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Cobourg Poetry and Literary Arts Festival

It was 3 days and the inaugural fest. Words and photos feel utterly inadequate to express the energy there. You have to go next year and hope the zeitgeist is as beaming. Warm as a womb and as full as it was it was bound to release us all soon to the wider world again.

photo op op
Uncapturable. Yet being writers there’s a certain impulse to try to capture, isn’t there?

honorary graduate zombie
This is part of the ongoing lecture series of Professor Quack & T.A. Grunt (aka Spy Denomme-Welch & Catherine Magowan) as the first honorary doctorate is given to Ula at the University of Mockulecturing after ‘Various ontological lectures of the quest for what’. They were hilarious at spoofing. Over the top goodness. right down to the last dragged foot off stage.

Complementing the lectures was a random banging thru the walls which must have been more zombies wanting to attend.

the mic
The mic saw many tones. A lot of conversations.

My order of remembering is all tumbled now. At some point I was swept and forgot to jot any notes at all.

The Zorras performed as another continuity thread thru the days. Some of us in Ottawa were lucky enough to catch the AB Series visual artist/writer, Sandra Alland, and musician, Y. Josephine. Beauty mixed with social conscious questioning of labels. You can see videos on youtube. The ideas move at unconventional angles. Even the same piece performed live is different each time.

These two are also the fabulous instigators of this event.

Zorras performing
After day 1 wrapped, there was a jam session too. Such beautiful voices and music.

pro-poem protest
Pro-poetry protests took to the street out front thanks to Wally Keeler. Out front is one of the visual artist Karen Miranda Augustine.

Poets occupy Cobourg
He shot a video of it

poetry protest poetry protest
A few cars honked and bystanders were suitably distracted, concerned or amused.

Leah Murray has pieces in That Not Forgotten, a poetry/short prose collection of work from authors with ties to an area along the north shores of Lake Ontario, from Kingston to Port Hope, north to Highway #7 by Hidden Book Press. She introduced herself by saying she’d been reading the long poem so back, it’s story hour. She related stories from travelling over Canada’s north, including descriptions of weathering the long winter night up there until “the back of the bitter season has broken” and river marigolds are in the icy streams. But “stay on the road. water logged snow is like quicksand, swallows once.”

She also has a book of haiku, senryu and short poems called “Abandoned Land” where she photographed and observed the rubbled area left after the Thanksgiving Day Explosion, 1918 by Trenton. When the munitions plant blew it was with a comparable force of the Halifax Harbour explosion except in the Quinte County area there was a successful full evacuation. I don’t know why my history lessons skipped this.

Andrew Kaufman comes from the same town, population 3000, as Alice Monroe which makes him the second biggest novelist to come out of there. His newest book “Born Weird” wasn’t on the table. It’s due out in January but we got a sneak peak at the magical realism of the story. The dying grandmother realizes the blessings she bestowed on her grandkids could have been blessings but cursed their lives more than it helped. She asks them all to assemble at the pre-chosen hour of her death so she can take them back. The voices are vivid. Delightful man. Must get his other books.

Stuart Wally explaining about the poetry chair
Stuart Ross read some poems about Cobourg life, including the sage of the Chinese Restaurant, which the audience loved! When he gives his workshop, he also composes. It was neat to see one I saw composed come up in the reading. Here’s a sample, Cobourg Commerce from his chapbook Cobourg variations.

Wally gave out Free Speech Cards which is another of his project. He explained about the chair in the back where you could be filmed taking Oath of Allegiance to poetry. Paul Bailey did the oath. You should look at his photos. He has a couple fine art photography books out.

It wasn’t just verbal arts but tactile too, like these rolls of musical notes from the 1800s to mid-century.

installed art by Laurie Siblock
This kind of reminded me of Michèle Provost

Laurie Siblock had various pieces.

Laurue Y
There’s Laurie and Y.

Rebecca’s Impressario Artissan Market has everything from sculpture to repurposed toys, to old fabrics and felt made into new clothes to…

wood art
tempting Stinson Studios bowls.

Cobourg Poetry Arts Festival Day 1 of 3
And books, CDs, chapbooks, anthologies!

Jennifer Lovegrove
Jennifer Lovegrove read poems that skipped around in a fractured way that reminded me of my own poems. News: for 10 years she used to do Dig and it’s being resurrected. Like zombies, but better.

tangentially pirate
I read from “eclectic” including poems that have the word pirate in them which I think added up to 6. It was in tribute to fellow-reader, Gary Barwin who is at work on the great Canadian Jewish pirate novel.

sound box
I also brought other toys. And Brian and I did two poems in two voices. That’s the first time I’ve got a chance to read to an audience the poem mixing Arabic, French and English and it went over well.

Gary Barwin
Gary Barwin read a few beautiful pieces as well as had a short film playing the day before he arrived like a digital flower girl. You can watch his Inverting Deer. I wish I’d jotted down enough details to pull back this particular tender father poem from the tip of my mind.

Cobourg Day 2
Another day’s book table!

David Keyesshort film
David Keyes read an excerpt from his new new new novel “I Do Worry for all Those Lost at Sea”. It officially releases in about a week from House of Pomegranates. The part he read was about rescuing a mermaid who was held hostage in a personal collector’s home, then in a freak show. He might have read for 15 minutes. It was entrancing with its rush forwards and its asides then rush of details again. He prefaced it with a smut warning which I heard scared one person from the room. The section he warned of was explicit but tender and poetic.

Wally's wind sonnet Daisies Cafe
There were also 3 short films, mini-film of a few minutes each. The opening was catered by Daisies Cafe with vegan, vegetarian and sushi treats. The curly dried onion ringlets were odd and interesting.

One remarkable thing was how no one griped at the mic. No one apologized or winced that there was only a few more. No one said, my publisher made me. People read what they liked. The engagement was two-way. In breaks people talked about what they’d just seen and heard, or about shop. There was a wonderful sense of camaraderie. Most of the writers and performers and artists I’d never heard of nor met before and people came in from Ottawa (us), Hamilton, Toronto and from around the local area.

Unfortunately we had to go back to town before day 3 started with Ted Amsden, Beatriz Hausner, Linda Hutsell-Manning, Rozina Kazi, Emily Pohl-Weary and Lee & Billie Strange.

[There’s more photos for those on you on FB]

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One Response

  1. A Labor of Love.
    The pictures are crisp and clear Wally.
    Very professional.
    I appreciate your hard work on behalf of the event; POETRY IS POETENCY.

    RainbowNovember 11, 2012 @ 9:42 am

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