Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pearl Pirie + rob mclennan read with Gregory Betts + James Millhaven in St. Catharines

On November 10, 2010, I did a reading in St. Catharine's, Ontario, with James Millhaven, Gregory Betts and our very own Pearl Pirie, the second in a series of launches she's got going on for her first trade publication, been shed bore (Chaudiere Books, 2010). I predominantly read from new and/or unpublished, including a poem published in the brand-new third issue of Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry and Opinion, received in my mailbox only the morning before.

Reading at the Niagara Artists Centre, did you know they did a series of banners two years ago around the city, artists from town including Linda Evangelista, Neil Peart and the late great Dennis Tourbin (his widow still lives in their house on Armstrong, just by the Carleton Tavern)?

He ran Ottawa's Gallery 101 back in the 1980s, produced artwork, poetry and non-fiction, and even had an early above/ground press chapbook. How often does one see late friends on banners in other cities?

After a near-crowd of seventy people for Pearl's book launch the Sunday before at the Dusty Owl Reading Series, it was great to see her succeed as well in a venue outside of her comfort, even bringing her "launcher" to St. Catharine's, sending small packets of candy into the unsuspecting crowd.

She read a few of her "plunders," something she picked up from Gregory Betts, who might not have invented the form, but named the current iteration of such.
Part of what entertained, as my first experience in the Niagara Artists Centre, was seeing an artwork by former neighbour John Moffatt, who moved from an apartment on Bronson Avenue just north of Somerset West nearly a decade ago, to allow a yard behind a house in Perth instead of nothing, for their growing toddler.

There were the months when he used to visit in the late 1990s, my spot in the Dunkin' Donuts on Bank at Gloucester in my daily writing space, sometimes alone, sometimes son in tow, sometimes artist John Boyle or even Tourbin. When he told me he designed his paintings to go 80km an hour, forced to strap them to the roof of his car for transport. Do you think he might have a truck or van by now? And the Niagara Artists Centre, apparently a gallery even co-founded by Tourbin himself.

Here's a photo of Pearl herself, reading alongside the Moffatt piece. It's almost as though she's begun to turn her performance space into a space of small ritual, small tokens, much the way of Ontario poet Phil Hall; do you see the oddbits she's collected to place on the podium ahead?

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