amongst books

amongst books

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bywords Warms the Night, Sunday Feb 1, 2pm

[cover photo for the Bywords Quarterly Journal, Vol 6, No 4 by John W. MacDonald]
A fund raiser in support of the Cornerstone Shelter and Housing Program
Sunday, February 1, 2009, 2pm
Dusty Owl Reading Series
Swizzles Bar & Grill, 246-b Queen Street

Launch of the winter issue of the Bywords Quarterly Journal with poetry readings byChristine McNair, Claudia Coutu Radmore and Carol A. Stephen and music by Andrea Simms-Karpall donators will receive a copy of the issue and our thanks.

All genders welcome

What we're looking for is MONEY:
$21=7 meals;
$100 = counselling;
$75 = housing search help
$200= computer training.

Cornerstone provides emergency shelter and supportive housing for a diversity of women. Our services are offered in an environment which promotes dignity and a sense of hope. We are committed to public education and advocacy. We strive to increase safe, affordable housing and to end homelessness.

The Urgent Need:
1,337 women became homeless in Ottawa in 2007 and Cornerstone was only
able to serve 500 of them due to shortage of space;
We turn away 10 to 15 women each night.
Those women are staying in unsafe and sub standard living conditions or on the street;
Today there are 9,370 households waiting for affordable housing; a 7 year wait.
A little help goes a long way:
Gifts and donations help make our services possible.

further info: Amanda Earl: tel. 613 863-1364;
site:; e-mail:;

for Cornerstone: Yvonne Garvey, Resource Development Manager, Cornerstone Shelter and Housing for Women; 172 O'Connor St., Ottawa, ON K2P 1T5; Tel: 613-237-4669 ext.1 & 5

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ottawater 5.0 Launch Tonight

Thursday, January 29
Ottawa Art Gallery, Arts Court , 2 Daley Ave.
doors 7pm; reading 7:30pm

Ottawa-based contributors who may or may not be reading (it's always a surprise):

Cameron Anstee
Michael Blouin
Stephen Brockwell
Monique Desnoyers
Amanda Earl (yes, i am reading)
Ben Ladouceur
Marcus McCann
rob mclennan
Christine McNair
Colin Morton
Jennifer Mulligan
Pearl Pirie
Roland Prevost
Monty Reid
Shane Rhodes
Sandra Ridley
Rob Winger

colour your world with the colourful Ottawater 5.0 today and check out the vaRiotous writing and art. you'll enjoy yourself.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Messagio Galore Take VI

took place Saturday night at the City Hall Art Gallery as part of Max Middle’s A B Series. the room was packed despite the bus strike, despite the cold, despite the $15 cost, despite the fact that it was a Saturday night. the audience was receptive and rapt during the performance of this latest edition of Messagio Galore. jwcurry was the creator , compiler and choreographer of the event and of the Messagio Galore series of performances that have included Rob Read, Nicholas Power, Maria Erskine, Laurie Fuhr, Ross Priddle, Max Middle and more. Messagio Galore comes from Frank Zappa’s Massagio Galore, “a swirling musique concrete melody set to a propulsive synthetic vamp. it is arguably his earliest & dense work involving programmed nonsyntactical sound produced by mouth, its musical component pretty much a support structure. There have been many composers working with the notion of the sprechgesang but fewer writers have approached the question of what happens to "words in freedom" except in isolated clutches (DaDa in Zurich, Italian & Russian Futurism, the later French Lettristes." – jwcurry. there’s a great write up of a previous MG here.

performing on saturday night were jwcurry, John Lavery, who has been involved in MG and in the Max Middle Sound Poet previously, Roland Prevost, a first timer with MG, Carmel Purkis, another person whose been involved with MG performances of the past, Sandra Ridely and Grant Wilkins, both first timers.

as Rod Pederson said in his summary of the event, the time flew by. it was like listening to a virtuoso performance by an orchestra, complete with conductor/maestro jwcurry and various groupings of solos, duos, trios and full sextet. sound poetry compositions that i have heard (and i admit to having only experienced a handful of performances--the Four Horsemen, the Max Middle Sound Project, Jaap Blonk and Messagio Galore) are much like musical compositions with concentration on timing, sounds coming together and separating with crescendos and diminuendos in the performance, moments of silence and moments of cacophony. some works were done as tightly controlled pieces requiring much rehearsal while others were improvisational. attention was paid to discreet units of sound and to repetition, to word play. timing was sometimes comic, fortuitous accidents such as missing a page from the script (during bpNichol's "hour three" (thanks, Carmel for the correction!) were handled with ease and playfulness and all was mesmerizing.

according to the programme, not all of the pieces were intended as sound compositions but were chosen for properties that made them potentially viable as sound pieces.

i very much enjoyed the whole evening. everything was a highlight for me but i’ll mention a few that particularly stood out:

John Cage’s Lecture on Nothing (USA, 1949), performed by the entire group throughout the evening, serving as a structural frame to separate the segments of the evening. it set the tone for the evening, the joy of sound and its silences, the pleasure of nothing. “i have nothing to say and i’m saying it.”

How the Pigs’ Music Works, Frank Zappa (USA, 1994), performed as a trio by John Lavery, Roland Prevost and Carmel Purkis. turns the song into a kind of play. i haven’t heard the song but makes me go back to take a listen. it felt like a poke at the manufacturers of jargon and the double speak we have to listen to day in and day out.

sounds’ favorite words, Paul Hines (1986) , performed by jwcurry. i agreed with all of the words. damn my retention that i can’t remember a one of ‘em. Carmel gave me a few just now though: "blue pencilled, baby microscope, mutt .... and of course, their all time favorite, inkling"

The Man on the Flying Trapeze, Spike Jones/Doodles Weaver (USA, 1947), performed by jwcurry. a reinterpretation of each line, with the words changed, based perhaps on the idea of mishearing words.

She Was A Visitor by Robert Ashley (1967-thanks Carmel for the title!) toward the end, Maria Erskine, who has been a part of MG before and was in town from Toronto for the evening’s performance, came up to perform with the group. it was an eerie and ethereal part of the night. the piece being about a woman who committed suicide. Carmel tells me "It wasn't in the program, because it was a sort of add on to the night, somewhat outside of the cage of the Cage. A surprise gift to the audience - and us :)"

getting there rapid, jwcurry/Qaani Lore (Canada, 1989?) performed by Carmel Purkis and Sandra Ridley, in lament of the current bus strike.

The Tibetan Memory Trick, traditional arranged by the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie (Howard Kaylan/Mark volman; USA, 1975) and performed by the sextet. i love this. i’ve heard Carmel and jwcurry practising this over and over in pubs, on street corners. it’s also referred to as the announcers’ test and has been performed by people such as Danny Kaye.

other pieces included compositions by bpNichol, by F.T Marinetti and more. it was an incredible night. the success of such a performance depends on not only the performers but also the engagement of the listeners and this was a very engaged and attentive audience. afterward Max drew wonderful door prizes for books by bpNichol, Coach House Books packages, gift certificates to Irene’s Pub and more. there were munchies, drinks, good company and great performances. yes, that’s what the A B Series is becoming known for. it’s one of the most nurturing series and the most creatively inspiring in this town right now. hats off to Max Middle, the instigator.

the performers were exhausted but had the look of wild eyed angels after having accomplished impossible feats. i hope they are still celebrating. magnums of champagne to them and especially to jwcurry.

if you have the chance to go to the next Messagio Galore, and i do hope there is a next one, you have to drop everything and go. it will make you engage with words and with sound on a very different level to what you are used to, and for those of us trying to write anything at all, isn’t that what we’re trying to do?

next in the A B Series and co-presented by Kevin Matthews is Hear from Melbourne, four of Australia’s hottest performance poets: Emilie Zoey Baker, Sesan M. Whelan, Alicia Sometimes and Justin Ashworth with the Young Griot Collective and Max Middle, February 6, 2009, 7:30 pm, NAC Fourth Stage; tickets $18 available from Max via or the NAC box office.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Memories of Steve Sauvé

[photo by Charles Earl]

Charles and i first met Steve at Café Nostalgica back in the fall of 2001 when Kristy McKay and Trevor Tchir began the Thursday Night Open Stage for Music and Poetry. I hadn’t read much before and was pretty nervous and so was Steve. The audience was full of students, mostly intent on the music and the drink and each other. Getting them to pay attention to poetry was no easy feat, but it wasn’t long before everyone was laughing at Steve’s spoken word pieces, mostly autobiographical, making fun of his trouble getting girls or his thinness or geekyness. The open stage was a mixed bag of poetry, with various styles, lots of angsty woe is me stuff or smut or comedy or serious poems about snow and flowers, we had it all. Along with the musicians, we became a pretty tight community and Steve was very much part of the community.

in 2003, Trevor decided we should record a live CD, Thursday Heroes. we had a fantastic time during the recording. Steve was wonderful and funny, in fine form. His poem, Sweetest Marie, is on the CD. Others on the CD are Kristy McKay, me, John Gillies, Max Middle, Kris Northey and musicians Trevor Tchir, Emil Pelletier, John Carroll, Peter Webb, Kevin Grant, Rozalind MacPhail, members of the now Soul Jazz Orchestra and others. i’ll never forget how much fun it was to be part of that community and how much i learned about performing, a lot of it from seeing Steve develop his style.

in 2004 after Trevor and Kristy moved to Alberta, Charles and i mostly stopped going to the open stage at Café Nostalgica, so we didn’t see much of Steve, but when we heard he was in the hospital for open heart surgery, we went to visit him. i still remember laughing with him over his body being too long for the bed in intensive care. even then he was laughing, trying to make the best of things.

during his recuperation and after that we didn’t see Steve much, just off and on at readings over the years. i followed his livejournal blog. i was so happy when he and Faye met. both very strong creative forces, both loving people.

like for many artists, Steve was constantly in and out of work, trying various stuff. at one point Charles ran into him near his office in the east end, where he was doing manual labour. we were both very worried about Steve at that point, but somewhere along the line, even work was getting straightened out. he’d started at Algonquin College where he’d discovered a love and talent for graphic design. he got work at NRCan and things seemed to be going great.

i’m not much of a follower of spoken word but i was always pleased to hear when Steve did well at the slams and he was on the Capital Slam team more than once from what I understand.
i witnessed his meeting of jwcurry at the Ottawa Writers Festival a few years ago when we were there to see a documentary on the local poetry scene. i can’t remember who was wearing the Frank Zappa t-shirt, John or Steve, but they were quite excited to find mutual admirers of Zappa. i remember smiling at the meeting, two people from very different sides of the literary community, but with something in common.

then just recently, in August, Warren Dean Fulton came to town and organized a wondrous pub crawl “In Search of Harvey, the 1st annual pooka pub crawl” Steve decided to come along. It was ages since we’d seen him, so it was a great opportunity to hang out, get drunk together and write poetry.

i know it seems at times like there are quite a few differences and groups within Ottawa’s literary community, but Steve made his mark on the community at large and this goes a long way to showing that we’re really all in the same family. i respect what Steve achieved with his poetry and admire the closeness of the spoken word community here. they’re good folks and they care very much and support one another as they did with Steve.
on behalf of Charles and myself, i send love and condolences to Faye and all those who knew Steve. we share in the celebration of his memory.

a toast to Steve Sauvé.
(October 12, 1975-January 17, 2009)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Debut of the New Stalgica on Monday, January 12, 2009

a new reading series hosted by Sean Moreland at Cafe Nostalgica, 603 Cumberland Street

# 1 features

Jamie Bradley
Amanda Earl
John Gillies
Marcus McCann
Sean Moreland
Sandra Ridley

Sean says "Launching a new monthly poetry event for 2009, on January 12, six explosively excellent local poets willbe sharing a variety of their work in a carnivalesque cabaret....Subsequent events will be on the 2nd monday of each month, and will feature 1-2 featured readers followed by an open mic."

photo by Charles Earl