September 24, 2012

In case you couldn’t make it

THIN AIR 2012 - Forewords: Saturday, September 22, Free Press News Café
by Jeannette Bodnar

I arrived at the Free Press News Café just in time for my husband and I to grab the second last table. Although the building was packed, it felt comfortable. Like a family dinner but without the resentment and the cousin that’s not allowed to play with matches. Even though it’s autumn, the energy in the building felt like spring, like youth, like beginnings; the perfect opening weekend energy. 
Charlene Diehl and Bruce Symaka took the stage and wasted no time getting the night started. First on the ticket, slam poetry. 
Now I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve seen spoken word, but never live, and never from Winnipeg artists (not for lack of want). In fact, for the past few years my husband and I have spent many a Friday night sharing $10 bottles of wine and YouTubing old DefJam footage. More ritual than “social life” per se, but you’ll take what you can get when you have two kids and mounting student debt. Still, I’m uncertain how Manitoba’s finest can compare.
Judging by the audience reaction, I was not the only one blown away. I can’t summarize how amazing this group is. In fact, I feel like a jackass using the word amazing because I know if they were writing this blog they would never use a conventional word like amazing. Not because they would feel it was beneath them, just because it is. 
After they finished, Corey Redekop compared them to the Rolling Stones and I laughed because two people allegedly snuck into the sold out venue. I now suspect they were groupies, although, no lingerie was thrown on stage so maybe not.
After a brief intermission, Corey read from his book Husk. As you would expect from a Zombie novel the passages were quite grotesque and insanely funny. Just ask the woman behind me who, judging by the intensity of her laughter, I’m pretty sure peed just a little bit in her pants. I’m not sure how long Corey was on stage I just know it should have been longer.
During the final intermission he signed my copy of Husk and I signed his. I realized that I should probably never be published for the simple fact that I inevitably sign everything the same way I signed my grade eight year book. “Never change Corey—your BFF”.
After a final intermission Corey and three of Winnipeg’s finest poets took to the stage for a Haiku Death Match. I didn’t think things could get funnier than a reading about a Zombie who eats his boyfriend. In retrospect, I hope the woman behind me took advantage of the intermission for a bathroom break. I’m not exaggerating when I say that people were laughing so hard that there were tears and snorts. A particular highlight was after Aaron Simm’s poem about peeling potatoes without pants on. During which time the most perfect pause in the laughter and chatter happened, so that audience was treated to woman admitting that she just pictured Aaron naked. You know who are lady, and so do we (wink). I loved this part of the night so much that I’ve decided I’m going to push for Thin Air haiku fortune cookies for next year’s festival.
Anyway that was my night. It was an amazing opening weekend and I can’t wait for the week ahead. 
Never change people—your BFF.    

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