Poets Corner Reading Series



A Sense of Belonging

Posted on behalf of Evelyn Schofield


Our November reading demonstrated again the love of poetry that draws people to brave downtown Vancouver traffic to attend in person at FDU or to zoom in online from places and time zones as far away as Ontario and California.  As usual, we had a full complement of incredible open mic readers and we hope that they will all sign up for our Open Mic Contest on December 13 (details soon to be announced.)

Our two feature readers, Tāriq Malik and Jónína Kirton, were both there in person to share poetry that explored themes of the human need to belong, the comfort of home and family, and the importance of remembering our cultural roots.

Tāriq read poems that elaborated on these themes from the point of view of an immigrant who has survived wars and a long migration from the Pakistani Punjab to the deserts of Kuwait and eventually here to Vancouver. He read selections from Exit Wounds and his upcoming Blood of Stone that spoke eloquently of the struggles of refugees in surviving the trauma of being uprooted and the challenge of creating a new identity and being accepted in their newly adopted homeland.

Jónína read poems that honoured her heritage and the strong impressions she has retained from her Icelandic grandmother and her Métis ancestors. She read selections from An Honest Woman and Standing in a River of Time that had helped her to come to terms with death and suffering and bore witness to her efforts to heal, by celebrating her Métis roots and building a sense of hope and purpose on a foundation that is rooted in family.

In the lively Q&A session at the end of the reading, the poets shared some tips from their writing practice. We learned that Tāriq gets up to write at 2 o’clock in the morning because “associations are better when you are half asleep” and that Jónína has now adopted the computer as a creative part of her writing and not just a tool for editing.  The day after the reading, Jónína commented “I like that there were many older poets there. We all benefit from intergenerational gatherings. We all need each other.”  Amen.

Like a Shadow Crossing the Moon: May Reading at Poets Corner

Posted on behalf of Jillian Maguire


May was another festival of words at Poets Corner. We had a relatively full house at Fairleigh Dickenson University and a healthy virtual audience.  Our first open mic featured forensic examinations, knitted fishing nets, poetry in the nude and even a shout out to Allen Ginsberg’s lonely old grubber. There were asymptotes, a renaissance angel, a pre-EU cycling trip, a bear tryptich, ta errified buffet and we even found ourselves stuck between a drunk and a hard place.

Free picture (Children’s drawing wildflowers) from https://torange.biz/childrens-drawing-wildflowers-42859

Our first feature poet was Jordan Scott, appearing on the big screen. Jordan’s verse is incredibly well crafted and imagistic.  He moved from colouring wildflowers with a purple crayon to the colour of sickness and bushfires, following sleepwalker’s crumbs and watching a loved one learn to hate their face.  The journey he took us on through his verses was slow and purposeful like a shadow crossing the moon, kicking up cinnamon plumes in the liver berries until we learned how to outlove our pastoralness in the headwaters of our fucked-upedness.  We were left in a state of sonic portage, with nothing trifled.

We got into the second round of open mic poems and saw a woman burying her husband headfirst and upside down, a dialysis ward featuring Lewd Judy and a sloo of colonial jokes.  There was a Chilean lawyer who last week was an accountant from Mexico putting us really really really in the mood to care. The audience was definitely amused by the white knuckle action of these poets.  We got a plea to stop Cop City, and if you don’t know what Cop City is, you have some googling to do!

Alice Major was up next, and were transported back to Anglo-Saxon times with a reference to Beowulf.  The image of a knife on snow invading the poet’s landscape was as disturbing and the 3000-mile strand of asphalt that residents of Fort MacMurrey used to escape the hellscape of the 2018 fires. As I write this, May wildfires are ravaging almost every corner of the country and I am wondering why we didn’t learn any of the lessons Mother Nature was trying to teach us five years ago with her downpour of flames. Alice reminded us that we are all historians and she went back to the knife in her yard, remembering a time before iron was a weapon. She ended with two sonnets, leaving us with a sense of liquid time, pouring on unending. Let’s hope humans keep going on with it.

We look forward to our grand finale on June 21, with Gary Geddes and Derek Beaulieu. It is going to be a heck of a night of verse.  We do pay our poets well at Poets Corner, and though we are grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts for their support, we are finding our bank account is running low, so if you enjoy our readings, please consider donating.  We really do want to keep putting money into our poets’ pockets, so click here to go to our donations page. We can’t keep this series running if we don’t put a little back into kitty.