Ottawa: After a trip involving many on-the-fly driver changes (the person in the front passenger seat would steady the wheel and slowly edge toward the pedals while the back passenger moved to occupy the front passenger seat and the driver made his or her way over the seat into the back, etc.), we finally landed in the fair city of Ottawa. Michelle Desbarats and Mother Tongue hosted the reading
, which was a blast, while the eminently hospitable Anita Dolman and her invisible partner James hosted me (James was out canvassing for the Green Party day and night, so let's cut him some slack). Reading: Angela introduced both the anthology and Max Middle
, who gave an electrifying performance of a variety of texts, the most interesting of which were the ones that walked the line between sound poetry and lexical verse. Max introduced Rob Read, who spammed the audience in the most delightful manner and then called on me. I did my usual schtick and introduced Angela, who closed out the readings with a breathless, breathy and raspy version of excerpts of Wide slumber for lepidopterists
. The highlight of the Ottawa stop for me though was meeting jw curry. There are some people you just need to listen to. He's one.
Montreal: Thanks to impresario Jon Paul Fiorentino
for helping Angela put this one together and for doing it in customarily ass-kicking style. The house was packed with people who listened and who weren't afraid to respond to the work. The multi-layered intros began with Jon's allusions to some controversy surrounding Shift & Switch
and to the current political climate in the Montreal poetry scene. Then Angela introduced the anthology and Max Middle, whose reading had a little more edge to it than the night before. Next came Jon, who read a selection of his poems, including ones from the forthcoming Theory of the Loser Class
, with a beautifully controlled looseness (though he did spill beer on my leg). Jon then gave me an embarrassing and untrue (or at least inaccurate) introduction, and I read. Next was Matthew Hollett
, whose unstudied delivery (of text found and otherwise) charmed the pants off the audience. Angela read some different poems from the night before, and then Rob gave a slightly sleepy reading that still managed to captivate the audience. Chatting ensued, and I met a variety of members of the Montreal literati, including a seventeen-year-old poet named Emily. Thanks to my sister and Pascal for putting me up. And thanks to Vivienne for helping me practise my French.
Likely coming soon: some questions I'm asking myself as I read Gregory Betts's If Language
Factcheck update: Angela read exactly the same poems both nights. Where was I?