A two for one chudpost today, fans of sense and spectacle! Yes, your ever-loving brown-eyed Visitor is learning to multitask…or, at least, do two things one after the other, with long gaps in between. It’s a start, okay?
First up was my first, and sad to say likely ONLY foray into this years Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, taking place right here in Ottawa. My week is just oddly booked up, and I had to get creative to even make THIS event, but how would I ever be able to look Jessica Ruano in the eye again if I didn’t at least try? Besides, for a newbie like me to spoken word and slam poetry, this one sounded like a good start…the Steve Sauve Memorial Nerd Showcase. I hit Cooper and Elgin, having glanced at the directions to the venue once a couple of days earlier…I remembered it was at a hotel, on Cooper, East of Elgin. Imagine my surprise when I noticed there were about half a dozen hotels in that span! And naturally, I couldn’t remember the name So,I did the only thing I could think of to find a poetry slam under such circumstances…I walked up and down the block, and kept my eyes peeled for hipsters. And before you laugh or deride me for indulging in harmful stereotypes, I should tell you it worked like a charm. Venue…found. Thanks, hipsters!
Got my hunch confirmed in the lobby with the lovely sight of Nadine Thornhill, along with her poet-partner for the event Bart Cormier, practicing what would be their epic magnificently self-referential meta-slam poem in a few short moments. I chatted for a moment, then wended my way to the back room for the event. A decently sizable crowd…good news.
Now, I’m too new into this scene to be familiar with the poetic-nerd legend that is Steve Sauve…and, well, for better or for worse, I wouldn’t really get any MORE familiar with him over this event, aside from hearing a few of his pieces. Whatever his story is, it was pretty much taken for granted among this crowd that everyone there probably already knew it. It takes a lot to make me feel like even more of an outsider than usual, but I was feeling pretty out of my depth as things first got underway and everyone else already knew all the words to just about EVERYthing. Not that everyone wasn’t awesome and friendly, but…I don’t think it ever occurred to any of the organizers that someone who wasn’t personally knowledgeable of Steve Sauve would actually show UP. Which is fair enough reasoning, actually…
But not to worry, I got my head out of my ass in short order and started to feel much, much cozier as the main attractions Nadine and Bart (after a lovely starter from a poet name of Tristan, awesome) took the stage, alternately performing solo or teaming up on one nerd-tastic slam after another. Nadine’s heady mix of defiance and geekiness is a grand thing to witness live, and Cormier tore it up with his own odes to the nerdclass with gusto. They rocked the joint. I wanted more. I happily got just that when they threw the floor open to everyone else, who nailed one wicked poem after another, from fanatical fawnings over Natalie Portman, musings on the nature of sexuality (a lot of that actually…nerds be horny, yo!), a wonderfully Joycean essay with words like ‘Individualismists’ being tossed about, and a rant or two for good measure. In all, they were smart, funny, sexy, friendly, inspiring, and…okay, I’ll say it. They were adorkable. Great, now I owe Thornhill royalty money.
Oh, and nerd girls are CUTE. just sayin’.
So with one event down and one to go, I bolted for some quick nosh before making my way to Arts Court for the second half of the evening, PEN Canada’s TAXI STAND JAM. Organized by a group that works for writers around the globe who have been bullied, harassed, silenced, jailed or worse, the concept for the Jam was a cool one. Take seven artists, seven writers, pair them up and give them seven hours to come up with a seven minute piece based on a quote they were given that day. Who can resist?
CBC’s Adrian Harewood emceed the event, introducing the pairings. First up was the amazing Miss Emily Pearlman, teaming with Colombian writer Alvaro Gomez. Gomez was surprisingly wunnerful on stage, doing some nice scenery chewing alongside miss Emily as they did their quick but dandy piece. Now, I’m having trouble matching ALL the names to faces from memory, but here’s what stands out: Eepmon’s hastily constructed wall of words and paint; Sheng Xue’s elegant words and poise paired with Mel M’Rabet’s stylings on the Oud; Oni the Haitian Sensation’s voice, that nearly broke down the walls in Arts Court; Phil Jenkins and Petronila Cleto in a positively gorgeous musical/poetic team-up; and the unexpected but wonderful closing mini-concert from Said Mushfiq Hashimi, who would be right at home in a Bollywood epic. It was a terrific night full of all sorts of stuff that you just don’t get to SEE. I was pretty lucky…it was my second dose of great new stuff in the same day. And after it was all done, I came home to kitty snuggles, and some Night of Dreams tea. That’s good eatin, right there.
Okay, so no funny pictures in this one, and I was rushing it at the end…sorry, tired. And I have to get this finished tonite, because tomorrow it’s HAMLET (solo) at the GCTC. See you there, won’t I..? And if not, hit up some CFSW for me!! Later, nerds,
The Visitor (and Winston)