Poets Corner Reading Series

Tag Archive: Medrie Purdham

Finished! March Virtual Reading Featuring Medrie Purdham and Stuart Ross

Posted on behalf of James Felton

“Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!” In case you’re stumped, it’s “Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you!” And that is what we wished everyone at our last reading on March 17th. We enjoyed yet another stellar evening of fine poetry and we had yet another stellar turnout of no less than 72 poetry fans. Once again, the reading attracted attendees from across the country and, if you can believe it, from Kyoto, Japan!

With a dozen open mic’ers respecting our three-minute time limit, we heard some scintillating poems over the course of the evening. It started with a wonderful piece that reminded us of the magic of prosody in poetry, and along the way we heard wonderful references to D.H. Lawrence, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky and, of course, dear old St. Patrick. And in the last stretch, we were witness to some of the most moving and poignant pieces we have heard in a long time.

Our first featured poet was Medrie Purdham who teaches English at the University of Regina. Her debut collection of poetry, Little Housewolf (Véhicule Press, 2021) is due out next month. The volume focuses on a world of small things – baby teeth, thimbles, keyholes, wedding rings – which become scaled-down metaphors of one’s terrors and joys. As a scholar and a poet, she is taken with prosody and her riveting reading of some of the more potent poems from her new collection reflected this love. Combined with her arresting imagery, there were lines such as “Time stretched itself between borrowed walls”. Musically powerful, indeed. During the q & a session that followed her reading, Medrie underlined the fact that prosody today is too often under-utilized. Her subjects ranged from the pandemic to pregnancy and from push pins to pomegranates. It was a stirring reading, made especially enjoyable by Medrie’s (a Scottish name, we were told) mesmerizing tone.

The evening coupled a rookie with a veteran and our second featured poet was none other than the venerable Stuart Ross who has published 20 volumes of poetry. His most recent is a collaboration with Michael Dennis entitled, 70 Kippers: The Dagmar Poems (Proper Tales Press, 2020). Known for his wit, irony, and often surrealistic nature to his writing, Stuart regaled us with readings from a variety of his publications, including Motel of the Opposable Thumbs, which must go down in CanLit history as one of the most hilariously titled volumes of poetry. His writing is filled with colloquial diction that most of the time is crafted in narrative form. But the evening also had a couple of succinct poems, such as “Poem”, which reads, “I see a light at the end of the tunnel / And beyond that, / A tunnel”. The short poems were read as an homage to his dear friend, Nelson Ball who passed away in 2019, and who Stuart ranks as Canada’s greatest minimalist poet. All in all, it was another fine evening of poetry that makes us want to tune in next month to see if it can be topped.