Wednesday, October 19, 2005

One of the things I like best about Lex is how it reaches out to overlapping communities, pulls them closer and gets them talking. Last night, which featured high-school po phenom Jap-Nanak Makkar; a blipfreak (my word; hope that doesn't sound demeaning) ensemble composed of Hamiltonian poet, novelist, musician and wunderkind Gary Barwin along with John Kameel Farah; and Eye Weekly's own Damian Rogers, was a perfect example of this. You could see the pollen in the air. And I think the key to Lex's success is that it does this consciously. Whereas its organizers could (as some, I suspect, do) just deny that the poetry world comprises various communities with dearly held (and sometimes conflicting) poetic orientations, the Lex team recognizes this and plays the skillful and gracious hosts. It's a swinging party every time.

Gary and John were all keyboards, mics, wires and cables leading to a mixer and two laptops. Coming out of the speakers was a delightful melange of voice, electronic squawk and Barwin's eminently-well-disposed sense of humour. Farah's facial expressions and bodily attitudes as he tinkled the ivories would have been worth the price of admission had there been one. I had a bit of what I think was an anxiety meltdown part way through their performance (through no fault of the music), so I missed the highlight of their set, the crashing of a computer, as I was outside getting some air.

Damian Rogers namechecked Dorothy Parker, and indeed her poems resemble Parker's in their angular humour, though there were also moments when her poetic voice's composure broke to reveal disarming tenderness. Rogers is working on a manuscript (called Redbird, I think) and I'm looking forward to seeing where she goes with it.

The range of Jap Makkar's performance, which included poetry and fiction, betokened an enthusiastic and infectious curiosity. Her poems seemed to straddle the line between spoken word and more language-oriented writing, while her fiction came out of regions nearer the mainstream. Expect exciting things from Makkar if she sticks with it.

Another highlight of the evening was the unveiling of Rob Read's O Spam, Poams, which is a beautiful object to behold (of course it's difficult to open). I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy next week.

Oh yeah, there was a bit of one-up-personship regarding sexual content throughout the evening. I don't know, but I don't think anyone's going to be topping Neil Hennessey's open michelle appearance in a while.

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