For Descant Magazine, thank you!

For 45 years, Descant magazine has been central to the publishing scene in Canada.  We are so sorry to see it go! Thank you, Karen Mulhallen, Editor in Chief. For Descant Magazine over the decades, thank you!

Here’s my favourite post from Descant by esteemed writer and publisher Michael Mirolla:

The Consul-General & The Poets

It’s not often that the Consul-General of South Africa drives two and a half hours from Toronto to the town of Clinton, located in the heart of Huron County and the Lake Huron shoreline. And perhaps even less often does she do it to attend a poetry reading at a Legion Hall. But that’s exactly what Nogolide Nojozi did on April 12, 2008.

Hosted by SkyWing Press, Clinton’s very own poetry publishing house owned and operated by the indefatigable Ronda Wicks, Crossing The Lines: Poetry Without Borders brought together six poets for an afternoon of multicultural, multilingual, multi-genre and multi-vocal readings that definitely did away with the stereotypical expectations (some would call them “prejudices”) that all too often keep people away from poetry.

Anyone who has ever heard Penn Kemp and her willing minions perform her “Poem For Peace in Two Voices” (in vocal pitches, in sing-song, in an ever-expanding multitude of languages, in dialect, in supposedly dead languages, and in tandem with the audience) knows that the typical boundaries put up around poetic reading don’t need to be there. Here, it is actually fun to be uplifted.

Poets on stage.jpg

L to R: Michael Mirolla, Vusi Moloi, Daniel Kolos, Nogolide Nojozi, Katerina Fretwell, Penn Kemp.

But that doesn’t mean that more serious matters were ignored. South Africa’s Consul-General was there to support and introduce Vusi Moloi, a South African journalist whose work forced him into exile in 1987. Vusi, in traditional Zulu dress, read from his recently published collection “A Goodbye To My Little Troubles”—in English, Zulu and Sosotho. The book is dedicated to “the great women of the beautiful mother earth” and is sub-titled: “Poetry of Liberation, Loveliness, Identity, and Spirituality”.

Katerina Fretwell, a choral tenor and visual artist as well as a poet, read and sang from her fifth and latest collection “Samsara: Canadian in Asia.” The book not only features Katerina’s sensitive observations of a trip through Thailand, Vietnam and China, but also her original watercolours to illustrate the poems.

Hungarian-born Daniel Kolos, a practicing Egyptologist and raiser of goats in Priceville, read in his mother tongue and in English from both his “Slipped Out” and “From One Child to Another” collections. Combining the personal and the philosophical, Kolos seems at home both in love hymns and in historical ruminations.

Taking a break from her organizational duties, SkyWing publisher Ronda Wicks also took the stage (as Ronda Eller) to read from “Whale Songs in the Aurora Borealis” and “The Lion and The Golden Calf”, her recently released collection. Aided by Del Almeida, several of her joyful poems were rendered in French, ensuring representation from Canada’s other official language.

Ronda On Stage2.jpg

Del Almeida and Ronda Eller
The sixth poet on the card was yours truly, reading in Italian and English from both my upcoming bilingual English-Italian collection “Interstellar Distances/Distanze Interstellari” from Italian publisher Edizioni Il Grappolo, and “Light and Time,” due out in July from SkyWing Press. A thoroughly orthodox poet, I dressed in my customary black and tried to look serious.

Poetry is all about mood and setting, ambiance and atmosphere. On this particular day, those elements all came together—from watching the Consul-General stand in line at the local Tim Horton’s (green tea, one trusts) to Penn Kemp ululating, from Ronda’s “poetic” garb to announcer Joe Wooden’s laconic and woodsy introductions, from the professional poise of Daniel Kolos to the infectious nervousness of a young open microphone poet.

And poetry readings are all about celebrating and sharing with an audience what comes from many hours of solitary, and often thankless, creation. The best kind of sharing.

(Photo Credits: Gavin Stairs)

  1. Thanks, Michael!

    It was great fun to celebrate Beyond Borders for National Poetry Month!



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