Friday, December 31, 2010
A Momentous Loss: Kerry Schooley and I
In 2010 we lost a mainstay in Hamilton's literary world. Kerry Schooley will be sorely missed.
By the mid-nineties when I met him, I had spent a decade and a half in the local literary scene. At a time when not much of a literary nature was happening in the city, Kerry started a new literary reading series featuring local and visiting writers at a venue in Hess Village. At its beginning it was called “First Friday” after the day of the month it was held, but soon moved to Sunday and became LitLive, the prestigious reading series that continues to be a Hamilton hallmark. I was one of the guests in that first season.
Over the years our paths crossed in many ways, basically because our ideas on writing, and especially poetry, was complimentary. As members of the Tower Poetry Society, both of us in our way tried to get the group to open up and take poetry out of enclosed spaces by taking it on the road to other towns and venues. Kerry was instrumental in developing the Tower Poetry website while I became its editor-in-chief.
He coordinated Dundas Cactus Festival's Prickly Poetry contest; I was always a semi-finalist but never won the main prize.
We shared other projects. I founded a poetry performance group called Radish; Kerry was a member of it. Kerry ran “Street,” a project for the International Village BIA featuring poetry displayed in storefront windows; I was asked to help him collect and chose the works to be used.
We both loved to perform our poetry, whether alone or with jazz accompaniment. He instituted several music groups just to enhance his performance on the stage.
Even our choice in prose were complimentary. Much time was spent discussing and evaluating noir fiction, Kerry's favorite, and in which genre he wrote two novels, numerous short stories, and edited several anthologies.
I entered several short stories in Arts Hamilton's “Creative Keyboards” competition earlier this year. One of them won third prize. Kerry Schooley was the final judge. (There is a movement to name the prize for this competition after him.)
His enthusiasm, his power, and his imagination may be missed by many, but he will not be forgotten.