Posted on behalf of Evelyn Schofield
It was no surprise that we had another excellent turnout for our February reading. As one of our audience members commented in the chat, “there is something very intimate about Zoom readings”. Our open mike featured poets from as far afield as New Hampshire, Florida, Detroit and Calgary, as well as many homegrown poets from BC. Each month we are awed by the variety and quality of the open mike readings and we encourage all poets to sign up to share 3 minutes of their work with our enthusiastic and receptive audience.
Our first featured reader was Adrienne Drobnies. In addition to working tirelessly to keep our Poets Corner reading series on track, Adrienne is both a poet and a scientist. Her writing exemplifies how well these two disciplines complement each other, as she offers images that challenge our intellectual curiosity while at the same time awakening a deep emotional response. Adrienne read several poems from Salt and Ashes, in which she has written about facing the inevitable loss of her husband to cancer. In the suite of poems entitled Randonnées, she experiences impending grief through the process of walking in the neighbourhood and mountains surrounding their home in Grenoble, France. Her writing reveals how life often throws us off-course and yet simple rituals, like going for a walk or following a treasured family recipe for pancakes, allow us to anchor ourselves through memory and love. Several of her poems delved into the meaning of dreams and nightmares, and demonstrated her talent in observing small details which ultimately lead us to underlying truths. “There is a dark side to a rainbow, as well as to the moon.”
Our second featured reader was Evelyn Lau, whom many consider to be the best poet writing today in Canada. Evelyn read a selection of poems from her latest book, Pineapple Express, which deals with her personal struggles with depression. As a Vancouver native, she knows the difficulty of surviving the grey days of winter when “the bridge whispers to you” and “survival depends on finding caches of colour”. Other poems dealt with learning to accept the creeping invisibility of being a middle-aged female, no longer considered capable of causing Disturbances. Her poem Family Day provided an antidote to conventional sentiment, while still acknowledging the power of family ties, even dysfunctional ones. After her reading, we had an excellent Q&A session, in which Evelyn talked about how she feels there is not enough respect given to poets or recognition of how difficult it is to pare words down to “the fewest possible words that are the right words.” And she concluded by confessing to finding reprieve from the rigours of reading and writing poetry by escaping to read thrillers in bed, wrapped in a big duvet and fortified with cups of tea and snacks.