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Factory Series: Nguyen, Smith and Rowley

books for sale
Books for sale on a Saturday night including Wave books by Hoa Nguyen and 3 of the recent titles by Mari-Lou Rowley.

Dale Smith started off the night with pieces from his Slow Poetry in America. “Like many of my generation, thought races to catch up with enthusiasm; emotional awareness, in a crisis unfolding.”

And at one point he said, there was “an avian racket disrupting…” and my mental image went overly visual.

vispo by Pearl Pirie on

He read pieces of our era of destruction, ekphrastics around the images of birds washed ashore with plastic wastes filling their guts, those “weird auguries of industrial refuse”.

At that point the writer self came in competition with the photographer self. “I got to write that down” won over “I should photograph that” as he proved poet as prophet. He no more than read, “friends arrive with drink and wine” — than the waitress entered the upstairs room to bring the wine and other drinks. (Kerfuffle erupts.)

Mid-poem his drink has arrived, he pays as everyone waves for their orders. Has that ever happened during a reading before, rob asked. Nope.

It’s an informal series.

Hoa came up from Toronto where she and Dale settling into year 3. (See, we don’t always lose poets to the States. Sometimes we poach some to Canada.)

She also read poems concerned with what we are doing to health and safety for the sake of convenience, and the casual negligence of formaldehyde in the sheets to keep them wrinkle-free.

We venerate, as a culture, the idea of nature while practicing habits that don’t take the well-being of other beings into account in our quick-cheap-greed. That was deftly summarized with her elegiac end to a poem…

“My boy blew a whistle
shaped like a parrot,
stamped, made in China”

She also shared poems of the 8 million tons of napalm on Vietnam. The jellied product of war killed more than its target, as war generally does, catching fish and birds in its wet net of fire. Naturally the distinction between them of birds and us of humans is a misty boundary. She wrote “hold my wrists to the river […] hold my still-out wings.”

Mari-Lou Rowley has some of the same consciousness of poet as conscience and early alarm system. For wheat, barley and soy, farming practice is to “desiccate” the crops quickly using Roundup and Reglone which are shortcuts to letting seeds dry by herbiciding them to speed harvest.

Curiously although each poet was using a different set of governing poetic style, Dale more anecdotal, Hoa more disjuntured syntactically and Mari-Lou with more mashup, they all were to the same point of view. Poetics isn’t necessarily divisive or indicative of underlying beliefs. Take for another example, the lost/refound Milton Acorn/bill bisssett collaboration of anti-war poems. Perhaps we are post-capital and “Post-Everything” poetic era, as Ron Silliman is due to explain in Toronto on the 29th.

A section of the poems in Rowley’s book are dialoguing with cosmologists in a sort of persona poems, of Eistein responding to Ptolemy, or Gaudi to Copernicus. Dialogue VII is TuPac responding to Digges, p 19

For gravity is nothing else but a proclivity
or natural coveting of parts to be coupled with the whole.

a ball to a bat a hand to a breast a fist to a face
an ache to a memory a laugh to a throat a fire
to a forest a bird to a tree a gun to a bullet a
song to a siren

books for sale
There were also various chapbooks for sale by rob including his new pretty Gaspereau Press chapbook, Mother Firth’s which I neglected to photograph or purchase. Maybe he’ll bring some at his next reading. All the poets giving Ottawa Public Library poetry workshops are due to give a reading on October 7th; rob mclennan, Monty Reid, Chris Jennings, David Groulx, Rhonda Douglas and Deanna Young at the Main Branch (120 Metcalfe Street) at 7pm. That’s in partnership with Versefest.)

Related posts:

  1. Factory Reading Series span-o (the small press action network – ottawa) presents an irregularly scheduled series of locals and out-of-towners in the Factory Reading Series. Saturday night has readings by: Hoa Nguyen (Toronto),...
  2. fw: Factory series, July 13 The Factory Reading Series presents: Jessica Smith, Amanda Earl + Marilyn Irwin, Saturday July 13, 2013 span-o (the small press action network – ottawa) presents: The Factory Reading Series with...
  3. VERSeFest Day 5: Factory Series The matinee event for 2pm on March 14th was a Factory Series event with Markotić and McElroy who both work with components of language more than starting from components of...

Categories: Poetry reading write-up.

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