When I arrived at MTYP at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night to attend the Poetry Bash, I immediately took notice of the dress code for the evening. I felt like I was in Wolseley (my old neighbourhood). People were dressed in their best hippie garments, and even a few quirky hats (which I think was the perfect attire for an evening of poetry reading).
What surprised me most about the writers was the total and complete difference between each style, performance and voice. I remember the THIN AIR festival two years ago when I heard George Elliott Clarke read from his book, George and Rue. I was taken by the pure performance artist that GEC is.
On Wednesday night I was waiting for another moment like it... and I got it, from Sandra Ridley. When she got up on stage, her body language spoke louder than anything. She was open and willing to share her art with the audience. Her style, she told the audience, was to read through a bunch of her poems and not stop for a break except to quickly tell us the title of the new poem.
If Ridley was nervous, I didn't know it. She paused for effect, she was breathy, yet totally clear. Her words were crisp and her tone went from a higher pitch to a lower breath in one sentence. Certain syllables were extra pronounced like the importance hung heavy on those last few letters of a particular word. I met Sandra after, and told her if she ever records her poetry to email me so I can download it and listen to it on a nice long fall walk.
The other poets were great too. Glen Downie, Gabe Foreman, Jacob McArthur Mooney and Jennifer Still read their poetry from the bottom of their hearts, and I listened intently to the stories of their lives. There were over 100 people in attendance, and the stage was modernly furnished with EQ3 furniture.
I had a blast and loved being surrounded by people who truly believed in their art form. I will definitely be in attendance for next year's Poetry Bash.