Posted: Friday April 24, 2015
Six excellent new books launched last evening to an audience of about 110 people at Pyatt Hall in Vancouver’s downtown School of Music. What a perfect way to celebrate National Poetry Month! After a brief welcome from Kevin Williams, Talon’s publisher, we launched into readings.
Top: the audience mingles in Pyatt Hall; Bottom, L–R: Kevin Williams, Sachiko Murakami, Jordan Abel, and a projection by Oana Avasilichioaei
Jónína Kirton reads from page as bone – ink as blood
Our first reader, Jónína Kirton, claimed she was anxious, but we’re skeptical; she read beautifully from her first collection of poetry, page as bone – ink as blood ($16.95). Among other poems, Kirton read “What Do Frida Kahlo and My Mother Have in Common?” (from page 20), “Something and Nothing” (page 28), and “Manitou Lake” (pages 58–9).
Jordan Abel, rather more frightening than usual, in his mask in front of projected spreads from Un/inhabited
Jordan Abel, the second reader, advised the audience to approach his latest book, Un/inhabited ($24.95), as they might a map: rather than trying to read it from front to back, one should choose a path and follow it; one should feel free to meander through the text, identifying landmarks, passing recognizable features, possibly going in circles, eventually finding a destination. For his reading, Abel donned a remarkable mask of his own making, lit up in green and resembling depictions of an animal. He performed pieces of his text, layering them upon one another with his trusty loop station, against a backdrop of projections of spreads from Un/inhabited. In the words of one audience member, “poetry readings need more scary masks and looping machines.”
Oana Avasilichioaei onstage with her projections
Oana Avasilichioaei at her loop station, with theramin
Oana Avasilichioaei rounded out the first part of the evening with an atmospheric audio-visual rendering of some of the poems in her new collection, Limbinal ($19.95). Also using a loop station, as well as a theramin, Avasilichioaei’s poems (and poems in translation by Paul Celan) were represented by an unforgettable series of videos by which the poems were rendered in 3D, as lines moving hauntingly in a variety patterns and oscillations. Avasilichioaei’s multi-lingual presentation was the perfect way to end the first part; everyone broke for wine and refreshments with much to talk about.
The second part of the evening opened with a reading by Sachiko Murakami, whose new book, Get Me Out of Here ($16.95), is garnering some attention on social media – not surprising, given that the lines that inspired the poems in this book were crowd-sourced. Murakami selected to read poems that centered on YVR – Vancouver’s international airport. Impressive in their form, but also accessible to new readers of poetry, Murakami’s poems pleased the crowd. And how fitting that Murakami flew in from Toronto for this reading, necessarily making a pilgrimage to YVR just before the launch of her airport-centric book.
Sachiko Murakami reads from Get Me Out of Here
Meredith Quartermain followed next, amusing and delighting the audience with her ode to earthworms, found on pages 13–4 of I, Bartleby ($14.95). Her next, more solemn piece honoured Vancouver writers Malcolm Lowry and Margerie Bonner. We are honoured that Quartermain, with her crisp words and brilliant mind, has joined the Talon list.
Meredith Quartermain on stage at Pyatt Hall
Meredith Quartermain reads from I, Bartleby
The finale of the evening was a simple, elegant reading by the wonderful Colin Browne, who read from his new collection, The Hatch ($19.95). Some pieces thoughtful, others tongue-tripping, all weighty. Browne ended the evening by reading from a poem in progress – “it’s always good to read something new.”
Colin Browne reads from The Hatch
We heartily thank everyone who joined us at this launch, which was possibly the most successful poetry launch in Talon’s history! We also thank our friends at the Paper Hound Bookshop for running the book table at which a staggering number of books were sold. Beautiful new books, diverse and highly engaging readers, and lively conversations during the breaks – it all added up to a wonderful evening.