September 26, 2014

Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Swim?

by Larysa Musick

Not necessarily… birds have legs that they gotta use as well. I thought of the possibilities for this allegory while turning the pages C. R. Avery’s collection of poems, “Some Birds Walk for The Hell of It.” Anticipating what was advertised as a collection that “celebrates the bohemian brigade” (being a fan of the bohemian Beatniks of the 1950’s) I gravitated to purchasing a copy right upon entering Carol Shields Auditorium. Its cover decorated by a charcoal drawn gent in a top hat and tie. The back cover photo of C. R. Avery irreverently posed with a cheeky cigar and furrowed brow. To top it all off, giddy with intrigue, I followed my peripheral vision towards a black piano glimmering at the forefront of the room. Music? At a writers festival! My reflexes called for a pint of beer (my signature drink at local music performances) but  (alas) there was no beer to be had… C. R. Avery definitely made up for it.

Unlike the Beatniks I imagined; this was clearly not Tom Waits. Though the hat could fool anyone at first glance. His piano stylings seemed to be influenced by Jazz like Tom… but his lyrics had a pace of their own. There is something to be said about music written with a poetry-driven narrative. For my part, I’ve always had a soft spot for lyrics that deviate from the norm, and C. R. Avery’s style had much of this to offer. Eccentric metaphors, raspy vocals, charming absurdities and references to big names like Einstein had me giggling indiscreetly and smiling so wide my face ached. Of course, I cannot leave out the quasi-lullaby moments in his verses that truly hand the heart a cozy blanket.
            Intermittently his poetry supplemented the free verse jazz piano. Covering images from the delves of scattered imagery; blatant sexuality, distinct characters, humorous poignancy and pejorative freedom.
            I must say, that his standout moment came near the end of his set. A baffling display of poetry/rap flavoured beat-boxing done simultaneously with the percussion of harmonica stylings so precise it could cut glass. 
            So today I walk away from my first Winnipeg International Writers Festival show refreshed and entertained. Not only that, but I may never look at a bird in the same way. Perhaps there is something noble about “walking” every now and again, even when you have the “wings to fly”?
Perhaps there are birds scattered amongst us all and perhaps C. R. Avery is one of them. Just walking around here with his wings tucked away. Just for the hell of it. 

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