Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Last Lex

As is fitting, there was little in the way of closure to Lex last night (though I did have to leave early, so I may have missed something that had this effect). It was all a little messy, with young poet Alixandra Bamford (a potential member of the Lex community if there ever was one) taking part in the open michelle for the first and last time, and a number of people who seemed to be there as a stop on the open mic circuit doing their thing, and Lex regulars and irregulars saying goodbye and thanks. I think Lex was a site more than some kind of show or forum for presentation (though it was of course a little of each of those too). I know that's how I experienced it when I, a disillusioned lyric poet, happened upon it in February 2002. Lex was a series where you could show up for the first time, hang out in the background for a few months, find yourself recognized and greeted by the hosts within that period, try a few things out on the open michelle a little later, get to know others around you and strike up friendships, be a featured reader, and then feel like a crusty and entirely comfortable oldtimer, all within a span of four years. Lex was the place where I found a community of writers and readers to teach and challenge me. Lex was as close as anything I've found to a third place writing-wise.

Angela and Bill also had the uncanny ability to know when and how to renew the series. There were monthly featured collaborations, guest curators, and theme nights. They tended the series like a garden, and it grew. They also, I think, knew when the growing season was coming to a close and made a difficult but wise decision to call it quits. I'm not sure what changed, but I noticed that while most of the readers late in the series were great, there was a certain energy missing this past while. Bill and Angela were likely tired, and I suspect that the community Lex nurtured had changed.

There are many cases where I, individual I am, would have made different decisions from Angela and Bill's, and I didn't love everything about Lex, but I loved a hell of a lot of it and I think it's difficult to deny the contribution to the community that it has made. (I think, by the way, that community is a problematic term when used as if it has inherently positive value, but more on that later.) Bill and Angela set up their tent and invited everyone to stop in and stay a while. Some left and went on, some dropped in from time to time on their journeys elsewhere, and some hung around. But it was a good place to be. It could be a kind of home if you wanted. Congrats, guys. And thank you. And thanks to everyone who showed up. You are bright stars.

By the way, ditto on Angela's call for a series for Alixandra and Lisa.


Blogger kevin.thurston said...

so you know, i'm calling on an (ha ha aha) to make you expand this: (I think, by the way, that community is a problematic term when used as if it has inherently positive value, but more on that later.)

if anyone besides me pesters you, i can take credit for the entire community


12:18 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I suppose I get a bit suspicious whenever something is talked about as if it has inherent value. But, yeah, community: as I've mentioned before, there are, for instance, gated communities and communities that encourage overt prejudice. Also, as an anonymous commenter on the Calgary Blow-Out blog mentioned, communities tend to be coercive in their regulation of members' behaviour. While these aren't reasons not to value community (especially as opposed to cults of the individual), they are, I think, reasons to be skeptical of the notion that community should be an uncomplicated goal in itself. When I hear or read "we should do x because it will foster community," I find myself wondering what kind of community it will foster.

12:37 PM  

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