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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

OIWF Day 1

The first night of the Ottawa International Writers Festival started off with a fight. There was not one but a pair of local sonneteers in a boxing-match-styled-battle fighting over whether the "sonnet was worth a damn." Introduced by James Moran-cum-Michael Buffer with the famous trademarked phrase "LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!"® Stephen Brockwell and Peter Norman traded iambic pentameters and patterned rhymes with each other with their works from Wild Clover Honey and The Beehive: 28 Sonnets on the Sonnet. Eventually the poetic sparring match ended, without injury, in a draw to much audience appreciation.

Miracle and Relic [Stephen Brockwell]

If rain were no miracle, the Sarhara
would bloom with carrot, corn and cabbage;
no mother would starve, no child eat garbage.
Friends, we welcome you to controlled Nirvana.
Here all things fall in boxes made for them.
All nature bends to satisfy: the mind
illuminates the sun, controls the wind,
feeds each fly, paints each blossom on each stem.

The sonnet's a relic: its ancient bones
bestow faith in the illusion of control.
Let's watch as we swallow the planet whole
and replace a forest of trees with stones.
Embrace chaos in both form and belief
or we may find our days on earth are brief.

Insurgence [ Peter Norman]

Yes, deserts thirst. That's nature, nothing more,
No point in grubbing for miracle there.
What have you proved with all this metaphor?
A sonnet doesn't swallow earth, or strip it bare;
It's not a relic buried in the sand
Among old bones; it doesn't stunt or crush:
It limits only as a painter's hand
Closes around the handle of the brush.

Chaos can thrive in this tropical storm,
Insurgent dervish with a measured eye,
Shapely sprial fringed ragged with flagella
Whipped from wisps of sky,
Yet so lovely shot from space, spun light, made mellow,
This patterned brawl, this bawling swirl of breath, this
[flawless form.

Spotted in the crowd: Melanie Little, David O'Meara, Gary Geddes, Catherine Bush, Steven Galloway, Kim Barry Brunhuber, and Damon Galgut, and the crew with JC Sulzenko among others.


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