Saturday, April 29, 2006

Ridiculously Good Writers

One of the nice things about having friends who are writers who don't live in the same town as you do is that you tend to get stuff when they visit. Hooray! Like books, I mean, and also dinner sometimes. Jon Paul gave us his book Asthmatica, mainly because he has a man-crush on Paul. I've been reading it to relieve myself of the tension of The True History of the Kelly Gang, which is getting really sad, what with Ned Kelly's mom losing her teeth and itinerant husbands left right and centre. Wow, is Asthmatica ever good! I remember being really jealous when I saw that JPF had written crossword puzzle poems and published them in Matrix. That's totally cheating, Tino. My crossword poems weren't any good and weren't funny at all and my thesis advisor at the time advised me to stop writing them, and he was probably right, but it still hurt that someone else had the same idea as I did and did it better and was in a position to say "Screw you, academics, I'm publishing them myself!" So the crossword poems are in Asthmatica along with a healthy dollop of other really good stuff. I'm so jealous. I wish I could be less serious and more fun just like Tino Dancer, only without being called the Elton John of Canadian Letters.

Speaking of writers stealing each other's ideas-- er I mean being mutually responsive and reflexive or something like that-- below are two examples of "Framing the Narrative," one by me, the other by Chris Ewart. Chris wrote a story responding to derek beaulieu's concrete poem and had Paul Kennett and Sandy Lam assist him in reading it on thursday night at the NoD launch. I perfromed mine at his Calgary launch at Pages about a month or so ago. derek's been getting people to do his dirty work for him with the poems from his latest book Fractal Ecomonies (sic) since the poems are basically impossible to read conventionally and he knows it.

He also managed to corral angela and Fiddy, who, you'll notice from the photos, are also plagiarizing each other. They both did an interpretive dance. Ok, just kidding, we all know Fiddy would never do that. He read a couple of his own poems, showing some self-promotion smarts there, while angela DID in fact dance. In homage to "derek's unhealthy obsession with rubbing," she treated us to some frottage. Like a katydid. angeladid. In keeping with the theme of stealing ideas, Kevin McPherson read some poems earlier in the evening-- found language from comic books, but only the POWS FRAPS BANGS and POKS. He vowed never to read them again, since he'd learned that Mark Hopkins had the same idea, but really, he should perform them MORE, not less, thereby staking his claim.

The night was so full of readers I can't even name them all, because I didn't take any notes. It's this new thing I'm trying for blog reviews-- I call it "irresponsibility." Actually, it was more that I was a little nervous, since I was performing with angela from WSfL and we'd only had an hour or two to practice that afternoon. I ~think~ it went really well... angela is a very skilled performer, and had rehearsed with other people at length, so any pauses/mistakes/missed cues were entirely on my side of the a hoosh. Anyway, in addition to the four stars of the evening (beaulieu, Christie, Fiorentino and rawlings), I think the most interesting and fun performance was from James Dangerous, who read a story and then sang a translation of a fictional poet's fictional poem in a fictional language, and there were singing bowls, gongs and an impressive tremolo. Nicely done, Dangerous!

The evening at The Carpenter's Union Hall wrapped up with The Russian Artist Factory playing some songs, and there was some ridiculously good dancing. Then there was pizza. I found that I am a ridiculously good photographer, especially with a head rush from intensive a hooshing and a ha-ing, as evidenced below. Too bad my camera's batteries ran out! Also-- see how derek is trying to take over JPF's staus as the Elton John of Canadian letters? He can't even play the piano! C'mon!

We miss you already, angela and Jon Paul!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Guess Who Put the Nch Back in Launch?

Congratulations to dear friends and fellow dealers in smut Jason Christie, Jon Paul Fiorentino and angela rawlings on their wild and fun joint book launch at the Calgary International Spoken Word Festival! Their books of wonder and fabulousness, Canada Post, The Theory of the Loser Class, and Wide Slumber for Lepidopterists are a trio of excellence in the pool of awesomeness that is Canadian poetry these days! I smell book awards! Mmmm... smells sort of chemically...

Jason read first, tickling the crowd's collective sweet spot with his gently sad poems about capitalism, nationalism and language. Example--

Fuck off!

Canada Post's "I" puns and disjuncts language, sentences and lifts headlines to urge the listener/reader in the gentlest way possible to shift their paradigm and join a quiet revolution... or maybe eat some pancakes--...West Hillhurst will separate if our demands are not met...

angela rawlings read next, treating us to a hoosh and a ha. Check out the fluttery action of her hand in the photo! Her reading from WSfL was seductive and disturbing, a perfect performance of the text's treatment of sleepy innocence and the violence of aquisitiveness. The juxtaposition of angela's text with her live performance is the ideal demonstration of the difference between a live moth and one pinned, between in silk nests caterpillars in silk... larva is a cage where moths bleed silk and Collect, kill, and mount specimen. WSfL cries out for its flipside whether you are reading the text (beautifully treated and visually stunning) or listening and watching angela's performance. I feel so lucky to have experienced both.

Tino FM brought the scheduled part of the evening to a close with his energetic greeting to Moosejawians. Er Moosejawers. Um Moosejavans. Micejaw? A confused Fiorentino read work that fitted nicely with Christie's (We don't have much time left/ so please don't touch me) interspersing poems with banter that can only be described as witty. The Elton John of Canadian Letters (someone in Ottawa called him that and we're never going to let Jonny forget it!) is a crowd-pleasing bundle of fun, and his newest book is a snappy mix of playful ("Binary Code Sonnet 1.0"-- ...01001001001...) and lovely (a trail of loosestrife led me/ home // always maintained a semblance of balance/ the challenge to temporality // That is to say/ I'm lonely or lonesome or both). His performance was a fun wrap-up to the trio of launches--Jon Paul is always a hoot. A ha.

The charismatic and gracious host Paul Kennett brought us back for the second part of the evening, the OPEN MIC. I believe there were eight eager beavers who signed up for their two minutes of glory, and the ensuing oral happening was varied and on the whole, AWSORM. No one had to be herded off the stage and there were many styles, many styles, ranging from spoken word and spoken word/hip hop to avant garde language poetry and Bok beat box. I expect nothing less from our talent pool of readers/listeners, and our community is lucky to have so many poets who know how to listen and so many listeners who know how to poet. Well done open mikers!

Next? The NoD launch at Ye Olde Carpenters' Union Hall... There will be readings, oh yes, there will be readings, and happy faces. Tune in again and maybe I will have more to say and more importantly, more fun photos! Here area few for the road-- open mikers Emily Elder, X Box, and Fiddy, Laurie Fuhr and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the mess of paper and text and drink on our tiny table-- oh, the writing life! A hoosh!