Tonight, Thursday April 17, 2014, Longtime friend of the Edmonton Poetry Festival Shawna Lemay launches her latest collection of poems and poem-essays, the exquisitely titled Asking. (Audrey’s Books, 10702 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton. 7:00pm) For the benefit of those who don’t follow Shawna, we’d recommend checking her website, perusing her beautiful blog of poetry and photography, and her excellent magazine-style project, Canadian Poetries, which features reviews, interviews, and essays.
Actually, one week less a day. The Edmonton Poetry Festival begins on Sunday April 20, 2014 with a killer event featuring New Mexican poet and musician, Joy Harjo. There are still a few tickets left for that, and it promises to be a great kickoff to the festival. April 20 is Easter Sunday of course, but don’t let the Easter Bunny prevent your enjoyment of the poetic season. In fact, one should never trust or give quarter to the Easter Bunny. A rabbit imbued with mythical, possibly nefarious special powers? Suspect.
Monday to Friday during the festival, you can check out “Poetry Central” in Churchill Square. You can get information about the festival, pick up a program, and do a bunch of other cool things like make a poem with our word blocks (so cool!). Poetry Central is open daily in Churchill Square, Monday April 21 to Friday April 25.
Yes. Yes to everything. Yes to saying yes. Yes to breaking out of your little world. Yes to not being so earnest. Yes to wearing red and not diverting your eyes. Yes to bridges of words – thin and strong and temporary. Yes to continuance and grace. Yes to mystery and leaving. Yes to one week a year – a single week! – devoted to the best of language. Yes to moving to the edges of your musts. Yes to throwing away that love note again and again.
Join us on the streets and in the halls. We need your ears and your words.
You’ve been more tired than usual lately. You go to bed earlier and wake up with heavier eyes. This, mere days after your birthday. Today you forgo the usual ground beans and reach for some loose tea – chamomile and rooibos – that came highly recommended by the woman at the shop. “Pleasing,” she said, “with relaxing notes.” Relaxing notes. You’ve been one long-held limp note lately. The other day, you read a dozen articles and forgot them by evening. Your memory is roused in conversation. Someone will say something and you remember reading something about that topic at some point. Threads, covered in beads, buried under your t-shirts.
Things are like they used to be, except when they aren’t. New aches. New constraints. “They make clothes smaller these days”, your father used to say. You think of him when your mug is to your mouth in the wee hours, when the frost has yet to leave your windshield. The apple tree needs pruning, and you will seek counsel for that. The grass is piss-spring yellow. That tattered section of walkway needs new concrete. With tea on your lips, you think of the bearded hide-tanner in Nova Scotia who made your wallet. The phantom relief of your credit cards is smooth to the touch, and shiny. That was eight years ago. Dad liked leather stuff, too.
Soon, it will be time for yard bags and gasoline for the lawn mower. You’ll put on those old work gloves and smell last year’s labour. You’ll slide on your boots and trundle to the raised beds. You’ll haul compost next week – yes, it may be a bit early, but lettuce waits for no one – and get everything ready. You ordered your seeds a month ago and they sit patiently on your dresser. Last week you saw a set of shears you liked. Maybe you should buy them. Perhaps it is safe to uncover the barbecue.
April removes her sandals from winter hock and places them on your front step. The sun, for too long your sole winter light, stays longer. Your snow shovel bows politely and says, “Don’t get up. I’ll let myself out.” Deadfall and rubble taunt – you should listen to them, and do something. Time to remove the wool and flannel. Wipe the table. Clear your throat. Don your warm-weather frock. Warm your books and mark your pages. Begin.
It’s been too long since you’ve been vulnerable. Rushing, fretting, working, taxiing. In all this business, It’s easy to forget the feelings you need. In every task or to-do, you wonder what your real job is. Not in the narrow sense – “should I be an artist, or a soldier?” – but in the widest sense. You ponder and mull, and decide that it comes down to this: everything is just humans affecting the perceptions and feelings of other humans. How will other people feel about this? That question is now the first one you ask when doing anything, and you realize it’s the only one that matters. There’s a secret place lodged somewhere between ability and humility. Most call it empathy. Those that deny it exists may claim to make art for themselves, and that rings false to you now. Some never buy a hobo a beer. Some pay lip service to giving. Some talk much and do little. Not you. Not any more.
In order to function, The Edmonton Poetry Festival requires volunteers. We need your help at our events (you have checked the schedule haven’t you?). You won’t believe how much work it is to keep this wonderful poetic machine going. Do you have the wherewithal, the jam, the love we need to keep the rocks rolling? If so, we want to hear from you. Click the button below to sign up as a volunteer.