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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Dusty Owl's Sweet Evening

September is finally here. The appreciatively cooler weather is certainly welcome. And the first Friday of the month could only mean one thing in Ottawa’s Byward Market: World Beats and Eats. It’s a formula that is really hard to beat on a Friday evening: free dessert at World Beats and Eats at the Mercury Lounge. Appropriately re-dubbed this evening as ‘World Beats and Sweets’, the event was a fundraiser was for the folks of the Dusty Owl Reading Series which featured, among others, John Akpata of the Collective Poetry Collective. World Beats and Eats is a monthly event that showcases international food and music as well as local art for the purpose of supporting the Ottawa artists. What a tasty way to start the September literary season. The audience was treated to some of Ottawa’s finest young poets all while savouring some terrific desserts from local bakers.

Kevin Matthews started the troupe’s poetic performance this evening. Kevin reprised his vividly colourful love poem (performed earlier this summer at WESTfest in Westboro). From his WESTFest bio, “Former Slammaster of the Winnipeg Poetry Slam, Kevin is now directing SpoCan: the Spoken Word Canada Network, a new organization that supports the annual Canadian Festival of Spoken Word."

Next up was the tall, slender and geeky, Steve Sauvé. His perfomance is always a crowd pleaser. I saw him at the Tree Reading Series earlier this summer, too, and laughed my head off. I made sure I bought his CD this time. Steve ‘bwana-geek’ Sauvé, performed two poems: one gut-busting, ‘Sweetest Marie’, and the other a recently written poem, ‘Heart’. While ‘Heart’ is very personal, the poem shows the great range that Steve is capable of in his writing. He chose “Sweetest Marie” as his opening poem befitting the sweet-treats theme of the evening. I never knew a chocolate bar could be so eroticly depicted in poetry. Leave it to the quirky humour of Steve to shine a lovely light on this not-so-mundane candy bar.

While you may or may not agree with his politics, John Akpata, is a talented and smooth individual as he riffs on the themes of racism and politics - topics breeched though something simple as coffee and cigarettes. An outspoken poet with a definite agenda, he is at ease on stage and one cannot but appreciate the love of language with a strongly worded message we all need to hear. Instead of having a couple of poems ready to read, John asked the crowd if they had any requests. Indeed, there were shouts of, “Coffee Bean!”, “Dress Code!” Akpata, 2005 Capital Slam Champion, flawlessly performed “Dress Code”, a poem first performed at the step-up-slam which he lost to fellow Ottawa poet Matt Peake. He finished his set off with a stinging poetic diatribe aimed at the politics of George Bush. Incidentally, apart from being the Capital Poetry Collective advisor, Akpata is a federal government candidate in Central-Ottawa riding for the Marijuana Party. The CPC is a production team that works to showcase and support slam poets in Ottawa.

The evening’s finale was left to the young (18 years old) and energenic, D'Janau (DJ) Morales. DJ was the youngest Capital Slam Monthly Champion in February 2005. She recited two of her poems, “Taking a Break” and “I Am”. She warned us that “Taking a Break” was the first poem in which she swore. She giggled as she said that. DJ finished to applause from the audience and she also pointed out that during the show there was another artist that needed to be recognized. Quietly on stage and throughout the evening, Ottawa artist Kenji Toyooka was painting a colourful portrait of Noam Chomsky. Brilliantly rendered in starkly-contrasted colours of black, red, white, and blue, Toyooka finished the portrait by the end of the show.

The evening was a fundraiser featuring treats from 3 Tarts, Three Bakers & A Bike, Harvest Loaf, and Bridgehead Coffee. There was CD giveaways from Six Degrees Records and beats provided by Emily Jones. This June, incidentally, Emily received Ottawa’s Golden Cherry Award 2005 in the ‘Best DJ’ category. Additionally, the Capital Poetry Collective were also winners of two 2005 Golden Cherry Awards for Best Collective and Best Website. I picked my free CD, “Latin Travels 2’ which is “packed with exclusive tracks and remixes from Beny Moré, Bobi Céspedes, Tim "Love" Lee, the Tao of Groove, Los Mocosos, Rondo Brothers and many others.” (I am listening to this CD as I write this…)

The next Dusty Owl Reading Series will be held at its usual location at Swizzles Bar and Grill this September 11th. Remember, their readings are held the third Sunday every month. The reading series coordinators, Catherine MacDonald-Zytveld and Steven Zytveld work dilgently behind the scenes to bring to light the most talented poets Ottawa has to offer. Their website offers some insight on their views of Ottawa’s talent pool of writers as their 'manifesto' reads:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that Ottawa holds untapped numbers of talented writers; that all great art communities come from supporting other artists; that cross-pollination of the disciplines is a Good Thing; that literary readings should first and foremost be about exposing yourself to the styles and opinions and work of a variety of other writers, and should be about having fun with the language; that art and politics are not, and should not be, entirely distinct; and that art in its many forms can build community and make a difference. And we would like to be "a non-partisan, multilateral, cross-disciplinary Force for Good."

Catherine MacDonald-Zytveld

Kenji Toyooka's painting of Noam Chomsky as seen as a work-in-progress.

Two Steves: Steve Sauvé & Steven Zytveld

DJ Morales

Group o' Poets


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