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!

100 thousand poets for change in North Bay, September 29, 2012

Please note: this post originally appeared as a guest post on John Rice’s Keeper of the Sword blog on October 3, 2012.

It was a grey autumn day when I set off for North Bay.  Then I picked up Kim Fahner, and the journey became a poetic road trip of epic proportions 🙂  Talked craft, poetry, fiction, blogging, social media, and Doctor Who!

Kim brought me back a gift from her recent trip to Ireland: Leanne O’Sullivan’s Cailleach: The Hag of Beara.  Lovely book.  Saving it for the weekend 🙂

The drive was blessedly uneventful and we arrived early enough to have lunch before the event started.

On the way back to the park for the reading, we were greeted by Father Forrest.  The White Water Gallery’s Youth Arts Initiative created puppets this summer.

Father Forrest was one of them and he stopped by the reading later on in the afternoon.

We walked on to the park where the poets and audience were already gathered.

Though the organizers, Kevin smith and Natalie Wilson had brought a PA system there wasn’t an outlet to power it.

Still, Kevin introduced the event and got underway promptly, explaining a little of the background of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

100 Thousand Poets for Change was initially conceived by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion in March, 2011, as a worldwide set of events to take place simultaneously on September 24, 2011. Literary event organizers volunteered to host associated events in their own cities or schools. ~Wikipedia

The first reader of the North Bay event was Laurie Kruk, professor at Nipissing University and author of Theories of the World, Loving the Alien, and the soon to be released, My Mother Never Told Stories.

She read several selections from her new book of poetry.

I was the next poet to read and only chose a couple of poems: “Manitou Sky” and Relatively Speaking.”

I started my set with a post on Jezebel regarding a Sikh woman and her response to what seemed a malicious picture posted as a critique on her appearance.  It was my way of commenting on how social media can be an avenue for positive change.

I finished my reading by offering some advice from Kristen Lamb in this season of political frenzy on how writers really change the world.

Following my set was Tim Robertson, poet and aphorist, that is, writer of aphorisms.

He started the session with a series of witticisms and then read a couple of his longer poems.

After Tim’s reading was a brief intermission where poets mingled and chatted.  I took a few moments to reacquaint myself with Natalie, with whom I’d contributed to NEOVerse, and Laurie, with whom I’d read on several occasions during my more active poet years.

The second half of the afternoon session began with Christine Charette, artist and poet.  Father Forrest visited at this point and remained around for her set.

Christine’s poetry has as its heart the issues of womanhood and motherhood and it did speak to the theme of change.

Denis Stokes read next.  He’s taught English in high school and at Nipissing University, and published poetry in print and online.  Denis’s poetry was definitely the poetry of Northern Ontario, evocative of its sights and sounds in the context of family and change.

Then Doyali Farah Islam took the stage, er, cobblestones 🙂  She published her first book of poetry, Yusuf and the Lotus Flower, in October of 2011.

Doyali is definitely influenced by Rumi, and her poetry brought a bit of the sacred to the assembly.

The last poet of the afternoon session was my friend, Kim Fahner, English teacher, and author of You must imagine the cold here and Braille on water.  Her new book of poetry, The Narcoleptic Madonna is due out this fall.

Kim is a great reader who interacts with her audience with humour and self-conscious grace.  Kim read from her new work.

Afterward, the poets mingled again.  Business cards and books were exchanged.  Though there was an evening session where Ken Stange, Kevin, and Natalie would be reading, Kim and I had to toddle off.  Nonetheless, I understand the evening reading at the Cornerstone Cafe was a great one, and the North Bay edition of the 100 thousand poets for change event a success.

And then, after a fortifying pumpkin spice chai latte at Twiggs, we were on the road again, chatting more about the day, poetry, creativity, and again, the fabulous Dr. who 🙂  David Tennant is one of Kim’s secret husbands, don’t you know.

The day ended with a lovely supper at Verdiccio’s where I had the chance to use the coupon I’d won on Facebook this summer.

All was ‘write’ with the world 🙂

For more information, please see the 100 Thousand Poets for Change North Bay Facebook page, or the Web page, graciously hosted by Ken Stange.