Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Spoken Word Pre-season Wrap-up

Okay, admittedly the pre-season tag has more to do with hockey than with our NCR orature scene. Several things are, on the contrary, in full swing. Grassroots-organized events find in September that the Ottawa audiences are returning from the hinterland, and a few favourite events have started up for the year.


The monthly themed reading series Poetic Intentions, which had its first-anniversary show at the Château Lafayette this summer, has found a permanent venue at the Avant-Garde bar, and accordingly, the work that is most at home there is a basket of the experimental, manic, anecdotal, sometimes anti-intellectual, usually funny and sometimes sentimental.

September was a short-story format, doubling as benefit/launch party for the Sparrow, a new creative writing grassroots journal edited by Mario Jamal. Submissions have closed for the inaugural issue, but short fiction, poetry, and other creative writing are welcome at in anticipation of the second deadline.

Tiah Akse organizes Poetic Intentions; the next event is October 30, Avant-Garde Bar, 8 p.m, themed on anthropomorphism. Take to your hind legs, barking poets, and join in the fun.


Dusty Owl, which also doesn't take a summer break, celebrated its' co-organizers' birthdays this Sunday September 30 with a big open set and rare readings from Steve and Kathy Zytveld's own works. We saw an all-star turnout of Owl regulars, and raised a glass or two to Kathy and Steve, who make so much happen for oral culture in Ottawa, and who do a tireless job of supporting both emerging and highly-accomplished writers.


Capital Slam launched its new season, which has a great line-up of features for the year, on September 1. First winer of the season was Rusty Priske, who is one of the five-member team travelling to Halifax in October for the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, which includes a national slam. Ottawa is well-represented this year by Rusty, Free Will, One, nathanaël, and Danielle Grégoire.

There is a fundraiser for the team on October 3 at the Mercury lounge, featuring the team, and a set by local spoken-word veteran and inspiration John Akpata. Please come out to show support and kick in some gas money (namely $5 at the door.) It will be a memorable show, and a chance for the team to work out their chops before the festival the following week. There are some debut pieces in store!

The next slam is the same week, Saturday October 6, featuring rising phenomenon Horus Heavens. This is where careers begin!


In other spoken-word news, the Writers Festival hosts a workshop on page-to-stage transition with Oni the Haitian Sensation on Wednesday October 17.

Oni made her name in Ottawa's spoken word and slam circles, has represented Ottawa at the National Poetry Slam in the U.S, and was Artistic Director of the inaugural Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (then known as the Canadian Spoken Wordlympics.) She's recently performed across Canada in conjunction with her new G&M Book of the Year Ghettostocracy, and is returning from performances South Africa just prior to this workshop. (Free admission!)

One last note/teaser for now: many are aware already that the superb storyteller Ivan E. Coyote is Carleton's writer-in-residence for 2007-08. I hope soon to post a run-down of what Ivan has in mind for the year. Carleton students and Ottawa in general will be fortunate for Ivan's presence here.

As well, poets from Capital Slam will be featuring at the Storytelling Festival this year. More info to come.

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