Poets Corner Reading Series



FINISHED! Poetry Reading on November 18

Posted on behalf of Evelyn Schofield. 

Full Moon photograph taken 10-22-2010 from Madison, Alabama, USA. Photo credit: Gregory H. Revera. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

First of all, a big thank you to our ten open mike readers who shared some fine poetry which took us far, far away from our computer screens. We witnessed the joyful colours of fall in the treetops, and the seductive orange glow of an oil flare at night. Some poems philosophically pondered our life stories and our connections to each other; another dealt matter-of-factly with the harsh reality of domestic violence. We were taken on journeys to the unseeable side of the moon, to a chance meeting at a cricket match, and to the beach, which we discovered is not only a place to dance joyously, but also a place to stare at the moon and cry out for food and shelter with the seagulls.

Our first featured poet, Kate Marshall Flaherty, read several selections from her book Radiant, a collection of poetry she wrote while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The poems she read emphasized her need to believe in the healing power of her treatments and dealt sensitively and honestly with the intimate indignities of cancer. They included “Triptych” a deeply personal expression of gratitude to each of her three children for the different ways they sustained her, and “Radium Girls” a testament of solidarity with women who died of cancer after working in factories where they painted clock faces with radium. Kate finished her reading with a video performance of her poem “Far Away”, in which she describes her mother’s dementia with exquisitely crafted and subtly humorous phrases that reveal how “the life story [is] forgotten, but not the words.” You can watch the video of the poem, set to wistful music performed on the nyckelharpa, here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=img8SYSZD5w

The second featured poet of the evening was Michael Prior, who joined us from Minnesota where he is currently teaching. He read five poems from his latest book Burning Province which explores the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II and deals with intergenerational trauma and the experiences of his grandparents who were interned as children in a camp near Hope, BC. The first selection was an ekphrastic poem entitled “150 Pounds” which was inspired by The Suitcase Project, a photographic exhibit by Kayla Isomura in which Japanese Canadians and Americans are photographed with the items that they would pack if uprooted from their homes with only 24 hours’ notice. This was followed by a further four masterful poems exploring the intricacies of his relationships with his father and grandmother and delving further into themes of family, memory and love, and how these have shaped the person that he is today. After this wonderful reading we can only echo Michael’s grandmother and say “Thank you.”

Finished! Reading for 21st October 2020

bumblebee in a hibiscus blossom, photo by k. trainor 2020

Posted on behalf of Jillian Macguire.

Our October virtual reading was another resounding success.  We started the evening with Dee Allen from

Oakland, California, reading a poem called “Conundrum” that lamented the disappearance of the hovering, stinging bumblebees from his grandma’s flowers.  Dee’s theme of nature’s fragility in the face of human “progress” kept resurfacing throughout the night. The open-mic portion continued and featured Halloween dates, the search for milk and honey, a large rose-giving uniformed man on the skytrain, ominous rolls of breaking waves, a love poem found on a park bench and a trip to the place where men go to get the taste of pork buns. The future of poetry is in good hands if our open-mic performers are any indication.

Our first feature reader was Toronto’s Maureen Hynes, treating us to her quiet deliberate utterances of Truth from her book Sotto Voce. Maureen introduced us to a form, Sonnenizio, a sonnet which starts with a stolen line, and took us on a trip to Neruda’s house.  We also met a serious young seaman, heard about her dead uncle’s parking ticket and a lovely six-petaled blue flower.  The reading was equal parts education and delight.

Our second feature reader, Allan Briesmaster, also joined us from Ontario.  He read from his book The Long Bond, after a little lesson on light-bending gravity and Deepak Chopra’s theory that everything that exists is just energy and information.  Allan praised the oft-ignored goddess of home and hearth, Hestia, and returned us the theme of man’s destruction of nature, as he lamented reign of man’s potential to kill what are left of the dolphins and the eagles.

Fiona Tinwei Lam rounded out the evening by reading from her book Odes and Laments.  Fiona expressed her gratitude to Pablo Neruda (it was a very Neruda evening) for introducing her to odes about ordinary things. Neruda’s influence resonated throughout the poems, which began with a full description of a healthy drusen-free human eye, and continued on to a trip from the rice fields to the ancient rice cooker of Fiona’s childhood kitchen counter.  Then we were treated to a series of poems based on images, the first a stolen Vermeer painting, “The Concert”, and concrete poetry about the scattered attention our various technological devices have created in us as we torture ourselves wondering who loves/unloves us. We were left satiated from our guilt-free, MSG-free, cage-free and lactose-free evening of poetry.

Thank you to all of our open-mic poets, our feature readers and, most importantly, our audience.