A night at The Factory Reading Series
Well I'm back home after an extended weekend in Ottawa and man, that city. The past few days have been so fluid in travel and tranquility, I've barely had a chance to reflect on Friday night's Factory Reading Series.
I walked into The Carleton Tavern acutely aware that I was by myself and left with the warm buzz of feeling connected (if only peripherally) to one of Canada's great poetry scenes. There are a handful of factors that help Factory Reading Series stand out and many of them can be broadly categorized under the heading group dynamics. rob mclennan's style as host could best be described as organized troublemaker, poking holes in writers' bios and calling out members of the audience. His casual approach was mirrored by a crowd at ease in each others' company and aware of each others' work. At other reading series I've frequented, tables become islands where people cling to their seats. But here the crowd spread out during intermission and after readings, catching up with colleagues and ordering drinks. I spent the majority of my evening at a table cluster with Amanda Earl, her husband Charles, Monty Reid, Roland Prevost and Janice Tokar, although almost every time I met someone new...:
"Hi Chris... Oh, you're Chris Johnson!"
"Nice to meet you, Janice... Wait, you're Janice Tokar!"
It went on like this, as though I was living that dream where your Twitter followers throw you either a party or intervention. I was also lucky to meet poets Jason Christie, Marilyn Irwin and Jeff Blackman; all of whom could've said it's Friday night, it's been a long week, I'm staying in but didn't. And they were treated to a reading that had its own rapport, one chiefly of transition. Cameron Anstee delved into forthcoming Baseline Press chapbook Consider Each Possibility and some William Hawkins erasures; Monty Reid offered a portion of his unfinished but allegedly mammoth manuscript Intelligence; and Roland Prevost read from his brand new above/ground press chapbook Culls, as well as some older work. Sensory impressions I recall in the following order: awareness, wit and warmth. For my part I jumped from Impermanence, Ontario poems to Cannot transform myth material and back. People responded kindly and/or cordially. I have little to no photographic evidence of the evening. Anyone?
rob was kind enough to give me an envelope full of the latest above/ground chapbooks, including his own recent work, The Rose Concordance. I also picked up Marilyn Irwin's Apt. 9 Press chapbook the blue, blue there. Over many conversations, the internal mantra it will not be another two years before I revisit Ottawa shaped like a compulsive tic in my mind. Thanks to all of you for imbedding it.