Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tuesday at the Ottawa International Writers Festival

was jam packed with three events in a row of interest to folks of a poetry bent.
all three events were well attended and the Poetry Cabaret in particular sparked a lively discussion.

@ 6pm Don Domanski spoke of the role of the poet and the sacred within the art of poetry. the sacred is the reason why he writes. sacred for Domanski does not have to equal religious or spiritual but rather a fundamental experience with time and space and how each thing holds a mystery simply because it exists.

@ 7pm Alan Briesmaster of the newly formed Quattro, Beth Follett of Pedlar Press and Stan Dragland of Brick Books spoke about their motivations behind literary publishing and what constitutes a success.

In particular I found Beth Follett’s talk very moving. She sees herself as in service to the literary community offering them something which is essential, books. Pedlar Press is interested in works that articulate worry, when there is a mind at work trying to excavate some of the possible answers to the questions. Pedlar Press has been in business for twelve years. Beth said “I am Pedlar Press; I live on chicken feed.”

She doesn’t subscribe to conventional corporate models for business. Her biggest reward is to be the maker of beautiful and essential books.

@ 8pm, Stephen Brockwell hosted Poetry Cabaret 2 with Don Domanski, Anne Simpson and Alison Pick

It was interested hearing Domanski’s work in light of what he said earlier in the talk on the role of the poet. His reading from his latest Governor General Award-winning collection, “All Our Wonder Unavenged” (Brick Books, 2007) got me musing about whether there is a difference between wonder and reverence. In particular I was thinking about local poet Michelle Desbarat’s poetry (latest poems in Decalogue: 10 Ottawa Poets (Chaudiere Books, 2006).

I feel that she is able to articulate the experience of wonder in her work. She describes experiences and you get the impression that the speaker of the poems is inside the experience. What I got from all three poets at Poetry Cabaret 2 was their feelings of reverence for nature. Their work did not make me feel like they were necessarily reporting from within the experience but rather as observers outside of the experience.

Their reading inspired a lively question and answer period and got many of us exchanging emotion and ideas after, as any poetry reading should do, in my opinion. Yes, this is where ideas live...although I’m assuming over at the hospitality suite, the ideas are likely in full bloom ;)

No comments: