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Place and Time and Poetry Vibe

The South Townsville micro poetry journal has interviewed former in/words poet Peter Gibbon in Australia. Here’s part that struck me:

Peter Gibbon: When I was an Ottawa resident, being a presence at readings was much easier because there was a more active poetry scene. There are good & bad things about that. As the political capital of Canada, diplomacy is absolutely congenital to everything in Ottawa. As such, the poetry scene is incredibly supportive, warm and encouraging, but not competitive, critical or especially innovative. There’s lots of experimentation but I feel like a lot of concrete meaning gets edited out or relegated to play. Again, a double-edged sword.

That we’re a warm fuzzy soft town isn’t surprising to hear. People clap more readily and heartily for lukewarm material, calibrated for more shows of encouragement than some towns, especially if instructed to. And one more round for. And one more thanks and and and.

But the entire English poetry world is a teeny neighbourhood not even a whole village. Conservative town. I could see that. Is anywhere innovative? What does innovative even mean? Talon claims to be innovative but the Talon reading at writers fest a few years ago was one of the poorest attended events. Would a different energy and buzz create a different poetry performance?

I see myself shifting more to photography and fewer words because of audience. I can say most any heavy, light or profound thing in words in blogs and the majority of the time I get no signal back that it was heard. Silence to words and some words for photos. You write to what is getting a signal I suppose. (Be the change you want to see and endure the dead air of waiting for others to want the same change until there’s the luck of quorum?)

Still his view leads me to wonder how much I am a ship in a bottle. How much of my sense of what poetry is is a product of what I’ve encountered because of where I am? Is there a whole parallel world that I can’t see?

Although I do tend to hop streams to parallel worlds of vispo, people’s poetry, haiku, lately tanka, to sound poetry. I take in some spoken word of the stage, some lyric (close your eyes if you hate the word you see coming) page poetry. Things that are drum-skin tight and that which is just chatting.

Some places don’t have much going on. Any drop of poetry is gratefully grabbed at. When saturated you get more picky, I’d imagine.

Anywhere has sad and good. Is always which poetry you attend to, more than geography?

What makes a scene? The current tide of vibe sweeping thru of which individuals are active? There’s another entity in the room in addition to each individual, the general aggregate sum of the vibe that fluxes as each person enters or exits. Each person responds to this aggregate as much as as the focus reader’s content and mood. Or is there actually an aggregate for each individual as well, doubling the number of energies in the room?

I’ve seen poetry in Dublin, London, Paris, New York City, Vancouver, Montreal (I will stop listing soon), Toronto, some wee towns in Ontario, at Sage Hill and that’s about it. I was most blown away at the calibre (percentage-wise) at Sage Hill.

I can’t speak for what I heard in London as my ear wasn’t there long enough to decode the accent of a lot of the speakers. I read at the open mic but probably was to a similar degree incomprehensible to the tavern basement poets.

To the degree that we visualize what we read or are read, we have an echo in our brain, like a dream reenacts the waking. How a person presents instructs people on how to respond in inner echo. A numbed reading gives a subdued response or understimulates to sleep. An animated reading either overstimulates or rouses an animated response. As automatic mimics we can respond in kind.

We almost hopped over to Berlin since there was so much buzz of good chemistry colliding there at the time. Is there any one aggregate thing in Ottawa? Is the curve going up with more engaged informed readers, university town, a lot of access so the luxury of being picky?

Or do people go out to poetry the way they would to a movie not caring before during or after if it was B-movie level? An excuse for an outting, perhaps it’ll be entertaining at the time, maybe there’ll be takeaways, maybe it’ll be a wash but it’s something for variety done on spec of bumping into something that’ll inspire a bump upwards.

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