The Yellow Door brings in the country’s best poets for an evening of poetry and prose
By Rébecca Phaneuf-Thibault
After hearing me ask the organiser of the evening’s poetry and prose reading where I could find the nearest atm to cover the $5 attendance fee, one of the reader’s guests overheard my unfortunate situation and stepped in to save me the trip into the chilly night. This free-pass was a perfect depiction of how the evening would play out… Unexpected, generous, and heartfelt.
The closest thing I could compare the setting to is a family reunion. Scattered youngsters along with a constelation of suprisingly cool and down-to-earth, older, free spirits who clearly have been part of this artist/poet community for years. (Decades, for some of them).
The venue is a tiny jumble-like basement: slightly broken down, colourful and very intimate, creating a rather personal setting that dressed the tone for the evening’s performances. Carolina Echeverria, an impressive chilean poet who read her short stories for the first time ever that night, commented on the venue: “It’s because it’s art… and we’re poor!” the crowd then broke out into laughter.
After a good half an hour of laughs, reminicing, hugs, and deep and light conversations, Ilona Martonfi, the host and organizer of the event took the stage to start off the acts. For the next two hours, five speakers took turns reading their best works of writing or just simply what they were in the mood to share. The diversity and quality of their work was astonishing!
Anne Stratford, who writes ESL film scripts and teaches, started up the night with a short story that she dedicates to «big women and small women» and street scene sketches from her experience in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Next, Sharon H. Nelson, a Montreal poet and essayist with a theatre and dance background took the stage. Not being sure what to expect from this itty-bitty-white-haired-lady just made her performance that much more striking! She recited three powerful, emotionally charged poems, particularly the one adressed to her father, that spread chills across the admiring audience, leaving us wanting more.
David Solway, a poet, educational theorist, travel writer and literary critic stepped up next and read never-heard-before material from his new book. He introduced his perfromance by saying, «I never forgot poetry, she was my first love… of course there were second, and third loves, but you never forget your first (…) when 9/11 happened, I was stuck on a Greek Island with nothing to do but reminice about my life, and I realized I had spent most of it caring solely about poetry and women. When I fianlly made it home, I quit my job and educated myself for 5 years, about everything. After that, I went back to poetry and I now use it completly differently».
Echeverria struck next, with genuine and beautifully crafted short stories about first loves that end, self-love, and skinny chilean women. The evening finished off with Madur Anar, the Canadian chair in Global Ecological Change, in town on a sabbatic year. She read from her newly released book.
I don’t know if it was my entering this world as an outsider that made the whole experience magical but nonetheless, that’s exactly how it felt, like magic.