Michael, the head of SPAO, introduced rob mclennan who curated the poets for the Call and Response Project. One of the other initiators of the project, Khalia Scott couldn’t attend the final reading of 7 poets reacting to the photos of 7 photographers.
rob also wrapped up the series by doing the reactions to last set of photos, those by Greg Zenha which are still on display at SPAO’s Red Wall Gallery. I was struck most by his poem’s line, the inversion of the idea to any weapon can be made into a tool in the right hands. Ah, the poem set is online: “Used correctly, any weapon is a tool.”
I responded to Leslie Hossack’s work, images of Israel, in part. It seemed fairly well-received. I had trouble with mic height and a few people from various directions in the room called out advice on how much to lift and tip it. I said “it takes a whole community to raise a mic.” (Maybe this time it’ll get a groan?)
Sandra Ridley was on double duty playing the role of Amanda Earl and herself. Both responded in aggregate to the images so the student (Leslie?) who was running the projector ran the images of each in continuous lopps. It was interesting to see that 3 times in Amanda’s poem by chance synched up, the red iron ground reference, the piled cloud reference and fence by the side of the road. She timed her poem so it referenced itself in a sense, two minutes have passed. The poem continues in its way wandering landscapes then that time point again, 4 minutes here, to orient in time even if not in place. Interesting effect. Although Amanda did her response in the fall, she recomposed the poems since then and that one long poem response was presented.
Amanda responded to Moment(o)by John Hewett Hallum while Sandra responded to Pedro Isztin’s photos from around the world. There was a phrase I tried to keep a hold of but the poems that came after swept it away. Perhaps “the doctrine of cold we are blinded by”, perhaps it was something else, “a red cut tree” but away from the sweep of words that lead to and from they are as useful as a church up to its window in a flood.
Monty Reid responded to the Farm Family Series of Rob MacInnis. The poems were comic and pointed, both of which he does so well. They paired well with the photos, not overlapping entirely not disjunctured entirely. The last line of Fresh Faces 1 I didn’t get on the digital page nor paper page but aha, then I did.
Christine McNair responded to a series of crafts people and their crafts done by Caroline Tallmadge which you can see here (and should). She was one of two of the photographers who came to the reading. These poems were formed as if they were responses to physical artifacts in first assessment for curation. The dream imagery, gut leaps caused a few ripply oohs from the audience.
Claudia Coutu Radmore responded to the portraits of SPAO student Olivia Johnston of making poems from the images of teens and their bedrooms. Each poem was started with a Latin phrase, often for something modern, for example, “spectaculum carissimum est Zona Crepusculi” which as they used to say in the old days, “your favourite show is The Twilight Zone.” That was a real crowd pleaser, that gap.
For each show, a lovely set of cards with one photo and one image was made by SPAO by the visual designers in-house.
What next? Monty suggested a set of photographers willing to then respond to the poems and then poets to respond to those images and see what happens. The process was most interesting for poets when there was a connection and collaboration with the other artists, which happened in a few cases.
If the images and words are presented on equal terms, it would be more in keeping with the nature of calling and response where the response continues louder and longer than the original call.
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