Tuesday, May 5, 2009

In the Neighbourhood

This past Wednesday was the last one in National Poetry Month and our local Community Council (Strathcona) decided to observe it. To present nationally recognized poets who are a part of this neighbourhood, they hosted a celebration that evening at the Tapestry Bistro, the one replacing the Staircase's cafe.
When I was first approached, I was enthusiastic until I found it was to be held on a Wednesday when the Tapestry would be available. (The SCC usually holds its community events on Tuesdays.) On Wednesday evenings I have a commitment to be elsewhere. However, with a few suggestions, including one to get a musician to perform some music between sets and so fill out the program, I found that I would be able to get there toward the end and then perform. Two days beforehand, I discovered that the musician who was scheduled to perform was an old friend; he and I had shared a stage before but there wasn't enough time to make any formal arrangements. Perhaps we could improvise something.When I arrive just about intermission time, I was astonished! The place was full of people, attentive while a performer was at the mike and buzzing with fellowship when the opportunity arose. The staff was kept so busy they had difficulty satisfying everybody.

When my musician friend took to the stage to play his guitar during intermission I approached him with a request not to play two tunes. I wanted him to join me later and use those two (which I knew were in his reportoire) as background for two of the poems I intended to perform.

When my turn came I began with a formal poem followed by one dealing with a location in the neighbourhood. I then invited the guitarist to join me. He played a swaying melody to back a poem about falling rain, and a more ethereal one to back one about a ghost and an eclipse. I finished alone with a wryly humourous one.

The whole experience was excellent. It brought back for me all the old memories of poetry events at the Staircase. The food, drink, and ambience were first class. The S C C was quite pleased at the turnout; I hope the Tapestry Bistro was too. In case others were not aware of it, poetry is not necessarily a trite bit of "high" culture but a connecting voice in holding a community together, expressing its hopes and dreams. Recognition and acceptance of those facts can invigorate the life of a neighbourhood, a city, a country. The Bread & Roses Cafe should not be the only viable venue for poetry in this city.

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