Sunday, April 20, 2008

Poetry Cabaret 4 (not three!)

[i apologize that i can't count, noticed my numbering has been off for the entire fest...egad]

the festival ended last night with House of Anansi Press writers A.F. Moritz, Elise Partridge and Kevin Connolly. Poetry Cabaret 4 was eloquently hosted by David 0’Meara whose introductions to everyone’s work are always so good, i’d like to see them as essays. (and he wears great shirts, last night's dashing red with black roses]

i had trouble concentrating last night and my brain came awake fully for the question period and partially for the poetry of Kevin Connolly. not because i wasn’t interested, just because at festival’s end my brain is always overloaded and i simply can’t do more than just drift in and out of consciousness. (dare i mention the wine?)

i’m hoping another blogger (say Pearl?) may have more to say about the actual readings; last night i was quite interested in the audience’s response.

A.F. Moritz read from his new poetry collection “The Sentinel” (House of Anansi Press, 2008). I once heard him read before from Night Street Repairs, which I have and enjoyed. The poems were very lyrical and despite my lack of concentration abilities, I enjoyed the cadences and the delicate nature of his writing. It had a kind of understated strength, if that makes any sense. The audience paid close attention and seemed wrapt in his words.

Elise Partridge read from Chameleon Hours (House of Anansi Press, 2008).

Kevin Connolly, a festival and audience favourite read from his latest poetry collection “Revolver” (House of Anansi Press, 2008), a fascinating journey through various voices and styles, the table of contents being song titles. When I first heard Connolly’s work a few years back, I wasn’t quite there...I’ve had to grow into his writing and now I really appreciate it. I enjoy the risks he takes, for example, writing a moon poem when so many moon poems are cliche and the way he uses a constraint as a challenge and a form of liberation. In answer to the question about understanding, to me there is no better answer than the Bill Knott quote at the beginning of the book, which Kevin read when he began his reading: “I wish to be misunderstood; that is,/to be understood from your perspective.”

Kevin says he is not a surrealist poet but rather he is influenced by the Americans who were influenced by the surrealists. he put it better than that, but at 8 am on a Sunday morning, with really sketchy notes, I can’t do what he said justice. However, the surrealistic influences of his writing show up in poems such as “Counterpane,” which he read last night, when Shakespeare arrives on Ellis Island “with a trussed-up suitcase and the equivalent of $3.50 in badly out of date currency.”

this year’s festival was another great demonstration of literary variety, not only for poetry but also for fiction (and likely for ideas too). as far as the poetry goes, we were exposed to a wide variety of styles, intensities, experimentations, traditions and personalities. i walked out of the festival feeling sated once more and ready to write, ready to read and ready to engage in a poetic dialog with other writers.

thanks again to the Ottawa International Writers Festival. you bring this city to life!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice to see myself quoted here . . .

may I take the occasion to please invite all to my blog

whereon I have posted all my poetry, every poem I've written since 1960, for open access and free download—

regards from Bill Knott