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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Dusty Owl Amazes

I was introduced to Jennifer Whiteford tonight thanks to the Dusty Owl Reading Series. From what I heard at her reading I am really looking forward to the release of her forthcoming novel, Grrrl (Gorsky Press of Los Angeles - coming Spring 2006). I am a sucker for coming of age novels of this sort. According to the publisher's website, Jennifer Whiteford won the Fourth Annual Literary Sashimi Contest with her novel, Grrrl. No surprise. Whiteford's Grrrl also made me think of Wallace Graves' first novel, Trixie (1969), also a novel from a girl's point of view in a diary format - albeit (according to the novel's rear dust jacket) "the author of Trixie's 'Diry' [sic] is a middle-aged white man."

The novel is full of pain, sexual confusion, laughter, music, and life. There's also plenty of "accidental introspection" via the main character's diary entries. (Jennifer told me that, so I put it in quotes. I wish I could take credit for it.) Just hearing her read tonight I am actually looking forward to reading her second novel too. And she tells me that this is also in the works. Okay, if you are reading this and think I am just boasting without actually possessing her book, you actually have another chance in the very near future to hear her read again, this time at the Plan 99 Reading Series at the Manx Pub. She is slated to read Saturday, 3 December 2005. Don't miss it. It won't be your usual reading either. I believe it is a relay-reading of sorts. One hour only, and there will be batons passing between other participating readers with set time limits. Sound like fun. Oh, and there's beer at the pub which can't hurt.

What the heck is a "Grrrl" / "Grrl" anyway you may ask? Wikipedia (I am so unhip) to the rescue! A search of Wikipedia brings one up to snuff quickly. It does help explain the term, however. I assume that the chapbook, two stories by Jennifer Whiteford entitled "Typical Girls" takes its name from the all-women band, The Slits single of the same name (Island, 1979). Correct me if I am mistaken.

Today was also another good day to listen to poetry and some great music (thanks to Jesse Ferguson) at the Bywords Fall reading at Chapters on Rideau. Jamie Bradley, who read his poems for the first time, particularly caught my attention. I enjoyed his brief poem called "Simply". Amanda even commented at the end of his reading, "Sounds like a pro to me." Another couple of poems I liked hearing were by Anne Le Dressay. She read "About that cobweb" which you can also view online on bywords.ca. "Bending" was also a favourite. Even though Daniel Boland read this past summer, he made me laugh at his poem, oddly entitled, "The Cremation of Snoopy". It is a nostalgic look at his favourite comic series, Peanuts/Charlie Brown. He isn't sure if it's supposed to be sad or funny. One line (of many) that made the audience chuckle was, "A toothless Charlie Brown is wailing in pain..." (over the death of his beloved pooch.) Great images. Check it out.

You know, it's great to be in the audience and have the readers perform their very first recital in front of an audience of strangers. There is something in everyone that wills us to cheer them on. It takes guts. However, if I hear the following phrase coming from a poets lips, "This is the first time that I have read this aloud before..." I am going to scream! Not really, but it's not just the young poets who often say this but the older ones are guilty as well. I heard this a few times at the recently held writers festival. It is similar to a novel starting out with, "Once upon a time..." Stop doing it - now!

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