Caturday quickies: The Conspiracy of Three reading series in North Bay

I went on a bit of a road trip on Tuesday evening with Kim Fahner and her friend Brenda—a poetic road trip!  Kim and our mutual friend Roger Nash had been invited to the Conspiracy of Three reading series in North Bay.

A word about the Conspiracy

Kim and I have both read at the Conspiracy before…like nearly twenty years ago (!) and on Tuesday, I learned that the series is close to twenty-five years old.  The reading series that preceded it (and out of which it emerged) ran for an even longer time.  So the Conspiracy has a long tradition in North Bay.

To the reading

The reading was hosted in the new location of the White Water Gallery and by Doyali Islam, who I met last year at the 100,000 poets for change event.

Also in attendance were Tim Robertson and his wife, Karin, Kevin Smith, and Natalie Wilson.

There was a brief discussion about upcoming events and the group’s concerns about Gulliver’s, a local book store that they’re trying to form a co-op for.  Otherwise, this independent book store might just disappear.

Kim and Roger were the featured readers.

KimSmilesTooKim was great, as usual, and managed to dig out a North Bay poem for the crowd.

Roger read from his recently published book of shYesRogerSmilesort stories, The Cobra and the Camera, and a few of his poems.

Afterward, the final set was for open mic participants.

I’m terrible with names, but aside from the curator of the gallery, there was a man who worked as a plumber whose poetic observations were witty and hilarious.  A young poet, Mary, I believe, was also quite good, but in the way of someone new to the reading experience, she needed to project her voice just a bit more.

It was a lovely night and the worst of the shadflies were over.  It started raining just as we arrived and stopped by the time we left.  While this mostly served to bring out the fishy smell of the shadflies, it was lovely and cool for the ride back to Sudbury.

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Caturday Quickies: The Sulphur III launch reading

Last night, I attended the launch reading for Sulphur, Laurentian University’s Literary Journal, issue III.

Natalie and Kevin

Natalie and Kevin

I’d been invited by 100 thousand poets for change alums Natalie and Kevin.  Natalie had a couple of poems accepted to the journal.

Also in attendance were Kim Fahner (in support of a published colleague) and Louise and Paulette, two of my former collaborators on the Battle Chant project.  Paulette also had a poem in the issue.

The event took place at The Little Montreal in downtown Sudbury and featured many lovely

Paulette and Louise

Paulette and Louise

poets and a selection from a play, another publishing first for Sulphur.

It was a lovely evening and I enjoyed reconnecting with my fellow writers.  Though Tom Leduc was there as a representative of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild, several others who had been published in Sulphur III were absent, which was regrettable.

Me and Kim with Paulette and Louise

Me and Kim with Paulette and Louise

Thinkin’ thoughts

There was a little discussion about the relative merits of the arts community in Sudbury, and frankly, I think it’s doing just fine.  It could be better promoted, certainly, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, per se.

It’s long been held that Sudbury, essentially a blue collar town, doesn’t appreciate its artists.  Can I call shenanigans on that one?

There are artistic enclaves all over town: several centered on out institutions of higher learning, the Theatre Centre, several other community theatres, our small presses, the Art Gallery of Sudbury, the Sudbury Arts Council, the Sudbury Public Library, institutions like the Townehouse Tavern, and organizations like the Sudbury Writers’ Guild and the Sudbury Hypergraphic Society.  Several area high schools also produce excellent writers, musicians, and artists every year.

The concern is that many of these organizations, institutions, businesses, and services become insular over time.  When I sat down with Hally Willmott last weekend, she hadn’t been aware of the SWG or that there were any writers groups in town.

It’s not that we don’t talk to one another, attend each others’ various events, or try to cross-promote.  It’s certainly not that none of us have established web presences or hold community events like readings, workshops, concerts, art shows, or plays.  I know that each party does its best to advertise its presence and services and to promote any special events through various media, both traditional and online.

What the heck is it then?  Why doesn’t Sudbury claim its artists and arts community proudly?  I have no idea.

For the average Sudburian, it comes down to participation.  You get what you give.  You have the arts community you help to create.

You must, of course, take this with a grain (or handful) of salt as it comes from someone who hardly makes it out to SWG meetings and is very far behind in her critiquing duties for her guildies.

I say none of this to disparage current efforts, which I know are significant, or any of the organizations or businesses, which I know are doing the best they can.  Ultimately, I have no solution, but I wanted to highlight what some consider a problem in the hope of provoking thoughtful consideration of the matter.

Got thoughts?  By all means, share ‘em!