difficult to read interesting poetry on a bus while it's moving? I find it harder to read the government ads myself.

Unplanting tongue from cheek however....I think it would be interesting to see concrete poetry on Ottawa's buses. What about this one from bpnichol?


1. The Friendliness of the Alphabet


2. The Denial of the Alphabet


3. The Sanctimoniousness of the Alphabet


4. The Self-Centredness of the Alphabet


[bpnichol-an H in the Heart]

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