Torontoist apologizes for her failure to find words to tell you about Christopher Dewdney’s book length dinner reading of The Natural History (ECW Press) last Friday night at The Brickworks. We can tell you that the sold-out event was part of The Scream Literary Festival and that guests dined on delectable courses of locally grown foods—just go stab a cube of watermelon and a cube of havarti with a toothpick, roll the thing in crushed cilantro, and see if that isn’t a delightful way to begin a meal on a summer’s eve. But the reading itself?
Sometimes, life just defies words; other times, poets manage to capture a few glimpses of it to mesmerize the rest of us. LitTO took notes that seemed poignant that evening but don’t translate today—sort of like a dream, after which you remember the feeling, but can’t recall details. She even read along in her copy of the book, looking up to see nighthawks in the sunset, almost as if they flew from its pages.
It was art for all the senses: the stunning setting of trees, hill, pond and sky as darkness fell; the wind on our skin, amplified like a ghost in the microphone; tastes of summer. The poet himself, dressed in pale sky blue, seemed to embody the season. Even Dewdney admitted to feeling “stoned” while reading this lingering work, citing the lull of “having yourself read back to yourself, by yourself.”
It was the best reading that yours truly has ever attended. Watch for Christopher Dewdney’s upcoming book which examines the subject of time (forthcoming from HarperCollins, March 2008), and kudos to The Scream’s organizers for a brilliant evening.
Please peruse the fittingly quiet week of lit listings after the break.
Literary Readings July 10–July 16
Tuesday, July 10
SHANE KOYCZAN VS THE WORLD. “Slamming for the first time in three years, performance poet Shane Koyczan will battle one-on-one with Toronto spoken word artists in a poetry slam of mythic proportions. Can anyone score higher than the mighty Shane, the only Canadian to win the U.S. National Slam Championship? Whoever does gets half the door cover sum. 5 poets max to sign up.” Open mic. Hosted by Dave Silverberg. Cervejaria, 842 College Street (back room), 7:30 p.m. $5 cover. For info, call 416-312-3865.
Wednesday, July 11
CONNECTING COMMUNITIES: DESH & DIASPORA. Hosted by Anju Gogia of PEN Canada, with readings and/or discussions with author Teenah Edan, playwright/author, Nila Gupta, standup comedian, Sabrina Jalees, Bengali poet Ferdos Nahar, visual artist Frances Ferdinands, and spoken word artists, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Shameless. 7:00 p.m. to10:00 p.m. Savannagh Room, 294 College Street. $6–12 sliding scale.
Thursday, July 12
MARTHA BAILLIE’S CORE SAMPLE. An installation involving the manuscript of Martha Baillie’s novel The Shape I Gave You, acupuncture needles, several paperback copies of the same novel, the boring of a core sample, a phrenelogical sculpture and more. An exploration of fixity and fluidity, the bound book, the word as cure or definition or accretion. 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Type Books, 883 Queen Street West. Free.
SCOTT GARDINER reads at Vaughan Public Library, Pierre Berton Resource. 7:00 pm. Free.
Friday, July 13
I.V. LOUNGE READING SERIES presents Margaret Macpherson (Released, a novel), Mira McEwan (Ecstatic, poems), Chris Michalski (nothing happens, poems). Hosted by Alex Boyd. 326 Dundas Street West, across from the AGO. 7:00 p.m. Free.
Saturday, July 14
WORKSHOP: The Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Writers’ Workshop Program presents a workshop on “How to BE an Author (Publishing Contract Not Included).” Author, freelance journalist, teacher, and abstract photographer Matt Beam tells his story, shares his knowledge and questions your assumptions about the writing life. Toronto Public Library (Beaches branch), 2161 Queen Street East, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Free (registration required), 416-504-8222 x 243 or kgreenwood at writerstrust dot com.
Sunday, July 15
HAUNTED FISHTANK. Poetry, live music, performance art, and comedy. Bands welcome for acoustic/low electric sets). Gladstone Hotel Melody Bar. 9:00 p.m. Free.
Monday, July 16
WORKSHOP: The Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Writers’ Workshop Program presents “The First Novelists’ Workshop,” an informative and instructive session that will explore the great literary unknown attached to the sale, publication, and promotion of your first novel or short-story collection, with critically acclaimed author and book reviewer Gale Zoe Garnett. Toronto Public Library (Yorkville branch), 22 Yorkville Avenue, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Free (registration required), 416-504-8222 x 243 or kgreenwood at writerstrust dot com.