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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Seymour Mayne Reads at The Dusty Owl

Seymour opens the Fall poetry season at The Dusty Owl Reading Series, at 5:00 p.m., Sunday, September 18. The venue for The Dusty Owl is Swizzles Bar & Grill, 246-b Queen Street below the Thai Garden Restaurant (down the stairs to the right of the restaurant). There is no cover charge or fee for attending readings at The Dusty Owl Seymour will be reading from his most recent collections, including Ricochet: Word Sonnets and September Rain, both from Mosaic Press.

It's been my experience that not too often at a poetry reading series where the amatuer open-mic readers outshine the featured act. To me, this evening was one of those times. It's not too often where the feature actually leaves before the entire reading is over. This was also one of those times.

In my opinion, the forty-five minute set was more of an academic lecture and oral memoir than a poetry reading, giving Seymour Mayne, University of Ottawa prof. opportunity to name drop that he's the 8th cousin to Mordecai Richler, friend of Louis Dudek and Irving Layton. But hell, I am guilty of that as well: I've played the Richler and Layton card a few times, too -- all you have to do is read my own online bio.

Mayne is a master of the satirical or humourous poem and very passionate about the "marvelously addictive form" of the word sonnet. Each of his poems were prefaced by lengthy introductions and clarifications and even repetitions of his haikus/sonnets - not necessarily a bad thing, but over-elaborate and pedantic in places I felt. For example, he went on - at some length- explaining a Thomas Hardy anecdote to preface his poem:

"Thomas Hardy, the great English novelist and poet left two wills, or they found two wills, when he died. One instructed his family to bury him in his native town, and one asked his family to have him buried where he died. So the family was put into a quandary: how do you bury one body in two places? His sister decided to eviscerated his heart - have it buried in the town he died in, and take the body, sans heart to his home town. So they had the first burial in his home town...and then they came back for the second vigil three days later. She had put his heart on...the mantlepiece in her house. And when she got back...she found that the heart was gone. And if you think that I am making this up, read the biographies of Thomas Hardy! Thomas Hardy's heart disappeard. No one has figured out what happened to Thomas Hardy's heart. And I did some research and there was another, shall I say, 'presence' in that house that may be responsible for Thomas Hardy's heart. So, I wrote a little poem called "Eat Your Heart Out":

Just imagine that
instead of feeding upon a rat
Thomas Hardy's sister's cat
showing his avid devotion to art
sniffed around his bottled heart
then gobbled it up a la carte.

(Just for fun, I googled 'Thomas Hardy Heart' and came up with one site to which refers to the doctor's cat who may have eaten it in the garden shed... Ahh, poetic licence.) Without a pause, he then went on to preface his maledictory poem about his blue couch from nineteen years ago, and read several triple-word type sonnets inspired by the seasons and weather (which he repeated twice, ostensibly for the audience to better get the meaning...that we would have missed had he only read it once.) Shane Neilson, in The Danthforth Review, wrote a review of Maynes' Hail: Word Sonnets (2003). I admit, after reading it, I see more where Mayne was coming from.

I must say that I enjoyed the reading by former CBC poetry face-off winner, Jim Larwill. Such a soothing voice on stage - I very much enjoy his readings. I picked up two of his chapbooks: Rag Doll (1999), and The First Book of Her Story Called Genesis (2003). He sort of dropped-out of the poetry reading scene since his crowing achievement at the CBC event, but he was back tonight in fine form. Upcoming Dusty Owl readers include: Oct. 2: Jennifer Whiteford; Oct. 16: David Solway. I am expecting much excitement from Solway's appearance since reading his recently published book, Director's Cut. This is one reading any local poet/reader should not miss.

(David Solway's reading was cancelled)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey John - just read your post from September 12th. Thanks for taking the pic of me - I really love the lighting contrast.

It was great seeing you last night and I'm sure I'll see you around lots now that I'm getting involved with the Ottawa literary community!

Melanie S.

Monday, September 19, 2005 5:46:00 AM  

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