news | Thursday December 2, 2010
On November 24th, an uncharacteristically snowy and cold evening in Vancouver, diehards braved the elements to take in the Vancouver launch of both The Collected Books of Artie Gold and bill bissett‘s time.
Vehicule poet Tom Konyves kicked off this borderline Kaddish with a fair amount of humour, thanking the weather for cooperating and maintaining the spirit of a Montreal reading, and interrupting his own preamble with the voice of his departed friend Artie Gold, “Codfish, get on with it!”
His reading of Gold’s “Jockeypoems” was particularly intriguing, because of the way in which these “calligrammes” also suggested a movement in terms of voice and the images they evoked in the mind, transporting the audience into the process of writing the poem.
George Bowering also sparkled with his anecdotes about Artie Gold, the student he remembers from his creative writing class who would repeatedly give him hundreds of poems every week or so, when not cleaning out other folk’s fridges in orderly fashion. For the most part, Bowering selected teasers the length of epigrams, including one he read twice for maximum impact:
I have been thinking a great deal
about my bike that will be stolen.
I don’t like things whose inevitability
works against me.
Why have you driven through my heart?
Make that what.
Garry Thomas Morse read poems in the collection from Before Romantic Words, including Gold’s “sex at thirty-one”, and taking after Wanda O’Connor reading her “sex at thirty-eight” poem at the Montreal launch, Morse read his own version “sex at thirty-three” just hours before turning thirty-four, as he put it, “while there was still time…”
Just as interesting as the poems that were read were the astonishing favourites, the unread poems that were left out like an empty (and early) chair for Elijah, a breathing space around the poems, perhaps just enough for Artie Gold to hang out within.
After a brief intermission, Adeena Karasick heated up the room even more, launching into a sensuous volley of her trademark lyritechnics, live streaming directly into all available nervous systems with ubermod readings from “This Poem”, which at first listen comes off as something like a Skypeing Latinist travelling through a declining lawnmower, if a lawnmower can have declensions. She closed with a recorded parody of a Beyoncé song, leaving the audience well-brained indeed.
Fresh from his own birthday dinner, bill bissett rounded out the evening with a heartfelt reading. A performative wunderkind in his own right, one-man-civilization bissett delivered his jokes, stories, poems in the manner of a modern alien opera, without any recitative inferoning getting in the middle of his thingspiel, to use interplanetary terms. His touching reading from time appeared to confirm its retrospective quality, as the poem that never ends, reaching beyond spectacle and toward those omnipresent hot and cold elementals that haunt all poets in one form or another.
On a wintry night, this reading was what one poet called a “collage of the real”. Make that what.