September 25, 2011

Troupe du Jour

afterwords: 9/24/2011

Explore it. Create it. 
Nervous. Elated.
Stage fright. At night.
Push through. Just right.
Wordsmiths. Word-gifts.
Confess the Songstress.
Strings glow. Brass shines.
Notes flow. Jazz fine.
Fine time. Fine mood.
THIN AIR. Concludes.

THIN AIR's final After Words' celebration ended the 2011 Winnipeg International Writers Festival with verse, song, and a healthy dose of cool. Chairs were ripped from their row upon row designation to form collective groups near the stage to where more than a dozen readers would perform verse, prose, and song.

For ninety minutes, the second-floor space at Aqua Books was dedicated to open mic poetry and jazz. THIN AIR Director, Charlene Diehl, kicked off the first verse with her creation, Banana, dedicated to THIN AIR publicist, Amanda Hope. Miss Hope followed with, Roma, a poetic tale written from her travels in Europe. Both pieces vivid, fun, and echoing the ebb and flow of bass extraordinaire, Steve Kirby, and young guitar master, Kristopher Ulrich, who navigated his strings with talent that defied his years. Before long, jazz trumpet master, Derrick Gardner, was pulled from the audience to create a trio. The three musicians accompanied each open mic performer with uncanny precision. Hard to believe as they had never heard these verses before.

A hush swept the room as a young woman took the stage and sang about her salvation, praising God for the strength he had given her to leave behind a past life in the sex trade and drug addiction. Head gently tilted back, eyes closed, her voice soared above the struggle and to the redemption she had found.

Katherena Vermette, and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, members of the Aboriginal Writers' Collective, read poems from, xxx ndn: love and lust in ndn country, a book of aboriginal erotica poetry. Their talent and verse burst off the page as each spoke to memories of sexual indifference and the poor choices made in the voyage to realize passion and love.

Chandra Mayor took the stage to read, "window poetry," verses that come to her during the course of her workday while at Aqua Books – Mayor tapes them to the storefront window for passers-by to read. Steven Ross Smith, Director of Literary Arts at The Banff Centre, recited, No Poems, a comical look at the lack of poetry in the newspaper. Professional poets in their own right, but each person who stepped under the lights and up to the mic did poetry proud.

There were murmurs and calls for the poetry to continue, but the night was ending and a new day was about to begin. Shortly before midnight, the crowd of 40 or so rose to exchange good-byes and help straighten up the room. THIN AIR 2011 had come to an end, but the spirit of the week will live in each audience member's heart and mind until September 2012.

We'll see you then.

Posted by Greg Berg, Guest Blogger

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