Recap - Bling on the Blinks

Sunday’s events started the festival proper, but last night’s “Bling on the Blinks” event, staged by Edmonton’s Stroll of Poets Society, is the traditional festival opening event and what a time it was. The theme was bling, and many were dressed in their ostentatious finery. There were fake diamonds and tiaras, rhinestone jackets and beaded wigs, and a bit of cross dressing, best displayed by host John Leppard and cohort Gary Garrison.

Photo by Randall Edwards

The human voice is delightful, and when reading poetry, its beauty is second only to song. At the Blinks, sixty poems are delivered in a span of 90 minutes, with a 30-second per reader time limit. If the poet approaches the 30 second mark, “The Blink Philharmonic” goes into action and reminds the reader of their time. Few go over 30 seconds. The beauty of the event lies in the variety of its voices – accents dip and dodge out of earshot, an amazing turn of phrase is slapped around by a dirty lyric, and last night, we heard a variety untouched: Three children reading poetry in public for the first time, a thrilling blink by Scotland’s Makar, Liz Lochhead, a joyous piece by former Edmonton councilor Michael Phair, and a dementedly brilliant blues crunch by longtime favorite Philip Jagger.

Photo by Randall Edwards

Poetry can often seem heavy, even burdensome. Writing it can feel like pushing a stone up a hill, and for some, reading it out loud is akin to jumping off a cliff. The Blinks event is about participation and, not to get all summer camp councilor on you, above all else FUN. You know, having a good time, tying one on, lettin’ ‘er rip, layin’ ‘em to waste? That kind of fun? Does anybody remember laughter?