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Lampman and Beyond: And Evening of Ottawa Poetry Past, Present, and Future

Dusty Owl did a night of readings Oct 12. The money raised from the event goes to the charity, Oneness-World Communication which in the writer’s fest will do an outreach of literature and literacy to the homeless, new arrivals to Canada, Native communities and children’s group. 3000 children will be reached within 5 days thru the Step into Stories program.

The reading grounded in Archibald Lampman as a home base, and the diverse shapes poetry has taken in his old stomping ground since he was here. He was only with us in spirit as in person, Lampman would have been 146. He worshipped at the church that the reading was held at, Christ Church Cathedral, which will celebrate its 175 anniversary this year. [An announcement of the poetry event is at Facebook]

Stephen Brockwell opened in costume of Lampman with a retrospective of the man, of the literary scene that was looking utside of Canada for models, and of the place Ottawa was then, rather fractured between rich and rough with political patronage, opium dens and brawls between the Irish and French workers.

He read a number of samples of Lampman including the imagist canoe trip of Morning on the Lievre. It reads in part,

Sky above and sky below,
Down the river; and the dip
Of the paddles scarcely breaks,
With the little silvery drip
Of the water as it shakes
From the blades, the crystal deep
Of the silence of the morn,
Of the forest yet asleep;

He closed with a sonnet of Across the Pea-fields. Quite a large collection of Lampman’s poems are online and in the public domain.

Jacqueline Lawrence, who was part of the Canada Poetry Faceoff slam competition, next shared some of her poetry, including a poem in tribute to the domestic workers immigration plan. In part she said, “Silence bows its head in reverence/as we sing this praise song for you.”

She wrote poems to the women in her family, her dad, pondering how it would be different if he lived in my days. She also a piece of erotic, referencing how she aims to change the canon which Stephen Brockwell noted was oddly absent of the erotic relationships, just as the canon of Canadian painting is oddly absent of human form.

Paul Tyler was up next and started with Lampmanesque portraits of the landscape. He had the room humming a buzz with each piece, from how we react when the aliens arrive, what do we say around the office water cooler, to those B.C. banana slugs that are as long as one’s foot and trampling twigs “go little puddle of nerves”. He also read If I were a painter he would paint the ugly months of March and April that we shut down for “our dislocated gazes/our half intentioned lives”. When’s his book out where?

Sean Zio [photo there] performed a few of his pieces from his Theory of Angels including, “a night. Would a dark life of the soul not be more fair” and speaking to how “we combine our hopes with our timidity’s […]and I’m your no emergency zone”.

Michelle Desbarats read her poem about Eve looking around as the angels close the gates of Eden and as she watched two snails slide away […] she knew she would be blamed for everything. A poem about her mother’s desk “it is a substantial sadness not like pine”, I can’t do justice to in quotes. We need a book. The applause for that poem was the longest of the evening. When it died down Michelle said wow, maybe I should just leave now. She got laughter and continued on.

Max Middle closed the evening with a language poem of sestina that I got too wrapped in to write a word down from. the the window a must /replays confidence of the next poem gives an idea. He performed a chant and his closing piece zedders is here where you can hear it.

Overall a diverse night of great poetry, good turnout, lovely refreshments by candlight and closing somewhere around 10 p.m.

Related posts:

  1. Ottawa Poetry Newsletter I’d also recommend reading my write-up on the Lampman-Scott Reading over at the Ottawa Poetry Newsletter....
  2. Evening Haiku the catch gets harder — dusk levels distinctions between grass and frog (Cross-posted to Summer Haiku 2007) More Links: Here are Other Evening Haiku, Kigo (season indicators so we can...
  3. Lampman III The idea of randomizing Lampman more has happened. I threw a cover on the bed and the new sonnet with different set of rhymes made their individual word way to...

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