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.