Wednesday, March 23, 2016

above/ground press at VERSeFest, 2016

Another VERSeFest has come and gone, with a spectacular array of readings and talks throughout the week, most of which I wasn't able to catch on film, and about half or so I wasn't even able to make it out for, given exhaustion, toddler and other distractions. But there was a ton of incredible writing, performances and writers, from performers to audience to organizers and staff, including Shannon Maguire, Phil Hall, Sandra Ridley, Caroline Bergvall, David McGimpsey, Marilyn Irwin, Frances Boyle, Pearl Pirie, Monty Reid and tons of others.

The Factory Reading Series' event, featuring lectures by Ottawa poet Ben Ladouceur and the brilliant and charming Kansas poet Anne Boyer were spectacular, and both talks were easily two of the strongest of the series so far. If you weren't there, you should really be kicking yourself. With luck, both pieces will be included in the next issue of seventeen seconds: a journal of poetry and poetics, which is due to appear this summer.

Ladouceur's talk was incredibly sharp, working through a conversation of the problems with being referred to as "brave" in his writing, and Boyer's talk was an informal and lively collage that focused on how she came to write, both generally, and specifically, including references to libraries, Smurfs and other threads. Stunning.

Of course, for the sake of my Hall of Honour induction and subsequent event (Cameron Anstee was kind enough to post this generous write-up about my activities), I produced a wee chapbook-as-handout, King Kong (Apostrophe Press), in a limited edition. I might reissue it as an above/ground press item over the next month or three, but if anyone is interested, drop $5 into my paypal and I'll slip you a copy. And of course, there was the VERSeFest special issue of The Peter F. Yacht Club produced for the festival, featuring the work of numerous performers throughout the week (as well as a number of PFYC regulars). I even produced the new issue of Touch the Donkey a few weeks early, given a couple of the contributors were part of the fest (but, apart from subscribers, you will just have to wait until mid-April).

As part of the same event, Toronto poet, editor, fiction writer and current Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke was good enough to read his poem from the anthology TEN (above/ground press, 2003), a poem and collection produced as part of the tenth anniversary of above/ground press. Of course, when he suggested I pull such out so he could read the poem, it only took me three days to find a copy in my bulging above/ground press archive (a copy I made him return, given I don't know if I have any others available). But oh, the things I found when I was looking...

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